A nation-builder in a nation of builders
Canada is a nation defined by geography, diverse cultures and landscapes, and our remarkable ability as Canadians to build and unite communities in even our most remote and challenging environments. Canadians also pride themselves on celebrating both independence and community. In this nation of builders, the local hardware store is more than just a retail business - it is a cornerstone of its community.
In 2004, Home Hardware Stores Limited celebrated 40 years of commitment and service to community and country. The company is a cooperative wholesaler, owned by over 1,000 independent small business operators from every corner of Canada, who operate under one of its four banners: Home Hardware, Home Hardware Building Centre, Home Building Centre and Home Furniture.
As a testament to Home Hardware's guiding ethic - that community and the common good is simply good business - the company remains a genuinely 100% Canadian, Dealer owned and operated major retailer.
The birth of a national identity
Appropriately, the Home Hardware name and logo - recognized by four of five Canadians - became official on November 9, 1967, during Canada's internationally defining centennial year.
Three years earlier, in 1964, 122 independent Ontario hardware retailers purchased Hollinger Hardware Limited of St. Jacobs, Ontario. This resulted in the formation of a Dealer-owned hardware cooperative - an answer to the challenge posed by "big box" retailers who enjoyed the advantage of direct-from-manufacturer buying power. In fact, during the decade prior to this definitive event, some 1,000 independent hardware stores across Canada had closed up shop because they could not see a viable future for themselves in the new retail landscape.
Home Hardware's owner-operators could now be confident and secure in the future of their business - with shared buying power, expanded advertising, comprehensive inventory and delivery and other resources. They haven't stopped building their businesses and serving their communities since.
Inspiring a nationwide community
Home Hardware's cooperative business model is reflected in every facet of company culture. It is indeed a very large organization of independent businesses, defined by individual relationships that its network of Dealers work tirelessly to nurture - with customers, community, and each other.
The company's efforts to foster success, a sense of pride and common purpose, have inspired Home Hardware Dealers to stay in their chosen business, these businesses often being passed down through family generations. Indeed, there are stores that have been in the same family for over a century - each new generation of owners and customers successively strengthening the bonds of friendship and community. This longevity is also remarkably present among Home Hardware's dedicated staff, lending tremendously valuable experience and continuity to the company's daily operations.
Suppliers of the thousands of quality products offered by the company are also vital to the success of this nationwide business community. Their cooperation, innovation and collaboration - both at the corporate and Dealer level - have helped Home Hardware's unique company model continue to succeed over time in a challenging industry.
Community and charity are values close to home
Home Hardware Dealers and their staff have made the company one of Canada's most esteemed corporate citizens; by their nature, Home Dealers are civic leaders who positively shape the lives of others. One tradition that says a great deal about company values is the foregoing of a Christmas gift exchange among staff, in favour of supporting local agencies that in turn brighten the holidays for families in need.
- Communities in Bloom is a particularly visible reflection of Home Hardware's corporate support for communities and quality-of-life across Canada. This national non-profit organization is committed to fostering civic pride, environmental responsibility and beautification. The challenge of national competition inspires Canadian communities from coast-to-coast to participate in this highly successful program.
- Special Olympics Canada, Tree Canada Foundation and Sick Kids Foundation are just a few other national organizations that have been touched by the company's caring spirit.
- Every year, Home Hardware sponsorship helps thousands of children coast-to-coast on hundreds of youth sports teams enjoy the love of the game - in the now familiar red or yellow team sweaters.
- Employees at the company's major distribution centres hold food drives twice yearly to support local food banks, and are major supporters of other local charities and the United Way.
Human touch, high-tech muscle
If its Dealers and dedicated staff are the heart of Home Hardware, distribution is its backbone. Home Hardware meets the challenge of servicing over 1,000 stores with a highly efficient, world-class distribution system.
Home Hardware operates four distribution centres: St. Jacobs, Ontario; Elmira, Ontario (Home Furniture); Debert, Nova Scotia; and Wetaskiwin, Alberta; approximately 2.5 million square feet of combined warehousing space holding over 100,000 products. Home Hardware's distinctive yellow trucks, trailers and vans - of which there are over 400 - are a common sight on Canadian roads traveling from these hubs to make their weekly deliveries to stores across the country. The distribution centres are also home to sophisticated service garages that keep these "yellow birds" in top condition.
The company offers over 8,700 exclusively-branded products. Beauti-Tone Paint - produced along with many cleaning and solvent products at its plant in Burford, Ontario - is just one well-known Home Hardware private-label success story. These Home Hardware branded products offer customers superior quality with economical pricing.
Home at home in St. Jacobs
A large organization that has never forgotten its small-town community roots, Home Hardware's corporate headquarters and its largest distribution centre is located in the scenic village of St. Jacobs, Ontario.
Twice a year, in Spring and Fall, the corporate office hosts the Home Hardware Dealer Market. Home Hardware's predecessor, Hollinger Hardware, inaugurated the first hardware show in Canada to be organized by an independent retailer in 1961. The hugely popular Dealer Markets outgrew a succession of venues, finding a permanent home in 1979 at the Henry Sittler Building in St. Jacobs - dedicated in tribute to one of the company's founding partners, whose management skills greatly contributed to Home Hardware's enduring success.
The Dealer Markets are much more than just trade shows; they are a multi-community reunion. Here, hundreds of Home Hardware Dealers and employees from across Canada can connect, share ideas and build friendships. Brisk business, Canadian cuisine, and lively entertainment are always highlights of these semi-annual gatherings.
Mr. Hardware - Walter J. Hachborn
Walter Hachborn -one of the company's founders - literally "climbed the ladder," starting at Hollinger Hardware in 1938 working as a stock boy for $8 per week. When Gordon Hollinger died in 1948, Walter took over many of his mentor's responsibilities, soon purchasing the company in partnership with Henry Sittler and Arthur Zilliax in 1950. It was Walter who spearheaded Home Hardware's Dealer-owned cooperative model, inspired by the need to address the urgent economic challenges of his fellow retailers, and encouraged by the success of the concept in the United States.
Retired from the day-to-day operations since 1988, Walter Hachborn holds the title of President Emeritus. His combination of business acumen, work ethic, ingenuity and kindness, have inspired thousands over the course of his distinguished career. That leadership tradition has since passed into the hands of Paul Straus, a long-time employee, who as President and CEO now guides Home Hardware's continuing success and community esteem across Canada.
In 1999, Walter was recognized by his industry as Canadian Hardware Retailer of the Century. The very next year, in 2000, his country bestowed upon him its most distinguished honour - appointment to The Order of Canada, in tribute to his outstanding business achievements and community service. In 2003, Walter was awarded the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal and most recently, in 2007, the Retail Council of Canada awarded Walter with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
"Home Hardware was created by and for independent Dealers who believed in a community that would serve the Canadian hardware retail industry's common good. That kind of principle is as solid a foundation as you can have for succeeding in business, because it attracts good people. Our Dealers - and everyone else who works for Home Hardware - are driven by more than just the bottom line. They care about building friendships, helping people and serving their communities. That spirit is what defines Home Hardware on the Canadian retail landscape.
It has been my privilege and honour to work alongside these people for the last 40 years. On this occasion of Home Hardware's anniversary, we should all be thankful that the hardware store, that uniquely Canadian community tradition, is alive and well." (Walter Hachborn)