McDonnell Appliance fixture for over 40 years in Mount Ayr
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By Mike Avitt
McDonnell Appliance has been a fixture in Mount Ayr for forty-one years.
Randy and Robin McDonnell own the business started by Randy’s father, Randy McDonnell, Sr., in 1982 after the elder McDonnell had several years of appliance experience to his credit.
So, how did it all start?
Randy and Ruth McDonnell came to Mount Ayr in April 1974 with their children Randy, Jr. and Angela. Randy was employed as district manager for Dakota farm machinery until October 1975 when he accepted a position with Roe Implement as parts manager and salesman for Whirlpool appliances.
In April 1982 Randy and Ruth reached an agreement with Roe Implement and opened McDonnell Appliance at 102 E. Madison. The new business would feature a full line of Whirlpool products but also service and repair was offered and still is to this day.
Somewhat new to Mount Ayr area customers in 1982 were microwave ovens, trash compactors, and dishwashers.
On January 1, 1984, McDonnell Appliance moved to its current location at 121 S. Fillmore. This historic building was erected in 1891 for Adolphus A. Huggins as a farm implement dealership. The local Masonic Lodge bought the building in 1920 and 121 S. Fillmore was used as a furniture store from 1920 to 1973. An auto parts store followed until 1983.
There were two other businesses in the new location along with McDonnell Appliance: The Brass Thimble (Judy Cunning) and Shirley and Dave’s Computers (Shirley Hightshoe and Dave Hardy). All three businesses held their Grand Opening on March 9 and 10, 1984.
Shortly after this, while still in high school, Randy Jr. began cutting meat for Gerald and Gregg Cannon at Community Meat Processors.
Randy Jr. enjoyed this trade and would follow it for a few. years. Later, he married Robin Jones and worked as a meat cutter in places such as Creston, Sioux City, Iowa and Faribault, Minnesota. They returned to Mount Ayr in 1993.
“Robin and I wanted to be closer to family and we wanted our kids to attend Mount Ayr Schools,” says Randy concerning their return home.
It was at this time Randy Jr. began working at McDonnell Appliance. Satellite televisions were popular at this time; the ones with the eight foot antenna receivers. McDonnell Appliance installed and serviced many of these monsters in rural areas and Sun Valley Lake.
Other popular appliances at this time were video cassette recorders and camcorders.
Randy Jr. worked with Daron Richie then and still does today.
Daron began his career with McDonnell Appliance in 1984 and still delivers, services, and repairs appliances and other products sold at the firm.
Ruth McDonnell handled the bookkeeping duties until illness prevented her from doing so (Ruth passed in 2022). Today, Randy Jr.’s daughter Stephanie does the books.
McDonnell Appliance has customers all over southern Iowa and northern Missouri.
As well as families, they have clients such as hog-raising facilities, nursing homes, Southern Iowa Rural Housing Association, colleges, schools, and hotels. Refrigerators, freezers, washers, and dryers are in constant and continuous demand.
In recent years, Whirlpool has acquired such brand names as Maytag, Amana, and KitchenAid, but McDonnell Appliance also sells Speed Queen and Frigidaire, giving them a wide range of products to offer their customers.
Randy Jr. took over the business in 2019. With the longevity and reputation of McDonnell Appliance, “word-of-mouth” serves them well.
“Service is a very large part of our business,” says Randy. And it shows.