April 14th, 2017
Combining great service and dependable technology for business success – Martin and Kathleen Clark have owned Martin’s Hardware in Bristol since 1995, but Martin’s love for the hardware business goes back to the 1980s when he started working at the store for the previous owner. He says, “I found a passion for the business and have kept going with it.”
Customers Appreciate Hometown Service
One thing Clark particularly enjoys is feeling like part of the community. He says, “We see community members every day, and we have loyal customers who range fr om 10-year-old kids buying candy, toys, or electronics to 85-year-olds buying standard household products, home security items, or phones with a louder volume.” Though strong competition exists in the area, Clark believes customers choose Martin’s Hardware for the good service.
The store has gone through many changes over the years. Clark says, “When we took it over, it was small — just 5,000 square feet, with 10 employees. Back then, the revenue was about a third of what it is now. We’ve made a lot of additions and now our space is about 7,500 square feet. We’ve added new product lines that help the business stay successful, including a RadioShack franchise. We’ve also opened a new store in Middlebury and recently had a grand reopening of the original store in Bristol.”
A total of 32 employees work in the two stores, not including the owners. Clark notes, “We work as a team. A few people stay stationed at the registers to ring people out, but everyone else goes between the different departments such as lumber or paint, depending on where they’re needed.” Two of the employees, Mary Kate and Andy, are the Clarks’ children. Clark says, “I’m pleased to have the opportunity to spend time with them and have them as part of the business.”
WCVT Provides Reliable Communications
To keep things running smoothly, Martin’s Hardware uses phone, Internet service, and fiber optic cable from WCVT. Clark comments, “The new Internet-based phone system has been a nice addition. It’s helped us make sure all calls get routed efficiently.”
Internet service is critical as well. Clark says, “We do a lot over the Internet in our business — such as ordering, credit card processing, and research — so it’s important that the service be reliable and speedy.” The Internet connection facilitates communication between the two stores. It also enables a camera system in the Middlebury store, which allows the Clarks to view what’s happening in that store online.
Clark notes, “The service from WCVT has been excellent. Every time we call, they’re more than willing to help. They’ve done a great job of keeping us connected and upgraded so we don’t have mishaps or slowdowns in our service.”
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