The Merkel Story
The Merkel Furniture and Carpet One story begins in 1912, when German-born Martin Merkel built a large brick building on the southern end of downtown Chelsea. After an auto part shop at the location closed, he sold the property to his son, Ferdinand Merkel in 1924. ‘Ferd’ had expressed a great interest in starting his own hardware business in downtown Chelsea, and was thrilled with the opportunity to leave the family farm and start his own business. In 1930, Ferd’s younger brother, Norbert ‘Norb’ Merkel, also left the farm and joined the company as a partner. Thus the Merkel Brothers family business was born, selling hardware, flooring, and furniture to the citizens of Chelsea and surrounding areas.
In 1953 Ferd’s son, Jack Merkel, came back from service overseas and settled down back in Chelsea with his growing family. Jack began working at the store in town and focused primarily on the flooring department. In the late 1950s Jack’s brother, Bob, also coming home from time in the service, started working along with his older brother. Bob Merkel had a more artistic inclination than earlier Merkels, and thus put a stronger emphasis on the furnishing and interior design aspect of Merkel Brothers.
Starting in the mid 1960s, Jack and Bob Merkel took ownership of the company from Ferd and Norb. The younger generation of brothers then expanded the business throughout the 1970s to incorporate the rest of the buildings on what is now considered the ‘Merkel Block’ in downtown Chelsea. During this time, the business slowly transitioned out of hardware and entirely into furniture, flooring, mattresses and interior design. Additionally, in 1980, Jack’s son Tim, moved back to Chelsea and starting working for the business full time.
The 1990s saw a period of expansion and transition. Merkel Carpet One opened at the Lamplight Plaza in Ann Arbor and Tim Merkel, along with his business partner, Fred Zuidvelt, bought the company from Jack and Bob. This transition now had Tim focusing on the furniture side of the business, and Fred managing the flooring and installation. This is how you currently see the company as it is today. In early 2016, Howard Merkel, the youngest son of Bob, and also George Merkel the youngest son of Tim, began their journey working for the company, continuing on the family tradition.