A lot can change in 50 years.
Businesses have come and gone, and the way people do business has changed.
One thing that hasn't changed is the value of customer service and, in some cases, the people who provide it.
Times Observer photo by Jacob Perryman
The GLF building at the current site of Howe’s True Value in the 1960s.
Howe's True Value is one of those cases.
Howe's is celebrating 50 years in business in 2012 and, according to the Howe family, the focus is still on a quality customer experience.
"We've had loyal employees with very little turn over so they end up with a wealth of knowledge" co-owner Karen (Howe) Zigler said. "We've always been focused on providing the best customer service you can."
Zigler and her brothers, Luke and Harry Howe, co-own the store and have seen its entire history unfold.
"We've all worked here since we were, you know, knee high," Zigler recalled. "Even though we're celebrating 50 years, we've all been here, literally, 50 years."
"We all went and got an education and came back into the business," Luke said. "Our whole families have been involved over the years from our kids to our spouses. It's been a focal point of our lives for so long it's kind of hard to think about. It's always been our goal to perpetuate a family environment and not many family businesses ever make it there (50 years)."
According to Luke, he has a degree in history, Harry is a registered nurse and Zigler holds a teaching degree. The siblings' parents, Frank and Mildred Howe, leased a hardware store at the current Howe's site in 1962 from William Smith.
The original building was destroyed by fire in 1967, but the Howes re-opened only two days later.
In 1972, the Howes went from lessee to owners, buying the business.
The name has changed, from GLF to Lawn and Garden before joining the True Value family in 1971.
"It's been a very gratifying business, working with customers" Luke said. "And we've made it this long without killing each other. We've had really wonderful employees over the years. That's really made our business grow, dedicated employees."
Their 50-year journey, according to the Howe family, has been a story of change.
"It's been an amazing transformation from the way little hardware stores used to be," Luke said. "Our business experience has been great. We've never had a really bad year. It hasn't been easy, but we've had a really great experience in the Warren area. We're still growing. Not as fast as before the recession and the big box stores, but we're still growing."
"We've seen a lot of growth over the years," Zigler agreed. "We've just tried to keep up with it."
"We've had to really re-invent ourselves as times changed and the competition changed," Luke said. "When we first started, we did all of our buying from the big name wholesale salesman... places that aren't even around now. The nice thing about the hardware business is you can get into anything. there's endless opportunity."
When asked what helped the business reach the half century mark, Luke attributed it to the customers.
"If you just want to put in how thankful we are and how much support we've gotten from the Warren area," he requested.
As to the future of the long-standing business, Luke said he wants it to continue much the same.
"Down the road, we hoped the that the business would stay a family business. We're all getting older and we're going to be transitioning out of the business and we hope that we can keep the service and keep it a family business," Luke said. "We're hopefully going to transition it, but keep it the way it is, family oriented."
Howe's will hold an anniversary celebration today followed by an open house on Saturday.
According to Luke, "We're trying to make that a thank you to our customers."