Gushulak hands his son keys to General Supply

Duane Hicks

After spending the last 27 years as proprietor of Fort Frances General Supply, Bill Gushulak officially retired Thursday.
But the Mowat Avenue business will remain in the family as son, Steve, has taken over as boss.
“It’s always been in the cards,” Bill Gushulak said during an interview Thursday. “Between [age] 55 and 60, I was hoping to do something.
“I just turned 60, so I am still on target,” he chuckled.
“As it turned out, Steve expressed interest in coming home and taking over the business. I basically welcomed him with open arms,” Gushulak added, noting Steve came on board more than a year ago, working alongside his dad and the rest of the General Supply staff.
“I just knew I didn’t want it to drag out forever and a day,” he stressed. “I wanted to make it happen sooner or later, so we thought this was a good time.
“Mary Jane’s retired now, so it enables us to be retired together,” Gushulak reasoned, referring to his wife, who also officially retired last Thursday after nearly 35 years at Fort Frances High School.
Gushulak said he’s thrilled General Supply will stay in the family.
“Anytime you can have the continuation of a business in a family, that’s wonderful,” he remarked. “If [Steve] wasn’t interested in the business, we would have certainly searched out other areas.
“The business has good potential; we have a good following of customer, good staff,” he noted.
“For Steve to come in willingly, and not have to have his arm twisted to be here, was really key for me,” Gushulak stressed. “It was something he wanted to do, and I was happy to oblige.
“We were able to put together a package that I think we both can be comfortable with for the future.”
“We’re really excited that Steve is taking over, and we know he’ll do a good job,” echoed Mary Jane Gushulak. “We’re pleased to have him back in town, and having it pass to him is really nice to have happened.”
She added it’s also good for the future of the town when young people who grew up here return.
Steve Gushulak, who will wed his fiancée, Beverley Spriggs, in August, said he had attended the University of Manitoba, worked a couple of jobs in Winnipeg, and found he didn’t like sitting in an office.
He missed interacting with customers on a daily basis.
After talking it over, the couple decided to move here, with Gushulak returning to the family business and Spriggs getting a job as a pharmacist at Shoppers Drug Mart here.
Having worked at General Supply while growing up, the 27-year-old is familiar with the business and its customer service credo.
“Our customer service has always been a big part of our business,” Steve Gushulak stressed. “Like Dad always says, it’s the cheapest thing to provide, but it could be the most expensive if you don’t.
“That’s always something we’ve been proud of,” he added. “With the great staff we’ve had, you don’t even think about it. It happens naturally.
“We’ve been lucky that way.”
Steve Gushulak said there aren’t many major changes in store for General Supply in the near future, but there could be some minor ones.
“We’re looking to sort of update a few things, bring it into the current,” he explained. “We’ve picked up a laser engraver that’s really updated the award side of the business.
“I [also] know our website needs a heavy overhaul.
“And we’re constantly looking to get into more products that people are wanting, whether it be expanding the safety line into footwear or whatever we need to do, we’re looking to provide what people are wanting.”
Bill Gushulak said he will miss the day-to-day interaction with staff and customers, but assured the community he’s “not going to become a recluse.”
“I am going to be out and about,” he pledged. “I will be around, and I can come and go, and help Steve out if he ever needs a hand.
“I expect to see a couple people on the golf course. I’ll be in the mix.”
“We are looking forward to retiring together,” said Mary Jane Gushulak.
“We don’t have a lot of plans at this point. We’ll just see what comes along,” she added.
“I am trying to learn to golf.”
“I definitely want to improve my golf game, which I think is a nice thing to wish for,” said Bill Gushulak. “It definitely needs some improvement, so I am happy for that.
“I will also have a ‘Honey-Do’ list that I have to get completed,” he chuckled. “I love keeping my car clean, and making sure the lawn gets mowed.
“And just doing some family things, being available for family.”
Bill Gushulak has been working for nearly 40 years, starting his career as a funeral director at Green Funeral Home here before becoming proprietor of Fort Frances General Supply back in 1984.