K&S to close after 4-decade 'good run'
COAL TOWNSHIP - The "Berkheiser Boys," who have operated K&S Distributors along Trevorton Road for more than four decades, are retiring and looking to sell the business that has been a local staple for appliances, televisions, stoves and plumbing and electrical supplies.
"We've had a pretty good run," said Jake Berkheiser, 68, of Trevorton Road, who with his brothers, Ron, 75, and Tom, 70, both of Paxinos, have worked at the business for 42 years and owned it since 1980. "We never pressured anyone into buying our products and we sold them what they needed. We did it all here and always lived by the motto - If we don't have it, you don't need it."
Ron added, "We had a lot of good customers over the years who were also our friends, and we'll definitely miss serving them. But it's time to retire. Like Jake said, we've had a good run, but we can't run anymore. That's why we are quitting."
Who are 'K' and 'S'?
The Berkheisers began working at K&S Distributors in 1972 when it was owned by Fred Renn, who passed away in 1979. The brothers purchased the business in 1980 from Renn's widow, Cleta.
"We basically decided to buy the business because we were out of a job when Fred died," Jake said.
He said the business, which opened in the early 1960s, was named after its original owners, Howard Krebs and Frank "Red" Sanzotto.
"Howard and Red sold barometric coal stokers when they started the business and we've expanded the products over the years to appliances, TVs, electrical and plumbing supplies, furnaces and more," Jake said. "We've served three generations of families."
K&S Distributors, which a few years ago still had the largest selection of General Electric and Hotpoint appliances in the area, has sold, delivered and installed dishwashers, water heaters, garbage disposals, cooktops, built-in ovens, an assortment of televisions, Reading and Keystone stoker stoves, coal boilers, oil boilers, hot air furnaces, water softeners, STA-RITE pumps, pump tankers, oil nozzles and filters, Argo baseboard copper, plastic pipes, fittings and other accessories at discount prices.
Ed Kotwica, who operates Ed's Appliances in Shamokin, has done the service work for K&S Distributors for many years.
"We not only sold a wide variety of products, but we also gave our customers a lot of free advice over the years," Ron said. "We're old school when it comes to operating a business and our customers have appreciated that approach for many years."
Selling off inventory
Ron said many customers have come into the store recently and wished the brothers good luck in their retirement. "They're happy for us, but they don't want to see us go," Ron said.
Jake and Ron, who talked about several of their loyal customers and recalled some entertaining moments throughout the business' successful history, said they still have a few appliances, electrical and plumbing supplies and furnace controls for sale.
"We're trying to sell all our inventory before we close," Jake said. "We don't have an exact date for going out of business, but it will definitely be in the summer."
The Berkheisers have sold their warehouse across Route 225 from K&S Distributors, which has always been at its current location, and are accepting offers for the business or property. Anyone interested in purchasing the store can call 570-648-6801.
The Berkheiser brothers have worked well with Peter's Home Appliances on Market Street in Sunbury over the years and refer customers to that business.
"This business has been good to us over the years," Jake said. "We've always offered personalized service because we care about our customers. If they had a problem, we always tried our best to solve it."
In addition to being well known for operating K&S Distributors, Jake, Ron and Tom have played in several musical groups for many years with their 62-year-old brother, Dave, who operates K&S Music in Paxinos.
As for their future plans, the Berkheiser brothers plan to play more golf and do some traveling.