Caring for employees is part of the company culture.

March 22, 2023

Scott Hamblen, Chief Operating Officer
Photos: Lionel Decius

Treating employees like family

Family-owned and operated Sunshine Ace Hardware has been a staple in Southwest Florida since the 1960s, now serving 11 locations, including two Crowder’s Gifts and Gadgets stores. The stores have a reputation for excellent customer service, whether a customer is looking for the right tool to get the job done or the perfect keepsake for that special someone.

Sunshine Ace is also known for its core values and how it treats employees like family. That was never more apparent than when Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida last September, affecting all 11 stores and their employees.

It took multiple days to reach all 500 employees and make sure they were safe. Some stores were without power for more than a week and had to run on generators, but all locations were open within 24 hours of the storm.

Employees first

One of the first things Sunshine Ace did for its employees was feed them, says Scott Hamblen, chief operating officer. “We had employees come in and say, ‘You know this is the only hot meal I get.’”

“Part of it is just an appreciation for your people and being a guardian.” — Scott Hamblen

Sunshine Ace Hardware has a community foundation set up to help employees in need. Employees can apply for grants. Those who worked in the aftermath of the hurricane were paid overtime and given thank you bonuses.

Paying it forward

Once enough employees were able to return to work, the third phase became, “What can we do to help our communities?” according to Hamblen. Partnering with suppliers and others, Sunshine Ace Hardware brought in tractor-trailer loads of generators, gas cans and other supplies for the communities it serves.

Sunshine Ace Hardware’s stores provided tractor trailer loads of generators to local communities after Hurricane Ian.

Day after day, Hamblen says managers became like guardians for their team who were meeting customers “at the worst moment in their lives.” It took its toll mentally. Through the company’s HR team, counseling resources were made available.

The stores’ customers also paid the generosity forward, raising $88,000 for American Red Cross through a roundup program at the register. Sunshine Ace also partnered with Captains for Clean Water’s renew campaign, donating $25,000 to help get captains back to fishing after the hurricane.

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