Behind the Victory Flagpole – the amazing Le Vahns

“Where oh where, have my plumber men gone? They worked here in Camden for ever so long.”

Who doesn’t remember one of the oldest plumbing businesses in Camden? I do. I can well remember back in the ‘30s of the kitchen sink plugging up and mother calling out, “Get Le Vahn over here now!” You see, they had the most skilled men who knew how to take care of all your plumbing headaches, the worst of which were clogged pipes and misbehaving toilets.

Le Vahn was definitely a long-time Camden business. They were established in 1923 by three brothers; Arthur, Ernie and Ed Le Vahn. They were first located at 4147 Fremont Ave. N. and then moved to several other locations to increase their floor space. The second store was at 4108 Lyndale Ave. N. next to Joe’s Shoe Shop, and in the ‘60s the third store was at 3200 Penn Ave. N. At this time Arthur’s son, Robert, took over the business. He in turn passed it on to his son, Loren, who is the present owner. That was the third generation owning the store.

In 1995 Loren purchased the “Yes Hardware Store” in Maple Grove and moved the plumbing business out of North Minneapolis for the first time. With the new name, “Le Vahn Bros. Hardware Hank Plumbing,” they took on a new logo–“Hardware Hank” and brought Loren’s son, Andrew, into the business, thus fulfilling four generations of Le Vahns working in the business.

Le Vahn Bros. Hardware Hank now provides both hardware and plumbing services, although hardware was only introduced in 1994. They have a reputation of having the most complete line of plumbing parts, and the same for customer service. The key to it all is that it is a family owned business, with four generations understanding the ins and outs of all plumbing problems. Their attitude is to try and do as much as they can for the customer. They try to do the job as honestly and professionally as possible, meaning “do the job right the first time” and “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” The third rule is, “if they can help you fix it yourself, they will try to do their best to do so.”

This crew of workers now does both commercial and residential work, including bathroom and kitchen remodels and the renting of dozens of items including most large tools, lawn and garden items and party equipment. Even though they are now in Maple Grove, Northside residents have not forgotten them. They have taken care of the problems of many Camden residents over a lifetime, including all my relatives. One personal note is that my cousin, Dick Nordby’s wife, Carol, had worked in the Le Vahn office for many years as their secretary, office manager and treasurer.


I wonder how many more generations will go on as the amazing Le Vahns?