From modest beginnings in the quaint town of Crockett, California, Pedrotti Ace Hardware has evolved to meet changing times and moved locations several times. But through it all, it has maintained its community spirit and penchant for helpfulness. The company, which moved to Benicia, California, in 1992 recently celebrated its 100th year in business in a way that sums up its storied history: family and community.
“We’ve been very fortunate to run a successful business for so long, and it just seemed appropriate to give back to the community in a big way,” says current owner Gene Pedrotti, the third generation of the Pedrotti family to run the store. “Community and giving back have been a big part of our lives, and we do it regularly.”
On the Thursday before 4th of July weekend, Pedrotti Ace Hardware kicked off the centennial celebrations with an apple pie giveaway at the store. Gene and his staff gave away 500 locally made apple pies to customers and community members. Along with loyal customers and community members, several Pedrotti family members were in attendance, along with the mayor of Benicia, Steve Young.
Special guests from Ace Hardware were also on hand to help with the festivities, including CEO John Venhuizen, vice president of retail development and strategy Andy Enright and senior vice president of merchandising Brian Wiborg.
“I’ve known Gene for 25 years, and it’s an honor to be here celebrating with him. We love what he is doing here to thank his customers and community,” Venhuizen says. “Ace Hardware is all about people, and it’s clear that people matter here at Pedrotti Ace.”
During the festivities, Gene honored long-time employee Margaret Vizuet, who has been with Pedrotti Ace for 30 years and in the hardware business for 40 years. He also surprised customers with a miniature model of the original store in Crockett that included all the same details of that first location. Gene’s cousin, Sharon Durham, whose father owned the store with Gene’s father, says she was touched by the miniature, and it brought back many fond memories of days spent in the original store.
Lights, Music and More
The celebration continued into the weekend, where Pedrotti Ace Hardware partnered with the city of Benicia to treat the community to the Ace Centennial Skyshow, a spectacular drone that followed the annual Torchlight parade. The show, put on by Vergo Aero, featured 500 synchronized drones, music and voiceover from Annie Hunter, host of the Ace Hardware YouTube Series “Leftovers with Annie”, who shared the story of Pedrotti Ace.
“Annie’s voiceover was phenomenal. Our events producer hired one of the best sound companies in the Bay Area, so Annie’s voice was carried crystal clear a quarter of a mile away,” Gene says. “My favorite part of the show was the camel. I’ve had that image burned in my head for over a year, and there she was. I was so excited to see my new pet!”
Gene estimates over 15,000 people were in attendance for the show, which he spent years planning for.
“The joy and ecstatic emotion was palatable. Folks were simply overwhelmed, as if they had just witnessed a miracle, which it was in a way, it was a technological miracle. Now I understand what drove Walt Disney,” Gene says. “It was an incredible weekend of celebrations. I am so grateful for my staff and my community.”
Lead photo by Maurilio Angel, lawn and garden department manager for Pedrotti’s Ace.