Behind every business is a person who's pursuing an entrepreneurial dream ...
Name of business: Kin-ko Ace Hardware
Address: 24604W. Lockport St.
Phone number: 815-436-3107
Manager: Dave Flentge
How long have you worked for Ace? Flentge began at the company's Lockport store in 1995, opened the Woodridge store in 2008 and was moved to Plainfield in 2009 to help revive a store that was "kind of failing," he said.
What do you sell? A full line of hardware, paint, plumbing, electrical, kitchen, lawn care and yard products as well as seasonal and holiday-related items. "We're a full-service hardware store," Flentge says. "We may not be able to match some of the competitors' prices but we make up for it with great customer service."
What is your business philosophy? "The customer is first. It's my livelihood and I take it very seriously."
But on the flip side? "I like to have fun at work and I like to create an easygoing atmosphere. … I might see someone with a Sox hat – I'm a huge Sox fan – and say, 'Hey, nice hat.' … It's nice to learn your customers' names. They're always surprised when you say, 'Hi, George.'"
Any memorable stories? There was one just recently, he said. A customer came in to buy a grill and wanted to pay for it with two credit cards and a check. It can be done, but it's a time-consuming process, Flentge said. Apparently, too much so. The guy became so irate by having to wait that he called his lawyer in an effort to speed up the process. The lawyer told him what Flentge already knew: cool your heels and wait. "He ended up putting it all on one credit card. I'm sure he had his reasons for (wanting to do it the other way)," he said.
How about a happier tale? As already mentioned, Flentge is a huge Sox fan. He loved the day a married couple came into the store with the wife dressed in Cubs regalia and the husband decked out in his Sox best. "I told them it must make for some interesting conversations in their house," he said.
What one thing in your store right now is something you thought would sell but ended up being a dud? The large fiberglass flower pots. They look like they're ceramic but in fact are very lightweight, a quality he thought customers would find appealing. Apparently not.
Anyone else in your family work for Ace? The question should be who in the family doesn't work for Ace. His wife is executive assistant to the franchise president, his sons are both managers, his brother is his supervisor and his sister-in-law works in his store as his cashier. When he worked in Lockport, he hired a cashier who ended up marrying his son and is now his daughter-in-law.