Hard-work ethic steers Weller’s business desire to help others

BRIDGEVILLE — Businessman/entrepreneur Jim Weller turned 60 years old Monday, March 12.

There are no plans for impending retirement.

While immediate family has assumed many of the operational reins of the Weller’s Utility Trailer business, the man with one of the most recognizable faces and voices on Delmarva is not shifting into low gear.

“I like promoting. My desire is to own a radio station — it’s a strong desire — and a bunch of electronic billboards,” said Mr. Weller. “I’d like to have a media company. I like promoting and I like helping people. I’d like to help people promote whatever they’ve got going on.”

Jim Weller’s 60th birthday was celebrated a two days early during his March 10 “Weller Does Delmarva” show.

One of his most visible and audible promotion efforts is a Saturday morning show, “Weller Does Delmarva,” staged at Smith’s Café in Seaford.

His pre-birthday bash celebration March 10 marked the 235th show. It’s one of several communications endeavors with Milford businessman Colin Walls.

“What my show is turning into — the “Weller Does Delmarva” show — is a great community outreach. It’s my show meaning I buy the time and re-market. I produce the show. It’s on Delaware 105.9 and My Cozi TV. I also am on like five Facebook pages. We have a large audience,” said Mr. Weller.

He teams with Mr. Walls on a Wednesday night show on WRDE Facebook: “Live with Walls and Weller.”

Mr. Weller’s life story began upstate. He was born in Wilmington.

Adoption brought little Jim Weller, then a 2-year-old toddler, from a single-mother home in New Castle County to Milford.

“My mother was a single parent and tried her best to raise me. She put me up for adoption when I was about two. I was adopted by James and Margaret Weller,” said Mr. Weller. “My mother died when I was 16; my dad died when I was 19 — my adopted parents. When my father passed away, I inherited my sister to take care of, who was about 14 to 15, and my grandmother.”

By then he was already treading in business — literally.

“At 9 years old I started working in Lincoln at a tire store called Maypop Tire Company. His name was Carl Craig. I used to walk from Milford to Lincoln to work; 50 cents a day, 9 years old.  At 16 years old I bought the business from him,” said Mr. Weller. “I remember because I couldn’t get a business license. My mom had to get a business license for me be able to buy it.”

He called it Weller’s Tire Service. Tires — new and used — mag wheels, running boards and auto accessories were part of his game. “We used to also go out in the middle of the night and change truck tires. That is what I personally did. Where a tractor trailer would have a flat, we had service trucks,” said Mr. Weller.

That was just the beginning. Over the next four-plus decades there have been numerous business ventures. Today, he also owns about 20 commercial and residential properties, which he manages.

“All of this just evolved. I really feel the Lord has blessed me way beyond than what I deserved, from a very early age,” said Mr. Weller. “I have always enjoyed being in business. I never worked for the money. I worked because I liked working. Everybody thinks I am all about the money. I am about the challenge, about the opportunity. My biggest claim to fame is people know me for being there when they need them and for helping people. It’s more than business.”

Mr. Weller and wife Denise met at a roller skating rink in Dover. “I used to go with her when I was like 15 years old. I used to ride my bike from Milford to Dover to see her,” he said.

In front from left, Jim Weller, granddaughter Shelby Troyer, son Jimmy Weller, grandson Brody Troyer and daughter Kim Herd; back, wife Denise Weller, daughter Jenny Troyer and granddaughter Ashlynn Troyer.

Jim and Denise Weller have been married 40 years. They have three children: daughters Jennifer Troyer and Kim Herd and son Jimmy Weller, and five grandchildren. Both daughters work for Mr. Weller as does Jennifer’s husband Jason Troyer.

“I’ve got great employees. My son-in-law pretty much runs it — Jason Troyer. I have pulled away from that. I had heart surgery in 2016, bypass surgery,” said Mr. Weller. “While I was out, I realized the people that work for me could do better without me, truthfully!”

“My kids are all hard workers. We try hard to make good quality decisions,” said Mr. Weller. “And we also know how to rebound from a bad one. We’re not good at giving up; we’re good at pressing on.”

In this week’s People to Meet: Jim Weller.

School commerce?

“When I was younger my father had a plumbing business. I very quickly realized that I did not want to work by the hour. I like to commerce. When I was in high school I would buy and sell candy, like Now or Later candy. I would buy them by the box, take them out of the package and sell them by the piece to kids in school. I got in trouble for that, so the school started their own school store. They cut me right out of the deal. I was selling candy to the kids and the school store started selling candy to the kids.”

School life at Milford?

“I used to pay people to do my schoolwork. I graduated from Milford High School Class of 1976. I did not personally go to graduation because I didn’t feel like it. I was working. I had employees. By the time I was 16, I had a business. I had been working since 9 — and working a lot.  A couple years later they called up and said, ‘You want this diploma?’ I sent somebody to get it. So, I got my diploma; there was no college … School of Hard knocks!”

Your hard-work ethic?

“When I was a child, Carl Craig taught me how to work. He would beat you if you didn’t work. I never got beat. As life went on I just was driven by working hard. Working hard produces things. Things produce opportunities to bless other people.”

“Nothing is owed to you. Nothing needs to be given to you. We are all given the same opportunity to get up every day and accomplish something, so just accomplish something. My big desires in life are to help people to be better friends to my friends. People think I am hard and stern. I am just focused and busy. And I think there is a difference there.”

From tires to trailers?

“Somewhere in there, 25 or 30 years in, I started getting involved with sponsoring stock cars, mainly circle track but some drag racing. And there was nowhere to go to buy a utility trailer to haul the car on or in. There was like one place maybe in the whole state of Delaware. So, I got into the trailer business. Then, at that point a gentleman who worked for me, he wanted to quit and go in his own tire business. At that exact moment that he told me, I decided to quit being in the tire business — and give him every customer; he did not buy me out — and I just pursued the trailers and he pursued the tires and wheels.”

“We are probably in the United States of America one of the top five largest dealers, maybe in the top 10 anyway.”

Evolution of the show?

“I started going to the Dan Gaffney show on Friday mornings way back when it was at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth. It went from there to Jimmy’s Grille in Bridgeville. I was a paying advertiser. Then I wanted to be on radio and the radio station said it is just ‘too difficult to let you on as a disc jockey because you’re an advertiser.’ So, I said, ‘Well, then sell me time.’ I bought the time and started the show. Before this we started a show on Tuesday nights at Jimmy’s Grille called “Catch It Live,” me and Colin (Walls). It was just a stream show. I remember when 50 viewers was exciting to us. And now we are at 5,000 to 7,000. And then Bob Backman comes along, and soon we will be on WRDE.”

Other involvement?

“I am very involved in my church and my faith. I consider myself a Christian. I’d rather live it than preach it and talk it. I’m not really involved in any civic things. I do have a great relationship with the Delaware State Police, which is just a unique relationship where I do that Troop 5 thing — the Honorary Commander.

“I was the Honorary Commander of Troop 5 for 2016. I do things called ride-alongs. I don’t do them as much as a I used to. But I enjoy that because it’s another form of seeing what the community has got going on. I try to be a good advocate for the police departments, letting people realize that it is one of the few jobs you can save a life, take a life or give your life every day. I don’t think people realize that. These people are still just human beings and got to go home at the end of the day.”

Leisure time?

“I like to go to stock car races now and then, just locally. I like being involved in community things and spending time with my kids and grandkids. They pretty much steer my day now — the grandkids.”

Closing thoughts?

“I am very happy. I enjoy life. I love my kids. I love my grandkids. I love my business. I love my community. I don’t have many gripes. I just wish I was healthier, that is the only thing. Other than that, I am a happy dude.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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