Fanatyk Co’s secret to longevity in Whistler

December 6, 2016
By: Blair Kaplan
Make business easy — tune in to The Big Idea, a bi-weekly column from the Whistler Chamber of Commerce showcasing a Whistler business innovating in their sector.

Those of us who have lived in Whistler for quite some time have seen many businesses come and go.

It doesn’t matter if a business is a chain or a unique concept, survival in Whistler can be challenging. This past fall Fanatyk Co Ski and Cycle, a staple in the Whistler ski and bike community, turned 20 years old. Scott Humby, Kevan Kobayashi and Bruce Pegram, the three owners of Fanatyk Co, have learned what it takes to be a successful (and privately owned) business in Whistler that can stand the test of time.

One of the biggest reasons that they have been a Whistler staple for two decades is because of the staff at their shop. Pegram learned that the key to longevity is having the right employees.

“Our employees are our biggest asset and the fact is people buy from people,” he said. “Making sure that our staff are having honest engagement with our customers is key. It is really important that our staff engage in the mountain culture. We want our customers to have the best experience in the mountains. To do that they need the correct gear. The only way to select the best products for them is to engage with them about their goals and needs. There are so many sources of information these days that it can be difficult to filter out the noise. With our amazing staff, we strive to help our customers do that.”

For Fanatyk Co there is a formula to having the right people on your team and that includes educating your staff about the products or services offered, being an involved owner and making sure it’s an awesome environment to work in.

Provide product knowledge training

For those of you who have been to Fanatyk Co, you know that season after season and year after year you will see familiar faces. The core team at the shop has been there for many years and over time they have accumulated a lot of product knowledge. Before each season the shop holds countless product knowledge sessions so that the team can educate their customers and inspire them to make informed decisions.

“It takes at least a year before a staff member is fully trained. Our type of retail is a complex business. There’s lots to learn. Encourage the staff to continue to learn. Well-trained, informed and educated staff will be able to engage with customers honestly,” said Pegram.

Be an involved owner

Being a business owner is a lot of work. There’s a lot of work to do behind the scenes and employees don’t always know that. It’s important to spend time with your employees and be an active member of the team to help build rapport and relationships.

“Be present. As owners, it is really important to stay engaged,” Pegram said. “Between myself and my partners, there is an owner working in the store 90 per cent of the time.”

Work environment matters

If work isn’t fun then you won’t have a motivated team. The business aims to ensure that both customers and employees enjoy spending time at Fanatyk Co. Sometimes, it’s the first place people go before they head up the mountain and sometimes it’s the first place they go once they come down. The reason that Fanatyk Co is so fun is because they have a fantastic team and environment, Pegram said.

“Even some of the worst jobs in the world are not so bad if you are doing them with people you enjoy working with,” he said. “We are lucky enough to work in two fun-driven businesses. It’s important to not lose sight of this.”

Be part of Whistler’s culture

“Our customers have the same goals as our staff: fun in the mountains,” Pegram said. “Our customers are part of the culture that makes up Whistler and we want to make sure that we help that spirit continue.”

Make business easy — tune in to The Big Idea, a bi-weekly column from the Whistler Chamber of Commerce showcasing a Whistler business innovating in their sector

Link to Whistler Question article: http://ow.ly/VJRnm