For the past 17 years, Gino Mediati has not only managed Pacific Ace Hardware on Main Street, but has been a helping hand for countless of the community’s DIY projects. Although he’s been transferred to the Pacific Ace Hardware in Suisun, he leaves Winters in good — helping — hands with the new manager, Bianca Aguirre.
Change, of course, is an inevitable part of life. For Mediati, the Pacific Ace Hardware in Suisun needed a manager and he was the right guy with the right experience for the job. Although a bittersweet change, Mediati’s spirits remain high as he reflects on nearly two decades of service to Winters.
“My experience in Winters was great. I was there for 17 years and really felt like the community supported me and the store. We were there at the end of 2006, and not long after that the economy had some issues and the community really supported us through that, too, just like the pandemic,” said Mediati. “It’s just a great community and the McKenzie family we work for really takes good care of us, too. I’m going to miss just about everything, though. All the friendly people, all the contacts I made and of course being close to the breweries.”
For the last 10 years of his 17-year tenure, Mediati’s had the pleasure of working side-by-side with Winters native and 2009 Wolfskill High School graduate, Aguirre. While it started out as a part-time job for Aguirre, this local mom of two felt at home at Ace Hardware — stuck with it, and officially became store manager on Feb. 14 of this year – which also happens to be her birthday.
“I guess you could say I’m very tomboyish. I like to get my hands on things and learn about things I can improve on. There’s not just one thing I like here either. I just like it all. Gardening, home improvement, you name it,” said Aguirre. “There’s definitely been some challenges since I’ve started this new position. Just being in charge and telling people what to do for one. I’ve never been bossy before, it kind of feels weird but that’s what I’m learning to do is accept that I’m in charge and have to tell people what to do. I’ve worked with almost everybody here for years and we’ve been coworkers and suddenly I’m in charge. It’s definitely going to be a process for me.”
Another challenge Aguirre faces is having to work without Mediati — someone she’s seen and worked with five days a week for the past 10 years. To her, his personality is what she’ll miss most followed closely by his expansive knowledge of everything encompassing the store. With Shaquille O’Neal-sized shoes to fill, Aguirre is — albeit, a little nervous — ready to take on the challenge of her new managerial role.
“We’re the only hardware store in town and I think we’re super helpful to anybody who comes in. We go above and beyond to get them everything they need with whatever they’re working on,” said Aguirre. “Gino really got Ace involved with the community and I want to do the same. I also think our customer service is great and all of our employees make people feel welcome.”
Aguirre said that overall, she loves her coworkers and customers.
“There aren’t people like Winters people anywhere else who’re just friendly and know everybody else.”
With a new generation of leadership taking over at Ace, Mediati has nothing but confidence in his old coworker and the bright future lying ahead of Winters’ hardware store.
“It’ll be great having a new perspective
there, especially hers. She’s going to improve that store, they’ll be new merchandise and everything. I’ve been saying this for the last couple years — because she’d fill in for me every time I was gone — I felt like she was better at managing that store than I was,” praised Mediati. “She was just better with managing people, being organized and being focused. She’s also got the ability to grow a lot. The ability, willingness and drive, I would say, to improve that store and build on what we’ve been doing there for the last 17 years.”