Four-Way Test Award

December 6, 2018

The Rotary Club of Kernersville recently presented the Four-Way Test Award to Ken Idol.
The Four-Way Test Award is given to a resident and non-Rotarian who the Rotary Club feels follows the four areas of the club’s Four-Way Test, which states:
“The Four-Way Test of the things we think, say or do”
I. Is it the TRUTH?
II. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
III. Will it build GOODWILL & BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
IV. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
During the Rotary Club meeting, where Idol was presented with the award, Jason Grubbs, who nominated Idol, shared why he felt Idol deserved this great honor.
“If you’ve spent much time around Kernersville, the list of past recipients of this award is impressive. In fact, it can be almost intimidating. Look at the list and you’ll see political giants like Roger Swisher and Solly Coltrane, war heroes like Doc Long and Ivey Redmon, pioneers like Margaret Burks, fixtures of our downtown business community like Charlie Snow, sports legends like Jack Blaylock, and folks like Ned Mabe and Richard Hedgecock who span more than one of those categories,” he began. “It’s easy to look at that list, particularly some of the early recipients, many of whom are no longer with us, and wonder whether Kernersville will keep producing such outstanding men and women – people who, in a way, became institutions. Our history tells us though that we will…”
Grubbs mentioned that it’s easy to look backwards and identify the folks in our history who have been beacons of all that the Four-Way Test stands for.
“What’s harder is spotting the places where that type of leadership is going on right before our eyes. Today, we get the chance to honor one such difference maker, a business leader in our community who doesn’t seek the limelight, but who humbly makes a difference, and does it with a smile on his face,” he said. “To really know Ken, you really have to know a bit about his family’s business, Farmers Hardware, which is just right up the road as you are heading back into Kernersville.”
Grubbs explained that Farmers Hardware has its roots in India. He shared that during World War II, Idol’s dad, Glenn Idol, was stationed in India as part of the U.S. Army Air Corps. As the war drew to a close, Glenn started thinking about what he would do when he returned to the States and wrote home to an uncle that he wanted to own a hardware store, and that’s just what he did within a few years of coming home.
“Fast forward nearly 75 years and the Idol family owns and operates two successful hardware stores, Farmers Hardware here in Kernersville and Southside Hardware in High Point. Though much has changed in the hardware business, the Idol family’s recipe for success really hasn’t changed at all: hard work, treating people fairly, helping people solve problems, and giving back to the community,” Grubbs said. “In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been able to watch this recipe, and Ken’s leadership, first-hand. My first job as a 16-year-old kid was working for Ken at Farmers Hardware and I worked there until I was in law school. If, as the book says, ‘Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,’ then everything I needed to know about being a business owner I learned working at the hardware store.”
He continued.
“I’m talking about lessons like: helping people solve problems is a privilege and the reason your business exists; treating customers with respect and kindness is what makes them believe in your brand; and your employees are your most valuable asset – treat them like family.”
Grubbs continued, as he told how he has had the privilege of having a front row seat to see why Idol is so deserving of the Four-Way Test Award.
“I’ve seen Ken tell a customer the truth about where to find a solution to a problem that he couldn’t provide, even if it meant sending them to a competitor. I’ve seen him go out of his way to ‘make things right’ with a dissatisfied customer, even when he clearly wasn’t in the wrong. Kenny Idol may be the walking, talking embodiment of building goodwill and better friendships. I’m not sure he’s ever met a stranger, and you don’t have to be around him long before his infectious optimism and unmatched sense of humor will turn you into a friend,” Grubbs said. “His kindness and generosity – to his friends, his family, his employees, his customers and his community – are a blessing to so many people. I’ve seen him stay late on a Saturday afternoon to help a frazzled customer, making his third or fourth trip of the day to the store, figure out the solution to his plumbing problem. I’ve seen him financially support countless Eagle Scout projects, mission trips, veterans’ groups, Little League teams and Rotary Pancake Suppers, all with no desire for the limelight or credit, just a genuine desire to benefit his community.”
In the 25 years that Grubbs has known Idol, he said he has called him his boss, a fellow business owner, a fellow church member, and, now, a friend.
Idol was born and raised in the Sedge Garden area and graduated from East Forsyth High School in 1976.
Idol explained that he worked at Southside Hardware for 14 years before he came to the Kernersville location to help his uncle Charles Idol in 1989.
“I started working (at the Southside store) part-time when I was 16 years old and in school,” he stated.
Idol said he feels it is important to help the community as much as he does because his father instilled the idea to help others in him.
“Daddy said how the community was big at helping Farmers Hardware and how important it was to give back,” he said. “After he passed, I had a lot of people come up to me and tell me all that he did for them.”
Idol explained that his father always donated to Scout camp and helped other people.
“I’ve always tried to follow and do little things like that too,” he remarked.
When Idol learned that he was being presented with the award, he said he first thought it was a joke, and then once he realized it wasn’t, he was humbled.
“I was surprised and honored,” he remarked. “Jason worked here when he was 15 and worked through high school and college and during the summer, and he always comes in and jokes with me. When he handed me the award, I didn’t believe him. I thought he was just messing with me.”
Idol added that one of the things that he feels honored about for receiving the award is seeing the names of people who have received it before him.
“They are all community leaders and people I grew up knowing. I felt honored to be recognized in that group. It just blew me away.”
Idol said he doesn’t help people for anything other than that he enjoys it.
“People come in and help me grow as a store and I’m willing to help give back. People also come in wanting to help someone sick by doing a fundraiser and I’m glad to help,” he said. “Be fair and truthful – that’s what you do in business and I think it pays off.”
Outside of work, Idol enjoys spending time with his wife, Beth. They have two girls, Sara and Dana, and five grandchildren. Idol noted that he also enjoys surf fishing, hunting, hiking, woodworking, and just being in the outdoors.

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