By Carla Short
2017-07-112017-07-12https://wvuieleaders.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/[email protected].pngWVU IE200px200px
Jim Hinkle chose to study Industrial Engineering when he received a recruiting letter from the IE program when he was in high school. He had no knowledge of what Industrial Engineers do, but decided to make IE his major.
Jim’s family ran a number of small businesses in his hometown of Buckhannon, WV. Jim’s father was also the Mayor of Buckhannon for 14 terms and a state senator for six years. But Jim had no plans to return home to work in the family businesses.
When Jim graduated in 1970, the United States had a military draft, and Jim had a small number in the draft lottery. He decided to enlist because it would lead to a shorter time in the military. Jim’s assignment was in air defense.
When Jim’s military career ended, he returned to Buckhannon to work for a plastic pipe manufacturer. He was a production supervisor and also worked in quality control.
Jim’s father was becoming more involved in public service and needed Jim to take over the family businesses. The business at the time was a small convenience store, a rustic fence company, and an oil wholesale business.
Jim increased the scope of each of these businesses. The oil wholesale business went from a half-million dollar business to a $100 million business. It was a regional business Jim acquired a number of small distributorships. But with the deregulation of energy markets, the oil wholesale business declined rapidly.
The rustic fence business, West Virginia Split Rail, was growing at this time. Jim was able to secure accounts with a number of the top retailers such as Lowes and Home Depot. The business now operates 2 shifts, 12 months/year. It has been sold out for the past decade. WVSR now has products in 1000 Home Depot stores.
The convenience stores were also expanded to what is currently 17 stores, under the name of Mountaineer Mart.
As with any family business, Jim is concerned about a succession plan. “It’s hard to decide how to transition your life’s business to others. You have family considerations as well as concern about the future of your employees.”
As Jim looks back on his decision to study Industrial Engineering, he believes it was the best choice. “Everything about Industrial Engineering has been helpful to me as I run my businesses especially statistics, safety, and basic operations efficiency.”
Born James Douglas Hinkle III on May 30th 1948, Jim was the first of five children to Maxine Flemming and J.D. Hinkle Jr. Born and raised in Buckhannon, West Virginia, Jim witnessed firsthand the importance and value of family, hospitality, and charity. His mother’s sister and husband passed, prompting his mother Maxine to welcome Jim’s first cousins Mark and Mike into their home. Now raising seven children, his father, J.D., continued supporting the family while operating 3 businesses, serving 14 years as Buckhannon Mayor, and 7 years as WV State Senator. All the while, his mother not only took care of the family and home she emerged as a pillar of the community owning and operating two hotels in their town. One of the many family businesses was the public pool, where Jim’s lifelong love of water began.
Jim’s high school days were spent focused on his academics and helping where he could with the family business to not only help his mother and father but also help with the care of his six siblings. Jim began college in the Industrial Engineering program at WVU after receiving their recruiting letter. Once his degree was complete he entered the draft and completed two years serving as Air Defense with the Army in Okinawa, Japan. When his tour was over he returned stateside to begin his professional career. Over the span of his life Jim began as a production manager and quality control engineer to one day become the owner of many growing and successful businesses across the state of West Virginia. His early days of working and helping his family’s businesses instilled entrepreneurship within Jim driving his pursuit for a life dedicated to family, hard work, and professional/personal growth. Having served as a past president for United Way Jim not only focuses on creating and maintaining successful companies, he looks for opportunities to give back. He has done this by partnering with the local college for student reward programs, sponsoring children’s recreational sports, contributing to fundraising for community projects, and ultimately guiding the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Jim has been blessed many times over with the gift of family. Jim has the privilege of fathering Jacob, Jaimi, and J.D. IV in addition to welcoming his stepchildren Maria, Hunter, and Zoee into his life. He now resides in Rocky Mount, Virginia with his lovely wife Cheryl, and commutes regularly to Buckhannon, West Virginia to oversee his businesses. Jim’s six children and three grandchildren live diverse lives across the United States creating unique travel opportunities. As much as Jim loves traveling to see them, his heart overflows when he can bring them all together. The annual Fourth of July beach week brings over 25 family members together, the more intimate winter holiday provides skiing opportunities for his Floridian family members, and his love for Pittsburgh NFL and NHL games is a tradition he is eager to share with his grandkids. Ultimately, Jim’s passions include sharing an old bottle of wine with his wife, having intimate meals with his friends and family, and landscaping around his home. Having found his own personal happiness, Jim hopes that everyone understands that it is never too late to discover happiness and fulfill your own purpose in your professional and personal life.