About Central Vacuum Stores

Founder of Central Vacuum Stores
Founder of Central Vacuum Stores

The year was 1948 and Chris Ambrose, having suffered three major heart attacks before the age of 30, left Vineland, New Jersey with his wife, Sally, daughter Lorraine, and infant son, Roger. On the advice of his doctors, Chris moved his family the warm climate of St. Petersburg, Florida. That same year, he opened the doors of Central Vacuum Stores, named for its location on Central Avenue, famous for its “green benches”. Having been an Electrolux manager in New Jersey, Chris had aspirations of owning a successful vacuum cleaner business.

In the years that followed, Sally and Chris built a thriving vacuum cleaner business representing companies like Hoover, Eureka, Panasonic, Sharp, Rainbow, Bissell, Simplicity, and Oreck. In addition to building a business, they added another son to their family, Robin. In 1972 Roger, now a Vietnam Veteran and college graduate, joined the company. In 1974 Roger married Renee Hendry. Renee had worked at Central Vacuum while she was in high school and after they were married, she would fill in from time to time. In 1976 they began a family and went on to have six children who, over the years, spent time working in the stores. By the early 80´s, Central Vacuum Stores was operating six stores in Pinellas County, Florida.

With the growth of the mega-retailer, Roger decided it would be a good idea to diversify and began installing central vacuum systems in Pinellas and Hillsborough County. Soon after, he added intercom installation to Central Vacuum´s product offering. The installation business continued to grow and Central Vacuum Stores was soon installing central vacuum systems and intercoms throughout West Central Florida, traveling as far north as Ocala and as far south as Miami.

Roger and Renee Ambrose photographed with their five children
Roger and Renee Ambrose photographed with their five children on a family vacation: (standing) Micah, Dawn, Thomas, Roger, (seated) Faith, Nathan, Renee

By the mid 90´s Roger and Renee noticed a new trend. It seemed the do-it-yourselfer was coming into the stores and buying central vacuum equipment over the counter to install themselves. Renee, who had been busy at home raising the kids, heard this with interest and wondered if it would be possible to sell these products over the Internet. In 2000 Roger and Renee hired a friend, Craig Handelsman, to work as a full-time web developer. Renee went back to school to get a degree in e-business and Roger, Renee, and Craig began the task of building an Internet business.

In 2008 Central Vacuum, still owned by the Ambrose family, celebrated sixty years of serving customers. With the Internet, our customer base has gone global, but our service is still personal and customized, just like it was 60 years ago. Today we offer our customers more choices, more experience, and more information. Notice, we don´t say the most choices. We aren´t concerned with carrying the most brands, just the best brands. With sixty years in the industry, we also offer more experience than any of our competitors. And finally, with all that experience we are able to give our customers more information so they will make well-informed decisions and be satisfied with the products they purchase. At Central Vacuum Stores we know that is what keeps our customers coming back and that is what builds a business that lasts for sixty years.


Group Shot.jpg
The 2017 Central Vacuum Stores team photo.


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