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What is the key to operating a successful business for 50 years?

According to the workers at Bob Watts & Sons Furniture and Appliance Center, service and care for the customer are key.

Now in its 50th year of operation, the Houma-based store is sticking to its principles of providing quality service at competitive prices to its loyal customer base.

“You’ve got to work with the customers,” said Tony Watts, who co-owns the store with his brother Kim. “You’ve got to do your best to keep them happy. We’re a family business and we really try to give the customer a little bit more than those box chain stores do. We give free delivery and free installations. They know we’ve got the service to back the sale. Those little things add up to a really big thing.”

Walk into the Houma store’s Barrow Street location and you’ll see the latest and greatest in furniture and appliances.

But to get to that point, Bob Watts had to win the trust of local customers.

They did so through service.

Tony and Kim’s father Bob Watts founded the local business 50 years ago as a service store for appliances.

He initially worked out of his backyard from the family’s home.

“We lived on Kenney Street,” Tony Watts said. “That’s where we started. Dad got it started out of the house.”

From the service roots, the elder Watts opened a few locations throughout the area.

“We had one in Gray and a few others around town,” Tony Watts said. “We were scattered around.”

Once the store’s business started to pick up, Bob Watts decided to add to his repertoire.

The business started in appliance retail first and then made the jump into furniture.

“We added the furniture about 24 years ago I’d say,” Tony Watts said. “It’s a big change from strictly being in service, but it’s been a fun ride.”

The store’s other locations have since closed and the entire business is being operated from their current location at 1001 Barrow St.

The elder Watts is no longer around – he passed away this past year.

The two sons have proudly taken the torch and are carrying the business into the future.

But Bob Watts’ legacy is always present within the business’ operation.

The brothers said they still utilize their father’s basic business principles in the store’s day-to-day operation.

Kim operates service for the business, while Tony mostly stays in the store and conducts sales.

Whatever keeps the customer happiest is the formula that will be chosen.

“Our father started it and we’re just trying to keep it going as a family business,” Tony Watts said. “A lot of people buy from us strictly because of that service that we provide. We’ve done that since my dad started the company. … That’s one thing that we depend on. And because we’ve provided that for such a long time, people sort of have come to know that we provide that.

“We take a lot of pride on that. A lot of our customers are repeat customers – people we’ve seen before. Some are people we know on a first name basis.”

Tony Watts said one of the things he likes about the business is the unpredictability of the job.

When asked what the highest selling item in the store was, he didn’t have an answer.

He said it just depends on what the customer needs at a given time.

“We sell a good bit of appliances and we also sell a good bit of furniture,” Tony Watts said. “It really just depends on the time of the year and what the people need at a given time. There are some times of the year when people are only buying furniture. There are others where it’s all appliances. It’s really whatever they need – we’re happy to provide it.”

Having a prime location doesn’t hurt, either.

Located just outside of the Houma Tunnel, Tony Watts said the store is blessed with a high-traffic location.

“We’ve got a lot of traffic around here with the tunnel and everything,” he said. “We stay pretty busy. A lot of people come in here and look around. We’re happy to help them.

“We know you can probably get cheaper material somewhere else – we understand that. But for the quality product and the quality service you get with it, we believe what we provide pays off in the long run.”

He’s right.

It’s been 50 years and counting for Bob Watts.

Bob Watts & Sons Furniture and Appliance Center co-owner Tony Watts sits with employee and relative Crystal Watts in the family business’ Houma location. The furniture store prides itself on quality service and customer care – the roots of the 50-year business.