Gabe Hedges (second from left) with YP colleagues Lee Hoelscher, Kris Winter and Thirannie Yin

Veteran YP member Gabe Hedges is a mentor to his younger peers

By Andy Kriege, YSN

Working at Idler’s Home is the only career General Manager Gabe Hedges has ever known.

Ever since he was a senior in high school some 24 years ago, Hedges has worn virtually every hat at the Paso Robles-based BrandSource dealer, located near California’s Central Coast.

His remarkable journey from stacking warehouse boxes to overseeing all store operations as general manager began when he was still a teen. The after-school warehouse job led to a full-time offer after graduation, and Hedges quickly ascended to the delivery truck, performing installs. He would later be promoted to installation manager for the four-store chain, followed by a stint on the sales floor and then manager of two of the company’s showrooms before attaining his current GM role.

The advancements were well deserved, as Hedges has been an integral part of the growth and direction of Idler’s for nearly a quarter century and had a hand in shaping the policies and procedures of the business’s entire operational structure along the way. 

“I’ve worked in some capacity in nearly every job here; I feel like I have done and seen it all,” he said. Hedges also believes that having worked from the ground floor up in nearly every capacity has helped him earn the respect of his co-workers. “I would never ask anyone to do anything here that I have not done or would not do myself,” he said. “I still stock the bathrooms when it needs to be done.”

Having experience in all aspects of the business makes him the perfect hands-on-style manager. “I sometimes joke that I know a little bit about everything, but I don’t know a lot about anything,” he said. “It allows me to defer to team members who are the experts when I need to.”

Idler’s VP Keith Rogers said Hedges’s talents surfaced early on. “He came to us while still in high school looking for a part-time job,” Rogers said. “Not long after we hired him, his overall abilities started to become evident. He has taken on several roles over the years and at each stop along the way he has helped make this a better place.

“Gabe processes an old-school mentality that he’s able to impart to his younger peers,” Rogers said. “His consistency, reliability and the can-do attitude that he brings to work daily sets an example for all his teammates to follow.”

After 24 years with the same company, Hedges still has a passion for what he does. “I love retail; there is always something unique that will happen every day,” he said, “and I’m excited to get up and do this each day.” Likewise, tying up the loose ends at the end of the workday is also important to him. “I don’t look at the clock to know when it is time to go home,” he said. “I make it a point to answer as many messages, emails and unresolved concerns that I possibly can before my day wraps up. That way I start each day anew with a clean slate.”

Hedges and his wife Anissa enjoy camping and horseback riding with their boys Jaxson, 12, and Hunter, 8. 

Besides helping run Idler’s, Hedges has been attending Young Professionals (YP) events since the inception of AVB’s 20- to 40-something networking group eight years ago, and has enrolled in every YP University. “I have built some fantastic relationships with like-minded people I can relate to,” he said. “We keep in touch through email, texts, Facebook and phone calls.”

With two dozen years of experience in the industry, Hedges is considered a veteran at YP. “I’ve been through many of the scenarios and challenges that some of the younger ones have not,” he said, “so I share my experiences with them. I really enjoy those interactions.”

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At the ripe old age of 42 and with a slight hint of salt in the beard, he realizes his tenure at YP will soon be coming to an end. But Hedges has no intention of ending the relationships he has forged there over the years.

“These bonds will remain, and I will continue to be engaged with my YP mates indefinitely,” he said. “We are more than business associates; we have become great friends.”

YSN publisher AVB BrandSource is the nation’s largest merchandising and marketing co-op for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.

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