Both a family and a community institution, Kelly’s True Value (former name- Lunt & Kelly Hardware) has served Newburyport citizens for the past 66 years. Founded by Kelly’s father, Edward Kelly, and the senior Kelly’s partner Malcolm Lunt, Pete Kelly first stuck his toes into the business while a student at the University of New Hampshire. “My father asked me if I’d help out a bit, so I did,” he states simply. Kelly ultimately earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and went on to explore various careers. His past pursuits include a stint as a civilian employee at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, a computer services consultant, and an on-air personality for a local radio station.
“But when Malcolm Lunt retired, my father asked me if I’d help him out in the store full time.” Kelly pauses, reflecting on his pivotal decision, which came with a condition. “I told my dad, ‘Okay, but I can only give you a couple of years.’” He laughs at his naivety and at his imposed timeline. “But of course,” Kelly says, “the business grew on me. I liked the idea of being my own boss, and I liked the idea of being here for my community. And the rest . . . is history.”
Pete Kelly’s delight with the way history has turned out is etched on his face, evident by the wide smile he is unable to suppress as he tells his story of ending up at the helm of the family business. He beams and his eyes sparkle when he shares that his two daughters, Lisa, who manages the hardware store and Kate, who operates the rental shop, have joined him. “They were inspired by their dad’s entrepreneurial spirit,” he jokes, self-deprecatingly. The ability to perpetuate the family business is very rewarding,” says Kelly, which for the last 15 years includes the adjacent successful Taylor Rental business.
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