SUMMERSIDE – After 129 years at the corner of Water and Granville Streets, the P.E.I. Mutual Insurance Company is pulling up stakes.
The venerable customer-owned institution has purchased a large parcel of land on Walker Avenue (between Gentleman Jim’s restaurant and Clark’s Toyota) and plans to build a new head office there. Construction started a few days ago and the company expects to move in within 10 months.
Terry Shea, P.E.I. Mutual general manager, said Tuesday that he and his staff are excited to move to a bigger and better space, but he also expressed a deep regret at having to leave the city’s downtown.
They tried hard to stay where they are now, said Shea, but just couldn’t come up with a plan that balanced the space they need with realistic costs.
“I’m disappointed we have to leave the downtown area, for two reasons: One, we like it down there, and two, I want to keep our downtown vibrant.” he said.
“So bad news we’re leaving the downtown, but good news we’re staying in the city.”
Blair Campbell, corporate secretary for the company, said that while their current building has served their 37 employees well for many years they have simply outgrown it.
Currently, said Campbell, every time they discuss adding a new employee they have to ask themselves “where are we going find room for them?”
“I love working downtown and in Summerside, we really enjoyed the old building, but this change comes out of need,” he said.
P.E.I. Mutual owns its current property and hasn’t decided what will become of it. That decision will come later, after they’ve had some time to adjust to their new facility and take stock of any potential uses it might have.
All in all, it’s an exciting time for P.E.I. Mutual, said Shea.
“We’re a success story. We’re an Island company, there’s not many of us out there anymore, and we’re growing,” he said.
“We’re very proud to be building a new building for the future of our company and hopefully it will be around for a long time,” he added.
According to the company’s website, P.E.I. Mutual was founded by Island farmers in 1885.
It originally rented space in an older building on its current lot (that building burned down) but moved into its replacement when it was built in 1950. It purchased the property and has been operating from that single location ever since.