LaPine Ace HardwareCase Study
A little over 40 years ago, John Pinkney and Steve Dodd started working together in a small lumberyard John’s family had purchased in La Pine, Oregon. They began loading and unloading lumber trucks, and before long they were running the place. Today, they’re co-owners of arguably one of the busiest businesses in town.
La Pine is a small town of approximately 1,600, but with a rural population of over 10,000. It sits along interstate Highway 97, high in the Oregon Cascades, and because of its rural location, about 30 miles south of Bend, the region’s largest city, the store is the hub for a large population of local contractors. Nearly 40% of the store’s business comes from building and service contractors making its lumberyard and building materials its core. The rest comes from area residents who handle most of their own home repairs and remodels.
“It seems like everybody is a do-it-yourselfer in La Pine. We’re here to help them, though,” John said.
Not long after the expanded into hardware, John and Steve chose Paladin Data Corporation as their first point of sale system. Dan and Judie Nesmith, who were just starting their company, visited and personally installed the system.
Several years after expanding into hardware, John and Steve joined Ace Hardware. Once they joined Ace, they moved to a point of sale system recommended by the co-op. Over the years, that point of sale system became too expensive and too complicated for their employees to manage.
The store also began facing increased competition from big-box stores in Bend, as well as online retailers Amazon and Home Depot. More and more shoppers are turning to online retailers and mobile technology for their hardware needs.
Running our advertising through the (monitors) works better. Instead of printing out all those ads, people can look at the screen and see what’s on sale. To me, it’s much more of an advantage. It’s the way business is running now.Cindy Sawyer
In 2014, John and Steve returned to Paladin Data Corp. La Pine Ace Hardware is now equipped with 17 computer terminals, five EMV-equipped credit card processing terminals, five receipt printers and a pair of RF guns.
The store has also implemented EZ-AD, one of Paladin’s many valuable integrations, which helps independent hardware retailers compete with online and big-box giants such as Amazon, Home Depot and Lowe’s. The integration enhances customer service and the overall brick-and-mortar shopping experience with dynamic digital signage and a mobile application featuring real-time data from point of sale. The mobile app also uses the device’s camera to scan barcodes and then displays pricing from across the web.
“We get a lot of customers who come in here and compare our prices with Home Depot. Now we can call up competitors’ prices on our phones and show customers that maybe their prices were lower last week, but not this week. We’ll make the app available to all our (sales associates),” Assistant Manager Cindy Sawyer said, adding the digital signage will elevate their in-store shopping experience, too. “Running our advertising through the (monitors) works better. Instead of printing out all those ads, people can look at the screen and see what’s on sale. To me, it’s much more of an advantage. It’s the way business is running now.”
Paladin’s integration with all of Ace Hardware’s programs, including EDI, Ace Rewards and Dynamic Promotions simplifies ordering, tracking, inventory management and customer relations.
“It’s easier to use. It’s not so complicated. Our other system was fine, but it was much too complicated. This is easier to use, easier to explain. It’s common sense,” John explained. “When we tell our department heads here’s how it works. You gotta trust the computer and make sure your counts are right and pretty soon they get it.”
Cindy appreciates Paladin’s 100% U.S.-based support, which for her is a local phone call to its corporate headquarters in Bend. She also likes Paladin’s intuitive interface.
“Everything works and if I have questions I can get an answer,” she says. “Paladin with its dials kind of dials us in on things. It’s much easier.”