The idea of a home business is nothing new for Lampe Appliance in Cedar Rapids.
Ken Lampe started the appliance-repair company in 1968 as a part-time endeavor after finishing his shift at Quaker Oats. But the business got so busy he was able to focus on it full time and start his own business.
“He ran it from home,” said his son John. “We grew up with that.”
John officially joined the business in 1986. His brother, Doug, came on full-time in 2002 after attending Iowa State and working for a local trucking company for more than a decade, making each Lampe a one-third owner in the business.
These days, Doug said, “Decision making is mutual.”
And while both brothers are out working service calls, Doug handles more of the day-to-day activities such as scheduling.
Their father, though semiretired, “usually every day,” Doug said. “He does a lot of the work that comes into the shop.”
“We have a lot of long-standing customers because of my dad,” he added.
Today Lamp Appliance specializes in servicing a wide variety of household appliances — everything from microwaves, dishwashers, washers and dryers to ranges and refrigerators.
While the brothers noted the economy hasn’t significantly affected their business, they do have to focus on staying on top of new appliance technologies.
“There’s a big push on energy-efficient appliances, and that can present a whole set of challenges,” said Doug.
Day-to-day work is pretty routine, however. Early morning is dedicated to warranty paperwork, billing and scheduling. The UPS man drops by to make a daily delivery of parts. Then around 10 a.m. both John and Doug head out on service calls — on average about six calls per brother per day, accounting for 90 percent of their business.
John specializes in working with refrigerators, which allows the Lampe Appliance team to keep the fast-moving replacement parts in their trucks.
“That way we don’t have as many return calls,” said John.
“We are pretty grass roots,” Doug added. “... The other day I was out of the office for two hours and came back to 20 messages on the answering machine.”