Oliver Dyer transformed his parents’ repair shop into Fort Worth’s premier appliance retailer.
A true family business has a memory and life all its own. It’s possible to identify the moment of its birth and trace its growth into maturity, as the decades pass and children — who grew up in the business — become owners. Dyer’s Automatic Washing Machine Repair first opened its doors in 1945. Five years later, the owners had a son named Oliver, who spent his childhood among the machines, tools and clientele of the Fort Worth repair shop.
“I grew up hanging around the shop as a kid,” remembers Oliver. “As any kid would do in a repair shop, they’d give me something to tear apart, and I’d take my dad’s tools and put it back together. I’d go to the shop on Saturdays, and spend the summers there too.”
So began the education that would lead to Oliver assuming the mantle of his parents’ business and making it truly his own. Today, Oliver Dyer’s Appliances occupies over 20,000 square feet at 8320 Camp Bowie West, and offers sales and service of a broad range of home appliances. From microwaves to air conditioners, and — of course — washers and dryers, Oliver Dyer’s has built a sterling reputation through customer service and a singular 60-year history in the community. It also helps that the boss understands the business, quiet literally, inside and out.
“I started off doing home service and got my first service call when I was 16,” says Oliver. “Someone got sick one day and couldn’t show up, so I said ‘I could go fix that stuff.’ I went out to the customer’s house, and they had the same reaction I’d have now: ‘What are you doing here?’”
Luckily, the young Oliver was already well-versed in repair, and his skill quickly allayed the customer’s concerns over his youthfulness. That first day saw a half-dozen more calls serviced by the 16-year-old repairman. When he returned to the shop and submitted his paperwork, his mother greeted him with a simple phrase:
“She said, ‘Welcome to the real world,’” remembers Oliver.
The son took over the parents’ business for good in 1970, and began retail sales just a couple years later. The first decade of Oliver’s watch saw a move to the west side and the construction of a new building. The shift to retail necessitated a new focus on employee accountability, as Oliver wanted to ensure that every member of his business offered the same level of excellence as he did.
“We built the business on excellent customer service,” says Oliver. “If you take care of the customers you have, they’ll send you your business. We take care of people and work through referrals. Before we’re through with a customer, we make sure that they’re happy enough to send us all their family members.”
To both encourage and reward his staff, Oliver offers a unique performance-based compensation system. Hard work and attention to detail renders well-paid employees empowered to do whatever they need to satisfy Oliver Dyer’s customers. In line with this, Oliver gives each new hire a card that summarizes the business’s goals, mission, and beliefs about customers.
The cards reads, in part: “To be the best major appliance sales and service business in Fort Worth. To accomplish this by treating our employees with the high degree of respect they deserve.” As a business philosophy, this employee-centric approach has yielded rich rewards for Oliver Dyer’s, not the least of which is an expert and veteran team.
“I surveyed my employees once, and at the time, 15 of the 25 had been with us for more than 10 years,” says Oliver. “Collectively, they had 250 years of experience in the business.”
Over the years, Oliver Dyer’s has become as much a part of west Fort Worth as the bricks that pave Camp Bowie, with an integrity and solidity to match. From the early days, when Oliver and his parents fixed the massive washers bolted to customer’s floors, to the sales and service of today’s modern appliances, one thing about Dyer’s has remained unchanged: devotion to its clientele.
“Customers are the only reason for any business to exist,” says Oliver. “They are not dependent on us, but we are dependent on them. People bring us their wants and needs, and they get the most courteous and attentive treatment we can provide.”