Emmy-Winning Yankton Man Finds Retirement Job In Hardware

YANKTON, S.D. (AP) — Sometimes, the road less traveled has some interesting turns.

Emmy Award winner John McCuin has been quietly living in Yankton with his family for the last 10 years. Recently retired, he is currently spending more time at home and is also working at Kopetsky’s ACE Hardware.

“I was working for ESPN, that’s how I got the Emmy, and it was for U.S. Open Tennis in 2018. It was a technical Emmy for the people putting together the show, the people operating the equipment,” McCuin told the Yankton Press and Dakotan. “When I got a call from a lady at (the place) where the Emmys are made — one at a time — she called to verify my address. She said, ‘I never sent an Emmy to South Dakota.’ At that point, that was her quote.”

The way McCuin sees it, the Emmy represents all those who came before him and helped him become the person he is today, he said.

“It represents my family, who has made incredible sacrifices to support me in what I love to do,” he said. “I tell my family, ‘This Emmy is yours.’”

By 2018, McCuin had already started planning his exit from the world of television.

“It’s been a fun, interesting and very fulfilling career, but it is time for me to be home,” he said. “I felt like it was time in my heart, and I recognized that with both kids being out of the house now, my wife needed me to be home, as well.”

The family moved from Colorado after John’s wife, Deborah McCuin, who was a teacher in Fort Collins, Colorado, earned a Ph.D. When she accepted a job as director of Graduate Teacher Education with Mount Marty University, the family decided to move to Yankton, he said.

“It was hard to leave Colorado but, at the same time, Debbie worked very hard to get a Ph.D., so we were going to follow her to wherever her next venture was,” McCuin said. “I just told her I’d like to be within 100 miles of an airport.”

McCuin’s routine involved flying out of Sioux Falls and getting to the TV truck at the stadium or arena where he was assigned, he said, though more recently, his trips also involved stays in quarantine.

“That’s where all the editing equipment and slow-motion equipment was,” he said “And that pretty much was my world — operating all of that.”

“My last tenure was with ‘Monday Night Football.’ I was department head for the Editing and Replay Department,” McCuin said, noting that during that 10-year time frame he also did a lot of NBA basketball, baseball and hockey. “I’ve worked for just about every network during my career. I worked for Telepictures Productions for 10 years doing Academy Awards, Grammys, Golden Globes, Country Music Awards, and I worked with Joan Rivers’ ‘Red Carpet Show.’”

The job required lots of travel and long hours — typically 12- to 14-hour days — and considerable travel, he said.

Though travel was always part of the job, McCuin said that about five years ago, he no longer had the drive or the passion for the job and began preparing for his retirement.

“When we first moved here, my son and my daughter (and I) were driving and I pointed at ACE Hardware and I told my kids, ‘One day, I will work there,’” he said. “They’re like, ‘Why?’ and I said, ‘I love that place.’”

During home remodeling projects, McCuin said he often found himself at an ACE Hardware store and appreciated how helpful to staff always was.

“I spent a career training people, helping people,” he said. “I have a heart for helping people be successful because, I believe, if you’re not helping people be successful, you’re helping them fail.”

After about a three-month retirement, McCuin — who said he was never the type to sit around — got a job at Yankton’s ACE Hardware store.

“I’ve always loved the culture of ACE really helping people. That’s what really drew me there,” he said. “I have remodeled three or four homes that we’ve lived in, so it’s kind of a hobby, a nice way for me to relax.”

McCuin said that, over the years, he has acquired quite a bit of knowledge in the area of home improvement and the types of questions people have about it.

“I have a heart to serve and help people and the culture at ACE allows me to do that,” he said. “‘Emmy to ACE Hardware’ has been an interesting and fulfilling journey.”