By Laurie Stone: PNT Correspondent
Editor’s Note: This story is part of a series of stories about local business owners who have been at their business for five years or more.
Owners of the Portales Ace Hardware Store — John Gentry, Ray Gutierrez and Don Sena — have been united by a three-way partnership for the past six years, bringing 90 years of experience under one roof.
“Partnerships are usually difficult to find because it’s hard to find people that have the knowledge to sell products, but we’re a unique set,” Gentry said. “We’re not only partners, but friends — and we’re keeping it that way.”
In their earlier years, Gutierrez and Sena gained experience as part-time employees, with Gentry, while fulfilling a full-time commitment as high school students.
Gentry said though he’s been at the hardware store the longest (since 1973), his partners have passed him in knowledge. Their goal is to make that knowledge work for the customers.
“As business owners, our goal is to provide customers with local service that you can’t get in larger stores,” Sena said.
The business specializes in plumbing, but they sell hardware, furniture, appliances, and an array of other items. Often they help their customers by making house calls.
“Not everyone can afford to hire a professional plumber,” Sena said.
The Ace Hardware owners believe in giving back to their community and give children the same opportunities they received when they were younger.
They try to employ high school kids to provide them with work experience and to show them they’re worth something, according to Sena.
“As a society, we’ve gotten away from working and teaching kids what life is about,” Sena said. “When they work for us, we encourage them to get a good education while teaching them responsibility.”
Emillio Padilla, a sophomore at Portales High School, works at Ace Hardware after school.
“It’s good having three owners because I always have someone to go to when I have questions,” he said.