Business owners almost uniformly look to the future for their inspiration, knowing there’s not much — or any — profit from looking backwards at the past.
John Medd, Bill Luchtmeijer and Robert Arnold are well aware of this, but they make a point of doing so anyway — and they are hoping other Qualicum Beach business owners will follow suit.
Medd, who runs Collins Electric, said the company has been a strong supporter of the Qualicum Beach Museum since 1974, when the company was formed by former mayor Jack Collins.
Medd said he doubts the company has made a dime off their substantial donations of time, effort and materials to the museum, but he said he has no plans to stop anytime soon.
“I don’t know if it’s good for business, but it’s a good thing to do,” he said. “It’s good for Qualicum Beach to have the museum, to know what the past is.”
The contributions made by Collins Electric have been substantial. The company wired the building when it was first being constructed and followed suit with the old power house building when it was added to the Beach Avenue site.
“We are a sponsor of the annual golf tournament and whenever they have work to do around here we give a break in the cost and do in-kind donations,” Medd said. “We just put some cameras in and we do maintenance work.”
Bill Luchtmeijer, who owns the Qualicum Frameworks Gallery and is a town councillor, feels the same way.
“We’ve been involved with the museum for as long as we’ve been here — 22 or 23 years,” he said. “We started off on a small scale, supplying a lot of the backing boards for the displays. I’ve also done a lot of laminating and mounting for them. Now we do a lot of their promotional and advertising material, such as posters, fliers and tickets.”
Like Medd, Luchtmeijer doesn’t see a bump in his bottom line because he supports the collection and retention of local history, but he continues to do so, simply because he sees it as the right thing to do.
“The museum has a lower profile than it should have, but there are some very important lessons we can learn from there,” he said. “We learn some very important lessons in life — mostly from other peoples’ experiences and what the museum is doing is it gives us an opportunity to stretch that history and background over a period of many generations, rather than just our own.”
Luchtmeijer said he didn’t come to this conclusion about the importance of local history entirely on his own. Some people for whom he had great respect helped show him the way.
“We knew many of the people involved,” he said. “Art Skipsey was my first employer when I was 14 years old and there was Jim Storey and Ray Ducker and Jack Collins, people I knew and respected.”
As a small business owner, Luchtmeijer said getting involved in the community helps broaden what can sometimes become a too-narrow focus.
“Usually with a small, family-oriented business your focus in life tends to get fairly narrow,” he said. “Involvement in things like the museum tends to spread your horizons a little bit.”
Robert Arnold couldn’t agree more. The driving force behind Robert McPhee Photography has provided the artwork and graphic design for the museum’s fliers, posters and other promotional material since he arrived in town several years ago.
The celebrated photographer has no shortage of experience in the world of museums, having worked at the prestigious Metropolitan Museum in New York City as an art conservator. He said the Qualicum Beach facility, though obviously much smaller, is well worth the time he spends there.
“I think it’s important to have a sense of history to know how we got here, where Qualicum came from and why,” he said. “If you live somewhere it’s good to understand where you live.”
Museum manager Netanja Waddell said she appreciates the efforts of these three local business people and she hopes more will follow suit.
“As a non profit organization with very limited funds, this allows us to survive and gives us a leg up,” she said. “Running any organization you have needs, whether they be electrical, graphic design, materials to be printed and so on.”