BOISE — Bernard “Bernie” Zamzow, a former owner of the Zamzows company, died at his home in Boise Tuesday morning surrounded by family after a short illness, the company’s president said. He was 96. 

Bernie Zamzows parents, Carmalita and August Zamzow, founded the Zamzows company in 1933. Bernie became an owner of the company with his parents and brother Stanley and eventually sold it to his sons Rick and Jim Zamzow, the current owners. The company began as a coal and feed store before blossoming into a full-service retailer with multiple locations, specializing in lawn and garden, pets, feed and more.

“Bernie was just kind of the foundation of our company,” Darin Eisenbarth, Zamzow’s president, said. “The contributions he made to this company are immeasurable. He’s going to leave a giant hole for us.”

Eisenbarth described Bernie as a visionary who did things like set up pensions and profit sharing for his employees back when those things didn’t really exist. He also built a company around his customers.

“The customer came first and you had to supply him with the service and the products that served him well,” Bernie told the Idaho Press-Tribune in an interview last year.

Bernie’s sons told the Press-Tribune they admired their father as a role model in a story about the family published in 2011.

“He taught me how to work hard, and to do a job right, give it 100 percent and never accept less than the best,” Rick Zamzow said. “He also taught me to watch the money. He always said if you don’t watch it nobody else will.”

“By example he taught me to accomplish something worthwhile every single day of my life and to do a good job,” Jim Zamzow said.

Bernie was an avid gardener who spent about six hours a day tending to his crop at his home. He maintained about a quarter-acre plot and ate almost exclusively out of his own garden, which probably contributed to his longevity, Eisenbarth said.

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