Baldish “Bob” Singh Sunner was born and raised in Williams Lake and has managed the his parents’ business Laketown Furnishings Ltd. since 1993. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Baldish “Bob” Singh Sunner was born and raised in Williams Lake and has managed the his parents’ business Laketown Furnishings Ltd. since 1993. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

OUR HOMETOWN: Dedicated to family business

Baldish ‘Bob’ Singh Sunner has kept Laketown Furnishings Ltd. going since 1993

Baldish ‘Bob’ Singh Sunner has been a friendly face at Laketown Furnishings Ltd. for most of his life.

His parents Ron and Susan Sunner started the business in 1971.

He took over managing it in 1993.

Jokingly he says he started working there quite young.

When he was five years old he knocked over a lamp while running and playing tag with his brother Dalbir inside the store.

“That created an account receivable and because of the interest I’m still trying to pay off that lamp. With compound interest it was very complicated,” he adds with a straight face and a twinkle in his eyes.

Sunner was born in Williams Lake in 1966.

Four years earlier his parents had moved from India to Victoria, hoping to find work.

After six months of no success, a relative invited them to come to Williams Lake.

The Sunners were able to find a home to rent, but Ron was told by a relative unless he cut his long hair and shaved off his beard he would not take him to a local sawmill for a job interview.

“My uncle said, ‘you have to fit in in Canada or else you are never going to get a job.’”

As a religious Sikh who always wore a turban, his dad resisted for a while.

Eventually he caved in, but had tears in his eyes the day his hair was cut.

Ron was hired by Pinette & Therrien Mills Ltd., where he stayed for a year, until he left to go work for a local furniture store.

His job was to load coloured TVs into a truck, go out into the countryside and set the TVs up in people’s houses for free as a demonstration.

“He’d come back in a couple of weeks and say ‘we are here to pick up the TV,’ and they would say, ‘How much? Can we keep it?’ He’d say ‘sure’ and give them a price.”

Within a few years, Ron moved from outside sales to inside sales, and then became the manager.

When the company closed its stores, Ron was back looking for work again.

He tried returning to Pinette & Therrien, but was told he should go find a job somewhere else.

Susan suggested they open their own furniture store because of Ron’s experience.

Worried that they had no money to get started, Susan suggested they talk to the suppliers and ask if they would give them credit.

“They did and gave them the first shipment of supplies with 30-day accounts,” Sunner said. “All the stuff that came in, they sold. The community support was so great they basically emptied the store in 30 days. They paid off all their bills to the suppliers, ordered more stuff and just kept going.”

Laketown’s first store location was at 59 First Avenue South.

Growing up Sunner attended Glendale, Marie Sharpe, Crescent Heights and Cataline, Anne Stevenson schools and graduated from Columneetza.

He pursued a degree in business administration after high school and studied at the University of British Columbia, Cariboo College in Kamloops and Simon Fraser University in Burnaby.

In 1991 he returned to Williams Lake because his father was not feeling well and the hiring was “slow” in the accounting field at the time.

“I had a few job offers after I got back and my mom would tell me to get out of town because at Laketown I would not have holidays, I would not have a great pension plan and I would not have days off. For some reason, I thought that was a really good job offer, accepted it and kept working.”

Today his parents and brother live in the Lower Mainland.

As his mom predicted, he does not ever get holidays, but credits keeping his life balance through his Sikh faith.

“It keeps me grounded, keeps me focused and gives me some inner satisfaction and contentment. You don’t have to have the biggest house or the fanciest car or a whole bunch of money in the bank. You just need to be in equilibrium with the world. You don’t have to be the head honcho, the tycoon.”

He also studies martial arts a “little bit.”

As the chair of community policing, he also enjoys giving back to the community.

“Williams Lake is awesome, fantastic, one of the best communities around. I’ve lived in Williams Lake, Quesnel, Kamloops, Burnaby, Surrey, West Vancouver – I probably missed a few.”

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