Abt has a long history as a company run not just by a family, but run as a family. Even with more than 1200 employees, most of us grow close enough to our co-workers to consider them a second family. Members of this extended Abt family stay with the company for long periods of their careers, developing a loyalty that has many of them turning down job offers at larger companies, or commuting distances that some would consider unreasonable, just to work at Abt. We often get to hear from customers about why they choose Abt, but for a change we decided to look a little closer to home and ask our own employees: Why Abt?
Most will tell you that it’s all about the people. Agnes B, a member of the appliance sales staff, has been with the company for 17 years. When asked why she’s stayed so long, her immediate response was, “Abt is my home away from home.” From the day she started, “it was easy to make friends, and Abt had a friendly working environment.” It’s not uncommon to find people in every department across the store who have been here ten, fifteen, or twenty years. When you spend that much time together, it’s impossible not to become close, to find a best friend, or even your soul-mate—dozens of couples who met at Abt have gone on to get married! Agnes recently found herself running 200 miles across Wisconsin and Illinois with 11 of her Abt co-workers.
Others got hooked by the chance to learn something new or move up in the ranks from one position to the next (we prefer to promote from within), which is one of the reasons so many employees have such long tenures here. Tim M, a 20-year veteran, loves the front-line access to today’s most advanced products. A passion for cooking started him out selling high-end kitchen appliances, but he’s since transitioned to a position in the custom audio department. He says that the way technology advances in the home entertainment industry brings a challenge to the job, but with it comes a great learning experience. And getting hands-on experience with countless brand-new tech toys—like the dozens of high-end, 4K TVs that surround his salesfloor—is just one of the perks of his position. Tim is one of our long-distance commuters, racking up over 100 miles each day on his roundtrip drive. Ask him if it’s worth it, and he’ll tell you yes, in part because “the Abts are a great family to work for, and they treat their employees well.” Okay, but how does he feel about the rest of the people around him? For the answer, just look towards his favorite golf course, where every other Wednesday he gets in a round or two with eleven of his Abt co-workers.
The family theme runs through most anecdotes, but for some, it goes deeper than just a general sense of connection, to very personal relationship with one very special man, Bob Abt. Bob, known alternately as “Mr. Abt,” has always prided himself on not just the overall family environment at Abt, but his efforts to personally connect with as many of his employees as possible, in every department throughout the store. Lance N was a manager at a competing store over 25 years ago. He was well-known and well-liked in the industry, and Bob thought he’d be a perfect fit at Abt, and so convinced Lance to come work at the store (then located in Morton Grove). Lance has been with us ever since, repaying Bob’s trust with a loyalty that has kept him at the store well past midnight many nights. Ask him, why, and he’ll tell you: “Bob trusted me since day one. I closed the store with him three to five times a week until 3am to make sure the store was ready for the next day. Bob taught me everything I had to know. If it weren’t for Bob, I wouldn’t be doing what i am doing today.”
And you’ll hear a similar story from Leslie, who’s been at Abt for 12 years now. She’d been a family friend of the Abts in her time before working here, and often found herself doing business with Abt. Years ago, Leslie’s life took an unfortunate turn, and she found herself looking for work. Her troubles came up in passing conversation with Bob, and he offered her a job on the spot, with a schedule that was flexible enough to accommodate caring for her two young boys. She started as a call-taker in electronics service, then moved to a position as a sales-assistant. Her work ethic in that position quickly impressed Bob, who insisted she become a full-fledged sales associate. The rest, as they say, is history, and today Leslie is a sales pro, helping customers interested in high-end kitchen appliances. Summing up her experience here, she says, “Abt and their business is one big family. Mr. Abt has touched each and every one of us in a different way.”
As we close in on our 80th year in business, we look to celebrate all the things that make us great, for both our employees, as well as all of our loyal customers across the country. While we continue to explore the reasons each of us has chosen Abt, we also want to know why you do too. We appreciate each and every one of our customers, and continuously want to do good by you, eliminating what you don’t like and doubling down on what you do. So, we ask our customers: “Why Abt?” Please let us know! In a comment here or on Facebook, a Tweet, or a photo on Instagram. Include the hashtag #WhyAbt and we’ll collect and share your memories with the entire Abt family, all 1200 of us.