Caledonia Ace HardwareSuccess Story
After spending 35 years in the automotive manufacturing industry, Ross Martin fulfilled a dream when he purchased Caledonia Village Hardware. Now, instead of jetting around the globe as a corporate manufacturing representative, Ross, his wife Deborah and their children fulfill the hardware needs of the residents of Caledonia Township, Michigan.
“I always dreamed of owning a small-town hardware store. I like the small-town business environment. You get to know the customers on a first-name basis,” Ross explains.
The Martins purchased the store in 2012. Caledonia Township is a small town of about 12,000 slightly southeast of Grand Rapids. It is truly a family business with all six of the Martin children working in the store at some point.
Although Ross has decades of experience in corporate business management, this store was his first foray into retail sales. Purchasing an Ace Hardware store provided Ross with the foundation and backing of the world’s largest hardware cooperative. But after getting into the swing of the business, he found he wanted a retail platform that would help him simplify and grow his operation.
Following about a year of research, when he studied several options, Ross chose Paladin Data Corporation as his retail technology partner. He likes how Paladin’s technology puts his data to work, how easy it is to use, and its 100% USA-based customer support.
“It’s so easy to use and so easy to train people on. I like that and our employees like it,” Ross says. “Paladin has tremendous customer support. Other companies have tiered support. The bigger stores get priority support and smaller stores have to wait in line. Paladin supports its customers no matter what the size. Paladin’s staff is very responsive.”
Ross uses Paladin’s Suggest Ordering feature to keep the right mix and optimum quantities of products in stock. The feature uses sale transaction data to eliminate hours of price shopping and automatically generates inventory orders to maintain the ideal amount of stock on hand. Using Suggested Ordering has allowed an in-stock percentage of 97% to 98%, which Ross says helped him earn Ace Pinnacle status as a top performing store two years in a row.
“Our store uses Suggested Ordering 100%. Ace considers 95% really good and we’re always above that,” he says.
Paladin’s extensive integrations mesh seamlessly with Ace EDI, Ace Rewards, Dynamic Promotions and In-store Pickup automating many inventory and customer management processes.
The business also uses Paladin’s Managed Services to ensure its data and network infrastructure are secure and reliable. Not long ago, the office computer crashed and basically erased five years of sales transactions and financial records. Managed Services restored the files and saved Deb Martin countless accounting headaches.
“I was panic-stricken. Gone were all my Excel documents, created forms, accounting data, employee handbook, et cetera,” she explains. “I’m eternally grateful (Paladin) developed a backup that looks out for the back room, too.”
Ross credits his partnerships with Ace Hardware and Paladin for much of his success.
“Moving from the corporate management world into retail: It’s been a big change, but very enjoyable. What’s been rewarding is being able to apply your business skills to your own business,” he says. “Ace and Paladin have been fantastic to work with.”