The EPLS Group of Companies is the jack-of-all-trades, providing the materials, tools, equipment and provisions needed for those who live, work, and play in Kivalliq Region, Nunavut

EPLS’s roots go back to 1974, when it started as Eskimo Point Lumber Supply, a family business started by Don St. John. St. John’s idea to bring lumber into the community to support its rapid growth grew quickly and, today, EPLS Group of Companies includes two Home Hardware retail stores (in and Rankin Inlet and Arviat), Maintenance Services, Cargo and Heavy Equipment, Hotel and Property Management services.

“When Ryan St. John took over as CEO of EPLS Group, his vision was simple: Integrity, Respect, Work Ethic, Loyalty, and Community,” says Mark Colley, President & CFO. “With over 250 employees and 60 per cent Inuit, we still believe that the key to our success is supporting the communities we work in and growing the business one customer at a time.”

EPLS has been successful over time because it is dedicated to its customers and dialled in to the needs and wishes of the local customers. “We try to support them, grow with them and be the solution to all of their needs,” says Colley. “Our stores are not limited to just tools and hardware; we also carry groceries, general supplies, seasonal clothing, footwear, and sporting goods.”

In fact, at over 13,000 square feet (per floor), the Arviat Home Hardware Store represents the largest retail store project EPLS has every undertaken as a company. Its size and design allows EPLS to better service the community. “Not all groups are created with the retailers’ interest utmost in their minds,” said Don St. John at the time of opening. “We have been looking for over 10 years to find the right buying group and the Home Hardware group has certainly exceeded our expectations and the support and service is second to none. We now have a huge dealer support network and the buying power to take our retail operation to the next level. When you’re buying right, you can sell against anybody.”

“As this was the location of our founding store, it needed to be special,” says Colley. “It represents our beginnings and where we want to go moving forward. We are very thankful that the community has supported us throughout this adventure.”

Away from working to meet the changing needs of its customers, EPLS also owns and operates hotels and suites in Arviat and Rankin Inlet. These hotels include conference rooms as well as truck rentals, so people visiting the north and can work and commute on their own, hassle-free.

Another mainstay in the community, EPLS Maintenance and Services, employes approximately 50 people in the Kivalliq region. The team employs red seal tradespeople from OBMs, Carpenters, Electricians, Plumbers, and many other Trades and Service people.

EPLS owns various residential and commercial properties. In addition to long term residential rental units, they also offer commercial office space, heated and unheated storage, and garage amenities.

Northern Networks Ltd. (NNL), established in 1993, it specializes in general contracting, procurement and strategic partnerships. NNL has been involved in many community enhancement projects such as building roads, water reservoirs, housing pads, docking facilities, sewage lagoons, airport runway resurfacing and gravel crushing.

“With over 40 years of Arctic expertise, we are a diverse, established, and well-positioned company equipped to satisfy the ever-changing demands of our clients and business partners in Nunavut in English or Inuktitut,” says Colley. “NNL specializes in general contracting, procurement, and strategic partnerships. Our main focus is on fostering partnerships, which continue to be successful in the North.”

“Having a group of companies servicing the North has helped us the same way it’s helped our customers,” continues Colley. “We have been able to share our resources, and so have our customers. Brand recognition goes a long way, but even farther in the North, so our customers know when they are dealing with an EPLS company that they’re getting the best service.”

Colley believes EPLS’s biggest strength is its people. “We have been resilient through economic and environmental changes by leveraging the skills of our employees and their ability to find solutions,” he says. “We have also developed a very robust group of companies that provide synergies with each other.”

“Northern customers are much like any customer in that they are looking for excellent customer service and the “relationship”,” says Colley. “I believe EPLS works hard to develop those relationships every day. And as we have many different operating units servicing the communities we are in, I think that positions us well to support community engagement and growth.”

Founded upon the values of honesty, hard work and service to the community, this family-owned business takes pride in the ability to offer all-inclusive services and employment opportunities to the Inuit people and business partners in the North. Says Colley, “We will continue to invest in our people and the communities we serve. That has always been the key to our success.”

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