The long-time ace up Pedrotti’s sleeve
Margaret Vizuet has been a 40-year hardware fixture
Lifetime Benician Margaret Vizuet was a supervisor at Foster Freeze until she quit to have her two kids. When her son started preschool, “I wanted to do something with my spare time,” she says.
That “spare time” became a still-active 40-year career in the hardware business – the last 30 with Pedrotti Ace in the Southampton Shopping Center after a decade at the former Dan’s Ace on Fifth Street.
Vizuet celebrates her personal milestone hand-in-hand with the 100th anniversary since Gene Pedrotti’s grandfather started the family hardware legacy in Crockett in a 500-square foot building.
“Margaret is Benicia’s hardware ambassador and is the epitome of the great person: kind, perennially and infectiously happy, and never hesitates to help anyone at any time,” Pedrotti says. “She and my father (the late Larry Pedrotti) are the best examples of the Helpful Hardware person.”
Vizuet has covered just about every possible job at Pedrotti’s – cashier, sales, supervisor – and even at 70, continues to work for Ace “which I am incredibly grateful for,” the owner says. “She knows everything about hardware.” Vizuet’s knowledge is matched only by her personality, Pedrotti adds. “She represents the best in human nature,” he says. “She is always approachable, remarkably good-natured, never judgmental, and truly enjoys helping others.”
Pedrotti notes that it’s not all joy and laughter, yet Vizuet remains positive. “She’s always happy,” he says. “I don’t know how she does it.”
When Pedrotti relocated from Crockett to Benicia and bought Dan’s in 1992, Vizuet remained on board. Three decades later, she still works, handling four-hour shifts Mondays and Wednesdays. You can’t keep a still-vibrant grandmother down.
“I told Gene from the get-go that I’m a lifer,” Vizuet says.
“I like customer service; dealing with customers. I want to be out there where the challenges are and you get to help people. You see the frustrations they have when they come in and you do what you can to make sure they leave happy.”
Though Vizuet is the subject of Pedrotti’s constant praise and she’s recognized through the community and beyond, she downplays her near-celebrity status. “I don’t even think about that; that I’m important,” she says. “It embarrasses me when Gene makes a big deal of it.”
Yet, she continues to handle her popularity with aplomb. Even when off-the-clock, Vizuet gets approached in town by residents seeking answers to home improvement problems. “The biggest pleasure I have is when I’m suggesting something and I can see the customer is not getting what I’m talking about,” Vizuet says. “He’ll be like ‘Yeah, right.’ Then he comes back a week later, takes me aside, and says, ‘You know, you were right. You knew what you were talking about.’”
Retirement? It’s not in the cards for this ace with Ace.
“People ask why I’ve stayed with this business so long. I love it. It’s always different. There’s nothing boring about the hardware business,” Vizuet says, emphasizing that “you do have to have patience. And you have to have empathy. Sometimes customers are frustrated or they’re angry. You just have to listen and put yourself in their shoes. Sometimes, they just want to talk about their problems.”
Vizuet fondly looks back on her career that has no end date. “A lot of people go through life working a job, and it’s work. I’m so fortunate. I’m in a place where I thoroughly enjoy every aspect of the job,” she says, laughing that “the wrinkles I have are ‘laugh lines’ from smiling. It’s still totally fun.”
Vizuet acknowledged the importance of a community celebration for Pedrotti’s Ace Hardware’s 100th year. “Hopefully, I can see 100. That’s only 30 years from now,” she smiles.