If you’ve been in the Community Centre at any time over the last few months during business hours, you might have noticed someone sitting at a table, often with a few cell phones scattered on the table. Next to them, a banner proclaiming Petron Communications.
If you were to go up and ask, they would tell you that they’re with Petron Communications. Petron is a company born in the Peace, started by Peace residents. The company is headquartered in Fort St. John, with locations in Dawson Creek and Fort Nelson.
Ian Kralt is the Regional Cellular Manager for Petron. He says that after a few months of sitting in the Community Centre, the company is nearly ready to move into their new digs. “We have a location, and we’re in the process of putting it together.” Say Kralt. The communications company occupies the space where Cascade were previously in the ResCan building. “If you stand in our doorway, you look at the caboose,” says Kralt. “Our Dawson Creek staff has been manning a booth in the Community Centre. We’ve done some business, but we wanted to promote that we were coming. We don’t want to do it half-assed. We have deep pockets, so we can afford to take our time and do it right.”
Kralt says the target date for completion is mid-April, but they will be open by May 1. “That’s when we transfer our temporary booth there. “
He says that people in Tumbler Ridge will be very pleased with the new store. “It is a pretty cool looking space. The designs that we put into this are great. Telus has a new concept for retail stores that we’re working with.”
While Petron has built its reputation on meeting the communication needs for the oil patch, the Tumbler Ridge store will be focused on the individual consumer. “It will be a Telus Mobility dealership,” says Kralt.
“We’ll have cellphones: iPhones, Blackberrys, Androids. We will have mobile internet solutions: smart hubs, aircards for laptops. And we will also offer Future Friendly Home.”
While this last might not be offered immediately, Kralt is certain it will be offered soon. The Telus Future Friendly Home is a bundle of services offered by Telus, including, voice, internet and Optik TV.
The latter is a big issue, as Optik is not available in the Peace Region. Kralt says he’s pushing for it, because Tumbler Ridge has fibre optic. “We’re still negotiating with Telus. That was one of the premises of us going into Tumbler Ridge. I’m not going to let them pull the plug on us.”
Kralt says that Telus had originally said that they could offer the service, but decided in late March that coverage in Tumbler Ridge was not reliable enough. He says that, while he has to still convince Telus the numbers are in their favour, he is optimistic. “Telus is extrodinarily flexible with their policy. They can turn themselves in a heartbeat.”
Petron has contracts with the mines already, but will keep servicing most of the radio needs out of Fort St. John.
He hopes Tumbler Ridge will be happy to have Petron in the community.”Yes, we’re a for-profit company, but we’re hugely invested in the communities we’re involved in. We support local charities. The people who work for us have friends in the community, so we need to treat our clients fairly and with respect.” The store will be managed by one of Petron’s staff out of Fort St. John, but Kralt says in the long term, he wants to hire people locally. “If you do it half-assed, you get half-assed result. Dawson Creek isn’t a huge community, but the store there has done reasonably well. Fort Nelson has 4000 people, and our stores do reasonably well there, too.”