Stihl Hardware All Stars: R.I., S.C., Vt.

Remodeling initiatives, bicycle services and fun videos contribute to high performance

Martin's True Value has every appearance of a fun place to work.

HBSDealer editors like to say: It takes a little more to be a Stihl Hardware All Star. The 2017 list of 50 hardware stores from 50 states supports that maxim with a tremendous variety of stores.

Since 2011, HBSDealer has reached out to suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, vendors, retailers and homeowners in search of high-performing, service-oriented, community-minded hardware stores, lumberyards or farm and ranch dealers worthy of All Star status.

It’s a tribute to this industry that each year brings a surplus of high-quality nominations. The companies profiled have earned their place on the list of 50 — and they join an elite fraternity of honorees. Here’s to the class of 2017. And here are our representatives from Rhode Island, South Carolina and Vermont.

Rhode Island
McQuade’s Ace Hardware
McQuade’s Ace Hardware isn’t necessarily the same exact store that locals grew up with in Westerly. Last year, it was completely remodeled from top to bottom, with major investments in its Stihl OPE offering and big name brand selection, such as Valspar and Weber. The McQuades also expanded some of the specialty products they’re known for carrying, like camping goods, kayaks and Boy Scout items. When it comes down to it, however, VP Mark McQuade — the owner’s son — says it’s about knowledge and customer service. “[Our strength lies in] having the right people to do the right jobs,” he said. “My average employee has been here for almost 10 years.”

South Carolina
Heuser Ace Hardware
Heuser Ace Hardware may have only opened its doors just more than a year ago, but it was already named “Best of Bluffton” in the hardware and home improvement categories for two years running, and it also doubles as a full-service bike shop, which sells bicycles that are made in the United States to the active local community. The 12,000-sq.-ft. downtown destination is also frequented for its selection of plants and bird feeders. More than anything, Heuser takes its training seriously: the store is staffed by an expert with a Ph.D. in horticulture, two master gardeners, a master electrician, and a master plumber. Plus, associates are required to pass a robust training certification.

Martin’s Hardware & Building Supply
You can tell a lot about a store by its homemade Facebook videos. And at Martin’s Hardware & Building Supply, with stores in Bristol, Middlebury and Brattleboro, the operative word is “fun.” Quirky, but fun. Same goes for its radio spots. “What makes our stores special are the people that work for us,” said Kathleen Clark, co-owner. “We love our community.”

See the full class — presented by Stihl — in the May issue of HBSDealer.

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