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East Helena business owner retires after 30 years, hands keys to employees

East Helena business owner retires after 30 years, hands keys to employees


After 30 years in the business of countertops and cabinets, Larry Palmer decided it was time to retire. Palmer handed the keys to the business to employees Chase Farrell and John Duffy at the start of the year and wished them luck.

Larry Palmer Cabinets began in 1988 when Palmer started working from his dining room table. In 1991, he purchased the old Casey Lumber Complex in East Helena and was joined by his wife Peggy and son-in-law Don Loendorf. His daughter Helen took over the office in 1999 when Peggy retired and continued to work with her father until this year, when they both retired.

Duffy is a Helena native and Farrell grew up here, and both are graduates of Helena High School. Farrell began working for Palmer in 2011. He started at the shop as a laborer sweeping the floors and gradually worked his way up to projects. Duffy has been in millwork for about 10 years, including a stint at Kralicek Millwork until it burned down in August 2017, and has been working at the shop for a year.

When Palmer retired, he handed over the keys, “lock stock and barrel,” he said.

“I gave them the business, equipment and everything,” Palmer said. “They’re pretty good guys. I didn’t want to leave them in the lurch.”

Farrell and Duffy took over Larry Palmer Cabinets and changed the name to Rocky Mountain Countertops & Cabinets.

“It’s a 50/50 partnership,” Farrell said. “The biggest learning curve is the paperwork.”

Farrell said his favorite project is fabricating countertops from raw materials. He enjoys the process of cutting, polishing and sanding the acrylic surfaces. He and Duffy work jobs all over the state and are contracted with Lowe’s to fabricate and install customer countertops.

“Things are good," Farrell said. “We’re seeing steady business for the slow part of the year. And we have a lot of future prospects.”

Rocky Mountain Countertops & Cabinets continues to use Medallion Cabinetry and LG Hi-Macs Solid Surface countertops for the kitchen and bathroom. Farrell for several years has been using the countertop remnants to create cutting boards in all sizes and shapes, including the state of Montana. He has been selling them at the Helena Farmers’ Market and has now added them for sale at the shop.

The partners have plans to soon add butcher block countertops to their inventory.

Blessed, appreciative, gracious -- there are so many words to describe how the new owners feel. Duffy said it’s nice to be in charge of your own future. He’s worked a few jobs and just wants to stay put.

Palmer is planning a relaxing retirement. While it may not be every day that a business owner retires and passes the keys to the employees, Palmer says, “They ought to. I just wish I’d found (these guys) earlier.”


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