Family, Business, and Community

The Sian family has a long history in the hardware business. Starting with the patriarch Denny, working for ACE hardware in Midland for decades before purchasing the Sanford Hardware from Chuck Colby in July of 2000. Natives of Sanford, Denny and his wife Kathy stayed in Sanford to raise their family and now have handed over most of the duties to daughter Christine Duhaime and sons Denny and Adam Sian. 

“Sibling relationships in the workplace can be challenging because of the comfort in telling each other how you really feel about things without a filter that you would use with other relationships. That can also be an advantage in cutting to the point in conversations. We know each other’s weaknesses and strengths very well and are able to divide up our work with those in mind.” says Duhaime. “Our dad has taught us a lot about how to run the business and with the added aspect of continuing what his hard work has built gives us more of an emotional stake in the game.  And of course, we don’t have the problem of not seeing enough of our family!”

Another family member, Kendra Sian has also worked at the hardware store for 19 years, and agrees, “There’s not a lot of jobs where you can work and see your family every day”.

Often small businesses within small towns create their own unique relationships, similar to family in many ways. Duhaime ads, “Working with and for a small town is special because of the relationships we build with our customers. We know most of them by name, know their kids and their parents and what’s going on in their lives because of the community atmosphere in our store.”

“A lot of people come in for a cup of coffee and conversation and don’t always need to buy something.  We have two rocking chairs where regulars often sit and hangout and get a break from their day.  And Sanford folks are some of the nicest you’ll meet; we know how lucky we are to serve such a great town.”

One of the more interesting aspects of this relationship is how these personal bonds translate to business success. Kendra Sian believes that’s why they have so many repeat customers. “Customers like that we go above and beyond, Denny has even gone out to their homes to help them hook up a generator for example, and they like to pay that back.” says Sian. 

The Sians purchased Sanford Hardware in 2000.
“We do have a large loyal customer base in both stores and are grateful for them.  It took many years to build that trust with the community, which was an easier task in our Sanford store than in our Clare location.” adds Duhaine. “He (Denny Sian) has gone above and beyond countless times for people in our community which allowed for word-of-mouth advertising to be our greatest asset from the start, back when we couldn’t really afford to advertise.”

“You can’t always get the recommendations and product knowledge we offer at the larger stores, and a lot of the time that’s what our customers need the most.  I know that there is a stigma of smaller stores having higher prices but often that isn’t the case and I think a lot of our customers are finding that too. Sometimes the cost is lower once you factor in the travel and time to the large store but other times our price is pretty competitive with those big guys, and we hear that mentioned frequently.”
“Customers like that we go above and beyond..."
The Sian’s expanded their business to include the Clare Do It Best Hardware in 2006 “As a family we discussed this possible opportunity and the contingencies that the purchase would have, which was mine and Denny’s commitment to working in the family business.” says Duhaine.  “At the time I had just finished college and was looking for a job in the Midland area after moving back home and Denny was working for another company in Midland, while Adam was already involved in helping my dad run the Sanford store. With Adam, Denny, and me all involved we thought that the Clare store would be a good opportunity.”

With the future in mind, and a continuing commitment to the community, Christine Duhaime looks to grow their relationship within both Sanford and Clare. “Hopefully the store stays in our family’s hands for more generations, and they also work hard to keep it a store the community is proud of.”

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Read more articles by Ben Tigner.

Ben Tigner is a native Colemanite that married a native Sanfordite and seeks to spiritually retain dual citizenship in both communities. He is a lifelong Pistons fan and enjoys playing the piano but loathes mind numbing Minecraft banter from his children. He earned his Bachelor's degree at Ferris State and Masters from CMU and has served for over 20 years on school and zoning boards, and city councils.