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In Our Valley: John Silvestre

Kitimat lifer turns work into a hobby
John Silvestre posing at his store, Beitz Computers & Office Supplies, for the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce, ‘highlighting our members’ bio. (photo supplied)

Local business owner, John Silvestre, is committed to the Kitimat community, providing customers with service and sales over the last 20 years.

Born in Portugal, Silvestre’s dad came to Kitimat in 1970 and worked landscaping for the District of Kitimat then switched to Rio Tinto shortly after.

Three years later, a five-year-old Silvestre, his brother, and his mom, followed their father to Kitimat and were enrolled at the Kildala Elementary School and graduated from the Mount Elizabeth Secondary School.

Silvestre said that his parents were pretty easygoing during his childhood in the rural community of Kitimat.

“We played baseball, hockey, soccer, guns and robbers, […] totally different from what the lifestyle is today,” Silvestre said about his upbringing in Kitimat.

“That’s what it was all about, you’d stay out until 11 o’clock at night and your parents weren’t worried about what you were doing unless you were fighting or doing something silly like that.”

However, coming from a traditional Portuguese household, Silvestre said when push came to shove, his parents weren’t afraid to lay down the law.

Growing up, Silvestre spent his weekends helping out his father with their potato plants or with any yard work that needed to be done before taking off with friends for the night.

“My dad was always up to something in the backyard, and before we were allowed to go out we would have to finish our list of chores,” Silvestre said.

Always joking with his parents, claiming he was going to move to Victoria and never move back to small-town BC, a young Silvestre began his work experience at Overwaitea foods, in 1984, and continued to work there for 18 years while moving up the management ranks.

During his spare time, Silvestre took a couple of computer, VCR, and TV repairs courses to help him follow his passion for technology.

“I did a home business repairing computers, […] but in 2001 I saw that [Beitz Computers and Office Supplies] was selling their company, so I bought them out and here we are today,” Silvestre said.

Since taking the leap of faith in owning a business, in 2001, Silvestre said he’s grateful to be part of a community that supports local businesses.

“Without the good response we have from the community we wouldn’t be here,” Silvestre said.

Around 2004, when Walmart opened up in Terrace, Silvestre stated it was a struggle to keep the company afloat but is happy to have made it to the other side.

“So many other stores closed down, […] hopefully, we can go strong for a few more years before we have to make a decision on what to do. But I think we’ll have to move with the times,” Silvestre said.

Silvestre now has a total of four kids and two grandkids with two of his kids living in town and the other two spread out across the country. Even though his kids are all grown up, Silvestre still tries to pass down the life advice he’s accumulated over the years.

“As much as I can tell them my stories, they still love to roll their eyes at me,” Silvestre said.

Joking about how one of his kids is always looking for the ‘bigger better deal’, Silvestre emphasized that it’s important to follow through on something when you’ve committed yourself to a cause. However, that dedication has made it hard for Silvestre to separate his work life from his personal life.

Hoping to travel in the coming years, Silvestre plans on making it out to Victoria and Quebec in the near future, to go see his daughters living abroad.

“I would love to go to Victoria or Quebec to see my daughters and just have a moment where I’m not worrying about the business,” Silvestre said.

Hoping to retire by 65, Silvestre no longer holds his teenage dreams of moving to Vancouver Island and has embraced the small community lifestyle and can’t see himself living any other way.

“Small towns are beautiful, they’re quiet, everyone knows everyone. I might be wrong, but I also find the crime rate is much lower here compared to bigger cities,” Silvestre said.

“The comfortability and affordability is amazing here too. You’re also not so overwhelmed with such financial burdens that people face in bigger cities.”

Standing strong for over 20 years, Silvestre still runs the Beitz Computer and Office Supplies store. Navigating through these difficult times, Silvestre keeps a positive outlook and hopes to see all local businesses prosper and continue to manage as best as they can.

READ MORE: In Our Valley - Bill Dawson