Andrew Cowan

Stepping into Cowan Office Supplies, a longstanding family business, has been just right for co-owner Andrew Cowan

Andrew Cowan has blond hair, a light beard and sunglasses on top of his head. He's wearing a blue t-shirt.

Andrew Cowan owns Cowan Office Supplies Ltd. along with with his brother, Paul Cowan. — Photo courtesy Andrew Cowan

Andrew Cowan didn’t jump straight into the family business, but he now enjoys working at Cowan Office Supplies in Nelson, B.C. The business itself recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and Andrew has been involved since 1987. He now owns it along with his brother, Paul.

“The thing that I like about business is systems and processes, so making things flow properly,” said Andrew. “That is the challenge—to make that flow seamless for the customer and for the staff and everybody.

"I really enjoy the variety of the job. You have many different departments here. There are lots of things to do and you never get bored with anything.”

Although the business is still at the same location where it originally opened, Cowan Office Supplies has seen a number of renovations over the years. Products have evolved and the store now sells art supplies in addition to all manner of office supplies. Andrew finds the biggest challenge is having so much to do with limited time.

Developing an active web presence is another relevant challenge for local businesses.

“The e-commerce thing is really challenging everybody in our business to put together a great site and have a good experience for the customer,” said Andrew, “So we’re putting tons of energy into that. We see that as the future, despite the fact that we have a brick and mortar situation here. I don’t think that’s ever going to change—we’ll always have a building here—but to be engaged and supplying customers you need to have that great web presence.”

When he’s not enjoying the challenges and variety of work, Andrew likes being outdoors and playing squash. He also plays violin in a local quartet. Andrew spent time getting a bachelor of arts degree in psychology, but seems to have found his place back home in Nelson, continuing the family tradition of keeping the area stocked with office supplies.

“I like being in business for myself,” he said. “I like the freedom of making decisions for yourself without having to go through all the channels to make things happen. My brother and I have a great relationship. We get things done pretty fast and we’re on the same page, so it’s a great setup that we have.”

Kristen Mitchell

Kristen studied at College of the Rockies in Cranbrook and has worked in a variety of industries, from agriculture to construction, retail to restaurants. She now brings her understanding of the area to Kootenay Business magazine. View all of Kristen Mitchell’s articles

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