Feature

A Legacy of Service

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With a company history grounded in the service business, Mullet’s Appliances has continued to honor those roots, which have allowed it to thrive as a family-owned appliance company in an age of big-box monotony. It all started in the 1970s when Bill Mullet, Sr., and his son, Bill, Jr., were working in the appliance service business. In 1974, father and son decided to strike out on their own.

Initially, the two men ran a small repair shop but branched out into appliance sales in the late 1970s. After enjoying years of growth, the 1980s were coming to a close and big-box stores were becoming ubiquitous. In order to distinguish itself, Mullet’s Appliances (941.921.5531/mullets.com) began focusing on higher-end appliances and custom kitchens at its location on Clark Road while still always providing service after the sale – a change that laid the foundation for what the company is today.

“We really are full-service. We don’t just sell someone an appliance, give them an 800 number and tell them good luck,” says co-owner Scott Mullet. “Our delivery crew delivers it, our installers install it, and our technicians service it. We are with customers from the initial sale and still with them 15 years later when they decide it’s time to replace.” Mullet and his cousin, Kelby Hochstetler, are the third generation of owners, having taken over from their fathers Bill Mullet, Jr., and his brother-in-law Glenn Hochstetler in 2012.

Today, Mullet’s Appliances has two locations, one at the company’s original headquarters and showroom at 4233 Clark Road in Sarasota, and a second location on Trade Center Way in Naples. “We serve from south St. Petersburg to Marco Island,” Mullet says. “My brother and sister work here, too, so there is almost always a family member in every location.” Mullet’s now has grown to 40 employees, many of whom have long service with the company and have become like family.

Over the years, the family and long term employees have developed strong relationships with local builders, cabinet companies, and designers, many of whom encourage their customers to visit Mullet’s and take advantage of its unique showroom. “We have every appliance built into an actual kitchen setting, which makes it easier for people to visualize how they will look,” he says. “All of our cabinets are from local cabinet companies so if someone sees something they like, we can let them know who to go to, and that makes it easier, too.”

Mullet’s Appliances carries more than 20 brands from Amana, Bosch, KitchenAid and Maytag to Miele, Sub-Zero, Wolf and Viking. Both its Sarasota and Naples showrooms feature Sub-Zero and Wolf Living Kitchens, which are full-scale kitchens containing 90 or more appliances. Living Kitchens are authorized selectively by the manufacturer, and Mullet’s has two of only four locations on the West Coast of Florida. In-home consultations also are available, and for those who don’t have a lot of time for shopping, Mullet’s has a personal shopping service. Working within customers’ budgets, personal shoppers attend to all the details, including researching manufacturers’ current programs and rebates to assure they receive the best value.

When it comes to the future for appliances, the next big thing is already here. Appliances, like nearly everything else, are becoming smarter, and that will continue. “Appliances are increasingly connected both with their owners’ devices and with the internet. Some ranges have an Android tablet built into the touch screen and can do a lot of what a smartphone can do,” Mullet says. “They are getting smarter and smarter to the point where they are almost self-diagnosing. That means service will change along with that, and it will become faster. When we connect remotely with the appliance, it will tell us what it needs, so we can come with the parts we’ll need.” With so much technology on board, that also means service technicians must be trained and tech-savvy, and Mullet’s Appliances has factory service authorization for all of its brands.

Regardless how much appliances change as technology and people’s needs and desires evolve, Mullet plans to keep the value proposition it offers to its customers exactly the same. “People can buy their appliances from a lot of different places, but no one else on the West Coast delivers, installs and services the appliances they sell, and we are the only ones with factory-authorized service,” Mullet says. “Pricing is pretty much the same nationwide, so it only makes sense to pay the same price and get the benefits of a full-service appliance company.”

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