It never ceases to amaze me how many exceptional people live in our area. Many of them keep a very low profile, but contribute a great deal to the communities in which they live. David Malcolm Is a true example of such a person.
One of the few locals who can boast, he still lives on the property where he was born; David grew up on the family farm in Nestleton. “I was one of seven kids, and it was a simple expectation that you worked on the farm.”
David explained how difficult farming was, ‘back in the day’. “We had only horses, until one day one of our horses took off and my dad bought a tractor.” He smiled as he relayed his experiences.
The kids split the farm up into smaller parcels and David ended up with 60 acres, most of which he now rents out. He attended Blackstock Elementary school and went on to Port Perry High. “School wasn’t for me,” David explained, and the self-made individual went on to gain life experiences.
He worked at Johnson Controls in Port Perry and McDonalds in Oshawa, and finally landed a secure position at General Motors. In 1977 David married his sweetheart, Joanna Wolters, a nurse and also from Port Perry. In 1989 he made a major career altering decision.
David had been selling fireplaces for Napoleon in his spare time, and after nearly thirteen years at General Motors, left to pursue his sales passion full time. “We had the market garden at the farm, which was doing well,” he explained. “If I was ever going to make it on my own, this was it.”
He took his fireplace business out of the house, and opened a small location on Reach Street. Six years later he moved the operation to Casimir Street, where he bought the building. “I always believed in owning the buildings that I worked in,” David said. It was a great philosophy, as it proved to be very successful in future ventures.
Overridge Fireplace, Furnace & BBQ , as the business was known, was readily accepted by the community, and David worked very hard to make it successful. Meantime, back at the farm, Joanna, was tasked with the pleasure of raising their six children.
David worked endlessly for the next fifteen years, and he opened 17 stores in places like Whitby, Bobcaygeon, Coburg, Scarborough, Uxbridge, and a dozen more, keeping his flagship location in Port Perry as the company’s hub.
David explained how extremely fortunate and delighted he was, when one of his five sons said he wanted to work for him. “You can work with me,“ David replied, to his son’s request. “But not for me.” Perhaps only a choice of words, but certainly an indicator of the moral stature of this local businessman.
Over the next few years, all of David and Joanna's children became involved in the operation, and David slowly transferred ownership of the business into their names. “Now they run it and they do it well.” He paused, “It says a lot, when all your kids want to be in the same business that you started.” I could see pride beam across his face.
I wondered what retirement meant for David Malcolm. Certainly, with nine grandkids, there would be no shortage of things to keep him occupied. Surprisingly, I discovered he has a fantastic passion for art. His wife, Joanna, is certainly well known as an established artist in this area, but his love for the craft, came as a surprise.
Art forms, such as wire bending, multimedia and painting are being deeply explored by David. He recently bought an old mill in Blackstock, and is working to restore it so he can turn it into an artist studio.
David went on to explain his vision was to open a ‘Night Market’ next year. I questioned him further, and learned his intent is to divide the studio into smaller parcels, and rent them to artisans where they can create and sell their craft.
Charity is a word David and Joanna are very familiar with. They frequently donate their vacation property to organizations in order for the cause to raise funding. Quite often he uses the resources of the stores to aid organizations in need.
Well established in the community, David Malcolm loves the Township of Scugog. His dad, Lawrence, who turns 100 in March, was the first mayor of Scugog in 1974. David and Joanna love to travel and enjoy life. We in the community, are proud of what they have accomplished, and grateful for what they give back. David Malcolm, a farm boy from Nestleton, who built a fireplace empire.
Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. His show, ‘The Jonathan van Bilsen Show,’ on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube, features many of the people included in this column.