When my dad, Jay Lehman, bought his tiny Kidron hardware store back in 1955, he was the only employee. He would work in the store from 7:00 in the morning until he closed at 5:30, six days a week. There’s a good reason we like to call him the “Iron Man!”
As the sun set, he would hop in an old pickup truck and make deliveries. When he started seeing farmhouses without their lights on, he knew it was time to go home and hit the sack.
One winter evening, he headed out into a severe winter storm. He had three deliveries to make, all to local Amish families. The first two went without a hitch. The second family even offered to send their 9-year-old son along to help Jay find the next home.
It was a grand adventure for the young man, who had never been in a car before. But, since he was used to riding in a slow moving buggy, he always waited too long to tell Jay when the next turn came.
Again and again, as Jay slid through a snow-covered intersection, the boy would yell out, “Turn, turn, turn!”
Suddenly, the road ahead (as it often does in our rural area), made a 90 degree turn with no warning. Jay tried valiantly to slow down enough to make the turn, but it was hopeless on the unplowed roads. At the last minute, he noticed a dip in the three feet of snow that was dead ahead.
Maybe, just maybe, he thought, there was a drive buried under all that snow. He decided to bet on it. The truth is, he had no choice. There was either a drive buried under nearly three feet of snow, or there was a hard-frozen ditch bank to crash into.
Jay frantically pumped the brakes, and steered for the lowest spot in the snow bank. The truck slid smoothly through the drift, and snow cascaded over the hood. The engine stalled. Twenty feet down the driveway, the truck finally came to a stop. That total silence you can only “hear” in the middle of a heavy snowfall descended on Jay and the little Amish boy.
And, in the midst of the silence, the little boy said in an earnest voice, “Turn, turn, turn!”
This story illustrates the history of our store. When the world calls for modern technology, we turn toward hand-cranked products. When the world says “efficiency” is the answer, we turn toward highly personal customer service. When the world says that big square “cookie cutter” stores are the answer, we turned toward building a rambling set of interconnected 200-year-old barns.
What makes us unique is that we blaze our own trail in a world of chain stores, sameness and the mundane.
What’s your story? I’d love to hear from you!