BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Retail and customer service has been in Bobby Holtkamp’s family since his mom helped start Kempker’s True Value with her father decades ago.
Since that time, his parents have been the business of helping people create personal indoor spaces with Floors, Decor and More and, although Bobby didn’t go into the family business right away, he’s found a nice home…in furnishing homes.
“My grandpa opened Kempker’s, so I guess entrepreneurship runs in the family,” he said.
Holtkamp started his own furniture store in the same location in 2013 and married his wife Jessica the same year. When he had his business established and built a strong following he began the process of negotiating with his parents Dave and Sandy to acquire the Floors, Decor and More business. In April of this year, he completed the transaction and has preserved his parents’ business, while at the same time, solidifying a future for his family, including son Reece. Bobby and Jessica are also expecting a second child around the New Year.
In April of this year, the Holtkamps completed the deal to acquire his parents’ company and now have a fully integrated complete home comfort center with full service flooring and furnishings. A step into the store tucked neatly into the Santa Fe district of central Fort Madison, opens into a boutique showroom efficiently staging home furnishings and flooring.
Now Holtkamp can offer what he calls a full comfort center for local and regional customers, as well as looking at larger corporate jobs. His flooring specialists are currently working on Boulders Inn and Suites expansion.
He says the smaller town service is what sets Holtkamp’s operation apart.
“I think people know us here and know us for great customer service. Word of mouth is the best form of marketing,” Holtkamp said.
He said the smaller footprint compared to the larger showrooms of big box retailers in the regional centers is navigated by top-notch salespeople who are educated in how people shop for furnishings and flooring.
“You can get a sofa anywhere, but I think the personal attention we give to our customers is what really sets us apart from those bigger places,” Holtkamp said. “We may have a smaller showroom, but we’re really good at showing people if we have a piece they like, we can get chairs, tables, and the other accessories to go with it. I’ve had people come in, even from outside Fort Madison who may be looking at flooring and end up leaving with a whole living room package. We’ve got everything they need right here.”
He said with his wife handling most of the accounting and bookwork, he has more time to work the showroom floor and coordinate the warehouse.
Holtkamp said they also carry a very large range of fabrics from the England Co. and can have most furnishings in any England fabric in most cases within 30 days. So customers can take their time, pick exactly what fits their personality and lifestyles.
In addition to the family business, the Holtkamps are also vested in their community. Holtkamp has served as the president of the YMCA board and on the board itself for more than four years and now spends his volunteer time with the Tri-State Rodeo. Jessica volunteers with local groups as well. But he says his commitment to this community doesn’t stop there.
He left the area for college and then lived away from the area for about three more years before deciding to return home.
“I missed this type of living and now I wouldn’t even think of living anywhere else.
“If I can find the time, and it’s tougher now, I always try to give in some way to the groups and organizations that work for the benefit of the community. Even if it’s a gift certificate for a free install. It’s important to be a part of what’s going on and we look for those opportunities.” he said.
The store has a staff of four full-time installers, two full-time sales staff, and a part-time sales person. The store is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.