2006 Alumni

Private Sector Northwest

Lynn Gosselin

Lynn GosselinFrom the quaint town of Geraldton comes a woman who finds opportunity in spite of obstructions, who breaths life's positive energy into economic projects and strives to be a fair, strong and a progressive community leader.

Lynn Gosselin is the kind of person who thrives on the adrenaline of opening a new business.

"I'll do anything," she laughs. "Everything interests me."

At 12 years of age, she managed a canteen at the local arena, a small enterprise her parents successfully tendered from the town.

Speaking with Gosselin, one can easily identify the entrepreneurial attributes passed down from both parents. Her ability to visualize potential opportunities is the result of being close to her father, Denis Verne, who owned a hotel business with Helen, his wife, before he fell ill. Gosselin used to take car rides with him, point out properties showing promise and say, "you know dad, I could do something with that property."

Her mother, a business savvy workhorse, oversaw the kitchen duties at the hotel restaurant and its staff of 24. Her leadership talents grew when the business began spawning new projects.

After graduating from high school, Gosselin had a choice between going to post-secondary school or opening her own business with her sister Debbie. She chose the latter. Deby-Lyn's Boutique, a clothing store opened, in 1986, the year Gosselin turned 17.

For five years she and Debbie, with mentor mom by their side, were shown the ropes of owning a business from marketing strategies and accounting principles to inventory controls and salesmanship. It was a steep learning curve and many times the young women learned to run a business by never repeating the same mistakes twice.

"Retail is the hardest business to be in," she says.

The multicultural community once had a population of 5,000 before forestry closures reduced it to 2,600. As a result, it was difficult to move inventory.

"I was always selling on sale," she says. "It was hard to make the right margins."

As the saying goes "that which does not break you makes you stronger."

Many of the business skills she absorbed at her fashion store helped Gosselin as she embarked on her second business, Get in Gear.

After marrying Donald Gosselin and staying at home for six years to raise their two children, Gosselin began to have itchy feet. One cannot keep a good woman down and Donald didn't even try. In fact, he financially supported her idea to open an establishment catering to automotive parts, work wear, and hydraulic hose assemblies.

In 1999, Get in Gear opened its doors and grew so fast in the first three years that Gosselin began looking for a larger space.

She was eyeing a former General Motors dealership property that had been closed for almost 20 years. She had offered to buy the 7,500-square-foot, 15-lot property before, but was turned down.

She decided to take another crack at it.

"It was a good solid building," she says. "It just looked condemned."

At the same time, Gosselin submitted a tender to build a regional Emergency Medical Service centre and won. The centre dispatches and houses EMS crews.

Patients are usually transferred to Thunder Bay from there.

The stars were aligned as she was also approved to purchase the former GM location. Workers began to subdivide the lots into two parcels to accommodate the new EMS facility under construction. She sold off four-and-a-half lots, including the EMS facility, to the City of Thunder Bay.

"That was a pretty good education," she says.

Revenues from that transaction helped her secure financing for the former dealership building, where several other businesses are now based.

Get in Gear and its four full-time employees moved ther, as well as dealerships for U-Haul, BOC Gases and Central Canada Propane. Bhout's Contracting and B&D Gosselin Delimbing, the two other businesses owned by Donald, were also housed in the facility.

She admits her mind is full of project possibilities, like a health and wellness centre to be developed on Main Street, or the motel she's been thinking of for a while. Both projects are being challenges by current market conditions.

"It is killing me not to do this," she sighs.

But she says she knows that doing nothing may be the only recourse for the health and wellness centre, for now.

She wishes more women would go into business. Most are being held back by confidence issues and a lack of support systems, she says.

But the current economy does not favour a new start up business. In spite of this, Gosselin is determined to find a way to move the projects forward.

She has taken a progressive approach not only in personal business, but also as the director of both the Geraldton Chamber of Commerce and the Greenstone Economic Development Corp. Both committees are seeking ways to diversify the region's economy through resource-based projects.

Geraldton has produced almost 20 gold mines since 1934. The Greenstone Economic Development Corp. is investigating a three-dimensional software package that can be given to interested mining companies willing to continue with exploration initiatives. The package shows existing mine infrastructure and grounds perhaps overlooked by exploration teams.

The town is also exploring several energy initatives, but Gosselin did not want to disclose any specifics.

Whatever happens, Gosselin will be an integral part of moving projects forward. Ronald Melhuish owner of a department and travel store has worked alongside the Gosselin on a number of committees.

"Her personal reputation and demeanor is above reproach," he says.

"When you do business with Lynn you know the deal will be fair."

- Kelly Louiseize

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