One Small Voice
by Laura McGaffey
Articles originally published in "The Voice in the Desert"

Apache Hardware - Buzz Stop
October 2005

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The other day my husband was buying some fencing materials from Steve over at Apache Hardware and passed a group of men outside exchanging tips on their respective building projects. As is customary in our rural environs the men interrupted their discussion to smile and nod their hellos. The Apache Hardware building has a rustic facade with wooden benches along the wall. This typical scene was reminiscent of an old-time small town general store where the locals would stop to socialize as well as buy their dry goods.

As you know, I have a fondness and respect for the family-owned and operated businesses here in Sulphur Springs Valley. Steve and Lezli Polm moved to Sulphur Springs Valley with their three young daughters, Nicole, Jenna and Hannah and bought Apache Hardware in 1994. Steve's brother, Greg, joined the family business in 1998. As they've gotten old enough to do so each of the girls, now 25, 22, and 13, has worked at the store, learning to operate the cash register and credit/debit machine, make change, and help customers find what they need.

Steve, an electronics technician, retired from the Air Force after nine years and worked in the private sector installing alarm systems and other electronics equipment for contract companies in Las Vegas before moving back to Arizona. He had grown up in Bisbee and his parents now lived in the Sunsites-Pearce area when he heard that Apache Hardware was for sale.

Lezli Polm keeps her LPN certification current and may one day contribute her skills to the community when her youngest daughter has finished school. In the meantime, she handles all the Apache Hardware accounting and payroll from her home office.

In "Growing a Business", author Paul Hawken points out that a business is the expression of an individual. Steve Polm has been a very active member of the community since he moved his family to Sulphur Springs Valley. He's been a member of just about every community association there is and often times volunteers on their boards. Currently, he's on the Library Board and an active member of the Chamber of Commerce and Stronghold Merchants Group.

In "growing" Apache Hardware, Steve has made a few changes over the years. He added a nursery around 1997 and then completely refixtured the store around 2000. Apache Hardware is no longer an Ace Hardware store but anything in the Ace catalog can still be ordered and the delivery truck still comes every Monday evening.

Peter Mackey, in "Swimming With the Sharks", states that a business and its attitudes are a reflection of the owner's character, ethics and morality. This is obviously true of Apache Hardware and is the chief reason for its current success and why it will continue to prosper in the future.

This autumn another addition to the Apache Hardware family will be adopted. Steve is acquiring the Buzz Stop next door. He plans to move the gas pump operating systems into Apache Hardware.

Those of us who live in the Sunsites-Pearce area consider ourselves lucky to have such a great resource so close by. Not only are Steve, Lezli, Greg, and the other staff members good friends, they are family.

Lezli Polm in her home office