It is going to be a busy summer for Ray Seguin, the owner of Beaver Tails for the northern Ontario region.
“This past weekend we did a customer appreciation event for Leon’s in their parking lot, with some of the proceeds going towards Community Living,” he says.
“We were able to take care of three organizations, including ourselves, in one location over four days and it was just a blast to see people, especially as we’re coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic this summer.”
And that’s just the start for Seguins summer plans in North Bay.
“From June 21st to July 3rd we’re going to be at the North Bay waterfront and we’re going to take care of all the activities that are going to be down there,” he says.
“There’s Armed Forces Day, National Aboriginal Day, Multicultural Day, St. Jean Baptiste Day, and of course Canada Day celebrations as well. We reached an agreement with the city so that we are just going to stay set up at the waterfront over the course of those few weeks and cater to all those events.”
Seguin is also the owner of the Lucky 13 convenience stores in North Bay and Corbeil and it is something he has been running since 1984.
“I was in high school working at a local convenience store and then at 17 years old, I bought my first convenience store with my brother and sister. Fast forward 38 years later, I’m now the sole owner. It’s been my college and university, it’s been my career, it’s been all that in one,” says Seguin.
With two parents who spent their careers in the business sector, Seguin says he feels he was groomed for it early on.
“I Did not know that it would be my whole entire career, but I’m still here at 55 years old,” he says and at one time he operated seven different locations.
With three locations under his belt now, Seguin says the opportunity to get his own Beaver Tails franchise came up about six years ago.
“I was at the Powassan Maple Syrup Festival and the Beaver Tails folks were there. I approached them and said ‘if you ever think of selling, give me a call’ and he gave me a call the next week,” recalls Seguin.
He says he didn’t expect to receive a call that quick, but he says, “In my life, when you go from owning one convenience store to seven and then back down to three, everything moves fast and so you always have to stay sharp and stay ready to make that next move.”
Seguin continues, “Opportunities like that don’t come around very often. I’ve owned it now for about six years and for anybody else that wants to do this, they have to wait until I’m ready to pass on the reigns. The previous owner was ready to move back to British Columbia so the timing is right.”
Seguin says he has loved the famous Canadian snack food for almost his whole life and recalls the very first time he had a Beaver Tail.
“When I was about 14 years old, my mom brought us to Ottawa to go skating on the Rideau Canal. That’s where we had our first Beaver Tail, and I just fell in love at that point,” he says.
“Any time after when I would see a spot where there was a Beaver Tail truck, I would always stop and make sure I got one.”
As the operator of the Beaver Tails franchise for northern Ontario, Seguin rarely has a weekend off once the snow melts.
“A typical summer sees us on the road pretty much every weekend from June until October and then we also operate during the winter on and off,” he says.
“I’ve been as far up as Kapuskasing and I’ve also been as far west as Sault Ste. Marie, but there is a franchise there now. I go up to Elliot Lake and Sudbury, and that’s about as far west as I go, but I also head as far north as I can get, as long as gas and hotel prices make it worth it to make that trip.”
Seguin says taking over the ownership of the franchise and figuring out exactly how to pack and move around was a learning curve.
“We try to time everything out as best as we can. We have extra freezers and we pack that trailer as tight as we can when we leave. We try to bring extra inventory for the beaver tails. Sometimes we do run out of other stuff like our fries, poutines, or beaver dogs, but that’s just us being busy that weekend and we can only supply so much. It’s happened where I’ve had to leave on my days off to bring beaver tails to Timmins because we were so busy, we ran out at the event we were doing,” says Seguin.
“Over the years you just get a little bit smarter about how you pack things and what you think you’re going to need for the three days you’re at an event.”
Seguin says there was never a doubt that it wouldn’t be a successful business venture for him.
“I think people love the Canadian story behind it. The product is amazing and all the ingredients we use are premium ingredients, there is nothing cheap about it. Where else can you get a treat like this for under $10 nowadays?”
He adds that Beaver Tails have become the treat that people associate with special events.
“Whether that’s fundraising, or catering, people almost expect beaver tails to be served there,” he says.
“When it comes to beaver tails, pretty much everyone likes it, I don’t think I have encountered one person that doesn’t like a beaver tail. The best part is watching people who have tried it for the first time and the smile they get on their face is amazing to watch. I’ve had people come back and high five me because they loved that first bite so much, that’s the power of the beaver tail. Every day the franchise is growing bigger and bigger across the country.”
Seguin says he is looking forward to an extended stay at home later this month.
“It’s been very difficult to be in North Bay the last few years with events not happening and we also have to be mindful that we aren’t just catering to North Bay as we are the Beaver Tails franchise for northern Ontario and so there are a lot of events that people would like us to cover and we just have to be mindful of staffing, and costs of gas, so that is what went into the decision to do these 11 days in North Bay,” he says.
“It also keeps me at home with my young kids which will be a nice change of pace to what in the past has been a busy summer.”
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