Notable Neighbor: Hardware store owner values hard work

Melonie McLaurin | Daily Journal
Tommy Wilson came home to work in his dad’s hardware after graduating college just "until you find something else." Now some 40 years later, Wilson owns and operates Rockingham Hardware at 118 W. Washington Street and the family business carries on. Pictured left to right are employees Chuck Auman and Matt Reel speaking with owner Tommy Wilson.

ROCKINGHAM — Nothing says all-American like an old-fashioned family owned and operated hardware store. This week’s Notable Neighbor, Rockingham Hardware owner Tommy Wilson, has been preserving that tradition locally for 40 years.

NAME: Tommy Wilson

AGE: 59

BIRTHPLACE: Rockingham

HOMETOWN: Rockingham

EDUCATION: “I went to Rockingham High School and then graduated with the first graduating class at Richmond Senior High School. Then I studied business administration at Lenoire-Rhyne University and got my bachelor’s degree.”

CAREER: “Rockingham Hardware, this business started in the late 1800s. My father actually had it and I started work here when I was 16 and still in high school. The day I graduated college, my parents were standing there. I had applied for jobs at IBM and DelMonte, but I never got called for an interview and my dad said, ‘Why don’t you come work at the hardware until you find something else?’ Now, it’s been 40 years and here I am. I have not regretted coming back. It’s not what I had planned, but I enjoy every day I come to work.

FAMILY: “I have two grown daughters and five grandchildren.”

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Serves on the city of Rockingham Historical Preservation Board.

WHAT MOTIVATES HIM: “It’s probably the interaction with people.”

BIGGEST INFLUENCE: “My father, business-wise but also by other men in the community who I’ve watched for over 40 years. Men who have led responsible lives, people who have done their duty and have been honorable and upstanding men. Men my father’s age. They had good character and were decent, hardworking men.”

HOW HE UNWINDS: “I just rest and unwind by spending time with my grandchildren.”

FUTURE GOALS: “In the hardware business, you cannot retire until your toes are higher than your nose.”

Notable Neighbors is a series of personality profiles featuring Richmond County residents from all walks of life. Stories will appear in the Daily Journal on Thursdays and online at To nominate a Notable Neighbor, email Corey Friedman at [email protected]