Metzger’s General Manager David Jolly last September in front of the Los Alamos store after receiving the prestigious International Economic Development Council’s 2020 Citizen Leadership Award. Jolly spoke Tuesday to Rotary about his experiences during the pandemic. Photo by John McHale/ladailypost.com
By LINDA HULL
Rotary Club of Los Alamos
General Manager David Jolly of Metzger’s Do It Best Hardware chuckled as he spoke Tuesday via Zoom to the Rotary Club of Los Alamos.
“Everyone has painted every room, twice,” he remarked as he explained the 80% increase in paint sales since the pandemic began.
Reflecting on the first days of the pandemic, Jolly described visiting family in Tennessee and returning to New Mexico just as Knoxville’s closures took place in mid-March. His flight into Albuquerque, which usually carries as many as 200 passengers, only had 17 on board.
Returning to Los Alamos, Jolly quickly began advocating with others to place hardware stores on the Governor’s list of essential businesses where they had first been excluded. In preparation for the anticipated re-opening of the store, Jolly concentrated on providing the best opportunities to ensure that Metzger’s customers and employees would be protected against COVID-19.
Jolly “took advantage of Walmart’s safety guidelines”, installing Plexiglas® shields at the registers, requiring everyone in the store to wear a mask, and attentively sanitizing surfaces routinely. Pandemic precautions are posted in the store, and he continues to do “everything possible to protect employees in order to protect customers”.
As part of a nationwide trend, panic buying soon began in earnest last spring. Sales of hand sanitizer, other cleansing agents, and toilet paper “went through the roof”. Jolly described truckloads of products that were scarcely unloaded before going immediately out the front door in the protective arms of grateful customers. Limited sales were imposed when one customer bought an entire truckload of supplies before the items were even unloaded.
Demand quickly overwhelmed supply. Supply chains were disrupted by COVID illnesses among distributors, inventories could not be re-built, and shelves were often empty. Adding to the complexity of stocking Metzger’s, its parent company saw an increase of 10,000% (10K %!) in sanitizer sales and then experienced a devastating recall of the product. Metzger’s was left without a viable replacement option.
Jolly described other shortages. Not only did our local Metzger’s stores run out of supplies, such as spray bottles for cleansers, but national brands encountered similar issues. Valspar, a best-selling paint, could not fill some of its orders because they ran out of labels. As canning surged in popularity with more people at home and seeking creativity in the kitchen, companies that produce glass jars could not get glass because the demand for liquor, and the glass bottles it comes in, had become so high.
Predictably, lawn and garden projects increased dramatically during spring and summer months as residents sought relief from isolation indoors. The demand became so great that Jolly increased deliveries from one truck a week to two and three. Shortages were even felt in this supply chain, as a factory for a major producer of wire fencing was destroyed by a tornado.
With increased demand in so many areas of store inventory, it’s not surprising that Metzger’s 2020 pandemic sales alone were over 66% higher than store sales in 2019.
Moving into 2021, Jolly speculates it will again be a good year for home improvement, as residents will want to maintain the new gardens and landscapes they designed last year. However, he does not project an increase in paint sales having sold so much last year!
Later this year, the White Rock Metzger’s will sport a new roof, the heating and cooling system will be replaced, and new restrooms will be built to accommodate the American Disabilities Act. A year from now, Jolly expects a remodel of the Los Alamos store, which will include new fixtures, flooring, and facade. He also looks forward to expanding their inventory of sporting goods.
Although Jolly admitted he and his staff “have been exhausted for months”, they are happy to serve Metzger’s customers on a daily basis. The “new normal”, he said, has brought some changes that he would like to see remain in place, such as phone orders and curbside delivery. However, he admits, “I’m looking forward to no more masks”.
Jolly came to Metzger’s, and Los Alamos, in 2009 from Alexander City, Ala., where he worked as director of merchandising for Russell Lands on Lake Martin and Russell Do It Best Centers and Marinas. There, Jolly was a charter member of the Alexander City Rotary Club, serving terms as treasurer and president.
Since 2014, Jolly has served on the board of directors of the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation and as chair from 2015 – 2017. Jolly also is active in the Chamber of Commerce, serves as president of Los Alamos MainStreet, and participated in the Los Alamos County branding committee. He also served in the county Tourism Workgroup, developing the county’s Tourism Strategic Plan, and currently serves as chair of the Tourism Implementation Taskforce. Last year, he received the Citizen Leadership Award from the International Economic Development Council for his work in Los Alamos County.
Metzger’s has been a mainstay in Los Alamos since 1947. In 2018 the company was named New Mexico’s All Star Hardware store by HBS Dealer Magazine. In 2020, the same publication named Metzger’s New Mexico’s Superstar Hardware store in competition with the state’s All-Star winners over the past 10 years.
The Rotary Club of Los Alamos, through its Club Foundation, is a 501(c)3 non-profit and one of over 34,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary, which now has 1.5 million members, was founded in 1905; the local Club was chartered in 1966. Rotary areas of focus include promoting peace; fighting disease, particularly polio; providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; supporting education; saving and enhancing the lives of mothers and children; growing economies; and protecting the environment.
To learn more about the Rotary Club of Los Alamos and its charitable service, contact President Laura Gonzales at 505.699.5880 or Membership Chair Skip King at 505.662.8832.