Williamston Gin & Lumber Co. Safe
My Grandfather’s original safe and our family history:
In 1925, my grandfather, J. L. Simpson, officially began our family’s business as Williamston Gin & Lumber Co. His original, restored, safe is the centerpiece of the memorabilia I now have located in the new museum to document the almost 100 years of the evolution of our family’s business. As mentioned, it began as Williamston Gin & Lumber Co., then changed to Williamston Lumber Co. (after the cotton gin operation was discontinued).
After the end of World War II, my father, Mike Simpson (the second generation), returned to operate the family business once he completed his degree in Mechanical Engineering from Clemson College. He operated the business from 1949-1966. He not only ran the family business but was the town’s Fire Chief for many years and a community leader throughout his life. Unfortunately, his untimely death in 1966 left the business in the capable hands of my mother, Helen Simpson. She was a graduate of Winthrop College and a trained schoolteacher who suddenly was thrust into the responsibility of being a single parent to me and running our family’s hardware and building materials business.
Some years later after I returned from Clemson University in 1972 with a degree in Building Construction, she and I changed the company name again to Williamston Home Center (to include the addition of the hardware component of our business). When I returned from Clemson, the national hardware chain affiliation with True Value was added. The name was officially changed to Williamston True Value Home Center. We continued to operate under that name for several years until we joined the national buying cooperative known as Ace Hardware. With the addition of a complete rental equipment operation to our business, the name evolved into Ace Hardware and Rental. The latest evolution of our family business continues to evolve into our new facility in Williamston, built in 2022. Many other product lines, including clothing, were added to our new facility’s product offering.
Although we officially continue to be Ace Hardware & Rental, we are now known to our community as Ace Hardware.
I was the third generation of our family to continue to operate the business, but I am now officially retired. My son Mike Simpson (fourth generation) is now the President of the company and handles the operations in Williamston as well as our location in Honea Path.
My granddaughter, Callie, just started working in the family business as well. It is an honor for me to welcome the 5th generation of the Simpson family into our business.