flooring business for more than four decades. And they know quality when they see it.
But in an age of IKEA, quality products aren't always an easy sell. "They're heroes to keep it going through the [recent economic] downturn," Bob says about their successors, Jack's son, Tim, and his business partner Fred Zuidveld. "It takes stamina." Taking the long view may also help.
Ferdinand and his brother Norbert--known as Ferd and Norb--also experienced their share of challenges. Selling farm implements during the Depression, the brothers survived by making trades with cash-strapped farmers. Then came the war years, when factories switched to military production. In his autobiography, Ferd recalled that "the going was rather rough."
Tim Merkel, fifty-seven, seems philosophical about the recent challenges. "Perspective is one thing I've learned," he says. "A career isn't a sprint--it's more of a long-distance race. It takes perseverance, patience, and an openness to change."