Monday, June 5, 2023
June 5, 2023

Windsor Plywood expands local ownership group

Windsor Plywood announced this week that Jess Harkema and Adam Geddes have joined the business’ ownership group of Mike Stefancsik, Ken Marr and Gordon McEwan, ensuring local control and a seamless transition to the future.

Both Harkema and Geddes have been in leadership roles with Windsor on Salt Spring Island for the past two years, and helped ensure the company survived and thrived after the devastating fire of June 2021.

“They have really shown very effective leadership in our company, and their capacity to learn and pick things up has been phenomenal,” Marr said last week. “And they just seemed like an ideal fit for the Windsor system.”

Geddes came to Windsor Plywood with 15-plus years of experience in the hardware and building supply industry, starting his career with Home Hardware and then Dick’s Lumber on the Lower Mainland.

Harkema comes from a business background both in education and from having owned her own business. In 2019, she returned to Salt Spring, where she was born and raised, for her previous role as Chamber of Commerce executive director. She joined Windsor Plywood in 2021, where she has been learning the industry and business inside and out since then.

“We’re very excited for the future, because it’s been very important and weighing very heavily on Mike and I that we depart this business leaving our community in good shape,” said Marr, adding that they have had opportunities to sell to a big-box chain company, but did not want to take that route.

Stefancsik said staff and customers won’t see any changes at Windsor because Geddes and Harkema understand the workplace culture he and Marr have created over the past 23 years.

“The way we empower our staff and the way we deal with our customers; how that works is important to us,” Stefancsik said, “and these two completely get it.”

“I think the fire and our recovery bonded us as a team,” observed Marr, noting that everyone had to trust each other and just dive in to take care of the tasks in front of them. “There are certain jobs that need to be done. They’re not all pleasant, but they have to be done, and it was a great bonding experience.”

Harkema agreed.

Despite the obvious challenges of setting up in a temporary home on Rainbow Road and shifting some activities to the company’s Beddis Road yard, the team barely missed a beat in serving their customers.

“We had an extremely successful summer working out of really unfortunate conditions [in 2021],” said Harkema, “and then we’ve continued that momentum through to today.”

Geddes, who moved to Salt Spring with his wife just before the onset of the pandemic in 2020, stresses the importance of the business’ community focus.

“Jess and I both feel strongly that community is important. And it’s nice to see a Salt Spring business stay local, and allow us the flexibility to grow with the community and what it needs.”

And how’s the replacement building project coming along?

“We believe we are in the final legs of the [Islands Trust] development permit phase,” said Marr. Acquiring a building permit is the next step, but no problems are anticipated, he said.

Windsor Plywood Salt Spring opened in 1976 and moved to the current Rainbow Road site in 1985. Marr, Stefancsik and McEwan began their business partnership and purchased the business in 2000, and in 2019 Windsor Plywood expanded their operation to include the Beddis yard. Over the years, Windsor Plywood Salt Spring has received many business awards, including Store of the Year among 60 other Windsor outlets five times over, and was named Business of the Year through the Salt Spring Chamber of Commerce on two occasions.



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