Atma Sandher

Atma Sanher was chosen as one of Kootenay Business' top 10 business person of the year

by Nowell Berg
Atma Sandher is the owner of Golden's Ponderosa Motor Inn.

Atma Sandher, owner of Golden's Ponderosa Motor Inn has been selected for one of Kootenay Business magazine's top 10 business people of 2015. — Photo Courtesy of Atma Sandher

With next to no money in his pocket, Atma Sandher ventured around the world eventually buying the Ponderosa Motor Inn. This top 10 business leader from Golden has hospitality and community involvement down to a fine art. Meet the man behind the green hotel out on the highway. You can't miss it.

How did you come up with your business name?

When I bought the business I knew the Ponderosa was a tree and the tree is a Canadian symbol so I kept the name, Ponderosa Motor Inn.

What is the best compliment your business has ever been given?

When other local businesses tell tourists looking for directions to the Ponderosa, they say “the green motel.” The best compliment is when travelers call the Inn the green motel because of the outside paint colour, you can't miss it on the highway.

What’s the main thing you think you are doing right?

Customers, they are our King, that's how we treat them, be friendly with them and make them comfortable.

How would you define success?

Not just one, but 4 factors:

  1. We're a family business, taking care of family
  2. Clientele coming back to the motel as repeat customers
  3. Management and staff work as a team, without this [success] cannot be achievable, and respect everyone
  4. The customer is top priority all the time and we listen to their concerns

What’s the best piece of advice someone gave you?

My Dad gave me advice to get an education and reach for a higher education if possible.

How do you stay current?

Here are 4 things that I do:

  1. Listen and watch daily national and international news
  2. Talk to local business people to gain information
  3. Regularly attend seminar's and meetings
  4. Sit on the Board of Directors at Tourism, Chamber of Commerce and Credit Union

What lesson have you learned to help you thrive in a challenging economy?

Customer service is our top priority, look after the customer to make sure they're happy.

What book/podcast/ blog do you recommend?

Listen and watch daily national and international news

What do you do for fun or in your downtime?

Travel abroad to other countries and across Canada. Here at home, I meet local people and help out in the community.

When you were six years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?

The main priority was to get an education and the knowledge needed to be a business person, to own a business.

Who is a business person that you admire?

My friends, Ranjit Jassi and Glen Ewan, they always encouraged me to have my own business.

What’s the biggest risk you ever took?

Leaving New Delhi, India and emigrating to Canada in 1970. That was a challenge and risk when I came over with only $7.

Final thoughts:

“Work hard, be honest and loyal and that will be rewarded in your life back. You will get back from whatever you do for others.”

“Be involved in the community as much as possible and give your volunteer time to whatever you can, make some time for volunteer time.”


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