Kovash Furniture - a family venture
Al and Evelyn Kovash purchased a furniture store 41 years ago, with the vision of having a family-owned business for generations yet to come. Their vision has come true, as sons Scott and Keith Kovash are the current owners of Kovash Furniture & Bedding.
"We were part of the boom years and part of the bust years," Al said. "It's been like a roller coast-most businesses see some good years and some not-so-good years."
Before investing in furniture, Al worked at Midwest Motor Express for 18 years-serving as terminal manager. When a budget furniture store came up for sale at 338 Villard Street East, they decided to make the investment.
Scott was a junior in high school at the time, while Keith has been with the family business since day one-working in the warehouse and helping with deliveries.
Their other two brothers also got their start in retail furniture-Scott's older brother, Randy started out here, and he is in the furniture management business in North Carolina. Tom, the youngest brother, worked here too, and he is in furniture management at Sioux Falls, S.D.
"Our sister, Nancy, was never involved, but we're all still in it one way or another," Scott said.
At age 78, Al continues to make contributions to the business.
"I do as little as possible," he said with a smile.
"He makes the coffee, gets the mail and does the running around," Scott said. "We still depend on him, because, in fact, we're a skeletal crew right now. Hopefully, that will change again."
Like his brother Keith, Scott started working in warehouse and deliveries.
"It was a way to earn some money, and I think it taught us discipline," he said.
From 1987 to 1991, Scott worked in the Dickinson Police Department.
"I was a cop, but I left and came back," he said. "I liked working in retail. Retail is something that we grew up around-that's what we knew, that's what our comfort zone was-furniture."
A third generation of family members also have worked at Kovash Furniture.
"I've got a 25-year-old son and he helped with delivers," Keith said.
Scott's children are still too young, but his son in the seventh grade is already asking when he can start.
Al believes that their success in retail has been their customer service, quality products and the ability to change with the times.
"We certainly try our best," Keith added. "We definitely greet and help our customers."
During the boom years, customer traffic was quite heavy.
"Companies would come and need to fill three or four apartments at a time-that's the way it was," Scott said.
He added, "We've got arguably one of the best crews-one guy, Mitch, has been here for 20 years-he's part of the family and it would be hard to operate without him."
Al invested in quality furniture and carpeting when he opened the doors. They closed out their carpet line, and have been selling Serta bedding for about 35 years.
"In retail business, you always try to respond to whatever the need is-you guess right sometimes, sometimes you don't," Al said. "We change with the times."
As Scott explained, "Several years ago, people used to have formal dining room and formal living room furniture. That's all gone now. Everyone is so casual today. People use their furniture today-we're overwhelmingly selling reclining furniture. We sell very few china cabinets-nobody collects china anymore. Just like book shelves-nobody has books. Nobody buys cedar chests-that used to be a graduation gift, but that's almost unheard of."
Today, customers will see a variety of casual dinette sets and recliners. The fabrics have evolved as well, and today everything is leather and microfiber, Scott said.
"Brands have come and gone, but I'd say we're more towards quality," he said.
Kovash Furniture also sells electric fireplaces-something they've added in the last 8 years
"They are very realistic today," he said.
The brothers stay current with trends by attending market at Las Vegas. They usually travel in January and July.
"It's Scott's turn next," Keith said with a smile.
Looking to the future, Al forecasts a turnaround in the economy.
"I think we're going to have a definite change by the end of the year," he said. "I don't think it will be really good, but it will get a lot better."