Customer profile: Glen's Army-Navy StorePublished by emzabinski on Wed, 2014-05-07 16:26
Rusty Eichorn from Glen’s Army-Navy Store became a Grand Rapids State Bank customer after working with a “megabank” for 27 years.
“We received a letter one day saying our debt-coverage ratio was unsatisfactory, and that was that,” said Rusty. “When we looked around for another bank with which to do business in 2006, Steve Wilcox was very responsive. I even saved his letter: ‘As one independent business to another, we are excited about the prospects of a commercial business relationship with the Eichorn family. Certainly, we are bullish on family owned businesses…”
The rest is history.
Rusty is the co-owner of Glen’s Army-Navy Store, a business that was started in 1946 by Glen Dix and known as U.S. Surplus. Over time it came to be known as Glen’s Army-Navy Store. Rusty’s parents, Howard and Chris, purchased the business, operating in a 7,000 square-foot building and employing three people, in 1974. Forty years later, the Glen’s Army-Navy building occupies 16,000 square feet and employs 30 people. Three generations of Eichorns work in the business today: Chris Eichorn, Howard’s wife and Mitch’s, Rusty’s and Lynda’s mother, is involved in the daily operations. Justin Eichorn, Mitch's son and a representative of the third generation, is employed there, too.
“We have upgraded our storefront operations so that people walking in the front door are hit with the ‘wow!’ factor,” said Rusty. “Twenty years ago we started advertising Columbia jackets on TV, and my dad thought I was crazy. However, it set us up as a player in the outdoor clothing business. We wanted the foot traffic through the door to share the Glen’s experience.
“Today, we carry many outdoor gear lines, and some are exclusive in this area,” Rusty continued. “Filson; Yeti (coolers); St. Croix; Columbia; Carhartt; Stormy Kromer: these product lines have name recognition that extends beyond our four walls.”
The online side of Glen’s (www.glensoutdoors.com) has been leveraging the “Glen’s elite outdoors gear” brand to sell products online. The internet business has been “moderately successful,” and Rusty anticipates more growth in the future. A portion of the Glen’s building houses the team of people who process and fulfill online orders from all over the country, and all of this is possible because of the brand the Glen’s team has worked to establish over the years.
Besides being a very hands-0n business owner, Rusty is an avid pilot and outdoorsman. He has flown airplanes since he was in high school, and he learned from his father’s keen interest in aviation. Rusty has logged more than 5000 hours of flight time, much of that flying his seaplane to and from his cabin in northwest Ontario. He has flown across much of northern Canada on up near the Arctic Circle.
One of the aspects of flying of which he’s most proud is being a member of the Young Eagles Program. The Experimental Aircraft Association promotes pilots sharing their love of flying with youngsters all over the country. Rusty has participated in this “Young Eagles” program since1993 and has given rides to more than 100 kids. The EAA now has given rides to 1.7 million kids.
And finally, Rusty is a public servant. On May 7, 2002, he was elected in a special election to fill the unexpired term of Itasca County Commissioner Bob Frick. He’s won three elections since then and still enjoys representing the people of Itasca County’s Fourth District.
“There is a mass exodus of seasoned employees leaving the County right now,” said Rusty, “as the Baby Boom Generation catches up with Itasca County. Luckily we have a very cohesive County board right now, and we’re able to deal with those issues and other things in a positive manner. It’s actually very rewarding to serve on the County board.”
Rusty promotes his business whenever he can. He recently attended an intensive sales training seminar to learn more about what it takes to capture a customer’s attention, and he has used what he learned to position Glen’s products for his target market and promote Glen’s as a destination retail store.
“We are excited to announce that we have a partnership for the summer of 2014 with the Farmer’s Market,” Rusty explained. “They will share the large parking lot to the west of our store this summer,” Rusty explained. “That traffic will only complement our regular business.”
Just as the Farmer’s Market was an opportunity that arose suddenly, Glen’s Army-Navy has been flexible over the years to adapt to changes in the market. “Our very sound and positive relationship with Grand Rapids State Bank has helped position us to meet the needs of our changing market,” added Rusty. "We appreciate the confidence they’ve shown in us.”
Rusty; his mother, Chris; and brother, Mitch, stand outside their remodeled store on Highway 2 in Grand Rapids.