C. Jay Buikema, longtime owner and CEO of Buikema’s Ace Hardware stores in Illinois, died Dec. 5 at 78, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Buikema was known in Naperville and Wheaton, Illinois, communities as a leader, defining “what it means to be a local, family business,” the article states.
In addition to his involvement in the local community through serving as the a member of the Board of Directors of the Naperville Chamber of Commerce and as a past member of both the Lions Club and Rotary Club, Buikema was also heavily involved in the hardware industry.
Kyle Buikema told the Chicago Tribune that his father was passionate about serving in his community as a way to thank his customers for their support.
“He just wanted to give back,” Buikema says. “He treated customers like friends. He was just a great man.”
C. Jay Buikema served as the past president of the Illinois Retail Hardware Association. Through the 1980s and 1990s, Buikema served on the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) board of directors, serving as the president in 1994.
His involvement in in the industry began in 1948. At the age of nine, his parents, Jessie and Clarence Buikema, founded the Naperville Ace Hardware Store. Eventually, he would start working as a stock boy and work his way up to department manager, taking over the business from his parents.
This fall, Westlake Ace Hardware bought the seven-store chain. The acquisition will be finalized on Jan. 2, with the stores retaining the Buikema name, management and personnel.
Buikema is survived by his wife, Dot Buikema, his sons Kyle (Patty) Buikema and Kerry Buikema; seven grandchildren; and two great grandchildren.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Clarence and Jessie Buikema and his son Kevin Buikema. View his full obituary here.