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Local businessman reflects on 35 years of self-made career

Credits father for life lessons

YORKTON – Curtis Maleschuk, owner operator of Commercial Cleaning Chemicals, sat down with Yorkton This Week to reflect on his career. 

"My Dad started this in '69 – Langley BC," said Maleschuk, adding, "it's [was] 50 years, three years ago."

Maleschuk's father, Gilbert, was a teacher prior to his endeavours in the commercial cleaning trade.  He taught throughout Saskatchewan in towns such as Wadena, Wawota and Fenwood.

"He liked BC and thought he could get a teaching job out there," said Maleschuk, noting that his mother was also a teacher.

"At that specific time the school division there was not hiring," said Maleschuk.

Maleschuk said at that point his father went back to work for Coca-Cola and his mother remained teaching, but only as a substitute.

"Back then the teachers weren't getting paid what they're getting paid today," said Maleschuk.  

Maleschuk said his father had relations in Surrey and "that's how he got into the soap business."

Sadly, Maleschuk's parents would separate and he would move back to Saskatchewan with his father.

"We moved out to my uncle's farm in Margo and he started from there," said Maleschuk, adding, "we ended up in Wadena and he built his business from there."

In 1979 Maleschuk graduated from Wadena's high school.  Shortly after, Maleschuk would find himself in Yorkton working at a bakery.

"Dad bought a bakery in Yorkton here – Betts Avenue, Yorkton City Bakery," said Maleschuk, noting, "right out of school I was a bakers helper."

"That's why I'm in Yorkton," said Maleschuk.

It was at the bakery that Maleschuk would meet his wife to be.

"I lucked out," said Maleschuk of his wife Rose.  

"I have a very thoughtful wife," said Maleschuk, adding, "she's fantastic support."

"When I started this, she said, 'whatever you choose, I'll support you'".

The two would marry in the summer of 1986, the same year the bakery closed.

"I was unemployed for that summer – got married, had no job," said Maleschuk.

Maleschuk said he went and helped on his uncle's farm that summer.  Later, his dad would come to him with an opportunity.

"Dad said, 'why don't you come and do this?'"

His Dad was of course speaking of selling the commercial cleaning products.

"I started in [1987] – 35 years this fall," said Maleschuk.

Maleschuk said that he got married, started a business, had a mortgage and a child all within the span of two to three years.

"We had out first child in '87," said Maleschuk.

Maleschuk now has three daughters.  Cayla, a teacher in Lethbridge, Cally, who, like her father, operates her own business, and Cara, a registered nurse in Calgary.

"In grade 12, if you'd have told me I was going to be a salesman, I would have said, 'oh, you're nuts',"said Maleschuk.

Maleschuk and his father mapped out a territory and went to work.  

Maleschuk said he went door to door as a salesman and eventually earned repeat clients.

"From where I started to where I am today is – well, I built it up to where it's self-sufficient now," said Maleschuk.  

"I just worked at it and built it up – it's been good," said Maleschuk.

"Dad got his product out of Mississauga Ont. because he hooked up with the chemist there – the company's name is Bob Chambers Limited," said Maleschuk.

That same company still provides Maleschuk with a few products, essentially supplying his business for over fifty years.

"In '99 we hooked up with a big international company called Bunzl Distribution," said Maleschuk, noting CCC was one of five distributors for the company in the province.

"If we wouldn't have gone that way, we could have been out of a business," said Maleschuk.

Along with the chemical business, Maleschuk also operated a bus service for 15 years.

"In '95 my Dad was retiring from [CCC] because he kind of had enough – he was doing it for 33 years," said Maleschuk, adding that his father started a bus charter business after retiring.

"He just wanted a part time job," said Maleschuk.

After his father passed away in 2006, Maleschuk took on the business.

"I'd been driving for about 22 years – I was on my own for the last 15," said Maleschuk.

The service would transport schools, hockey teams, cadets, seniors and other groups.

"I made a lot of miles and we always got home safe, but there is a lot of work that goes into it," said Maleschuk, adding, "I was responsible for the maintenance, the safeties."

"[Driving the bus] was a big responsibility," said Maleschuk.

Along with operating two business' and having a family, Maleschuk still found it in himself to volunteer his spare time for the betterment of the community.  

"My wife and I were the original board members of the Kalyna competition, which is this weekend [April 30]," said Maleschuk.

"We were involved in Kalyna Ukranian Dance for 22 years," said Maleschuk.

"In today's world it's tough to keep kids occupied, so we thought – well, we can put on a competition," said Maleschuk, adding, "we put out 50 letters to clubs, they all said 'yes, if you have [a competition] we will come and support you."

"Then we started to organize it," said Maleschuk, adding, "we have the facility, we have the knowledge, we have the contact – so we started it in 2001."

"We put all that together and now I'm on the board for the Terriers," said Maleschuk.

"The Terriers will probably be my last volunteer [job], but I enjoy it – you know what I mean –  you've got to give back too," said Maleschuk.

When asked about retirement, Maleschuk said he would continue on day to day so long as he remains helathy.  

"For now it's just day by day, year by year, and just to keep my people happy," said Maleschuk.

"I just have to say thank you to my customers for supporting me – we give the best possible service we can – it's all about service and honesty."

Maleschuk said he still has customers from 35 years ago, back when he started with the business. 

Maleschuk went on to thank his father.

"I had the pleasure of working with my Dad for 33 years," said Maleschuk, adding that there isn't a day that goes by where he isn't thinking about something his dad taught him.  

"My dad was kind of my hero."

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