Four Truckee locals purchased a small store in the Gateway area of Truckee and “Mountain Hardware and Sports” was born. In the early 80’s, one of the four left the group while the remaining three, Dane Skutt, Greg Hovorka and Howard Jones stayed on as owners until retirement in April of 2013. Many of us remember that old store and how it was full of merchandise for every season. The owners made sure it was a great shopping experience.
They moved to their current location, into what was the old Safeway building, in 1991. They moved their brand from True Value to Ace in 2000 and in 2001 decided to become an employee-owned company. Shortly after in 2002, they purchased a small location in Blairsden, in Plumas County, to serve the residents of Graeagle, Whitehawk Ranch and Portola.
In 2001, the founders began to think about a succession plan for their little business in the mountains that had become so important to its surrounding communities. They chose an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) to secure the future of the business and the futures of their employees.
Initially, a successful ESOP must have someone in charge of running the company beyond the retirement of the founders. Doug Wright, who was hired in 1999 as GM, was the necessary cog in the Mountain Hardware wheel. As an entity, the ESOP purchased 49% of the business that year. In 2005, an additional 2% of the business was purchased so that the ESOP would own the majority percentage of stock. As of 2007, the ESOP paid off its initial stock purchase loans – notes carried by the founders – and in April of 2013, the remainder of the 49% ownership was purchased by the ESOP with open market loan funds. While the founders are retired from day to day activities, they’ve stayed involved through participation in the Board of Directors.
An opportunity to purchase Truckee Rents came available in December of 2014 and the decision was made to expand the Company and diversify the business.
Currently, 88 active employees of Mountain Hardware/Truckee Rents are “all in” when it comes to their business. When speaking with Doug Wright, now the Company’s President and ESOP Trustee, he explained. “Our staff has a lot of autonomy to make decisions. We encourage everyone to be involved and engaged; I want them to drive home at night and say, ‘I own part of that company.’”
The shares are held in a trust. Every employee at the age of 21, with 1000 hours worked, and employed on the first and last day of the plan year is automatically given stock in the company. That is not the only benefit they have! These lucky owners have gym memberships, health insurance, ski passes and more. When they are fully vested at 6 years, the Company awards them a Stand Up Paddle board or a Bicycle with the Tenured Owner Company Logo. It probably goes without saying that most of the longer-term employees are there to stay.
Companies such as Scheels, Winco Foods and A. Teichert and Son are also successful ESOPs. As an ESOP entity and for the protection of the employee’s stock, Mountain Hardware is subject to rules and regulations set forth by the Federal Department of Labor.
As employee-owners, each staff member has a personal responsibility to maintain an over-the-top service level to Mountain Hardware customers. Each of them takes great pride and satisfaction in helping the customers find the right product for their needs.
In our 40+ years, Mountain Hardware and Sports has always strived to provide excellent customer service and a large selection of mountain lifestyle and hardware products. We take great pride in living and working in our local community, as well as giving back and making a difference. We have loved being a part of the Truckee Community and look forward to another 40+ years!