Client Story :: Paul's Ace Hardware Experience

Applying for a Paycheck Protection Program Loan

Paul E. Dauwalder established his first hardware store in downtown Scottsdale in 1956. Sixty-four years later, granddaughters Julie and Tricia oversee a chain of eight Paul’s Ace Hardware locations, ranging from small-town neighborhood hardware stores, to a full-fledged commercial lumber yard. But when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the company was forced to make drastic changes to their business model.

Girl in a jacket

President Julie Buchkowski explains, “Business has changed immensely in the last 45 days. The product that we’re selling has shifted significantly. The majority of our time is spent sourcing the essential items – masks, gloves, hand sanitizer. We’ve done a pretty decent job of keeping up with that demand, keeping up with what our customers are looking for and it’s certainly been challenging.” Additional changes like offering curbside pickup as well as delivery services, installing distance shields and six-foot floor markings, and providing gloves and masks for their sales floor staff have been more than enough to keep the “Paul’s Family” busy. But as Julie says, “Busy is good so we’re grateful for that.”

Banking with Alerus for just under a decade, Julie says it’s the personal relationship they’ve built with Alerus that has been their biggest benefit. “We’ve had a lot of relationships with banks and had a lot of wonderful banks but I would say that the relationship that we have with Alerus has surpassed all of the other ones. I appreciate the personal treatment that we get from Alerus, that everyone we deal with listens to our story and knows that we’re more than just numbers.”

When the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was announced, the Paul’s Family and Alerus went to work on the process and according to Julie, it was a lot easier than expected, something she attributes to Alerus. It really cemented the importance of having a close relationship with their bank and the benefits of the PPP have been “absolutely huge.”

The PPP enabled Paul’s Ace Hardware to continue to employ their entire work force. It allowed them to provide bonuses for those employees willing and able to work on the sales floor and enabled them to pay extended sick time to those that were unable to risk working in a retail environment. In Julie’s words, “They’re all our family, so certainly we wanted to take care of them. It absolutely enabled us to keep everyone employed, and healthy. It was pretty huge.”

Julie and the rest of the company aren’t sure what the future will bring or when restrictions will start to ease, but they are doing well and moving forward. “We’re our little Paul’s Family, we take care of each other and we look out for our customers and our community. I feel like we’re in a pretty decent place, as strange as everything is. I feel like we’re doing ok, day-by-day.”