Blind Bay Village Grocer: Emphasizing the Community in Business
November 4, 2021
About Blind Bay Village Grocer
In the small town of Blind Bay, British Columbia with a population of under 2,500, Blind Bay Village Grocer is shining bright. Blind Bay Village Grocer (“the Company” or “BBVG”) has become a hub for its community. It is a prime destination for fuel, liquor, and groceries. We had the pleasure of sitting down with James Inglis (President of BBVG) to discuss life at the Company over the last 3.5 years, the business’ mission to remain competitive within the grocery industry, and giving back to the Blind Bay community.
During the Fall of 2017, James was searching for new employment – particularly at BBVG. He learned that the previous owners were looking to sell the business and an interview was arranged for James with members of the Lynx team including Eric Persi, now Senior Vice President of M&A at Lynx. On January 1, 2018, James joined BBVG as President and his determination to improve the Company was made evident from the very start.
James recalled meeting the Lynx team for the first time during the acquisition process. He expressed being impressed by the team’s preparation – especially because this was Lynx’s first time working with a grocery retailer. “I remember at first being impressed with the level of due diligence performed by [the M&A team]. For a company that had zero experience in grocery retail, they asked all the right questions. I’m super impressed with their risk management and the fact that they were listening and wanted to learn what it’s like to be down in the trenches of this business,” commented James. These feelings set the foundation for the partnership between the Company and Lynx.
Blind Bay Village Grocer’s Facelift
During his previous work experience, James was in a leadership role at a chain of grocery retailers. While this business was independently owned and operated, there were some challenges related to implementing real change. He expressed that over the last 3.5 years, Lynx has been able to provide BBVG with the ability to make real-time decisions that impact positive and immediate change. “Lynx has impressed me with its integrity […] I feel like they care about me and the team; when it’s time to make a decision that will either impact me or the team, they’re very supportive,” commented James.
James’ first year with the Company revolved around revamping the Company’s human resources processes. His goal was to ensure that these operations were standardized, applied consistently, and produced effective results. The fulfilment of this goal would help facilitate a healthier and happier work environment, which would ultimately impact the relationship between the Company and the community of Blind Bay. James expressed that Michele’s, Executive Vice President of Human Resources at Lynx, help to renovate BBVG’s processes had a positive effect on the Company. “Under [Michele’s] guidance, I feel like we’re almost to the spot now. She helped us create employment agreements, an employee manual, fix our compensation packages, and improve relationships between managers and employees,” commented James.
In addition to improving processes behind-the-scenes, James had a goal of turning BBVG into a hub for the community. This goal was even further inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly because James felt it crucial to bring community together during a crisis.
Facing Challenges in Stride
“The COVID-19 pandemic was a major disruptor for the grocery industry,” commented James. From a reduction in people able and willing to work, to the impact of inflation on food prices, BBVG faced a number of challenges since the onset of the pandemic. Like many business leaders around the world, James was confronted with having to make significant operational and personnel changes. While dealing with these challenges, BBVG increased its community involvement. “We’ve touched based with food banks, worked with two nearby schools, the local women’s shelter, the Rod & Gun Club, the figure skating club, and many sports clubs. We’ve been letting people know that when they shop at BBVG, they can expect staff involvement in the community,” expressed James.
Additionally, while mental health is not a new issue, it entered the mainstream as a result of the pandemic. “[BBVG has] become tighter as a team but in the same breath, COVID fatigue and [employee] morale have become huge focuses of mine; as well as ensuring that people are being fairly compensated, rewarded, and recognized,” commented James. Amidst the pandemic, Ron, BBVG’s Store Manager, has been a light for the Company’s people. “Ron has been providing sandwich trays to all of the staff every Friday and Sunday so that when they’re busy, they don’t have to wait in line to purchase their lunch. It’s a small way to say ‘thank you’ and the staff absolutely adore him for it,” expressed James. Initiatives such as this one have helped to bring the people of BBVG closer together.
The BBVG Team, 2021
Looking Ahead for Blind Bay Village Grocer
Due to the competitive nature of the grocery industry in Canada, the BBVG team has demonstrated its resilience and creativity by implementing new initiatives for the Company. James explained that “we’ve had to find creative ways to become profitable, especially since COVID happened. If we can rent an e-bike or a paddle board to somebody that’s already here, bring ice cream to a kid’s birthday party, or provide fried donuts to the live shows at the Bay (for 800 to 1,000 people every Thursday night), it will help to push through tough times.”
James shared that he and Eric recently had a conversation about the last 3.5 years at BBVG. He expressed how remarkable it has been to work with a business that sticks to its core values and truly takes care of its people. “When you read the philosophy on the Lynx website and you start to meet the Lynx team members, they talk about being a people-first company and [while] everybody says it, the people at Lynx genuinely mean it. It’s a good way to live your life and you should run your business the way you want to live your life – having fun and treating people well,” commented James.
While Blind Bay is a small town, James and his team at BBVG are making a big impact and we couldn’t be prouder to have them as members of the Lynx family!