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Kroegers Ace Hardware under new ownership

Expanded benefits for employees and a larger inventory are on the way
Bob Thom, manager at the Durango Kroegers Ace Hardware store, looks over a Halloween display on Thursday in the store with his dog Bo, who comes to work with him every day. The store has recently changed ownership. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Since Sep. 1, Kroegers Ace Hardware and its sister store in Farmington have been under new ownership, and employees are excited about the changes.

Manager Bob Thom has worked at the Durango Kroegers for the past 28 years, and has seen the business change hands four times. He said his feelings about the new owners of the business were 100% positive.

“These guys are all about taking care of the community, taking care of the customer, and taking care of the employees,” Thom said.

Employees now have vision and dental benefits, new employee discounts and a retirement savings account.

Durango’s Kroegers Ace Hardware store, located in Town Plaza, has recently changed ownership. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

“The new owners come in and sit down with each individual and ask them how they’re doing. They’ll buy them lunch if they feel like it,” Thom said. “Lots of little things like that show us how they’re going to take care of us.”

Brothers Nick and Kirby Kuklenski purchased the Durango and Farmington Kroegers Ace Hardware store. The brothers own eight stores throughout Colorado

“They’re from the eastern slope, and they actually started in Colorado Springs with one store 14 years ago,” Thom said.

The Kuklenski brothers now have two stores in Colorado Springs, three stores in Denver, a store in Gunnison and now the Durango and Farmington stores.

“These guys are Colorado guys,” Thom said “I’ve talked to countless people out on the floor and they’ll ask if they’re local. When I tell then they’re from Colorado, everybody seems to think thats great.”

Thom said one thing that stood out to him during the transition is that Kroegers didn’t loose a single staff member.

“We’re all the exact same people that we were before,” Thom said.

In the near future, Thom said, Kroegers hopes to hire more employees and expand its inventory of products.

“It’s just going to get better and better,” Thom said. “It may take a few months to get things going, but there’s definitely going to be an improvement.”

Durango’s Kroegers Ace Hardware, located in Town Plaza, recently changed ownership. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Thom said the Kuklenskis goal is to be the best retail hardware store in Durango.

“I’ve been in some of their other stores, and they’re fantastic. They really want to beef up everything that we do here that has to do with customer service to make this the best customer service, not only hardware store, but retail store in town,” Thom said.

Thom said that the previous owner, Joel Krueger, did an amazing job taking care of the store’s employees.

“Joel was the guy that hired me, so I was very excited when he took over. He’s an all around great guy who took really great care of his employees,” Thom said.

There is an energy that the Kuklenski brothers have that Thom said has him very excited for the future.

“These guys have an enthusiasm and energy, and I think its because they’re younger guys, I haven’t seen that at the store in a long time,” Thom said. “It makes me very excited not only for myself, but for our employees and our customers who are really going to benefit.”

njohnson@durangoherald.com