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Posted - Aug. 30, 2011 at 1:04 p.m.

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This is Chris Redgrave for Zions Bank Speaking on Business.

The RC Willey story is a true testament to the grit and dedication it takes to start, own and operate a small family business. This 80-year-old furniture and appliance business has survived the original building burning down in 1953, two world wars, financial tumult and supporting nearby farmers and neighbors as they experienced the same challenges.

Rufus Call Willey, founder of RC Willey, was one of the first to offer financing to the farmers so they could enjoy the electric appliances and pay for their purchase with the fall harvest. Was that ever a smart move since the financing arm of RC Willey is a huge part of their overall success.

After Rufus passed away, his wife, Helen, was determined to keep the family business going. She was not about to sell after all she and her husband had been through. So, she turned the company over to her son-in-law, Bill Child.

Together these two built on the foundation Rufus had established, and the first thing Bill did was add furniture. He decided to extend the family involvement and hired his brother Sheldon. Those brothers worked side by side for 40 years building it into one of the most successful furniture companies in the U.S. In fact, it was so attractive that in 1995, Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway bought it.

Interestingly enough, hardly anyone felt the change. Buffet is a smart businessman, and he wanted the RC Willey magic and culture to continue. The management team stayed intact, and most are still involved. Some of the dedicated staff has been with RC Willey for over 30 years. In addition to furniture and appliances, they carry mattresses, flooring, electronics and, most recently, iPads.

In 2001, Bill stepped down as CEO and is now chairman of the board. Since then Scott Hymas has been running day-to-day operations as CEO.

Think of the employment and economic impact RC Willey has had for 80 years, and it all started with Rufus Call Willey selling refrigerators out of his red truck in 1932.

For Zions Bank, I'm Chris Redgrave, speaking on business.

RC Willey with locations throughout Utah, Idaho, Nevada and California


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