TRUE VALUE HARDWARE on Missouri Flat Road is a family business. Left to right are Amy, Jeff, and Candy Gutierrez. Democrat photo by Pat Dollins

TRUE VALUE HARDWARE on Missouri Flat Road is a family business. Left to right are Amy, Jeff, and Candy Gutierrez. Democrat photo by Pat Dollins

Secrets of Success 2011

True Value Hardware prides itself in customer service

By From page D18 | January 06, 2012

True Value Hardware, located at 4751 Missouri Flat Road in Placerville, won’t just sell you a table saw. It will plug it in, fire it up and make sure it works before you ever think about taking it home.

Because for the local business that’s been around for 32 years, it’s not just about selling a product. It’s about taking care of the customer.

“We go beyond,” said president Dave Gutierrez. “We try to have extreme customer service.”

The hardware store sells the products you’d expect, from power equipment for home and lawn improvement to a wide variety of nuts and bolts. But it does so much more than that, according to Gutierrez, also offering services like a rental yard for heavy machinery like an excavator or John Deere tractors, and a repair shop for machinery maintenance.

“We excel as a hardware store,” Gutierrez said. “We are a Stihl dealer, a John Deere dealer, we do Echo (equipment). We do four-hour, 24-hour and week rentals. We have any piece of equipment to get any job done.”

The store’s wide variety of products and services are essential in a county like El Dorado, where home improvement is a mainstay for many local residents.

“Things have really tightened up since the economy slowed down,” Gutierrez said. “There are no more contractors around; people are doing it themselves. It’s mostly homeowners doing the work. We try to keep new equipment so it doesn’t break down. It’s a big concentration of ours that it doesn’t break down. There’s nothing worse than renting a piece of equipment that doesn’t work.”

Even the products the store sells are focused around being fully functional before a purchase is made.

“We just carry quality stuff,” Gutierrez said. “We don’t like selling items that people are going to return in months. When somebody buys a product here, we start it up and make sure it’s running perfectly, so when they take it home it’s all ready to run. When you buy something in a box, half the time it doesn’t run. Half the time it needs an adjustment.”

Flexibility is also a quality the store claims do well with.

“We go one step farther than the normal to make sure people find what they need,” Gutierrez said. “If we don’t have it, we’ll try to order it for them. If we don’t have it, and we get two calls for an item we feel we should have, we will order it and try to get it in stock.”

While the Christmas season may help some stores boom, though, True Value Hardware typically waits until spring for its highest selling season.

“Our Christmas time is spring,” Gutierrez said. “People are buying power equipment and power supplies. We try to have everything, to be a one-stop shop hardware.”

The store’s repair shop helps the business grow every year. With full-time local mechanics on staff, True Value Hardware gets a lot of business from customers looking to have items fixed.

“We’ve been doing small engine repair and tractor repair for 32 years,” Gutierrez said. “The only problem is we get very backed up in spring, sometimes up to five weeks. We only have so many mechanics.”

Demand in the spring season for repair on lawnmowers, garden tractors and other equipment for outdoor improvement keeps the business overwhelmed with requests.

The biggest stamp of success the store experienced came when True Value Hardware in Placerville remodeled its store in May 2009. Changing the layout of the store with the Destination True Value concept brought in new business and kept old business coming back.

“We have been in double digits every month since then,” Gutierrez said. “We’ve shown increases since the remodel. It’s a real appealing layout in the store. People seem to like it. Our customer count has increased continually since then, as have sales.”

With a new layout, several features from parts to equipment and service, the store aims to continue its success into 2012 with a smile.

“We do it with exceptional customer service,” Gutierrez said. “We have knowledgeable sales people that have been here for years. They can help with any problem (customers) have.”

Patrick Ibarra

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