by RONA MANN

Unique name, no?

DSC02182It’s not a jewelry store nor a gift shop nor a fashion boutique. Just hearing the name, Ring’s End, gives little hint; but a visit to any one of their 16 locations will certainly astound since Ring’s End is all at once lumber mill and building materials. It’s your neighborhood hardware store and the local paint and design store. There’s certainly no need to make a separate trip to the garden store since Ring’s End can handle the whole landscape. Cabinets? Countertops? Kitchen and bath remodeling? Once again, your one stop Ring’s End will fill the bill, along with window treatments, decking, fencing, roofing, siding, flooring, paneling. The list goes on. But why would you want to look at a list when you can visit the real thing and see for yourself.

Still, why that unique name? Actually the name is as rooted in history as the company itself. Begun in 1902 as a coal and feed company that was located on Ring’s End Landing in Darien, it seemed only natural at the time to name the small company after its address.

From the outset, Ring’s End has always been family owned and operated. That may not seem at first blush like an unusual statement since many companies both large and small are family owned. But when that family has expanded over the last 114 successful years to include more than 450 “members,” people do sit up and take notice. No, they’re not all blood relatives, but Ring’s End has, despite their many locations, created a tight-knit group of dedicated employees where “our people love to come to work every day and take pride in the job they do.”

The spokesman is Colin Campbell, Assistant Manager of Ring’s End in Niantic and head cheerleader for this home and building center that has become firmly entrenched in the  communities it serves throughout Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island. Colin is one of several 3rd generation owners who are assuming increasingly important roles within the company.

“Since the 1920’s, lumber and building materials have been at the heart of our business,”   says Campbell. Yet Ring’s End is so much more to their loyal customer base. “People  can come here with their contractor and find everything they need to build or remodel, while the customer who’s only in search of a light bulb or American flag can find it here as well. And we’re happy to have both kinds of customers,” Colin adds.

Whether it’s helping the local boy scouts complete an Eagle Scout endeavor, or consulting with a homeowner with big plans and even bigger decisions to make, the  professionally trained artisans and technicians at Ring’s End have a unique way of  looking at it. “The customer is the decision maker,” Campbell begins.”It’s their project,   whether big or small and our responsibility is to give them exactly what they need from   materials, to design, to just a helping hand. We will make any project happen.”

All stores have showrooms…some are kitchen and bath, others have millwork, still others offer design and decor showrooms, and all have paint centers. But it’s not the size of the company nor the scope of its expertise that makes Ring’s End a leader. Ask Colin  Campbell what sets Ring’s End apart from the competition, and his answer is simple and  swift. “It’s our people. We don’t hire order takers. We hire professionals who become a part of the family. They are not just employees, but make up a very knowledgeable staff. Most of them have been here a long time…some 40 years or more. They appreciate that we only deal in quality materials, that we stay competitive in pricing, and they love being able to educate the consumer because we have ongoing educational seminars to keep them trained at a high level. We always say if one person doesn’t have the answer you’re looking for, someone here will. So when we say ‘service,’ it’s not just a word. It’s the only way we know how to operate. We serve customers at the highest level.”

When Campbell talks about the tradition of service at each and every Ring’s End location, he’s not just talking about the salespeople and the designers. “It’s our drivers and our yard people as well as the people inside the showrooms. They deal with customers every day on a lot of different levels, and always the goal is the same: to provide the right answers and get them whatever they need.”

While many people use the internet today to check out design and build products, Campbell stresses the importance of coming in person to one of the Ring’s End locations.”There’s no  denying you can get the information you need from the internet, but you really need to  touch and feel the products that are going into your home or project.” It would be impossible to list every brand name (“We have over 30,000 SKUs in our inventory!”), but suffice it to say Ring’s End only deals in the highest quality from industry leaders. Lumber comes in from Oregon, cedar from British Columbia, engineered wood and hardwood decking like the famous Brazilian Ipe used on the Atlantic City boardwalk and able to withstand nearly anything, are all found out in the massive yard where Campbell relates, “It’s always a team effort and exciting for us all to be part of the process.”

When it comes to windows and doors, both Andersen and Marvin occupy a large chunk of the store’s square footage, each with their own private area showroom. Inventory here is not stockpiled; the showrooms are  decorated, giving the customer a good idea of what the windows or doors might look  like in their own homes. Likewise the kitchen centers, where you simply want to reach out, open those gorgeous cabinets, put a pan on the stove, and serve a beautiful meal on your choice of magnificent countertop.

Ring’s End is also the largest Benjamin Moore paint retailer in Connecticut, catering to preeminent builders and contractors, as well as homeowners. In addition, most of the company’s stores have newly renovated Design & Décor showrooms featuring Hunter Douglas window treatments, Dash & Albert rugs, and designer fabrics and wallcoverings.

Yes, Ring’s End contributes to the building of homes, gardens, commercial properties, and Little League dugouts, but for 114 years they have stayed a leader in their field  because they have built something far more important than what can be accomplished with wood and paint and power tools. For every day, at every location, with every customer and every project, Ring’s End builds trust.

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