In May 1944, Lester and Bertha Umber converted an old gas station at the corner of Lower Huntington Road and Old Trail Road into a hardware store. They started with $700 in inventory and approximately 1000 square foot of floor space. Because World War II was in full swing, product was hard to come by. To make the shelves appear full, Lester would set the item on the shelf and the box it came in next to it.
To maintain a steady income, Lester continued to work full time at General Hosiery while Bertha worked at the hardware trying to get their new business launched. Their two sons, Dwight age 10 and Ervin age 13 were enlisted to help. While the store was new, Lester had been studying hardware for twenty years and soon he joined the fulltime forces along with his wife and children. The venture proved to be very successful.
In 1954, Lester built a 3,200 square foot building at 2413 Lower Huntington Road – the current Waynedale location.
Umbers joined the Ace Hardware Corporation and hired the first non-family member, Roy Young. Ervin had left the business in 1952 and went to work for Fort Wayne Newspapers. Dwight’s wife Marilyn, joined the hardware team in 1957.
In 1995, they retired after selling the business to their son, Dave Umber and his wife Barbara.
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