How AHS Started: The Andy Bell Story

Last month, we told the story of what makes an Ace Handyman Services Craftsman. This month, we’ll tell you the story of its founder and how it all got started. We caught him in his pottery studio in his backyard over the weekend, doing what he loves. 

“Finding and retaining kind, servant-hearted people has allowed us to grow at a rate that connects us to so many communities,” said Andy Bell, Founder and CEO of Ace Handyman Services.  

“I set out 24 years ago to build a beautiful company with beautiful people, and always knew the rest would sort itself out,” said a smiling Bell, from his shed, with a block of new clay and a potter’s wheel in Lakewood, Colorado. 

And the company is setting records, both in year-over-year growth and territory expansion.  

The Idea Started in the Basement of His Home 

Twenty-four years ago, Andy Bell thought the home improvement industry needed to change, for the better. There was a lack of dependable, trustworthy professional organizations in the handyman lane, whom the homeowner could count on.  It was simply hard to get a commitment on getting work done, on time and on budget, reliably and ethically for all involved.  He believed it could be changed for the better.   

Bell started with a service business that could be more than fixing things for customers who were neighbors – he thought it could earn its way to becoming the homeowner’s ally. A company that could be counted on, not just in the completion of the work, but also in its timeliness and quality. That could earn trust by making promises and keeping them. That employed men and women who would be treated with dignity and respect, sometimes for the very first time in their careers. 

Turns out, he was right – and Ace Hardware knew it too – and today, the franchise is growing faster than any other in the home improvement category. 

It All Starts with Beautiful People Treating Each Other with Dignity and Respect  

We are all seeking the right people, and they will grow into the job with gusto if they know you have their backs, in good times and in tough times. For Ace Handyman Services, it all revolves around supporting the Craftsmen and our highly functional office staff.  There is a true art to being a Craftsman, and these old-world skills are as valuable today as they were 100 years ago. We do 1,162 different home repairs around residential and commercial properties—no day is the same—and each project requires organization, communication and an artist-like approach to conducting the completion of this wide variety of canvases and mediums.  The trades are important, the people in the trades are important and the handyman has emerged as one of the most important allies to the preservation of our greatest assets: our homes.   

Hey, you might know this person. They come from all walks of life. They’re in the trades, sure as carpenters and remodelers. But they’re also the guys in their garage when they get home, or helping their neighbors fix things in their homes. They might be retired. They might be in a job that they don’t truly love.  

Andy started as a Craftsman, deployed from his basement, and has high reverence for the very special “kind” of Craftsman it takes to work with Ace Handyman Services. 

“As the world moves deeply into artificial intelligence, automation, algorithms and high tech, there will always be a need for those artists who have the skills to work with their hands. I’ve not seen a robot that can artfully repair holes in drywall, repair a hardwood floor or repair torn linoleum.”   

But an Ace Handyman Multi-Skilled Craftsman is set way apart from the industry because they all must have a passion to serve customers and improve the customer’s life.   

“We hire for heart – a servant heart – someone who is driven to make lives better, every day. It just happens to be with a hammer.” 

Ace Handyman Services hires those with humility and an ability to both communicate and adapt to the tremendous diversity and creativity required to complete 1,162 different home improvement projects.   

“Most notably, we treat the Craftsman with a level of service unlike anyone in the industry – an office staff that removes the scheduling and paperwork and a support system that surprises those who have never been treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve,” says Bell. 

The industry looks past the person and just wants the work done. Ace Handyman Services reveres the person and supports them to get the work done. For most, it’s a stark contrast to what they have experienced in the past. 

How It All Started – A Desire to be a Better Father, Family Man and Community Member

Andy made a name for himself in high end restaurants – much of the customer service that his customers have come to expect comes from that heritage.

“I always loved making a special dinner even a bit more special; with a kind word, a story or just a simple thank you for joining us tonight,” said Bell reflecting on his restaurant days. 

But for him, the restaurant industry did not fit his desire to be a good father and family man, and with his first child on the way, he decided to break out and start a handyman company.   

His wife, Colette, who leads Franchise Development, tells the story, that out of the basement of their suburban home, he used to tell her that “We’re going to build the largest handyman company in the world. He’s never stopped believing that, and it’s on its way to happening.” 

But Andy isn’t just a dreamer, he’s a doer.  He maintains that same vigor and vitality, with that same belief that is taking Ace Handyman Services by storm. He starts his day early, very early, and then balances his life with work stopping at dinner to spend the evenings with his family.  The franchise is adding more than 100 new territories this year, and 61 last year in the pandemic, and the numbers will more than double every year for the next five. 

Relentless Desire to Serve His Franchise Owners Who Do the Same for Customers 

Indestructible optimism is the best way to describe his personal brand.   

“The Handyman is so valuable and important, however not accepted as a Trade category.  We stand beside all trades and are some of the most talented Craftsmen in the industry–well-rounded, capable of listening, being pragmatic and completing projects in a professional and timely manner.  Our franchise owners are hand-picked for their leadership skills, community care, business acumen and the love of our lane, the Handyman lane.”   

Ace Handyman Services schedules an exact time to show up, quickly assesses the job(s) with its customers and completes the projects in alignment with the customer’s wishes.  This coordination is duplicated time and time again by the great leaders in its franchise body.   

“We have some of the most talented people in any industry leading a charge to gain credibility in an industry that is still learning who and what it is,” said Bell.  

The Future

When you probe him on what’s next, in developing the territories around all Ace Hardware Retailers, serving customers, and bringing helpful to their homes, you see a twinkle in his eye and you know this handyman industry and Ace Handyman Services will indeed be the treasure of home preservation, an advocate for the trades and will very soon become the world’s largest handyman company, period. 

Ace Handyman Services Nashville/Guthrie’s Ace Hardware Owner Cole Guthrie states, “When I first started, I knew there was a need for a premium handyman white glove service, one that I personally trust being in the home with my wife without me present. One with a trusted brand, trusted name. So, we jumped in looking to get that done with Ace Handyman Services. Once involved, I figured out that Andy Bell has figured this model out and he had spent the 20+ years really building an infrastructure for a great business. The model is after Bringing Helpful To Your Home, and it really does stand for that.“