Employee in financial division of furniture, electronics store retires after three decades at Alta business
When he was at work at Melander's TV and Appliance, Bob Kramer would cheerfully hand out colorful Gummi worms and 50-cent pieces to children who would come to his desk when their parents would make a purchase at the store.
Kramer, 67, gave his last Gummi worm away Saturday afternoon, as he retired from his job at the furniture, appliance and electronics company after 30 years.
Kramer, who worked in the financial division of the business, was able to meet nearly all of the patrons who purchased merchandise at the store, and he said he would miss that chance to see and visit with so many people the most.
"I really enjoyed helping out customers and seeing people, and that's probably what I'll miss the most about this," Kramer said. "I'll miss the employees quite a bit too, because they were fun to work with. Everybody treated you like family and they were family. It was a great place to be able to work at every day, and I will miss that."
Kramer, who lives in Storm Lake with his wife, Marian, said that friendly approach to customer service not only helped lift his spirits, but was important to customers as well, as they were able to receive the loan which they could use to buy the new couch or washing machine they needed.
"It was enjoyable to be able to help the customers get what they needed," Kramer said. "You wanted to make their life easier and more enjoyable, and it really became almost like a family thing. Over the last few years I've been able to help some of the children of the parents I first helped way back when, and that's been fun to be a part of. It's nice to be able to help those young families out."
Before arriving at Melander's in 1972, Kramer managed financial companies in Emmetsburg and Storm Lake. It was through his work in Storm Lake that he met Harry Melander, who soon asked Kramer to come on board at his company in the financial division of his growing furniture business.
Kramer said he instantly accepted the offer because he had always been impressed with the honest and forthcoming approach he had seen Melander take toward business. It was a philosophy which Kramer said he shared completely.
"Harry was an honest and good man," Kramer said. "I had worked with him before, and I had never had any problems with him before, and his company was well-respected. I thought it would be a good place to work at, and it turned out to be just that.
"There was always a philosophy there of treating the customer right, and I thought we always tried to do that," Kramer continued. "That was a very big part of how I - and everybody else at the store - tried to conduct business."
The Melanders veteran said the electronics aspect of his position has changed the most, as he has had to adjust to the rising level of technology the electronics field has experienced over the past 20 years. DVD players and high-definition televisions now are frequently purchased at the store, a far cry from 20 years ago, when primitive VCRs and Betamax players were just being introduced on the market.
Kramer, whose son, Larry, lives with his wife and children near Grinnell, plans to keep busy in retirement, as he will split time between his hobbies of metal detecting, golfing, fishing and traveling. He also plans to keep a few private financial consulting jobs with patrons around the local area.
"I always came to work with a smile on my face, and I always came home with a smile on my face," Kramer said. "It really was a great place to work at, because I was able to be involved in the community every day. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there."