Herald Photo / File
ALL THE RIGHT TOOLS  — Debbie Schmitt looks for a particular part for a customer at Handy Hardware.
Herald Photo / File ALL THE RIGHT TOOLS — Debbie Schmitt looks for a particular part for a customer at Handy Hardware.
Occupation:  Business owner and sales

Company:  Handy Hardware

Number of years in this position:  About 35 years

Describe a typical “day in the life” in your line of work:  Every day is different, and every day has its own exciting challenges. It’s fun to help customers bring in projects they’re working on and help them fix and find solutions to their home improvement needs.

What are the skills, education, and training needed for your career?: A lot of experience. Every job brought through our door is different. Every customer is different. It takes a lot of know how to work with them and figure out the best solution. It changes each and every time.

What were you doing before taking this job?:  Worked at a Building Supply

Did you have to make sacrifices at the start of your career? If so, what were they, and why was it worth it for you to make those sacrifices?: Owning your own business is always a sacrifice. It takes lots of hours and a lot hard work. Handy Hardware is no different. 

Why did you choose this line of work?:  It has been in my family for generations. It’s something I like to do and enjoy doing.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your career?:  The customers! And now we find that we have waited on generation after generation of families. It’s amazing, and I love it.

What’s the most challenging part?:  The industry changes so much that there is something new all of the time. Keeping up on inventory is probably the most difficult part.

How did you get your foot in the door?: My dad owned the business and his uncle before him. It really is a family-run and family-oriented business.

What does it really take to make it and succeed in this career?:  To have the right products, people, and customer service. All three of those together is the perfect formula for what we do, especially since we are afforded the opportunity to really take the time necessary for each customer.

Describe one of the best moments you’ve had on the job:  When you can help someone with a project or improvement. Even if it is something so simple, they are so appreciative and thrilled. It gives you a great deal of satisfaction.

What’s the hardest part of the day?:  Making some people happy. 

Are there misconceptions about this type of work? If so, what are they?:  People think just because you own your own business you have it made.  That is not so. I feel, a lot of the time, it takes even more effort. We’re here sun up to sun down serving our customers.  

What’s one aspect that’s integral to job that most people wouldn’t know?:  The details in inventory. There are so many different sizes of pipes, bolts, tools, and more. Keeping all of that straight and in stock is very time-consuming. That’s another part of the job I really like.  

What advice would you give to someone looking for pursue a career in your field?: First, love and appreciate your customers! We appreciate each and every one of them. We try and treat them like we would want to be treated. Also, know that you must be dedicated to serving, being open, and, in some instances, round-the-clock service. You will live, breathe, and sleep the hardware business.

What was the very first job you had? What skills are you still using that were necessary in that job?: I started in the hardware when I was 12 years old, back then it was a big deal to run the cash register and mess with the money.