Mequon Ace Hardware

About Us

Making sure Ace is ‘THE’ place
By: Sue Mroz
As appeared in the News Graphic on Tuesday, September 18th 2012

Grill DepartmentKristin Nell, now 33, had no idea about the type of career path she wished to pursue, while a student at Homestead High School and during her two years in college. This is no longer the case.  On Dec. 8, 201l, Kristin and her husband Bob Nell purchased the 10,000-square-foot Mequon Ace Hardware Store business, with Bob’s parents, Robert and Nancy Nell, as part-owners. “That date was our second wedding anniversary,” said Kristin, who has worked at Mequon Ace Hardware for the past 15 years.“I love it,” she said, of becoming the new co-owner. “This [store] is my baby for right now,” adding that she works in the store full-time, and Bob, who is employed full-time as the physical distribution manager at Dierks Waukesha, a food-service company, works at the store on weekends.

It was Kristin’s brother Jason Dzwinel who suggested she apply to work at the store, back in October 1998. He was an employee there at the time, and the owners were looking for additional help. Kristin applied and was hired as a cashier.“I progressed my way to ordering and bookkeeping, then merchandising,” she noted. It was in 1981 that Roger Gronwick, Nan and Ted Cox and Ted’s brother Jim Cox opened Mequon Ace Hardware, at 11001 N. Port Washington Road. They retained ownership until the Nells purchased the business last year. Jim Cox continues to work in the store full-time, while Roger Gronwick is a part-time employee.

Kristin recalled it was in June 2011 that her husband approached her with an idea. “He said, ‘Let’s buy the hardware store business.’“I went to Nan Cox, and pitched the proposal to her. A couple weeks later, she said they were interested in our offer.” Since obtaining ownership, some updates have taken place. The parking lot was resurfaced with a new coat of asphalt. New landscaping was installed, and the sign on the north side of the building was updated. Also, some of the inventory has been rearranged. Then too, customers who shop at the store on Saturdays and Sundays have free popcorn available for them.

Milwaukee ToolKristin noted that all Ace Hardware Stores are independently owned. Among the many other items available at Mequon Ace Hardware are: paint and stains, tools, grills, plumbing and electrical items, gardening and lawn and home-improvement products. Jim Cox offers services for Weber grills -- installations, repairs and delivery. Other services include: key cutting, propane-tank filling, paint mixing, lock re-keying, pipe cutting and threading, window and screen repair, carpet-cleaner rentals, window-shade cutting, glass cutting and tool sharpening. Ace lifetime warranties are provided for products such as tools, garden sprinklers and shovels. The store offers an Ace Rewards program. Customers who spend $250 receive a $5 reward,” Kristin said. “we also have mailings about sale items and send out coupons.”

What she enjoys most about owning the business is the opportunity to meet new customers and to stay in touch with long-time customers. “I love the public,” she said, “and we have a great staff, with eight full-time and 14 part-time employees.” Running the business entails a few challenges too. “Keeping up with new products and changing times is challenging,” Kristin admitted. The new owners hosted a three-day Grand Opening last May on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On one of those days, customers received a free five-gallon bucket. On another day, 250 ten-pound bags of bird seed were provided free-of-charge to customers. And a scratch-off event was held on the other day for customers to determine a specific percentage discount they would receive on their purchases. Free hot dogs, chips and soda were served too.“We plan to hold a similar Customer Appreciation event annually,” Kristin added.

Business hours at Mequon Ace Hardware are: Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Note: For further information, phone: (262) 241-8800.