Home Depot is getting ready to roll

GARDNERVILLE - The walls are up, the roof is on and the heat is cranked up, so let it rain, let it sleet, let it snow.

Those are the sentiments of Alan Deslongchamp, the general manager of soon-to-open Home Depot at the north end of Douglas County.

"So far, it's all gone pretty smoothly," he said Monday from inside the noisy store. "The weather cooperated with us all November. Now that the roof's on, it can go ahead and snow."

Deslongchamp said the anticipated date for opening the 118,000-square-foot store is eb. 3, 2000. Workers are just now busily completing the installation of orange steel shelving that will hold the millions of units of merchandise that needs to be brought in and arranged.

"It's always loud putting in the shelving, but we'll be done with that by midweek," he said.

The Carson Valley store will be the largest in Nevada. Home Depot currently has two stores in Reno, but Deslongchamp expects the Carson Valley store to be the busiest. Two stores are already open in Reno.

"I've had people come in here from places as far away as Tonopah, Bishop and Mammoth and ask when we're going to be open," he said. "These people are used to driving all the way to Reno, and they don't want to keep having to drive so far."

n Hundreds of applicants. The hiring process has begun for many people coming to the store to fill out applications. Deslongchamp said a minimum of publicity has yielded a promising harvest of potential Home Depot employees.

"We'll be hiring around 110 people and we've already had hundreds of applications," he said. "Right now, we're working with a crew of about 20, not counting the construction people."

Operations manager Duane Ferguson of Reno, who has been with Home Depot for five years, will be overseeing the hiring process in around five phases.

"This is an awesome company to work for," he said. "We don't promote on seniority, but on merit."

"Gimme an H!" Before going to their individual departments each morning, employees gather at 8 a.m. for a pep rally. There, they get an update on the status of construction and hear other pertinent announcements. The energetic pep rally ends with a loud cheer that actually manages to drown out the deafening sounds of steel beams scraping and clanking together for at least a minute. Tuesday morning, Jay Miller led the cheer, looking like a happy drill sergeant as he barked out the letters.

"Gimme an H, gimme an O, gimme an M, gimme an E," he screamed to an enthusiastic response.

By the time the cheer was over, the Home Depot staff literally bounced to their departments.

- Bigger, better - yet still the same. Deslongchamp said customers of the Carson Valley Home Depot will enjoy many of the same features that have made the other 890 Atlanta-based Home Depots so successful. Aside from the extra square footage, the Carson Valley store will have a tool rental department, something the Reno stores do not offer, he said.

"We figure, if the homeowner is doing a big project and they need an auger, for example, they might as well be able to rent it from us," Deslongchamp said.

- Two decades of growth. Home Depot stores have been very popular with do-it-yourself customers. The company is opening 15 stores in December, 25 stores in January and 15 in February.

Home Depot was founded in 1978 by two out-of-work executives, Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank. In 20 years, their company had become the world's largest home improvement retailer with nearly 800 stores, 160,000 associates and $30 billion in annual sales. The Carson Valley store is part of Douglas County's redevelopment program implemented last year.

This will be the third store opening for the 36-year-old Deslongchamp in his 11 years with Home Depot.

A San Diego native, he has lived in Reno for the last six years. He and wife Yvonne have two sons, Jake, 11, and Max, 6, who attend school in the Washoe County School District.

For now, the Home Depot store, located at Highway 395 and Jacks Valley Road next to Target, is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays for job inquiries. Applicants may come to the west end of the store during that time. The phone number, 267-3434, should be operational by the end of the week, and while construction is ongoing, calls to the store should only be employment inquiries.

"We won't be doing any price quotes right yet," Ferguson said.


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