In 1958, a young couple named Berk and Beatty Bernard built a 24’ x 40’ shop next to their home in Hale, Michigan, and opened Bernard Woodworking – a small shop specializing in wood-framed windows. It was a tiny operation; Berk built the windows and Beatty kept the books while their young children, Debbie and Bruce, ran underfoot and tagged along for deliveries.
The business grew quickly, and so did the family. Over the next few years, sons Bryon and Daryn arrived, and several additions were built to accommodate the growing business. Before long, Berk and Beatty needed more room.
Debbie and Bruce at the original shop, 1958
In 1965, they moved the shop to a lot just north of their home. They quickly built an addition and a display room for their expanding inventory. In 1969, the couple added a second business with the purchase of a local lumberyard. The new business became Bernard Lumber Company.
Berk and Beatty ran both businesses for several years before permanently closing the window shop. As Bernard Lumber Company continued to thrive, space became an issue once more. The couple began planning a move back to the original location with the intent to expand in a big way.
In 1977, after the completion of a retail store and several storage buildings, the business moved to its current site in Hale, MI. There it continued to add product lines, transforming from a simple lumberyard and hardware store into a well-stocked resource for builders and DIY home renovators alike.
Bernard Woodworking, 1969
Bernard Lumber Company, original location 1970
(Currently Brian’s Plumbing and Heating)
Berk & Bruce prepare the new store 1977
Bernard Lumber Company, 1977
In 1984, Bernard Lumber Company incorporated; becoming Bernard Building Center, Inc. Expansion continued with several new outbuildings and a large addition to the existing retail store in 1988. With that addition came the kitchen and bath centers, rounding out the business’s product lines into a full-fledged building and home center.
Beatty Bernard retired in 1991. Berk followed in 1993, as sons Bryon, Bruce and Daryn took ownership of the business their parents had begun 35 years earlier.
The second generation proved as ambitious as the first. In 1994 the brothers built a 16,000 square foot warehouse. In 1996, construction began on a new 4,000 square foot storefront. In 1997, with the storefront barely completed, the Bernard brothers purchased a lumber company in AuGres, MI; re-opening it as a second location for Bernard Building Center.
Expansion continued. A third location was built in Hillman, MI; opening in 2008. In 2014, a lumberyard in Cheboygan became the fourth storefront. With that addition, it wasn’t long before Bernard Building Center earned the title of the Largest Independent Lumber Dealer in Northeast Michigan – a title it still holds today.
The brothers co-owned and operated Bernard Building Center successfully for 25 years. In 2018, Bruce accepted full ownership; freeing Bryon and Daryn to pursue other business interests.
A FAMILY LEGACY
In 2022, Bruce’s sons Chris and Doug became co-owners of the business alongside their father. Both had dedicated their careers to the business their grandparents had begun. Together, Bruce, Chris and Doug continue striving for a long-term future – one in which Bernard Building Center will continue serving the people of northeastern Michigan for many years to come.
Beatty Bernard passed away on April 25, 2005. Fifteen years later, Berk rejoined his beloved wife after quietly passing on Nov 29, 2020. Both are deeply missed.
WITH SPECIAL THANKS
This business would not be possible without the dedication and effort of the exceptional staff members who have worked here over the years. Some have been with us for decades. Others are newer; some still learning. A few are family, all are friends. With gratitude, we sincerely thank them all.
Founders Berk & Beatty Bernard
Since 1958, Bernard Building Center has grown. From a husband and wife with one pickup truck and a small workshop to the largest independent lumber dealer in northeast Michigan. We've achieved that growth by taking care of our customers; offering them quality products at a fair price, and providing the best customer service possible.