Northwind Industries takes over Inuvik's Arctic Esso Gas Bar
Barb Lennie says the timing was right to sell family-owned gas station
Inuvik's Arctic Esso Gas Bar, which has been owned by the Lennie family for decades, was officially sold to Northwind Industries last week.
Edward Lennie first acquired it sometime in the mid-1970s, according to his daughter in-law Barb Lennie. Barb and her husband Dennie Lennie then took it over in the early '90s but Barb has been the sole owner since Dennie died in 2004.
"I think there's a lot of sentimental value, so I held on on my own for a long time," she said.
"You just know when it's the right time. I knew I would know. Thirteen years is a long time, but the timing was right for me."
Barb Lennie said the best part of running the gas station was that "you get to see a wide variety of people and that makes the job a great job."
Barb added there's "ups and downs" in the gasoline industry "depending on what is going on in the surrounding area and how many gas stations are open at the time, because it ranges from being the only show in town to right now we have four."
"It's hard for everyone to get a piece of the market when there are four gas stations and nothing much happening in our region. So we'll just have to see, but usually good service does it. Good service, politeness, courtesy and price helps, too."
Lower fuel rates
Kurt Wainman, owner of Northwind Industries Ltd., says he's been hoping to acquire the business for a while.
"I think I asked her 10 years ago. Gas and diesel — I'm one of the consumers of it and at the same time I'm trying to make a full circle operation of it here in Inuvik."
Northwind Petroleum had its first day of full service Saturday. Wainman says it will take about six weeks to get the operation fully running with new systems. But in just a week, they have already made an impact on gas prices in Inuvik.
"Since we opened up, we've had quite a bit lower fuel rates. That's our first week. We are feeling it out and seeing how it goes and what our percentages are, and how it works."
Wainman says gas prices are currently at about $1.40 per litre, about "15-20 cents cheaper." It's caused other gas stations to lower their prices to compete.
Wainman says he has lots of plans for the location — right next to the Mackenzie River.
"It's an ideal location… I think in the future you are going to see big changes here — a very competitive gas business with convenience stores and all sorts of things coming. It will be interesting soon enough to have a place to watch the river go by."
For Barb Lennie, a nurse who is in charge of Public Health and Homecare in Inuvik, she's happy to go back to "just working one job like most people."
"I wanted more time with my seven grandkids, and more time to do Ski-Dooing and all the things that I loved," she said.
Although there will be changes at the gas station, she is hoping that one thing will remain the same.
"I think it will be family run. I think it will be the start of a new era in the Wainman family perhaps. You'll start seeing all their kids working there."