Q&A with Paul Groves of Groves Hardware
Photos by Kara Thorpe
Fauquier County has its share of businesses, but there are those special ones that last through the years with stellar reputations whose business grows through word of mouth via loyal customers. Groves Hardware in Remington is such a business. This third-generation family business has served the community since 1947 and has built a solid reputation for quality materials and professional, personal service. Lifestyle had the opportunity to sit down with Paul Groves, manager, who related the story and history of his family’s enterprise.
Tell us about Groves Hardware.
We are a retail hardware and building material supplier. We provide materials to homeowners and contractors for residential, agricultural, and light commercial projects. There are some government clients; we do a lot of work with the county and the schools locally, as well as both the state and federal governments. The majority of what we’re selling is building materials, which is the framing materials, doors, windows, drywall, roofing, and siding products. We work on a lot of agricultural projects locally, like horse barns, pole buildings, and fencing. We have a retail storefront on Main Street, and a lumber yard out back. We welcome walk-in customers, but most of our business is from products that we are shipping. We ship all over Northern and Central Virginia. We do the deliveries ourselves, with our own fleet of trucks.
You are a third-generation owner. Tell us about the history of the business.
Groves hardware was started in 1947 by my grandfather, Ottaway. Grandad had 14 children, seven boys and seven girls, and they were pretty spread out in age. One of his older sons, Evans, started the business with him. A few years after they opened, in the late ‘50s or so, Grandad decided to retire. So another one of his sons, Billy, came into the business. So it was Evans and Billy up until the late ‘70s, early ‘80s. Evans retired, and my dad, John, joined the business. I joined the business in 1990, and Billy and my dad stayed with me until fairly recently. Billy passed away in 2010, and Dad retired a couple of years ago. So for now it’s just me.
What is your background?
I’m a Fauquier native. I was born and raised here in Remington, just two blocks away from here on Church Street. I graduated from Fauquier High School in 1985, then graduated from Virginia Tech with an electrical engineering degree in 1989.
And what is your position at Groves?
I am the owner/manager, so in a small business that means you have to do a little bit of everything. About half my time is spent in sales and estimating. I also help customers with their projects from budgeting to design and code appliance. The rest of my time involves purchasing, accounting, payroll, and the overall management of the business. When time allows, I do a little drafting for some local customers. Most of the house plans that I get need designs done for the engineered products like floor systems and roof trusses as well as the wind bracing.
Groves Hardware has grown and thrived through the years. In these days of economic ups and downs and the big box stores on every corner, how did you do that?
Well, I think it’s because we appeal to a certain segment of the building materials customer base. There will always be that percentage that want the service, and want the quality. They don’t want to be a number, they don’t want to have to go into a business and try to seek out help, and they know they’re not going to get the expertise at a big box store that they can here at Groves Hardware. It’s also in the personal relationships. There’s a person behind the sale here. If you have a problem, you always have somebody you can reach out to and say, “this is what happened, what went wrong?”, whether it’s a product issue or an installation issue. You’ve got a personal contact and product support. And a lot of people like to shop locally at small businesses, and keep their money in the local economy. This segment of customers may not be the majority of the customer base, but it’s enough to keep us busy.
What do you think your store means to the community? Some people say that if you weren’t there there would be nothing in Remington.
I do think as far as Remington is concerned, we are one of the larger businesses in town. But Remington has
a lot more to offer beyond Groves Hardware. I am proud of how all our local business work together to make customers feel welcome. That’s good for first impressions, when people are looking at Remington as a potential residence, or a place for their own business. They look around and ask, what does Remington have to support a business? So we like to think we support the community by offering the convenience and the quality of the materials that they need to do their projects. We want to be a piece of what makes Remington a more complete residential and user-friendly town.
Is Groves Hardware still growing?
We grew a lot this year, I hired four extra people in the last 12 months. So I’d say we are growing, but growing slowly. That’s kind of our plan.
Do you think you’ll outgrow your current building?
Yes, I do; I don’t have enough retail square footage. More and more people people are moving into this area, more and more residences are being built within a 10 mile radius of us, so we need more square footage. I’d like to have a larger facility.
Will you stay in Remington, then?
What about future generations? Do you have anyone in the next generation that looks like they’d be interested in taking it over someday?
There’s nobody right now, so I’m not sure where we’ll end up with that one. But I have nieces and nephews who have a couple youngsters, so maybe someday one of them will have an interest, but as of right now, nobody in line.