Rohrbauck named manager at Karl's
WORTHINGTON -- Wayne Rohrbauck has climbed the figurative ladder -- and likely a few actual ladders, too -- in his career with Karl's TV & Appliance. He was recently named manager of the Worthington store, located at 208 Ninth St.
"I've been in this location going on 22 years," said Rohrbauck, who was born in Worthington and grew up in nearby Brewster. "I started here back when Rickbeil's Furniture was in this location. I started out just as a stock worker, but a year, year and a half later I was doing sales -- and still doing repairs and stock and warehouse.
"I started from ground zero and worked my way up," he added. "Furniture was a good experience."
When Rickbeil's was sold to Karl's TV & Appliance in 1988, Rohrbauck, like much of the staff, stayed on. Dick Rickbeil continued to manage the local store. Rohrbauck's promotion to manager coincided with Rickbeil's recent retirement.
Although the Worthington store continues to carry some furniture, the emphasis with Karl's has been more on electronics and appliances.
"In the world of appliances and electronics, like everything else, it changes periodically," Rohrbauck said. "You've got to keep learning. With appliances there are new features every three to four months. The electronics change a lot, too-- twice a year. It's an ongoing learning process.
"Knowledge in this field is very key. You have to know what you're talking about, and honesty is still the best policy," he said. "If I don't know, I'll tell people I don't know, but I will figure it out. That's what Fritz (Korthals) taught me when I started in furniture: You've got to be straightforward and honest. That's how you get repeat customers, keep their faith."
Rohrbauck has stayed with retail sales because he enjoys it, and he knows many of his customers appreciate being able to buy the items that Karl's offers locally. His regular customers also know Rohrbauck will go the extra mile to make them happy, even interrupting a fishing outing to deliver a much-needed refrigerator or freezer after store hours.
"In this day and age, there are always going to be people who feel like they have to drive to the big cities to get better deals," he said. "But with 23 stores, Best Buy doesn't buy cheaper, Sears doesn't buy cheaper than Karl's. They just have to clearance items out more often. I research what other stores are selling, and we're right in the ballpark with the big guys, and we're still a servicing dealer. If you buy locally, we've got the warranty, and we're going to take care of you."
Bringing in a part-time service technician on a regular basis is one of the improvements Rohrbauck hopes to accomplish soon so that all repairs don't have to be sent to Sioux Falls, S.D. He'd also like to "rejuvenate the store a bit," to make it look more modern and updated, in keeping with the state-of-the-art appliances and electronics that are sold there.
Staying on top of the technology may require constant research, but it's an aspect of the job that Rohrbauck particularly enjoys.
"I love selling TVs, especially the LCDs," he said. "But I do enjoy it all, I like selling it all, just for the fact it's always changing. In the field of retail sales, it's never boring. There are always more efficient washers, and I've always loved stoves, because a man's gotta eat.
"All of it is fun -- just to find out what the customer is needing. I want to fill their needs and make them happy, and then maybe they'll come back six months or a year later for something else they might need."
Rohrbauck is one of six employees at the Worthington Karl's locale, and he's hoping to expand that sales force if necessary.
Karl's TV & Appliance is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday; and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.