Sisters Chrissie and Janna Gertzen are a dynamic duo. Together they own two businesses in Williams Lake, Dairy Queen and Adventure Charters.
They both grew up in Williams Lake and pursued higher education in Prince George.
Chrissie’s degree in psychology from the University of Northern British Columbia and Janna’s degree in business and marketing from the College of New Caledonia make them very complementary partners.
After earning their respective degrees the sisters stayed in Prince George where Chrissie worked with families at risk and Janna worked for a high tech company. Both women worked their way into management at their respective jobs in Prince George, but they always knew they wanted to return to Williams Lake to be close to family and enjoy the lifestyle they always loved here.
Both women had worked at Dairy Queen through high school, so when the opportunity came up in 2009 to purchase the Williams Lake franchise they jumped at the chance.
“I like that Janna and I decide what our jobs are going to look like,” Chrissie says of being independent business owners. “If we want to take on new challenges we can.”
Janna adds: “I like the freedom it allows us and working with the staff and customers. We have a great team and very loyal customers.”
From the beginning Janna and Chrissie knew they wanted to create a company that was fair, inclusive and supportive of the community.
Consequently they have set up a benefit plan for their full time employees through the Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce and registered retirement plans for them.
They also offer a post secondary educational incentive plan for high school students who work for them during their last two years of high school. They tack on an extra 50 cents an hour which, depending on hours worked during the school year and summers, can earn a post secondary bursary of $1,400 to $2,000 at the end of the two years.
They also make it a point to provide work opportunities for people with disabilities.
Students and full time employees may start out with minimum wage but the pay increases as they learn more skills and take on more responsibility.
On average, depending on the season, Dairy Queen has 23 full time employees and 35 to 40 part time employees.
They also believe in supporting non-profit community groups and organizations for youth by hosting special fundraising events in which groups help out at Dairy Queen for a given time period in exchange for 15 per cent of the profits from the hours they are helpers.
“We do what we do because it is right,” Janna says.
From the start they say their mom Sharon has worked with them at Dairy Queen and more recently when they purchased Adventure Charters, they convinced their dad, Randy, a retired logging truck driver, to come out of retirement to manage Adventure Charters for them.
Adventure Charters has six shuttle vans and buses up to 29 passengers.
The company has one full time and five part time drivers who are busy shuttling staff and managers to various job sites and providing transportation for such adventures as tours to Barkerville and Fraser River rafting excursions.
Both Janna and Chrissie admit to being very strong women, who will each argue hard for their business ideas and can “totally disagree” (Chrissie) or “duke it out” (Janna), but still go out for dinner afterward. After all they are family.