Theo Bandstra (BCom‘08)
Written by Shirley Serviss
Connection Magazine - Winter 2016
When Theo Bandstra (BCom ‘08) graduated from King’s, he probably didn’t imagine himself owning the Home Hardware store back in his hometown of Smithers, B.C. In fact, he spent two months cycling across Canada and the U.S. with the 2008 C2C bike tour raising funds for poverty prevention and relief, finishing off with eight months of travelling in Australia. Running a Student Work’s painting franchise during the summers paid for his university expenses and his post-university gap year.
Bandstra planned to follow his degree by getting his accounting designation, but plans have a way of changing. After working in accounting in Victoria for five years, that goal lost its appeal. Then, in 2013, the Smithers Home Hardware came up for sale. “My business experience, along with my education and parents’ encouragement gave me the confidence to take on the hardware store, despite never having worked a day of retail in my life,” he says. “It seems that’s the best way for me—just to jump in with both feet.”
He and his wife Alyssa were happy to move back to their hometown to be near extended family.
“Smithers is a great place to live,” Theo says. “It’s a small town with big amenities, but a small-town feel.”
Operating the hardware store became a joint effort with Theo doing the ordering and managing the
floor operations and Alyssa acting as office manager, doing the bookkeeping and administration. “The
beauty and the challenge of small business is that we’re in it together,” he says.
Separating work and home life is difficult with the store open six days a week, but they enjoy time with friends and family when they can and are involved in the Smithers Christian Reformed Church. Bandstra serves on the church council and his hardware business sponsors the annual golf tournament that raises funds for the Christian school.
Bandstra has good memories of his years at King’s. He appreciated having a Christian education for
elementary and high school and chose King’s to continue in that tradition. “I liked that I wasn’t just
a student among many at a big campus,” he says. He also appreciated the opportunity to hang out with his classmates in the café between classes and chat with his profs in the hallways about school and unrelated topics. “Having grown up in a smaller school, it was an easier transition.”
Asked about the value of his education at King’s in running a business, he responds: “It’s not like
I can say I’m applying my knowledge of Gantt Charts to everyday operations. “What it did do is
provide a worldview built on Biblical truth and business basics that determines how I approach
everyday issues, both in business and outside of it.” He explains that his faith influences the way he
interacts with people, manages his time and makes financial decisions. “As ‘Reformed’ Christians, we see the whole world under God’s sovereignty, so all aspects are governed by His call on my life.”