Siblings Paul Hoffman and Sue Hoffman Douros with Sue’s son, GM Chris Douros, in the Hoffman’s Hard Hat showroom

Hoffman’s Hard Hat marks its first 50 years

By Andy Kriege, YSN

Hoffman’s Hard Hat Furniture & Appliance is celebrating its 50th year serving the needs of Price, Utah and the surrounding communities.

The company was founded in a dilapidated tire shop in 1974 by Don and Jan Hoffman, who called their business Hard Hat Appliance & Television. Fifty years and a hard turn toward home furnishings later, Hard Hat stands as the largest furniture and appliance store in Southeastern Utah.

Continuing Don and Jan’s legacy are their children, Paul Hoffman and Sue Hoffman Douros, who co-own the store and lead the second and third generations of Hard Hats. The siblings, with the support of AVB Marketing, are positioning the family business for its next 50 years in an ever-changing marketplace.

Elbow Grease

Paul still remembers the rough shape of the company’s first location, when its focus was on appliances and electronics. “We scrubbed and scrubbed and then scrubbed even more to get that old place ready,” he said.

By the 1980s the business began dabbling in furniture by way of the waterbed craze that was sweeping the nation. The Hoffmans eventually added traditional bedding and, in 1988, after outgrowing the old tire shop, moved to an 18,000-square-foot, three-story building in downtown Price. “We began selling more furniture and needed much more space,” Paul said. “We realized the margins were much better in furniture, so we pivoted quickly and changed our name to Hard Hat Furniture & Appliance.”

Sue’s son, General Manager Chris Douros, said the company’s margins on furniture are roughly twice that of appliances, and cited additional advantages of selling furniture. “There are no back orders and few damaged pieces, no parts or service hassles and less competition,” he said.

Enter BrandSource

Another pivotal juncture for Hoffman’s came in 1990 when the company joined BrandSource. The Hard Hats would later become active in the Rocky Mountain Region, with Paul eventually serving on the Region Board of Directors.

Today, Hoffman’s carries a wide assortment of living room, bedroom, dining, home office and patio furniture, along with bedding and outdoor grills, along with a full contingent of kitchen and laundry appliances by GE, Haier, Frigidaire, Speed Queen and Crosley. Business remains brisk, Paul said, in the wake of three record-setting COVID-era years.

The Hard Hat team includes, from left: Stan Densley and Tim Jensen, sales; Chris Douros, GM; Sue Hoffman Douros and Paul Hoffman, co-owners; Jake Hoffman, sales; and Jacob Holt and Mason Russell, delivery.

To keep the momentum going, Chris handles digital marketing directly. “We’ve gotten a lot more aggressive with Google and digital overall in the past three to five years and have cut way back on radio and print,” the GM said. “We recently doubled down on our digital buys; this strategy has paid dividends for us in the past.”

Digital Witness

Chris coordinates the company’s digital tactics with AVB Marketing’s Alicia Jackson, a digital marketing specialist who serves as account rep for Hard Hat’s e-commerce site as well as its digital campaigns. While relatively new to the account, she is excited to be working with the long-tenured business.

“Chris and I have been able to grow our relationship in a short time,” Jackson said. “I am just beginning to learn his business in more depth. They recently invested more in digital marketing campaigns, Google Search and social media,” and also employ AVB Marketing’s blog services. We are excited to see the impact this has on their business.”

In addition to digital marketing, Hoffman’s has also tapped into AVB’s operational services. “The use of LINQ to set our pricing has made that process seamless,” Chris said. “It also integrates with our POS system to create all our price tags. We were handwriting these just a few years ago.

“This business is always changing,” he said. “You always need to evaluate what you are doing day to day, as well as your entire business model. If you get lazy, you become irrelevant.”

All in the Family

Sue spoke to the dynamics of multiple generations working under the same roof. “It can be difficult at times but also very rewarding,” she said. “Our dad was a sergeant major in the Army. He was very strict and resistant to change. It took Paul and me a long time to convince him to make any changes, but he eventually came around.”

That said, working with family can also be very gratifying. “You get very close working together and relying on each other,” she said. Paul added that both he and his sister “are grateful our kids are involved, so one day they can take over and hopefully go another 50 years.”

Local Legacy

Now, about the name Hard Hat. Paul said his dad chose it as tribute to the community’s coal mining heritage. “He said, ‘Everybody can relate to a hard hat and hard work,’” Paul said. “Back then, there were close to 30 coal mines in this area. It was a melting pot of nationalities with immigrants from all over the world seeking high-paying jobs in the dangerous coal mines.

“Although there are only a handful of the mines still around, it has been the miners and their families that have supported our business from day one,” he said.

Don and Jan passed away a few years ago, but Paul believes his parents would be proud and amazed at how the business has changed and grown. “They would both be so blown away at how times have changed in 50 years,” he said. “We are so thankful for our community, our venders and our BrandSource family.”

YSN publisher AVB BrandSource is the nation’s largest merchandising and marketing co-op for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.

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