By Erin Holly McDermott, Editor-in-chief ‘23
Oakland Hardware is a independently owned and operated small business in Oakland at 347 Ramapo Valley Road. The store offers various services for consumers and businesses alike, including: knife sharpening, lawn and garden care, paint mixing, and equipment sales (lawn mowers, power equipment, snowblowers, grills, etc).
Drumbeats had the opportunity to speak with the General Manager of Oakland Hardware, Matthew Maggio. Mr. Maggio is an Indian Hills alumn before attending Marist University to receive a bachelor’s in Human Resource Management. Mr. Maggio has been employed at Oakland Hardware for several years, he answered:
“When I was at Indian Hills High School I needed a part time job so I started working here. I was a sophomore when I started working regularly. I started by stocking shelves, helping customers, running the register, and to this day we still have high school students that work for us.”
Mr. Maggio joins a workforce of plentiful experienced employees with upward of 25+ years of experience. This company originated in 1957 originally. As an employer, Mr. Maggio has improved in his work and management style during the past few years. Mr. Maggio described:
“I think I’ve got more patient in the past few years. You need patience to be a manager, you need patience to work with scheduling and to work with people. Because at the end of the day people are humans…work shouldn’t be a 24/7 thing.”
His opinion and description speak to the supportive and flexible nature of management at Oakland Hardware. Oakland Hardware offers high school students a suitable job market option to teach lessons and responsibility while understanding previous obligations.
Oakland Hardware has been a staple for Oakland, and the surrounding area, residents. In 2019, the store underwent a period of transition where the storefront was renovated and ACE merchandise began implementation on shelves. Management remained under the same family of employees however a new variety and reliability of goods was introduced to the community. The store has approximately 20-30 employees, depending on the seasonal availability of out-of-state college students. The employee demographic is approximately 50% female and 50% male. This statistic speaks to the management’s efforts to provide inclusivity and defy the norm of the male-dominated hardware industry. Employees range in age from high school to college, middle-aged to older adults. Diversity of life experiences and knowledge provides a well-educated and in-touch work environment.
When asking Mr. Maggio about managing expectations when employing high school students, he replied:
“School is the priority when it comes to hiring highschool and college students. We work with everyone’s schedule. I do ask for a minimum amount of hours, but people can set their schedule within reason. We ask for a few weekdays and one weekend day, breaks and summer offer more flexibility with hours and schedules.”
Schedules are expected to be maintained, however, responsibility and maturity are areas of growth for any part-time job. High school students should consider their own abilitied growth opportunities before accepting any job offer. Oakland Hardware also offers employees increased job mobility. The work you place into the company is worked, by management, to put back into the employees. If someone is looking for a basic job, behind the cash register or in the warehouse, then that is available. However, for those employees that are more driven, upward mobility is assisted by management staff.
From personal experience, working at a small business teaches employees beyond the scope of the items between the aisles. In the interview, Mr. Maggio explained that “the average high school employee at Oakland Hardware knows more about real-life problems, like how to fix a toilet, than many grown adults.” While the environment of toilet augers and mortar mix may not strike a person, it’s the lessons behind customer service and a helpful attitude that truly carry someone into their future. Any time a customer steps foot into the store, associates, cashiers, managers, and warehouse specialists will offer a solution, suggestion, or recommendation. Oakland Hardware employees have created a culture where going above and beyond the standard of helpfulness is not only encouraged but celebrated.
One final word from Mr. Maggio is, “When you go into an interview, don’t just be the interviewee. You are interviewing the business as well. You should ask, ‘Am I the right fit for this company and this job?’”
If you have interest or questions about applying to Oakland Hardware please contact the store at 201-337-8068 or apply online at https://nowhiring.com/oakhardwarecareers/.