General Hardware

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General Hardware Retailers Distribution Center has been the largest employer in Bradford, Michigan for years. General Hardware Stores is a nationwide chain and Bradford hosts its regional distribution center. "General" was what most in Bradford would call it.GM1

"Just outside town, on the other side of the overpass, lies a huge warehouse with nearly two hundred truck bays and two dozen rail platforms. Surrounding the warehouse is an even huger parking lot, usually filled with literally hundreds of semi trailers, with trucks coming and going steadily at all hours of the day or night."HT9 "It had been located near there since it was close to a major Interstate intersection near the Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana state lines with easy access to many major population centers in those states plus Illinois and beyond."GM1

Bill Riley was an executive with General Hardware for years and was transferred from the Denver office to Bradford to be the distribution manager around 1978. He was promoted to General Manager around 1983GM4. In March 1988, he was transferred to the Denver headquarters as vice president in charge of distribution.

Mike Kirkendahl followed a similar pattern, transferring to Bradford about the same time, but as shipping supervisor and promoted to distribution manager in the same shuffle that promoted Bill in 1983. In 1989 Mike was promoted to run the Adairsville plant.

Both Bruce and Angie Berkshire work at General. He drives a fork truck and she is a shipping clerk.HT9

Jason MacRae has been working for General Hardware for years, starting from when he got out of the Army. After rescuing Denis Riley from some bullies, his father promoted Jason from the appliance dock to driving a fork truck. He plans to retire in the spring of 2002.HS36

Scott Tyler worked there on summer breaks during college.HS1 Dean Sallows and his brother John were truck drivers working as independents under contract for General.HS1

General Hardware has other locations and other employees, including Bill's daughter Sue Riley in the marketing department out of the Endicott, New York, regional office and his son Tom drives a truck between distribution centers.GM21

A "tool-belted beaver" is the General Hardware Retailers logo that appeared on the side of their trucks.PUTP16