Editor’s note: Contributor’s Corner is a new monthly feature spotlighting local businesses that support the Latter-day Sentinel. This month’s Corner focuses on Chris Kunz and Empire In-Home Services.
When you’ve herded cattle and hauled hay bales under the southern Idaho sun, the task of refurbishing a shaky washing machine can seem like a stroll in the shade.
Chris Kunz, owner and proprietor of Empire In-Home Services, now rounds up rumbling Maytags, Frigidaires and Whirlpools as one of the most respected appliance repairman in the greater Spokane area. Even though he has been working in the field for over 20 years, Kunz can trace the success of his business to his days as a youth in Bear County, Idaho, working on the family farm.
Chris and Sylvia Kunz are members of the 15th Ward in the Spokane Valley Stake. Chris has been repairing appliances in the Spokane area for the past 20 years and currently owns Empire In-Home Services. Photo by Craig Howard.
“It was a great place to grow up,” he said. “It was where I learned how to work. I spent most of my time out in the fields.”
When he was 15, Kunz’s family moved to Spokane. He recalls it as a tough transition for a kid accustomed to rural life – but sports and a steady work ethic helped Kunz find his footing. He lettered in football, wrestling and track at Ferris High School.
While at Ferris, Kunz attended LDS early morning Seminary and one day, found himself in trouble with the teacher for being a bit disruptive. He was assigned to sit next to a girl named Sylvia.
“I was so intimidated, I was afraid to talk,” Kunz said.
After Kunz served a two-year mission in California, he returned and married the fellow student who quieted him down. Chris and Sylvia will celebrate 32 years of marriage this July. They have five children and three grandkids.
Sylvia works as the bookkeeper for Empire, but Chris said she is more like the heart of the company.
“She really is the business,” he said.
Chris and Sylvia will celebrate their 32nd wedding anniversary this July. They have five children and three grandchildren. Contributed Photo.
While his expertise includes repairing all sorts of appliances as well as water heaters, Kunz is just as adept at dealing with a wide variety of customers from all walks of life.
“He’s a really good people person,” Sylvia said.
The approach of treating clients with kindness and respect is part of Kunz’s business creed. He still is greeted by people at the grocery store or other places years after fixing their refrigerator or range.
“Inevitably, I’ll see people and they’ll say, ‘hi,'” Kunz said. “My goal is not just to talk about appliances, it’s to visit and make my day more fun.”
Occasionally, the subject of religion is brought up. One discussion several years ago led to a woman being baptized into the LDS Church.
Kunz, a member of the 15th Ward in the Spokane Valley Stake, stays updated on the latest technology to make sure he understands how to address any problem. He is licensed as a general contractor as well as in areas such as electrical specifications, gas mechanics and plumbing.
“You have to know the systems in order to diagnose something correctly,” Kunz said.
Kunz is usually on the road Monday through Saturday, traveling across the Inland Northwest from Davenport to Coeur d’Alene and most points in between. When a dishwasher or drying machine is on the blink, residents can rest assured Kunz will answer the call.
“That’s one thing about being independent and running your own business,” Kunz said. “When someone calls they’re going to talk to me.”