Hardware Retailing recently interviewed five-star employees from across the country to learn what motivates them to lead their operations to excellence every day. Whether it’s increasing their product knowledge, ensuring customers have everything they need to succeed in a home renovation project or making their operation a must-visit destination in their communities, these five-stars aim for stellar service.
Below, learn about Alyssa Tolzda of Modern Home & Hardware and Bill Powell of E&H Hardware, two of these five-star employees.
Rising in the Ranks
Inventory Manager Plans for Success
For five-star employee Alyssa Tolzda, inventory manager at Modern Home & Hardware in Woodsfield, Ohio, career success starts by planning ahead.
“Planning is huge. I try to plan tasks that I want to get accomplished at the beginning of the week and then delegate those,” she says.
Tolzda says her first job was working with her father in his lumberyard, but as her high school graduation approached, she was planning for her future and searching for new opportunities to grow on her own.
Meanwhile, Modern Home & Hardware owner Karena Reusser was on the hunt for a qualified employee. Reusser reached out to her local school system’s guidance counselor and a few friends of hers who taught at a nearby high school. Soon, Tolzda’s name emerged, and Reusser scheduled an interview to make sure Tolzda was ready for a retail job, was willing to learn more about the products and services the company offered and fit its culture.
After the interview, Reusser was impressed by her friends’ recommendation and hired Alyssa on the spot. Reusser suggests that other retailers searching for five-star employees consider their local school systems to find qualified candidates.
Training Takes Time
Five years after being hired as a cashier, Tolzda has now been promoted to the store’s inventory manager. Along the way, she says she’s thankful she works in an environment that encourages ongoing training.
In January 2016, Alyssa graduated from the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA)’s Retail Management Certification Program, a college-level program that teaches the fundamentals of leadership, decision-making and managing others.
“I learned so much from that program,” Tolzda says. “Planning was huge, but also bouncing ideas off other people in the industry and engaging people differently according to their personality types to get the best results for the store.”
Tolzda says Reusser and Modern Home & Hardware’s focus on employee training shows that the business cares about its employees and is ready to invest in their long-term success.
Planning for the Future
Reusser says the decision to hire Tolzda years ago and allowing her the opportunities to develop her skills has enriched the business.
“Alyssa has learned to wear multiple hats and has grown in her management skills,” Reusser says. “She has become an excellent salesperson and has excelled in many of her assignments.”
Tolzda is looking to the future. She says there are many opportunities to grow in Modern Home & Hardware, and one day she’d like to own her own business.
“I really enjoy the hardware industry,” Tolzda says.”I could see myself continuing with it, absolutely. It’d be a fun adventure!”
Longtime Employee Pushes Himself to Learn New Skills
Laurel Easton, store manager of E&H Hardware’s Delaware, Ohio, location, is proud of her entire team. But when it comes to longtime employee Bill Powell, Easton says his motivation to push himself to learn new programs is a constant inspiration.
“Bill is like a walking encyclopedia,” Easton says.”He has the answer for absolutely everything. He’s such an asset to this store with all his knowledge.”
In 2002, Bill began working at the store E&H Hardware eventually purchased, which he says was a departure from his previous work experience.
“My first career was as a dairy farmer,” Powell says. “After 25 years in that business, we sold the cows and I was looking for a career change.”
After leaving his dairy career behind, Powell eventually joined a farm and fleet supply company, giving him his first exposure to a retail environment. He later joined E&H Hardware, a local company whose owners he knew and whose business acumen he admired. He says he was drawn to the hardware industry, which he says keeps him on his toes.
“You never know who’s going to walk in with what project, it’s something new with every customer,” he says.
Taking the Lead
It’s that willingness to help and learn new things that Easton says makes Powell a five-star employee.
“As smart as Bill is, he knows there’s always something new to learn and he continues educating himself on areas he has a weakness in. For example, he really took charge of our rental program and learned a lot about it to build it up for our customers,” Easton says.
Powell dove headfirst into E&H Hardware’s rental program, taking a training course to learn how best to introduce the features to customers and process orders. He drew on his retail experience to match customers with the equipment they needed to finish their projects large and small.
“I like to exercise my brain and learn something new every day,” Powell says. “Laurel’s done a great job of instituting a training program here that keeps us all up-to-date. For someone my age, who’s seen a lot of changes in retail, it’s important to continue your training and share your knowledge.”
Powell says he’s thankful to work with a team that values communication and gives him the opportunities to deepen his retail knowledge. Above all, he says helping customer succeed with their DIY projects is his greatest motivation.
“Getting a ‘thank you’ from a customer is great, that means quite a lot,” Powell says. “That’s what brings me back every day.”