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For anyone who wonders about how important a solid technology platform is to the success of a hardware store, should ask Ross and Deborah Martin, who own Caledonia Village Hardware in Caledonia Township, Michigan.
After spending 35 years in the automotive manufacturing industry, Ross fulfilled a dream when he purchased his store. Now, instead of jetting around the globe as a corporate manufacturing representative, he and Deb and their children, fulfill the hardware needs of the residents of their Central Michigan community.
“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 him 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, he 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 it’s 100% USA-based customer support. Paladin’s intuitive user interface is easy to learn and simple to use.
“It’s so easy to use and so easy to train people on. I like that and our employees like it,” Ross says.
The intuitive point of sale system puts his business data where he needs it most – at his fingertips. Both management and sales associates can easily and quickly navigate the user-friendly interface to perform everything from simple sales transactions to intricate back-office operations.
The Martins use Paladin’s Suggested Ordering feature to keep the optimal quantity and mix of products in stock. The feature uses historical sales transaction data to automatically generate inventory orders for what customers will purchase in the weeks to come, eliminating hours of number crunching and price shopping.
Using Suggested Ordering has allowed an in-stock percentage of 97% to 98%, which he says helped the store earn Ace Pinnacle status as a top performer two years in a row. The Pinnacle Award represents Ace Hardware’s highest level of store performance.
“Our business uses Suggested Ordering 100%. It allows me to maintain a superior in-stock percentage rate. Ace considers 95% really good and we’re always above that,” he says.
Paladin’s extensive integrations mesh seamlessly with Ace and many other suppliers’ EDI, rewards and other special promotions and programs. Its powerful Market Driven Inventory Management automates ordering and uses proprietary algorithms to forecast what products customers will purchase in the future to make sure stores stock the right items at the right times. It also offers hundreds of supplier and business features and integrations that allow businesses to easily manage all aspects of their operations from a single platform.
Paladin’s suite of mobile products—Mobile Access, Mobile2 Suite and Paladin Pilot—lets store owners manage their operations from just about anywhere, whether they’re in the store, on a business trip or vacation.
Caledonia Village Ace Hardware uses Paladin’s Managed Services to ensure its data and network infrastructure are secure and reliable. Managed Services ranges from routine data backups to complete network monitoring and management which optimizes performance, reliability and security. It effectively eliminates IT worries.
Not long ago, Deb found out how valuable those services are. Her store’s office computer crashed and basically erased five years of sales transactions and financial records. Paladin’s Managed Services quickly restored the files and saved her countless accounting headaches.
“Our business uses Suggested Ordering 100%. It allows me to maintain a superior in-stock percentage rate. Ace considers 95% really good and we’re always above that.”
Ross Martin Caledonia Village Ace Hardware
“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.”
That kind of responsive 100% USA-based customer support is another reason the Martins chose Paladin as a business partner.
“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 says.
He credits his partnerships with Paladin and Ace 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.”
Learn more at paladinpointofsale.com/lbm