Ken Haines grew up on the southwest side of Eau Claire.  He said he never knew what he wanted to be when he grew up, but he certainly figured it out along the way.  Upon graduation, he enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed at Park Air Force Base in California.  He completed training in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and then he spent three years stationed in Hawaii.  He worked in Milwaukee for five years while he was single.  He met Mary, who became his wife, and they had two children, Brenda and Jenny.  The family moved from Eau Claire to Phillips in 1979 while Ken was working for Northwestern Loan.  He then worked at Phillips Plastics as a supervisor for nine years.  During that time, he set his sights on being an entrepreneur.

He remarked that he noticed some of the most influential business people when he moved to the area.  "There were people I liked around here when I got to Phillips.  I looked at guys like Bob Cervenka who grew up in a very common type of family and look at what he's done.  And Carl Marschke and people like that, like the Baratkas.  You look at them and see what they did and really were making something of themselves."  Ken said those men proved you can build something from nothing if you put in the time and effort.  Ken decided to focus his time and effort on a carpet and furniture store.  He started his business in downtown Phillips.  About twenty years ago the business moved to its current location on the south end of town, located at 722 South Lake Avenue in Phillips.

Ken's Carpet and Consignment Store sells a wide array of products, including appliances, bedding, and flooring.  He also offers a consignment business for used furniture.  If you have furniture you would like to sell, or if you are looking for a quality used item to buy, stop by Ken's Carpet to see what he can offer you.  (Follow Ken's Carpet & The Consignment Store's Facebook page.)  He recently has gotten involved with the sale of solar systems, as well.  "We will be at the Home and Sport Show in March," Ken noted, so make sure to visit him at the booth or stop into Ken's Carpet and Consignment Store before then to get a brochure and talk with Ken.  "Talking to people from all walks of life is one of the things I enjoy most about my job," Ken shared.

Along with having a genuine interest in his customers, his work ethic has made him a successful business owner, and he feels that is the most important thing to be successful.  "Young people need to get an attitude that you are going to work for a living.  If you want to be a little bit more successful in your life, go on out and take advantage of our schools.  Not everybody needs a college degree.  Everybody isn't fit to go to college, but the State of Wisconsin has a very good rated tech school, so learn a trade and you can be more successful if that is what you are looking to do.  Take advantage of the education systems that are out there.  You don't need to be a genius, but you need to have a work ethic."

Ken shared that he notices a lack of carpet layers in the area as the ones that have been successful in the business are now getting older and retiring, and he isn't seeing many young people pursue that path.  Like many trades, Ken said young people need to realize that is where the money is.  "I think there are people who would like to get into it, but they don't know anything about that career.  If a kid doesn't want to go to a college or a tech school, that is an option they might want to get interested in.  Carpet layers make good money.  You take a carpet layer around here working 5 days a week, and they can knock out a 100 grand a year like a shot, and they don't need a big investment or anything.  If they want to go to a bigger city, they can make a lot more money than that.  In the Twin Cities area, I know guys who are very aggressive and work more than forty hours per week, and they are making $200,000 a year laying flooring.  The young kids don't know that because nobody tells them."  However, Ken admitted that money isn't everything, either.  "I did a lot of different things, but the thing I have really liked is working for myself.  I could go out to some factory and make a lot more money than I make out of this store, but I do like coming in here.  I like doing what I'm doing.  I think if you are fairly happy doing what you are doing, then you are doing okay.  You can look at somebody making a lot more money, but is that person always the happiest person on the block?  Not necessarily.  Money ain't everything."

Ken shared that young people should consider living in the area.  He said Phillips is certainly not a big city but that is the charm of it.  "It's the lifestyle here."  He stated that many people are moving to the area for the lifestyle because more jobs have moved to a work from home environment.  Ken feels the new school should attract younger families, and he appreciates the people who are doing things to make the area better, including those considering fixing up the fairgrounds, the campground put in place by the city, the development happening in Elk Lake Park, and everything that keeps making the area better and more inviting.  "I look at it from a business standpoint.  How do you know if a guy is pulling a motor home through town on vacation with his family, and he pulls up to Philips and notices they have a city campground, so he says 'We'll spend the night at the campground.'  Maybe this guy is from Illinois or Milwaukee and he's an owner of some kind of a factory.  Maybe he goes downtown for breakfast the next morning at a restaurant and decides they have an airport here and other good things, and we have been looking to expand our factory, so maybe this is a good place to bring a factory.  You don't know what could happen from this positive growth; it could happen."

As for Ken's family life, both as a child and adult, he has always had a large family.  He is one of twelve siblings.  Adding to that already large family, he and Mary had two daughters who gave them six grandchildren, and he now has seven great grandchildren, all sprinkled across the country.  "In general, I like the life that I have.  I have a good family.  I had very good parents and a lot of good brothers and sisters and their families and my daughters and grandchildren," Ken said, reminiscing over his life.

In his childhood, he remembers he, his siblings, and many of the neighborhood children would spend much of their time outside.  "It's a completely different world," he shared.  "Now most kids are inside on their devices, but we spent our time outside building a shack or swimming."  They also liked to ice skate and play ball.  "Everybody around there had kids.  There were families of four, five, or six kids.  There were hundreds of kids all around.  In the summertime, we'd go out there and play ball.  I was okay but wasn't going to be a big baseball star.  In the early '50s, when I was about 13 years old or so, Eau Claire had a Class C major league baseball team that was part of the Milwaukee Braves.  And we saw several ball players that came through there one summer.  The two that I really remember were Hank Aaron and Billy Bruton.  Both of them made it into the majors, and I got to see them.  They were big baseball players, and I remember that from my childhood."

Ken remembers other things he enjoyed as a child.  "With all the ice skating I did, I never learned hockey.  I don't know why, because they had hockey leagues in Eau Claire, but I never did.  I was a pretty good ice skater," Ken shared.  He mostly enjoyed playing ball sports.  As for watching them now, Ken shared, "I've lost a lot of interest in the major league sports due to the tremendous amount of money that these guys make for playing a kids' game and they lost the allegiance to their fans.  Back years ago, I had an interest, but in the early '60s when I was working in Milwaukee, those major league football players like Jerry Kramer were making about $8,500 a year.  They weren't making 25 million, so that's all changed and there are millions of fans paying several hundred dollars to watch those games."

Ken never had major league sports money, then or now, in his vision, but he did know it was important to work for a living.  "In my large family, if you wanted a dollar in your pocket, you didn't go play football; you went to work.  And I liked going to work better than I liked playing football, because I couldn't make any money playing football," Ken chuckled.  So, he worked at a restaurant in 7th and 8th grade and then worked at a grocery store during high school.  This helped instill a work ethic in him that carried him throughout his life.

If he could go back in time to when he was eighteen and give himself one piece of advice, Ken said, with a chuckle, he would have told himself to invest any money he drank up into the stock market.  Joking aside, Ken said one's outlook in life changes at different stages, and it is best not to live with regrets.  "As each segment of your life goes on, you get a different outlook on what is going on.  When you're young, well, when I was 18, I went into the service because back in my day you either enlisted or you got drafted.  Today, you don't have that.  It was an interesting part of my life to get out and see places and meet people.  Then you are single and you are out having a lot of fun.  Eventually, a person gets married and has kids.  Things change.  That doesn't mean you cannot go out and have fun, but it's different.  You are doing stuff with the family, going on trips.  You don't need to sit down in your living room and live the rest of your life.  You can still have fun but it's different fun.  Then the grand kids come.  These are all different segments of life.  They are not the same.  It might be easy to say 'When I was young, I should have done this,' but you didn't.  It's too late to change that, and I don't have regrets like that."

Follow Ken's Carpet & The Consignment Store's Facebook page.


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Written By:  Lynne Bohn, My Price County
(This post was last modified: 06-15-2022, 01:51 AM by My Northern Wisconsin.)