Situated just off of Waco's historic traffic circle, Circle Hardware Supply stands as one of the city's longest-running businesses. Originally founded by Frank Stevens in 1945 as a small lumber operation called Circle Lumber Company, the business has operated at 2504 La Salle Avenue since its creation.
In 1948, William P. Jones purchased the business to serve as lumber supplier for his commercial building company, Jones and Williams Construction Company, which he owned and operated with his brother-in-law, Grady Williams. In obtaining control of their supply chain, Jones and Williams were able to significantly cut costs and expand their company to become one of the most successful and respected commercial construction businesses in the greater Waco area. Because of their success, Jones and Williams Construction became a major sponsor for Waco community growth. The company built several prominent buildings throughout Waco in the 1950s, including Emmanuel Baptist Church, University Junior High School (closed in 2013), and the Sachs Austin Avenue fashion store downtown (now Sironia boutique).
After the May 1953 tornado decimated downtown Waco, many prominent families and businesses chose to relocate rather than to rebuild. The partners of Jones & Williams Construction and Circle Lumber, however, chose to stay in Waco and help the struggling community rebuild. While post-tornado construction jobs proved lucrative for both businesses, the partners were also able to form lasting and meaningful relationships with the citizens of Waco. The multitude of buildings constructed by the company served as great publicity for the hardware store and allowed Jones to build a solid customer base. Tragedy struck the business, however, when Grady Williams was killed in a construction accident in 1972. Following his partner's unexpected death, Jones decided to close the construction operation to focus solely on Circle Lumber Company.
Jones’s son-in-law, Richard Cunningham, came to work for the business that same year, ushering in a new era for Circle Lumber. Cunningham led the push to build the new, 6,000 square-foot building that houses the store today. While he strove to innovate, the newcomer also worked to preserve his father-in-law’s emphasis on customer relationships and community involvement. Indeed, even after Jones retired in 1985, he played an active role in consulting the business and afterward continued to stop by the store regularly to reconnect with customers. After Richard’s death in 2005, his wife Mary continued to run Circle Hardware until July 2011, when she sold the assets of the business to Heart of Texas Hardware and Lumber LLC.
The owners, Larry and Norma Dagley, promptly joined Do it Best Corporation, a hardware supply co-op, in order to offer a greater variety of goods and services. Membership in the co-op made possible a large-scale remodeling and re-merchandising process in 2012-2013, and introduced the company to a new twenty-first century model of business. Since taking control of the company in 2011, the Dagleys have “embarked on a plan to build on the legacy of the past owners and businesses but to have an updated hardware and convenience lumber operation in a remodeled facility with a wider variety of merchandise.”
Circle Hardware has been a staple for the Waco community since its founding; its strong familial roots and commitment to customer service suggest it will continue to do so for years to come.