On Eagle's Wing

About James Austin Turner

If you ever met Jim Turner, even once, you never forgot him. He was different from others, both inside and out. It was not his height, strength, or other physical attributes that drew attention to the man. It was the total confidence he had in himself, and his ability to make this confidence contagious to those who worked with him. His rural southern upbringing always gave Mr. Turner a friendly, folksy air, which often hid the focussed, unflappable and tenacious spirit which in fifty years carried National Welders Supply from a car trunk to the largest independent welding supply distributor in the United States, andone of the largest privately owned companies of any type in the state of North Carolina.

James Austin Turner was born on July 25, 1910. He, his two brothers and a sister grew up during a decade that felt the fury of World War I; an era when hot toys were erector sets, tinker toys, and Lincoln Logs. Growing up in Grover, S. C., Henrietta, NC (near Sandy Mush), and Hickory NC provided a backdrop of genteel traditions, influences and passions which shaped life-long preferences that at times belied the genius in him. To all he showed a flair for southern hospitality and at meals a healthy appetite for fat back, collard greens and country ham.

By the time he was 16, he had moved to Charlotte and earned the distinction of becoming the youngest store manager for Piggley Wiggley. The grocery store afforded Jim the opportunity to improve his marketing/sales skills. By displaying merchandise next to the cash register, or in even in front of the counter rather than behind, as was then the custom, he enticed customers to buy more. His real enthusiasm, however, involved his large displays of popular products with discounted prices. These predecessors to "point of purchase" programs made management come to Jim and ask why sales had increased so dramatically on certain items. Store profits rose, because he had found that getting more customers in the store added profits much in excess of what the sale had cost. He was in the grocery business when he met Linerieux Boone, the young lady who would become his wife and lifelong partner for over sixty years.

About James Austin Turner
James Austin Turner
Jul. 25, 1910 - Nov. 24, 1998