Jim White, owner of Boyne City Hardware, received a Golden Hammer award from the Ace Hardware Corporation at the Ace Hardware convention in Chicago recently.
The award celebrates Jim’s 51 years in the hardware industry.
Jim grew up in Midland. His father Fred White worked at Dow Chemical, and his mother Marge White was a housewife.
When he was 16 years old, his mom told him he needed to get a job so he looked through the paper and saw an ad for a stock boy at the Five and Dime store downtown.
He rode his bike four to five miles to apply for the job. As Jim says, he was rather puny at age 16 and the owner took one look at him and turned him down flat.
Dejected, but still determined to not go home without a job, he was sitting on a bench in downtown Midland looking across the street at the local hardware store. He decided to go in and apply.
The owner told him they weren’t necessarily hiring at the time and asked Jim why he wanted to work there.
He told the owner, “I’ve been shopping here with my dad and your store is pretty messy. I think I can clean it up.”
He was hired on the spot. Three years later, his dad ended up buying the store and Jim continued working there through high school and college.
The Midland Ace Hardware store is still owned and operated by Jim’s brother Greg White.
In 1975, after graduating from MSU his dad had a proposition for Jim and his then wife Connie (now deceased).
He wanted them to move to Boyne City in Northern Michigan and temporarily operate a failing hardware store in the area.
None of them had ever heard of, yet alone visited, Boyne City.
The business was for sale and losing money considerably, and the owner had recently propositioned Jim’s dad to buy it.
The plan was for Jim and Connie to operate the business for one year, then close it down permanently, get a large tax write off, and move back downstate.
Well … after living in Boyne City and getting to know the customers, the store grew and so did its profitability.
They decided to see how long they could keep it going, and now here it is 42 years later one of the longest running businesses in town.
His current wife Sharon has worked at the store for over 30 years, his daughter Jessica now works there full-time, and you can frequently see his 8-year-old grandson Miles helping out and stocking the shelves just like his grandpa used to.