Businesses are built on relationships, and, as it turns out, community involvement is, too. An example is the relationship between the Fuller Center for the Housing Hero Project of Lake County and Laskowski Ace Hardware, a family business comprised of eight stores in the suburbs north of Chicago. Laskowski Ace stores are regular supporters of charities within their local markets, and a call from Bill Lee, president of North American Retail Hardware Association, introduced the owners to a program meant to strengthen those communities.
“We knew Bill through NRHA and after meeting with Yvette [Ewing], the executive director of the Fuller Center for Housing locally, we came to realize the Fuller Center’s mission was a perfect fit for the grassroots side of what Ace exemplifies—a local business that serves its neighbors,” says Deborah Laskowski-Meyer, vice president of finance and administration.
A Perfect Fit
“Because of our relationship with NRHA, and after meeting with Yvette and seeing how passionate she was about what she’s doing, we looked at supporting the Fuller Center locally in a greater capacity,” Laskowski-Meyer says. “Her energy for what she does is contagious and we believe in what she’s trying to accomplish. We thought, ‘why wouldn’t we want to be a part of that?’”
Soon after, Laskowski-Meyer, her brother Rich G. Laskowski, vice president of operations, and father Rich E. Laskowski, founder and president, committed the store’s support to the Fuller Center.
“In the past we’ve donated merchandise to other local non-profits,” Laskowski-Meyer says, “but now we try to think of the Fuller Center first.”
When meeting with Yvette, Rich Laskowski Jr. offered the idea of donating one of store’s Ace trucks to the Fuller Center; this is something Ewing still is exploring.
Although Laskowski Ace has supported only one Fuller Center build—it provided materials for the project and made a sponsorship-level cash donation—Laskowski-Meyer was pleased to see how the teamwork of staff, volunteers, supporters and homeowners could turn around a family’s life so dramatically in such a short time. She has encouraged the store manager in Waukegan, Joe Bellefeuille, to find ways for his staff to get involved with the Fuller Center.
As of now, Laskowski Ace and Fuller Center still are building their relationship, but, as Laskowski-Meyer says, “It’s an open door—if we can help Yvette knows to reach out to us.”