Those of you that know me well know that I have a lot of interests and I am involved in a lot of things. I've written here about my love of travel - that's probably obvious from my photography. I also enjoy sports - again, it shows in what I shoot. I love to hunt and shoot guns and I love watching my kids do whatever it is that they happen to be doing. What I've not talked about much is my professional life.
I'm a mechanical engineer by training. Time at Louisiana Tech University and Clemson University back in the 80's yielded Bachelor and Master's degrees. I spent three years in the aerospace industry and then I struck out on my own to do the entrepreneur thing. That was 20 years ago. Some might say I've not had a REAL job in the last 20 years. I've often said that owning your own business means you only have to work half a day - deciding which 12 hours is the hard part.
We've been very blessed in my work. I had the good fortune of meeting good people at opportune moments throughout my career. The result is that I now have 14 U.S. Patents and I've licensed several inventions to some folks that have worked hard to sell my products all over the world. My highway safety inventions can be seen on five of the seven continents.
My success in the engineering world has made it possible to pursue other interests as well. Two years ago, a series of investments led us to full ownership of the local ACE Hardware store. It's been a lot of fun watching the store grow and seeing my very capable staff take it from loss to profit. We are challenged by a less-than-perfect location but we continue to make headway. As the local economy snaps back from recession we are seeing our business pick up significantly. The increased revenue is allowing us to expand our inventory in important areas like our Lawn and Garden Department. I never thought that I would enjoy retail but I've come to appreciate the special challenges it offers.
I'm not sure who said it - maybe my mom or my grandma or maybe I read it in a fortune cookie - but you should "bloom where you are planted."
I've attached a few photos of our store and some of our recent "blooms.". I hope you like them.
Willow Park ACE Hardware - ACE is the PLACE!