Join entrepreneur Sonny Gray as we discuss the changes that have happened with them and their businesses since connecting with them at the start of the pandemic in 2020. Sonny is CEO of North Star Agriculture, co-owner of Flat Creek Farms and Yukon Born & Raised and owns a couple service-related businesses in Whitehorse including Gray Management Services, Yukon Clean and Sirius Security Services.
(1:16) Sonny shares their first memory of the pandemic. They remember keeping tabs on it as it started in China, and then as it proceeded to hit Italy next. They and their father were in Quebec when it started to hit Canada and chose to leave a day early, which was good as the provincial borders closed the next day. They share how originally as Covid-19 hit Canada, there was a naivety that it would blow over in a couple months, where it has now been two years living with it.
(3:45) Due to the nature of the businesses they operate, they needed to focus on protecting their staff through providing proper protective equipment as they were providing services in other people’s homes. Public health measures had them leaning into technology to adapt, which is something Sonny appreciates as they can take meetings in the comfort of their home instead of traveling in person like they had to before.
(7:06) Being a part of two different areas of business (service and agriculture), Sonny discusses how the agricultural industry has seen many changes due to fragile nature of the current system and how there is more focus on developing regional infrastructure, along with the service industry, how at the beginning of the pandemic there was a lot of fear. Their cleaning business saw a decline, however as regulations changed and needed to be implemented, their security business was incredibly busy.
(12:54) How is Sonny thinking about business differently? Despite having loved to travel, Sonny sees their focus really being on the local scene where despite there being a ceiling in the Yukon, they feel there is a lot of opportunity as well.
(14:11) In the past two years, due to their businesses always evolving Sonny has worked on acquire new skills including getting their permaculture design certification which they always wanted to do. They have also just started their organic master gardeners certification due to having more time to put towards education as they are able to save time moving to working virtually.
(16:03) Sonny comments on the importance of understanding that we are in a difficult, controversial time, and as a leader it’s your goal to unite and lead people forward together. They share having a bit more compassion and understanding with people in order to find common ground has been working out pretty well.
(17:59) Sonny’s advice for emerging entrepreneurs? There are lots of vacuums around now, needs and niches. There is massive development happening, a by-product of everyone being stuck at home and the pandemic has fast-tracked the advancement of technology such as AI robotics, virtual reality, etc.
(22:31) Sonny reflects on some of their ‘aha’ moments during the pandemic. As an entrepreneur and businessperson, they’ve recognized some of the opportunities that have occurred and recognized what companies are taking advantage of those opportunities.
(25:22) What wellness practices keep Sonny grounded? Sonny shares their struggle with depression this past year and how their family has been integral to keeping them going. With daylight starting to become more, they find themself planting gardens and planning projects which makes them excited about the future.
(26:52) Sonny discusses how winters in the Yukon are incredibly difficult, especially for farmers and shares that remembering you are not alone in these experiences, that there is a community of farmers who are there and struggling is important. They share that it’s better for everyone if you’re open and transparent about what you’re going through as it helps everyone to not feel as alone.
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