Some may call them the real Canadian Tire family. Others may know them as the new faces in town.
Regardless, Paul and Stephanie Sunstrum and their three children recently set out on their first northern adventure as a family and wound up 1,700 km on the other side of Ontario.
The couple are the new proud owners of the local Canadian Tire store.
Since arriving here last month, the Sunstrums have been busy settling into their roles and fixing things to their liking so they will be able to provide excellent service to the community now and for years to come.
“I hope to support the community and to provide a high-level of service to customers,” said Paul Sunstrum. “The Canadian Tire name is highly-regarded within the community and I want to maintain that status.”
Although the Sunstrums have embarked on new geographic territory, they certainly are no strangers to Canadian Tire. The family roots are deeply embedded within the franchise as he is following in the footprints of his father, who owns a store in Bancroft, Ont.
As a child, his family relocated several times because his father would tackle transfer opportunities that presented themselves.
By the time Sunstrum became a teenager, his father was running a smaller Canadian Tire store in Paris, Ont. and that’s where he got his big start with the company.
At first he worked part-time while going to school but eventually was promoted within the company. He managed three stores in Brantford, Thornhill, and Bancroft before taking the reins as owner.
While managing the Bancroft location, Sunstrum met his wife, Stephanie, who also worked at the store. The couple married and together became owners of their very first store in Forest, Ont.
“My very first store was an older and smaller store, but perfect for the community’s needs,” Paul Sunstrum said.
Over the past 25 years, he has been working towards taking over a state-of-the-art store like the one in Fort Frances—and it’s something both he and his wife are thrilled about.
“Canadian Tire provides excellent opportunities for growth and relocation within Canada, and it’s something we felt we were ready for,” he noted.
Sunstrum will be overseeing all major operations at the store while his wife handles the administrative side of things.
The couple’s previous store was roughly, 3,700 square feet is size while their new store in Fort Frances covers about 37, 000 square feet. With three young children and an added 33,300 square footage in responsibility, the Sunstrums concede they’ll have their hands full.
“We went from quite a small store to one of the biggest Canadian Tire layouts and it’s going to be a lot of work, but we’re excited about it,” he enthused.
With three boys, Ayde, seven, Dylan, five, and Brandyn, one, the small Northwestern Ontario community of Fort Frances seemed to be the perfect fit for the Sunstrums to raise a family in.
“Fort Frances is fantastic for us,” he remarked. “It has new facilities like the arena and the wilderness is at your doorstep. What else do you need?”