Kern River Power Equipment

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Profile appeared in our 32-1 Issue – April 2015

Sometimes when a business has been around for decades, too much emphasis gets put on the past; the way things used to be. For some companies, that can work. For others, it’s necessary to evolve with the times—to update technology and grow as the world changes—in order to keep the doors open.
That opinion is expressed by Anne Stephens and her husband Keith, owners of Kern River Power Equipment.

“The business has been around since 1947,” Stephens explained, “and has been through a few ownerships.” Initially the small store on North Chester was known simply as Kern River Saw Works because that was the primary service provided; sharpening saw blades.

Keith Stephens, sharpening

Keith Stephens, sharpening

Gradually, it expanded to include repair and sale of other equipment, becoming Kern River Saw and Lawn Mower. And 19 years ago, Anne and Keith took over as owners.

While Anne was looking to expand, Keith’s talents were focused on sharpening. “He learned his skill from his grandfather,” she explained. “He’s a hands-on type of person who likes to do the old-style skills that have been lost in the archives and replaced by production lines.” That first year saw a lot of updating and modernizing, moving away from the ma and pa style repair shop. That included adding to the physical store to better display inventory. “This allowed us to add new lines of premium equipment so we could attract more customers and increase our bottom line. The look and feel of the showroom and displays were revamped to make sure the ladies felt comfortable being in the store, and made it accessible to our handicapped customers.” Computers were brought in to manage sales, shop work, inventory, and financial statements.

Anne Stephens

Anne Stephens

In 1999, the name was changed to Kern River Power Equipment to better represent what the store had become. “Our expanded product lines make us a one-stop destination for premium brands of outdoor power equipment —like Stihl, Honda, Husquvarna, Echo, Grasshopper, and others, offering chainsaws, trimmers, generators, water pumps, mowers; all the tools needed to care for your home and yard. Additionally, we are a factory authorized repair facility for the equipment we sell.” Employees receive specialized training in all their products. “We assemble, service, and start the product to make sure it runs at factory specs. The customer is instructed in its operation and key product information and goes home ready to work, knowing the product. You can’t find that by ordering online.”

The last decade has seen continued growth for the business, even during the economic downturn. Stephens set goals and stuck to them to ensure the doors were open and no jobs were lost. “Since we provide services and products to the City of Bakersfield, Kern County, and State buyers, as well as the homeowners of our community, I wanted to stay open.”

And not just stay open, but thrive.

“We’ve transformed from a sharpening and repair shop to something much bigger than that. I think it’s important not to cling too hard to what came before us, but rather just appreciate it and adjust with the times.”

Though now retired, Keith hasn’t lost his love of sharpening. “This interest was what brought us to this place in our lives,” Stephens said. “He continues to use his skills at the local farmers’ market on F Street every Saturday morning, sharpening knives, scissors, and small tools, still providing that service to the public.”

Kern River Power Equipment has succeeded by valuing its history while evolving with the times to meet the needs of our growing community.

www.kernriverpoweronline.com

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