Central Hardware has been on Elkhart’s west side since 1949. Former owner John Haas has sold the store to new owner Rob Stewart. Haas is staying on to help Stewart and teach him the store’s pump-servicing shop. Central Hardware specializes in irrigation supply, well and pump servicing.The store, located at 28459 Old U.S. 33, is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; phone number is 574-293-8861 or 888-343-0999.

Stewart talked about what made him make a career change.

Q: How did you come to buy a hardware store?

A: About 25 years ago I was an irrigation contractor and I bought a lot of stuff from John Haas. He was at that time a new owner himself. So, that’s kind of where the relationship started. Over the years I’ve kept in touch with him. I went on to a 16-year sales career. Back in September of last year he and I just started talking and he just kind of threw it out there. I laughed about it and this is what has happened from it.

Q: What do you like about it?

A: What I like about it is that when I was 15, my first job was at a hardware store. In fact, I did that for eight years. Then I was an irrigation contractor, so everything kind of tied together early on. It kind of brings me back full circle.

Q: How’s the first month been?

A: It’s been pretty awesome. I have a pretty good fundamental base of hardware and plumbing and things like that. I still have a lot to learn. I’m doing pretty good but I’m going to have John with me for a year because the pumps can get quite involved. It’s been a blast. I’ve enjoyed every bit of it.

Q: What separates Central Hardware from some of the other stores around?

A: We are so service-driven, so customer-oriented here, and that’s the reason that people come back here. We’re here to solve problems, not just sell you a product.

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