Currently viewing the tag: "Sam Long"

Deb Abraham Spalding

The new and former owners at Hobbs Hardware and Lumber in Thurmont invite the general public and general contractors to, “Come on In!”

In a time where small businesses everywhere are struggling to maintain a grasp on viability, it’s even more rare to find a successful small hardware store that is still thriving in the face of big-box hardware store competition. Hobbs Hardware is THAT rarity!

Hobbs Hardware recently became Hobbs Hardware and Lumber when it was purchased by Structural LLC. Structural is a commercial business located in Thurmont, where they have 50 acres of lumber. Voila! With this transition, Scott Austin, CEO of Structural, accomplished several goals: He expanded the product line at Hobbs, he brought a backbone of contract business that allowed pricing to become competitive with the big-box hardware store pricing, and he proudly maintained the historical integrity of the business by continuing the name and employing its heritage with Eddie and Mike Hobbs manning the store. Austin said, “They [Eddie and Mike] are the brains, they have all of the experience.”

The Hobbs family has a deep history in the community. The family purchased the hardware store in 1942 from Sam Long, who had already logged 40 years in the Thurmont business. According to John Kinnaird and courtesy of, “The hardware store has been in the Hobbs family for four generations: Edward G. Hobbs and Louise F. Hobbs (Eddie and Mike’s dad and mom) had the hardware store and a grocery store, E. Guy Hobbs and Lillian Hobbs (Eddie and Mike’s grandparents who bought the grocery and hardware stores in 1942.) Eddie and Mike Hobbs stepped in in high school and have kept it going since.”

Hobbs Hardware has occupied other locations in Thurmont but has been in the current location at 15 E. Main Street since 1981.

Scott Austin is originally from Buffalo, New York, but lives in New Market, Maryland, now. He’s been the owner of Structural LLC since 2010. Structural Systems has been in business since 1992.

Austin eyed up the Hobbs Hardware business to complement a need within the Structural business to add residential products. They were getting a lot of requests for lumber and didn’t have a way of selling lumber because they are manufacturing it. The solution was to keep the hardware part at Hobbs and to merge the lumber there.

Austin said, “It is a partnership, and they work very well together. We are here to service the community through our hardware store, and we are continuing to grow the Hobbs tradition.”

Eddie and Mike Hobbs are joined by several new faces, General Manager Rob Baker and Chad Crane.

Hobbs Hardware and Lumber is a handyman’s playland with lumber, lots of power tools, and tons of contractor-friendly inventory. Residents, small builders, and contractors are welcome to shop at Hobbs to get lumber for basements, decks, additions, etc. Hobbs delivers as far as Northern Virginia, actually up to 100 miles away!

Hobbs is open 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday; and 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. Call 301-271-2233 for product inquiries and more information.

Pictured from left are Eddie Hobbs, Scott Austin,  Mike Hobbs, and Chad Crane at the new checkout counter at Hobbs Hardware and Lumber in Thurmont.

Hobbs Hardware store in 1980.

Elizabeth Swindells

In honor of its 30th anniversary, we visited Total Vac in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. Total Vac’s owner, Sam Long, shared some insight about how he got started and how he has continued to stay in business, despite the changing buying habits of customers.

Sam is a Waynesboro-native. Back in the seventies, he worked for Grove Cranes. When the recession hit in the early eighties, he was laid off from the crane company. In May of 1983, he answered a help wanted ad. It turned out to be a sales position for Kirby Vacuums. He described himself as a blue jean, t-shirt farm boy, who never dreamed of selling vacuums. However, out of necessity, he gave it a go. He went door-to-door selling Kirby Vacuums for five years prior to opening Total Vac. To date, he has a total of thirty-five years in the vacuum business.

When Walmart opened, many businesses closed. Small business owners were afraid that they would succumb to the retail giant. With Walmart and Lowes within walking distance of his shop, you know that there has to be something special that sets Sam apart from the big superstores. That something is the personalized experience. Sam genuinely cares about his customers. “You’ve just got to talk to people, like I’m talking to you. The biggest thing is you need to be honest about things. I never believed in the high pressure ‘you gotta sell it to sell it’ approach. I was raised that you just don’t cheat people and take advantage of them. If people like you and trust you, they will believe you and you will sell your product,” said Sam. “It’s not just about making a buck. I care about my people. That’s just how I run my business.”

Sam goes above and beyond to ensure his customers are not only satisfied, but happy with the product. He wants to make sure that they can use it and that the product is doing a good job. There is no such thing as a dumb question to Sam. He is happy to help, and expressed that he “has always believed in helping people.”

Total Vac carries a very large selection of vacuums from various manufactures, including Titan, Simplicity, Carpet Pros, Hoover, Eureka, Bissell, and Miele. Among those brands are more than fifty models from which to choose.

Total Vac repairs and services vacuums. In doing so, Sam houses an eclectic inventory of repair parts for different brands and models. Total Vac doesn’t just sell and service vacuums, they also sell carpet extractors, hand vacs, carpet cleaners, pet stain remover, and pet hair lifters. Carpet shampoo units are available for rental; central vacuum systems are sold, installed, and serviced by Total Vac.

In closing, we asked Sam what his most memorable encounter was. He couldn’t just pinpoint one single moment. To him, great moments happen daily. “What makes me happy, what makes me feel good, is helping people. I know I’m achieving my goal of taking care of people. That’s what makes the memorable experience. Any time a customer leaves happy and satisfied, it is a memorable experience for all parties involved.”

Total Vac is located at 11113 Buchanan Trail East in Waynesboro. Store hours are Mondays through Fridays, 9:30 a.m.-7:00 p.m., and Saturdays, from 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. You can reach Total Vac at 717-765-4615.

Owner Sam Long, is shown in Total Vac, located in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania.