A seamless transition

Dale Johnson III (left) has taken over operations at the Ace Hardware store from Amy and Ron Gramstad. The store will be rebranded as Tracy Builders Supply Inc. Photo / Per Peterson

Ron and Amy Gramstad are passing on the family business to a trusted friend

By Per Peterson

Dale Johnson III was on the crew that constructed the 6,000 square-foot Tracy Builders Supply store — which eventually became Tracy Ace Home Center — on South 4th St. back in 1998.

Now he owns it.

Ron and Amy Gramstad have sold the business — lumberyard included — to Johnson, who only nine months ago closed a deal to purchase Midwest Supply from Ken Schiller.

The name of the business will go back to Tracy Builders Supply, which the Gramstads took over in 1987.

Johnson said there will be no staff changes. Steve Hanson will manage the store, Nikki Phelps will work the front, and Jeremy Hall will do deliveries and some estimating.

“Business as usual,” Johnson said. “I don’t see anything changing from how Ron and Amy have done it.”

Footings for the 54×112-foot building were dug in early June 1998, and at the time, Ron said, “You can’t stay the same. You’ve got to make improvements if you want to say ahead.”

Johnson is excited to continue with that mission. He said he will continue to run a customer-friendly business in an effort to encourage people to buy in Tracy, as opposed to going to towns like Marshall to pick up their supplies. Johnson will carry his business model over from what he’s done at Midwest Supply.

“After the 100th person asked for bait, we put bait in,” he said.

Johnson learned after taking over at Midwest Supply that keeping customers happy — and in town — is imperative. The last thing he wants to do is lose customers to another town, because that means those people are spending their dollars outside of Tracy.

“I heard, ‘If you had this we wouldn’t have to go to Marshall,’” he said. “If you’ve gotta run to Marshall if you can’t get this one thing in Tracy, you’re probably going to get gas, you’re going to buy groceries. The ultimate goal is to have everything everyone needs in Tracy.”

Ron and Amy said having a new set of eyes on the business will be a good thing for customers. 

“After doing it for so many years, change is good,” Amy said.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.