June 13, 2024

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Owners of Orillia Home Hardware nail down ‘new’ store in Midland

4 min read

‘Positive change,’ outgoing Midland Home Hardware Building Centre and Design Centre co-owner says of sale to Orillia hardware store owners

Kevin Mateff is looking forward to playing a little more guitar, spending time with family, travelling and, perhaps, somewhat surprisingly doing some home maintenance.

After nearly 50 years in the lumber business, Mateff is looking forward to a well-deserved retirement after he and his brother Keith opted to sell Midland Home Hardware Building Centre and Design Centre to a group from Orillia.

“My brother and I decided we were going to retire,” Mateff, who served as co-owner and operator, tells MidlandToday, noting their wives Wendy and Elizabeth have also been important partners on both their business and life journeys.

“We’re looking at moving on to the next chapter.”

And while the deal may seem surprising to some, Mateff says it’s been about eight months in the making.

“You can’t say much when these things are being done,” says Mateff, adding the deal closed earlier this month. “It was done over a period of time.”

The owners of Home Hardware in Orillia are, from left, Kirk McLean, Bill Ecklund and Chris Locke. The trio have purchased Midland Home Hardware Building Centre and Design Centre. Supplied photo

But Mateff says customers shouldn’t notice much of a change and will still be able to count on the same friendly and attentive customer service, good products at a fair price and continued community involvement from buyers Chris Locke, Bill Ecklund and Kirk McLean, owners of Orillia Home Hardware Building Centre.

Mateff points out that like the Midland store, the Orillia offering has a similar small-town feel and, like its local counterpart, is heavily involved in supporting the community through a number of charitable endeavours.

“They’re going to keep all the staff,” Mateff says. “It’s really quite a positive change. I know they’re going to do a great job.”

Mateff, who grew up in Port McNicoll and turns 61 this summer, says he’s proud of what they’ve accomplished in Midland by building not only a top-flight hardware and lumber store, but also an adjacent design centre.

The Midland location carries a wide range of building, hardware and home-improvement products that cover almost every aspect of the home.

“We are very project oriented, and we can help customers plan just about any size renovation or new build,” Mateff says. “Our store is bright and modern, but it feels like a small-town shop.”

Mateff, who will likely become a store customer now that he has some free time to work on the house he built in 1981, also credits his staff with really being the “crown jewel” of helping the operation succeed and develop its extremely loyal customer base.

And the Midland store has been a true family business.

Mateff started working for its predecessor, Beaver Lumber, in 1987.

In 2000, Beaver Lumber stores were purchased by Home Hardware Stores Ltd., and the store started operating as Midland Home Building Centre. It had been a Beaver Lumber store since 1945, and it was at this location that Mateff said he learned the ropes of lumber retail.

The Mateff brothers and their wives purchased the store in 2007. It was a natural progression for the entrepreneurial brothers, who, coincidentally, thought they would always end up owning an automotive dealership.

“When we bought the store, it was in need of some updating,” Mateff says. “With the help of Home Hardware, we re-merchandized the store and installed a lumber auto stack and paved the yard, among many other projects.”

They set up a design centre in a building just down the road from their store. Having that design centre in a separate building allowed them to open up more retail space within the store and allowed them to take on the home hardware banner, selling such items as lawnmowers and gardening tools.

With only 5,000-square-feet of retail space, though, Midland Home Hardware Building Centre and Design Centre was quickly starting to outgrow its confines.

“We made due for quite a while, but we were certainly in need of a larger location,” he explains. “We just didn’t have the retail space we needed to grow our business.”

Mateff says they had contemplated expanding on the old building, but there were just too many roadblocks in the way.

Fortunately, they did not have to look very far.

In fact, their soon-to-be new location was right next door, in the form of the Timber Mart. Teaming up with Home Hardware, they bought the land in 2020. It came with about six acres.

After “quite a large renovation,” they opened their new location that boasts three times the amount of retail space in November 2020.

“We did pretty well considering we were in the midst of a pandemic,” Mateff adds.

But Mateff knows that what they’ve accomplished hasn’t just been good luck.

“It takes time to do something well,” he says. “It takes hard work and you have to stick your nose to the grindstone.”

And Mateff also offers some parting advice for other potential entrepreneurs looking to start something with a partner.

“It’s better if partners have different skill-sets,” he says, noting that since Keith works as a CPA in Toronto, he would take care of the financials, which allowed Kevin to take care of day-to-day operations.

“We were equal partners. Now, we’re going to have a pretty comfortable retirement.”


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