BY BERNADETTE H. CARREON
AIRAI, Palau — Palau’s newest hardware store seems set to be a popular addition to the country’s construction goods inventory. After three months of doing business it has expansion plans.
Palau’s True Value Co., a member of the U.S. chain based in Chicago, Ill., opened on Oct. 6, and employs 16 sales associates.
Tkel Etpison, vice president of the Neco group of companies, said, “We offer high quality goods at reasonable prices and also offer exclusive products that the other hardware stores on island do not offer.”
True Value occupies 13,000 square feet. Etpison said he also expects expansion to incorporate a lumber yard nearby.
Despite its small population — 21,846 as of Dec. 31 — Palau is still in need of top materials, Etpison said.
The store is in Airai; strategically located so that it can serve the island of Babeldaob as well as Koror state, he said.
“We believe people on-island have a demand for quality goods. There’s also plenty of potential for meeting the needs of Palauans who might look toward residing in or developing more in Babeldaob in the near future. It’s our aim to meet these needs and also provide goods that our customers can rely on,” he said.
The store carries the Master brand of electrical and plumbing items and Master Mechanic power tools. The company offers the Green Thumb brand for lawn and garden products and EasyColor, a paint line that True Value manufactures itself in Chicago.
Services include color matching for paint. “Customers can come into the store with a sample from anywhere, a photograph, a piece of cloth or a chip of paint and we’ll be able to match it, along with a variety of different formulas and bases for your specific needs,” Etpison said.
Since opening, the store has had excellent feedback, he said. But True Value welcomes all comments.
“No matter how critical it might be, every comment or suggestion helps us become better providers for our customers and a better business for Palau,” Etpison said.
He said service to customers is important locally and to the brand.
“Our staff and our business are here, fulltime, to serve our customers first and foremost. It’s imperative that we meet their needs as best as we can, and if we can’t, to eventually find a means to do so in the near future. I believe that every member of our staff is driven with the intent of finding the best solutions for our clients. It’s a company culture that we strive to maintain.”
Etpison said he welcomes news of completed projects.
“Hearing and seeing the results of helping our customers is priceless and we hope our clients will share their experience with us,” he said.
A website is due to launch, but True Value welcomes enquiries in the meantime, Etpison said. Chipper Tellei, general manager, can be reached at [email protected] or at (680) 587-2031. True Value is open from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Sunday to Thursday and from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Friday. It is closed on Saturday.
According to Journal files, True Value also operates in Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands and Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia.
It has more than 4,000 retail locations worldwide, Etpison said. Members of the cooperative own their stores and operate independently. According to its website, the group has locations in more than 60 countries with retail sales totaling about $5.5 billion and has approximately 2,500 sales associates. mbj
The 13,000 square-foot True Value Store opened in Palau on Oct. 6, and already has expansion plans.
Photo courtesy of True Value Co. Palau