Berger Hardware, Hawthorne & Port Chester
General Excellence Award
Chris Rubeo and Aimee Nichols
Photography by Toshi Tasaki
Although the nearly 100-year-old store does not have the Rubeo name on the front door, it is important to owners Chris Rubeo and his sister, Aimee Nichols, to uphold the original name and tradition at Berger Hardware.
Originally owned by the Berger family, the Hawthorne landmark was purchased by the Rubeo family in 2004. Since taking over, the brother-sister duo has increased business by 15 percent and boosted gross margin. Four years ago, they opened a second location in Port Chester.
Rubeo and Nichols have proven that a mom-and-pop shop can still hold its own against big-box stores. Their secret? The customer experience at large home-improvement chains does not compare with the customer experience at Berger, Nichols says. “There is a certain culture here that people want to be a part of,” she explains, adding that almost every decision they make revolves around how they can better the lives of their customers.
Berger’s also competes with the chains by maintaining a large inventory (more than 40,000 items stocked) and ensuring the staff can offer professional advice to help customers find exactly what they need.
Rubeo says opening a third location within the next five years tops his list of goals going forward. Another future goal is that one day, both of their children will take over for them and continue the family-owned history of the company.