Announcements of Canadian Tire community involvement awards are about as rare as comet sightings – indeed, only nine winners have been named over the past century. But Pierre Hofstatter, the Perth owner of the iconic chain store, was recognized as one of those shining stars at a September gala.
Hofstatter was lauded for an outstanding body of community work, including his role helming a store that for two years running has raised more funds than any other location for the Jumpstart program (which allows young people without financial means to access local sports programs.) Along with the award, Hofstatter also brought home an additional $20,000 Jumpstart contribution for Perth programs, which he says will be used to provide all grade four students in the area’s eight elementary schools with swimming lessons for the next two years.
At the age of 16, Hofsttater began working in receiving, unloading trucks at a Mississauga Canadian Tire outlet. He quickly made his way up the company ladder, acting as general manager in a number of locations, including Wingham and Dunnville.
After serving five years as retail sales manager at downtown Toronto’s head office, he and his wife, Robyn, took the jump to start fresh in Perth, where in 2000 they demolished the old store and paved it over to create a new location further back from Highway 7.
“It was an opportunity to own your business and have some freedom to run the type of business you wanted,” he recalls of the move to eastern Ontario. “In my time at home office, I got to see 50 different management styles, and I took some of that learning and developed one I thought was important.”
Pierre and Robyn (who handles accounting as well as the garden centre) proceeded to grow the store while raising four kids. From the beginning, both recognized the critical importance of building a staff with shared values and work ethics. “It’s a large company with lots of moving parts and people, and the most successful dealers always surround themselves with really good people, because not one person can do this on their own,” he says. “Everybody plays an important role from the office to the mechanics to the cashiers. Everyone needs to go in the same direction.”
With a core staff of 80, Perth’s Canadian Tire employs almost 100 people during the summer months. Among those who have watered plants or stocked shelves are their four children, as well as many individuals who got their first job there as teenagers and have since started families of their own. Hofstatter likens the store to a hub that’s part of a community web, adding Perth is “a community where you know everybody, and you feel part of a network of working together to make it a better place for everyone.”
Among the many popular individuals at Canadian Tire Perth are two store cats, who appreciate the attention they receive both from shoppers as well as seniors who, often unable to keep pets in their current residences, frequently visit the store to spend an hour snuggling with the friendly felines.
A member of the Lions Club for over two decades, Hofstatter says that as a parent whose children were involved in activities from dance to hockey, he’s always appreciated the critical role volunteers play to maintain sports teams and after-school activities.
Hofstatter’s recognition of community needs dovetailed with the goals of the Jumpstart program, which gets children into pools, onto bicycles, and playing a sport. “It helps get them off the couch and the video games and out into the fresh air, which is good for them physically and mentally.”
Among his significant bricks and mortar achievements was the construction of a kids’ clubhouse at the Perth golf course, providing a safe space for younger people to store their clubs and also socialize. He also worked with the club to lower youth fees, a move that helped grow the number of junior golfers from four to over 80.
A tribute video produced to celebrate Hofstatter’s award, now playing on Vimeo, is full of praise from family friends, store colleagues, and social service workers, all of whom cite his dedication to bringing people together to meet specific community challenges. The self-deprecating Hoftsatter prefers to keep the focus on others, pointing, among many other such examples, to Perth’s fire chief, Trevor Choffe, for a recent initiative that provided much-needed activities for young people between the end of hockey season and the start of soccer.
With the support of Jumpstart and the Perth Firefighters Association, Choffe started the Firedawgs ball hockey league, which sees up to 250 local youngsters playing at the arena on Mondays. It was so successful that a complementary Thursday basketball program was created as well. In both instances, Hofstatter says, older teenagers tend to play a mentoring role for younger kids, building social cohesion while earning volunteer hours.
Hofstatter is always happy to help, saying he particularly enjoys “connecting the dots to bring the community together and help young people as they grow up. It creates a full circle effect.”