From the big city to a small town
Steve Malchow was born and raised in the Twin Cities area.
He graduated from college with a degree in wildlife research and went to work for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
So how did he wind up buying Roerig Hardware and Appliance store in Winnebago?
Malchow smiles and says that is a good question.
Fifteen years ago he and his wife Val were living in Ledyard, Iowa. She worked in Forest City, and he was working for the DNR in Madelia. “I was driving 125 miles a day, except when I stayed over,” Malchow said.
He drove through Winnebago a few times and liked it, so they bought a home there, the same one they are still in. “Its just down the block (from the store),” he said.
It was their seventh move in seven years, and the last one.
“There were cutbacks in the DNR at that time and I was getting laid off. I decided I should do something different,” Malchow said. That something different was to go into Roerig Hardware and ask for a job. Herb Pederson, the owner, wasn’t in that day, but later he hired me and called it temporary, probationary and part-time,” Malchow said.
That was in October, 13 years ago. By December he went full time at the store. “I was a part-time aide at the school too, and couldn’t handle it,” he said.
As of January 1 of this year, Malchow bought the business from his boss. He has nothing but good things to say about Pederson. “Herb is a fantastic guy, we get along great,” he said. Pederson owned the store for 34 years. Neither man changed the name from the original one of Roerig Hardware.
“I thought about naming it Winnebago Hardware or even Malchow Hardware, but in the end I decided it needed to stay the same.” Malchow said his goal is that long time customers come in and don’t see any changes from the way Pederson ran it.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be changes, however. Malchow is already changing and expanding the floor covering department. “Herb was never afraid of trying something new, and if it worked, great,” Malchow said. “I plan on doing the same.“
The store is known for its appliances and appliance service, as well as all types of floor coverings.
“I am not afraid of price comparisons,” Malchow said. “We are competitively priced with everyone else, even the Big Box stores,” he added. He said that people know where he lives and they know that he services what they sell.
There was a grand opening and ribbon cutting at the store on Saturday.
Malchow and his wife Val have two children; Emily, 14, and Josh, 20, a college student who wants to become a city administrator.
When not working he likes hunting, fishing, golfing and camping. Also watching his daughter play softball and basketball. He also has been active in many Winnebago civic organizations.
So why did Malchow pick the hardware store to go apply at 13 years ago, and not the bank or the grocery store.
“I blame it on my grandfather,” Malchow said. “When I was a kid he owned the hardware store in Wilder, a small town by Windom, and I always thought that would be a fun thing to do.”
Now Malchow has his chance to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps.