BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — The American dream is different for everyone, but for the Hahl family, it meant owning their own business, and that dream came to fruition in 2017.
Great Lakes Vacuum has two other locations outside of the flagship store in Maumee – one in Sylvania and one in Bowling Green. The stores provide Northwest Ohioans with vacuum cleaners, mops and carpet cleaners and all the parts they might need to make the products run.
“We took a risk and came to Maumee in 2017 and we took off. From there, we became the largest vacuum dealer in Ohio and almost the largest in the United States now,” said owner Jay Hahl. “We are a warranty center for almost every major brand and model. We carry hundreds of vacuum cleaners in every store.”
Jay, who had previously worked in the industry as a sales manager for another company, knew there was a need in Ohio for a business like this.
With the motivation and help from his wife, Theresa, they settled on Maumee as the location of their first store.
“We had family in Maumee, and we love Maumee,” Jay said. “It’s a great town. It’s a great community and we love the people in Maumee.”
The area had good schools for their four children and a welcoming community, so it was the right choice to start here, Jay said. His children, along with his wife, have also been an integral part of the business.
“My kids and I built this store. It was a shell when we first got it, so my kids came in and helped us build it,” he recounted.
In the store, vacuum cleaners from every major brand are featured, from Dyson, Bissel, Shark and Hoover to Riccar, Sebo and Kirby. The store provides customers with bagless and bagged units to compare, which they are welcome to test in the store before purchasing.
“We (offer) warranty center pricing, and you don’t have to wait for it to get shipped to you,” Jay explained. “You can come here and try it before you buy it, too – all of which makes us different than anywhere you go.”
Additionally, Jay said, because the shop is a warranty center for most major brands, the staff is able to provide appropriate repairs for almost every vacuum cleaner the customers bring in.
“We stock all the parts for our repairs. We have thousands of parts in stock. We can fix it without having to order a part, or we can get it from one of our warehouses or one of our other locations and fix it very fast,” Jay said. “We’re the fastest repair in the industry. Our repairs only take one to two business days from start to finish.”
In addition to repairs, Maumee manager Ryan Wikstrom said he always tries to help each customer stay informed about the products they’re buying and how they spend their money. Many customers, he said, assume bagless vacuum cleaners are the best, but bagged units have come a long way and can be even cleaner for the home.
“I try to convey that education to our customer base,” Ryan said. “I think we pride ourselves on trying to give that knowledge.”
Jay said his staff has 60 combined years of experience in the industry and employees are qualified to offer the advice on what products to choose. He has been in the industry for 20 years himself and said even he continues to learn more each year.
“Vacuum cleaners are always changing. We love to see every year something new and improved come out. With the robot vacuums nowadays, with the central, in-home vacuums, we love the changes that are always made,” he said.
Another part of his job he loves is the customers, Jay said, adding that the staff always strives to do right by the customers and provide them the best service, whether it’s a repair or a new product.
Customers can bring in their vacuums to be looked at for free before committing to a repair service, and they’re also able to call the store at (419) 740-3377 or send a message on Facebook to Great Lakes Vacuum with any questions.
The entire Great Lakes staff will continue to provide the best service they can, Jay pledged.
“Business ownership is like the American dream. We love it,” he said. “We love employing our employees. We love our customers.”
The Great Lakes Vacuum Maumee store can be found at 1398-B Conant St. and is open on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., on Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The store can be reached by phone at (419) 740-3377 and can also be found online at GreatLakesVac.com.