PLATSBURGH – The world is a long way from the days of gas-powered washer-extractors, says Nathan Wilson, president of Wilson Appliance Centers.
A century to be exact.
Edward Vincent “EV” Wilson began selling advanced machinery as a door-to-door salesperson in October 1921.
“Over a period of 100 years, we used to sell people their first washing machine in 1921 until today, where the concept of being without a washing machine is just completely foreign,” said Nathan, grandson of ‘EV.
“Having to wash clothes in a sink is just not a relevant concept today. Appliances are a must in today’s homes: washer, dryer, stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, ”he continued.
“I think EV had some foresight when he decided to go for home appliances over who knows what other options there were in the 1920s.”
The family home appliance center started out as the Adirondack Maytag Company with a storefront on Margaret Street near Arnie’s Restaurant in downtown Plattsburgh.
The store took its current nickname in the 1930s when EV added other devices, like refrigerators, to its catalog.
Nathan became the third-generation president of the family business 60 years later when his father, Mike, the youngest of EV’s three sons, passed away.
“I was immersed in (the family business) from the time I could walk, but I was really thrown into leadership in 1998,” Nathan said, noting that he was 25 at the time and had experience in service, sales, delivery. and other departments.
“Appliances are really all I know of. This is what I was raised with and what I grew up with.
CENTURY IN BUSINESS
While EV was still at the helm, Wilson Appliances weathered the Great Depression and WWII. The Defense Protection Act forced him and other device manufacturers to move their facilities to the production of war supplies.
“So EV ventured into refurbishing used household appliances and selling handmade furniture and gas cylinders,” Nathan says in a press release.
Sons Jack, Ted and Mike took over in the 1950s and 1960s – during the golden age of television – and took the company away from wartime production.
“The Wilson’s have reduced their assortment of furniture and bottled gas to focus exclusively on appliances in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties,” Nathan adds.
THE WORLD TODAY
This goal remains today.
Wilson Appliance Center has three locations, including its head office at 795 Route 3 in Plattsburgh, the Lake Placid location on Route 73, and the “Scratch and Dent” outlet at 32 Broad Street in Plattsburgh.
It employs 35 workers and offers more than 100 brands of household appliances.
“My goal and mission was to expand and grow, and grow into truly being the dominant appliance store – fully encompassing sales, service, parts and stocked equipment – for Clinton counties, Essex and Franklin, ”Nathan said.
This meant competing with cornerstone boxing stores, like Best Buy, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Sears, and Home Depot.
“In order for us to be competitive with (them), we have to buy at that level and that volume,” Nathan said. “To do this, we are members of a cooperative where many sellers of household appliances buy together.”
Wilson Appliance joined its first cooperative in 2002 and is now owned by several.
“Having access to this gives us the purchasing power to be competitive to sell at the same price.”
Industry rocked during the COVID-19 pandemic when it had to chase supply instead of demand.
“Over the past year and a half, stocks have been upside down,” Nathan said. “We had to expand warehousing to accommodate larger orders because backorders are so long.
“The realization was a big challenge, even if the demand is there. “
Like many other companies facing staff shortages, the president said he has a harder time finding quality employees than customers.
“Customers seem to be there lately, it’s just a matter of getting the product to them. “
THE NEXT 100 YEARS
Comparing today’s clothes washers to the wringers his grandfather sold back then, Nathan believed that continuous technological advancements would keep the appliance industry relevant in the future.
“Most home appliances today have an app that you download as soon as you get it so you can control your washer or stove or even your refrigerator right on your phone,” he said. “The most common is certainly an air conditioner. “
The long-standing company and its heritage inspires the pride of the current president, who, with two children at home, Colin, 6, and Michael, 10, does not overlook the prospect of a fourth generation.
“While we certainly don’t push anything against them, the idea that one day there might be an interest between one of them – it keeps me moving things forward,” Nathan said.
“So that they have the possibility, if they wish, to create a fourth generation.”
Wilson Appliance Center will be celebrating its 100th anniversary on Saturday, October 16 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in its showroom on Route 3.
“Wilson’s will celebrate and showcase their Appliance Import showroom, with tastings from Executive Chef Curtiss Hemm of Carriage House Cooking School in Peru,” said a statement. “There will be raffles, free gifts and samples.
“Manufacturer representatives will be on hand and a full staff will be there to thank the northern community for 100 years of support.”
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