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Business run by all women wins Long Range award of distinction

Sharleen Hinks, manager of the Lourdes Co-op Society, talks about receiving the Long Range CBDC Business Award of Distinction on Thursday evening at Dhoon Lodge in Black Duck Siding. Looking on are two members of her board of directors: Eileen Gastia, center and Bertha Hynes, who were also on hand to accept the award.
Sharleen Hinks, manager of the Lourdes Co-op Society, talks about receiving the Long Range CBDC Business Award of Distinction on Thursday evening at Dhoon Lodge in Black Duck Siding. Looking on are two members of her board of directors: Eileen Gastia, center and Bertha Hynes, who were also on hand to accept the award. - Frank Gale

From almost shutting down in 2012 to now experiencing strong growth, the women involved in the turnaround for the Lourdes Co-op Society Ltd. have received a distinguished award.

The 2018 Long Range CBDC Business Award of Distinction was accepted by Sharleen Hinks, manager; and two members of the businesses board of directors — Bertha Hynes and Eileen Gastia on Wednesday evening.

“It’s great, awesome, and I certainly wasn’t expecting it,” Hinks said of the award.

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Hynes commented that Hinks, who was hired as manager in 2014, has worked really hard in turning the business around.

The former board of directors was considering in 2012 on selling or shutting down the cooperative that was incorporated in 1940 to meet the needs of local fishermen, back then offering fishing gear, supplies, building materials and grocery items.

During the years a wider variety of products and services were added, including propane fuel and a gas bar.

Hinks said they been adding an average of 15 to 20 new members every month and they’ve increased their membership from 464 in 2014 to the current 706 members, an increase of 52 per cent.

Sales have also increased dramatically during that time.

In addition to Hinks, the turnaround has been attributed basically to an all-women cast as the current eight-person board consists of all females, as do the five staff members.

“This is a proud moment for the board of directors, myself and my staff,” she said in accepting the award. “There were a lot of obstacles over the years and the business nearly closed but with the help of the CBDC and our loyal customers we’re growing stronger and larger every passing year.”

In turning around the business, Hinks and staff cleaned every inch of the store, painted the exterior, added signage, increased stock, replaced coolers, installed a new Point-of-Sale system and kept a close eye on their bottom line.

The board of directors was proactive and supportive by seeking funding from CBDC Long Range to assist with the renovations and replacing equipment.

Since, they have received lots of support from the town and area through increased membership.

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