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Jesup-based business earns top honor in statewide contest
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Harris Ace Hardware & Building Supply was recently chosen as a 2008 Georgia Family Business of the Year winner.  
The awards are given out by the Cox Family Enterprise Center at the Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University.
Tim Harris, present owner of the Jesup-based company expanded into Hinesville two years ago, said he believes the business' philosophy helped win the award.
"You never forget your customers. You never forget your employees. Without them you're nothing," Harris said. "That's as true today as when the family started 100 years ago."
Harris bought out Hinesville Building Supply in March 2006 and converted it to an Ace store last year.
"We're very honored to receive the award," he said. "We appreciate everything that God has blessed us with."
The award is the top one of several annual the center hands out to encourage and promote family businesses.
"Since 1991, the Cox Family Enterprise Center has honored the best in Georgia-based family businesses," center executive director Joe Astrachan, Ph.D., said. "We are proud to once again recognize a great group of winners and finalists who have withstood the test of time, flourished due to their strong values and savvy business sense and made an impact as community leaders and innovators."
The Jesup business got it's start in 1907 when J.M. "Red" Harris opened a grocery story in K'ville. The store sold everything from rakes and toothpicks to hats, collars and ties. When Red Harris passed away, his son, John Henry, took over the business at 16 years of age and began expanding into other retail areas. Soon, his brothers, Nick, Pierce and J.P. joined the family business.
The business expanded into gin and feed mills, green corn packing, and an international dealership, Wayne Freezer Locker. In 1972, the Freezer Locker building was converted to a hardware store and lumberyard by a grandson of the founder, Raymond Major Harris, which today, is Harris Ace Hardware & Building Supply. The business is now in its fifth generation and is run by the fourth generation.
Founded in 1987, the Cox Center is the largest and second oldest center of its kind in the United States. It is dedicated to the research, education and recognition of family businesses.
The awards ceremony will be held on May 19 at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel in Atlanta.
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