Founder of A-Best & A-Plus Dies at 72

Founder of A-Best & A-Plus Dies at 72

Byron Hanson, age 72, of Owatonna, MN died February 13, 2018, at the Owatonna Hospital surrounded by family. In 1994, Byron founded A-Best Sew & Vac in Albert Lea, MN under the management of his oldest son, Vern, and his wife, Lisa. With Byron and Janet’s guidance and counsel, A-Best Sew & Vac flourished, growing exponentially over nearly three decades. Vern and Lisa later bought the business and under their ownership it became one of the top Janome Sewing Machine dealerships in the United States.

Tribute to Byron Hanson

When good fathers die, it’s always too soon. How do you quantify the life of such an individual in a handful of sentences? How do you sum up 72 years of a life so influential and important in only a few paragraphs? The task itself is daunting, and I am relatively certain it cannot be done, or that at the very least, only a very few would actually be up to the task.

The task is all the more intimidating as you set out upon it because you begin to see, from a perspective you possibly never considered before, just how big the shoes of that individual are that you must now attempt to stand in and represent. And words alone can never do this. Yet, that is what we are called upon to do as those who have lived lives of such influence, loved ones who we owe so much, pass away and transition from this life in the body to be at home with the Lord.

Byron could be described as gregarious–extremely friendly and greatly loving the company of others. And he was magnanimous–revealing his generous spirit and a noble character. He especially loved and cherished his family. His greatest concern and desire for them was that they would all know, believe and trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. His greatest desire, as related by Janet, his partner in business and life of 55 years, always was that they would know the Ten Commandments, Apostles Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. “For,” as he purportedly put it so succinctly, “it is simply what we as Christians believe.” And as Janet relates it, “He always wanted his grandchildren and great-grandchildren to know these three foundational tenants of the Christian Faith.”

Byron’s great love for Jesus and concern for others was further evidenced when in later life he decided to pursue and earned his Master’s Degree in Pastoral Studies from Logos University. He not only cherished, believed and trusted in Christ, but wanted others to have the same confidence and comfort he had come to know.

Byron’s faith had great influence on, not only his family, but also on how he conducted himself in business with his neighbors in his community. He began his career in the sewing machine and home care industry in sales with the Singer Sewing Co. in 1963. In 1982, He ran and managed the B&J Sewing Center. In 1990, Byron’s passion for business and the customers he served led him and Janet to open A-Plus Sew & Vac in Owatonna, MN. This choice would have a positive impact on, not only their lives and their customers, but the lives even of, to this day, at least three additional generations of family and customers.

In 1994, he founded A-Best Sew & Vac in Albert Lea, MN under the management of his oldest son, Vern, and his wife, Lisa. With Byron and Janet’s guidance and counsel, A-Best Sew & Vac flourished, growing exponentially over nearly three decades. Vern and Lisa later bought the business and under their ownership it became one of the top Janome Sewing Machine dealerships in the United States.

Because of his philosophy on customer care, Byron had a considerable influence on the future generations which he helped propel into business. Though he retired in 2001, the mark Byron left is still seen and felt in how customers are cared for, educated and served as if they were family and very good friends. He loved to get to know and converse with clientele, and many have commented on his friendly and caring demeanor. He helped instill a hard, honest work ethic, genuine care and concern for the customer, and a put-the-customer-first mentality in his children and grandchildren.

Today, as A-Best Sew & Vac continues to grow and bring on more staff, Byron’s leadership is touching and influencing young men and women whom he has never even met. As we pass on his ethics and values to new staff, they have taken up and begun to run with the baton he carried for so many decades.

We owe to Byron much in the way we approach customer care, service and not to mention, the great success we have had because of his influential focus on quality products and service over quantity, treating customers the way we would want to be treated, and never taking a cent we didn’t earn by first providing sales or service of great value.

To this day, Byron’s legacy and influence continue to live on in the lives of his children and grandchildren, and even the non-family member staff who have been brought into the A-Best family. The great responsibility of passing this legacy on to the fourth generation of his great-grandchildren is now upon us. We pray that, Lord willing, we will do as well as Byron did in instilling the same ethics and values in our children as he did in his. While the founder may no longer be here with us to direct and to guide, the foundation he laid has stood the test of time and has proven solid and true.

For all this and more, we honor you, Byron. With all our hearts, thank you. We could never repay the debt of gratitude we owe you, but your generous spirit wouldn’t allow us to anyway. Instead, I imagine you would be satisfied if we simply paid it forward and taught the next generations the lessons you instilled in us.

There are many more stories that I, and several others, could tell of Byron that would illustrate his gracious, loving, magnanimous, and gregarious character. But these words still would not do him justice. When good fathers die, it’s always too soon, and no amount of words can express the hole that they leave in our hearts and our lives with their passing.

May God bless you and keep you, Byron, in His love until that great and magnificent day of the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Obituary

Byron Hanson, age 72, of Owatonna, MN died February 13, 2018, at the Owatonna Hospital surrounded by family. 

Funeral service is set for 1:30PM Saturday, February 17, 2018 at the Brick-Meger Funeral Home. Friends may greet the family from 11:30AM to 1:00PM prior to the funeral service at the funeral home. Interment will take place at a later date. 

Byron was born on April 17, 1945, in Blooming Prairie, MN to parents Carl and Anna (Arett) Hanson, and grew up on a farm in Deerfield, outside of Medford, MN. 

He graduated from Medford High School in 1963, and married Janet (Mohs). After high school he was in sales with the Singer Sewing Co., and in 1964 he began working for the Minnesota Highway Department. He and Janet started a Shaklee distributorship in 1969, during which time the family lived in Rogers, AR for several years. In 1982, Byron returned to Minnesota where he managed the B&J Sewing Center. His passion for business led he and Janet to open and operate their own business, A-Plus Sew & Vac in 1990. He and Janet helped found El Shaddai Christian School in Owatonna. 

Later in life, Byron attended Logos University, studied Theology and graduated with a master's degree in Pastoral Studies. In 2001, he retired due to health reasons. He enjoyed travelling, and he and Janet took many wonderful trips in the U.S. and abroad. He spent many summers fishing and fall seasons hunting with family and friends. 

Byron is survived by his best friend of 55 years, Janet; children, Vern (Lisa) Hanson, Hayward, MN, Annette (Mike) Schneckloth, Mantorville, MN, Priscilla (Craig) Koeckeritz, Mendota Heights, MN, Matthew (Bridgett) Hanson, Eagan, MN, 19 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren; brother, Raymond Hanson, Albert Lea, sisters, Mavis Parrish, Albert Lea, Catherine Yule, Owatonna, and Iris (Joseph) Donkers, Owatonna. 

He was preceded in death by his parents; one brother, Gordon; 3 brothers-in-law, Eugene Parrish, Wayne Yule, Jerry Jirele, and sister-in-law, Vivian Hanson. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to St. Mary's Catholic School.