I have been working at HomCo Lumber and Hardware since July of 2020. Though I don’t know how HomCo operates outside the realm of a pandemic, I have found that they are predictable in how they operate both with their customer-facing responses and what goes on in management. This has been a relief to me, as something stable nowadays is harder to come by. Though we may not know when this pandemic will slow and eventually come to an end, I can be confident that I have job security in a time when many others do not, and that my job is not only sustainable but emotionally fulfilling. Such a combination is rare nowadays, but many employees here at HomCo Lumber and Hardware feel similarly to me, and that is due to the work environment we all come together to create, administrator and floor associate alike.

Working on the Floor

I have enjoyed my time working here at HomCo as a cashier, floor associate, stock team helper, and now as the current blog writer. Though each job requires a slightly different job focus, each of the jobs I have held has more or less involved my coworkers and managers in the same fashion.

As a cashier, I interacted with a higher percentage of the customers on a daily basis. With the radios, we are able to contact anyone we need, and most of the time we get quick responses. Managers are also always ready to help us, and other cashiers are always willing to answer questions. Working as a cashier made the day fly by due to the fact that the front end is usually the busiest out of the sections.

I now work as a Carhartt specialist in the Carhartt department, which is a role that best suits both me and HomCo. Much like other floor departments, I am able to help customers find the items that best suit their needs. This sort of work is rewarding in that aspect because I am able to help people avoid wasting their time by going through items that they may not actually require. I am able to help people order items, inform them about sizing, and the materials in the fabric. I may not be as skilled as the long-time Carhartt specialist and lead Simona Voita, but I am slowly learning, and it is something that I am also interested in learning about. Due to this interest, I enjoy working in the Carhartt department and I feel that my job is not work in the sense of something I ‘have to do’, but it is something that I ‘can do,’ and I feel happy that I am able to help people and help the company at the same time.

I have also assisted with the stock team a few times during afternoons to restock the store after a shipment comes in. My other coworkers who are part of the stock team enjoy the job because it allows them a break from their normal sections and they can do a task with a set end goal. The stock team lead and inventory manager, Jesse Daniels, is also very competent at his job, and the stock team almost never goes over time. Due to the pandemic, the stock team has been in an interesting situation, with some truckloads incredibly small, and with some loads impossibly large, but the team has been able to adapt each time, and that is an admirable trait both from the employees and their supervisor.

Working with Management

Of course, one of the most important parts about finding and/or staying in a job that you like is how management, or corporate in some cases, works and runs the store. As someone who has previously worked other jobs in corporate-run chains, coming to HomCo Lumber and Hardware was like a fresh breath of air when I didn’t know my lungs weren’t receiving enough oxygen. It was strange to arrive at a company where management and admin cared about their associates, wanted to put the wellbeing of both the company and the workers at the same level, and cared about their employees beyond a number in a system. 

HomCo Lumber and Hardware is a locally owned Mom & Pop store instead of a corporate-owned chain, and it is a lot easier to discuss topics with a small group of people than to attempt to send a message through a lengthy chain of command. Since it is the only store of its kind, communication takes much less time as well. Floor managers are constantly checking up on employees to hear how their day is alongside any suggestions they may have about their department or the store in general. We have a huddle where the admin can update people on what is going on about the store, how sales are, and any other outside events. Doors are always open, and there is no fear of failure, only a drive to learn.

It is a refreshing environment where, instead of feeling fear of failure, I feel spurred on to try new things. If I fail, I can learn from my mistakes without fear. This sort of engagement is what keeps HomCo Lumber and Hardware running: with support not just from management, but from employees. Since the employees are treated with value and worth, the company grows stronger as a whole. Every cog works to support the company. At the end of the day, we are all people, not numbers or tools. Sometimes companies can forget this, but HomCo Lumber and Hardware embraces this and works all the better for it.

Pre and Post-Graduation at HomCo

Since HomCo Lumber and Hardware is located in a college town, they are also used to balancing schedules for college students who like to work during their time at university or community college. I was a college student for one semester while working at HomCo Lumber and Hardware, and my work schedule was balanced around my school schedule so that I could both assist my department in the way that I needed, and also have enough time to complete my homework and studies. As an English major, I had no finals to worry about, but HomCo also works around finals week and will let students take off the necessary days. Most corporate-owned locations will also work around students, but from those places, it felt more like an obligation, and my studying hours were often ignored. At HomCo Lumber and Hardware, managers and admin treated me like a student and allowed me to have time outside of work to do the things that I needed to do.

Since graduating, I have transitioned to being a full-time team member. Since I graduated in the middle of a pandemic, I was worried about finding a job that fits into my major. I did not want to leave HomCo because it is a stable job that I appreciate and enjoy coming to every day, so I asked if there were any options that involved writing – and here I am! HomCo is flexible and wants to help employees do the job they want to do. They listen and figure out how employees can assist the store’s needs while also doing something that they enjoy. 

There is a healthy balance between college students and full-time workers, a balance that Ron Powers, the assistant store manager, mentioned to me. Having too many of one type of employee will not assist in the store’s health and growth. Ignoring one to cater to the other will create unbalance. Too many part-time workers and there will be holes in the schedule, but too many full-time workers are also ignoring the many creative college students who could potentially be a good fit. HomCo Lumber and Hardware has embraced this challenge, and in doing so it has created an emboldened work environment that nurtures its employees to try harder every day, and its managers to listen for what they have to say. 

Conclusion

I appreciate my stable job, I appreciate my coworkers, and I appreciate my managers that have come together to create a work environment that fosters creativity and openness. My previous retail jobs never felt as rewarding as this one, and I’m glad that somehow, the right people came together to create an environment where such a job could be created. The seven core values that HomCo Lumber and Hardware upholds creates stable guidelines that help urge forward success and communication, and doors are always open for like-minded people to join the team. Without fear of failure, without a controlling hand of a corporation that can’t see at the store-level, the people of HomCo are able to focus on what they enjoy most and work to the best of their abilities at both the store and administration level. I’m glad to be a part of the HomCo Lumber and Hardware team.

About the Author

Rhianne is one of HomCo's valued experts. When she's not writing a DIY blog or sharing more about hardware with our customers, you can find her in the Carhartt department. Stop by to say hi!