About 74 years ago, Boyd Keller had an enterprising idea.
Boyd, a local electrical contractor who also sold appliances in the Bettendorf area, encountered a persistent problem. He couldn’t find the right bolts, nuts, screws and other items needed to serve his customers.
But then Boyd was an entrepreneur at heart. He decided to open a hardware store in downtown Bettendorf that kept everything in stock required to operate his other businesses. Together with a partner, named Mr. Kurtz, they opened a hardware store and called their new business K and K Hardware. A year later Mr. Kurtz left the area and moved to California.
From those early days in 1940, and for the rest of their lives, Boyd Keller, and his wife, Adeline, worked side by side, serving the Bettendorf community. Adeline passed away in 1995 and Boyd in 2007. Next year will be the 75th year for K and K Hardware. Be assured the Keller family plans to celebrate the successful business Boyd and Adeline created.
A hardware store changes with the times to meet customer needs. But the values upon which K and K Hardware was built have not changed. For example, the Keller family still owns and operates the store. Don Keller, Boyd and Adeline’s son, and his wife, Coleen, follow in the tradition of Don’s parents. Don’s sister, Darlene, had long been active in the business, but retired. It continues to be a locally-owed, family business.
A third generation intends to take over operational responsibilities for the store. Don and Coleen’s daughter. Kortney Gaura, manages the office.. Casey Keller, a son, works on IT issues. Kristi Keller, a second daughter, serves as floor manager. Chris Gaura, Kortney’s husband, has developed online sales which have grown well beyond initial expectations. A fourth generation of Kellers, including Don and Coleen’s grandchildren Josephina and Grant Gaura and Ezekiel and Zacchaeus Keller, may well lead the business to it’s one hundredth anniversary.
The Kellers, of course, cannot manage their business alone. Most days, 40-50 employees regularly greet customers shopping at K and K. Many young people in the Bettendorf community learned the retail business, working after school and during the summers at the store.
Boyd’s business philosophy centered on his belief customers always comes first. Customer service sets K and K Hardware apart from big box stores. No one walks through the store without an employee stepping forward to offer assistance. Customers often find themselves greeted on a first name basis.
The other day Tim Baldwin, another downtown businessman who lives in Port Byron, said he drives from Illinois to shop at K and K. What draws him to the store? Tim says, “Phenomenal service and, if K and K doesn’t have it, no one else does.”
The Kellers remain grateful for their community support. They routinely return that community support by sponsoring Park Board youth activities, allowing various charitable organizations to conduct sales at the store entrance and donating to other worthy causes. There’s another reason Bettendorf residents continue to be loyal K and K customers.