Berk and Beatty Bernard started a new business in 1958 under the name of Bernard Woodworking. A 20' x 40' shop was built right next to their home for the manufacture of wood windows. Berk was the only employee and Beatty kept the books, helping with deliveries when needed. Several additions were built as the business grew during the next few years.
In 1965 the shop was moved from the original site to a lot just north of their home. In 1966 another addition and a display room were added, making space for a steadily expanding line of building products.
Debbie and Bruce in the first shop, 1958
In 1969, the Hale Lumber Company, located one half mile south of Hale, was purchased and became Bernard Lumber Company. Bernard Woodworking continued for several years but was eventually closed. As Bernard Lumber Company grew and new outbuildings were added, space became limited.
Bernard Woodworking, 1969
The owners then began a move back to the Bernard Woodworking location.
Six storage sheds were built in 1972 and the entire business was moved there in 1977 after the completion of a new store and two large storage buildings.
Bernard Lumber Company, 1970
(Currently Brian’s Plumbing and Heating)
Bernard Lumber Company, 1977
Bernard Building Center, 1988
The corporation's name was changed to Bernard Building Center, Inc. in 1984. The new name more accurately described the business, which had gradually become a home center, with a complete line of building materials. Several outbuildings were added in the following years and a large addition to the store was built in 1988. The addition allowed space to broaden the existing product lines and put in a large kitchen and bath center.
In 1991, Beatty retired. More outbuildings were built during this time to house more inventory. In 1993 Berk also retired. From this point forward, Bryon, Bruce, and Daryn took over the business Berk and Beatty had started some 35 years earlier.
A 16,000 square foot warehouse was constructed in 1994 to store more inventory. In 1996, construction was started on a new 4,000 square foot storefront. The construction was barely completed in the spring of 1997 when the Heinrich Lumber Co. in AuGres was purchased and became our second location.
A new lumber storage building was built at the AuGres store in 1998 and a vehicle maintenance garage was finished in 2001 at the Hale location.
On April 25, 2005, Beatty died after a long battle with cancer. She is greatly missed by all who knew her and especially those who worked with her at Bernard’s. 15 years later, Berk rejoined his beloved Beatty after quietly passing on Nov. 29, 2020.
Hale Location, 1997
2004 photo of Berk, then 70 and Beatty, 1938-2005
In the fall of 2007, we started construction on our third location in Hillman, Michigan which opened in May of 2008.
Hillman Store 2008
In 2014, the former Cheboygan Lumber Company in Cheboygan was purchased and became our fourth location.
Cheboygan Location, 2014
For a number of years, Bryon, Bruce, and Daryn co-owned and operated the business. Bryon as President and C.E.O., Bruce as Vice President - Contractor Sales and Building Materials, and Daryn as Vice President - Store Operations and Equipment Management. In late 2017, the brothers announced a change in ownership structure. Today, Bruce continues the legacy as the sole owner of Bernard Building Center.
Bernard's excellent customer service reputation starts with a team of around 70 employees who average over 17 years of experience each in the lumber, building and hardware industries. That adds up to around 1,190 years of experience – you won’t find anything close to that at any big box store! Our entire team does a great job of practicing the employee motto, which is "Serve others as you would like to be served."
Since 1958, BERNARD BUILDING CENTER has grown, from a husband and wife with one pickup truck and a small workshop, to more than 70 employees at 4 locations with a fleet of 35 delivery vehicles and several buildings housing over 5 million dollars of inventory. Bernards is now the largest independent lumber dealer in northeast Michigan, and we've achieved that growth by taking care of our customers and providing them with quality products at a fair price while giving the best customer service possible.