- Associated Press - Friday, June 24, 2016

OGDEN, Utah (AP) - When a small business opens anywhere in America, there’s a 50 percent chance it will close within five years according to the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There’s about a 67 percent chance it won’t make it past a decade.

So when in 2016, an Ogden small business that opened its doors five years before the Civil War started is still open and thriving - there’s probably not an adjective out there to describe how unusual that is.

Earlier this month, the Boyle Appliance Center celebrated its 160th year in business in Ogden. The company launched in 1856, just five years after Ogden was incorporated as a city and 40 years before Utah was officially admitted to the Union. Six, and soon to be seven, generations of the Boyle family have maintained ownership of the business since its inception, the Standard-Examiner reported (https://bit.ly/28N1x7Z).

“We’ve been around for quite a while,” said current owner Jim Boyle. “When you stop and think about, yeah, it’s pretty remarkable. But for us, this is what we’ve always done, so I guess we’re just used to it.”

Like its name would suggest, the company sells all types of appliances - washers, dryers, refrigerators, and ovens. Boyle also recently opened a mattress section and they specialize in custom kitchen design and parts. The business currently has 23 employees and competes with big-box mega-stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot and RC Willey.

Boyle says integrity, customer service and his staff’s product expertise is what sets the store apart from the chains.

“If your fridge goes out this morning and you need a new one, I guarantee you you’ll have a new fridge in your house by six o’clock tonight,” Boyle says. “And we know what we’re talking about. We’re trying to get you what’s best for you, not what we want to sell.”

Boyle’s wife Deann says one of the things she’s most proud of about the business is the fact they’ve been able to “be successful against the big boys.”

“When all these big, national stores started coming in, people thought we’d go out of business,” she said. “Well, some of them have come and gone, but we’re still here.”

The company was started by Peter Adams Boyle, a cabinet maker from Glasgow, Scotland. The Boyle patriarch’s story is as interesting as the business itself. He was an orphan at five years old after both of his parents died. He worked as a journeyman in Scotland into his mid-20s but set sail for America with his wife Elizabeth McGregor Sinclair shortly after they were married in 1848.

After living in St. Louis and another small Missouri town, the couple eventually headed to Ogden with a group of Mormon Pioneers in 1855. Soon after arriving, Boyle opened up his shop. He made cabinets, caskets, spinning wheels, shoe pegs and furniture. He joined forces with his son John Boyle in 1862 and began focusing on furniture.

Since it opened, the store has changed names a few times (though it’s always had “Boyle” in the title). It’s moved through four different Washington Boulevard locations and two on 36th Street. It’s gone through a few different business iterations to adapt with the times and ownership has changed hands inside of the family numerous times.

“Through it all, we’re still standing,” said Jim Boyle, who will soon pass over full ownership over to his son Steve and his daughter Pam Blanch. “For a lot of years, I felt the weight of it, the pressure to keep it going. I always kind of worried that I’d be the last one.”

But he won’t be. Steve Boyle has worked at the store for years and says he’s excited about the future.

“We want to continue to grow,” he said. “We want to be here for the people of Ogden.”

Ogden’s Mayor Mike Caldwell said Boyle Appliance is the high-water mark for small business in Ogden, something others can look to for inspiration.

“What they’ve done is amazing,” Caldwell said. “(Small) businesses are part of what makes a community unique and I think we’re seeing a trend where people want to shop at a place where they can have a more direct, personal experience. People want to get to know the owners, be able to build relationships with them. (Boyle) has obviously been very good at that.”

Caldwell says creating an environment where small businesses can thrive is “absolutely a goal” of the city. He pointed to the restaurants, shops and boutiques along 25th Street as a template.

Brandon Stoddard, director of Weber State’s Small Business Development Center, said there are resources to help fledgling entrepreneurs in Ogden.

The SBDC offers a development training program for small businesses in the Weber, Davis and Morgan counties that provide instruction and coaching to small business owners. Stoddard said the program helps entrepreneurs develop leadership and business skills essential for success.

“One of the main reasons companies fail is a lack of knowledge in how to really do business,” Stoddard said. “You might have someone that has spent years developing a specific skill set like carpentry, plumbing, whatever it is, and they want to start their own business. So while they might have this incredible skill and are very capable in that sense, they also need to know about the business side. That’s where we help.”

More information about the SBDC can be found at weber.edu/sbdc or by calling 801-626-7232.

Stoddard said small businesses “are the lifeblood of our economy,” but noted that success in that arena takes knowledge and hard work - which is something the Boyles say has kept them going for 160 years.

“It’s been worth it, but it’s been hard work - small businesses are tough,” Deann Boyle said. “When the burglar alarm goes off at 3 in the morning, you’ve gotta get out of bed and come down. When a customer calls on Christmas or Thanksgiving because something doesn’t work, you’re the one that has to help them. You have to be willing to do that if you want to succeed.”


Information from: Standard-Examiner, https://www.standard.net

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