1 January 2019

Stamford ACE Hardware goes Co-Op
Stamford N.Y. - The long-established and well appreciated hardware store in this quiet rural upstate village has undergone a quiet transformation over the past several months. Quiet, but momentous never-the-less.
The Railroad Ave. Supply Co. as it has been legally known for three decades, and previously badged as a Western Auto outlet, has been owned by the Beisler family for over 50 years. Henry and Dorothy Beisler bought the business in 1963. Their Son Ralph and his wife Susan took over the business in 1975. This latest transformation brings new ownership to this important community asset.
Last year Ralph offered the business for sale and the staff soon began investigating the possibility of buying the operation themselves. Ralph enthusiastically joined with the staff in researching how the transfer might be accomplished. Having done their homework and made the decision to move forward, the Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) of Northampton, Massachusetts was engaged to help them with the details of creating their worker cooperative.
“Selling to employees is a great, time-tested way to preserve small businesses and the jobs they provide in rural communities,” said CDI’s Rob Brown, who guided Beisler and the employees through the conversion to a worker cooperative. “The business owner is rewarded for a lifetime of hard work, local control is preserved, and importantly, employees who have helped build the business now have an ownership stake in the business.” Brown is the Program Director of CDI’s Business Ownership Solutions, which assists business owners and their workers in evaluating whether transition to employee ownership can meet their needs.
On January 1st the former owner and employees, Stefano Bagnardi, Kelly Chien, John Bonhotal, Ralph Beisler, Bob Shafer and Sarah Weishar, became the new owners of the Railroad Supply Co. worker cooperative. When asked what changes the customers will notice, Kelly Chien replied “Customers won’t notice any change at all – that’s the point.” It’s a great satisfaction to know the business will continue beyond my tenure, said Beisler.”

Ralph Beisler – Railroad Avenue Supply Cooperative
(607) 652-7103 -

Wayne Stinson
518-287-1463 - 

Rob Brown - Cooperative Development Institute  
(207) 233-2987 -

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