Stores

Ace Hardware expands handyman service as customers embrace ‘do-it-for-me’ over DIY

The hardware chain said it sees services as a growth avenue as demographic changes move customers away from DIY
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3 min read

Over the past five years, Ace Hardware has rapidly expanded its handyman business to 48 states and 5,000 zip codes as of June. And behind this growth is a seemingly simple insight about its customers: Not everyone wants to do it themselves, Karen Bloomfield, VP of marketing of home services at the chain, told Retail Brew.

As customers who previously would have picked up a wrench for a quick repair job are getting older, and new generations are never learning basic home repair skills in the first place, “there’s a huge opportunity for do-it-for-me,” she said.

To meet this demand, Ace Home Services is now available in 400 locations, and while each location varies in its offerings, the range of services include handyman, painting, plumbing, electrical work, heating, cooling, and general home maintenance. 

Ace Hardware has been on a hot streak lately, competing directly with larger rivals, and now services are shaping up to become an important segment of the hardware store’s business well into the future. Bloomfield said she sees it as a “growth avenue for us” that is “going to become a large part of Ace’s next 100 years.”

Here come the handymen: Breaking into services in the span of five years, however, required a spree of M&A activity starting in 2019 with the acquisition of Handyman Matters, a Colorado-based franchisor of home repair and maintenance services. At the time, the company had 57 franchisees employing around 250 handymen who focused on minor upgrades and repairs such as fixing a deck or a fence.

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The company’s next move was to acquire Legacy Plumbing in 2022, which was its first foray into offering licenced services as opposed to just basic handyman services. After that, it bought Unique Indoor Comfort in 2023, which brought under its banner a conglomeration of 12 plumbing, heating, cooling, and electric businesses.

“We intend to cover all 50 states with all of the service verticals that we’re offering today,” Bloomfield said. “A growth goal is really to offer that coverage strategically throughout the United States.”

Doing it for them: She explained that the company started to notice a demographic change in its customers. While in the past, a skill like woodworking would more commonly be passed down generationally, “those types of activities just aren’t shared nowadays or aren’t taught in the home.” As a result, the company found that it wasn’t connecting with certain customers and needed to meet them on their level.

Bloomfield said the services business is an “opportunity for us to attract different customers that may not be our DIY customers.”In addition, on the supply side of the equation, she said Ace Hardware is trying to help fill the need for trade positions, which is an ongoing national challenge. The hope is that it can provide opportunities for workers who don’t necessarily want to go to a four-year college and are looking for other career paths. “It’s a little bit about not only helping our customers in their home but also really helping the country fill that pipeline for service work,” she said.


Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Retail Brew delivers the latest retail industry news and insights surrounding marketing, DTC, and e-commerce to keep leaders and decision-makers up to date.