50 years and 26 additions later, it was time for EPLS Home Hardware Building Centre to build a new store. From building supplies and groceries to hunting and fishing gear and more, EPLS has so much in store. But this family-owned hardware store in Arviat, Nunavut was in need of an upgrade — because it’s so much more than a hardware store; it’s a community hub serving diverse community needs.
Arviat is a remote, northern community with no road access, serving a mainly Inuit client base. Before EPLS existed, the logistics of getting building supplies to such a remote area was challenging. For CEO Ryan St. John, the upgrade was something he wanted to do for his customers. “Without community support, we wouldn’t be in retail,” he explains, reflecting on the bigger, brighter space they created to bring in more products the community needs.
EPLS needed financing to make the new store happen, so St. John approached the team at RBC. “RBC is proud to partner with EPLS and invest in a project that benefits so many in the community,” says Rony Gravelines, RBC’s Regional Director for the North of 60 and Manitoba Indigenous markets. Inside EPLS’s beautiful new building is an RBC agency and an agency for Northwestel, making sure the community is well connected and can take care of their banking.
“In terms of financing this project and many projects over the years, RBC has been a really good partner for us. Each time we’ve pitched an idea, whether it was to expand or improve facilities or any growth opportunities where we required financing, they’ve been at the table every time. We’ve been with them for over 30 years. We’ve quadrupled in size in the last 10 years and they’ve been side by side with us all the way along, supporting us and providing us with advice. Financing for growth and expansion is a big challenge in the north and they’ve been there,” St. John recounts.
Another voice of encouragement, advice and support over the years comes from Don St. John, his father, who founded the store. “I worked alongside my dad for over 20 years. I’ve really enjoyed learning from him. He’s my closest adviser and somebody that built a solid foundation with our family business, and he gave me the reins to be able to build on it,” he shares.
Thankful for the history of his business, St. John is focused on the future, saying, “At EPLS, we’re about serving our community. We’re serving our customers. We run an honest business. We offer fair pricing, and we give back as much as we can to our communities through our success. We look forward to the next 50 years.”
What started as a family business became so much more, growing into a company with over 250 employees. “It’s really been one of our keys to our success: our people,” St. John beams. “We are very fortunate to have so many great people that are committed and work hard every day!” Now the store staff have a new place to work that still feels like home.
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