It’s been a 47-year career for one of the longtime employees of Northern Hardware, who is retiring from his retail hardware career at the end of the year.
“I was at Northern Hardware just over 43 years and then I’ve been here at Central Builders’ for three and a half years,” Peter Mueller said. “When we closed the store downtown I was not quite ready to retire. I was 62 then and I’m going to be 67 in January.
Mueller started at the Northern when he was just 20 years old in 1976 and he worked on bicycles.
“I had worked at The Bay that was across the street at the time for a couple of years part time in their sporting goods, bicycle department, and then there was a job opening to work on bicycles at The Northern and I knew it was the store the community knew to go to and it was a summer job as well and it continued to go forward,” he said.
Recalling the Moffat family’s older generation with great fondness, Mueller said it was a pleasure to work with them.
“It was a family-run store and The Northern was well known as the community’s place to shop,” he added. “It was quite enjoyable to work there. People would even come from out of town and it was always nice to meet them and talk to them while providing them with their supplies.”
Over the years, Mueller moved from the bicycle department to the sporting goods department and then moved over to the hardware side of the store for more than 20 years, eventually becoming manager.
“In the hardware department I got to help people out with their plumbing supplies and electrical,” Mueller said. “Plumbing is a real challenge for a lot of customers so they would come and see me for my expertise and it was great to see a big smile on their face when they got the right product and knowledge.”
During those years, Mueller also looked after Champion, the mechanical horse.
Every child who rode Champion was so happy, he added.
“And people would come in to say they rode Champion 40 years ago,” Mueller recalled.
The big milestone for Mueller was when the store changed to the point-of-sale system from hand-written invoices.
“That was a big learning curve for all of us at the store,” Mueller said.
“The Northern was always known for its customer service and if you couldn’t find it anywhere else in town, The Northern had it – whatever it was.”
During his off time in the last eight years, Mueller has been involved with the Prince George Cougars, piloting the blimp during games.
“One of my hobbies is flying RC (remote control) airplanes and the blimp is an RC aircraft and my team loves to fly low during pre-game to visit all the young people,” he said. “I really enjoy working with the Cougars in that department.”
Mueller has no plans to leave Prince George.
“My time here at Central Builders’ has been unique and even an old fella like myself has learned a few things,” Mueller said. “I learned about lumber sales and concrete supplies, and I always liked to serve the customers here. My time here has been wonderful and I hope the young people I have trained here keep passing those customer service skills to others along the way.”
Mueller said he’s looking forward to still seeing his customers out and about in the community.
“In retirement, my wife has a honey-do list for me so we will work together on that and we’ll be going on different adventures as well,” he said. “We’ll be visiting our kids more often.”
Mueller and wife, Linda, have two adult children who live in Vancouver.
“We’ll also be doing some travelling as we visit friends across Canada,” Mueller said. “And we have a cabin out at Summit Lake so we’ll probably spend more time there in the summer. So Peter won’t be bored.”
The owners of Central Builders’ Supply Prince George have extended a standing invitation for Mueller to come back to work if he does get bored.
“We have been so lucky to have Peter join our team since his time at the Northern,” Garrett Turner, an owner of Central Builders’, said.
“Peter is an amazing, kind, and considerate person and has served Prince George dutifully throughout his over 45 plus years in the hardware industry. We are extremely thankful to have had Peter work with us over the past few years and pass the proverbial baton of knowledge and the ethos of great customer service to our entire store. I speak for both the staff and the other owners in saying a resounding thank you to Peter for everything he has done for the community and our store and wish him all the best in his new adventures!”