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Scott Gutierrez, Owner of Penn Valley True Value
Photo by Valérie Costa

You could say that Scott Gutierrez was born to own a hardware store. His family bought a True Value in Placerville when he was two, and he grew up learning not only the ins and outs of the hardware business, but also the supreme importance of excellent customer service.

“When I was young, a lady came to my parents’ store looking for a 1.5″ finish nail, but they only had 2 “finish nails. My dad took the box and shrunk them all down to 1.5, “Gutierrez recalls.” I understand that in today’s competitive environment, we can’t do that type of detail, but that dedication to making customers happy and making sure they get what they want and need is paramount to me and the way we run the store. ”

Like many young people, Gutierrez wanted to escape small town life and grow up. So he went to college to learn business management, then went to work for Meek’s Hardware and Lumber for 13 years. He got bored of “company politics” and returned home to work with his parents in the family business where customer satisfaction was the guiding principle. It was truly a family business, as Scott and his parents also worked with Scott’s twin brother, their uncle and cousin. He stayed there until True Value called the family and told them about a great opportunity in Penn Valley.



Penn Valley Real Value

True Value has been a Penn Valley staple since 1978, but on January 1, 2011, the previous owner decided to no longer open the doors. The next day, employees arrived at work to find the doors locked and waited two hours before realizing the store was closed. It remained closed until the Gutierrez family bought and renovated the store, which they did at great personal expense before the last papers for the transfer of ownership were signed on December 7, 2011. They reopened the store. next day with Scott at the helm, and have been working to grow the store ever since. “We trusted the handshake deal with the previous owner, who had received other offers but wanted the store to remain a real value, and kept our faith in God that everything was going to be okay,” Gutierrez said.

The family opened the store with seven new employees, and since then it has averaged 60 employees. When his parents decided to retire in 2017, Scott bought the Penn Valley store and his twin brother bought the Placerville store, and the two brothers have thriving businesses because of the family values ​​and customer service they have. parents have modeled in their own business practices. Gutierrez says a big part of his success has been getting Matt Buhman, a key transport manager at his parents’ store who had been there for a decade, to come and help grow this business. Buhman said if he comes there must be a position for his girlfriend (now wife), Tammy, who is the right-hand man of Gutierrez who is the COO / HR / Accountant and more at the store. After ten years, Matt leaves to finally pursue a career in mechanical engineering, which he had graduated from before agreeing to come and work for Penn Valley True Value, but Tammy remains happy in her role and does not have the intention to leave.



“When I knew I was going to take Penn Valley True Value, I knew my family had a successful business plan based on great customer service, and I wanted to follow that. But being in a corporate environment for 13 years, I was afraid I had lost that small business mindset about customer service, making sure you really matched your customers’ needs rather than chasing the dollar. Keeping this culture alive was important to me, and I knew Matt would help me do it. To this day Matt and Tammy are the two best employees I have ever had. I’m sad to see Matt go, but I’m so happy for him that he’s going to pursue his passion and work in the field he graduated from.

True community value

One of Gutierrez’s core values ​​is to be a good community partner and to keep Penn Valley businesses local as much as possible. Over the past ten years since taking over the store, he has strived to expand the selection to deliver what community members want and need to help Penn Valley prosper economically.

Since Penn Valley is a ranching community, when he opened the store, Gutierrez saw a huge need for ranching supplies and therefore opened True Value Fence and Ranch Supply in the old Empire Fence building, where they meet the supply needs of the farm and the ranch for 4 hours and FFA as well as the local breeders. Gutierrez tries to balance the needs of the community without competing with his neighbors, Pearson’s Feed and Simply County. It strives to meet these needs without stepping on its toes by transporting convenience needs for ranchers as well as equipment.

The wildflower nursery is ready for fall
Photo by Valérie Costa

The other need he saw was Lake Wildwood, which is a different population of people trying to beautify their properties. At first, Wildflower Nursery was just a convenience nursery, but has since grown into a beautiful destination nursery and community gathering place. It’s a place to relax, with a stream running through it, shady benches, and a gift shop. Future post-Covid plans involve hosting beer, wine and cheese events with live music; the goal being Wine at Wildflower on Wednesdays. Scott’s wife, Rory, ordered for the nursery, and she was the main impetus for bringing in gift items. In his dedication to supporting other local businesses, Gutierrez offers unique locally made items, such as furniture by Jody B, as well as nine other local vendors who sell on consignment. “The idea was to beautify the heart of downtown Penn Valley, and I feel like we’ve hit the nail on the head with that,” Gutierrez explained. “Our goal is not to make a profit at Wildflower, our goal is to break even and have a place people feel comfortable going out.”

At the start of 2021, the only hole that Gutierrez felt was missing was wood. The store had lumber, but not as a place for contractors to stop to stock up on their projects. So Gutierrez invested in a lumber shelving system and they’re now a full-fledged lumber yard with an entrepreneur vendor, which they got from Diamond Pacific after 25 years. They also acquired a few delivery trucks, including a piggyback delivery truck. “Entrepreneurs who went to Grass Valley can now just keep Penn Valley money in Penn Valley to help the community sustain itself,” said Gutierrez. “Penn Valley is really starting to find its place. When I first got here we were walking past the ball field and there was a sign saying “a way of life with opportunities”. It was an inspiration to me, and I bought this real sign. We took it to heart and ran with it.

Penn Valley True Value is not about transactions, it’s about relationships. It is also knowing their customers by name. Some entrepreneurs are there five times a day. Some customers come to chat, without buying anything. With big box stores and Amazon, price isn’t everything; you have expertise there that will add so much value to your project beyond what you pay for the product. However, to stay competitive and stay fair in their prices, if you come up with an ad that shows the same thing at a lower price, they will match that price if possible as long as the comparison is “apples to apples”.

True family value

During the store renovation in 2011, Gutierrez lived in the store while his wife stayed in their south Sacramento home while she completed her studies to become a pharmacist. He saw the previous owner of the store and mentioned that he lived in the store, and the owner said his parents had recently passed away and therefore had a house available in Lake Wildwood that he could rent in Gutierrez. if he was interested. He was and moved into this house where they lived until 2014 when he and his wife were ready to buy a house. They were driving around Lake Wildwood and saw an open house on a property that was everything they dreamed of, and learned it was the old Vogt Ranch, a great piece of Penn Valley history / Lake Wildwood. They bought the house, which spans six acres, and are raising their two young children (ages two and four) in their own private slice of heaven. “The real value here is a big part of Penn Valley, and the Vogt Ranch is a big part of Lake Wildwood; it’s the only farm inside the gated community, ”said Gutierrez. “We feel so lucky to have two important pieces of Penn Valley in our family.”

Gutierrez’s family is not just his wife, his children and his blood relatives; it is also the employees who come to work at Penn Valley True Value. He selects his collaborators according to three essential values: humble (not thinking less of yourself, just thinking less of yourself); hunger (driving to come to work); and intelligent (not necessarily intelligence, emotional and situational awareness). Candidates who possess these qualities are individuals who will fit right in with the Penn Valley True Value family. “One of the things I love most about this job is knowing that I can provide jobs for people in our community. And not just a job, but a good job, where they like to come and work, ”said Gutierrez. “We may not be able to afford the career salaries of the companies, but what we can offer is flexibility and a good working environment, and you don’t get that in many places today. “

“We try to keep that feeling of family and make sure that during the onboarding process new employees feel like part of the family and that they are part of a real team. Tammy added.

In fact, Penn Valley True Value is recruiting right now, and it’s a fun fact that several current and former employees have found love while working in the store; so much so that Gutierrez organizes wedding ceremonies for them and writes the love story of each couple to present at their weddings. So if you are single and looking for love and work, and you have the three qualities necessary to be a True Value employee, come see us with an application. You could find more than just a job.

Penn Valley True Value is located at 17387 Penn Valley Dr. To learn more visit their website at https://stores.truevalue.com/ca/penn-valley/18863/.


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