For the past six years, Steve Herrgesell has enjoyed the life of leisure since he sold two Ace Hardware Stores in Tempe and south Phoenix.
The co-founder of Peter Piper Pizza and one of the Valley’s most successful Ace Hardware operators, Herrgesell, 64, has returned to the Valley business scene with the opening of Carl’s Ace Hardware Store at the Fry’s Food & Drug Plaza, located at the southeast corner of 75th Avenue and Cactus Road – a collaboration with his son, Carl, 42, and daughter-in-law, Faith.
Herrgesell – who co- founded Peter Piper Pizza in 1973 with his father-in-law, Tony Cavolo, and grew it into one of Arizona’s largest independent restaurant chains, said his six-year “retirement” came to an end “because I discovered I could not play golf five days a week, and Carl and Faith decided they wanted to move back to the Valley and rejoin the Ace Hardware team. It was an opportunity that I could not pass up.”
Carl Herrgesell – a talented musician who played keyboards and performed as a backup singer for Kenny Loggins for more than eight years – and his wife decided to return to the Phoenix area from Nashville and open the new enterprise. They currently reside in Glendale with their two young daughters.
The Herrgesells said they will strive to recreate the same successful business model that was initiated in December of 1991 when the father opened his first Ace Hardware store at Broadway and Rural Roads in Tempe, and later at the Legacy Village Shopping Center at northwest corner of 24th Street and Baseline Road in south Phoenix. Both stores were sold in 2006 to another operator.
“In retrospect, I probably would not have sold the stores if I knew Carl was going to want to get the family back into the hardware business,” Herrgesell said. “When he and Faith decided they wanted to return to the Valley, we looked at several franchising opportunities, but everything kept coming back to opening another Ace Hardware. I always really liked the business, and the senior management team welcomed us back with open arms because of our success at our other two stores. It truly is great to be back.”
With the opening of the new Peoria store, the emphasis once again will be on customer service.
“My dad’s success the first time around was predicated on providing customers with what they needed,” Carl said. “He recognized that he was in a service business and that he had to listen to his customers. That will be our major area of emphasis with every one of our employees.”
Carl said the center’s location was an important factor in opening the new store.
“We were looking for a dynamic trade area,” Herrgesell said, “with high traffic counts and great visibility. The Fry’s Supermarket at the center is one of the West Valley’s busiest, and should provide us with a lot of ‘walk-by impressions. And within a two-mile radius there are more than 125,000 residences. We feel we are in a perfect location to replicate the success my dad had at his two previous stores.”
Chris Gerardo, representative for shopping center owner Southwood Cactus LLC, said, “We have been waiting some time to fill this important component of the development, and we could not have picked a better use for this retail space. Ace Hardware is national brand that resonates with the public, and we are confident that Steve Herrgesell – in collaboration with his son and daughter-in-law -- will be a tremendous addition to our center, and a valuable resource for the residents of the trade area for their home improvement and outdoor living needs.”