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Hall of Fame: Murray Huppin : Embracing Change

Murray Huppin, president of Huppin’s and OneCall.com

January 2014 By Jeff O'Heir
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“Embrace change and ensure the outcome benefits the company.”

We hear that phrase constantly. We read some form of it in just about every business-related book written. Yet the number of people and businesses that have failed to follow that advice litter the CE landscape.

Murray Huppin, owner of Huppin’s and OneCall.com, is not one of them. The quote could be etched above the entrance of the retail store in Spokane, Wash., and on each page of OneCall. It would not be taken as an empty mantra.

Part of that willingness to change is embedded in the company DNA and another comes from the instincts and education of a smart businessman who recognizes that success is based on more than survival; it’s rooted in making tough decisions that will eventually lead to the right type of company growth.

Huppin is the type of person who’s uncomfortable taking the credit. He attributes the company’s evolution to three prior generations of family members who constantly transformed the business to suit consumer tastes and demands.

His great-grandfather Sam opened Huppin’s in 1908 as a tailor shop in downtown Spokane. Murray’s grandfather Abe took over when Sam died in 1922. Abe and his brother Sam added luggage, pawnbroking and men’s clothing to the mix during the ‘40s. In the 1950s, around the time Murray’s father, Sam (“Little Sam”), joined the company, the family began selling cameras.  By the 1970s, Huppin’s had dropped clothing and pawn to focus on photography and hi-fi.

“It has been about openness, willingness and ability to change,” Huppin said, when asked about the key to the company’s longevity. “We were always willing to make the changes that allowed us to grow and move with the times.”
Murray started working at the store when he was 13. He loved being involved with the variety of products and working closely with his father and uncles. After college he worked as a sales representative for Procter & Gamble, selling to the grocery trade in Los Angeles. He picked up invaluable sales and marketing skills, and an especially important lesson that remains with him today.
“We called on grocery store managers who were always bombarded (by other sales reps),” he said. “I had to make my pitch, understand what the objections were and how to overcome those in 60 seconds.”

 

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