Join Yukon Entrepreneur Mike Pemberton, general manager of Erikco Holdings Ltd. as we connect with them about what impacts the pandemic has had on their businesses and how they have adapted over the last couple years.
(2:55) Mike shares their first memory of the pandemic. Initially, they heard rumblings while in Las Vegas for an annual furniture market at the end of January 2020, but it wasn’t right in their face. Later in March, when they were back in the Yukon is when it became real; they were called together to be informed of the cancellation of the Arctic Winter Games which was a huge deal for the community.
(4:15) Reflecting on the most challenging public health measures for Mike’s businesses, they share that overall, they feel very fortunate that they were able to put health protocols in place quickly and they didn’t have a lot of pushback from customers for requiring masks to be worn compared to other local businesses.
(6:12) Mike shares that they are proud that up until a couple weeks ago; over two years since the start of the pandemic, they hadn’t had any one on their team infected with COVID which they attribute to the protocols they had in place to make sure everyone stayed safe.
(7:04) Thinking about their business model over the last couple of years, Mike has recognized the importance of the digital retail world. They share that prior to the pandemic they had a website that was incomplete, and when the pandemic hit, they decided to get it out there regardless. They discuss that having an up-to-date website is difficult, especially dealing with different suppliers and freight issues.
(9:57) Mike describes the supply chain challenges their businesses have faced during the pandemic as being the worst two years of their life in the retail sector. It has been incredibly difficult to commit to arrival times, and Mike shares that they have had to be transparent with customers about the uncertainty of when their products will arrive.
(14:53) Mike shares that their businesses accessed pandemic related supports to ensure they didn’t have to lay off any of their team members and were able to keep their employees being paid and properly supported despite their gross sales being down.
(19:43) Looking at their business differently, Mike sees opportunity in the digital world. They also highlight that the supply chain issues are not going to get back to normal for a while, especially with many costs increasing across most industries including fuel surcharges which have major impacts on their supply.
(21:52) Mike has always been a bit of an out of the box thinker. They share that they have had to lean into this skill more over the past couple years and they see an opportunity right now to work on issues that they’ve sort of ignored. They’ve realized the amount of emphasis they put on their staff is ultra-important and they feel inspired by helping people build lives in our community.
(24:55) Thinking about leadership, Mike shares they have had to learn more patience. Don’t let things get you down, don’t walk away when you have an opportunity to talk, and keep teaching. Stay strong, stay the course, and we will all get through this.
(26:14) As the Yukon economy emerges from the pandemic, Mike discusses the spin-off of private industries, such as mining having a strong impact on the economy moving forward. The housing market has gone through the roof, so their businesses have seen a positive impact supplying appliances and furniture, but they share the need to now get the housing supply to a place where young people can afford to purchase a home and establish a life here in the Yukon.
(28:40) Mike’s advice for emerging entrepreneurs? Whitehorse is the fastest growing community in Canada right now and Mike believes it will be the number one place to start a business in Canada in the very near future. They share how the growth they’ve seen since moving to Whitehorse in 1987 has blown their mind.
(32:09) Mike never thought they would see anything like this pandemic in their life. They now realize things like this could happen any day and believe it is important to move forward in a way that better prepares everyone for if there is a next time.
(33:53) What wellness practice keeps Mike grounded? Mike attributes staying grounded to their wife who has made sure they are doing the things they need to be doing to keep themselves, their teams, and their family safe.
(34:28) Mike reflects on how we’ve come to a place in this pandemic now where we can come together as a community. They are looking forward to the Fireweed Market in Shipyards Park, barbecues at Rotary Park, and spending time camping out in Atlin, B.C. They want to make sure they are spending every waking moment with some enjoyment.
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