Two new faces have taken on some major responsibilities at Prairie Sky Co-op in the last few months, with the departure of long-time managers Jerry Ponto and Don Kraft.
Ponto, formerly the member relations manager for the Co-op, was replaced by Andrea Bell a couple of months ago, and as of April 1, Kevin Arthur took over as the new general manager from Kraft, who retired after 44 years with Co-op businesses, the last 27 years in Weyburn.
Bell moved to Weyburn from Regina, and has a tourism marketing background.
“I love being part of this community. What really enticed me about coming here is I was missing the small town community feeling,” said Bell.
She added everyone she has met in the last couple of months has been very friendly and cooperative with her.
“I can’t wait to represent the Co-op at all the events coming up that we’re involved with,” said Bell.
Arthur grew up on the family farm at Grenfell, and comes to Weyburn with 28 years of experience with a number of Co-op operations in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
He first began working at a Co-op service station while in high school, and after graduation worked as a fuel truck driver at Dubuc, near Yorkton.
He became a branch manager there, and later moved into Yorkton to manage their Agro Centre, and spent some time as general manager in Moosehorn, Man.
Arthur then worked as a retail advisor for Federated Co-operatives in Regina before he moved to Roblin, Man., to manage the Parkway Co-op.
When the general manager’s position became vacant for Prairie Sky Co-op, he saw the opportunity to move a larger retail operation in a larger and busier community.
In addition to the larger collection of stores, Arthur noted, “we’ve got a lot of family in the area, in Regina, Estevan and Grenfell, plus we still have the farm at Grenfell.”
Asked what general goals he has coming into his new position, Arthur said, “At Parkway, we really invested in our employees and facilities, and these two things made our Co-op stronger,” adding that he hopes to ensure improvements can happen for Prairie Sky Co-op as well.
He and wife Leslie have four children, three boys and a girl, ranging from kindergarten up to Grade 7.
The family likes to be active outdoors, taking part in hunting, fishing and camping, and they are happy to know that a new elementary school and recreation-culture centre is being built for Weyburn.
“It’s a vibrant community and there are activities we will want to be involved with. We’re pretty excited about the opportunities for the kids,” said Arthur, noting that soccer is one of the sports his kids like to be involved in.