Howard Miller Jr. and Wayne Miller received the 2022 Legacy Award from the Lake Township Chamber of Commerce in recognition of a lifetime of good business practices, outstanding character and unfaltering community leadership during their tenure at the helm of Hartville Hardware. The award was presented at the Chamber’s annual awards dinner on February 28.
In 1972, Howard Miller Sr. approached his 19-year-old son Howard Miller Jr. about purchasing and managing Lake Value and Service. At the time, another Hartville Hardware was in town, so they decided to name the newly acquired 5,000-square-foot store True Value Hardware.
Shortly after the purchase, Howard Jr.’s 17-year-old brother Wayne Miller started working at the store after school, and with his help, in August 1974, the groundbreaking took place for a new 22,000-square-foot retail site. The economy was hit by a recession that year, but the store was completed in December of 1974. On Christmas Eve, community members with pickup trucks, horses and wagons and flatbeds showed up to help with the move. As a result of the community’s generosity, all inventory and merchandise were moved to the new location in one day.
Nearly two decades later, the Miller family purchased their first lumber business, and in 2012, Hartville Hardware joined sister companies the Hartville Kitchen and Hartville Marketplace and Flea Market on adjoining properties in a brand new, 305,000-square-foot hardware store and design center.
Howard and Wayne give credit to their team members and the community for their successes, fitting in with Howard’s favorite quote: “All of us are smarter than one of us.”
Howard continues to be on the leadership team and board of directors and runs the pricing and other systems on a part-time basis. Wayne officially went part-time at the beginning of 2022 and is also on the board of directors and leadership team and continues to do what he loves—merchandising.
One of this year’s Top Guns Awards honorees is Howard and Wayne’s nephew, Scott Sommers. Stay tuned for the July issue of Hardware Retailing to learn more about how Scott has carried on his uncle’s and family’s legacy with help from his brother and cousins.