Lee Frank employee receives Ace customer service awards

Richard Tapper of Lee Frank Mercantile in Tonasket received Ace Hardware Corporation's

Richard Tapper of Lee Frank Mercantile in Tonasket received Ace Hardware Corporation’s “Moment of Truth Award” in recognition for outstanding customer service. Photo by Brent Baker

TONASKET – Richard Tapper is not a man to seek recognition.

But by doing what he does best, he and Tonasket’s Lee Frank Mercantile received it anyway.

Tapper’s assistance to a customer with a number of home projects led to a customer letter written to Ace Hardware’s corporate headquarters. The response to the store was gratifying for Tapper and his coworkers.

“It wasn’t any one incident,” said store manager Stacey Kester. “Cathy Plumb wrote Ace after they built their new home. Richard was the main person who helped her. She compared us to the service she’d received at other Ace Hardware’s.

“Richard not only got them everything they needed, he explained everything about the products that they needed to know. He really went above and beyond.”

“(He) has helped me with so many projects that when my husband and I got a new manufactured home, I invited this associate to our house warming party so he could see in person all the different projects he helped guide us through,” reads part of Plumb’s letter. “I can count on Richard and all of the other store associates to show me the products and explain the options. Because of this, I get the right product the first time, every time.”

The letter came back to the store, along with an Ace Hardware “Moment of Truth” award certificate signed by corporate president Ray Griffith.

Store owner Dave Kester read the certificate and accompanying letter from the company in an impromptu presentation that Tapper never saw coming.

“Richard was very humbled,” Stacey Kester said. “He made sure that he knew everyone knew he felt it was a team award.”

“It had no idea,” Tapper said. “The customer sent in a recognition letter and it went cascading through corporate and came back signed by the president. It was quite exciting and quite humbling. What we do here is from our hearts to help people.

“I try to give 100 percent of myself to people to help meet their need. I just want to offer my personal thanks to all the customers that come through here.”

Tapper has worked at Lee Frank for most of the last six years, originally coming onto staff after the store reopened following the 2005 fire that destroyed the old store. And he had developed his reputation long before receiving the recent award.

“He’s developed quite a following of customers,” Kester said. “There’s people who will come in for what they need only when they know he is on duty.”