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Small Business Week

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Chamber provides connections amongst local businesses BY MARK WEBER Lacombe Express

For the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce, connecting local businesses and providing top-notch learning opportunities are just two examples of what they provide to the regional business scene. As the web site puts it, the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit organization that serves and represents the business community of the City of Lacombe and Lacombe County. “The membership of the Chamber is comprised of local merchants, professionals, agricultural and industrial businesses, and is partnered with Lacombe Regional Tourism and the Visitor Information Centre. “The most important function of the Lacombe Chamber is to promote public interest, support and patronage of our local business community. As our City and surrounding areas grow, the Chamber’s goal is to assist our members in maximizing their success.” Monica Bartman, executive director, said the Chamber’s goal is to support businesses, “When you boil it down to the very basic elements of what we are trying to do. That takes many different forms, because every one of our members and every one of our local businesses have very different needs. “There’s a large variety of businesses in our community that we serve. It’s definitely not going to look the same for everyone.” Bartman said Chamber support can come through educational opportunities, bringing in various speakers to address specific needs for the business community and for things that they are hearing

that h they h can address dd iin that h way. national i l llevels l as well. ll “It also might come in the form of provid“The other part of that - in being connected ing resources. Whether that is resources within to the provincial and national chambers - is the our own business community; within our own policy side of things; the advocacy side of things. membership in terms of referrals. It also might In matters, for example, like the proposed federal come from groups like tax changes, those kinds ▾ Business Link which is proposals that are put “ACROSS CANADA, THE CANADIAN of a provincial resource, forward whether it’s fedCHAMBER REPRESENTS ABOUT and it may come eral or provincial governthrough resources that ment, those respective 450 CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE, are available through WHICH IN TURN REPRESENTS ABOUT chambers are incredibly the Alberta Chambers active in communicating 200,000 BUSINESSES ACROSS THE of Commerce or the to government. NATION. SO THERE ARE RESOURCES Canadian Chambers “They do surveys of the WE CAN DRAW ON FROM A LOCAL of Commerce.” membership across the Bartman said that country, and are actively LEVEL, AND THEN ALSO FROM those are the avenues working to try to make PROVINCIAL AND NATIONAL LEVELS that help to give the sure that the business AS WELL.” local Chamber quite a climate - whether it’s nabit of influence and a tional or provincial - is as Monica Bartman many opportunities to healthy as possible and ▴ help - being connectas appealing as possible, ed, for example, to the making it easier for new provincial chambers which represents 124 businesses to begin and making a good Chambers of Commerce. That in itself environment for current businesses to represents about 24,000 businesses across profit. That’s the broad scope of it.” the province. The Lacombe and District Chamber “Across Canada, the Canadian of Commerce - originally the Lacombe Board of Trade - was born in 1904. Chamber represents about 450 Chambers of Commerce, which It operated as such until 1921. in turn represents about 200,000 In 1924, it was re-launched with businesses across the nation. renewed purpose and operated “So there are resources we can for 25 years until becoming the draw on from a local level, and Lacombe and District Board of then also from provincial and Trade and Agriculture in 1949.

IIn 19 1975 it i underwent d yet another transformation and became the non-profit organization as it is known today. Meanwhile, the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce has ‘Business after 5’ on a monthly basis. “It’s an event that gives members an opportunity to come and meet with other members.” Quarterly, the Chamber also hosts a general meeting and those are typically the venues where they will bring in a speaker to address a business topic that is applicable to the larger business community, she explained. ‘Lunch and Learn meetings in the Chamber’s board room are other chances to discuss topics ranging from hiring summer help to exploring available grants. “Basically it’s open to any topic, so if there was a local business that wanted to present on something specific, they could use that (meeting) as a venue.” Meanwhile Bartman looks forward to the awards gala on Oct. 21st at the Lacombe Memorial Centre. “Anytime you are able to create a venue where community can come together and celebrate something. “I think that’s really positive for the community. It’s an interesting mix for us, because we are acknowledging business successes but we are also acknowledging some individual successes, too. So it’s not one or the other, and I think that the two are very much intertwined because the individuals in our community that are involved and that are volunteering, and are giving back are typically - a lot of them are coming from our news@lacombeexpress.com business community.”

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A key goal of the Chamber is to bring businesses together BY MARK WEBER Lacombe Express

From the perspective of the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce board president, one of the Chamber’s main missions is about providing a connecting point for local businesses. “I’ve been on the Chamber board for nine years now, and the biggest thing in my opinion is the connecting of businesses with each other, and the networking aspect of it,” said Angela Law, who is also an accountant in Lacombe as well. “Some businesses choose to join the Chamber for various reasons, and choose to be more involved than others - and that’s okay. But for me it’s been really good to get to connect with other business owners in Lacombe to share ideas, and to also just get to know them.”

There are of course all kinds of benefits to joining, from learning opportunities to discounts on various services to regular networking events, too. “I do think the involvement piece, and the connecting with other businesses, is where you are going to see the most benefit,” said Law, adding although some local businesses are indeed feeling the pinch from the economic slow down, the cost of signing on with the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce is reasonable. And worth one’s while. Law said every time she attends a ‘Business after 5’ event for example, she meets someone new. “So that is very interesting. There are a lot of new businesses in Lacombe and a lot of great things happening. I also find the lunches have an educational component, too. There are always tidbits you pick up from the speakers.

“Another component is that yes, I’ve gained business colleagues - but I’ve also gained friends by being involved with the Chamber. They’re on the same wavelength.” Looking ahead, she’d like to see the Chamber continue to reach more businesses and for more folks to tap into the benefits the Chamber offers. She’d also like to see the board get more involved in shaping Chamber policy as well. “The Chamber is the advocate for small business to the government, and it’s thought really highly of by the government, too.” Meanwhile, a selection committee reviews the nominations and selects businesses in the categories of Large Business of the Year, Small Business of the Year, Farm Family of the Year, and Not-for-Profit of the Year for the annual Business & Community

Awards Gala. This year’s event runs Oct. 21st at the Lacombe Memorial Centre, starting at 5:30 p.m. “I love the gala! It’s such a nice event. It’s one of the best events in town. You get to celebrate all the great business successes for the year. “It also connects more people and creates more awareness.” In addition to business awards, the Chamber also recognizes three outstanding individuals for Citizen of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award, and the People’s Choice for Customer Service. “All of this takes place during a prestigious, fine dining event at the Lacombe Memorial Centre that gives the business community a chance to come together and celebrate.” For more information, visit www. lacombechamber.ca. news@lacombeexpress.com

ANGELA LAW

Eight strategies to grow your business Once you’ve decided id d you want your business to grow, the next question is: how? Many possible growth strategies are available to you—everything from pursuing new markets to creating new products and making an acquisition. Many companies craft their own unique combination of strategies. What’s important is to select an approach that’s best suited to your overall strategic plan. It’s easy for companies to lose sight of their broader-picture objectives by getting sidelined into non-strategic growth opportunities. Consider market conditions. You should also consider market conditions. For example, acquisition may be a good strategy if prospective companies are undervalued because of a challenging economy. On the other hand, in certain conditions, it may be cheaper to expand your existing business

th to than t pay a hefty h ft premium i for a pricey acquisition. It’s also very important to discuss your strategy with your team and get feedback to make sure you have employee views and buy-in. And be sure to analyze how the strategy you choose will affect your finances. Here’s an overview of growth strategies. Market share—under this strategy, your company seeks to capture a bigger share of your current market with the products it already has. For example, you can do so by increasing your marketing efforts or adjusting your prices. New markets—another strategy is to find new markets for your current products. For example, you can expand sales to a new city, province or country. Diversification—you can also develop new products to sell to your current market and/or to new customers. This can lead you into a related line of busi-

ness or an entirely ti l diff differentt one. Buying a franchise—you may also consider acquiring a franchise. Such a business usually comes with name recognition, serious marketing power and support from the franchise owner. But be sure to investigate all your costs, including startup fees, royalties, advertising and supplies. Franchising your business—franchising your own business can be a successful growth strategy, especially if you have a profitable operation that can be easily replicated by others. Strategic partnerships—another common growth strategy is to pursue partnerships with other companies. A partnership can be as simple as an informal agreement between businesses in complementary markets to refer clients to each other. More complex partnerships include joint ventures (in which two or more businesses pool

resources to t pursue a common project). Repositioning and efficiency—under this strategy, you target growth in your profit margin by repositioning your products or improving your

efficiency. ffi i For example, you can analyze each of your current products or services to determine their profit margin and alignment with your business strategy. You can then shed any that

d are underperforming and/or non-strategic. Alternatively, you can study your operational processes to find efficiency improvements. Business Development Bank of Canada

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Soapy’s Car Wash continues to excel in customer service BY MARK WEBER Lacombe Express

Lacombe-based Soapy’s Car & RV Wash offers a one-stop-shop for your complete vehicle cleaning needs. The business has landed a nomination in the Small Business of the Year category for this year’s Lacombe Chamber of Commerce 2017 Business & Community Awards Gala, and is also a finalist in the category of ‘People’s Choice for Customer Service’. Nominees and award winners will be recognized at the gala which is set for Oct. 21st at the Lacombe Memorial Centre. Complete with a spacious entry way and area that includes lots of handy cleaning supplies, the staff at Soapy’s are set to serve customers with a large wand-wash bay and two large bays that are for RVs as well. This particular side is also wandwash, but there are some different cleaning options such as a higher pressure option, for example. ”It’s awesome - we were nominated last

year as well,” said Katelynn Keddy, manager. “We have a lot of community involvement, and that is really, really important to us,” she explained, pointing for example to their offer to open up and allow vehicles to take shelter should a sudden hail storm strike. “We will open up our building to anyone in (the area) for shelter, and there is no charge. The staff are trained to direct you inside and we will take as many cars in as we can until we are full. There’s been some pretty damaging hailstorms here before. “So we do offer that to the community, so to be nominated, and know that people are seeing these things and know that they are working, and to know that our reach is getting further into the community - that is pretty cool.” Keddy said the business garners plenty of positive feedback, and much of that stems from the continual emphasis on refining and building solid customer service. “We have lots of awesome comments about the cleanliness of it, the brightness

of the inside of the barn. We maintain all of our equipment - if something is broken, we aren’t going to just patch it. We will replace it so it works properly all of the time.” That notion of top customer service comes up again, as Keddy mentioned that Soapy’s commitment to providing the best service they can doesn’t go unnoticed. “It’s something we really focus on - I have years of customer service training, too. I do two things - I hire locally to make sure that we are giving kids here in Lacombe an opportunity to start up with some customer service (training and good experience). “We put them through a good customer service training program, and make sure our customers receive the best experience possible from them and from the car wash service as well.” The business opened about two years ago. Meanwhile, Keddy is constantly pleased to hear how customers have appreciated the services provided at Soapy’s Car Wash.

RECOGNITION - Soapy’s Car & RV Wash has been nominated in the Small Business of the Year category this year. Manager Katelynn Keddy and supervisor Mark Weber/Lacombe Express Leah Menshik stand outside of the local business. “It always excites me to see comments on facebook or social media about an experience someone may have had with one of my staff,” she said, adding she also feels she works for one of the best group of owners that she has ever worked for. “We also have one of the largest selections

of automotive supplies in Lacombe - it’s kind of my pride and joy, too - specifically, interior and exterior cleaning products,” she said. The business is located at #2, 4876 46th St. news@lacombeexpress.com

Lionel’s No Frills has been a go-to in Lacombe since 2009 BY TODD COLIN VAUGHAN Lacombe Express

Lionel Baron has ran Lionel’s No Frills in Lacombe since 2009 and has seen business grow in the City to the point of his store being nominated for the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce Large Business of the Year. “I think it is a special thing,”

Baron said. “It is important for my staff—not just for me. They have done a phenomenal job since we started and the customers obviously like that. They keep coming back.” No Frills started as a property of Loblaws back in 1978 in East York near Toronto. The store’s concept relied on the no frills idea of grocery shopping

by having no product advertising, no store displays, no meat counter and no clerks to bag your groceries. “At a time when consumers were feeling the pinch of high inflation, many were only too happy to give up the frills to save money at the checkout counter,” the No Frills web site stated. Loblaws quickly converted 24 of their stores to No Frills outlets

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which focus on the distinctive No Name brand, which has unique generic packaging. Since 1978, No Frills also adopted a franchise model that has allowed owners, like Baron, to put their names on the front of the 250 stores across Canada. “We are a grocery store with everything you would ever want as far as produce, meat, deli and bakery,” Baron said. Being able to have his name attached to the store carries extra importance for Baron. “It is a franchise store with my name on it and my picture on it,” he said. “It means a lot to have the picture on the wall. I am a community guy and I try to help out the best I can with everything that is going on in the community.” Baron said that since pricing is decided through head office— the onus is on him and his staff to create an enjoyable customer experience at No Frills. “Having good staff is very important,” he said. “We opened in ‘09 and I have been lucky—I still have a lot of my full-time and part-time staff nine years in.”

CHAMBER AWARDS - Lionel’s No Frills has been nominated for the Chamber of Commerce’s Large Business of the Year Award. Todd Colin Vaughan/Lacombe Express

Being part of the community has a special meaning for Baron—who tries to be supportive of Lacombe in any way he can. “I think it is extremely important,” he said. “I am involved with the Kinsmen, the curling club, minor hockey, ringette, schools and churches. I think that is very important.” No Frills, as a company, also provides community grants which

focus on being healthy and active; providing food to local food banks across Canada and creating greener communities. Despite all the changes since 1978, “The No Frills concept remains the same, focusing on great meat and produce, commitment to community and trusted low prices.” Baron added, “We have a good business.” todd.vaughan@reddeerexpress.com

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Agriculture Financial Services Corporation supports the community Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) delivers programs and solutions that sustain, grow and provide financial stability to agriculture and other targeted sectors for the benefit of Albertans. For almost 80 years, AFSC has provided agricultural producers with insurance products to help manage risk as well as capital to allow entrepreneurs an avenue to develop their ideas. As a provincial Crown corporation, AFSC provides unique financial services to agricultural producers, agri-businesses and commercial operations with loans, crop insurance and farm income disaster assistance. AFSC’s unique role delivers services to assist valued clients in managing their operational risk. AFSC’s product and services include crop insurance for annual and perennial crops as well as honey, bee overwintering and livestock prices. “Through the suite of options available, AFSC brings producers peace of mind by helping make risk-management decisions that fit the unique needs of each operation,” said Karla Kochan, senior manager, Human Resources and Communications. There is also the Income Stabilization Program. ”AFSC is Alberta’s delivery agent for the national farmer-support program, AgriStability. This program provides

compensation and support for producers who experience a decline in farm margins for their whole farming operation due to any number of circumstances, such as production shortfalls, falling commodity prices and/or rising input costs,” she said. Lending products and services are also offered. “Committed to supporting the development and expansion of agriculture, agri-business, and value added enterprises and commercial operations in Alberta, AFSC offers loans, loan guarantees and capital sourcing services, as well as unique agriculture loan products. Alberta Farm Loan Program and Value-Added AgriBusiness Program are just two of such programs.” AFSC acquired its current corporate structure in 1992 with the merger of Alberta Hail & Crop Insurance Corporation and the Alberta Agriculture Development Corporation, and is based in Lacombe with 44 branch offices throughout the province. “Over the past decade, AFSC has grown exponentially in the city of Lacombe, expanding its workforce from 474 staff members in 2007 to 716 in 2017, with some 200 of the staff residing in the City of Lacombe or Lacombe County.” Since 1978, the organizational structure expanded from six to 18 departments today. AFSC’s current business profile involv-

COMMITMENT TO SERVICE - For almost 80 years, the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation has provided agricultural producers with insurance products to help manage risk as well as capital to allow entrepreneurs an avenue to develop their ideas. The AFSC has been nominated in the Large Business of the Year category by the Lacombe and District Chamber of Mark Weber/Lacombe Express Commerce. ing clients from the City and the county of Lacombe is as follows - 226 clients for AgriStability 2015 Program Year with over $1.6 million in payments; 166 active clients for AgriInsurance 2017 Crop Year, over $97 million in coverage and over 345,000 acres insured; 59 active clients for lending, over $7.5 million disbursed so far this year in loans and 21 clients purchased policies for livestock price insurance. AFSC has been actively involved in various community initiatives as well. Over the previous year, AFSC’s Share & Care Committee has raised funds for and donated food and volunteer hours to various causes including Movember, Fort McMurray evacuees, Tools for Schools,

Run for the Cure, Operation Christmas Child, Habitat for Humanity, Light up the Night, Meals on Wheels, SPCA and local food banks. A number of departments also fundraised within their own departmental initiatives including a Mitten and Toque Christmas Tree for the Central Alberta Homeless; a Lacombe food bank drive; a PI Day (3.14, March 14th) celebration, on which pie sales were donated to Lacombe’s food bank, a Holiday Spirit Raffle for the Central Alberta Women’s Shelter and a Heart and Stroke Foundation’s potluck fundraiser. In 2015-16, AFSC employees spent 495.75 hours on charitable projects (in additional to internal fundraiser and

employee time spent on the Share and Care Committee). In 2016-17, AFSC also supported well over 200 organizations and events through fundraisers and sponsorship. “This includes the above noted charities, as well as organizations like local chambers of commerce, various seniors organizations, food banks, local agricultural societies, fire fighters, and schools. “Sponsored events consisted of trade shows, conferences, agriculture tours and seminars, farm safety days, community suppers, farmer appreciations days, local community events and education awards and scholarship events,” said Kochan. “In June of 2017, AFSC staff donated their time to the local Lacombe Ford ‘Drive One Away Ball Hockey Tournament’ fundraiser. The event raised over $4,000 to support Lacombe Victim Services and AFSC staff were happy to support this event by volunteering their time in the community.” AFSC also supports Lacombe Days every year by hosting the annual pancake breakfast. Proceeds from the breakfast are donated to a local charity. Additionally, AFSC has participated in the Lacombe Days Parade every year. AFSC has also been involved with 4-H since 2009 and is recognized as a ‘4-H Alberta Enhancer’, and in 2016 provided $49,060 in sponsorship. -submitted from the AFSC

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Rexall is dedicated to serving health needs of the community BY CARLIE CONNOLLY Lacombe Express

In Lacombe since 1975, Rexall has always been a pharmacy first and foremost, but does a wide range of things to give back to the community. The store has been nominated in the Large Business of the Year category for the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Business & Community Awards Gala. Sherry McKinnon, general manager at Lacombe’s Rexall has been with the company around 30 years, and said Rexall has continued to have loyal, repeat customers, serving lots of locals, patients and seniors. “With us it’s client care and customer service first. We do a lot of in-home consultations, we do deliveries in-home by our pharmacist as well, we do follow-up care and we’ve got a foot clinic for people to come in for as well,� said McKinnon. She said for Rexall, it’s all about being a pharmacy first. “We were the first to do the flu shots and to do the allergy shots in Alberta as a Rexall,� she said.

She believes people continue to come back as the staff is always friendly and helpful. “What we’re trying to do with Rexall is build better healthcare for our general public and our area. We’re trying to reach out to our community and provide better health services by answering questions, better education and a lot more client care.� She said in terms of their participation in Lacombe, Rexall sponsors different group activities and has given to charities. “We can’t donate necessarily monetarily in this town, but we will give prizes for silent auctions, we will give water and snacks to teams that come and approach us and they need something for a tournament, and that kind of thing,� she said. She said they also help out with fundraisers and have helped out with Burman University when they’ve gotten fundraisers, along with helping out The Lacombe Orchestra. She also said if people come in looking for door prizes, they try and help in any way they can. “We’ve got girls that work here that also work with youth groups and they’re in the

church program for kids and that kind of thing, so we all try to do what we can for the community. If we’re asked, we’d like to step up if we can.� McKinnon said for monetary donations, they ask for five cents for the bags. She said most companies put that back in and use it as profit or however they wish to use it, whereas at every Rexall store, they ask for that money, asking if people want a bag, and charge the five cents, with money going to their Rexall Foundation. Money raised from the Rexall Foundation in Alberta stays in Alberta. McKinnon said with the wildfires, they’ve taken the donations and sent them to B.C. Last year, as part of the Foundation, they sent money up to Fort McMurray as a result of the fires, as well as any goods they could use like hand sanitizers and personal products. Around $145,000 was given to Fort McMurray from across the country. “We are a corporate store but we are run by local people,� she said. They also help with the Stollery Children’s Hospital, children’s charities and sick kids with cancer. “That’s basically what Rexall Foundation

PHARMACY FIRST - Sherry McKinnon of Rexall stands in between aisles, displaying the many products offered at the Lacombe drug store. Carlie Connolly/Lacombe Express

goes for is to help communities and special needs, and that kind of thing.� McKinnon said they are currently working on their own in-house programs to get things rolling better, and can expect a busy time with Christmas approaching.

“I have no doubt that with hockey season starting up that we’ll be approached, and then silent auctions around Christmas time and Christmas parties and things like that. “We can’t help everybody but we do try to help as many as we can.� carlieconnolly@reddeerexpress.com

Clothing to fit a wide demographic at Red Hot Threads BY CARLIE CONNOLLY Lacombe Express

Nestled along Lacombe’s main drag, Red Hot Threads Boutique is a store suited for the young and old, something rare in Lacombe. The business has been nomi-

nated in the ‘Small Business of the Year’ category for the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Business & Community Awards Gala. Opened in 2005 by Krystal Rundell, her mom, sister and her sister’s friend, the business started

off strong. “I think we were just really into brand name clothing at the time as there was nowhere in Lacombe (that had it), so we thought we may as well. The opportunity was there to open a store and the market was there,� she said.

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Rundell bought the business in February of 2013. The store offers all brand name clothing for babies to kids to men’s and ladies’. They carry various brands including Silver Jeans, Dex, Bench, Volcom and more. Compared to other businesses in town, Rundell said they offer more casual wear, with other places being more dressier and for the older demographic. “We’re that high school to older people that still want to have the sweaters and the hoodies and the jeans. We’re a very wide range of age and style,� she said. She said the response from customers has been great in Lacombe since day one. “We’ve had amazing clientele, we’ve had amazing customers that have stuck with us the whole time. We definitely can’t please everybody, but we find that we have a great customer base and people do enjoy that we’re here and have the variety that we have and the options that we have.� She said other stores carry other

CLOTHES FOR ALL - Krystal Rundell of Red Hot Threads displays the many brands of clothing offered in the store. Carlie Connolly/Lacombe Express

brands, but mostly in only the ladies’ sections, where Red Hot Threads carries a variety for different demographics of all ages. She said in terms of growth, they don’t do any large sponsoring, but do a lot of donations. “Anyone that comes in asking for a donation or for a door prize for their tournaments, we do a lot of that,� she said.

Rundell’s hopes for the future, like many entrepreneurs hope for, is to get busier. They’re entering into one of their busy seasons, which she said is always something to look forward to. “Our biggest thing is just our social media, so just targeting more of our crowd that way.� carlieconnolly@reddeerexpress.com

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Sweet Capone’s wants you to be part of their story BY TODD COLIN VAUGHAN Lacombe Express

Sweet Capone’s Italian Bakery and Cannoli Shop is hoping people continue to want to be part of their story. The business has been nominated in the Small Business of the Year category for the 2017 Business & Community Awards Gala. “People love to be part of a story and we absolutely offer that,” Owner Carina Moran said. “It is the story of my dad’s childhood and my whole family history. We are super excited to share that with everyone. They want to know where the cannoli came from and why we decided to sell it.” The Italian bakery, which opened in July 2016, was never supposed to become a brick and mortar shop. “The original idea wasn’t even supposed to be a shop,” Moran said. “We started off simply baking cannolis out of my kitchen. The demand kept picking up—we were mostly just making for friends and family. We ended up creating a commercial kitchen in my basement and the business model was to take online orders and then deliver them. “We decided that it would be nice to have a pick-up place where people could pick up their orders and we would have some foot traffic.” When they opened their original store, the very first day had a line-up which went around the block. Moran and her staff immediately real-

ized that their 400 sq. ft. shop needed to quickly expand. “It was never our intent to run such a busy bakery, but that is just the way it turned out,” she said. “This is where we find ourselves and we could not be more excited.” The cannolis at Sweet Capone’s are a family tradition for Moran. “The actual cannoli is my nonna’s recipe,” Moran said. “The vanilla flavour is what she made for me all the time. My mom and dad are my other business partners and my mom was taught by my dad how to make all these wonderful things. “It wasn’t until my husband, who is not Italian, married into the family and said to my mom, ‘Why are you not selling these things?’ “We didn’t know if there was a market but clearly there was. People are craving something cultural and we filled the void that we didn’t know existed.” Moran believes the success of Sweet Capone’s is due to people in Lacombe craving a local, farm-to-table model of food. “People are really going back to wanting to know where their food comes from and they want to have quality products,” she said. Sweet Capone’s, according to Moran, has been able to join a movement of small businesses in Lacombe that have similar ideals and support each other. “We have collectively grown into a movement in Lacombe,” she said. “Some of our

friends like Cilantro and Chive, Blindman Brewery and Good Neighbour Coffee— everyone has bought in to the idea that if we work together collectively, we can bring people to Lacombe. “Everyone does their own thing and they do it so well. It is so unbelievably unique.” Moran believes the movement is predicated upon the unique atmosphere of Lacombe. “I have never encountered a City quite like Lacombe in terms of community spirit and how people support small businesses,” she said. “People desire to support small businesses rather then the big box stores. They know that when they come in here and buy a pastry, it is going to feed my family. People supporting - that is so wonderful.” With demand being very high, Moran has had the opportunity to franchise Sweet Capone’s. “The problem with expansion is you risk losing that charm. The charm is what we take immense pride in,” she said. “We would love to get our story and our cannoli out to the world and that may involve opening another store, someplace else. It wouldn’t be a franchise—more of a satellite store.” She added, “In a year’s time, it blows our minds how fast we have grown. The City has been so supportive of us and other businesses have embraced us and marketed for us.” todd.vaughan@reddeerexpress.com

ITALIAN BAKERY - Justin Cass of Sweet Capone’s Italian Bakery and Cannoli Shop is part of the story started by Carina Todd Colin Vaughan/Lacombe Express Moran and her family.

Four ways innovation can help your business Innovation is vital to your company’s success in today’s highly competitive business environment, especially as customers become more demanding and savvy. Entrepreneurs need an edge to survive and stand out. Innovation can provide that edge—boosting your productivity, growth and profitability. Yet, only a quarter of small and mid-sized businesses planned to invest in innovation and R&D in 2016, according to a BDC survey of 4,000 Canadian entrepreneurs. Innovation doesn’t have to be a world-changing breakthrough. It can involve simple, incremental improvements in any area of your company. Here are four concrete benefits innovation can bring to your company. 1. Improve sales and customer relationships Failing to improve your products and services can put you at risk of losing customers to more innovative competitors. If you invest time and money in innovation, customers will notice and appreciate the extra value you’re bringing them. That should translate into more sales. You can start with simple steps like regularly surveying customers to identify potential product improvements and setting up an innovation team to spearhead your efforts. 2. Reduce waste and costs

Innovation can help you reduce waste in your business and leave you better positioned to focus on the long-term goals, rather than always putting out fires.

▾ “INNOVATION CAN HELP YOU ANTICIPATE MARKET CHANGES MORE QUICKLY AND GET AHEAD OF OPPORTUNITIES, SO YOU AREN’T FORCED TO REACT TO SHIFTS. IT CAN ALSO HELP YOU DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF FROM THE COMPETITION.” ▴ Innovative BDC clients have implemented operational efficiency changes such as streamlining order processing, eliminating production bottlenecks and reducing machinery and employee idle time. The goal is to constantly be on the lookout for ways to eliminate waste. That can bring a host of benefits—lower costs, better profit margins, improved customer service and increased competitiveness. An efficiency expert can help you identify such innovations. 3. Boost your market position Innovation can help you anticipate market changes more

quickly and get ahead of opportunities, so you aren’t forced to react to shifts. It can also help you differentiate yourself from the competition. Such innovation can come from continuously analyzing market trends, listening to your customers, suppliers and advisors, and studying what competitors are doing in order to spot opportunities and jump on them. Also, it’s often useful to look at what’s happening in your industry in other countries. You can find fresh ideas for your business by studying what leading companies are doing abroad. 4. Improve employee relations An innovative workplace is stimulating for employees. Cultivating pride in your products and a desire for your company to be an industry leader should reduce workplace turnover and boost productivity. That can, in turn, lead to still more innovation success because employees are often a company’s best source of ideas. Be sure to listen to them. Ask for their feedback on innovation in all areas of your business, including how to improve products, marketing and efficiency. They can give invaluable insights into ways to innovate, and they will appreciate having your ear. -Business Development Bank of Canada

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8 Thursday, October 12, 2017

Small Business Week

Platinum

Gold

www.lacombeexpress.com

Silver

Bronze

Lacombe

List of finalists for the 2017 Business and Community Awards SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR Red Hot Threads Soapy’s Car and RV Wash Sweet Capone’s

LARGE BUSINESS OF THE YEAR Rexall Lionel’s No Frills AFSC – Central Office

PEOPLE’S CHOICE FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE

Farm Family of the Year

Scott Beauclair and Darryl Deutsch – Napa Auto Parts Katelyn Keddy – Soapy’s Car and RV Wash Jason Burns – Cilantro & Chive

Lifetime Achievement

NOT FOR PROFIT OF THE YEAR Lacombe Athletic Park Association Lacombe Gymnastics Social Media Breakfast

Ko Bruning and family Irene Prins

Citizen of the Year Ellen Corea

Special Features - Small Business Week 2017  

i20171023090015206.pdf

Special Features - Small Business Week 2017  

i20171023090015206.pdf