Phil Germuth taking a family snorkelling vacation but still chiming in regarding municipal issues in Kitimat. From Left to right - Phil Germuth, Kyle, Aaron ,Trevor and Kathryn

Phil Germuth taking a family snorkelling vacation but still chiming in regarding municipal issues in Kitimat. From Left to right - Phil Germuth, Kyle, Aaron ,Trevor and Kathryn

‘A different way of getting there’: Becoming the mayor of Kitimat

In Our Valley: Phil Germuth

A familiar face around Kitimat and now current Mayor Philip (Phil) Michael Germuth, 54, explains how he journeyed through life to open up his own business and eventually get into municipal politics.

Germuth was born and raised here in Kitimat having grown up on Albatross Ave., where his mother Elske still resides.

Elske met Phil’s father Ralph in 1957.

“My parents found their way here, my dad found his way here from Austria to Kitimat to start working at Alcan and my mom found her way here from Germany,” said Phil.

Following the arrival and meeting of Phil’s parents, the couple soon opened up Ralph’s Chevron down in Service Centre. It was also a car dealership and at one point even sold Mercedes vehicles. None of the vehicles were kept on the lot, however, and they had to be specially ordered in.

They were also a British Leyland dealer, which back in those days was MG, Triumph, Austin and Land Rover. Not only was this Chevron a gas station and car dealership but it also had a service station where Phil began spending his Saturdays working.

“The day I got into Grade 8 then I started working there after school every day from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. every day and then I worked there every single Saturday,” said Phil.

Following the completion of high school, he began his mechanics apprenticeship. He spent three of his four years at the British Columbia Institute of Technology before spending the last year of his apprenticeship in Prince George.

Germuth began working on cars in people’s driveways starting a business that he would call Phil’s Mobile Service. While working at the business, he quickly realized that building a business from the ground up would be difficult and would take time to get going. Phil had a young family that he would have to consider in all this, so he eventually decided that he would apply at Alcan. Phil has three sons, Trevor who is now 34, Aaron who is 29 and Kyle who is 27.

Phil got hired there to do B Casting eventually getting moved into the new casting centre which is now DC4. While working at Alcan he also spent his off time and weekends continuing to do work for Phil’s Mobile Service.

“But what I was doing, is I was working seven-days-a-week for two-and-a-half years because I was doing my business and then working at Alcan.”

“Of course that’s totally unsustainable to have a life, so after two-and-a-half years I had to make a decision, I decided to give it a shot [so] I quit Alcan and started the business.”

Phil dedicated his time to his new business having rented two locations in Service Centre before settling in on Commercial Ave. He had already grown a customer base through his time working in people’s driveways and as the business expanded and gained more space and more customers came.

The business now is largely handled by Trevor but Phil still enjoys getting the chance to be able to work on complicated electrical problems in a vehicle.

Though the business is a large part of his life and continues to be, Phil has now taken on the task of being the Mayor of Kitimat. His journey into municipal politics started when he became involved with a group named Save the Northwest.

“There was what was called the Alcan power sales issue, that was in the day when there were concerns in the community that Alcan of the day was cutting jobs in aluminum production to sell power.”

Phil joined a group named Save the Northwest that was started by former Kitimat Mayor Ray Brady. This was his first foray into municipal politics. Phil also wanted to understand what was going on and during the Alcan power sales issue he took the side of the mayor and council.

With a quick realization that there are those in Kitimat that deeply care about the community they reside in, Phil decided to try his hand in municipal politics as well. He successfully ran for council in 2011 and decided following his three-year term that he would then take a chance at being elected mayor.

“So the reason for running for mayor, I could see that, in my opinion, the community was headed in the right direction, but there are different ways of getting to that direction I just thought I had a different way of getting there,” Phil explains.

He also saw this as an opportunity for Kitimat to build better relationships with industry, the Haisla Nation as well as all levels of government. From his time working out of people’s driveways, Phil continued to build relationships with those around him. Having been mayor now since 2014, Phil still makes time to chat with local businesses as well as heading back to the business to work on some cars.

Phil enjoys the small tight-knit community that he was born and raised in and continues to enjoy the outdoors of Kitimat. There is one more passion of his that was discovered recently following a trip to Mexico.

“I found my snorkelling passion while on vacation in Mexico in February of 2011,” said Phil.

“Ever since then I can’t stop, it’s truly relaxing, it really is, to be out there and the joy I have of snorkelling isn’t just seeing the fish but also taking pictures of the fish.”

Phil continues to serve in various capacities in municipal politics including being elected as the chair of the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine over the last six years. It’s a dream of his to one day retire onto a beach somewhere while his son Trevor continues to run the shop.

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