With the holiday season upon us and shoppers looking for the perfect gift, Michigan-based ACO Hardware recently announced a partnership with Pure Michigan to carry branded products in stores and online. This represents the continued commitment of many Michigan companies to support other local businesses and suppliers as well as initiatives such as Pure Michigan Business Connect.
We asked Janet Mahy, ACO’s Vice President of Merchandising & Dick Snyder, ACO’s President and COO, to tell us about ACO’s history of doing business in Michigan and how they are continuing to support other local businesses.
Briefly describe your Michigan business and what the company does.
ACO Home, Garden and Hardware~ we are not just a hardware store, we carry a variety of products. Lawn & Garden, Hardware and Paint are the core categories with newly updated housewares, home décor and seasonal depts along with gifts, food and Michigan products. We are headquartered in Farmington Hills and have 66 stores within two hours of our corporate office and 1,000 employees.
How was ACO started and how did it grow to be the successful business it is today?
ACO was founded as the Traskos Brothers Hardware Depot in Dearborn, MI in 1946. They had a total of 6 employees. It transitioned into a very successful ACE franchise and became ACO in 1981 with a total of 36 stores.
The success can be directly attributed to the founders’ vision and the execution of that vision by the quality people that worked in stores and home office day-in and day-out. ACO has been able to survive and thrive by updating the product mix in the stores and offering great service, convenient locations and competitive prices.
How long has your business been in Michigan and why do you choose to stay in Michigan?
Since we were founded in 1946. Roots are in Michigan and we have a rich history and loyal customer base. We really are the essence of a Michigan company. We continue to see opportunities throughout Michigan as we come out of one of the most challenging economic times in our history.
What do you see as the assets that Michigan has to offer entrepreneurs and business owners?
Without a doubt, it is the people of Michigan that make the difference and are our greatest asset. They are a talented workforce with an incredibly strong work ethic. People throughout the ACO family, for example, care deeply about our customers, our community and each other. It really is true that “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
Local businesses are important to communities - can you explain the role that ACO plays?
We value the relationship that we have with our communities both at a store and corporate level. We have reinvigorated our community commitment over the past several years both at the corporate and the local store level. Including Wounded Warriors, Children’s hospital/Festival of Trees, MDA, Mittens for Detroit, Salvation Army Toy program, NSO, Local schools, cub scouts, School football programs and many more grass roots programs.
What advantages do consumers have by supporting local, Michigan-based retailers?
Obviously one of the key benefits of shopping locally is to support the local economy. It helps to keep people in Michigan through job creation. In addition, since we are only in Michigan, we take great pride in supporting the Michigan suppliers we do business with and always look to them first.
What’s new or next for ACO?
The official Pure Michigan line of products is now in ACO stores or on-line. We’ll also continue to increase our selection of Michigan Made products. We’re improving and remodeling our stores and we will continue to support our community initiatives. You’ll find new limited time offers on products that will change monthly; we call them ACO (Amazing Customer Offers).
Watch to learn more about ACO’s commitment to the community and to providing Michigan made products in the following video.
What are a few things that anyone who is looking to start their own company should know?
Develop a complete business plan. Be willing to commit the time and effort necessary to get it off the ground. And understand that will be enormous. Look for support in the areas of the business in which you don’t have expertise.
What does Pure Michigan mean to you?
The proud nature of the people who live and work in Michigan. Pride in the heritage and history of this great state. A beautiful state filled with natural resources and fantastic travel destinations and an unshakable belief that the best is yet to come in the future of our wonderful state.
Are you an entrepreneur or business leader in Michigan and want to share your success story or tell how Michigan has helped your business grow? Share your story on the Michigan Advantage blog! Learn more about being a guest blogger.