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Small Business Week

October 14th – 20th

Aim High! Invest in your

Future

2012


2 Red Deer Express

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - Small Business Week


Red Deer Express 3

Small Business Week - Wednesday, October 10, 2012

President’s message for Small Business Week Since its establishment in 1894, the Red Deer Chamber has grown to over 900 members, and provides a diverse forum for entrepreneurs just starting out, to businesses that provide goods and services locally, across Alberta, Canada and globally. As the Chamber President, I believe that our future is based on an understanding and an appreciation of our past. It is from the strength of the past that we are well-positioned in the coming year to continue our commitment to enhance and attract business opportunities and prosperity to Red Deer and Central Alberta. Our Chamber is unique in that the mayors of the City of Red

Deer and Red Deer County, together with the Red Deer College appointment to our Board, provides a strong forum for economic initiatives including Red Deer Regional Economic Development and Central Alberta: Access Prosperity. Central Alberta: Access Prosperity is an economic development initiative working with more than 40 communities in our region. It is this level of collaboration that is already attracting businesses from other countries to consider investing in our region. In the coming year our Board will take the initiative to liaise with the surrounding community Chambers.

In 1984, the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce joined with the Westerner Exposition Association to host the first annual AgriTrade Farm Equipment Exposition. Today, it has grown from 175 individual exhibiting companies to over 430 exhibitors making the show the premier agricultural event in Western Canada. Each year the show’s attendance has numbered in the 70,000 range with visitors coming from all over the world to participate and attend the four-day iconic event. Agri-Trade makes a tremendous economic contribution into the Central Alberta economy and is recognized as a destination location in November each year.

BDC- Small Business Week October 14-20 Aim High! Invest In Your Future Small and medium-sized businesses are the cornerstone of the Canadian economy. They account for 99.8% of all Canadian companies and employ more than 60% of private sector workers. At the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), we believe this contribution deserves to be celebrated. We also believe entrepreneurs need support in building successful, innovative businesses. BDC Small Business Week™ activities provide an opportunity to celebrate, develop new skills, make new contacts and plan for new opportunities. For 33 years, the Business Development Bank of Canada has been organizing BDC Small Business Week ™ in recognition of the contributions and achievements of Canada’s entrepreneurs. Events held during the week

bring entrepreneurs together at conferences, luncheons and trade fairs across the country where they have the opportunity to learn, network and enjoy themselves in the company of their peers.

Entrepreneurs across Canada are aiming high - investing to build better, more competitive businesses. To grow, they need the right people, technology and business skills to beat the competition both here and abroad. BDC Small Business Week™ 2012 is about sharing stories of success and helpful, practical advice on how to succeed with those who are ambitious for their companies. The time to

In 2013, Agri-Trade will celebrate 30 years of progressive growth as it showcases the diversity of agriculture in the world. The Chamber’s policy committees are made up of volunteers who dedicate their time and expertise to address barriers to your success and prosperity. The Chamber’s agricultural policy committee led the way in 2001 with the controversial Canadian Wheat Board policy. After 10 years of effective lobbying, the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly was dismantled leading the way for marketing freedom for producers and processors. In November 2011 Federal Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz personally visited Red Deer to offer his congratulations and to thank the Chamber for their tireless efforts on behalf of farmers and processors. We had six policies adopted at the Alberta Chambers of Commerce AGM this year, and took the lead when we debated these policies at the Canadian Cham-

bers of Commerce AGM in Hamilton, Ontario last month. The policies can be found at http://reddeerchamber.com/3_ policy_archive.html. The Chamber’s networking events, such as luncheons, breakfasts and Business After Hours provides Chamber members with the opportunity to network, showcase their businesses, and build positive business relationships. The Chamber hosts numerous business luncheons with learning opportunities to enhance your business. On behalf of my colleagues on the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the wonderful staff, we encourage you to make that first step - check out the benefits of membership and get involved. I look forward to meeting you in the upcoming year - come join me on Oct. 17 when we celebrate Business of the Year. Sincerely, Gayle A. Langford

invest in the future is now. BDC Small Business Week™ is a Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) trademark whose origins date back to 1979 when BDC business centres in British Columbia’s Lower Fraser Valley pooled their resources to organize a week of activities for entrepreneurs. This first event and one that followed in 1980 were so successful that BDC officially launched BDC Small Business Week™ across Canada in 1981. The initiative was quickly adopted by Canada’s business community. In 2011, some 320 activities across Canada attracted close to 10,000 business people to BDC Small Business Week™. This BDC flagship event celebrates entrepreneurship at the local, provincial and national levels. - Business Development Centre

CHAMBER PRESIDENT GAYLE A. LANGFORD

PUBLISHER’S MESSAGE Small Business Week is an extremely important time to recognize the contributions of the local business community. Each year at this time, this designated week is a terrific opportunity to highlight the differences these companies make to Central Albertans on a day-to-day basis. Small businesses make up a large part of Red Deer and Central Alberta’s economy, and it’s important to acknowledge their dedication and range of services to the region. We are very pleased to again team up with the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce to bring our readers the annual Small Business Week feature. It includes many stories about an array of local small businesses on a variety of relevant topics. There are also practical articles about enhancing business strategies from the Business Development Centre. We want to thank the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce for the opportunity to bring this feature to our readers. We would also like to extend our thanks and appreciation to the local small businesses that participated. Tracey Scheveers, Publisher, Red Deer Express


4 Red Deer Express

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - Small Business Week

PuroClean Property Damage eases client stress informed. You will hear from us every day if there is something going on in your house and know Gord and Trish Holmes, own- what the next step is,” said Trish. ers of PuroClean Property DamNot only does PuroClean take age began their business this past care of the emergency, but they spring after going through a fran- also do re-builds as well. chise-broker. “Anything that is taken out “We offer disaster restoration,” during the job we put back in. So said Trish. “If you have flooding if we have to take out carpet or a in your home or smoke damage, wall, it’s put back in. We contract mould or bio-hazard then we are it to professionals,” said Trish. there to help. The majority of our Both Trish and Gord enjoy work is insurance-related, so in- their jobs and enjoy getting the surance companies opportunity to help would get a hold of “OUR JOB IS TO MAKE others as well. us and we would “This is a warm THE BEST OUT OF THE go from there, but and fuzzy job conWORST SITUATION.” people can call us sidering what we as well.” do. We come into TRISH HOLMES She added there people’s homes has been a demand for the type when everything is going wrong of work that PuroClean offers in and stresses are high. Our job is recent years. to make the best out of the worst “The last few years the weather situation – to take away any worhas been very volatile. There has ries that they don’t immediately been a lot of water damage and have to deal with,” said Trish. there has been a definite need.” Since opening their doors earAlthough there are a handful lier this year, the couple said the of other restoration companies in response from the customers they Central Alberta, Gord and Trish have helped has been positive. said their business stands out “It never ceases to amaze me from the rest. how happy people are because as “We had water damage in our soon as their home or business is home before we even started this back to where it was, everything venture. And our mandate be- is better. And the faster that hapcause of that is to keep the hom- pens, the better it is. When I hear eowner and the insurance person ‘Just talking to you makes me feel

BY ERIN FAWCETT Red Deer Express

TO THE RESCUE - Gord and Trish Holmes, owners of PuroClean Property Damage, stand in front of the company Cynthia Radford/Red Deer Express vehicles in Red Deer. better about my situation’, that is a good feeling,” said Trish. With hopes to be a multi-million dollar company within 10 years, Gord and Trish look to work their way to the top.

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Red Deer Express 5

Small Business Week - Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Turple Bros. a fixture in community for over 55 years BY ERIN FAWCETT Red Deer Express A long-time fixture in Red Deer’s business community continues to thrive and grow. In 1946, co-founder Glenn Turple got his first motorbike when he was 18. By 1949, he and his younger brother, Rex Turple, started a dealership near Olds called Olds Sales and Service on the farm where he lived. In 1956 the business was moved into Red Deer and renamed Turple Bros. Ltd. “My father was big into riding bikes and the frontend and sales. And my uncle was the mechanic and into racing,” said Brenda Neufeld, co-owner of Turple Bros. Ltd. “They had everything to build the business together.” For years, Turple Bros. was located in downtown Red Deer across from the old Alpha Plant. “They had a little old building and did 17 different renovations there and continued to grow in size,” said Neufeld.

FAMILY PRIDE - Brenda Neufeld, co-owner of Turple Bros. Ltd., stands with her father Glenn Turple in their family business, located on Gasoline Alley. Turple Bros. has been in operation since 1956. The business moved to their current location, which is 48,000 sq. ft. on Gasoline Alley, in 2000. “We’re all about family

fun. We’ve got things for everyone from small kids because we start with small bikes and ATVs to motorbikes and quads for the old-

stroll down Mall Street!

er groups. We’re focused on all ages,” said Neufeld. “And we provide every thing in the industry. We have sales, accessories,

Cynthia Radford/Red Deer Express

parts and service.” The business also carries a selection of generators, lawn mowers, snow blowers and other yard care

equipment, as well as a selection of clothing for babies all the way up to adults as well. “For the most part my brother and I are running the business now. “But my father is still very involved at 84 years of age. “He is still here four days a week. He rides (his motorbike) all year round and by next year he should have one million miles on motorcycles in his lifetime. “He’s a very interesting character and still very active.” In addition to continuing to grow their business, the staff at Turple Bros. also believes in the importance of giving back to the community. The company supports a number of charities and organizations including The United Way, the Festival of Trees, the Ronald McDonald House, among many others. “To me supporting these types of organizations is critical because that is how you support your community.”

SHOP LOCAL ON MALL STREET FROM OCTOBER 18 - 21! For 4 days you can tour Parkland Mall’s indoor market of products made right here in Central Alberta by local entrepreneurs. Find art, baked goods, clothing, toys, or maybe the latest Dragon’s Den worthy inventions! After you’ve had your fill of Mall Street, vote for your favorite vendor that you think deserves the title of Mall Street Mogul. The winning entrepreneur will receive a free prime kiosk location for 2 months right here in Parkland Mall and business coaching from Community Futures. For more information about the Mall Street Market, visit www.parklandmall.ca and click on the Events & Promotions page. fb.com/parklandmall

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efawcett@reddeerexpress.com


6 Red Deer Express

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - Small Business Week

The Fine Vine marks 15 years wine-making expertise BY MARK WEBER Red Deer Express Offering customers the best in wine and beer making supplies, The Fine Vine in Red Deer has seen a steady pace of growth since first opening its doors in 1997.

‘THE BIGGEST REWARD IS WHEN PEOPLE COME BACK IN AND THEY TALK ABOUT HOW GOOD OF A WINE OR BEER THEY HAVE MADE.’ PAUL KIRTON The Fine Vine’s mandate is to bring the experience of wine making into customers’ homes, and that’s a passion that owner/manager Paul Kirton has had since day one. The business is located at 1D – 2310 50 Ave. It’s a brisk business that continues to flourish. As Kirton says, entertaining at home is becoming more popular all the time, and this makes wine and beer making an increasingly enjoyable and practical trend.

The process is fun and easy, and the reward is a great selection of product to share with guests, he said. The idea to launch his own business was sparked in the mid-1990s, and was inspired by his own passion for wine making. “In 1997, I’d always been in the retail industry working for other people so that was the right time for me to open my own business,” he said. “Wine and beer making was what I knew best – it was a hobby I absolutely loved, and I loved sharing it with friends. I thought this is really for me, and I knew I could get the word out about what great products customers can make. “There’s also always something to learn. Any book I can find on it I’m reading, trying to learn more and more.” His hard work and dedication has certainly not gone unnoticed. RJ Spagnols, the leading manufacturer in the industry, has recognized select stores across Canada as Academy Winemaking

CHOICES – Paul Kirton, owner of The Fine Vine in Red Deer, specializes in providing wine making products to Central Albertans. Stores and The Fine Vine was found to be worthy of that designation. In 2011, Kirton was also

Cynthia Radford/Red Deer Express

awarded the honour of providing the ‘Best Customer Experience’ throughout Canada. He is also the Alberta representative on the advisory council to RJ Spagnols. “We’re on the front line, so customers’ opinions in our store go a long, long way because I take that right to the people that make the product.” As Kirton pointed out, the possibilities are virtually endless for the varieties of product that can be produced. Sometimes people come into the store and they are interested in the concept, but suspect it might be an overly expensive prospect. Not so. Kirton said it’s extremely reasonable in

terms of cost, with an almost immediate return on investment from the first batches produced. “You could pick one of 250-plus wines to make at any given time in our store. You have a lot of choices, and then the ways that you can adjust them can be endless.” It’s also quite easy to learn. “It’s easier than people might think, and we enjoy showing them. When people come in and buy their start-up package on day one, we’ll give them a certificate that allows them to book a private one or two-hour lesson. “We really strive for the customer experience here,” he added. “When people come in the door, we want them to

have a good time, and give them something to look forward to. I think that’s where we stand out and excel. That’s that we’ve always focused on -- customer service first. “The biggest reward is when people come back in and they talk about how good of a wine or beer they have made. They might have had no idea they could make such a good product. You can see their enthusiasm, and that’s what I love about it. “Every time I see that, I remember when I was 18 and had made my first batch of beer, and had that ‘wow factor’ when I had my first sip,” he said. “That’s what does it for me.” editor@reddeerexpress.com

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Red Deer Express 7

Small Business Week - Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Local pet food store community-minded BY ERIN FAWCETT Red Deer Express Providing customers with high-quality products and great service is a priority for small business owner Larry Leeder.

Leeder owns Global Pet Foods in Red Deer and said he has always dreamed of owning his own business. “I was in the oil-patch overseas for many years before this and saved my pennies. I reached a stage where I decided to come

back to Canada and I started looking into “There is a niche in the market where small businesses. people want to feed their pets better and “I found out very quickly that the busi- buy them the better quality toys – that is nesses that seemed to succeed and do very us.” well are the franchises because they give To Leeder, service is of the utmost imyou a lot of support when opening up a portance for his business and he wants his business,” he said. “Global Pet Foods had customers to feel welcome in the store. just opened up their first store in western “You come in, we know you and your Canada and I went to dog. It’s so important to look at it and thought “SMALL BUSINESSES ARE THE provide that good qualthis was something I service. ROOTS OF THE COMMUNITY AND ity“People could do.” like good serTHAT IS WHAT IS IMPORTANT.” vice no matter how you Leeder owns both Global Pet Foods locacut it. You like it when LARRY LEEDER tions in Red Deer. you go into a store and The south location, at 3701 50th Ave., has the people know you and ask you about been open for eight years, while the north how you’re doing. location, at 43-6320 50th Ave., has been in “It has become almost an obsolete thing operation for seven years. in so many stores. To me that’s where His business caters to dogs, cats as well small businesses can do it better than anyas some small animals. body and really flourish.” “I target us as your neighbourhood pet Leeder added he realizes his customers food store,” he said. are not what you would typically expect “I believe so strongly in small business- – they are furry and four-legged for the es and I’m proud to be one of them. Small most part, and he believes in giving back to businesses are the roots of the communi- them as much as he can as well. ty and that is what is important. If there “You can’t be a taker your whole life. I wasn’t any small business there wouldn’t really like to give back to the community. be much in communities. It would just be So how I do that is by supporting the ania few big box stores working around the mal rescue organizations.” community.” Leeder is passionate about his job, not Global Pet Foods carries premium foods only by helping pet owners find the best and accessories for dogs, cats and smaller products, but by giving back to the comanimals as well. munity as well. “We’re that choice. We are the 25 per “It’s so much fun,” he said. “I truly love cent of that market that carries a better what I do.” efawcett@reddeerexpress.com product.

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BEST BUDS - Larry Leeder, owner of Global Pet Foods, poses with his dog Joannie at his store Cynthia Radford/Red Deer Express located in south Red Deer.

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8 Red Deer Express

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - Small Business Week

QF Avionics has long legacy of serving air industry BY MARK WEBER Red Deer Express A passion for the aircraft industry has certainly influenced Bob and Ann Marryat’s dedication to their business – QF Avionics Centre Ltd. which is located at the Red Deer Regional Airport. Avionics describes the intricate range of electronics that are on an aircraft. The company was launched in 1979 and the couple has worked hard ever since to ensure its steady growth which is built on top-of-the-line skill and product and a dedication to solid customer service. Serving all of western Canada, they offer sales of new and used equipment as well as installations on both commercial and private planes. They also specialize in avionics line maintenance, retrofits and component repairs. As their web site also points out, they are a Transport Canada approved organization and serve all sectors of the aviation industry. “I graduated from SAIT in the electronics program, and was hired by Air Canada in Montreal,” recalls Bob of the years prior to the company’s inception. “I went to work for them for a year, and then came back. There was

another avionics shop here at the airport, and I started working for them.” Eventually, he decided to start his own business, and that was the same year he and Ann married. They’re still located in the same place, although the business has expanded significantly in the years since those early days. “Our customer base is really all of western Canada,” explains Bob, adding that QF Avionics is the only avionics shop in the Red Deer area. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t competition from similar ventures in the bigger centres such as Edmonton. The Marryats work to set themselves apart by offering better service and higher quality of work. Being a family business, there’s more of a personal touch to the operations as well, added Ann. Part of what also keeps QF Avionics busy are contracts they have with fire suppression companies. That includes Air Spray, which is based nearby, plus various helicopter companies that are busy during firefighting seasons. There are also the privately-owned airplanes plus Northwestern Air Lease which provides scheduled service into

Red Deer. “There’s a lot more to the aviation industry than just the pilot in the front seat – the support industry behind it is quite huge,” said Bob. “And once you get into the maintenance side of it, there are quite a few specialized areas.” Meanwhile, the benefits of running one’s own business are plentiful, and a big piece of that is the partnerships and relationships that are formed over the years. “We have customers today that we’ve had since 1979,” said Ann. “They’re still here, and they are kind of like family.” Of course, there are the challenges – one of the main ones being that there isn’t a plentiful number of workers out there with the specialized skills demanded by the avionics industry. “Because we are in a very niche type of market, the trained person for this type of business is limited,” said Bob. Still, the everevolving world of cutting-edge aircraft technology and electronics systems ensures there is always something of a learning curve. “It’s very interesting, and there is always something happening.”

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CUTTING EDGE - Bob Marryat, owner of QF Avionics Centre Ltd., shows how intricate some of the electronic systems can be in an aircraft. Mark Weber/Red Deer Express


Red Deer Express 9

Small Business Week - Wednesday, October 10, 2012

SPONSORS Diamond

BDC is the Business Development Bank of Canada. From over 100 offices across the country, BDC promotes entrepreneurship by providing highly tailored financing, venture capital and consulting services to entrepreneurs. A financial institution owned by the Government of Canada, BDC has been serving Canadian entrepreneurs for more than 65 years. Our team helps more than 29,000 businesses reach their full potential. As a complementary lender, we offer loans and investments that supplement services available from commercial financial institutions. We put special focus on SMEs in sectors such as manufacturing, exporting, innovation and knowledgebased industries. We pay particular attention to start-ups, innovators, fast growth companies, manufacturers and exporters. We also focus on entrepreneurs who are working to commercialize the fruits of R&D to create innovative products and globally successful companies. We put entrepreneurs’ success at the heart of all we do.

Platinum L.A. Radio Group is a local independent corporation owned and operated by Troy Schaab and Sonia Sawyer-Schaab. L.A. Radio Group successfully operates local FM stations Sunny 94 out of Lacombe and KRAZE 101-3 out of Red Deer. Troy plays a major role in Central Alberta’s community, living and working here for the past 14 years following his life-long passion in radio. Sonia has extensive experience in broadcasting after receiving her diploma from SAIT in 1993 and working as television producer in Lloydminster, Saskatoon and Red Deer.

Platinum Platinum Understanding and being involved in the local market is what makes a radio station successful - and Sonia’s past position as executive director of the Red Deer Downtown Business Association provides her with in depth knowledge of the local business community. KRAZE 101-3, Red Deer’s Hit Music Channel is proud to hold the title of number one radio station in Red Deer with listeners and market share.* Sunny 94, Central Alberta’s GREATEST Hits comes in a very close second with the most listeners and market share with Adults 35+.** L.A. Radio Group understands the Red Deer market, is committed to serving the local community and intends to be a part of it for years to come. * Source - BBM Spring 2012: CKIKFM, Red Deer CTRL Cume 5a-1a. Mon-Sun, A18-49. ** Source - BBM Spring 2012: CJUVFM, Red Deer CTRL Cume 5a-1a & Mkt Shr Mon-Sun, A35+ demo.

A local business banking team with local priorities. Servus Credit Union is proud to be a part of the Small Business Week celebrations by sponsoring the Business of the Year Awards. Our Business Banking Centre, located in Servus’ South Hill branch has the focus, experience and support that ensures we meet the varied needs of the business sector. Our business banking team understands your community and the local economy, and we consider these factors when exploring financial solutions for your business. With a complete range of commercial banking services available full-time at your local branch, you can now take full advantage of the Servus business banking difference. Whether you are looking for the flexibility of operational loans or a custom package to finance expansion, our personalized approach will help you focus your energy and expertise on growing your company. Servus Credit Union is

a member-owned financial institution serving approximately 390,000 members from more than 100 locations in 62 communities. Servus’ vision of building a better world - one member at a time inspires our commitment to provide sound, advice-based financial products and services; help members achieve personal satisfaction, enjoy financial stability and a good quality of life; and improve the communities where our members live and work.

Big Support for Small Business. TD Canada Trust is proud and excited to once again sponsor Small Business Week across Canada. The Red Deer Chamber of Commerce 2012 Business of the Year Awards is a great opportunity for local small business owner/operators to connect with TD Canada Trust experts and the Chamber, to network and exchange ideas that could enhance your business. Across industries, our customers are telling us that they’re looking for new ways to grow their business, especially in a tough economy. We know that cash flow, succession planning and access to credit are on your mind and we have the expertise to provide you with advice personalized to your financial situation. Our involvement in Small Business Week is a testament to TD Canada Trust’s commitment to entrepreneurs and the hardworking owners of businesses of all sizes. We are proud to have a network of over 1,100 branches, 50% longer hours than other banks and dedicated Small Business Advisors in over 280 branches. Come in and talk to us so we can work with you to uncover the big ideas that help make small businesses soar. To see how TD Canada Trust can help your business, visit your local branch or visit us online at www.tdcanadatrust.com/smallbusiness.

Gold ZED 98.9 & KG Country 95.5 has a long history of community commitment. We embrace our responsibility to give back and take a pro-active approach to exceed all expectations. Our talented fun team of gifted, committed and darn good looking employees work smart every day to provide the very best content available. We recognize there are many choices for listeners and advertisers and we unite daily to provide compelling, relevant, engaging and entertaining radio. Years of success as the leading choice for Red Deer and Central Alberta tuning validates that commitment. We are deeply grateful for the support given us by our valued listeners and advertisers.

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Red Deer has a staff of 185 that offer a wide variety of engineering and architecture services. The Red Deer office serves as the hub of the Central Alberta and Northern Region which includes offices in Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Yellowknife, Whitehorse and Iqaluit. Stantec is a proud part of the Central Alberta Community and was honoured to receive the 2009 Chamber Business of the Year Award.

In simple terms, the world of Stantec is the water we drink, the routes we travel, the buildings we visit, the industries in which we work, and the neighbourhoods we call home. Stantec, founded in 1954, provides professional consulting services in planning, engineering, architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, surveying, environmental sciences, project management, and project economics for infrastructure and facilities projects. Continually striving to balance economic, environmental, and social responsibilities, they are recognized as a worldclass leader and innovator in the delivery of sustainable solutions. Stantec supports public and private sector clients in a diverse range of markets in the infrastructure and facilities sector at every stage, from the initial conceptualization and financial feasibility study to project completion and beyond. Stantec’s services are provided on projects around the world through approximately 12,000 employees operating out of more than 190 locations in North America including seven offices in Alberta a well as four locations internationally. Stantec’s Red Deer office was established in 1997 with a small but talented staff led by Russ Wlad. In 1997, the office consisted of a staff of four, offering a handful of specialty engineering services. Today, Stantec

Central Alberta: Access Prosperity is a non-profit economic development initiative focused on promoting economic growth in the Central Alberta region. We represent over 40 municipalities, managing projects that focus on local business retention and expansion while also promoting foreign direct investment in the region. We emphasize our business to business matching program that connects local companies with international investment or trade opportunities, letting our local business owners be the ambassadors for the region. And, as we keep a running inventory of all assets in the region, we are the only resource site selectors and investors need when considering the region.

Friends of Business of the Year Awards


10 Red Deer Express

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - Small Business Week

Local business aims to give back to community BY ERIN FAWCETT Red Deer Express A thriving company based in Central Alberta not only strives for a successful and profitable business, but also believes that giving back to the community is equally important. Jamie Willson, owner of Willson AV, offers live audio production for bands, meetings, conventions, large conferences and tradeshows, among others. Willson moved to Red Deer in 1980 to attend Red Deer College. He was enrolled in the business program. He started Willson AV in 1981. “In its infancy it started out as a mobile DJ company back in the early ‘80s. We ran that business for a number of years. We ran the mobile music company until 2007,” said Willson. “The company has changed its focus over the years. It’s grown with the community and as demands and needs have changed over the years we’ve adapted our core business.” Willson said his business

is always changing and evolving. “It’s a very dynamic industry and the technology is always changing so we need to keep up and we make significant investments in our technology to make sure we are always offering the newest and latest and greatest.” Not only is it important for Willson to offer his clients the best technology available and best customer service, he also believes in giving back to the community as well. “We support pretty much every single Central Alberta charity there is – as far as we’re concerned there is no bad charity. We do hundreds of charity events every year. We are very community-oriented and community-minded in how we support things,” he said. “Our number one focus is giving back to the community who has given so much to us. And by providing charities with what we can, which is by supplying them with our equipment and services, it’s our way of giving back.”

HIGH TECH - Jamie Willson, owner of Willson AV, tests out a piece of new equipment – a state-of-the-art mixer. Cynthia Radford/Red Deer Express

Willson added his company is also unique to Central Alberta because most other businesses the same size are in the Calgary and Edmonton markets. 4721 50 Ave (Downtown) Red Deer, Alberta, T4N 4A2 P: 403.343.1155 F: 403.341.3300 E: copy@copiesnow.ab.ca

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Red Deer Express 11

Small Business Week - Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Organizing Guru transforms homes and businesses BY ERIN FAWCETT Red Deer Express One local woman who aims to help people live simpler lives, continues to transform homes and businesses.

“I think there are a lot of people who are at their wit’s end,� said Lynne Ring, owner of The Organizing Guru. “I’m usually called when people are overwhelmed and the clutter is the ele-

phant in the room and they just don’t know where to start.â€? She provides solutions and guidance in general ofďŹ ce organization, space planning, the development of improved processes and

SIMPLICITY - Lynne Ring, The Organizing Guru, stands in front of her well-organized and alphabetized spices. She can help anyone looking to get organized whether it be in their home or Cynthia Radford/Red Deer Express ofďŹ ce.

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work ow, storage problems, moving and relocation as well as information and time management. Ring tackles both residential and commercial settings. “I have a system that I use and it involves four words: treasures, tools, toys and trash,â€? said Ring, who has been an entrepreneur in Central Alberta for over 25 years. “Treasures have an emotional attachment to them, but they have no function. Tools have a function but no emotional attachment to them. Toys have both a function and an emotional attachment and trash is just that.â€? Identifying these items and de-cluttering them is the ďŹ rst step, said Ring. “This is so important because I know for myself a cluttered space makes for a cluttered mind,â€? she said. “If I’m focusing on something I have to have it calm around me.â€? After starting her business in 2008 and working with a number of people, Ring said she continues to enjoy her job because she

knows she is helping others live a better life. “One of the things that continues to amaze me is the amount of people who have a problem with paper, and yet they don’t have a ďŹ ling system,â€? she said. “A home is a business. A lot of people don’t think of it in those terms.â€? Ring also offers a service that she calls “moving made easyâ€?. “I help people go through their homes when they are moving and help them pack what they decide to keep and then I also help them unpack it all and organize in their new homes as well,â€? she said. “It’s something that has really been enjoyable.â€? Ring added people might

wonder why they would hire a professional organizer when they could organize their space themselves. “People don’t have the time, and time is very valuable,� she said. “The last thing you want to do when you get home from work and are exhausted is look at a closet – you don’t have the energy for it nevermind the focus. “I think another reason to hire a professional is the know-how and also to reduce the amount of stress in a persons life.� For more information about The Organizing Guru and her range of services, contact Lynne Ring at 403-343-2201. efawcett@reddeerexpress.com


12 Red Deer Express

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - Small Business Week

Quality products and great customer service at All Season Decking BY ERIN FAWCETT Red Deer Express A local company prides itself on high quality products and excellent customer service. All Season Decking Ltd. is a local home renovation business specializing in decking and railings. The business, located at 4715B 61st St., is co-owned by father/son team Gaetan Belanger and Lovens Belanger. “We do residential work. We build high quality decks from scratch. We are a Duradek dealer and use Dek-Smart aluminum railings, which are welded and power-coated with a matte finish. We also do a seamless coating called Flextone over the deck as well,” said Gaetan. All Season Decking provides a homeowner with a deck that is maintenancefree and that will last many years. Gaetan added with the popularity of homes with walkout basements, many homeowners are requesting their services because when it rains, they are still able to use the lower deck as it is sheltered.

“You don’t have to worry about staining or replacing boards – it really is maintenance-free. I have a deck that has lasted 15 years. The manufacturer gives a 10-year warranty also,” he said. “It is an investment in your property. The decks stay looking nice for a long time.” The family-run business has over 15 years of experience in the industry and over 20 years in the construction industry. They currently provide their service to 24 local builders, plus private customers as well. “We continue to be very busy and we’ve grown steadily over the years. We get a lot of word of mouth referrals.” Gaetan added for All Season Decking, customer service and quality workmanship are the two top priorities for the business. “We want to make sure that our customers are 100 per cent happy. “We do it right or we don’t do it at all. All our work is guaranteed to supply our customers with satisfaction.” efawcett@reddeerexpress.com

FAMILY TEAM - From left, Gaetan Belanger stands with his son Lovens Belanger in the show room at their business, All Season Decking.

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Red Deer Express 13

Small Business Week - Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How to plan your business’s growth Say you have a successful small business. You have a few employees, and things are going fine. If you’re like many entrepreneurs, you may never take time to sit down and think about your future growth—how to take your company to the next level in a smart, disciplined way. But growth is an issue many business owners ignore at their peril. In fact, it might just be one of the most important issues facing them as entrepreneurs. “If you decide not to grow, you may be paving a path to failure,” said Patrick Latour, senior vice president, financing and consulting at the Business Development Bank of Canada. “If you don’t grow, your competitors will, and that will put pressure on you.” The good news, Latour said, is that business owners can create a road map to guide them and reduce their risk as they grow their enterprise. The road map can help them find more growth opportunities and avoid common mistakes, like failing to delegate responsibility to employees (see sidebar). To develop your road map, start by committing time to outlining a plan for your growth, Latour said. It should include a few important basics: A clear picture of your business’s current strengths,

weaknesses and opportunities, a vision for where you want your company to be in the next three to five years and an action plan to achieve your vision (who will do what and by when). Your growth plan could be anything from a rough, informal sketch to a full-blown, highly detailed strategic plan, including everything from a mission statement to scenario planning and financial forecasts.

What’s vital is getting the key players in your company on the same page, thinking about your future. “If you’re going to grow, you should absolutely have a plan,” said Paul Cubbon, who teaches entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business. “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Latour agreed. “The plan doesn’t have to be pages and pages long. Sometimes the simpler, the better. But if you don’t have a planned, disciplined approach to growth, you’re probably going to make more mistakes.”

Christopher Moreno is a firm believer in creating a growth plan—and following it with discipline. His event planning and production business, 365 Productions, was growing so quickly in 2011 that he and partner Ben Patience worried it was spinning out of control. “We were concerned about having too many things on the conveyor belt,” Moreno said. “We said ‘Eventually the conveyor belt is going to be full, and something is going to fall off the end.’” The duo decided to embark on a strategic planning exercise. The process helped clarify their opportunities, risks and respective roles in the company. The result --a detailed five-year plan that included financial forecasts for three different growth scenarios. The plan helped them boost sales to an expected $3.2 million this year from $1.8 million in 2010. They have even exceeded their goals, meeting their year-three targets in 18 months. And the plan has helped guide a successful international expansion into Britain and Australia. Along the way, they made sure to meet regularly with employees to see if the plan needs any tweaking and check how their plan is being implemented by measuring progress against their

benchmarks. “The plan is 10 per cent of the work; the other 90 per cent is actually doing it,” Moreno

says. “If you don’t get in the car and drive, the roadmap is useless.”

Do’s and don’ts You’ve decided you want to expand your small business— but aren’t sure how. Here are some growth do’s and don’ts. Leverage existing clients -- looking for growth opportunities? Don’t forget your existing clients. They could be your best path to expansion success. It’s usually much easier to find new business from current clients than to start afresh with untested ones. “Listen to existing clients, and see what they need,” said Patrick Latour, senior vice president, financing and consulting at the Business Development Bank of Canada. “Ask them how you can help them be even better. Can you help them in ways they don’t know about?” Latour also advises growth-oriented entrepreneurs to seek out opportunities to join the supply chains of multinational corporations. Grow smart -- whatever you focus on as a growth opportunity, be sure it’s the right path

for you and your business, said Paul Cubbon, who teaches entrepreneurship at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business. Don’t expand into new business areas just because you can. “People think growth will bring a more profitable situation. But they may grow from one to 20 employees and not make any more money, while working twice as hard. “It’s not just about growth. It’s about smart growth.” Be sure new business offers the same margins as you currently enjoy and helps you differentiate from the competition. Don’t micromanage -- growing companies often wind up in trouble when the entrepreneur has trouble delegating decisions to staff. “Hire good people and trust them,” Latour said. “Let your people work, while you spend more time thinking about your strategic focus and your next move.”

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14 Red Deer Express

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - Small Business Week

Quality, natural products at Big Bend Market Expansion to south store in Red Deer allows for more retail space BY MARK WEBER Red Deer Express Red Deer’s Big Bend Market has seen extraordinary growth since its inception back in 2007. And that growth continues with the addition of 2,000 sq. ft. of retail space to the location in Southpointe Common. “We’ll be adding some tables for people to sit down and enjoy their lunch rather than just some bar stools which I’ve had in the past,” said owner Ivan Smith. “We’ll also be adding some fresh produce, which I think is quite exciting for our customers.” That will include locally grown and organic selections of fruits and vegetables. “I’ve also found a new supplier of organic milk, and I plan to increase the number of local cheeses that we carry. “It will really be more of the same – just bigger and better. We’re capitalizing on what we already have, so we’ll just have that much more proportionately.” Prior to launching his

business, Smith was raising bison west of Red Deer and selling the meat at local farmers’ markets. At the end of the season in 2007 he decided he wanted to also provide fresh, naturally raised, hormone and antibiotic-free meats from a central location. He purchased space in Southpointe Common and it wasn’t long before word started to spread – rapidly. “We’ve actually seen on average a 40 per cent growth rate every year for the last five years.” Today, producers from around Central Alberta can also provide product to the business which opened a second location in north Red Deer in the fall of 2009. The north location (#15, 7619 – 50 Ave.) has a much larger production space. Staff at the north store can cut any meat – including wild game. “It’s also where we make all our sausage, smoked hams and smoked turkeys.” Meanwhile, customers

GROWING – Ivan Smith, owner of Big Bend Market, looks forward to being able to provide more to customers with a business expansion.

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can purchase beef, bison, poultry, pork, lamb and elk plus sausages made in-store. There is also a range of fresh beef, bison and pork jerky, cheeses, daily baked bread, sandwiches, fresh soups, imported spices, a large selection of imported balsamic vinegars and olive oils, and curry sauces and imported Italian pastas. More salads will soon be featured as well. Smith also plans to bolster the store’s selection of seafood. “We’ll have more fresh fish than what we currently carry.” As for baking, he wants to expand what Big

Bend Market offers as well. With the addition of the space, Smith wants to bring elements of the production process to where visitors can watch it happen. “Staff will start making perogies out front where people can see us mixing our own dough and handfilling each one. We’ll also be decorating our cupcakes out front where people will see it’s not a machine doing it – it’s a person. “Right now when we make our sandwiches, our back is to the customer and I don’t like that. We’ll have a sandwich station where can be facing the

customer.” Ultimately, success stems from providing something unique to folks who want the natural and healthiest alternatives. “We bring in things that the customers ask for. It’s about listening to the needs of the customers and responding. “I also think we are hitting a lot of the market trends,” he said, referring to the growing desire to purchase locally. “I wouldn’t be anywhere without the support of the customers, and it’s that relationship that has caused the growth.” editor@reddeerexpress.com

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Red Deer Express 15

Small Business Week - Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Red Deer Hot Yoga continues to flourish BY MARK WEBER Red Deer Express Moving boldly ahead with a new name and a renovated space, Red Deer Hot Yoga continues to spread the word about a broader

range of programming. “We have changed the name of the studio to Red Deer Hot Yoga and have renovated the entire space,” explained Darcy Schneider, a partner in the business along with Shau-

na Clark. Formerly known as The Amaryllis Centre Inc., the studio now has new flooring and lighting and the removal of some walls has given them more space as well. Schneider said the

“I AM TRULY ENJOYING BEING INVOLVED IN THE RED DEER BUSINESS COMMUNITY.” DARCY SCHNEIDER changes have provided a greater feeling of openness, and having more room has also offered them more functionality and the ability to expand their retail space as well. Overall, there is also simply more in programming to choose from for clients. “We are offering more variety of classes and more class times,” she said. “The studio also remains open during the day when classes aren’t running so that we can answer questions in person.” Looking ahead, she said they will also be offering teacher trainings in the winter, plus 40 days to personal revolution, nutrition for yogis and the most variety of hot and non-hot classes “So there really is a place for everyone. We even have kids’ yoga and prenatal will be arriving soon.” Clark also pointed out

that they have brought in more classes that focus on both beginners and advanced practitioners. “We have made a commitment to having every class being able to be enjoyed at any level of experience. We have a diverse group of instructors who are continuously training and getting more knowledge and bringing fresh ideas to Central Alberta.” The business was originally opened by Clark’s family three years ago. It was replicated from their sister studio which is in Cochrane. Clark and her sister are yoga instructors, and it’s been a passion for years. It’s also been a bit of a family venture, as their mother was a natural practitoner focusing on Body Talk and Electro Acupuncture. Meanwhile, the focus is on making sure clients get the most out of their time spent at Red Deer Hot Yoga. For Schneider, it’s incredibly fulfilling to help point people in a healthier direction. “I feel so excited to be a part of this business. I re-

ally believe in what we are doing here, encouraging a healthy lifestyle through yoga and offering a challenging practice while still providing less intense, more therapeutic styles,” said Schneider. “Getting involved in the community through events like fun runs has been rewarding and has allowed us to take yoga to people outside of the studio as well. “I am truly enjoying being involved in the Red Deer business community, getting inspired by others in our area and forming relationships with hardworking honest people.” Clark said her favourite part of the industry is watching personal growth happen physically and spiritually. “Hot yoga provides such quick results it is truly amazing. Watching people inspire themselves in a class by trying to do something they maybe normally wouldn’t is priceless. It is the most inspiring job I’ve ever encountered and I think we are so blessed to have the opportunity to teach hot yoga for a living.” editor@reddeerexpress.com

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16 Red Deer Express

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - Small Business Week

Business of the Year Finalists

1 - 15 employees

Success in personal training “Every year we’ve tripled our clientele,” says Jack Wheeler, owner of 360 Fitness, which he started with his wife, Marie, three years ago. “We had 30 clients our first year and now we’re up to 400. A lot of that is due to our staff, the most experienced fitness crew in Central Alberta.” 360 Fitness is a one-on-one personal training studio. “That’s what we do and that’s what we’re good at and that’s what the whole gym is designed for. Our clients work one-on-one with a certified personal trainer and it’s an all inclusive experience. You don’t only get a great workout; we help with nutrition, cardio, goal-planning and meal-planning. Clients have all the support systems behind the scenes and that gets them results. You can bust your butt on the gym floor and sweat, sweat, sweat, but if the other 23 and a half hours in the day are garbage, then you’re spinning your tires. Here, it’s all results driven and everything is individualized.” Wheeler credits the community with his

company’s success. “Red Deer has everything that a big city could have but with a small town feel. I feel comfortable when I call people up; I know I’m going to get an honest answer. There’s kind of that small town appeal where everyone is communicating and everybody is cooperative. We have a whole bunch of strategic alliances, with massage therapists, for example. You know everyone and you develop great trusting relationships. “If there’s a quota for community involvement, then Red Deer’s is huge, and we are glad to be a part of that. It’s unreal sometimes, but it’s all about giving back. It creates a lot of buzz about us and Red Deer has been really kind to us, allowing us to flourish. We’ve donated $70,000 back to the community in various fundraisers and charity events (including an annual fundraising gala which goes to a different cause every year). This year we’re sponsoring the kitchen in Ronald McDonald House, making sure it’s stocked with healthy food and gift cards for groceries for people staying there.”

Personal fitness trainer Jack Wheeler at 360 Fitness saw his clients increase from 30 to 400 in three years.

New technology sells traditional products

Sisters Cortney Murphy (left) and Sheena Johnson of The Bra Lounge use Skype to sell lingerie.

Selling lingerie using social media is one of the reasons behind the success of The Bra Lounge, says co-owner Sheena Johnson. She and her sister Cortney Murphy started their upscale lingerie business in 2007 and just moved into larger premises in downtown Red Deer. They even sell traditional products like bras, through new technology like Skype, to women all over Alberta. Johnson says, “We really captured social media and we also did a lot of networking events and travel, and business events to get out there and meet women. Social media is free and powerful...(especially) when combined with a really great web site. And we really invest in the store. We make sure we’re constantly expanding with new lines...we always have new things. We have dedicated clients and we’re grateful for that.” Their new store, almost four times bigger than their first outlet at 500 square feet, offers a huge selection of quality lingerie, sleepwear, shapewear, swimwear, pajamas, robes and nightgowns. The 2008 – 2009 economic downturn, “didn’t affect us at all,” says Johnson. “We really worked

hard at marketing ... going to out-of-town places and attracting a lot of out-of-town clients. Now we’re on our third expansion, and even now, on a daily basis it’s still 50 per cent new clients every day. It’s been fantastic, it’s been incredible growth.” Johnson feels the demographics of Red Deer help their business immensely. “It’s such a young community that we’re helping women with (baby) nursing products and sportswear. We’ve even expanded into a Missy line for girls (for training bras). (But) our oldest clients are 90 years old ... it’s endless the number of women we’re helping.” When it comes to community support The Bra Lounge sets aside monthly amounts for sponsorship on a first come first served basis, “so we’ve helped soccer clubs, the CF Society, the Canadian Cancer Society and the Red Deer Firefighters Association. We try to help as many groups as possible. We love being involved with the community and trying to make someone else’s world a little bit better.”

Local products a hit at Big Bend Market “We’re customer driven, very responsive to what our customers want and accommodate their needs,” says Ivan Smith who owns and manages Big Bend Market (named after the district where he farms just outside of Innisfail) in Southpointe Common. He started by selling bison products at farmers markets, but in 2007 bought the store to sell “healthy and natural products,” including naturally raised hormone and antibiotic free bison, beef, chicken, pork and elk and all the trimmings. “I think we average 40 per cent growth a year. That’s the reason why we’ve had to expand every two years.” A recent expansion enlarged the product display and dining area. Smith describes himself as “a local guy bringing in local products. The big thing now is the 100-mile diet, but I’ve been the 50 kilometre radius (diet) for five or six years now. Healthy living starts with good food.” He thinks of Big Bend as “A year-round farmers market. As it grew, it was always about supporting the local people first, because they had

to go out of their way to support me.” While the emphasis is on local products, he now goes farther afield, to Italy for the best olive oil, for example, “But it’s a great product that compliments the local products. The Red Deer entrepreneurial spirit works really well, and supports me because they have that same sort of passion. People will support you if you do a good job.” Smith says, “There isn’t a single product in here that doesn’t move. If it doesn’t move we get rid of it. And bring in something better. You support the community, they support you back. So we support a ton of sports teams, the David Thompson Health Region, the MS Bike Tour, Red Deer College alumni and different churches.” It’s a long list. A northside outlet is the production plant for wild meat processing, value-added customized cutting and preparation of products for 40 restaurants. With the recent expansion of the southside store, Big Bend Market occupies about 10,000 square feet and Smith sees expansion continuing.

Farmer and entrepreneur Ivan Smith found success with fine meats and a deli at Big Bend Market.


Red Deer Express 17

Small Business Week - Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Business of the Year Finalists

16 - 49 employees

Continuous growth for Nexus Engineering

Scott Wilson (left), Ryan Smith (centre) and Stephen McCall are the successful founders of Nexus Engineering and Machine.

“It’s been quite a ride,” says Ryan Smith, engineering manager at Nexus Engineering and Machine. “We started off in 2007 with just the three of us (founders Scott Wilson, Stephen McCall and Smith). We saw an opportunity that we could do this better by ourselves and took the leap. Now we have 40 employees, and we specialize in coiled tubing and pressure drilling equipment, since oil and gas is our bread and butter.” Smith admits that their timing wasn’t the best, starting a new business just before the 2008 economic downturn. “But we relied on our engineering and technical expertise ... and we designed and engineered our own product line and actually grew during the 2008 crisis. We really like the Red Deer area, it is a hub for the service companies here. “There’s a lot of opportunities here. We’re not a big city yet and that has a lot of appeal, our customers are usually within a 15-minute drive. But we pretty much go all over. We have a joint venture with a company in China, just recently sent some

equipment to the Czech Republic and we send a lot of equipment into Texas and other places in the United States. “We put service first. No matter what hour of the day we answer the phone, we deal with whatever needs to be done and help the customer out. Typical oilpatch -- somebody needs a part at three o’clock in the morning and a lot of our competition are not that responsive.” Business success is translating into community support. “We’re really just getting started, but already we support the Canadian Cancer Society, the Cystic Fibrosis Society, Pheasants Forever and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation. We recently signed on with the United Way, we especially like them because the funds are used to support local people.” In January Nexus moved into a new 35,000 square foot facility (almost triple their previous premises) with state-of-the-art machinery in Red Deer County. “We’ve pretty much doubled our business every year, we’re pretty happy with the way things have gone,” says Smith.

Supportive care for seniors “We’re all about active aging and aging in place,” says Charmaine Kramer, general manager of the Redwoods Retirement Residence. “We want people to move in who are fully independent, and as their needs change and grow, we are there for them. They don’t have to make multiple moves. There’s things we can’t do, but for the most part, if it’s in our power to do it, we will do that.” Redwoods is located in a quiet residential area on Red Deer’s east side. It provides all inclusive seniors housing with supportive health care, three meals a day, weekly housekeeping and an emphasis on providing a healthy lifestyle, with exercise options that include yoga and Tai Chi. Unlike many retirement homes, says Kramer, “We allow pets in the building. You are allowed to bring your cats and dogs. Tell us what you need and we will find a way to accommodate you.” The number one community program Redwoods supports is the Elder Abuse Program

out of the Golden Circle. “We fundraise for the program throughout the year. The issue tends to be swept under the rug ... it’s not easy for seniors to come forward (since it nearly always involves family members), but the silence needs to be broken.” Redwoods also fundraises for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s groups, knits blankets for the women’s shelter, Ronald McDonald House and the Red Cross. A new cause is Paws and Claws. “If you have old towels or blankets, bring them here for the animals. People are coming in with pet supplies and other donations as well. I’m amazed at how much support we’ve got. “Red Deer is amazing. They’ve really opened their arms to us and welcomed us to the business world. If you are real, and honest, and put people first, then you are welcome ... and your business will succeed. Red Deer is a city that thinks it’s a small town and that’s what I love about Red Deer. We don’t have that big city mentality and I hope we don’t get it.”

Charmaine Kramer (left), general manager and Donna Schumacher, assistant general manager, provide a home for seniors at Redwoods Retirement Residence.

Fourth generation Red Deer business

Keegan (left) and brother Lachlan McLevin are the fourth generation to manage Red Deer’s McLevin Industries since 1917.

McLevin Industries got its start in Red Deer in 1917, says Keegan McLevin, the chief operations officer, who manages the company in conjunction with his younger brother Lachlan. Their great grandfather, Hugh McLevin, started a “blacksmithing business - shoeing horses. As blacksmithing and metal work gave way to welding we transitioned to a welding shop, known over the years as McLevin and Sons, then McLevin’s Welding. We still have the original forge, although it’s not often used, but it still works.” The company specializes in custom fabrication for the oil and gas, agricultural and mining industries in Alberta. “We don’t have a product line per se,” says Keegan. “It’s all custom built to customer’s specifications. The other side of our business is materials processing and the distribution of steel products.” “Over the years, we have developed an extremely loyal customer base and extremely loyal employees. We are kind of like a big family; we treat our employees well – some of whom have been with us over 30 years. My family always worked

very hard, instilling a strong work ethic in my brother Lachlan and me. We base our continued success on that and our reputation and word of mouth. Our customers know they will receive a good quality product and good service at McLevins.” As part of the community for four generations, McLevin Industries is community minded and supportive of many local causes. “We support Ronald McDonald House, grassroots hockey, the TBS Hockey School (Lachlan and I grew up in Red Deer and played our minor hockey here), the SPCA (our staff and our company donate every year at Christmastime), the Red Deer Farmer’s Bonspiel (we have been doing that since its inception as our founder, Hugh McLevin, was an avid curler and supporter of the event) and the Red Deer Hospice, among others. Additionally, we donate the steel to the blacksmith shop named after him during Westerner Days. “We are family run, the fourth generation since 1917 and we plan to be around for another 100 years and four more generations.”


18 Red Deer Express

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - Small Business Week

Business of the Year Finalists

50 or more employees

Award-winning Red Deer hospitality

Shazma Charania is vice-president of Zainul & Shazma Holdings which operates five Holiday Inns in Red Deer, Edson and Hinton.

When it comes to standing out as the best in the hotel industry, Red Deer’s Zainul & Shazma Holdings know what it’s all about. Shazma Charania, group vice-president, says their familybased company not only won Developer of the Year in 2009 for their Holiday Inn Express in Edson, they won it again in 2011 for their new Holiday Inn and Suites in Gasoline Alley. This is a best in North America award, from the Intercontinental Hotel Group. “We were really proud,” says Charania. “The exposure for the City is great.” Also, they received annual housekeeping awards from the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association continuously for seven years and all their properties are rated # 1 on Trip Advisor. “It means when people come to this hotel they know it’s going to be good.” It started with Charania’s parents, Afzal and Gulzar Rajan, who owned various hotels in Red Deer and Edmonton dating back to 1984. Holdings now include five Holiday Inns in Red Deer, Hinton and Edson, with the new hotel in Gaso-

line Alley their flagship property. “My parents are firm believers that Red Deer’s been very good to them,” says Charania. “Red Deer is the capital of Central Alberta. Being between two major cities provides a lot of opportunity. There’s a strong retail sector in Red Deer and a strong oil and gas sector ... people like coming here, not having to go the full distance (to Edmonton or Calgary). There’s always expansion going on, look at the growth in Gasoline Alley. There’s a lot of opportunity here in the capital of Central Alberta. It’s small enough, but it’s big enough too. We have everything here.” As part of their community the group supports local organizations like the Kiwanis, Rotary, MS Society and public library. “On a national level Holiday Inns sponsors a wide spectrum of good causes across North America, with an emphasis on Canada, and we contribute to that,” adds Charania, “as well as international causes, like the World Partnership Walk, which takes place around the world, and the Agh Khan Foundation.”

A long-time Red Deer institution Westerner Park has been a Red Deer and Central Alberta institution since 1891 when it started life as the Red Deer Agricultural Society. John Harms, the chief executive officer and general manager, says there’s been times, “When the organization teetered on the brink of disaster,” like during the 1930s Great Depression, but good people always saw it through and made it the success it is today. “It’s the dedicated and visionary leadership over the years and that governance still exists today with a great board of volunteer directors who keep us focused. We also have a very dedicated staff and volunteers (about 175 currently active). We couldn’t possibly do all the things we do without that dedicated volunteer base. Red Deer is a fabulous community. There are so many great people. I didn’t really know what volunteerism was until I moved here 16 years ago.” Westerner Park annually hosts more than 1,500 events, like Westerner Days and Agri-Trade, attended by 1.5 million visitors. It covers 320 acres with 4,200 parking spaces and has complete convention, trade show, entertainment and sports

facilities. It’s home base for the Red Deer Rebels and a 99-unit RV park. With $3.25 million in funding from the City, the County of Red Deer and the provincial government Westerner embarked on a major expansion of the ENMAX Centrium, adding 13 luxury suites, 40 club seats and 1,000 additional seats. The upgrade, now nearing completion, will allow hosting larger events. “We’re sort of a flagship in this industry in North America as to the proper way to develop facilities and fairgrounds,” says Harms, noting that cities like Surrey and Nanaimo look at Westerner Park as something to emulate. “We are self-sufficient and rely on operations to pay the bills. We’re pretty proud of that.” Westerner staff are involved with many service clubs and non-profits, including Tourism Red Deer, Festival of Trees (which happens at Westerner), Red Deer Kinsmen, Rotary and STARS. Westerner also partners with numerous non-profit groups like the Canadian Red Cross and Women’s Outreach and a long list of agricultural groups, including several 4-H clubs.

General Manager John Harms checks out renovations in the Centrium that will allow for even larger events at Westerner Park.

How to build your company’s growth team A fast-growing business can be an exciting place to work. But amid the daily challenges, expanding companies often underestimate the importance of making plans and decisions about employees. It can happen in many ways - failing to attract and retain the best people, neglecting staff training and support needs, micromanaging and resisting delegation. “When a company expands, its human resources capacity has to keep up,” says Mary Karamanos, senior vice president, human resources at the Business Development Bank of Canada. “An expansion plan can easily go off the rails if the right people aren’t in the right positions, fully trained and ready to assume their new responsibilities. “A common mistake that growing companies make is not taking enough time to plan their HR needs,” Karamanos says. “A good place to start is to define roles and

responsibilities. That will bring clarity to what needs to be accomplished and what knowledge, experience and competency is required.”

Vince Molinaro agrees. “Growth can be heavily impacted by the talent you have,” says Molinaro, a leadership expert at Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions, a firm that specializes in helping organizations manage their human resources. Molinaro advises businesses to create a talent plan that integrates how they will recruit, develop and retain employees as the company grows. Recruiting - social media has revolu-

tionized recruitment, particularly business-oriented sites such as LinkedIn. But don’t forget traditional methods, including tried-and-true word of mouth. How can you avoid costly hiring mistakes? Take the time to do a thorough job screening candidates. Do several interviews with a prospect, and arrange to see them in action. Check references. And remember: a good fit with your company’s culture is crucial. Employee training - development needs may be minimal if your business is small, but some training may still be worthwhile to keep employees interested and progressing. As well, support new hires via a buddy program and regular one-on-one sit-downs with a manager. When someone takes on a new role, assign them a buddy who did the task before. Retention – a positive work climate is vital. Money is important, of course, but so is sincere appreciation, clear expectations

and an inspiring company vision. Entrepreneur Robert Laforce found himself with a talent crunch last year at his growing business, Trafic Innovation. It designs and makes road-safety devices and traffic-calming products. Sales had surged 20% annually in the previous four years and key managers lacked the skills to keep up. Laforce started by reviewing each job and then decided how to reorganize positions to allow him to grow to the next level. One important change: instead of 12 people reporting to him, he now had a more reasonable three. Laforce replaced some key staff and handed off many of his responsibilities to the new hires, including a first humanresources person. The improved planning has helped Laforce’s sales shoot ahead, with 35% growth expected this year. “It’s very important to take care of your people.”


Red Deer Express 19

Small Business Week - Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tips for financing your growing business Is it time to go shopping for a major purchase for your growing small business? It can be hard not to get swept up in the excitement. Whether it’s a major technology upgrade or shiny new equipment, you probably spent hours shopping around for the best product, comparing consumer reviews and talking with vendors. Then comes the hard part: How to pay for it? Here’s where many entrepreneurs could be doing a better job. Financial planning for an expansion project may not be quite as sexy as a cool new smart phone or bigger digs for your office. But it’s critical to make sure your investment doesn’t stretch your cash flow and sink you. “Growth can put an enormous strain on the cash flow of a company,” said Patrice Bernard, senior vice president, financing and consulting at the Business Development Bank of Canada. Small business owners often make the mistake of financing growth out of their cash flow or by cobbling together a patchwork of smaller loans for each individual purchase, Bernard said. The result can be poor financing rates and repayment conditions. Or even worse—the company may suddenly become caught in a cash flow squeeze. And then

it may be too late to line up any financing at all. “It’s as if you used a credit card to finance your home renovations. Your cash flow would be really affected,” Bernard said. Bad financial planning is especially common—and risky—at fast-growing companies, said Peter Brown of financial advisory firm Deloitte, where he is national leader of private company services. “High growth can kill you if you don’t have the capital.”

Bernard agreed. “You need to plan more if you’re expanding because you usually have much higher accounts payable and receivable.” The solution is to take time to do a financial plan for upcoming investments, preferably at the beginning of each year. The first step is to work out how much financing you’ll need based on your overall business growth plans. Next, meet with your financial partners early on to discuss your plans and brief them about your needs for the coming year. This

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is the time to secure a credit line for your investments in the coming year, which you can draw on as needed and then convert into long-term debt at the end of the year. The idea is to plan your financing to have the best possible conditions for your debt. The exercise may even show you need more than one financial partner to give you enough flexibility. And never pay for large expansion projects out of your cash flow, Bernard said. “That’s a big mistake. When cash flow is good, you think it will always be like that. But if a company is growing, it has to invest much more than other companies. And profits usually won’t be enough to cover your investments.” Brown agreed. “It’s always better to seek financing before you need it rather than during a crisis. It shows good management. Financiers are much more likely to give financing to an entrepreneur who shows good management.” Rob Read always used selffinancing at his quickly growing fire extinguisher maintenance company, Bison Fire Protection, as it ballooned from five employees to 50 over the past decade. But when Read and partner Émile Jolicoeur decided to ex-

pand into new lines of business, they realized they needed better financial planning. They brought in a consultant to help them plot out their business strategy, and that included laying out a financial plan. The exercise led them to do their first budgeting and forecasting and add overdraft protection and a line of

credit to make sure they’ve had money lined up before they actually needed it. Equally important, Read said, he started including his financial partners more in his planning through regular meetings to discuss coming needs. “They’re partners in our business. They’re definitely part of the team.”

Three ways to finance your growth Thinking about how to finance your growing company? Here are some tips. Talk to your suppliers -consider asking suppliers for financing for a purchase, said Peter Brown of financial advisory firm Deloitte. Many are willing to offer a loan if it means a sale -- a win-win for the supplier and you. And if you’re a supplier yourself, think about offering customers financing. It could become a new revenue stream and boost sales at the same time. Speed up cash flow -- every entrepreneur knows productivity is important. But how many focus on the productivity of their cash? “Faster cash flow is a big competitive advantage,” Brown said. Consider

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offering customers creative terms to speed up cash flow, such as a 2% discount to those who pay within 10 days. “Getting cash quicker can mean more peace of mind and a reduced line of credit,” Brown said. Focus on quality clients -some customers are slow to pay because their cash flow isn’t great, and they’re sometimes not worth the effort or risk, Brown said. “Many businesses chase sales -- rather than profitable sales,” he said. A trademark of well-managed companies is a focus on highmargin, quality customers, who translate into smoother finances and fewer surprises as you grow. “It’s a real secret to success.”

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20 Red Deer Express

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - Small Business Week

Range of programs offered by Red Deer Childcare Society BY MARK WEBER Red Deer Express Local families can rest assured that their children can enjoy quality programs and the best of care under the auspices of the Red Deer Child Care Society. Rob Elliot, the Society’s executive director, said that on any given day, some 650 children are utilizing some form of the non-profit Society’s accredited programming. “We provide care for children up to age 12, and it’s divided into three programs. There is a pre-school program, a family day home program and a school-age program,” he explained. The school-age programs serve children before and after their classes, and the Society has partnerships with both the Red Deer Public School division and the Red Deer Catholic division. The history of the Red Deer Child Care Society stretches back to 1970, when a group of parents launched the Red Deer Day Care Center and Family Day Home Program, which was operated by the Red

Deer Day Care Society. In 1980, the City of Red Deer took over operation of the services, and in August of that year the Center relocated to Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School. The following years saw the openings of several day cares and the start-up of school age programs as well. In 1990, the Red Deer Child Care Society was established as an independent non-profit organization. Through all the changes and the constant growth, the vision has remained intact -- to offer a fun, safe and nurturing place for children to come when their parents can’t be with them. A ‘Learning through Play’ philosophy is also the basis of all programming, said Elliot. The quality of service also stems from the ECD Mapping Initiative through the province. It’s a research and community development activity that helps Albertans to better understand how their young children are doing and to work together to support their healthy development.

A determination is made of where children are at based on certain criteria. “From that, we are able to identify areas of concern,” he said. “There was one done about three years ago, and we are in the process of updating it.” Its impact on the Society at the local level can be seen through funding priorities that the province becomes aware of. “It identifies areas and needs, and then we can get some funding that will address those particular needs. It’s quite an exciting project.” At the heart of the Society’s mission is also an effort to partner with community groups. Along with the school divisions, the Society is also working with Women’s Outreach and they also offer a means of educating local students about child care. “We provide practicums throughout all our programs for students from the high schools.” As Elliot pointed out, the services offered by the Society provide an essential means of supporting economic growth and stability

STARTING RIGHT – Rob Elliot, executive director of Red Deer Child Care Society, and his staff Mark Weber/Red Deer Express work hard to develop programs for local children and youth. across the City as well. “We enable people to be secure in providing safe care so they can feel comfortable going out into the workforce. We can look after their children right from birth through to Grade six.” Elliot also encourages folks in the community

to get involved via board membership. “It’s quite a rewarding experience,” he said. “You get the opportunity to have an influence on how the programs are operated.” Meanwhile, a high standard to the programs is ensured, he said. Accreditation is maintained via an

outside agency’s examination of the Society’s procedures, he said. “We also have coordinators who do a lot of monitoring, as well as program mentors. The mentors go in and assist staff to ensure we are providing the best care possible.” editor@reddeerexpress.com

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Red Deer Express 21

Small Business Week - Wednesday, October 10, 2012

City’s Wonderflow School House provides solid foundation for children BY MARK WEBER Red Deer Express Guiding young children via the virtues of respect, consideration and a solid educational foundation are some of the goals of the staff at Wonderflow School House. “It really started about 45 years ago,” explains Genevieve Wiart, director/ owner of the facility which is located at 5201 – 47 Ave. in the beautifully restored and historic Huestis House. “My sister and I were growing up on a farm in Central Alberta, and often when we played we would say that one day we would have a big old house and that we would be teachers of children.” Over the years, both women pursued training in education and a vision started taking shape. “I thought there is something between the pre-school and the daycare realm for families – there is something missing there.” Wiart and her sister Theresa Wiart later undertook training in Vancouver to become certified Kindergarten Waldorf teachers. Developed by Rudolf Steiner, Waldorf education’s overarching goals is to provide young people the basis on which to develop into free, morally responsible and integrated individuals. Genevieve then started a small Wonderflow day home preschool in Red Deer. Theresa was also in the City, and helped to spread the word about the

blossoming project. Eventually, the Huestis House - a picturesque heritage home - became available and has proven the ideal setting for Wonderflow School House’s range of programs.

“IF YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT SOMETHING, THE ENERGY IS THERE. AND SEEING THOSE YOUNG FACES EVERY MORNING JUST OPENS MY HEART.” GENEVIEVE WIART “So here was the dream come true. I was able to offer parents full-day possibilities, and it’s in a beautiful old home. It has that day home character of warmth for bridging a child from home to school. Plus, we offer Kindergarten. So we have really the whole gamut of early childhood (programs) right here.” Genevieve describes Steiner as a man who believed in a spiritual dimension to human beings. He also developed theories in agriculture, medicine and in architecture. Steiner also emphasized the thinking, feeling and the ‘willing’ or doing aspects of human nature. “Really, with a young child, we are working with their will.” From ages seven to 14, it’s more about feelings and then from 14 to 21, the particulars of thinking through life’s experiences

grows. “We are really about establishing that foundation – who they are, what they are here for and how to do it all with community.” The spiritual aspect is taught through moral teaching of the virtues, she said. “We have respect, kindness, gratitude, truthfulness with ourselves, with each other and with our earth.” There is also a focus on understanding the rhythms of life, as reflected in the seasons, for example. By the time children move on from Wonderflow School House, the staff want to see them carry a strong ability to both socialize with and respect others. The children are also taught about responsibility – they help with various duties such as clearing and washing their own dishes and folding laundry. The peaceful surroundings also serve to enhance the learning process. “It’s like a protected space where they aren’t bombarded by harsh colours, loud print or pictures,” she said. “I know the children feel that sense of simplicity.” Looking ahead, the ultimate goal would be to have the school’s programs expanded clear through to

UNIQUE STUDY – Genevieve Wiart, director/owner of Wonderflow School House, poses on the porch of the facility. A range of programs are geared toward children under the Mark Weber/Red Deer Express age of seven. Grade 12. For Genevieve, there couldn’t be a more fitting career path. “I love it. I come to work and just love it – I’m fed by it. I’m not getting younger, but I’m still feeling quite youthful,” she added with a laugh. “If you

faces every morning just opens my heart.” editor@reddeerexpress.com

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - Small Business Week

Quick and convenient service with Accessible Lock & Key Ltd. BY MARK WEBER Red Deer Express A local lock and key business has seen steady growth in just a few short years since launching operations here in Red Deer. Accessible Lock & Key Ltd. is a mobile service that comes to where the customers are – commercial, automotive or residential. “We have no shop to worry about,” explains owner Walter Bainbridge. They provide a range of services from key extractions and replications to lock and truck tool box re-keying and vehicle and truck toolbox openups. “We are 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Bainbridge. “We answer our phones, there are no answering services. We offer fast and friendly service.” Again, people in a bind can call anytime – even in the wee hours of the morning. “I may be a little groggy, but I’ll be smiling by the time I get there,” he said with a laugh. They also handle mailbox and office furniture keys and deadbolt installation and break-in repair/prevention for clients. For example, in terms of bolstering a home’s security, Accessible Lock & Key Ltd. offers Bolt Buddy and related accessories, which strengthen and protect the weakness of the doorjamb, door, deadbolt and hinges.

As their web site explains, this system acts like a vise equalizing the stress of an attack over the entire door and doorframe, helping to prevent the splitting of doors and doorjambs. Prior to settling in Red Deer, Bainbridge and his wife Connie and their family lived and worked in Calgary. Walter said that 14 years ago, he started working for his brother-in-law in a locksmith company. That lasted for eight years before he opted to venture out on his own. They moved to Red Deer and launched Accessible Lock & Key Ltd. It took a bit of time to spread the word about what they offered, but their commitment to fast and quality service became known and today Walter is busy crisscrossing the City and local region to take care of everything from extracting keys to informing customers of the latest in security enhancements. These days, bigger contracts are coming their way as well – which means there are plans to expand the services offered. “Now we are probably going to put another truck on the road in the next month or so.” Walter said his job not only keeps him busy, but it also provides plenty of great moments with customers. “You have to find something you enjoy doing,” he said. “And I enjoy helping people out.” editor@reddeerexpress.com

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Small Business Week - Wednesday, October 10, 2012

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - Small Business Week

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Special Features - Small Business 2012