Own the task: The power of inclusive HR leadership for independent dealers


One of the things that sets Sundre Home Hardware Building Centre apart is that the business has always treated its staff and customers like family—a big family with 33 full-time staff and six part-timers. Josh Hengen and his sister, Nicole Weatherbee, are the third-generation owners of the family business.

Given that the town of Sundre, Alta., has only 2,600 permanent residents, the store is one of the town’s major employers. Nicole is in charge of the human resources function and her style is a supportive and collaborative one. “Our staff know that we have their backs. And so they’re far more apt to step up and have our backs, too. I often joke that we’re one giant dysfunctional family!”

Being in a small town, the owners care about their staff’s personal lives, keeping invested in them at an individual level. “I think that when you band together, that makes a really big difference in people wanting to stay with us.”

Josh and Nicole try to spend a portion of their time training on the floor with their staff. They offer an RRSP contribution matching program along with a benefits package that includes coverage for dental, vision, prescription medications, and more. The store has six staff who have been there more than 10 years. That longevity is not common in the retail world, Nicole admits, and it all stems for the “community-minded atmosphere” in which the store operates.

Ownership of a job in its entirety matters, too, Josh says. “The more ownership you can give the

staff, the better. One example is with the truck drivers. When you tell them, ‘You are the main driver for this particular truck’—as opposed to just rotating all the drivers through them—you find that the driver keeps it clean and organized.”