Della Rauch and Ken Dubielew have called the Cariboo home since the early 1980s.
Well, actually, Della did spend some time here as a child.
She was born in Invermere and started and finished school there but in between her entrepreneurial parents moved to where ever her dad’s trucking and logging business took them.
They lived in 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, Merritt and Hazelton, the last stop her parents made after she had graduated high school and was ready for work.
At 20 Della took a job with the Hudson’s Bay company in Hazelton where she worked for five years.
In 1984 she moved to Williams Lake. Her parents Ed and Joyce Rauch had retired to Parksville on Vancouver Island earlier but the move didn’t take. They missed the Interior of B.C. so they joined her in Williams Lake the same year, where they established a low-bed trucking company, moving heavy equipment into logging sites.
Ken was born in Kerrobert, Sask. and moved to Alberta with his family when he was 12.
He came to Williams Lake in 1983 to work in the saw-milling and logging industry.
As many young couples before them have done, Della and Ken met at the old Chili Pub located in the former Chilcotin Inn, now the site of Save-On Foods.
“I asked him to dance and he’s still dancing,” jokes Della.
“Her girlfriends dared her to ask me to dance and then she wouldn’t go out with me for three or four months because she was so busy with her friends and a grad reunion,” explains Ken.
Their lives over the past few years have become somewhat of a dance, weaving and bobbing to find new direction as the logging and sawmill industry slowed down with the global recession.
When Della and Ken married, Ken worked in the family business driving one of her dad’s four low-bed trucks.
Della became the dispatcher and bookkeeper for the company from 1985 until 1989 when her parents made their final decision to sell the business and retire.
In the 1980s she says there was lots of low-bed hauling work available in the region but as the forest industry began downsizing and mills started closing that work slowly dried up.
So in 1992 Ken bought his own low-bed truck and became an independent trucker. Della continued to take care of business for their company.
Della knew a lot about running a business and keeping books but she didn’t know a lot about the new computer accounting methods, so in 2006 she went back to school to take the Applied Business Technology program at Thompson Rivers University here in Williams Lake.
“I knew a lot about keeping books but not a lot about computers,” Della says. “We were still trading furs at the Hudson’s Bay Company in Hazelton when I was there. The manager would check the furs and I would pay out the trappers, issuing petty cash voucher receipts.”
Three years ago, Ken started thinking about a future that didn’t involve long hours in the truck, and recognizing that the industry was slowing down.
So to diversify he bought Uncle Paul’s coffee roaster and started making and selling fresh roasted coffee on the side.
“The volume of equipment that needed to be moved in the forest industry wasn’t what it used to be so he diversified,” Della says.
Meanwhile, Della was also diversifying.
While taking the Applied Business Technology course at TRU her practicum was to create a proposal for a kitchen/cafeteria at TRU.
She took the week-long business plan course offered by Community Futures, then presented her plan to TRU.
She was given the contract, took the Food Safe course and established the cafeteria at TRU which she ran for four years from September 2007 until last May.
Ken sold his truck in March 2011 and in May Della gave up the TRU cafeteria contract to establish True Food Services custom catering. There are no set menus. They create whatever the customer wants from Greek dinners to barbecue steaks and everything in between.
These days Della does the cooking and other chores with the help of two full-time assistants who work out of a small kitchen in the Pioneer Complex.
Ken continues to grind coffee, and after taking his Food Safe course helps with the deliveries and tending the barbecue, infrared rotisserie, and deep fryer for their outdoor events, which can include anything from weddings to business lunches and dinners.
“It’s easier on me, a lot easier,” Ken says of his new career.
“We enjoy it because we have the ability to pace ourselves with our bookings. It’s hard work but as long as you have the right equipment it’s good,” Della adds. “I try to do all my shopping locally because I do believe in supporting our local economy.”
Through the years living in Williams Lake Della and Ken have raised two children. Son Ory is 20 and after taking the pre-apprenticeship residential construction program in high school and trades training at TRU is now apprenticing in log home construction with Pioneer Log Homes.
Daughter Shina is 22 and recently moved to Grand Prairie to look for work and be close to her boyfriend who works there.
While the children were growing up Della and Ken were involved in the various clubs and activities their children participated in, but these days they are content running their businesses and lending their support to various community activities such as the Medieval Market and Stampede with in-kind donations.
Interestingly, Della says she and her four siblings are all self- employed. Her brother Gordo owns Gordo’s Rental in Williams Lake. Her two sisters in Hazelton and a brother in Smithers are also self-employed.
Each winter for the past two years Della and Ken have also enjoyed a short winter break in Mexico, happily being able to fly directly out of Prince George.
“I can’t believe how good the sun makes you feel to carry you through the year,” Della says.