‘Extreme competence’ makes Mueller an HFA winner

BELLEVILLE, Ill. — Want to get to the root of what makes Mueller Furniture stand out? It all comes down to “extreme competence.”

That value was highlighted when the Home Furnishings Assn. was selecting its annual award winners. The Belleville, Ill.-based retailer was selected as the organization’s Retailer of the Year for stores with fewer than 50 employees.

“One of their core values is extreme competence. I’ve never heard anybody put it that way,” HFA CEO Mark Schumacher told Furniture Today. “That, to me, is the lynchpin as to why they stood out among other entries. If you focus on extreme competence, you want to be knowledgeable and good at everything. Their drive to always be better and the most knowledgeable, and that bleeds true on everything they do.”

Fourth-generation owner Mark Mueller said being extremely competent is all about doing everything just a little bit better every time.

“That’s why we put in the extra work, and we’ve been chipping away and making improvements a little bit at a time, every month, every quarter every year. You look back a few years, and you see you’ve done a lot,” Mueller said. “We know there’s further to go, and we can provide better customer experience and work life balance for our employees.”

Schumacher noted that another of Mueller’s core values is built around living up to one’s word. “It’s very much a ‘walk the walk’ kind of business,” he said.

And now, walking the walk means living up to the Retailer of the Year title. Mueller believes his team is up to the challenge. “Getting an award like this tells you we’re the best,” he said. “They told us we’re the best. Now we’ve got to continue to act like this to stay there. It holds all of us accountable.”

But along the way, they’ll still take some time to enjoy the accolades.

“It’s special to call yourself Retailer of the Year,” Mueller said. “You’re nominated by peers and voted on with broad criteria. It’s special, and everybody in the company is super proud of it. It helps you push for greatness every day.”

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