Jerry (left) and Ed (right) Pete, pictured at Community Futures Nadina (CFN) in Smithers with Sarah Fitzmaurice (centre). (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Bulkley Valley entrepreneurs look to launch traffic control business

Ed and Jerry Pete are well known within the area for snow removal and selling firewood

Considering how well-known they are for their firewood, it’s only logical Ed and Jerry Pete are branching out.

After spending years building their names for themselves in the areas of selling firewood and snow removal, the Pete brothers are now trying to launch their very own business, the aptly named Ed & Jerry’s Traffic Control.

The business will focus on providing crews for traffic control, snow removal and road maintenance.

To help the Pete’s with funding for the business they applied to Community Futures Nadina (CFN) in Smithers.

CFN is a developmental lender, meaning it is a non-profit funded by the federal government that acts as as a lender in the community, lending capital to startups and also to existing companies looking to expand.

As part of that process, CFN business development analyst Sarah Fitzmaurice helps entrepreneurs develop business models and then supports them through the running of their business.

“We’ll support the business owner through the launch and then throughout the running of their business,” explains Fitzmaurice, who adds that one of her favourite things is calling people to tell them they’ve been approved for a loan.

CFN is part of an extensive network of 269 community futures development corporations across the country and one of 34 Community Futures offices located in British Columbia.

Fitzmaurice said that CFN was able to grant the Petes a loan for their project, however due to a shortfall in funds needed to launch the business an additional $10,000 GoFundMe campaign was set up to try to raise funds in the community.

So far it’s been just over two months and they’ve raised just under a tenth of that goal.

Jerry said the support shown from the community, both in terms of funds raised but also in the kind messages they’ve received through social media and the GoFundMe page have been extremely encouraging.

“I find it amazing,” he said. “I never had this much support in my life… it feels good.”

Discussing how the idea for the business came to be, Jerry discussed his own flagging career which began some 12 years ago.

“We were getting money taken from us from our boss,” he said.

“We caught [them] a few times but it kept happening so we decided — well we got pushed from [ Billabong Road & Bridge Maintenance’s] boss to start our own flagging business.”

And so the idea was born, with the ability to provide future employees with a fair job for at a fair price a huge reason behind the brothers’ desire to start their own business.

Another factor was the ability to get people the Petes knew off the street and back into the workforce, all at a fair price.

While most traffic control contractors are paid $16/hr, the Petes will be paying their employees $17/hr as per their business plan.

“There’s about five or six companies that they will end up offering their services to so they’ve been working really hard trying to establish those relationships over the last few months,” explained Fitzmaurice.

Some of those include Vihar Construction, Dawson Road Maintenance the Ministry of Transportation and the Town of Smithers.

Fitzmaurice echoed the Pete’s feelings about support from the community.

“The response has just been amazing, it’s not just the money that’s been contributed but people comment on that page as well and there’s just so much support for them.”

Fitzmaurice said money loaned from CFN to the brothers has been used for things like flagging equipment, radios and a trailer to transport gear to different locations for their various contracts.

She ended by noting she has a personal connection to the Petes, who she herself has been buying firewood from for years.

The first time she ever used the brothers’ firewood business she said she didn’t have cash on her to pay.

Instead of coming back another day, they let her meet them in town the next day at A&W, where Fitzmaurice said the brothers were treating their extended family to breakfast.

“Most of A&W was filled with part of [their] family so this shows the generosity and the community spirit they’ve always had.

“They take care of their family, so I’ve been inspired since that day after witnessing that and seeing that generosity.”

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