It was the spring of 1973, just a short thirty-eight years ago, when the Hansons from Ronan moved to Missoula and opened the Axmen. Bud
Hanson had always dreamed of doing business outside of the box, so he sold his hardware store, teamed up with his two sons and bought a piece of Missoula. Bud’s approach to business has continued through the third generation and the Axmen is even more unusual today than it was in 1973.
Bud had some novel ideas about business. Don’t sell the customer something he doesn’t need. If it isn’t the right thing to meet his needs, tell him where to get what he needs. If you can’t sell something good, don’t bother. If you truly care for your customers’ best interests the money will follow. Your customers are you biggest asset.
The Axmen has a picture of Bud in the entry to help us remember his ideas. You’ll also see a picture of the original crew from the eighties. Four of the five still work at the Axmen.
Mark Kindred has moved from a young guy loading railroad ties to being the overall coordinator of a nationally recognized retailer of heating appliances. Times have changed radically but some things remain the same. We started selling wood stoves during the first Arab oil embargo and we now sell, install and service wood, gas, pellet, and oil stoves within a 100-mile radius of Missoula.
Dana has headed up tool and equipment sales at the Axmen for longer than he wants to admit. He is the man for the straight answers on tools. If he doesn’t have it, he knows who does.
Grant has taken our steady and basic pump department to new levels over the last ten years with the addition of firefighting equipment of every type and description. Axmen slide-in fire pumpers are now a common sight at wild-land fires throughout the Northwest. He still manages to find time to help people plan their dream of off-grid backwoods power systems and irrigate the front five acres.
In 1998, we bought a welding shop from Phil Cromwell and converted it into a retail store on the south side to be able to achieve one of Guy’s long-term ambitions of selling guns and jewelry side by side in the salesman’s dream atmosphere of mutual guilt. Missoula Mercantile (aka Axmen South) is going strong and having fun.
In 2000 we were blessed in forming Axmen Propane. Our growth has been exciting and our customers’ responses thrilling. Axmen Propane gives us the chance to handle all the parts of our customers’ heating in one package within the same 100 mile circle.
In 2010 we were lucky enough to be able to open the gates to Axmen Recycling. The response from our community has been incredible. We are proud to be able to help offer our customers solutions that are good for the environment and the community.
As Missoula has grown and new business have entered, we have learned to be grateful for the opportunity they bring to us all. Montana has been good to the Axmen and we try every day to be worthy of the trust that our customers place in us and to find new and better ways to meet their needs.