In the March 1989 issue of 4-Wheel & Off Road, writer Tom Bezzi published an article called “Top Toys: Show N’ Shine Meets Show N’ Go”. In it, Bezzi introduced readers to Archie Stevens, a well respected off-road competitor and owner of Archie’s Off Road & Performance Center located on RT 109 in Wells, Maine.
Bezzi’s write-up touched on the mudding scene back in the late 80s, and the thriving aftermarket potential for both the show ‘n shine and show ‘n go trends. Neither topic would have been complete without giving a nod to Archie Stevens’ beloved crown jewel and award-winning ’79 Toyota. A mudder on a mission, it was as much a beast in the bog as it was on the road.
While Stevens is retired from the racing circuit, he and his wife Julie are heavily involved in the industry. They’re continuously pumping out impressive builds and expanding their retail business at Archie’s Off Road & Performance Center. Instead of being a formidable opponent at off-road competition, now they are the storefront competition to model. After thirty-four years in business, they have mastered the elements of success:
- Put in the time
- Keep it simple
- Do things right the first time
- Embrace your core competency but know when it’s time to diversify
- Focus on quality over quantity
- Treat others the way you want to be treated
- Give back to your community
- Build strong relationships
The Stevens’ conduct business the old-fashioned way, preferring to be the exclusive face of the operation day-in and day-out. Despite growth, the husband-wife duo chooses to keep head count to a minimum, employing two full-time installers in the back while they maintain the retail shop. Sometimes less is more.
“We believe in hiring people for who they are, not just what they can do. It has to be the right fit. We’re looking for that 1 in 1,000 type of person because here we are like a family,” said Julie Stevens. And they treat their customers with the same respect. “We hate call-backs. We want it done right the first time around. Happy customers are repeat customers,” she continued.
That relationship extends itself to the Keystone team, especially Karen Auker-Liedel who is a veteran sales associate based out of the Exeter, PA call center. “We’ve been doing business with Keystone since 1985 and have been with Karen since 2011. Delivery logistics, tools like e-Keystone and events like the BIG Show differentiate Keystone from the competition. But our strong relationship runs even deeper and is an important factor in doing continued business,” said the Stevens.
Their enthusiasm for the aftermarket and commitment to customers is inspiring. Thirty-four years later, they are as humble and kind as when they started, generously giving back via industry and humanitarian events throughout the year. “They are a fine tuned, established business, model customers and just really good people. The loyalty runs deep on both sides. And it’s my pleasure to work with people like Archie and Julie,” said Auker-Liedel.
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