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Employee Advancement Is the Core of Retailer’s Growth Strategy 

Continuing the legacy started in 1906, Walter and Patricia Toole purchased Bray Hardware in Winter Garden, Florida, in 1983. After changing wholesalers, the Tooles opened a second location in Clermont, Florida, in 1990, and from there, expanded to 13 stores in central Florida under the Toole’s Ace umbrella. 

President and CEO Neil Asma says the company’s multi-store strategy offers numerous benefits, including fueling growth for employees and providing opportunities for a lucrative career with Toole’s Ace. 

“When it comes to managing a larger network of stores, along with economies of scale, we can also be more efficient and deliver a healthy culture of ever-increasing opportunities to our team members by focusing on expansion,” Asma says.

Growth for Toole’s Ace is centered on its employees. Employees are also one of the biggest obstacles to growth Asma says, as finding employees who are experienced and understand the growth culture of the company continues to cause speed bumps. To counteract these challenges, Asma has focused on improving new employee orientation and onboarding to create a longer pipeline of talented employees who can fulfill the expectations of customers. 

“We give all our employees the same starting point, and then from there, it is putting sweat equity into communication, as you have to constantly communicate values, problems, opportunities and expectations to mold an employee into your company culture,” Asma says.

Open communication is key for growth at the management level as well. Asma says they train managers to run the business as if it is theirs and encourage them to do what they think is the right course of action to exceed the customer’s expectations whenever possible. Asma avoids bogging down decision-making with bureaucracy, giving managers the independence to make decisions quickly in the best interest of the customer and business. 

“That is what will lead to even further growth,” Asma says. “Looking down the road, the goal is happier employees and hopefully more stores, but the former is more important and will drive the latter. We want to be larger and more successful, but most importantly, I would rather increase our team of talented people that I thoroughly enjoy working with.”

About Lindsey Thompson

Lindsey joined the NHPA staff in 2021 as an associate editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. A native of Ohio, Lindsey earned a B.S. in journalism and minors in business and sociology from Ohio University. She loves spending time with her husband, two kids, two cats and one dog, as well as doing DIY projects around the house, going to concerts, boating and cheering on the Cleveland Indians.

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