Pageler for the win
LE MARS — What Scott Pageler, owner of Hardware Hank, saw as a unique idea in the floor coverings industry was reaffirmed by the judges of a Main Street Iowa contest in Pella on Monday, Aug. 1.
It was at the Open4Business competition finals that Pageler was announced as the 2022 winner.
The idea, a mobile flooring showroom, “takes Main Street to your house,” according to Pageler.
“By making the flooring showroom mobile I will be able to go directly to the customer’s house, take photos, and plug those photos directly into the manufacturer’s websites and show different flooring options right there in their driveway,” Pageler explained.
Pageler’s business is the third in the Le Mars community that has made it to the state level of the competition and the first to be crowned champion.
“I was honored just to get to the regional finals let alone win the whole thing,” Pageler said. “The money aside, it’s just getting the win for Le Mars. This is the third business in a town of 10,000 that has gotten to the finals, so that’s pretty impressive for a town our size.”
As Debi Durham, Iowa Economic Development Authority director, read off the placements, Pageler became more and more confident.
“As they moved up the chain in the winning order it was becoming more apparent we were getting closer to getting first and then when they announced second place it was just a shock,” he said. “We knew we had a good subject and a good speech and I delivered it I thought very well, so I knew we had a good chance but it was still shocking.”
A Work in Progress
Pageler learned of his advancement to the regional finals in June and spent the next month making final edits to his presentation.
“Robin from Main Street in Des Moines came down twice. Once after being named a regional finalist to visit with us about what to expect on competition day, and a second visit a week prior to the state competition where she offered us advice on our final presentation.
“Based on her advice I ripped up my speech and rewrote it with her suggestions. Instead of making the presentation about the trailer itself, I instead walked the judges through the process. I think her input was really key. She mentioned after the competition that when she meets with people she’s still surprised at how many people don’t take her advice and they don’t win. For me, her advice was spot on and it worked, I guess,” Pageler shared.
Sidelining the Nerves
When presentation day arrived Pageler said he was somehow able to keep his nerves on the sidelines.
“I wasn’t (nervous), surprisingly enough. The whole day I moved slow and just didn’t try and rile myself about anything and it worked. I’ve done public speaking before and it doesn’t bother me but this was pretty big and I knew I needed to deliver so I just kept calm and it worked,” Pageler shared.
While Pageler was able to keep his nerves in check, his wife Lisa’s anxiety was on a new level.
“Working up to the state competition I was fine but that day was horrible. I was nervous for him to get up on stage and make the pitch. He exceeded my expectations. He nailed it,” Lisa said.
Interest Seen Statewide
Following the 15 minutes of deliberations by the judges, Durham returned to the stage to make the announcement.
“Immediately after the announcement we had people coming up to us saying, ‘Do you come to Cedar Rapids? My house flooded and I would love to have something like this,’” Pageler shared of one interaction following his win.
Full Steam Ahead
In total, Pageler earned $28,000 from Main Street Iowa towards the mobile flooring showroom idea. The Pagelers are responsible for contributing 25 percent of the funding towards the project. In total, the project is estimated at $35,000.
“I ordered the trailer on Wednesday,” Pageler said of the project’s timeline. “We are doing everything with the project locally with the exception of the LED strip lighting for the trailer.”
Expected to make its debut in early 2023, the 8x20-foot fully graphic wrapped enclosed trailer will be equipped with heat, air, a generator, computer, printer, big screen TV and have internet capability.
Feeling the Love
“The outpouring of support we have received from the community has been amazing. Before even going down there we had people wishing us well and saying, ‘hey, we’re rooting for ya’ and ‘we know you’re going to do great.’ And then afterwards the congratulations, calls, Facebook posts and texts we’ve received is amazing,” Pageler said.
“We just want to thank the community for their support. To the State of Iowa, Main Street Division, for coming up with this Open4Business grant. These people have dreams and a lot of those things wouldn’t come true if it wasn’t for this opportunity. And to our chamber, Lori French and Rich Ziettlow, for being so supportive. Kudos to them. And finally, Robin from Main Street Iowa for working with us. Her input was very instrumental.”
Chase Your Dreams
The success found with this program is one Pageler would encourage for other small businesses who have a dream such as his.
“If anybody is thinking about pursuing this grant they can certainly come and talk to me about the whole process. I would encourage someone that if they have a dream or unique idea to at least run it up the flag pole and see what happens,” he concluded.