MADISON, WIS.—Bernadine “Hardy” Jaeckle and her husband, Harvey, founded Jaeckle Wholesale in May 1958 in Madison, Wis. Originally with just one product line—Formica countertop laminate—the couple quickly expanded their product offering, adding several major flooring products and brands. Hardy died at HospiceCare in Fitchburg, Wis., with her family by her side Oct. 2. She was 92.
Hardy was born May 7, 1918. She married her lifelong partner of 69 years, Harvey Jaeckle in 1941. They lived in the Milwaukee area until May of 1958, when she and her husband, Harvey moved to Madison and started their business, Jaeckle Wholesale.
Originally with just one line, product expansion happened quickly, and by 1963 the company was carrying plastic and ceramic tile, adhesives, carpet and major flooring names such as Azrock and Johnsonite. Sales were $500,000. The year 1970 ushered in the company’s first million-dollar year and saw the addition of Florida Tile to the product lineup. Within eight years, sales had quintupled to $5 million, mainly as a result of one major product line addition: Mannington.
Throughout the 1980s the company expanded into all major flooring product categories. By 1988 it had over 1,000 customers, several of whom had been with the company for all 30 years of its existence. And it had also witnessed the retirement of its two founders.
Fred Jaeckle took over as president in 1981. “She was instrumental in the growth of the business during its early years and established many long-term relationships with customers as well as suppliers,” he said.
Currently, the company serves 10 states with four branch locations in Minneapolis, St. Louis, Chicago and LaCrosse, Wis. It employs 150 people and has over 200,000 square feet of ware- house space throughout the Midwest. Fred Jaeckle is semi-retired. The business is now being run by the third generation, Jeff (president) and Torrey (vice presi- dent).
Jaeckle worked until her retirement in 1988 and was well known as a tough but fair business manager, once telling family that she even put local architect and customer Frank Lloyd Wright on COD. She was active in Eastern Star and Daughters of the Nile and did volunteer work through those organizations.
She is survived by her husband, Harvey; two sons, Fred and Ned; six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Memorials may be made to the Attic Angels Association, 640 Junction Rd., Madison, WI 53717 or the HospiceCare Foundation at HospiceCare Inc., 5395 E. Cheryl Pkwy, Madison, WI 53711.