Paul McGregor, manager of the Chemainus 49th Parallel Grocery, is the new president of the Chemainus and District Chamber of Commerce. (Photo by Don Bodger)

McGregor makes rapid move from member to Chemainus Chamber of Commerce president

Eight months is all it takes for 49th Parallel Grocery manager to take over the top helm

Paul McGregor is obviously the right man for the job.

The manager of the Chemainus 49th Parallel Grocery store went from recently-signed member to president of the Chemainus & District Chamber of Commerce in short order.

“I’ve only been in the Chamber eight months,” he pointed out. “I got a feel for what it was about and realized it was all for the community and wanted to further myself with it.”

McGregor, 46, was consulted about joining by Aly Tomlin of Riot Brewing Co. and Chemainus Chamber executive director Lori Frankson. Good executive people are hard to find and especially one ready, willing and able to do the work as McGregor.

“I thought I could learn so much off, not just the members, but all the businesses around town,” he conceded.

McGregor was born in Vancouver, but grew up in Duncan and has a long family affiliation with the grocery business. His dad once managed the Super-Valu store in Duncan.

McGregor was with the Thrifty Foods chain for 28 years and commuted to Victoria for eight of those years while living in Shawnigan Lake.

Eight years ago, he made the move to Ladysmith to bridge the gap between his work at Thrifty’s in Nanaimo and his wife’s job with Island Savings in Duncan. Along the way, McGregor was also at the Thrifty’s location in Duncan.

He has now been the store manager of the Chemainus 49th Parallel for a year and a half.

“It was nice to be back with a family-operated business,” McGregor said, something he was familiar with under the Campbells’ regime at Thrifty’s.

Charitable donations and grocery locations run hand-in-hand and that suits him fine.

“My passion is the food bank,” McGregor said. “I love to help out whenever I can.”

There are some ambitious plans with the Chamber that he’d love to see come to fruition.

“We’re trying to get the Golden Brush (awards) back,” McGregor indicated. “That’s our big focus at the moment. I think we’e going to be rebranding it.”

He foresees it being a Black Tie Award style program reminiscent of the Duncan Chamber of Commerce.

Aside from that, it’s the busy season coming up for Chemainus with the downtown market starting May 23, the Giant Garage Sale street market July 7 and more.

“Just getting the town together,” McGregor said will be the focus.

Putting himself out there will be a big part of that.

“I went around and I did a lot of the collecting for the Harvest House,” McGregor added.

“I went to every business. It was amazing meeting everyone around town.”

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