Hiring Ins and Outs

We asked three archery retailers: “When you’re hiring, do you look for someone with a lot of archery experience or someone who’s green yet teachable?” Here’s what they said.

Hiring Ins and Outs

Photo by John Hafner

Bill Pellegrino

Bill Pellegrino’s Archery Hut

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Experience doesn’t always mean you’re getting a good employee. I’ve had employees come from other shops who I had to retrain because they were taught incorrectly. On the other hand, my most recent hire previously worked at an archery shop as well as a large chain retailer. He just knows what he’s doing. I didn’t really have to train him at all.

Teachability is more important than experience. I’ve had employees who couldn’t figure out how to tie on a proper D-loop after I showed them dozens of times how to do it. I’ve had others who got it after I showed them once. Two of the best employees I’ve ever had came with very little experience, but they were mechanically minded and easy to train.

Once I have someone trained, I want to keep them because high-quality archery retail employees are hard to find. I give my employees raises and treat them well. Good employees genuinely love archery and have a passion for it. This has to be what they want to do. All of my employees hunt, shoot competitively and practice all year. They live and breathe it, and that’s the standard I look for when hiring. I’ve never gotten a good employee by advertising. My best employees came in and asked for a job when I wasn’t even planning on hiring.  

Right now, I have one full-time employee, another who’s almost full-time, and then three other part-time guys. I’ve had a very strong employee retention rate. My employees love the shop, and I treat them well. They stay until they have a real reason to leave. Of course, young part-time kids leave to go to college, but anyone else who leaves my shop to work somewhere else does so to pursue a career in the field of their college degree.

Gary Hintz

Bucks & Bulls Archery

Stevens Point, Wisconsin

I look for people who are coachable because I want them to do things my way, not the way they were taught by someone else. I also look for people who don’t expect to take off the entire month of November. To be an expert at what I do, I need to be out hunting and using the equipment I sell. Plus, I love to hunt. I need employees I can count on to keep my shop going while I get away to hunt or compete at tournaments. 

It has been very important for me to have Jacob, my full-time guy, who I’ve trained really well since he was in college. I can trust him to do everything that I can do. I know my shop and customers are in great hands. Heck, my phone rarely rings when I’m out of town. You have to pay someone like that enough to keep them around, too. I keep giving him raises. He makes me money, and I have nothing to worry about when I’m away, which I value a lot.

In addition to Jacob and myself, I have two part-time employees who are in college. For my part-timers, I try to hire college freshmen so that they’ll be around for 4 years. That gives me time to train them to sell bows, fletch arrows, put bows together, price inventory and just about everything else. If I hire a senior and he/she works for 6 months and leaves, I’ve wasted my time training someone who already had one foot out the door, and then I have to repeat the hiring process again right away. That’s a hassle and takes a lot of time. It’s easier to treat employees well and keep them around as long as possible.

Adrienne Olufs

West Coast Archery Shop

Petaluma, California

Ideally, it is a combination of both. However, being teachable and having a strong work ethic are certainly more important than having a lot of previous experience. Beyond that, it takes a certain personality to blend with us because our staff is like a family.

In addition to my husband and me, we have a full-time employee and one part-time employee. As I said before, we’re like a close-knit family. We do team-building things, go on hunts together and attend 3-D shoots. We also do monetary incentives such as sales bonuses to reward hard work and keep our employees happy with working here.   

Assembling this team isn’t the result of advertising and opening up applications. We’ve gotten our employees by meeting people and learning that they’d fit our team, then offering them a job. For example, our part-time employee solicited us, and we knew he’d fit. He’s incredibly dedicated and hard-working, and he was easy to train.

When we hire a new employee, we try to give them bite-sized responsibilities as we train them. We start with the most basic information regarding traditional bows and arrows. We let them explore those less technical aspects of archery, and we build up from there as they become more comfortable. Also, our customers are very loyal to us. They have to get accustomed to seeing that new face over and over before they learn to trust that individual, so we don’t send them out alone to help customers when they’re brand new.


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