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Shoppers wins national award

Andrew Livingstone
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, November 25, 2009

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - Daryl Dolynny is now a two-time national award winner for his work in Yellowknife.

NNSL photo/graphic

Daryl Dolynny and his wife Cindy, show off their newest addition to the trophy collection. Dolynny, owner of Shoppers Drug Mart, was awarded the national award for commercial services at the Lauriers de la PME, a national awards competition organized by the National Francophone Economic Development Network recognizing francophone businesses established outside Quebec. - Andrew Livingstone/NNSL photo

The owner of Shoppers Drug Mart received an award for excellence in commercial service during the annual Lauriers de la PME, – which honours small and medium-sized businesses – held in Ottawa on Nov. 7.

It is the second national award Dolynny has received in less than five years. The well-known Yellowknife businessman was named one of Canada's top 40 businesspeople under the age of 40 by the Globe and Mail in 2004.

"I thought that was the top of my career, lo and behold we're looking at another award which came out of luck from my perspective," Dolynny said.

"Life is full of irony that's how I chalk it up."

Up against 40 other francophone businesses from across Canada, Dolynny admitted when it was announced his store had won, he was in complete shock.

"When you're up against high-calibre businesses from across Canada, it's really amazing," he said. "Never in a million years would I have thought I'd be a runner-up, let alone a winner."

The national competition, organized by the National Francophone Economic Development Network of Canada, recognizes francophone businesses established outside of Quebec. Forty finalists were selected for their economic performance and their contribution to the community.

"Winning a national award a few years ago was an honour, but to win a second one in less than five years of a national level like this, lightning does strike twice and I've proven it," he said.

Dolynny opened Shoppers Drug Mart at its current location last year, moving from Yellowknife Centre Mall to a brand new building which has brought the store great success. Dolynny, whose first language is French, said it was a shining moment to be given an award in the language he grew up on.

"To win an award in your maternal language, it's a nice thank-you," he said. "It's a lot to grow up and learn a second language and to be known as a francophone operator in an English-speaking environment."

The challenge of operating in an English-based community has never been an issue for him, Dolynny said, adding he seeks to provide high quality service of equal value to all his customers.

He said when hiring he always hopes to add new staff with proficiency in a second language, which rounds out customer service – especially in a city where over 1,700 people consider French their first language.

"I think the clients we have here, that we're working for them," he said, adding he has about a dozen staff who can speak French. "When we hire we always ask if they have a second language whether it's French or something else. We can use that to ease the comfort level of the average consumer. Knowing they can converse in Filipino, French or other languages. It's a great asset to any company."

It doesn't just stop at offering service in French, Dolynny said. For him, it's offering products in French as well.

"It's difficult to source a lot of the French greeting cards, birthday cards, trying to bring in some of the unique chocolates that might only be found in France or in eastern Canada," he said.

"From a product selection, we try at every stop with our resources and vendors to bring in some of that culture to Yellowknife. Whether we do it inadvertently or on purpose, it's ultimately the fruit of our labour. It's a store win."

Dolynny said he learned a valuable lesson from going in with the mindset he wouldn't win the award.

"Always have a speech prepared for acceptance," he said.

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