Chad Mielke, general manager of RONA Penticton poses with Rich Russo of the National Hardware Show, after accepting the store’s award for best Contractor Specialist in the country. Submitted photo

Penticton RONA snags national award

The local RONA outlet has been named the top Contractor Specialist in the country

After being named the top RONA outlet in the country earlier this year, the Penticton store has snagged another major award.

“We consider it extremely satisfying and extremely humbling at the same time, to be recognized from within our own company and then to be recognized on a national basis as well.”

The first award, in March, was an internal one, including all RONA and Lowe’s stores, which bought the RONA chain in 2016.

Related: Penticton RONA earns major award

But at the national Outstanding Retailer Awards on Nov. 14, the Penticton RONA was pitted against hardware stores of all varieties across the country, coming out on top as the best Contractor Specialist in the country.

“We are all about our customers and the speed and efficiency we can move with our contractors to keep them happy, to get their products on their sites, and keep this booming market rolling,” said Chad Mielke, manager of the local franchise, which his family opened in 2005.

Mielke said the strength of the market is exciting but puts a huge demand on the store and staff.

“It’s great for business, it does keep us humming along but, boy, things move quickly right now,” said Mielke. “We haven’t seen this kind of market in the Okanagan for years.”

Mielke gives full credit to his staff for their loyalty, excitement and passion.

“They love what we do. They are the ones that go above and beyond for our customers,” said Mielke adding that while accepting the award, he joked that “They have a full-time job of making me look good.”

“They’re an awesome bunch. I have over 40 people that have been with me for 10 years, by my side in the business,” he continued. “You don’t find that in retail.”

One factor that helped secure the award was the satellite Contractor First location in Osoyoos, expanding RONA Penticton’s range and allowing the Penticton store to focus on sales closer to home.

“As a result, both locations are thriving and in ratio to the size of its operation, Osoyoos is one of the highest performers nationwide within RONA,” reads the award announcement.

“It’s blown the expectations out of the water. They’ve crushed whatever numbers and figures I have for them,” said Mielke, adding that the new store also created seven new jobs. “We deliver all the way over to Grand Forks. When an opportunity arose to grab a little piece of property and a tiny 2,000 square-foot building, it made sense to create a little contractor convenience store.

“It’s a really simple operation to run. We turned it from an auto body shop to a Contractor First by RONA in 60 days.”

Launched in 1992, the Hardlines Outstanding Retailer Awards are the industry’s only national awards program dedicated to celebrating the achievements of hardware and building supply dealers in Canada.

Related: Lowe’s and RONA come to sale agreement

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