October 2019 – Making Waves

With a mission to inform, empower, celebrate and advocate for British Columbia's current and aspiring business leaders, BCBusiness go behind the headlines and bring readers face to face with the key issues and people driving business in B.C.

Issue link: http://digital.canadawide.com/i/1173482

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E N T R E P R E N E U R O F T H E Y E A R 2 0 1 9 / C O N S U M E R P R O D U C T S + S E R V I C E S W I N N E R Jack Nicholson C E O , O T T E R F A R M A N D H O M E C O - O P E R A T I V E n Jack Nicholson's first job in the co-operative business was frying dough- nuts at the Drumheller Co-op in 1990. He became a certified baker and took advantage of educational opportunities provided to him by the co-op system. Today, Nicholson is CEO of Otter Farm and Home Co-operative, the seventh largest co-op in Canada, managing more than $200 million in annual sales and leading a team of 400 employees spread across 18 locations in the Lower Mainland and the Interior. Transformation has been a constant thread in the Langley-based co-op's 97-year history; diversifica- tion, a way forward. While some co-ops stick with one industry—like food or fuel— Otter has always sought to expand into new ventures to increase its resiliency to market changes. "We want to be diverse and make sure that if we have a bad economy in one particular area of our com- pany…another area can pick up where it left off," Ontario-raised Nicholson says, citing the example of fluctuating gas prices. Under Nicholson, Otter recently expanded into liquor and real estate, although petroleum still accounts for 67 percent of revenue. New develop- ments in the gas division are on the horizon—for example, a new gas bar and convenience store in Cache Creek and a cardlock for bulk fuel in Lake Country. Also, green fuel—E85 flex fuel, which releases fewer carbon emissions and consists of 85-percent renewable ethanol gas—will make its Otter debut at a Langley gas bar currently being reconstructed. "The government's mandated that E85 fuel will be 30 cents a litre cheaper than regular gasoline," Nich- olson says. "Not only is it going to be cheaper for our consumers, but it's also a great win because it's using renewable resources." As a profit-sharing company, Otter has about 35,000 active members who spend at least $100 a year at the co-op. Putting much of the profits back into the community keeps stakeholders top of mind, Nicholson says. "We're here because we want to support our members and try to look ahead and see what other services our communities are going to need." Supporting the growth of employees is also important to Nicholson, particularly because he knows what it's like to start near the bottom and work your way up. Promoting staff from within is one of the things he's proud- est of at Otter. "I just love coming to work and seeing the growth of people who started with pumping gas." —J.N.W. 44 BCBUSINESS OCTOBER 2019 WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF SUCCESS? Being excited to go to work every day, being happy with the life you have and the friends and com- munity you surround yourself with, and being satisfied you are doing your best for those around you

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