Made in Ontario: Cagles Appliance Center

Like so many great entrepreneur stories, the story of Cagles Appliance Center begins with a young man, a desire to move out West, the dream of opening his own business, and the harsh reality that he only had a few bucks in his pocket.

This is the "Made in Ontario" story of Aubrey Cagle and his wife, Lorene, founders of longtime and local favorite Cagles Appliance Center at 114 S. Campus Avenue in Ontario, California.

MOVING OUT WEST

In 1946, Aubrey Cagle had just married his young bride, Lorene, when he made the decision to move to Ontario. He had bought and operated his own gas station in Arkansas, and had already dabbled in entrepreneurship by starting his own car washing business. But he wanted more. 

With $50 in his pocket, he and Lorene moved out West with dreams of one day owning their own business. 

And that they would.

They selected Ontario because he had heard there were ample jobs. Sunkist and General Electric were top employers in Ontario at the time.  He went to work at Pomona Pumps, and opened his first venture into the used furniture arena at 9th Street and Grove Avenue in 1948.

THE FURNITURE BUSINESS

After just a few years in Ontario and with the help of his young bride, the couple started a furniture store on State Street in 1949.  He diversified and opened a plumbing shop in Ontario in 1951.  He expanded and opened a Cagles Furniture store in Upland in 1965.  But when the store in Upland started selling Maytag, that was the beginning of the appliance element.  They kept the store in Upland until 1973, and then decided to just focused on their Ontario business. 

A few years later, their son, Jerry, joined the family business and started offering the appliance servicing-section of the business. 

"As soon as the word got out that Cagles did service and sold appliances, it just went crazy from there," said Debi Cagle, President of Cagles Appliance and daughter of Aubrey and Lorene Cagle.

Debi joined the family business in the 1970s, and today the company remains a family-run and operated business that stays true its core value of offering premiere customer service.

"People really like that it is a family run business, too," said Debi Cagle, pictured above at the showroom in Ontario. Today, her brother Gary, two cousins, and aunt all work at Cagles.

Quote:

"People really like that it is a family run business." - Debi Cagle, daughter of founders Aubrey and Lorene Cagle:

At A Glance: Cagles Appliance Center

Location: 114 S. Campus Avenue

President: Debi Cagle

Year Founded: 1952

Employee Total: 15

Business Philosophy:  "Where Customers Send Their Friends – Provide the best customer service possible" 

 

CAGLES TODAY

Today, Cagles Appliance is one of the few remaining independent appliance dealers in the Inland Empire. Their goal is to live up to their motto - "Where customers send their friends."  It is this value that has contributed to its success. Cagles has been open for 64 years, and remains a place where generations of families have gone to buy their refrigerators, stoves and washer and dryers. Even today, when you walk into Cagles Appliance Center, you are warmly welcomed, and Cagles Appliance team members will ask customers how their parents or children are. 

This commitment to customers has also meant commitment to community, and Cagles Appliance is a staunch supporter of community organizations and an advocate for Ontario.

While Cagles customer service quality has remained the same over the years, Debi Cagle has also seen many changes, both in the City of Ontario and within the appliance business.

Ontario remains a great place to do business in part because of its central location. About 95 percent of Cagles Appliance business is in a 30-mile-radius, and freeway accessibility helps Cagles team members quickly respond to customers’ needs - especially when it comes time for service repairs.

One of the most dramatic impacts to the business was Internet sales. They have been able to overcome that by participating in a buyers group to get extremely competitive pricing, as well as offering services online. While sales slumped in recent years, particularly during the recession, consumer trends finally seem to be going in a direction that favors small, local retailers like Cagles Appliance Center.

"People are showing that they want to shop at local, small independents. They want to put their money back in their community," Debi Cagle said. "They also are starting to understand that they are not always getting the best value - and certainly not the best customer service - when they shop at the big guys."

Cagles Appliance Center is at 114 S. Campus Avenue in Ontario. For more information, visit them at www.cagles.com. To stay up to date on Ontario business news, follow the Ontario Economic Development Agency on Twitter @OntarioEDA. To open your business in Ontario, visit www.ontariothinksbusiness.com.