For more than 75 years, Friedman’s Home Improvement has stood as an unshakable icon for the Northern California community. Supplying citizens with agricultural, lumber and home improvement needs, Friedman’s has long prided itself on being a people-centric store. It was with that mentality that Friedman approached Ukiah to open its doors 25 years ago. There, on Airport Park Boulevard, the store still stands – over the years it has learned to better meet the needs of the customer.
Barry Friedman, third generation leader of Friedman’s Home Improvement, reflects on the changes in Ukiah during their 25 years in business.
“It’s been interesting to see how Ukiah has grown,” commented Friedman. “Watching families grow and continue to support our store so they can grow the town themselves is something I love to see.”
Friedman believes the four stores that have been established over the years have been cultivated with the community. Customers and staff work closely together so that Friedman’s Home Improvement can best work with their needs, which, like Ukiah, adapt and change with the times. Owning four stores and focusing the same attention on them all has been a challenge, but Friedman is proud of his accomplishment nonetheless.
“Staying true to our values and ensuring our team lives up to those values is at the heart of keeping our stores going.” In Ukiah, our team has really developed that relationship with customers,” Friedman says.
The organization’s values of leadership, connection, growth, service and care are ingrained in the operation of the Ukiah store. Some of the biggest challenges Friedman’s has faced in its 25 years – such as working with the restrictions of Covid-19 – have been navigated with these core values. Specifically, the strong support network that Friedman has developed with his staff is influential in managing the implementation of these values.
When it came time for Friedman’s to expand in 1996, second-generation owner Bill Friedman advocated opening a store in Ukiah, believing that Ukiah reflected the same values and close ties that Friedman’s Home Improvement worked to uphold. To ensure community connections and local Friedman’s, a Schat’s bakery was placed in the store to create a community hub where customers can hang out and then shop at the facilities.
“I feel like we’ve been successful in creating this community hub. We have a lot of connections and community involvement that we’ve built through our community work,” Friedman explains.
In addition to introducing Schat’s Bakery, Friedman’s has had success funding numerous organizations in Mendocino County. The ongoing partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Yukaya, Yukaya City Park Sundays, Meals on Wheels with Plows along with Feed the Homeless events and critical needs support at Yukaya Valley Medical Center all benefit from Friedman’s support. Additionally, with these longstanding relationships with Mendocino County nonprofits, businesses, community programs and environmental initiatives, the Friedman’s team has also supported these organizations through on-the-ground work for direct community support.
As for the future, Friedman plans to adapt with the times along with customer needs. Using the web and e-commerce are the next possibilities on the list. Staying locally oriented while meeting the convenience of larger stores is an important feat Friedman believes he and his team can achieve. They plan to improve on what they already do and expand services and convenience for the entire community.
All those years in Ukiah solidified what Barry Friedman believes should be his impact.
“It always comes back to the people,” he states. “We have always been there for our community as a team. Our focus on our customers is what remains true at Friedman’s.”