Work hard, and have a lot of fun

Morrisburg Building Centre owners Rick and Marg Johnston retire at the end of July after nearly 37 years. (The Leader/Blancher photo)

MORRISBURG – The store is busy; a usual occurrence at the family run business. A couple of customers are milling about picking up supplies.

“I’ll be there in a minute, I just need to help with this customer,” Marg Johnston calls over. “It’s been busy today.”

Our interview begins during a lull in store traffic minutes later indicative of Marg and her husband Rick, who have been involved with Morrisburg Building Centre from its beginning in 1987. Started by Marg’s parents, Art and Maria Jansen, the Johnstons gradually took over ownership in the late 90s.

“It’s been our life,” Marg says. “Our kids have grown up here. Family members have worked here.”

Rick said when the couple first started in the business, many of the contractors or customers were their age.

“They had families we got to know in the community through sports, or growing up with our kids,” he said of their kids Karina, Joel, and Rikki. “Now those kids we coached or saw in hockey or soccer, they’re customers with their own growing families.”

Both said the biggest challenge to owning a business has been the time commitment required.

“We’ve given 110 per cent into our business,” Marg explained. “The kids played in the office here or did their homework, while we’ve been working. We haven’t had as much time for family and friends like we’d like to have had.”

Rick continued, “I’ve always had the philosophy of ‘work hard, and have a lot of fun doing it.’ It has been a lot of work, and it’s been fun. But it’s time.”

Rick and Marg announced late June they had sold the property to Cornwall-based Emard Lumber, which will take over on July 31.

The decision to sell the property was difficult for both, in part because of the ties in the community they have built.

“For me, I realized this more the last few weeks, the relationships we’ve built here,” explained Marg. “People have been calling, stopping in, wishing us well. I’ll miss that.”

In addition to sponsoring sports like South Dundas Minor Hockey and South Dundas Soccer, they have supported local Habitat for Humanity, Community Food Share, and Dundas County Hospice. Supporting the community is importent for Rick and Marg.

“We’re part of this community, the community has supported us, and we’ve tried support the community,” she said. “We’ve appreciated all the support over 36 years.”

On what they will do next, Marg said, “We’ve invested time in our business, and now we’re going to invest time in our family and us,” said Marg.

The couple plan to take “a breather” once the keys to the building are handed over to Emard Lumber on July 31. Rick mused he has a to-do list in his pocket for projects around the house to chip away at.

“I have fewer places to hide from that list if I’m at home,” Rick joked.

Both Marg and Rick plan to be active in the community and maybe try some new adventure, but first it is some “us time.”

As we were walking out after the interview, Marg thoughtfully said in closing, “I think when grandkids arrive, you realize the ‘things’ are less important, that time is the most important thing we have.”

Since you’re here…

… Thanks for reading this article. Local news is important. We hope that you continue to support local news in your community by reading The Leader, online and in print. Please consider subscribing to the print edition of the newspaper. Click here to subscribe today.

Subscribe to Email Alerts

Enter your email address to subscribe to Email Alerts and receive notifications of new posts by email whenever The Leader publishes new content on our website.