Mark Latam says it was time for a change, but stressed he is not retiring.
With six kids aged 17 to 23, and three in university, that isn’t really an option, he said with a laugh.
Latam, 48, and his wife, Nancy, sold the Hillsburgh Foodland on July 31 after 12 years as owners of the store, which was repeatedly recognized as one of the top stores in Ontario for food quality and customer service.
Nancy has accepted a job at the store as grocery manager, but Latam still is not sure what the future holds for him.
“I haven’t really decided,” Latam said, adding he is taking the month of August off. But he does think a job dealing with people is definitely in the cards.
“I have a real passion for customer service,” he said.
That likely comes as no surprise to residents of Hillsburgh, including those in charge of the countless community events and fundraisers routinely supported by the Latams.
“Mark is the type of guy that, when we say we need help with something, the answer was always yes,” Gillian Riseborough, manager with East?Wellington Community?Services, said in a press release. “We will really miss him and Nancy.”
The Latams’ support for EWCS over the years has included donations of food to the food bank, cash donations through the “save-a-tape” program, donating six months of gift cards as prizes, and sponsoring many fundraisers and more.
“Mark is a true community supporter. We’ve always appreciated how much he gives back,” said Glenyis Betts, executive director of EWCS.
The Latams have been so generous to the community that in 2008 the family was inducted into the Erin Wall of Fame, which is located at Centre 2000 and recognizes those who made selfless contributions to the community.
“The Latams are always there to help,” Erin Mayor Rod Finnie said at the induction ceremony. “I appreciate [the] family’s commitment.”
Latam told the Advertiser there were many factors that led to the decision to sell, and the economy did play a factor. But after working in grocery stores for over three decades – he started at a Loblaws at age 14 – “it was time” for a change.
“I loved the job,” Latam said, adding it is with mixed emotions he and his wife sold the store.
With the sale, Hillsburgh may have lost two of its finest business owners, but not its residents.
“We love the community,” Latam said, adding there are no plans to move from Hillsburgh, where he and Nancy have lived for 25 years.