Retail excellence

Published 8:37 am Wednesday, July 22, 2009

FRANKLIN—Even during a recession, some businesses are thriving. Farmers Produce Ace Hardware is one of those businesses, not only is it thriving, but it was just recognized for its retail excellence by Carhartt Inc.

“It’s my customers that have gotten me to this point,” said Carlton Cutchin, the owner of Farmers Produce Ace Hardware. The family-owned business has been operating since 1927 and is home to Virginia’s largest inventory of Carhartt merchandise.

Mark Valade, the president of Carhartt Inc., was in town to present Farmers Produce Ace Hardware with the Hamilton Carhartt Retailer of Excellence Award on Thursday afternoon. He said that the store’s appearance, the knowledgeable staff and the wide selection of Carhartt merchandise available impressed him.

“The store is beautiful and the employees look very helpful,” Valade said.

The Hamilton Carhartt Retailer of Excellence Award is named after Hamilton Carhartt, who founded the company 120 years ago. The Retailer of Excellence Award is the company’s top recognition of retail excellence.

“This is a very rare award,” Valade said. “We take this very seriously.”

Carhartt Inc. products are sold in more than 11,000 retail locations throughout North America. Farmers Produce Ace Hardware is one of four to receive the award this year and becomes only the 57th store to receive the award since Carhartt started recognizing retailers in 1999.

Valade and other Carhartt officials said that a number of factors are considered when deciding which stores should receive the award. While sales volume was considered, it wasn’t the deciding factor. Service to the community and customers and alignment with Carhartt Inc.’s direction were even more important, according to company officials.

Officials said that Farmers Produce Ace Hardware’s friendly and family-oriented atmosphere was a plus.

“We like that it’s a family-owned business, because we are a family-owned business,” Valade said.

Cutchin said that his employees deserve a lot of credit for the award.

“It’s the teamwork of all of my employees; it’s not just me,” he said.