THE WALLACE STORY
In the Beginning
A History of Growth
Wallace Hardware's long history is a story of humble beginnings, rapid growth, and ever-expanding customer service.
In 1921, two men, W.B. Whittaker and S.M. Holtsinger, wanted to start a wholesale hardware business. Add the drive and knowledge of a third person, D.M. Wallace, and you have the beginning ingredients for a success story. Chartered in 1922 as Whittaker-Holtsinger Company, a retail/wholesale hardware distributor located in Morristown, Tennessee, the name was changed to Wallace Hardware Company, Inc. in 1944 by D.M. Wallace, who became president in 1932.
Wallace served in that position until his death in 1955. J.G. Wallace, D.M. Wallace's brother, was then made president and John D. Wallace, D.M. Wallace's son, was made chairman of the board and vice president. J.G. Wallace served as president until December 1958. In January 1959, John D. Wallace was made president and chief executive officer and served in that capacity until 2002. During this time, the Wallace group of companies attained more than a 30-fold growth.
All functions were originally performed in a building on Cumberland Street in Morristown. When continued growth required a warehouse, a building located on East Main Street that housed a livery stable and coffee company was purchased. While physical operations were expanding, so were the wholesaler's services. Having its name changed to Wallace Hardware Company in 1944, it was also one of the first area distributors to deliver invoices with shipments. It was also one of the first area distributors to ship merchandise using its own trucks.
Originally, salesmen traveled by horseback, collecting orders and mailing them to the home office. Merchandise was then picked, packed and delivered either by wagon, rail or truck. Since 1922, the coverage area of Wallace Hardware has expanded far beyond the Lakeway region and now includes 13 states in hardware, lumber and building materials.
When Wallace Hardware is mentioned, one name stands out - John D. Wallace. Under his tutelage, Wallace Hardware Company grew 30-fold.
With the death of D.M. Wallace in 1955, the reins passed to his brother, J. G. Wallace, and then to D.M.'s son, John D. Wallace, in 1959. At John's side was his brother-in-law, Ray Bradley. Both saw the need to separate the retail and wholesale functions. In 1963, the retail operations were divested and Wallace Hardware became exclusively wholesale under John D. Wallace and the retail operations were headed by Ray Bradley. As it became exclusively wholesale, Wallace Hardware's entire emphasis was then placed in distribution. This prompted the move from
downtown Morristown to a new 150,000-square-foot building located near the then proposed Interstate Highway 81. The first order was shipped from that facility on Memorial Day, 1965.
While the hardlines industry continues to change, the basic function of purchasing products from manufactures
and selling them to dealers has remained unchanged since Wallace's founding. The role of the wholesaler has greatly expanded throughout the years to include offering many innovative dealer services. Store merchandising, affordable dealer advertising, inventory control systems, and clean modern stores became dealer necessities.
In 1963, Wallace became affiliated with PRO Hardware in Stamford, Connecticut (now the PRO Group, Inc. located in Denver, Colorado) and now markets the PRO Group program in a thirteen-state area.
The hardware business was in John Wallace's blood from an early age, having worked within the company on a part time basis since the age of eight. His clear vision and insight helped grow the business to the size and level of quality it proudly attained and continues to maintain today. John D. Wallace passed away in November of 2008, but he had a plan that lived beyond him.
Commitment to customer service and dealer relationships has always been based on honesty and integrity -- this vision continues today.
Through careful long term planning, John D. named successors to lead Wallace after his passing, beginning with Stanley Snowden who served as president until 2008. Family once again continued the tradition when a third generation son, Doyle Wallace, assumed the role of president and chief executive officer. He maintains that role today.
For nearly a century, Wallace Hardware has been dedicated to providing innovative dealer services, guided by a deep commitment and focus to do the right thing for
others. From our mission, vision and every day actions, we have projected a positive and motivating atmosphere that allows our dealer businesses to thrive and grow.
Amid its diverse customer base, Wallace Hardware's service, price, breadth of product, friendliness, and reputation as a customer-oriented distributor have provided a competitive edge. Its goal continues . . . large enough to supply you -- small enough to know you. Under Doyle Wallace and the management team's leadership, this heritage of the past will meet the opportunity of the future to keep Wallace Hardware a regional dynamic supplier in the distribution of hardlines, lumber and building material products.