Kirby Vacuum

Posted - Feb. 3, 2004 at 6:43 a.m.



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This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.

I recently learned from the History Channel that the first so-called portable electric vacuum was invented in 1905 and weighed more than 90 pounds — that's the equivalent of pushing a tire from a semi-truck around your living room. So thank goodness, a year later, Jim Kirby came to the rescue inventing what would become the finest homecare system in the world, the Kirby vacuum.

Well, Gus Johnson of Taylorsville has been selling Kirby vacuums door to door for more than 25 years. His son Tanner joined him three years ago.

Gus is a second-generation Kirby salesperson. His mother, Georgia, first started the business in the Œ60s to aid family finances. In 1977 Gus was hired by Wilf Edman's Salt Lake City office, now located at 4308 S. State St. Since then the Johnsons' small business has grown to include three full-time employees, several part-time salesmen and an area distributorship.

Gus, known for his 15-minute demonstrations, has sold more Kirby vacuums than he can count. I've known Gus for several years and I've discovered it's not his 15-minute demo that sells Kirbys, it's how he interacts with people and the fact that Kirbys are excellent vacuums.

To Gus, business is not about making a sale; it's about getting to know people. He told me one of his most memorable customers was a woman whose daughter came running in the living room with a cut on her chin that needed stitches. The woman was pregnant and could not drive, so Gus took them to the hospital. Then, right after driving the mother and daughter home, the woman went into labor and had to go back to the hospital. After that experience, the woman always referred to Gus as her "Kirby man."

From Logan to St. George, Gus has met bears and their trainers, put out house fires and even watched the World Series with a customer. Using his friendly and genuine manner to sell Kirby vacuums is something my friend Gus tells me he'll never get tired of.

For Zions Bank, I'm Fred Ball. I'm speaking on business.

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