John Farrell announces retirement from Home Hardware


By Chris Bianco

John Farrell is stepping away from the hardware industry after a long and distinguished career spanning 56 years. Many know John as a friendly face at Home Hardware, from his volunteer work with the Legion or in his role as quartermaster and bagpipe player in the Kincardine Scottish Pipe Band.

John got his start in the hardware business in 1962, at the age of 14, when he began working part time at J.G. Ellenton Hardware. Upon graduation from KDSS in 1966, he began working full time at the store. The next year, J.G. Ellenton Hardware joined the Home Hardware Group. John married his wife, Mary, in 1970 and continued as an employee at J.G. Ellenton until 1975 when he purchased shares in the store. By 1980 he had purchased enough shares to own the store, and embarked on the path of business ownership. At that time he had a five year lease on the building, and in 1985 he purchased the property outright.


In 1988, John laid the foundation for the current Home Hardware location, when he purchased 2.8 acres of land on Highway 21 north in Kincardine. The next year marked the grand opening of the new 12,000-square-foot location. For the next 10 years, John worked as the owner of Kincardine Home Hardware, until he sold the business in 1999 to Phil and Ann Carter. John stayed with the business however, working part time in receiving, while his wife Mary, who had been working with the business since 1972, retired. Working part time afforded them some leisure time, and they used this opportunity to travel internationally. In 2005, the business changed hands again, this time to its current owners Brad and Melanie Pyke, with John remaining part time. In 2012, he was the recipient of an “Estwing Golden Hammer”, as well as awards from Home Hardware commemorating 50 years of service in the hardware industry.


Having witnessed firsthand an almost 60 year progression in the hardware industry, John noted there are some differences in the operation of the business from when he started. Whereas the business mainly serviced farmers and furniture manufacturers, it now caters to contractors and shift workers. This once lent itself to the busy hours at the store falling around noon, but John says that nowadays the store is busy at all hours. The competition has changed as well, with three different hardware businesses serving the area in the 1960s. Now Home Hardware is the only dedicated hardware store in the area. John also noted that when he began working in the hardware industry, financing was almost non-existent. The money made during the busy season in the summer would have to last the business for the entire year. Now, he says, financing is a much larger part of the operation of the business.


John is planning on spending his retirement staying healthy and active, spending time with his three daughters Sarah, Peggy, and Valerie, as well as his grandchildren, and travelling within Canada. John jokes that he’s going to stay away from committees now and will try to learn how to say no. Being involved in numerous local organizations, and golfing, curling and wood carving in his spare time, there is no doubt that he will have much to keep him active in retirement.


A party celebrating John’s retirement and career achievements will be held at the Legion on Wednesday, Feb 28.