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Sundre's newest fast food restaurant to employ dozens

Sundre’s latest fast food franchise expected to open by May long weekend
General contractor Kevin Firmston, left, from Jax Builders, and Puneet Sharma, the owner of the new Dairy Queen franchise in Sundre who is opening his second location downtown immediately north of the Highway 27-Main Avenue corridor west of 4th Street. Sharma, who also owns the location in Didsbury, said he expects to begin training employees early next month ahead of a planned opening leading up to the May long weekend. Simon Ducatel/MVP Staff

SUNDRE – The impending opening of a new fast food franchise in Sundre is expected to introduce about two dozen mostly part-time jobs.

Puneet Sharma, who for about three years has owned and operated the Dairy Queen in Didsbury and is now anticipating the opening of his second location in Sundre by May long weekend, said during an interview that he expects to begin training employees early next month.

“We are moving really fast, and now things will move a lot faster,” Sharma told the Albertan, adding the recruitment process is now underway.

“We started getting resumes, but we are still looking for more,” he said.

Although managerial positions were already appointed months ago and several crew from the Didsbury Dairy Queen will be lending a hand at the new location, Sharma said he anticipated needing more than 30 employees to get started.

“A lot of people will fall off in the first three months. After the turnover, I think we will be left with 20-something employees,” he said, adding that barring unforeseen circumstances, the restaurant will be open in time for the May long weekend.

“It cannot be a better timing,” he said, referring to the early start of the camping season as the weather warms up.

While he had originally hoped to open some time in January, there were some operational delays, he said, adding the weather had actually been agreeable, at least until the late season snowfalls.

“Alberta has been busy,” he said, adding that finding tradespeople and contractors was a challenge.

Although many positions will likely be offered to adolescents such as high school students, there will also be a need for more mature candidates for dayshifts.

Sharma also supported the provincial government’s decision following the 2019 election to roll back the minimum wage for students to $13 from $15, which since then has not increased despite significant inflation.

“It’s a very big misconception that a 13 year old or a 14 year old does the same work, or that they require the same kind of oversight as a mature 19, 20 or 21 year old,” he said.

“They require a lot of hand holding, they require a lot of guidance, they require a lot of managerial time.”

But not everyone is the same of course, and Sharma added that those who prove to be fast learners will before very long get bumped up to at least the base minimum wage.

“You have to show your value to your employer,” he said.

In his line of work after three years of running the location in Didsbury that has more than 30 employees, Sharma has seen some younger workers excel while also experiencing those who don’t take the job seriously.

“Those kind of characters show up everywhere, who come for two, three days, and then when they realize that they have to perform or perish,” he said.

“There are adults also who do it. Having a bad attitude will not help anyone,” he said.

Sharma intends to have a booth set up at the upcoming community job fair on April 25 at Sundre High School, where students and recent grads will have an opportunity to check out potential employers from 3-5 p.m., followed by all-ages job seekers from 5-6 p.m.

He also looks forward to working with local community organizations when possible, and said discussions were underway with the Sundre Rodeo & Race Association about supporting this summer’s pro rodeo.

“Anything and everything that makes sense, we would like to support,” he said.

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
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