Hazelton resident Marlise Zurbrugg, owner of the Bulkley Browser sits at her desk in her home office. (Tom Roper photo)

Hazelton resident Marlise Zurbrugg, owner of the Bulkley Browser sits at her desk in her home office. (Tom Roper photo)

It’s all about customer service for Hazelton’s Marlise Zurbrugg

I was down in New Hazelton delivering some pamphlets to the Bulkley Browser last month and had a chance to meet up with Marlise Zurbrugg. Turns out I used to work with her dad Simon back in the day when I was millwrighting for Stege at his sawmill on Vancouver Street in Hazelton.

Marlise’s family came north from Invermere following Erwin Stege when he came to Hazelton. Marlise’s father was Erwin’s longest-term employee. Interesting how small the world is.

Marlise did her schooling in Hazelton and spent most of her life in the Bulkley Valley. She raised three boys in Hazelton/Smithers and spent most of her free time hauling the boys to their sporting events. But she always found time to work. The one thing her family taught her was how to work. Seems that is one of the things you learn from being raised by a Swiss father and a German mother.

Marlise started at the Royal Bank in Old Town and transferred to the Smithers branch. The main thing she learned was customer service.

“I used to keep an eye out from my office and when it got busy I was out helping the tellers,” said Marlise.

After 13 years in the business, it was time for a change and Marlise returned to Hazelton to start a new career in the education field. She also was able to buy a rural property one minute from town and set it up for horses.

“That was the one thing I never had time for while raising a family, but now finally I can enjoy my animals,” stated Marlise

“Let me get this straight, you have a full-time job, you have 11 acres that always needs care and you have horses and so when the opportunity comes along to purchase the Bulkley Browser you actually consider it,” I asked. “Are you crazy?”

“Well I thought about it long and hard,” she replied. “I always wanted my own business and I felt this was an enterprise I could do from home and if you don’t try it now, when would you do it?”

So she did and that was three years ago.

“I think most people I’ve talked to were kinda glad someone from Hazelton bought the business and kept it in town. I remember every Friday, dad would pick up the Browser and bring it home for mom. They would be kinda proud that I have brought that business home. It definitely keeps me on track.

“It was a fairly steep learning curve as my computer skills are not my strong side. Operating the old printer and copy machines were also challenging and eventually they had to be replaced. I have an employee that works two days a week setting up and, of course, there is a lot of time spent in delivery.

“Our territory stretches from Kitwanga west to Smithers/Telkwa in the east. That entails lots of driving. I enjoy it and usually get to have a quick chat with some of my distributors along the way.

“So, as you can imagine there is a lot of time spent getting the ads, making the layout fit and satisfying the customers’ needs. My past experience with customer service trained me well and this is where I shine. At the end of the day, I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment with our product. I am putting out 1,400 hard copies a week and have it available online. Though there are glitches along the way, generally the operation runs fairly smooth.”

“You have a pretty strong work ethic Marlise, where do you find time to play,” I inquired.

“Well, I do live at the base of Stekyoden and that gives me extra power. And don’t forget my horses, I have trails all around my property to ride. And my boys. They are hard workers too but we always have time to talk and get together,” she answered.

Thanks for sharing your story and when I am reading the Browser I will truly appreciate the work required to put it on the shelf.