On October 6th, 2008 Umber’s Ace Hardware was officially renamed Umber’s Do It Best Hardware. Dave Umber, president, has announced they are now affiliated with the Fort Wayne based, Do It Best Corp.
The change will allow Umber’s to lower the prices on over 1500 items, introduce major improvements to the paint department, as well as updating selections in every department throughout the store.
Since their inception, the Umber’s Hardware stores have been known for their high level of customer service. This was recently supported by the Umber’s Georgetown store winning the designation of the Fort Wayne Newspapers 2008 Readers Choice #1 Hardware Store in Fort Wayne.
Starting in a small gas station in 1944, Umber’s Hardware was founded in Waynedale by Lester Umber. It was moved to its current location in 1955. In 1965 the business was purchased by Dwight and Marilyn
Umber, Lester’s son and daughter-in-law. In 1973, David Umber, now president, joined the business.
In 1976 a second location in Georgetown North was added and a third store in Time Corners opened in 1987.
In 1997, Dave and Barbara Umber bought the business, and currently with their son Grant, operate out of 2 locations, Waynedale and Georgetown North.
From having a waiting list for the 1 shovel Umber’s was allotted per week during World War II, to being able to have any item shipped overnight directly to a customers home, Umber’s Do It Best Hardware will continue to give the customer service that that has made them successful since 1944.
UMBER’S HARDWARE, THE EARLY YEARS
In May 1944, Lester and Bertha Umber converted an old gas station at the corner of Lower Huntington Road and Old Trail Road (now Chase Bank) 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 at the Wayne Knitting Mill on West Main Street while Bertha worked at the hardware. Their two sons, Dwight, age 10 and Ervin, age 13 were enlisted to help.
Lester had been studying hardware for twenty years and soon joined the full time 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.
UMBERS HARDWARE, BY THE NUMBERS, 1944 – 2008
1944 Lester and Bertha Umber open Umber’s Hardware in Waynedale
1954 Umber’s build new store at present location in Waynedale and join Ace Hardware
1968 Dwight and Marilyn Umber become second generation owners
1976 Second Umber’s Ace Hardware opens in Georgetown North
1987 Third Umber’s Ace Hardware opens in Time Corners
1997 Dave and Barbara Umber become third generation owners
1998 Umber’s Time Corners moves to Covington Plaza and doubles store size
2004 Umber’s celebrates sixtieth anniversary as a third generation, locally owned hardware
2008 Umber’s Switches to Do-It-Best franchise
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