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.

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