Hard Work Is An Award Winner

May 12, 2003
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — Sticking to the philosophy that there is more to the business than hammers, nails and plumbing supplies, Modern Hardware has proved itself right by earning the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce's Small Business of the Year 2003 Award.

The family owned business is now run by Bob and Vicki Vander Lugt and Bob's sister and brother-in-law, Elaine and Rick Dreyer. The children bought it from their parents, Tunis and Ethel Vander Lugt, in 1999.

At one time, the store was called Oakdale Fuel & Materials and it sold only coal and building materials.

In 1940 the business was expanded into a full time hardware store and became Modern Hardware. In 1970 the Vander Lugt family acquired the store and, after eliminating several poorly performing departments, a heavy emphasis was put on building and decorative hardware.

The business grew dramatically during the 1980s, developing a reputation as a leader in service and selection for the home building and remodeling market.

In 1993 Modern Hardware acquired T. Keppels and Sons Hardware of Holland, strengthening the reach of the company, and putting a location on the lakeshore.

Since the brother and sister team acquired the store five years ago, they have strived to keep the local hardware feel of the stores while competing with the larger retail chains. Modern Hardware now employs 25 people.

"We continue to stand by our service and the care we provide to our customers," said Bob Vander Lugt. "With the products we sell and with our competitive pricing we are able to maintain a relationship with our neighbors, who are also our customers."

Vander Lugt added that what has also kept the business successful for so many years is because of the people it employs. He said the store is fortunate to have both an excellent staff and loyal customers.

He was also pleased to find that a traditional hardware store could take home the award for the chamber's Small Business of the Year.

"We were excited about it and surprised because we didn't expect a hardware store to win," said Vander Lugt. "We are not business gurus, but we are dedicated to our business and our stores. And we are happy to serve our customers."           

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