Owners of family businesses who are nearing the end of their run generally have two options: Sell it to someone or bring in family members.
It can be a daunting decision – is running the family business something the second-generation is interested in or good at? Should they join the business at a young age or be encouraged to find work elsewhere first and apply to the company later?
Desiring to leave the company she helped build to focus on her work as a life coach, Shirley Coumont struggled with the decision but now that both her sons have become skilled tradesmen, the owner of Independent Electrical Services Ltd. is confident the company she helped build will be serving Yellowknife for many years to come.
Dylan and Kyle Coumont were just children when Shirley purchased Independent Electrical Services Ltd. in 1992.
“We are a 100 per cent Metis owned company, with both of my sons being Metis,” said Shirley.
“Not a lot of businesses in town can say that,” added Dylan.
Twenty-seven years later, the Coumont brothers are preparing to take over the family business. Shirley is still involved in day-to-day operations but Kyle, 27, has taken on the role of operations manager since 2014. Now he and his younger brother Dylan, 21, a heavy duty mechanic who splits his time between Independent Electrical and the territory’s diamond mines, have become partners in the company. The pair acquired a 50 per cent stake in the company from their mother last year.
The company, a fixture in the Yellowknife business community for decades, has expanded from its humble beginnings.
It still offers a range of services including solar panel installations, wiring, surge protection, service panel upgrades and commercial signage installation but now they’re also offering lot and shop rental, snow removal and home renovations.
For Kyle, expanding the business remains an important goal.
“Sky is the limit,” he said. “We want to expand the company, keep our property and maybe get a few more employees.”
Shirley attributed their success to focusing on making quality connections in town and providing good service.
She said the slow process of transferring the business to her sons has been a challenge, but Kyle’s personality and genuine love for the job have gone a long way in ensuring customers stay satisfied and return for more work.
Kyle, an electrician by trade, is enjoying his new managerial role.
“I pretty much make sure the guys are on track,” he said. “I’m the one that bids for the jobs, does the jobs and that’s pretty much it. I’ve been doing the job for about six years now, I got my journeyman ticket when I was 21 and I’m looking to get my masters within the next two years.”
In the coming years Shirley says she wants to set her sons up for a bright future and Dylan and Kyle have been developing plans of their own.
“In the next ten years I want to learn industrial instrumentation, another trade, and expand that in the company,” said Kyle.
Dylan said he is exploring the idea of opening his own heavy machine repair shop, though he’s not sure he wants to keep it under the Independent name.