Special to the Village News
This year is the 50th anniversary of Roger Reed's hardware career in Fallbrook. He has served under many different owners of what is now Fallbrook Ace Hardware, on South Main Avenue. "I love my job and have no plans to retire," said Reed.
"Actually, when I'm 80, I might retire; that's in five years. I already gave my notice at work that I don't want to work past 100," he laughed. Under some previous owners, Reed had his own set of keys so he could come and go whenever he wanted.
"I've been here 26 years, but I'll never catch up with Roger," said Tresa Yada, Fallbrook Ace Hardware's assistant manager. "I've learned a lot from him. He's amazing and funny. When I'm having a hard day, I go see Roger for a good laugh. He's more than just an employee to me. To this day, he still gets my kids birthday cards every year, and they're in their 30's now," said Yada.
Reed used to work 10-12 hours during the night, organizing products on the shelves. In the mornings, customers and employees would comment on how great the place looked. They knew he had been up all night. He preferred that shift. Now, all his work is during the day. Ace is a big corporation and they have different policies.
"What I like about Ace Hardware is how they treat employees very well, like family, like we're very special," said Reed. "They want to be known not only as the best place to shop but also as the best place to work."
Customer Sal Valera said, "Roger is always very helpful and very knowledgeable." Valera owns Valera Construction and Remodeling. "With this kind of company, I'm in here all the time. I've known Roger for many years. I like to come in on days when he's working."
Customer Aaron Schuster has been coming here since 1985. "I come in several times a day because I do property maintenance. Roger has always been here; he helps me find things quickly."
Right out of high school, Reed began working at Builders' Emporium in Escondido. "I remember the exact time and day: 7:30 a.m. on Monday, March 10, 1967," said Reed. "I still have my name badge from that job. I started as a cart-boy. Besides lining up carts, I swept the floor and put price stickers on everything."
For a while, Reed got to run one of the large warehouses, and traveled to open new chains. He says precision and excellence is important to him. "I take a little extra time. That's just how I feel." Reed is known for his great organizational skills and the way he sets up merchandise. One boss used to say he could put 10-pounds of potatoes into a 5-pound bag.
Reed was born in Fort Scott, Kansas, and his family moved to Escondido when he was 3. He has lived in Fallbrook for over 30 years. Prior to Fallbrook, he had commuted from Escondido for 18 years.
Though Reed enjoyed working at Builders' Emporium, he really always wanted to serve in the military. "In the early 70's, I got a draft notice, but the day prior to my date, a Postponement of Induction letter arrived. They wouldn't take me since my two brothers were already serving in Vietnam, and my mother was a widow.
Over the years, Reed worked his way to a top position of general manager. "My mother instilled in us a hard work ethic," he said. "In some positions I interviewed, hired and fired people."
"When this place was Good Guys, I used to do the advertising at the Enterprise newspaper which is now Village News," said Reed. "At Ace, all the advertising is done by corporate, now. At one time I was in charge of every aspect of the business; I would co-sign all the checks, and I did some of the bookkeeping."
Good Guys Home Center was the first hardware store at that location. The second owner kept that name. Then it was Hank's Hardware and Lumber, then Joe's Hardware, and now Fallbrook Ace Hardware.
As manager, he used to spend most of his time in his upstairs office. "I prefer working with customers on the floor. We become friends and now I'm even friends with their kids and grandkids. I know them by name. Some customers only shop on days when I'm here so they can see me," said Reed.
Reed is benefiting from his long career. For the past few years, he has worked just two days a week, so he will have more time for his hobbies. Monthly he goes to Rosarito, Mexico, to help his friend with her out-door market. They give some of the proceeds to an orphanage and church there.
"I used to help the Rosarito Police Department with their D.A.R.E. program, (Drug Abuse Resistance Education)," said Reed. "At Christmas time, I'd dress in a Santa Claus suit and hand the children small gifts at two private elementary schools and an orphanage. My police lieutenant friend had asked me to do that. I know a lot of people in Rosarito since I rented a condo there for 15 years."
At home, Reed's other pastime is tending to his huge vegetable garden. He takes some vegetables to coworkers.
Good customer service is so important that it can make or break a company, said Reed. His personal values match those of Ace Hardware's, winning, excellence, love, integrity, gratitude, humility, and teamwork.