We hope you enjoy reading this article, published in the current issue of Texas Landowners Association magazine.
In a recent marketing planning session, ideas were shared and discussed about how best to market and celebrate Bering’s upcoming 75th anniversary. It was admittedly a bit of a surprise when Augie IV commented, “It should be progressive.” I suppose it came as a surprise due to Bering’s well known reputation of good old fashion customer service. However, as it turns out, it should not have been the least bit surprising, because businesses do not remain successful unless they are progressive.
Customers always come first at Bering’s, directly resulting in the diverse product mix generations of Houstonians have come to expect and rely on. As a Bering’s employee, customer service expectations are raised as high as your hands can reach. (And if your hands can’t reach, then a foot stool better make up the difference!) Bering’s employees aren’t in the business of selling; they are in the business of explaining and informing customers about their options and the difference between them.
The old fashion customer service began in 1940, when August C. Bering, Jr. founded Bering Lumber Co., as a wholesale lumber yard. Upon August C. Bering’s passing, his son, August C. Bering III, decided to relocate the business to the current 6102 Westheimer location. The decision was strategic, as Houston was expanding west of downtown and plans to construct new homes were developing.
Through years of responding to customer needs, the store morphed into an indescribable business that continues to sell hardware, as well as Baccarat crystal, children’s apparel, Big Green Egg grills, small kitchen appliances, gourmet coffee, top-of-the-line fine paper in stationery and more. Bering’s was recently noted as one of the nation’s top 25 retail stores in author, George Whalin’s book, Retail Superstars. Whalin cited, “Berings is very different!”
Bering’s CEO, Augie IV noted, “Our customers and staff have guided us into lines of business we would never have imagined. Our picture frame shop became our gift shop because an employee saw the need. Another employee suggested we add the world’s best coffees. Merchandise no longer relevant to our changing customer base was edited out and replaced with newer lines.”
The Bering’s have experienced most everything there is to experience over their seventy five years in business. In 1971, a fire came close to destroying the Westheimer store. While many would have seen the challenge of rebuilding too much to deal with, the Bering’s viewed it as an opportunity to expand their product mix to include housewares and fine china.
“Market conditions and changes have always been, and continue to be, met by adapting to what our customers need and ask for. When the rise of commercial hardware chains pushed us out of the lumber market, we saw it as an opportunity to turn the department into a children’s boutique,” Augie Bering V, Bering’s President.
Listening to the voice of the customer is what has lead to Bering’s almost seventy-five years of business in Houston. Old fashion customer service paired with an ear open to ever-changing customer and employee needs is the progressive mix Bering’s has stood behind for seventy-five years, and as they say, “Some things will never change!”
– Julie Shuford
Bering’s Marketing Manager