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Coppock's named top retail business

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By Larry Rowell

Maurice and Theresa Coppock have a recipe for success: God, family, loyal, friendly and knowledgeable employees, top notch merchandise, competitive pricing and customers who recognize a retailer with integrity and service.

Based on that formula, Coppock Appliance and Electronics Inc. was recently named the 2008 Campbellsville-Taylor County Chamber of Commerce Retail Business of the Year.

The Coppocks' journey began when Theresa met Maurice on a blind date in 1963. She said she recognized that Maurice was a man accustomed to hard work and one willing to pay the price to get what he wanted.

While other couples dating in Campbellsville during the mid-1960s cruised the strip and held hands on Friday nights, Theresa said she and Maurice held shovels while they cleaned out a pigpen. Maurice wanted to buy a 1966 Pontiac GTO, so the couple raised and sold pigs to pay cash for the car.

Theresa's first "major" job came when she was 12 years old. That summer, she babysat two infant boys, did the family's laundry, cooked supper and cleaned the house - all for $20 a week.

Maurice comes from a retail family. His father, Maurice Sr., was the Purina Feed dealer in Campbellsville. The family also owned the Campbellsville Ice Co.

The couple married in 1966 and not long after moved to upstate New York where Maurice was a medical representative with Gerber and then with Bio-Quest.

But Campbellsville was never far from their minds. Maurice had a dream to build a shopping center housing his business in Campbellsville.

The realization of that dream began when Maurice's mother Elizabeth asked the young couple in the mid-1970s to return to Campbellsville to work in the family business.

Soon after their return, Maurice took the Frigidaire appliance dealership that his father owned and moved it to its present day location in the old GTE building.

Theresa said the first five years were difficult because of the long hours and lack of employees - it was strictly a family operated business.

Elizabeth and Theresa did the bookkeeping during the day while Maurice Jr. and Sr. worked the sales floor. At night, Theresa and Maurice made the deliveries and then took care of other duties in the store.

Their daughter, Beth, born in 1979, had a baby bed in the store. Daughter Anne, born in 1970, also spent long hours with her parents at the store.

In spite of the hardships, Theresa said those were good years because the family was working together building the dream.

Theresa said the lion's share of the credit for the store's success goes to the employees.

"God has blessed us with wonderful employees; when Maurice and I travel we leave a child with great baby-sitters," Theresa said.

Margaret Bartman, the first full-time employee, was hired as a bookkeeper in the early 1980s. Most of the current 15 to 17 employees have been with the store for more than 15 years.

Theresa said the sales awards the employees have won are a testimony to their dedication and hard work to know the product and put the customer first.

Coppock has been a top Frigidaire dealer in a region that includes the Louisville and Lexington markets. The store has been cited for eight years as a top seller of Holland grills. Mitsubishi has also recognized the store three years running for top sales.

"We get a large number of thank-you notes from customers thanking us for the friendly and helpful sales and service employees we have; they're the best asset we've ever had," Theresa said.

Having a service department allows Coppock to guarantee that service after the sale is not just a motto but a reality, Theresa said.

Maurice and Theresa also emphasize the importance of family time to their employees. If an employee has a child playing in an afternoon ballgame, Theresa said the other staff will step up to cover for the absent employee.

The Coppocks not only support their employees, they also support the community. Theresa said they are committed to returning to their church and to other community concerns a portion of what God has blessed them with.

The store donates appliances and other merchandise to events such as Relay for Life, the Junior Miss pageant and the July Fourth Duck Derby, which benefits the Crisis Relief Center and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Addressing the future, Theresa said she and Maurice want to travel and spend more time with their children and grandchildren.

Beth, an attorney, is married to an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Gene Massey. The couple lives in Columbia, S.C. and is expecting their first child.

Anne, a stay-at-home mother with three children, is married to Dr. Marshall Johnson, a physician in Hendersonville, Tenn.

As to the heir apparent for the store: "Our dream is that the employees could take over the business one day," she said.

"It has been a real privilege to live and work in Campbellsville. I'm so thankful for our lives. God has blessed us beyond belief."

- Larry Rowell is a Kentucky Press Association summer intern. Contact him at lrowell@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.