A new era begins for Pinewood Sports

After over 30 years, Chuck Arpin is letting go of the reins as the primary owner of Pinewood Sports & Marine, and reverted to being a partner along employees Bob Fichuk, Al McTaggart, and Tammy Grinsell.
Arpin explained in an interview Friday the move will allow him to be “officially semi-retired.”
“Over the years, I’ve had different levels of partners in the business, but I always maintained controlling interest. I was the main shareholder,” explained Arpin.
“It’s changing now. I have two sons—Chuck Jr. and Steve—and they both have career aspirations of their own. I’ve always maintained controlling interest in the event they would want to be involved in the business,” he added.
“They’re both pursuing different careers right now, and they’re doing very well for themselves. And now it’s time for me to kind of step back and let some younger people take over the reins,” said Arpin.
Fichuk, who works in the sales department, has been a mainstay at Pinewood Sports for 26 years, and already a partner in the business for the past 10 years.
“Bob has always been a very devoted members of our team,” noted Arpin, adding over the years, Fichuk ran different businesses owned by Arpin, including Nestor Falls Marine and Action Marine.
Fichuk said he’s looking forward to working with the new partners.
“I welcome Al and Tammy to the family. They’re a big part of the family—I feel like we have more of a family here than a business. We’re going to do great together, we’re going to grow,” he remarked.
“And we’re going to keep caring about our customers like we always have. I think we’ve done a great job at that, building our business on service. Competitive prices, smiling faces and service,” added Fichuk.
McTaggart, who manages the service department at Pinewood Sports, has worked there for over 10 years while Grinsell has been a bookkeeper with Pinewood Sports for the past three years.
“I think both Al and I are excited to be signing on with Pinewood Sports, working with Chuck and Bob both,” said Grinsell.
“We’re excited to service all the customers we currently have and excited to bring new customers in,” she added. “I think we offer excellent customer service, and with that, and the experience Chuck and Bob have, the future is looking very bright.”
“I’m excited, a little nervous,” chuckled McTaggart. “But Chuck’s going to get me through this.”
Arpin noted that for the time being, the partners’ roles in the company won’t change much.
“There’s a lot of plans for some major changes in the future. They will all be addressed slowly to ensure we don’t hurt the integrity of the company,” he said.
Meanwhile, Arpin is going to stay on staff for another five years, lending his experience to the new co-owners.
“I hope my duties decrease a lot,” he chuckled. “I guess you could say I’m officially semi-retired.”
Arpin said he’s very pleased with the direction the business is heading, and confident in its continued success under its new partners.
“I’m very excited about it. You’ve got to be comfortable with the people you work with, and there’s got to be a great deal of trust involved. Combined with Bob, Al and Tammy, I’m very comfortable turning over the reins to them,” mentioned Arpin.
“I am still a partner, but I no longer have control of the company. They want me involved for at least another five years, but it will be more behind-the-scenes, which is probably where I belong at this time,” he added.
“I’m very confident that everything will maintain it’s status. In fact, I expect everything to improve. The people that have bought in have devoted 110 percent of their time and effort into Pinewood Sports from day one. But when you own a piece of something, you just work harder and smarter,” noted Arpin.
He also felt that the high level of service to Pinewood’s customers will actually improve in the future. “The young people involved have considerably more energy than I have, and are prepared to put it toward the business,” vowed Arpin.
Arpin also said customers can expect to see some changes down the road as to what Pinewood Sports & Marine will be selling. “Obviously, our mainstays that have been strong with us for many years (Mercury outboards, Lund boats and Honda) will always be with us,” he remarked.
“But we’re always looking at new product lines. As a matter of fact, a new product line has been signed on and will be announced very shortly,” he added. “I can say there definitely will be new product lines coming on board that will complement our current lines.”
And with the changeover, Pinewood Sports will be liquidating some of its stock prior to Aug. 31, noted Arpin. As such, customers can expect to see lots of sales between now and then.
A brief history
of Pinewood Sports
Pinewood Sports’ history goes back over three decades, to when Arpin used to race snowmobiles as a teenager. At age 19, he decided he wanted to get into the Polaris franchise, and started Pinewood Sports in 1972 in Pinewood, Ont., selling snowmobiles during the winter months.
That seasonal business went on for a few years until Arpin decided he wanted to start something more permanent. In 1976, he decided to move to Fort Frances, and establish the business at 835 Mackenzie Ave., next to The Beer Store.
At that time, Pinewood Sports became a year-round business, acquiring the Mercury, Lund and Honda franchises, and consequently expanding its products to include boats, outboard motors, trailers, motorcycles, dirt bikes, ATVs and more.
In the meantime, Arpin had started other businesses, including Johnson franchise Action Marine (which eventually was incorporated into Pinewood Sports) and Nestor Falls Marine (which Arpin eventually sold).
The main building burned down in 1985, but was rebuilt. At that time, Arpin also owned the former ARC Industries property, which was where Pinewood Sports’ service department was located.
Then in 1992, Arpin bought property in Crozier and built a new facility—the building stands there today.