Richard A. Batchelder, aka “Mr. B”, started at Nelson Hardware on July 1, 1992 as a “temp” but soon became full-time for 25 years before returning to part-time in more recent years.
“He’s been here long enough that both he and owner Bob Nelson had hair when he started,” notes Annette Boisvert, a general manager.
“Richard got his nickname from one of our employees that couldn’t pronounce his last name so he started calling him “Mr. B” and it’s stuck,” said owner Bob Nelson.
“Richard was complaining about something one day (“I don’t mean to complain, but…”) and I asked him if he ever stopped complaining? His response was that during his Navy days his nickname was “Bitching Batch!” and he still laughs about it!”
Mr. B can fix anything from calculators to fighter plane injection systems. During his time in the Navy they would find him and tell him to pack a bag, he was headed somewhere to fix something no one else could fix, you name it.
According to manager Kelly Newton he is famous for checking the trash after he has a couple days off just in case a staff member had thrown something away that he might be able to use.
In fact he’s also famous for someone asking for an old coffee maker to be repaired and saying “I think I have that thermal fuse, circuit board, power cord, etc. in my shed at home.”
As customers have often said every hardware store should have a Mr. B and Nelson, Boisvert and Newton wholeheartedly agree.
Very few people know more about keys and locks then Mr. B. At a glance he knows who makes the lock, how the tumblers are set and which key blank to use. He has helped many residents, landlords and automotive dealers with his expertise. And he has also taught hundreds of young people how to cut keys over his 30 years at Nelson’s, say coworkers Clay Tucker, Andy Hayward, Jake Graham and Donna Davis.
“Richard can come off as a tough guy but anyone that has seen him with his little dog “Dobby” knows what a big softee he is. They’re matching shirts and hats are the best! His big heart and helpfulness are some of his best qualities, the staff notes.
In case you haven’t picked up on it Richard is a collector of all things but a couple of his specialties are his collection of belt buckles and gumball machines. He finds them and lovingly restores them to working condition. And then there are his clocks! He has to take a day off just to adjust them all for daylight savings, it is reported.
“He has never taken a lunch while at Nelson’s; he just works through the day unless there’s cheesecake. He loves cheesecake!”
“Richard has spent 30 years making Nelson’s a special place to come to. His ability to fix anything and everything is just a small part of it. Mr. B is truly the whole package!
“All of us at Nelson’s wish Richard and his lovely (and understanding) wife Carolan the very best in retirement. We will miss his sense of humor, work ethic, big heart and his smile. And yes, even his complaining!” -GH