A multigenerational commitment to supporting local
For generations, families across Bakersfield have looked to Urner’s as a trusted source for home appliances, furniture and now, even more. This establishment has stood strong for over a century, evolving from its inception in the Fall of 1919 to become one of Kern County’s oldest and most respected businesses.
“Though much has changed since our inception, Urner’s core principles endure, even 104 years later: providing great products, sold by great people, to great customers,” said Cameron Illingworth, the great-grandson of Dave E. Urner and current Vice President of Urner’s. “We are proud to carry on my grandfather’s legacy, with an ongoing commitment to delivering quality products and services.”
“My grandpa’s vision is that we strive to be a superior service to our customers.” This philosophy has led Urner’s to maintain a tradition of pricing their products above industry standards, showcasing their dedication to delivering unparalleled service. Surprisingly, customers embraced this approach, recognizing the value of excellent customer service.
However, with the evolving digital age and the ever-expanding consumer market, Illingworth recognized the necessity of modernizing this approach.
“Times have changed…which means you start going against 80 years of one way of doing business,” he explained.
Today, Urner’s stands committed to exceptional customer service while priced competitively below its competitors. “Just because we’re local doesn’t mean we’re high priced, a lot of our products are priced cheaper than our competitors,” said Illingworth.
Urner’s proudly delivers top-notch products and services, while fostering long-lasting careers within the Bakersfield community. Through competitive benefits and wages aimed at retaining employees, Illingworth attributes the company’s success in employee longevity to the strong sense of family it cultivates. “We try to stay ahead of the curve to prevent turnover,” Illingworth shared.
Remarkably, over half of Urner’s current staff has over 10 years of dedication to the company. Illingworth emphasizes the significance of personally engaging with 80% to 90% of his employees daily, ensuring that family ambiance continues.
Urner’s also takes pride in its open-door policy, actively encouraging team members to share their ideas and concerns directly with the owners.
“About a year or two before my grandpa’s passing, you would see him walking around our stores every day…you saw my grandpa, my dad and me,” said Illingworth. “Three generations in the same building for the last 10 years, everyone knew who we were and there was never a feeling you couldn’t talk to my grandpa or any of us.”
Illingworth’s first job with Urner’s was popping popcorn at their semi-annual private sales when he was barely a teenager. Progressing through his high school years, he transitioned to working in the warehouse and summer breaks during college were spent learning to sell appliances.
Then, in 2013, he found his way back to the family business, becoming the fourth generation to contribute to the company’s legacy alongside his father Steve Illingworth, President of Urner’s.
“Secretly, in a multigenerational family business, you always kind of hope someone will want to stay in the family business,” he shared. “I will say I was never pressured to come back.”
Illingworth laughed, recalling his father’s order that he must retain a college degree before considering returning to the business.
After completing his accounting degree at Point Loma Nazarene University, Illingworth ventured into two different industries and accumulated nearly 5 years of external experience that now aids in the continued longevity of Urners. With the future alongside his children, Illingworth holds a firm stance on maintaining a no-pressure environment regarding the next generation’s involvement in the family business.
When it comes to supporting local, Illingworth believes that when money flows into national chains, it often exits our communities. Alternatively, businesses like Urner’s create a positive ripple effect and may have a lighter carbon footprint.
Because Urner’s is a local business, Urner’s keeps its inventory in a warehouse right here in Bakersfield. This allows them to provide same-day or next-day delivery in most cases, surpassing the service offered by national chains and cutting down on shipping.
“When you shop at places like Urner’s, we give back to our community, we pay livable wages here in Bakersfield,” said Illingworth. “We re-invest back into Bakersfield keeping those funds circulating in our community longer.”
Urner’s commitment to community improvement is evident through contributions like providing new mattresses to Teen Challenge and collaborating with The Mission at Kern County.
“The President of Urner’s, my dad Steve, has a huge heart for giving to those in need in our community,” said Illingworth. “However, it goes without saying, that we couldn’t bless our community to the extent that we do if it weren’t for our loyal customers.”
Urner’s charitable efforts haven’t gone unnoticed by the community. Urner’s leadership aims to build on this legacy by sustaining its giving tradition, further enhancing Bakersfield’s future.
“One saying we have around here is that Urner’s has the best customers…before my grandpa, Dave Urner passed last year, he used to tell me that “if we take care of the customer, the customer will take care of us,” said Illingworth. “And, those words still guide us today and will remain our commitment moving forward.”
“I believe the legacy that started over 100 years ago is continuing today, though it may look different now than it did then, our family has made an impact through this business for four generations and will continue to do so for many years to come,” said Illingworth.
You can find Chamber member businesses to support by visiting the map and directory on our homepage at www.shoplocalshopnow.com and support small businesses by visiting locally owned stores. Shop Local, Shop Now is sponsored by the Kern Women’s Business Center.