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Home Hardware celebrates 60 years

April 9, 2024

Author: Nienke Hinton

When looking at the history and success of Home Hardware Stores Limited and its Board Chair, Christine Hand, it’s not surprising that Hand’s values and priorities align with the iconic Canadian banner.

While Home Hardware celebrates its 60th anniversary as a 100 percent Canadian, community-oriented, Dealer-owned and operated retailer, Hand is the longest serving member of Home Hardware’s Board of Directors, celebrating 21 years on the Board – with 12 as Chair – and almost 36 years as Dealer-Owner of the Handyman Home Hardware store in Conception Bay, NL. She is also a partner in a second Home Hardware store in St. John’s, NL.


“Walter J. Hachborn, the founder of Home Hardware, was a man who believed in relationships,” says Hand. “He always said, ‘We're not in the hardware business, we're in the people business.’ So, the business is built on a foundation of relationships and connection.


“When you've got that coming at you from the top, people that are like-minded are attracted to that. That's part of the reason why I was attracted to getting involved on the Board. The Board consists of people who think like Walter and want to help Dealer-Owners and see the independent hardware retailer survive.”

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Leaders in the home improvement industry


Hand and Home Hardware also have a long list of accomplishments and accolades in common.

Hand's career has been a blend of entrepreneurship, community involvement, and significant contributions to Home Hardware Stores Limited, both as a Board member and as a Dealer-Owner. She has been a pivotal figure on Home Hardware's Board and her tenure has been characterized by growth, embracing governance advancements, and the inclusion of external directors to diversify perspectives. In 2014, she was instrumental in implementing education at the Board level. “We started to look at how we how we could act like a publicly traded company from a governance perspective. We changed the way we looked at things and put a lot of processes in place to change how we governed the company.”


In 2017, Hand was honoured as one of Canada’s ‘Most Powerful Women’ by the Women’s Executive Network. She received the ‘Top Gun Award’ in 2019 by the National Retail Hardware Association (now the North American Hardware and Paint Association). She has also been awarded the ‘Paul Harris Fellowship Award’ and the ‘Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award’ in recognition of her extensive volunteer efforts.

Home Hardware has received many awards over the years, including Canada’s Best Managed Companies from Deloitte (Platinum Status); Canada’s Best Employers from Forbes (2016-2023); the Private Fleet Safety Award from the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (10-time Large Fleet Winner); Canada’s Top Fleet Employers from Trucking HR Canada (2013-2023); and Canada’s Most Reputable Companies (2022) and Top Hardware Retailer (2021) from Leger.

Home Hardware, a name and logo recognized by four of five Canadians – was established in 1964 when 128 independent Ontario hardware retailers purchased Hollinger Hardware Limited of St. Jacobs, ON. The Dealer-owned business model was an answer to the challenge posed by ‘big box’ retailers that had the advantage of direct-from-manufacturer buying power. The new retail landscape created by these multi-national giants caused hundreds of hardware stores across Canada to shut their doors because they could not compete.


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, delivery, and other resources. They have continued building their businesses and serving their communities since, with more than 1,000 stores across Canada flying a Home banner.

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Business model focused on culture and community

Home Hardware's unique Dealer business model is reflected in every facet of its company culture. It is a large organization of independent businesses, defined by individual relationships that its network of Dealers work tirelessly to nurture – with customers, the community, vendors, 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 are often passed down through family generations.

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.


Hand highlights the importance of Home Hardware's deep community ties, entrepreneurial spirit among Dealers, and the company’s enduring success. She underscores the shared values of honesty, integrity, and a people-first approach that align with her leadership style.


“The independent hardware retailer has a stronghold in the Canadian fabric and is a cornerstone of its community,” says Hand. “The local Home Hardware is not just a place where you can buy nuts and bolts, you can get real advice and help for home improvement projects and for community events, services, programs, and activities. They will help if you need to sell tickets to raise money for your hockey team. They're on school councils, they coach teams, and some of them are mayors of the communities where their stores are located. They are there to help build their communities for the future and the next generation. They are embedded in their communities, and I think that has been a huge part of Home Hardware’s success.”


Today, 60 years in, Home Hardware has more than 1,000 Dealer-owned stores across Canada. It operates four distribution centres – two in Ontario, one in Nova Scotia, and one in Alberta – with approximately 2.5 million square feet of combined warehousing space holding over 50,000 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 company also offers over 8,700 exclusively branded products. BeautiTone Paint – produced along with many household products at its plant in Burford, ON – is just one well-known Home Hardware private-label success story.


“When I think about Home Hardware – it's been around for 60 years, and that's a long time,” says Hand. “It is quite an important story. If you think about the competition that existed 60 years ago, the big international companies, they’re all gone. And here we are still here, over 1000-strong doing our thing.


“Home Hardware is one of the best things that ever happened in my life. I have the opportunity to live and work independently in my hometown and be a part of a large national corporation. It's just been such an honour and an invaluable experience.”

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