2020-05-20

Buck’s building a business path through the pandemic

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Ryan and Julie Buck are the owners of Buck&#8217;s Home Building Centre in Bridgewater.</p>

Buck's Home Building Centre is constructing the foundation for a sympathetic and sustainable business intended to survive not only the COVID-19 pandemic's economic challenges, but anything similar in the future.

It's also laying the paving stones for commerce on the digital highway, while recognizing the contributions of the local community.

The business on MacCulloch Road in Bridgewater which also owns New Germany Home Hardware Building Centre on Highway 10, has implemented measures to keep customers safe and minimize staff anxiety. And it's establishing a blueprint for proactive steps in the event of any future pandemic.

"Yeah, I've got a plan in place. It's a five-page document," said Ryan Buck, who along with his wife Julie, co-owns the Home Hardware franchise.

The document outlines the steps Buck's is taking, and will take when necessary in the future, to ensure customers and staff are safe. It will assure prospective employees as well as safety inspectors, he told LighthouseNOW.

Buck's is one of the businesses recently nominated under the Shine On campaign. Operated through LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin and its parent company, Advocate Media Inc, the campaign aims to shine a light on outstanding businesses in Lunenburg and Queens counties that are making a difference in their communities during these trying times. The businesses have a chance at being highlighted in the company's newspapers, as well as winning $3,000 worth of free advertising for when the economy picks up.

It was a Ryan Buck's mother, Janice Buck, who nominated the business. "Ryan and Julie have gone above and beyond to help customers and staff during this difficult time. They have been very supportive to their staff giving them the time they need off. They have gone in when [the] store is closed to do the behind-the-scenes work to make the store safe for employees and customers. They have done deliveries after hours to accommodate customers; you will even see Ryan and Julie doing deliveries as well. I believe they have worked hard and been very accommodating during this time," Janice wrote in her nomination comments.

The owners had Plexiglas barriers installed around the cash area, six-foot barriers around the service stations, directional arrows in the aisles and they cordoned some aisles off completely.

Surfaces, including counters, phones, and shopping carts, are sanitized every hour.

The business has accommodated online shopping, and offers free delivery to its contract and retail customers, while other customers can be served with curbside pick-up if they choose.

According to Ryan, the owners began to act as soon as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the nation about COVID-19 on March 16.

"Julie and I actually sat down with every one of our staff and said, 'What are you comfortable with?' And kind of gave them the opportunity to get out before it got, what we thought in our mind was going to be, crazy."

Those employees who had health concerns, and were able to, were permitted to work from home. To give peace of mind to the others, the owners established a work schedule of one-day-on and one-day-off.

"Especially early on we found there was a lot of stress; there was a lot of information coming out. There was a lot of changes so rapidly," Ryan told LighthouseNOW.

Though he admitted, "it's been kind of a wild ride here," he said the alternate schedule allowed the workers to "refresh" mentally. "Our staff's mental health is our biggest concern."

As well, as a nod to the broader community, the business is establishing its own nomination campaign called Buck's Home Town Heroes. It's inviting community members to nominate local frontline essential service workers, such as those in healthcare, groceries and first response, who are going above and beyond "and standing out through these times." Nominees receive a gift card to the store. "So a little bit of positivity," said Ryan.

Meanwhile, although traffic into the stores is down, business remains buoyant, with online shopping picking up not only for themselves but for Home Hardware as a whole. "We're not worried. Everything's fine on our end," commented Ryan.

And he's predicting more of the same in the future. Ryan suggested that as people get used to shopping online the e-commerce foundations being laid now will be "kind of the new normal."

Anyone wanting to nominate a business in the Shine On campaign can do so by connecting with the Shine On link at the top of this newspaper's website at: https://lighthousenow.ca , or by mailing a handwritten nomination with the business's name, as well as the nominator's name, email address, phone number and reason for the nomination. People can also nominate their own business.

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