As Hay River springs to life with new growth and development, one of the Rowe’s Group of Companies family members says it was the right time to sell their long-established Ptarmigan Inn, as announced last week in the Hay River Hub.
“It’s a family business and we’ve been in hospitality for about 20 years, and I think it’s time now to move on and try new things,” Terry Rowe, the former general manager of the Inn, said.
“I think it is a good opportunity as well, so Rowe’s Group of Companies posted it and I think there is lots of good opportunities in Hay River, business-wise,” he said.
The building includes a 42-room hotel, a restaurant, a pub, a full-service gym in the basement, three conference rooms, plus several non-hospitality lease tenants — all for a $4.25 million price tag. Rowe said they did constant upgrades throughout the building during the 18 years they owned the building.
“I think our family tried to keep it as new and fresh for our customers as we could, so that is another reason I think why maybe now is a good reason to sell, as we’ve done as much as we could to the building and the property, and we are pretty happy about that.”
“I think it’s a good time,” he said of the decision to sell the building, located in the heart of the downtown area.
There is a flurry of construction activity in the region, including the Sundog development project, a possible new long-term care facility, a commercial fish plant, new housing construction, as well as Brad Mapes’ AWP Industries partnership with North Star Agriculture NWT in Enterprise.
The possible opening of the Pine Point mine will also likely bring economic benefits to the region.
Jane Groenewegen, a former NWT MLA, and a businessperson in Hay River, said in an email that it was indeed “big news” that one of Hay River’s long-standing, locally-owned businesses is now for sale.
“We roll along and the years pass. We don’t often think about things changing, but they do and they will,” she said.
“I can understand that after 20 years, they may feel it’s time. That’s a long run for any business.”
Neither Rowe nor Groenewegen could surmise who might decide to buy the business.
“When there’s major changes in ownership, the local economy, it sort of reshuffles the deck, so to speak,” said Groenewegen.
“(It’s) hard to know who will pick it up, and the market for it is likely somewhat limited in a town the size of Hay River. Outside investors would probably come with a different corporate culture,” she said.
“We are pretty used to knowing the key players in most of the businesses in Hay River that have been built from the ground up. So many family businesses in Hay River fall into that category.
“So, it will be different in that sense.”
One thing for certain, it won’t be the Groenewegen family that buys the keys to the business.
“Our family hasn’t and wouldn’t consider buying it. We are getting close to retirement age ourselves and should be thinking about scaling back, even though we don’t have any immediate plans in that area,” Groenewegen said.
“We had the opportunity to purchase the Ptarmigan 20 years ago and we actually looked at it, but it didn’t really fit our plans. This may sound strange, but at that time, a lot of the revenue was around the sale of alcohol, something that didn’t really suit us as non-partakers ourselves,” she said.
We saw a lot of ways to make a living in Hay River and there are still lots of opportunities here. We wish the owners of the Ptarmigan all the best in their efforts to sell and I’m sure it will remain an integral piece of what Hay River has to offer.”
Rowe said he was appreciative of all the staff that worked for the business over the years.
“There were a lot of amazing people and a lot of great relationships and it was a working family, for our family for sure, and I want to thank them for their hard work and great years throughout that time,” Rowe said.
Rowe said there are no plans to sell any of their other real estate – the group owns numerous businesses, land and properties in the area.
Currently on the Rowe’s website, the company has an announcement of a “newly constructed apartment complex” slated to be completed this year.
The 44-unit downtown building is described as serving “a growing need for accessible housing” in the community and being “a first for the Town of Hay River.”