By Angie Mellor
DEHNE LAWN & LEISURE—
an Unexpected Family Business
While the industry has changed since the Keblusek brothers took ownership of their father’s business, they continue to work diligently to ensure their business values and store experience remain the same.
n his 26th birthday, Michael Keblusek and his brothers, Tom and John, buried their father who passed away in his sleep only six weeks after buying a new business. Their father, John Sr., purchased Dehne Lawn & Leisure after spending 25 years operating an Ace Hardware franchise in the south Chicago suburbs with his parents and brother. John Keblusek Sr. took over operations at the established equipment dealership in Northbrook, Illinois, in the middle of a drought on a Friday the 13th in 1988. The Keblusek brothers didn’t anticipate following in their father’s footsteps, but fate had other plans. At the time, Michael was working as a credit manager, John a department manager and Tom a graphic artist. But when their father passed away unexpectedly, they assumed ownership of Dehne Lawn & Leisure. “Our father always lectured that family will always be family, no matter what happens, and we should make every effort to be congenial. After sharing a bedroom for 21 years and working in the family hardware store, the transition seemed natural, almost pre-destined,” recalls Michael.
Quality Service by Committed Employees
“We operate a throwback mercantile establishment that still phones our customers to remind them to 4
The Keblusek brothers each bring their own personality to the table as part of their commitment to quality customer service.
service their equipment. We still do not have air conditioning. And we still make candid recommendations with honest rebuttal,” Michael says. The Keblusek brothers are committed not only to their customers, but also to their employees. One employee, Jim Pantle, worked with Dehne Lawn & Leisure for over 50 years, including when the business was still owned by the Dehne family. According to an article in the Northbrook Star, “Pantle has worked at Dehne Lawn & Leisure since 1967, repairing countless lawn mowers and snow blowers and string trimmers.” In the article, Michael notes how Pantle’s work ethic mirrored the brothers’ values of quality and commitment: “It’s not a glamorous
job, but I think there’s something honorable about somebody that can be a hard worker, and be reliable and dependable and selfless.” Securing and retaining employees like Pantle can make or break a business, and the Keblusek brothers understand that happy and welltreated employees make for quality customer experiences and a higher rate of customer satisfaction in return. The Kebluseks’ commitment to valuing their employees includes above-average compensation, fully funded healthcare, holiday pay, and vacation for both full- and parttime employees.
The Brothers Keblusek Furthermore, the Keblusek brothers
GREEN INDUSTRY PROS DEALER SUCCESS GUIDE ■ VOLUME 39
3/8/18 1:37 PM