Umber’s Do It Best Hardware has been a part of the Waynedale community for 73 years. CEO Dave Umber shares, “My grandfather started our business in 1944 at the corner of Old Trail and Lower Huntington Road and then we moved to our current location in 1954. My dad and mom, Dwight & Marilyn, purchased the business in 1967, and my wife Barb & I became owners in 1997. I personally started in 1973 so that puts me at 43 years of walking the aisles of our stores!”
There are two Umber’s stores in Fort Wayne. Waynedale and Georgetown North. Besides supplying all customer needs such as lawn and garden, paint, cleaning, hardware, plumbing, tools and electrical, they specialize in customer service. From the cheery hello from the cashier, to digging deep to find out how they can help you accomplish your mission that brought you to the store, knowledgeable Umber’s employees are there for their customers. Additional services include window & screen repair, sharpening, delivery, paint mixing and gasoline equipment repair.
Dave grew up in Nine Mile, just south of the airport on State Road 3. His grade school years were spent at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church/School. He was in one of the first classes to go completely through Homestead High School when it was new, graduating in 1975. Dave attended IPFW and started full-time in the hardware business in 1976. He moved to Waynedale on Old Trail Road where he lived for 10 years then he and his wife Barb bought a house off of Illinois Road where they lived for another 10 years until finding their forever home in Roanoke.
Dave states, “I have been married 33 years to my lovely wife Barbara. She is my best friend and business partner. Our daughter Jessica is married to Keith Williams and he is store manager of our Waynedale store. Their four-year-old daughter’s name is Bristol, and I’m here to tell you that our world revolves around that wonderful little girl. Our son, Grant is married to Alyshia and he is not only store manager of my Georgetown store, but he is also Operations Director of Umber’s Do It Best Hardware. Now is that the definition of a family business or what?”
Another characteristic that runs in the family involves helping others. Barb Umber is Executive Director of Homebound Meals On Wheels. She, and her volunteer drivers, feed over 200 needy people in the Fort Wayne area every day. All of the Umber family members have volunteered their time to deliver many meals to those in need. It is also the not-for-profit of choice at both Umber’s Do It Best stores and they are continually fundraising any way possible to support this important organization.
Dave serves on the board of Blue Jacket, Inc., a non-profit organization who works with disadvantaged adults to teach them the confidence and skills needed to reenter the workforce. They partner with local companies to provide employment opportunities and arrange for attire through the Blue Jacket clothing bank.
Umber’s Do It Best is a proud member of the Waynedale Business Chamber. Dave said, “It has been very exciting to see what has been growing out of the partnership that we have formed with the City of Fort Wayne. There are lots of great things coming that I believe everyone in Waynedale will enjoy.”
Last year Dave was honored as the Principal for the Day at Wayne High School. Dave remarks that, “Principal John Houser has the school running on all cylinders.” From sitting in on staff meetings to class visitations it was an honor for him to see behind the scenes how they have made it into a notable high school.
Dave and Barb are blessed to have all their family members in town and spend a lot of time together. They enjoy looking for old tools and hardware stuff at flea markets, garage sales and antique stores. After a 20-year wait, they finally procured Green Bay Packers season tickets. Dave laughingly admits, “Yes, I am a total Cheesehead!” He was also convinced by some local Waynedale business owners to join their bowling league and he adds, “running two hardware stores is a lot easier than bowling!”
Something many people don’t know is that Dave is a prostate cancer survivor. He passionately states, “The good Lord has me healthy now but I am on a mission to have as many ‘ole farts like me get their physicals once they hit 50. Do It! It saved me! You need a push to get a physical? Give me a call at the store!”
Both Dave and his father have served as board members on the NRHA (North American Hardware Association). Eight out of the last 10 years, Umber’s Do It Best Hardware has been voted the #1 hardware store in Fort Wayne by the Fort Wayne Newspapers Reader’s Choice.
Dave now has the job of teaching, training and guiding the next generation of Umber’s Do It Best business owners. They will continue to exemplify Umber’s mission statement: To Deliver the Best Service, Selection and Shopping Experience to Every Customer, Every Day.
To encourage and promote positive action in the area, this Community Spotlight column will highlight a different notable member of the community each month. If you or someone you know is a community leader and is an active volunteer in the Waynedale area, please nominate them by emailing email@example.com with details of how they are helping the community for consideration in an upcoming article.