SOMETIMES, it pays to be in the right place at the right time.

John Herron can testify to that.

The former electrical shop worker only popped into Hexham’s JF Walton and Son hardware store for a few bits and bobs and ended up coming away with a job.

A few years later, he was glad again of that chance encounter.

When a Walton colleague was successful in getting a job with JT Dove, he alerted Mr Herron to the possibility of switching to the building, plumbing and heating materials supplier.

The rest, as they say, is history.

“I went into the electricals store to sell colour TVs, washers and fridge-freezers, but I was glad to get out of it,” said Mr Herron.

“Walton’s hardware store was in town, it was an old-fashioned ironmongers shop, and I happened to go in one day for some stuff.

“I was told they were looking for someone and I thought why not?

“I got the job and it was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

“However, one day, one of the employees I worked with went to JT Dove.

“The business had just opened a depot in Hexham and he tapped me on the shoulder and said they were looking for someone in the ironmongery department.

“I went for the interview and got it.”

From those beginnings a quarter of a century ago, Mr Herron has risen through the ranks at the business, which was founded in Newcastle in 1869 and has branches in Darlington, Bishop Auckland, Stockton and Birtley, near Chester-le-Street.

After starting on the trade counter, he moved to the sales office and later became a sales representative for around eight years, which he said sharpened both his knowledge of Dove’s products and its customers.

However, in 2010, Mr Herron was given another opportunity to climb the ladder, this time as government department manager, working alongside local authorities, and it’s a role he still holds today.

He said: “It’s all about looking after the contracts that we have with them and making sure we are delivering value for money.”

The company’s presence in the community will be extended as it backs Durham’s Lumiere light festival later this month.

Back for a fifth time, Lumiere will see artists from around the world illuminate the city, and both the firm’s divisions, Dove Building Materials and Dove Plumbing and Heating, are sponsoring the opening night reception.

Mr Herron says the decision was an easy one for Dove, having backed the event previously.

However, he said it also chimes in with Dove’s social values.

The business was put into a trust in 1954, and much like the John Lewis Partnership, its profits continue to be distributed to staff.

He added: “We are very much community orientated and we got a lot out of Lumiere last time.”

Five minutes with… John Herron

Favourite North-East building and why? It’s not really a building as such, more of a landmark, but it is Kielder reservoir. It’s the largest man-made lake in northern Europe and is capable of holding 200 billion litres of water surrounded by 250sq miles of the largest man-made woodland in England. As a child, when it was constructed in the 1970s, my family was one of those displaced and re-housed as my grandparents’ home was demolished from the valley floor before it was flooded. In the six years it took to construct, I watched every stage and was fascinated by the huge machines used to build the earth walls. Today it’s my favourite landmark and surrounded by the most stunning scenery in the North-East.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid? A trainee carpet fitter for both domestic and commercial buildings with a North-East company. I started on a YTS scheme and was paid £35 per week.

What is the worst job you've had? Working in an electrical shop. I was selling things like TVs and washing machines. It was one of the most boring jobs I have ever had.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner? I must admit, cooking isn’t one of my strong points. However, for a starter I would do mussels with saffron and spinach in a white wine sauce. For the main course it would be sticky duck with Chinese pickled radishes and the dessert would be chocolate and chilli cake with espresso cream. If all fails, my backup plan would be good old fish fingers.

What would your superpower be? Healing. I could not only get rid of minor injuries, like cuts and bruises, but also help ease the pain of people suffering from serious illnesses, such as cancer.

Name four people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party: David Attenborough, Peter Kay, Amanda Holden and Helen Mirren.

Most expensive thing you've bought - other than car or house - and how much? On our tenth wedding anniversary I bought my wife an eternity ring. It was white gold with emerald cut diamonds. I couldn’t possibly divulge the value.

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why? I don’t follow anyone. It’s a complete waste of valuable time.

Favourite book? I don’t do books.

When did you last cry? The funeral of my best friend killed in a motorbike accident some 14 years ago at the age of 34.

What is your greatest achievement? Renovating my first house from a shell to a three-bedroom detached house. It did get finished eventually.

What's the best piece of advice in business you've ever been given? One of my old bosses said to me many years ago when I first started out, don’t be afraid of making mistakes or failing to get the result you wanted. The most important thing is if you fail, make sure you analyse why it failed or how the mistake occurred, then learn for the future. It has stood me in good stead.

Favourite animal and why? The barn owl is the most stunning bird and extremely intelligent with near perfect eyesight and hearing in near darkness.

Most famous person on your mobile phone? No one famous on there, just friends, family and colleagues, both past and present.

What was the last band you saw live? Take That, in Newcastle. Fabulous singers and stage entertainers.

Describe your perfect night in: A good Chinese takeaway with a glass of red wine, a roaring real log fire and full control of the TV remote.

In another life, I would be... A worldwide travel reporter. I would love to travel to all corners of this planet.

Who would play you in a film of your life? I think my life is far too ordinary to be made into a film. In my early days I was likened to Christopher Reeve, so you can image the joke opportunities that provoked. The endless times being dragged on stage as a lookalike when on holidays…

What irritates you? Drivers doing stupid things without signalling, especially on the A1 in rush hour. If people spent less time switching lanes, thinking the other lane is moving faster, we would all get home quicker and safer.

What's your secret talent? I don’t really have one as such. However, I do a mean River Dance after a few beers.