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Massena man marking 40th anniversary with Sherwin Williams

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MASSENA - Lifelong Massena resident Bruce Barrett began working for Sherwin Williams on Oct. 3, 1973 and he hasn’t stopped since.

Thursday will mark the 40th anniversary of employment for Mr. Barrett, who has worked as a salesman, accounts receivable manager, and delivery person during his tenure at the store at the Harte Haven Shopping Center.

The current assistant store manager went to high school in the area and completed two years of college before starting at Sherwin Williams.

“I went to school at a Catholic high school, which is now closed. It was (called) Holy Family High School, it’s closed. Then I went to two years of college in Cobleskill and then I got out of school and I painted part-time with my dad,” Mr. Barrett said. “My dad worked at Alcoa and painted on the side, and I painted with him and then I got this job and I’ve been here ever since. Not much to it.”

The long-time Sherwin Williams employee lives with his wife Anne in Massena. She works at St. Lawrence University.

Mr. Barrett credits his interactions and relationships with customers as a key reason for his enjoyment working at the paint store.

“The biggest thing is meeting the people. You get them from all walks of life, and I’ve made a lot of friends over 40 years working in the store. Most of them that walk in I know them, I know them by name and they know me which is nice. It’s a good thing,” he said.

Store Manager Derek Tracy has worked with Mr. Barrett for the past four years and said that what makes his colleague special is his ability to make work enjoyable for those around him. Mr. Tracy also noted that he is not surprised that Mr. Barrett has been able to hold the job for four decades.

“After getting to know him for the four years, I’m not surprised. Loyalty is one of his best traits as a man so I’m not surprised he’s been here 40 years,” Mr. Tracy said. “The best thing about working with Bruce, again it’s only four years, I have one tenth the amount of time he has; the best thing for me is I never have a feeling of dread about coming into work. Some people do not get along with their coworkers or have situations that cause them not to look forward to work. Every day that I wake up I don’t dread coming into work and a large part of that is because I see him as much as I do and that’s a tremendous asset to have as a guy who works here. To come in and not have that feeling of dread that so many people probably do.”

Mr. Tracy added that a small celebration at the store will be taking place to honor Mr. Barrett’s dedicated and impressive run.

Being involved with the paint industry for four decades, Mr. Barrett says that he has noticed a marked change in many facets.

“The paint industries changed a lot since I first started, particularly tinting paint to add the color into the paint. In the beginning we used different procedures. They used to add paint tint by hand to put it in the cans to make the colors. Now it’s all computerized. All you do is go up, punch a number in there and bang it’s tinted for you, which is tremendous, a big time improvement from the start when I first started,” he said.

“In the past we went through a phase where people were picking darker colors. Now those are typically only used as accent colors occasionally. Lighter colors and off-white are more popular today,” he added.

In regards to the possibility of retirement, Mr. Barrett said that the idea is far from his mind.

“I’m not really in a whole big hurry to be perfectly honest. The company is great to work for and my wife is working. ... Right now I’m not thinking about retirement. My health is good, and I like it here,” Mr. Barrett said.

“It’s amazing that it’s 40 years because to me it doesn’t seem like 40 years. I’ve seen a lot of bosses come and go and like I said, the company transition, it’s been different. But for the most part it’s been good. They’ve given me a good education and they’ve also given me a good way of life.”

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