A culture of customer service: Elder's Ace Hardware marks 50 years of helping with hardware needs

Elder's Ace Hardware employee's stand with Company President Tom Glenn, center, Tuesday at the 1870 Dayton Blvd. store in Red Bank. From left are, Avery Smith, Ron Hannah, Brian Williams, Steve Kelly, Glenn, Charlene Crawford, Dewey Esquinance, Victoria Harris and Brenda Hickman.

Our job is to help the customer, not sell the customer anything.

Don Bickford remembers the first time he saw Tom Glenn. It was at a March 2014 orientation for new employees hired by Elder's Ace Hardware. Glenn was running late as Bickford sat to the far right of the horseshoe-shaped table.

Bickford had worked for both Lowe's and Home Depot in the four years since he retired at age 49 from the Chattanooga Police Department after a 25-year career. A perk of his retirement was growing a beard.

The president of the company arrived and moved straight to the open end of the horseshoe with eyes straight ahead.

Elder’s Ace Hardware at a glance

Founded: 1969First store: Highway 58 opened in 1969Newest store: Trenton, Georgia opened in 2019Ownership: Family-ownedPresident: Tom GlennStaff: About 500 employeesLocations: 22Rank: One of Ace’s 10 largest retailersInventory: 25,000-30,000 items per storeScrews/bolts per store: 19,000Signature Products: Stihl, Big Green Egg, Benjamin Moore Paint, Traeger grills, YETI, Costa sunglassesGallons of paint sold annually: 35,000Hot sales item: Propane

"I was new to the company and didn't really know who Mr.