Finding Unique Ways to Serve Customers and the Community

“We’ve been diversified, yet consistent and steady in the way we honor our customers,” is how Sharon Killian Radke, co-owner of Killians in Hickory, North Carolina, sums up the outdoor power equipment dealership’s nearly 64-year history. The description illustrates the way the business has transitioned from a mill to a hardware store and then to the outdoor power equipment dealership it is today – all while maintaining a community focus.

Transparent interactions and superior customer service are the foundation of the dealership’s connection to the community, but the business also finds other ways to interact with their community.

“My grandfather collected antique items and my father collected cars,” said Radke. “We open up the museum several times a year. We have an airplane on top of the museum, more than 70 vehicles, a post office and barbershop. Community members are amazed when visiting. It is literally like walking through history.”

The museum certainly sets the dealership apart from competitors, but it is the team at Killians that provides great experiences for their commercial customers.

“Even though our parts and service departments are phenomenal, we have to align ourselves with companies that can provide us with the expertise we need to offer 24-hour turn-around service. In the rare instance that we cannot provide that service, we offer demo equipment for their use,” said Radke.

The dealership also offers free training and classes to customers focused on a variety of educational topics, including pesticide certifications and highway regulations. The business also donates equipment for local nonprofit organizations to use, a practice Radke’s father, Elmer, started 35 years ago.

“We try proactively to help and educate our customers, which, in turn, helps our dealership,” said Radke. “We are very community driven.”

The strong sense of community that resonates with Radke is also apparent in her industry involvement with Equipment Dealership Association’s (EDA’s) Outdoor Power Equipment Council.

“Staying active with EDA is helpful for us because we can collaborate with dealers from across the country,” she said. “The power of ‘we’ is quite strong. We get that momentum going and there is no stopping us.”

Passion, honesty and integrity drives the dealership’s business, and Radke said that by keeping those values, Killians has been able create consistent relationships with customers.

“We aren’t here to oversell our customers,” said Radke. “Not everyone wants the most expensive piece of equipment. We listen to what their needs are. Without a doubt, our best advertisement is our customers and their continued repeat business.”

Article provided by the Equipment Dealers Association (EDA). EDA’s Outdoor Power Equipment Council represents the nearly 2,000 EDA members who carry OPE brands. For more information, visit


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