According to Marc Swanson, owner of Steamboat Ace Hardware, “A hardware store is rooted in its community, helping people with projects big and small. There are so many different ways that we help our community members on a daily basis through our business, charitable giving and philanthropy are just a natural extension of the business.”
As the 2020 Business Philanthropist of the Year, Steamboat Ace Hardware is recognized for giving back in a multitude of ways and to the tune of over $1 Million in donations to Yampa Valley nonprofits since it opened in 1984.
Started by Marc’s grandparents in 1946, his father and uncle took over in 1984 when it was known as True Value. In 2005, the business relocated to its current place in Curve Plaza and became Steamboat Ace Hardware. Marc grew up working in the family business. He moved out of the valley to attend college but moved back full time in 2014 and describes having a keen awareness of charitable giving being a big cultural part of the business for as long as he can remember.
While the quantity of donations has gone up over the past 20 years, giving back has always been an integral part and an emphasis for the business. As Marc says, “We feel a moral obligation to give back. When you are in a position to be able to help others, it is just something you do.”
Steamboat Ace Hardware participates in charitable giving on many different levels. From writing checks and financial sponsorship of events and organizations, to inviting nonprofits and groups looking for fundraising opportunities to hold bake sales and hot dog sales outside the storefront every weekend in the summers. Steamboat Ace provides all of the supplies for the hot dog sales and allows the organization to keep 100% of the proceeds.
They also give generously of their products through in-kind donations. These include examples such as donating paint to help restore a historical barn, to selling detectors at their cost in order to help promote carbon monoxide awareness and the importance of having a detector in every home.
Since the coronavirus pandemic has hit, Swanson says that he has felt an even greater obligation and duty to support the Yampa Valley community, economy and nonprofits. One of the programs that he is most proud of is Steamboat Ace Hardware’s partnership with Horizons Specialized Services, to provide critical PPE equipment that Horizons was having difficulty finding, and did not have funding to purchase. To date, Steamboat Ace has donated over $3000 in PPE to Horizons in order to help keep their clients and staff safe and healthy. “Being able to help out in this way is emotionally meaningful,” says Swanson.
Steamboat Ace Hardware extends the spirit of giving to its staff, who are all very aware of the importance of giving back as part of the business’s culture. “We have the most amazing staff,” Swanson shares. “We want them to be proud of where they work, and to create a positive atmosphere. We want our employees to know that they are working somewhere that they know is making a difference and giving back to our local community.” In particular, Swanson says that Bridget Kelly, Store Manager, has been a huge part in the business’s philanthropic efforts over the past 10 years. “She has good insights into what is needed in the community,” he says. “She’s the point person and helps coordinate many of our efforts. We wouldn’t be able to do any of this without her and the rest of our amazing staff.”
While Steamboat Ace Hardware is one of the most charitable and generous businesses in the Yampa Valley, supporting multiple causes and organizations through their giving, they do it without fanfare. Swanson shares that, “Getting this award is a nice acknowledgment of all the things that we have done through the years. It is an honor to be recognized. We don’t make a point to promote what we do so it’s nice to know that it’s recognized and appreciated, and that we are making a meaningful impact in our community.”