Denison, Dykema & Company

Pages 198-199-200 - Denison, Dykema & Co. This is one of the representative mercantile concerns of Grand Rapids, and the organization is known for the remarkable harmony and co-operative loyalty of those who constitute its executive personnel, each of the principals in the firm assuming specific functions and carrying forward successfully the work of his department without semblance of dictation or criticism on the part of the other members of the organization. The firm conducts large and prosperous hardware, plumbing and heating business, and the well equipped establishment, of metropolitan facilities and service, is located at 666 Wealthy street, S. E. The firm of Denison & Dykema was formed in the year of 1894, with Jacob Dykema and William S. Denison as its constituent principals. The new firm engaged in the hardware business in a store a short distance east of the present establishment of Denison, Dykema & Co., and at first the enterprise was confined exclusively to the retail hardware trade, the tinshop and plumbing department having been added later. Fair and honorable methods and policies and reliable service caused the business to be successful from the start, and soon the concern gained rank among the important mercantile organizations of the city. In 1907 a reorganization was made and the present title of Denison, Dykema & Co. was adopted. At this time Raleigh Huizinga and John Bos were admitted to the firm, and from that time forward the business rapidly expanded in scope. In 1920 Mr. Denison retired from the firm, by reason of his impaired health, and while the original title was retained the personnel of the organization was amplified by the admission to the firm of Charles L. Hawley and Miss Minnie L. Behl. In 1923 the building of the firm was remodeled and the best of modern equipment and facilities were supplied. After the death of Jacob Dykema, in April, 1924, the interest of the veteran and honored Grand Rapids business man was purchased by his grandson, Jacob D. Zuiderveld, who has since continued a valued member of the executive corps of the splendid organization.

Jacob Dykema was born in The Netherlands, where he lived until he was a young man. He then came to America and to Grand Rapids. Because of his inability to speak the English language he was obliged to do manual labor and his first work was excavating for the Powers Theater Building. Later he went to Spring Lake and worked in the woods. During this time he learned to speak English. He returned to Grand Rapids and accepted a position in the Gun Department Store and from there went to work for Joseph Berles, who conducted a hardware store on Canal street. There he met Mr. William S. Denison and, while the two men were of very different types, a very strong friendship was formed. They worked together for about ten years, then they purchased in 1894 the Palmer hardware stock on Wealthy and carried on the business under the name Denison & Dykema.

Mr. Dykema was a man of high principles and an optimist. He always had a cheerful word for everyone and inspired enthusiasm in all he met. Because of this quality, his unselfishness and his reliability, he won respect and confidence, thereby making a wide circle of friends. He took an active part in politics and in any project that promoted the welfare of his locality. He believed the foundation of success is service and he rendered service in every way throughout his lifetime.

William S. Denison was born in Kent County, State of Michigan. He received his early education in the country schools, finishing with two years in the Grand Rapids and one year in Hillsdale College, after which he taught in a country school for one year, then accepted a position with a hardware firm in Niles, Michigan, later coming to Grand Rapids to work for Joseph Berles, who conducted a hardware store on Canal street. There he met Mr. Jacob Dykema. In 1894 the two men purchased a hardware stock on Wealthy street. Mr. Denison always had the development of his locality at heart. He helped to organize the Wealthy Heights Association and served as president for two years. He is a member of the Grand River Lodge No. 34 F. and A. M.; Grand Rapids Chapter No. 7, DeWitt Clinton Consistory and DeMolay Commandery No. 5, of which he served as commander in the years 1921-22.

John Bos was born in The Netherlands in the Province of Friesland, and at a very young age came to America and thence to Grand Rapids in the year 1879. He received his early education in the public schools of this city, and at the age of thirteen he started to work for the Grand Rapids Barrel Company, making grease boxes for the large salary of $1.15 per week. Here he received a practical training from Mr. Clements by the "strap oil method." When eighteen years old he started his apprenticeship in the plumbing business and gradually gained experience and knowledge of great value, being an apt scholar and full of ambition. In 1905 he entered the employ of Denison, Dykema & Co. and in 1907 became a member of the firm, taking charge of the plumbing end of the business.

Raleigh Huizinga was born in The Netherlands and at an early age came to America and thence to Grand Rapids, receiving his early education in the public schools of this city. His first work was as an errand boy for the Peck Drug Store, and he later became a clerk in a grocery store. After receiving the necessary experience he purchased a stock of groceries and went into business independently. But soon after he closed out his business and again assumed a position in a grocery store. In 1903 he accepted a position with Denison, Dykema & Co, and in the year 1907 he became a member of the firm, taking charge of the financial end of the business.

Miss Minnie Behl, one of the representative business women of Grand Rapids, is a daughter of Fred Behl. She was born in Grand Rapids and received her education in the public schools of that city, graduating from the Central High School. Miss Behl became bookkeeper in the local offices of the Fleischmann Yeast Company, and later she was transferred to the company’s offices in St. Louis and Minneapolis. In 1907 Miss Behl assumed the position of bookkeeper and accountant in the office of Denison, Dykema & Co, and since 1920 she has been a partner in the business, as well as one of its efficient and valued executives.

Charles Hawley, another of the members of this progressive firm, was born at Niles, Berrien County, Michigan, and is a son of William Hawley, who came to this state from that of New York and became an early settler at Niles, as was he later of Muskegon, this state. He eventually removed with his family to Kokomo, Indiana, where his son Charles received the greater part of his youthful education. At the age of nineteen years Charles Hawley found employment in a factory at Kokomo, and at the age of twenty-three he came to Grand Rapids and took a position as salesman in the establishment of the firm of which he is now a member.

Jacob Zuiderveld, another of the younger members of this firm, initiated his services with the concern when he was still a schoolboy, he having at that time functioned as a distributor of advertising pamphlets issued by the firm. At the age of twelve years he became an errand boy at the establishment, and thus he has literally grown up with the business. He became a helper in the tinshop, and later served an apprenticeship in the plumbing shop. As an active member of the firm he now has charge of its plumbing department. His service here has been interrupted but once, and that was when he entered the United States Navy, in the World war period. He was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Station near Chicago, and his athletic ability caused him there to be placed in charge of the officer’s swimming pool, as well as the basketball and baseball affairs of the great naval station. He was a member of the world’s champion polo team in 1919.

Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 22 March 2003