The 65 employees at Do it Best, located at 1450 W. Pioneer Blvd., turned out for this company photo. The co-op is one of Mesquite’s largest employers. Courtesy Photo

The 65 employees at Do it Best, located at 1450 W. Pioneer Blvd., turned out for this company photo. The co-op is one of Mesquite’s largest employers. Courtesy Photo

In 2005 when Do it Best Corp. decided to locate its eighth retail service center in Mesquite, that was carrying on a long corporate tradition.

Randy Rusk, the communication director for Do it Best Corp., said, “As a company we look for locations that are outside of major cities…” He noted they had centers in communities like Dixon, Ill., outside Chicago; Montgomery, N.Y., outside of New York City; and Woodburn, Ore., not far from Seattle.

“We have a successful history of finding solid, strong, committed folks in smaller communities outside of larger cities,” he added. “We had several locations we were visiting and reviewing in the Southwest and kept coming back to Mesquite, in large part, because of the very welcoming environment.”

He explained that city officials had indicated that they were looking to attract stable nongaming businesses to the area. That support and the new technology park on the west side of the city were tempting incentives.

“It was kind of a meeting of the minds at that point.  We were the anchor tenant in that technology park,” he said. He also noted there was a willing and able work force and that  “Do it Best Corp has a very strong benefits package, a pension, a savings plan like a 401k, solid health insurance…and for warehouse type work consistently high wages as well.”

Those incentives resulted in a major turnout for their initial job fair in the summer of 2005.  “We had over 500 applications over a two-day period.”

Rusk said that opening the Mesquite facility was significant since the company was experiencing growth in the Southwest and was looking to open up that territory to serve its members in that part of the country.

Do it Best is a co-op formed to serve all its member businesses, Rusk explained.  “That’s the thing that most people don’t understand. Often we are characterized in the media as a franchise which we are not.”

Originally established in Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1945 as Hardware Wholesalers, Inc., the company was the vision of Arnold Gerberding, who worked as a hardware buyer and saw the challenges and frustrations individually owned stores encountered as they tried to compete with rapidly growing catalog and retail chains like Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Montgomery Ward, Inc.

Noting the success of agricultural co-ops and seeing other hardware companies adopting a similar business model Gerberding convinced seven retailers to formally incorporate as Hardware Wholesalers, Inc.  That cooperative business model is still functioning today as Do it Best Corp.

With 1,500 employees serving4,000 member locations across the United States and 53 foreign countries, the co-op collectively earns about $2.7 billion a year.  Rusk said that unlike a franchise where each owner is individually responsible for their own profits and losses, all the co-op stores, home centers and lumber yards across the United States and foreign countries are part owners of the company.

“Our goal is to run the company as cost efficiently as possible to return maximum investment back to those investors,” he said. “At the end of our fiscal year the profitability of our company is returned back to those members in the form of rebates.”

Locating the retail service centers (warehouses) that support the co-op network is a critical piece of maintaining company profitability. “A member in New York collectively owns a part of the distribution center in Mesquite, Nevada. Part of our challenge is always to insure that in an effort to be equitable with all of our members.”

The Mesquite retail service center location is a key part of that collective.  It is one of Do it Best’s largest centers at 500,000 square feet of warehousing space. With its quick, easy access to Interstate 15 it is a hub supporting surrounding co-op members.  Presently the facility employs 65 people.

Those employees not only provide excellent service to the co-op but also give back to the local community both individually and as a group.  Rusk noted that in spite of having one of the company’s smallest staff’s Mesquite has been one of the more successful corporate givers, “They are really committed to it.”

According to Dalton Raney, the Mesquite retail service center manager, local corporate support and employee donations average about $10,000 a year.  That money is given to the United Way for distribution.  Raney noted that when Do it Best came to town and began its charitable contributions there were not that many United Way-funded organizations in the community.

To be certain that the donations came back to Mesquite, Raney said he and his staff worked with their home office to identify possible recipients.

“The reason we did that is we were donating over $10,000 as a group and it was going to Clark County and not a whole lot of that staying here locally.  So we were able to get Mesquite Cancer Help Society with the United Way and together they came up with all the paperwork.”

He also explained that employees can also designate portions of their United Way donations to other local charities and organizations.

“We have a great group of folks here. I’m really proud of everybody…”  Raney noted that many of the employees volunteer to support other events in the community including a large contingent of employees who help out with the Exchange Club’s “1,000 Flags over Mesquite” event.  They also decorate a tree every year for the Festival of Trees.

“We’ve sold all of our trees and let them keep the money for donations. We try really hard to do what we can when we can.  We’re looking forward to being here in Mesquite for a long time,” Raney added.