Hardware Retailing

NOV 2018

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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A great leader can change the trajectory of an employee's entire career. By giving helpful compliments when an employee feels overwhelmed or maintaining a work environment where everyone feels respected and empowered, responsive leaders can help employees and businesses alike soar. For Adam Ziegler, the time he spent away from the home improvement industry provided crucial lessons that he now applies to his career as owner and vice president of Ziegler's Ace Hardware. Ziegler also finds value in investing in his community. Like other home improvement leaders, Ziegler says he finds new opportunities to grow his business and his leadership skills by getting involved with community organizations. Discover how those local roots have enriched his business and helped Ziegler expand his reputation as a leader. A Family Foundation Ziegler is the fourth generation at the helm of Ziegler's Ace Hardware, a business his great-grandfather started in 1930. Alongside his father, Ziegler now oversees nine locations across northeastern Illinois. Ziegler says some of his earliest memories revolve around his family's business, including his father making weekly rounds to every store. He remembers his father checking on each store individually to determine the overall health of the business. He worked in his family's stores as a teenager, and later studied accounting and business administration. "I always knew that one day I would play a role in running our family business, but despite growing up in the business, my father encouraged me to focus on my education and gain outside work experience," he says. After graduating with a master's degree in accounting in 2005 from Southern Methodist University, he got a job at a national accounting firm. His new job placed him in a very different work environment than the stores where he grew up. But Ziegler always had his family's business in mind. After seven years in corporate accounting, he returned to Ziegler's Ace Hardware. When he rejoined to the family business, he updated the decades-old accounting system the business had been using with modern financial reporting systems. He says this decision led to a more streamlined financial reporting process and greater accuracy for the business. Additionally, he used his experience in corporate finance to lower his company's banking costs by preparing an RFP and negotiating with a new bank. "Working outside the industry for a few years was really important for me," he says. "It gave me a different perspective on how things should be done, and the best practices for running a business." Putting Leadership Into Words Two years later, he developed a plan to instill a new focus at the business. He decided to craft what he calls a "noble purpose" that would guide each employee to represent the business confidently and ensure they connect with customers, vendors and other team members on an authentic level. Bringing New Points of View to Home Improvement Taking Cues From Outside HARDWARE RETAILING | November 2018 48 By Todd Taber, ttaber@nrha.org

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