HUMBOLDT — When looking back at his 36 years in business, it’s Tim Graf’s staff that’s the biggest highlight for him.
“The biggest thing is treating your staff really well and having them for a long, long period of time, because we found that retaining staff was a win all around,” he said. “It created better customer service, it was easier on us and it was more beneficial for everybody.”
Graf, who’s the owner of Tasko Developments and the former owner of Home Hardware, is selected as the 2019 inductee for the Humboldt and District Chamber of Commerce’s Business Hall of Fame.
He said he wasn’t expecting to be nominated but was happy to be recognized for his years of hard work.
“They actually put my application in and told me later, so yeah, I was surprised.”
Brent Fitzpatrick, the chamber’s executive director, said Graf was more than just an entrepreneur.
“He also gave to the community, working behind the scenes to make the lives of people better,” he said. “His companies have sponsored hundreds of events in Humboldt and area throughout the years. He did all of this because it was the right thing to do, not for the recognition.”
Graf, a journeyman carpenter by trade, started his business career in 1983, founding a construction company with his brothers Greg and Keith.
“The three of us were all in construction, so it was just a good fit,” he said. “We were doing a lot of work together, so we just teamed up and started a company.”
The company formed in 1985. In 1986, Graf became a partner in the Humboldt Lumber Mart. He did that to expand his horizons.
“It was a lot bigger company and there was a lot more opportunity.”
Graf was at the lumber mart until 1991, when he started Tasko Developments with a partner in a home office. The company kept expanding, requiring more office space and going from one employee to a maximum of 102. Tasko received the Home Builders Association of Saskatchewan’s Gold Service award each year from 1995 to 2005, as well as in 2007 and 2008.
In 1999, Graf bought the Home Hardware franchise, which was located downtown. He built a new location on Highway 5, which opened in 2000.
“It was a real fit for us because it complemented our construction,” he said. “We were doing so much construction, so we were buying our supplies from lumber yards, so we just thought it’d be a great fit to own your own supply chain. It worked out really well.”
In 2002, the Humboldt Home Hardware won the National Best Home Hardware Dealer in Canada award.
In 2010, Graf and his partners sold the franchise.
Out in the community, Graf was the president of the Humboldt Construction Association. As a Humboldt Broncos board member, he was part of the committee that started the team’s lottery. He was one of five to found a Relay for Life, which raised more than $416,000 for cancer research over three events held 2003, 2006 and 2009. He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus.
“It seemed like the busier you were, the more you wanted to do,” he said when asked what drove him to volunteer. “We were very busy at work, so it just seemed like it was always a good fit.”
He’s still involved in the community, but has taken a step back.
“Whenever a fundraiser’s going on, whenever we’re asked to participate, we do, but we don’t really head them anymore,” he said. “We let somebody else do that.”
Since he sold the Home Hardware in 2010, Graf has remained involved in Tasko.
“I’ve teamed with one brother, and we did some construction,” he said. “I got a condo complex and apartment building and rental houses, so I’ve been more or less busy with that.”
The induction of Tim Graf will take place at the Mark of Excellence Awards on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at the Uniplex. Tickets are available by calling the chamber.