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Glass recyclers go co-op

Andrea Markey
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 07/05) - After 11 years as an entrepreneurial venture, Yellowknife Glass Recyclers is converting to a co-operative.

"I have been finding there are just too many things for one individual to do," said founder Matthew Grogono.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Yellowknife Glass Recyclers is forming a co-operative. Alex Beaudin works at the glass shop and is eager to be a part of the new direction the business is taking. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

A co-operative, or co-op as they are more commonly known, is different from other businesses in that it is owned and run jointly members who share in the profits.

The new business structure will allow workers to have a say in the day to day operation, from product development to marketing and sales, he said.

"There has been a healthy growth in business and now is the time to open the doors," he said.

Grogono started the company in 1994 after becoming frustrated by the city's lethargic response to glass recycling, he said.

"They said there is nothing that can be done with glass," he said. "So I did something with glass."

Thanks to an annual stream of international visitors, recycled glassware from Yellowknife is now used around the world. About half a dozen organizers, including Grogono, are filing the necessary papers with the GNWT to form the co-op.

A co-operative allows each person involved in the company to build on their strengths, he said.

"A lot of entrepreneurial ventures end up with a grumpy old man at the top," he said. "I don't want that. I don't want to be indispensable."

Already the group has come up with a number of ideas that would not be possible for just one person to accomplish, he said.

The new energy and ideas will also allow the company to expand and branch out. Ideas for a glass school float around the shop.

There is also talk of forming similar co-ops in other Northern communities. A website, postcards and other new marketing strategies are on the horizon.

The team at the glass shop is working on a design for the Union of Northern Workers with its logo surrounded by trees. The co-op will pursue the corporate market in the new year, he said.

Recent customers include the Catholic School Board, members of the nurses union and the NWTPower Corp.

"What we find is people who get the gifts will often come back for more for their family and friends," he said.

As Grogono has put a lot of time and money into the venture over the years, a certain number of shares in the co-op will be arranged as compensation for his investment, he said.

Preferred and common shares will be open to workers, with preferred shares open for investors.

Alex Beaudin, one of the workers at the glass shop, said he is eager to play a role in the emerging co-op.

"I will stop being just a worker and start to be more involved in the process and start marketing," he said. "In my ideal world, all businesses would be co-ops."