HARTVILLE, Ohio — 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, a home center in Hartville, Ohio. The award was presented at the Chamber’s annual awards dinner on Feb. 28.
According to a press release from the company, in 1972, Howard Miller Senior approached his son, Howard Miller Junior, 19, 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 Junior’s brother Wayne Miller, 17, 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 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 November of 2010, the ground was broken for the current home of Hartville Hardware, joining sister companies, the Hartville Kitchen and Hartville Marketplace and Flea Market on adjoining properties. Sixteen months later, the brand new, 305,000-square-foot hardware store and design center opened its doors to the public.
If you ask who is responsible for the success of the business over the last 50 years, they would probably say Howard and Wayne. However, if you ask Howard and Wayne, they would say their team members and the community. In fact, Howard’s favorite quote is, “All of us are smarter than one of us.”
Today, 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. He is also on the board of directors and leadership team and continues to do what he loves, merchandising.