Business Spotlight: Faith drives JB Roberts and Lawrence Hardware

Published 9:18 am Monday, August 14, 2023

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JB Roberts’ journey to becoming the owner of Lawrence Paint and Hardware had some twists and turns but the biggest turn came from his Faith.

Roberts grew up in Brantley and had a dream to be a musician. That dream led him to leave college – after attending Troy University – to pursue the music, traveling around the country as a singer and songwriter for seven years. A friend’s wedding changed his life.

“That all ended for me on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010, when I came to Faith in Destin, Fla., all by myself,” Roberts recalled. “I was pretty far off, trying to be a rock star and living that whole life. Some friends of mine asked me to facilitate their wedding. So, my first thought was, ‘What does the bible say about marriage?’ The first passage I searched online was the Wedding at Cana when Jesus turned water into wine.

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“For the first time in my life it kind of baffled me and I started asking questions. ‘Why did he turn water into wine? Why is that important?’ I asked why, why, why and that led to about two months of me just sitting up at night reading the Gospels.”

As he read more and more from the Bible, Roberts came to a completely different understanding of religion and God.

“I read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John over and over and over asking who Jesus is,” Roberts said. “Growing up in the South, Jesus became ‘Don’t drink, don’t do drugs, don’t do this, don’t do that’ and I met the Jesus of the Gospels that was so much bigger than that.

“I learned about the Jesus that came to heal and remove our shame and came to love and forgive and die for our sins. On that Tuesday night, at about midnight, I was at the end of a pier and just fell to my knees and was overcome with the fact that Jesus is Lord. I had been trying to be the God of my life for a decade or more – really all 27 years of my life – so, I moved home back to Brantley to live with my parents and figure it all out.”

Roberts said that he started by trying to honor his parents, just as the Bible says and his father pointed him in the direction of a local preacher.

“He asked me what I wanted to do with my life and I said that I wanted to be a preacher,” Roberts recalled. “He laughed and said, ‘Every drug addict I ever met that comes to know the Lord thinks they want to be a preacher.’ He said that what I needed to do was to go work, work for 4-5 years and be tired at night and work all day and if I wanted to be a preacher then, then it was God calling me.”

Roberts landed a job with Moseley Industrial Supply in Troy as a delivery driver. After some time there learning the ropes, Roberts realized what he wanted to do next.

“Moseley Industrial owner Ronnie Moseley called me into his office one day and said that I was good at this and if he was me he’d be buying this place,” said Roberts. “That’s what started my business career. I learned the industrial supply business from the ground up and along with a group of investors, bought Moseley Industrial Supply, and in 2018, we bought Lawrence Hardware from Mr. John Weed.”

Lawrence Hardware – now the sister company of Moseley Industrial Supply – was founded in 1946 in Troy, originally located downtown on the square. In the 1970s, the Lawrence family sold the store to Weed and his partner James Flowers. In the 1980s, Lawrence Hardware expanded and opened the current location on Brundidge Street, where the old NEHI Bottling Company was previously located.

Roberts said that plenty of prayer is what ultimately brought him to Lawrence Hardware.

“Our business model is based on being a kingdom-minded company and what that means in the workplace is where we can show people our love of Christ and who He is,” Roberts emphasized. “Also, we were very successful at Moseley but felt like there was an opportunity here, an opportunity to serve Troy in a way that could reach the people that are coming in and out of the store.”

Roberts and his wife, Lauren, have been married for five years. Their family – which also includes a cat named Kylo and a dog named Rey – will soon be expanding with their first child in December. Lawrence Hardware is also expanding with a new paint department.

“We’re super excited about the expansion,” Roberts said. “We believe in our paint department and Benjamin Moore (Paint) as a product. I think it’s the best product around and has been consistently the best product. We also believe in the way we serve people.

“So, when I first bought the store, the first thing I noticed was that we needed to sell more paint. We brought Benjamin Moore in and people have supported it. I think we have grown 250 percent in three years, so it’s been crazy. With our new paint department, our belief is that we will be the No. 1 location for paint in Pike County for a long time.”

Lawrence Hardware’s new paint department will soon be opening. While Roberts said more is coming to the hardware store, he couldn’t say what just yet.

“I have more goals but I can’t release (that information) just yet,” he said with a smile. “We have a lot of cool stuff coming.”

Lawrence Hardware is located at 1301 S. Brundidge Street in Troy.