Hay River’s Superior Sound hits 40 years

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Superior Sound – an electronics store in Hay River – is celebrating 40 years in business.

Superior Sound - a family business in Hay River - was founded 40 years ago this month. Brian Kovatch, right, was one of the founders, while his son Craig Kovatch now manages the store. Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Superior Sound – a family business in Hay River – was founded 40 years ago this month. Brian Kovatch, right, was one of the founders, while his son Craig Kovatch now manages the store.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

And in those four decades, the family-owned business has undergone many changes and seen continuous advances in the electronics field.

Brian Kovatch, who started the store with a business partner on Nov. 9, 1978, credits the public for the success of Superior Sound.

“The support that we got from the public over the years has just been phenomenal,” he said.

His son and current store manager, Craig Kovatch, calls 40 years of operation a milestone for Superior Sound, especially in a small town like Hay River.

“It’s a milestone a lot of businesses don’t see,” he said. “And usually by the 40-year mark a lot of businesses would have shifted hands. Maybe the family sold off to somebody else. Maybe the new owners don’t see it through.”

Craig Kovatch credits the longevity of Superior Sound with the fact that a customer can walk through the door any day and talk to the owner.

“It’s a family business and someone from the family is always there,” he said.

His father agrees that the fact customers can deal directly with the owner is important.

“And the other thing that I think made this successful as it was going along was the fact that we always had time for the people’s problems,” he said. “We couldn’t always solve a problem, but we spent the time with them.”

Brian Kovatch’s wife, Rita Kovatch, was also involved in the family business for many years by doing the office work.

Brian Kovatch started the company with business partner Gary Pick. At the time, they both worked in the electronics department of Northern Transportation Company Ltd.

“So we decided to start this up, and with an investment of $20,000 went at it,” Kovatch recalled.

Pick’s share of the business was bought in the early 1980s, although he still remains in the company’s official name G.B. Superior Sound Ltd. – the ‘G’ for Gary and the ‘B’ for Brian.

The store’s original location was the property now notable for the fence that each summer contains the Memory Wall.

In all, Superior Sound has been in five different locations, including twice in its current location on Courtoreille Street where it has been since 1995. At one time, it also had satellite stores in Pine Point and Manning, Alta.

Brian Kovatch said, in the early days of Superior Sound, the big items were home stereos and televisions.

“Because there was no Internet, everything was done on a local basis,” he said. “So whatever we brought in was what the people got to see. And so the customers were always coming in asking questions about stuff because it was always new.”

The biggest TV you could buy was a 27-inch model, he noted, “and it weighed a ton.”

Craig Kovatch started working in the store while in school in the mid-1980s, and full-time in 1994.

“I’ve seen a lot of technology come and go, a lot of people come and go,” he said.

“The biggest shift that I’ve experienced was the move to HD television and flat-panel television,” the manager added, noting the introduction of cell phones was also a major change.

Brian Kovatch is now retired, but occasionally drops into Superior Sound.

The founder said that he is amazed that a store like Superior Sound still survives, despite the arrival of Internet shopping years ago.

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