Business in Calgary - June 2021

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55 years and still growing...

It starts with you.

You perhaps need walls to divide or define space. You could require flooring underfoot. You may want window coverings to reduce glare and enhance privacy. You might desire furniture, lighting & accessories that reflect your unique culture. You probably wish for a simpler way to connect with technology. You possibly use multifunction copiers + document management software to support your business process. You likely rely on the expertise of service + installation, moving or warehousing professionals to manage logistics. RGO can support you with all that; you may have an office, clinic, school, hotel or home we can help you make spaces where people want to be.

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COWAN GRAPHICS: Supporting Your Brand Visibility for Over 75 Years


o say that the journey businesses in the Capital Region have going through has not been easy would be an understatement. Business ownership, while already an intensive, high-risk venture, is much more challenging during COVID-19. While under significant pressure and rapidly changing government regulations, businesses must continue to be productive in order to remain viable. The key to viability is this: remaining highly visible and having consistent brand messaging. Cowan Graphics, headquartered in Edmonton and serving western Canada and the western corridor of the United States, has kept businesses visible for more than 75 years. Blaine MacMillan, president, says, “We help your business showcase your brand and messaging in the best light possible. Our equipment allows us to print and/or sublimate

on a wide variety of materials including pressure sensitives (decals), fabric, plastics, metal and wood. Cowan Graphics invests in the technology required for high-quality, durable branding solutions across a wide variety of applications.”

Cowan Graphics is the local, family-run, experienced provider of solutions for fleet graphics, display graphics, architectural graphics, product identification graphics, regulatory signage and promotional and event graphics. Cowan has always been deeply invested in supporting the community and providing excellent working conditions for its diverse team of employees. When COVID-19 hit Cowan immediately pivoted, obtaining the equipment and materials needed to make face shields and at the peak, produced more than 50,000 shields per day. Cowan also quickly produced lines that could be branded for COVID-19 safety products such as banners, floor graphics, decals, and plexiglass guards. Blaine knows what business owners are going through right now. “I’m a business owner too. I see you, and I understand,” he says. “It’s been months of rapid changes in how we conduct business. It’s exhausting. It’s worrying. If your product lines are advantageous during the pandemic and things are busy, or if you are in an industry that has been particularly hard hit and are dealing with a drop in revenue and resources, we all are longing for normality. Time, energy, patience and resilience are in short supply.” “Cowan Graphics,” he continues, “was launched at another very pivotal time in history. It was 1945, the war had just ended, and life – and the world – had changed due to the conflict. Over our 75+ year history Cowan Graphics has been on this journey with you through times of peace and

times of conflict, economic uncertainly and stability, times of political change and now during the global pandemic. We’ve experienced how businesses are impacted by localized events such as our province’s boom and bust cycles, as well as international events such as 9/11. “We have been there, growing and adapting through it all, and so can you. “Our business community is entering a new normal. How and what you provide may change. How customers access your products and services may change. You may be migrating to a more ecommerce focused model or need to install long-term ways to direct and distance people in your store or at your event. Cowan has the best solutions and products to position your brand for maximum visibly, whether you are a startup looking for decals or a national supplier in need of architectural solutions. Whatever your message or medium, Cowan is your local, experienced, reliable solutions provider.” Blaine concludes, “We are here, we are interested, and we care. How ever you choose to move forward know this – Cowan Graphics has more than 75 years of experience to help you through whatever your next phase or challenge might be. Perseverance and resolve will help us all make it through these challenging times together.” See the full line of what Cowan Graphics has to offer and learn more about the company at


Supporting the visions of entrepreneurs one story at a time. Volume 31 | Number 6



Stonewalled by Empty Rhetoric By Shane Wenzel

63 91

Calgary Chamber of Commerce Chipping Away at your Short Game By Scott Orban



Parker’s Pen By David Parker



Partnering to Build the Future Trent Fequet of Steel River Group and Patricia Phillips of PBA Group on their new strategic partnership By Melanie Darbyshire








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Supporting the visions of entrepreneurs one story at a time. Volume 31 | Number 6




oilet Paper Was a T Teachable Moment Supply chain makes it happen By John Hardy


67 73 79 87

35 46 49


Celebrates 50 Years

Calibre Coatings

51 56

Celebrates 35 Years

Sinclair Supply Ltd.

Celebrates 75 Years

Isomass Scientific Inc.




The Resilient Agri-food Sector The positive momentum By John Hardy

Still a ‘Renter’s Market’ Purpose-built rentals contribute to added choice and affordability By Jamie Zachary

B OMA Edmonton News Summer 2021

The Bumpy Ride of Calgary Real Estate One of the most affordable and best places to live in the world By John Hardy

Celebrates 40 Years


Focus on Healthy Living The proactive, positive approach By John Hardy


Business Interruption Insurance What is it and is it worth it? By Erlynn Gococo

Workplace of Tomorrow, Today Local business leaders say the ‘future’ office will be driven by desire for flexibility By Jamie Zachary

Escape this Summer Aboard a Historic Luxury Tugboat by Rennay Craats


emote West Coast Adventures (RWCA) combines a luxury cruising experience with eco-tourism, all aboard a refitted historic tugboat. This tour operator introduces guests to remote areas along British Columbia’s coast where they can experience the history and culture while immersed in the area’s natural beauty. Whether you want to explore trails and beaches, try your hand at crabbing or prawning, go for a paddle or just relax on the decks, RWCA delivers. Their 80-year-old modernized tugboat, the Union Jack, sleeps 12 guests amongst six private cabins. With its state-of-the-art kitchen, cozy lounges and ample space across three decks, RWCA offers an incredible experience in an amazing setting. The company personally tailors the itinerary and menu while the expert crew manages the personal details to create an unforgettable experience.

“The ship has the ability to take you back in time but at the same time you have a crew and a boat with every modern amenity to ensure you’re comfortable,” says Neil Wurst, one of RWCA’s owners. When chartering you enjoy exclusive use of the ship, support vessels and onboard water toys with your family and friends. Trips are focused on intimate, small-group travel where moments are turned into memories. Regardless of the tour chosen, the views and experiences are sure to wow guests. “It’s not the destination but the journey,” Wurst says. Whether you are travelling through the welcoming artisan communities of the Sunshine Coast or the scenic passageways of Desolation Sound, a Remote West Coast Adventures’ trip is a journey you will not want to miss.

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REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS Shane Wenzel Cody Battershill David Parker Scott Orban


Melanie Darbyshire Rennay Craats Jamie Zachary John Hardy Erlynn Gococo


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Stonewalled by Empty Rhetoric BY SHANE WENZEL


nger seems to be the strongest characteristic apparent on the streets of Calgary and elsewhere in Alberta. After 14 months, and counting, it is understandable! Perhaps it is better described as people are just ‘downright frustrated.’ Perhaps it is partly due to the cavalier attitude that people believe we experience from all government ‘towns.’ Compared to the rest of us they appear relatively unaffected. Or is it based on the perception that entrepreneurial centres across the province like Calgary are still experiencing layoffs, caused by lockdowns and other tactics. Jobs and livelihoods disappear out papered-over windows, while ‘government town jobs’ remain ‘mostly untouched.’ At the same time, associations and unions use this as a chance to lobby for more benefits while others struggle to buy groceries and pay bills. To add fuel to discontent, ‘opposition parties’ are taking advantage of the absolute lowest point in several generations to ‘play politics’ and end their attacks with ‘we are all in this together,’ but “I could do better.” Really? We had that experience once! Is a pandemic really the time for all this? It appears clear that no one really understands what is happening, nor just how to move forward, including the medical community. Otherwise, advice would not be everchanging. Even they are posturing and building opposing sides among their own peer groups. All this at a time when we need them to be the calming voice, have the courage to admit every day is a new experience for them too, rather

than using this as an opportunity to lecture and play politics within their own cohort. Our media is dominated by unqualified ‘opinions.’ Many who do it without shame. The rest get hushed, intentionally misquoted, labelled as poor leaders, or unconcerned for their neighbours or their constituents. We all know they are as much ‘in the dark’ about ‘what’s next’ as everyone else. Few politicians have mentioned being ‘good Party Soldiers’ – quite the opposite in fact. In my humble opinion, we need more cooperation and less egos and ‘self-proclaimed experts’ to get our province back to ‘normal.’ And I don’t mean ‘the new normal’ that is being headlined. Where is this ‘we are all in this together’ coziness we hear so much about? The hypocrisy is downright shameful. We will never get to ‘what’s next for Alberta’ if it doesn’t change. Good things are happening every day that we are missing out on. We already know none of the new grand ideas in the 2021 Federal Budget can occur without Alberta. We have all the resources the world needs for a recovery. All we need is less rhetoric and government regulations. Every ‘Green Utopia’ idea hatched in Ottawa has emulated out of ingenuous ignorance of reaching their goal. Unless you actually believe Alice in Wonderland is real! There is a new entrepreneurial Task Force for Jobs and Recovery being formed. Drop the anger, offer your expertise and ideas, and plan to be part of the recovery.






lue Sky Hemp Ventures envisions a better world through the natural healing and healthful properties available from utilizing the whole hemp plant. To this end, Blue Sky offers hemp products in three value chains: food, CBD and fibre. Andrew Potter, Co-founder, President & CEO, knows that success means taking things one step at a time. “One thing we realized in 2017 was that trying to get into three value chains at the same time would be a recipe for disaster,” says Potter. “So, we started with foods and built our dehulling operation in Saskatoon in 2018.” Shortly after the 2018 launch, Blue Sky Hemp Ventures received its Global Food Security Initiative (GFSI) designation, one of the highest certifications in food production. The GFSI label immediately shows consumers and business partners that the operations are structured, comprehensive, safe, and effective. The next step came in 2019. Potter explains, “That was the year we started our focus on broad acre farmed biomass and developed our proprietary RFL (Reduced Flower & Leaf) system. This unique system allows us to take bales of hemp or loose chaff, strip out any grain, fibre and also concentrate the CBD to make for more efficient extraction. In 2020 we moved on to include the CBD extraction line of our business. We applied for, and received, our licence from Health Canada in 2020, and can now produce CBD oil, isolate, etc. Blue Sky was pleased to have our first CBD sale in December 2020.” With the Cannabis Act of 2018 came a rush to the market of many hopefuls looking to excel in Canada’s newest industry. The competition was fierce with some companies pushing forward and others struggling to keep up. Blue Sky took the time, far in advance, to decide how the company would stand out among the competition. Potter says, “From day one our focus was on whole plant utilization and scaling. If we could have farmers grow for us and we can contract with those farmers for a price per acre, we can take all the biomass off of it. If we can get that at a fair price, the farmer also gets a fair rate of return and that puts us in a low cost/overhead position in each value chain. That is one way in how we are different. Additionally, working with the whole plant goes beyond products. Hemp absorbs large

amounts of carbon dioxide. We can sequester it and get into carbon neutral or carbon negative processing.” Entering into a new market is not without its challenges. “On the food side, there is a lack of familiarity on how to use hemp. Hemp hearts, oil, and powder are very nutritious products but are still very much a niche ingredient. People know to put them on yogurt or in a smoothie but not necessarily how to use hemp as an everyday item. We help to educate consumers on the virtues of the product and how to use it. With CBD, the challenge is different in that most customers know the product, but the CBD industry itself is very young and there are many players in the game. It takes time to get your name out there.”

Potter has experienced advice for entrepreneurs, saying, “Don’t give up. No matter how well prepared you are, there will be curveballs. There are days you want to call it quits but stay with it. Be well capitalized going in. Most companies come to realise that sales cycles are longer than anticipated. You need to have the financial resources to follow through on the sales cycle. You don’t want to be desperate for sales, so have your resources in place. Always look at product with an eye towards differentiation. Blue Sky Hemp Ventures went in focused on reasonably well-established products; hemp is niche but familiar. When you are selling the same product as others, you are selling on price and service, so we looked at how to be different and put a twist on what has already been done. That opened a lot of doors for us.” Learn more at

Blue Sky Hemp Ventures selected ATB as its financial partner. “Part of choosing ATB was the legacy relationship with the institution among our board members,” says Potter, “but a big part of it was that traditional banks just didn’t understand what we are doing. We are in a new industry with a different business model. Our first conversation with ATB showed a great level of understanding about what we were trying to achieve, and about agriculture in general. It was a completely different level of engagement, and they were very supportive. We feel that a lot of banks say they support entrepreneurs, but not everyone backs that up the way ATB does.”

ATB is pleased to present a 2021 profile series on the businesses and people who are facing challenges head-on to build a strong Alberta.

THANK YOU on behalf of

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$10,000-$19,999 The Alvin & Mona Libin Foundation

Dick & Lois Haskayne Fund at Calgary Foundation

$5,000-$9,999 Avanade CNA Canada Red Deer Chamber of Commerce United Way of Southeastern Alberta

City of Chestermere Kneehill County Rogers

Community Foundation of Southeastern Alberta KPMG Special Areas Board

Wheatland FCSS

up to $4,999 10 Percent Recruiting




BILD Central Alberta

Bow RiversEdge Campground Society

Broadstreet Properties

City of Lethbridge

Claresholm FCSS

Cochrane Lions Club

Community Futures Meridian

Connect First Credit Union

Craig Boris



Foothills County FCSS

High River FCSS

KB Heating and Air Conditioning


Okotoks FCSS

Platform Calgary

The Nanton Boosters Club

The Nanton Promoters

Rotary Club of Cochrane

Strathmore FCSS

TC Energy

Town of Cochrane

Town of Strathmore

Town of Three Hills

United Way of Central Alberta

University of Lethbridge

Zurich Canada


UFA’s Momentum of Positivity For the more than 120,000 member owners of the United Farmers of Alberta Co-operative (UFA) it’s more, much more, than about money. It is acknowledgement and gratifying feedback and it is a momentum of positivity in some unprecedented uncertain and difficult times. The UFA is an association of Alberta farmers that has served different roles in its 100-year history – as a lobby group, a successful political party, and as a farm-supply retail chain. The exciting good news? Early last month, at the UFA Annual Meeting, it was announced that the association had approved a patronage dividend of $14.2 million to its membership. In addition, UFA also reported $1.2 billion in financial revenues and $64 million in earnings (before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization).

It was inarguably a year of the unexpected and significant speedbumps. “This past year was like no other,” says the dynamic Scott Bolton, UFA president and CEO. “Farmers and ranchers are used to unknown variables and we all know that mother nature isn’t predictable. We also recognize that the petroleum sector has faced incredible challenges, particularly in recent years. But we made a commitment to our members, customers and teams to be transparent in our communication and to communicate early and often. And we did!” It’s unanimous that the effects of the pandemic on life and business was transformational but, “As a member-owned agricultural cooperative, it is our responsibility to support our members and customers who continue to get the job done, even during a pandemic.










“The business of agriculture cannot stop,” he said with emphasis. “We were declared an essential service and we needed to ensure that farmers, ranchers and drivers all had access to what they needed to keep their operations running.” Bolton acknowledges that the COVID impact meant many – and unique – changes for the UFA, its memberowners and customers. From simple but important details like keeping cardlock washrooms open for truck drivers, plexiglass barriers, social distancing, masks, proper PPE and a commitment to streamline the overall customer experience with features like a new point-of-sale system and Tailgate Pick-Up. He also notes some examples of UFA and UFA memberowners pitching in with help and support, like partnering with AMTA for 25,000 free PPE kits for truck drivers, donating the last (4,800) of UFA’s N95 masks for AHS workers and also supporting Stars Air Ambulance, 4-H Canada and the Do More Ag Foundation who champion the wellbeing of Canadian producers.

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“Our member-owners guide our decision making. And despite the many 2020 broadsides, we have a strong balance sheet and paying patronage to those who keep the agriculture industry moving has never been more important. Despite it being challenging, there have been bright spots and good news stories throughout the year,” Bolton adds with enthusiasm. “We know that we are not out of the woods yet. Spring is coming. Seed will go in the ground. Calves will be born. Fuel will be delivered. But as they have done in the past, farmers and ranchers will adapt and move forward. UFA has weathered many storms and we will get through this one, because for over a century we’ve known that we are stronger together.”

Contact us today for more information or booking! Phone: (403) 232-7770 Email: For more information:






Credit For Life Skills After generations and much debate about the importance of a good education vs. the value of life-experience being competing essentials, Calgary’s innovative Bow Valley College (BVC) may have resolved the biased and subjective standoff. The answer is: both! In fact, BVC is about to prove that one compliments the other. Starting in January, Bow Valley College will offer programs according to the vital and emerging concept of CompetencyBased Education (CBE). And it’s a first in Alberta. “The purpose of CBE is to ensure that students have the competencies that they require for specific job positions. Putting the learner at the centre of their education allows for personalized education plans,” says Alison Anderson, dean of Business, Technology and the Centre for Entertainment Arts at BVC. “The learner will be assessed at the beginning of the program determining what industry-validated competencies they already possess. In this way, the learner will receive credit for skills that they already have. A customized learning plan will be developed so the learner can chart their own pathway and work on the competencies whenever it fits into their lifestyle, with faculty to assist at every step. Classes will take place online, allowing the student to do coursework at times convenient for them.” She explains that CBE was developed to transform the educational experience, by giving credit for knowledge the learner already has, develop individual learning pathways and provide competencies core to a job. The CBE concept enables learners to upskill in a non-traditional educational environment. Education and business experts agree that competencybased education is an effective way to both save time and achieve academic goals as well as being job-ready for indemand industries. Following Ministry approval, applications have begun for the January 2022 start of initially two new BVC diploma

programs: Cloud Computing and Data Management Analytics (DMA). “Both programs are for individuals with an IT background,” Anderson points out. “The Cloud Computing post-diploma certificate program is designed to prepare early-career professionals for a career in Cloud computing, particularly in the development of Cloudbased applications. Learners will develop competencies from determined Cloud application requirements and the program also scaffolds to give learners the knowledge to develop specification and design architecture. “The Data Management and Analytics post-diploma program prepares learners to uncover insights from unstructured data sets to inform data-driven decisionmaking,” she says. “Graduates will have experience with relational database systems, data warehousing, data quality improvement and visual analytics, along with an introduction to working with big data.” The tremendous impact of technology on life, business and the workplace parallel with Calgary’s growing reputation as a tech-hub. It also combines to make the new BVC programs a natural fit. “Besides,” Anderson adds with enthusiasm, “education is in a state of evolution. Now is the perfect time to open doors to education to help individuals reskill and upskill. With the need to train individuals in the digital economy and to help grow the economy of Calgary and Alberta. There is no better time to offer innovative, bold and flexible learning.”




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Webber Academy Athletic Park Development – Springbank, Alberta

Last spring, Webber Academy confirmed the purchase of 530 acres of land in Springbank, Alberta for the development of the Webber Academy Athletic Park and future high school campus. The Webber Academy Athletic Park development construction has commenced and the new facility is scheduled to open in the spring of 2022. The plan is to develop a truly remarkable multi-sport and multi-functional recreation facility. The athletic park will feature four baseball fields, which will vary in sizes to allow

athletes of all ages the opportunity to utilize the facility, a soccer field and a state-of-the-art 50,000-square-foot multi-purpose, indoor training facility that overlooks the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Plus there is plenty of space for the park to continue to grow in the future and offer additional features. Bradon Construction and Jackson McCormick Design Group have teamed up on the project construction and design. Both companies have vast experience in the development of baseball facilities in Calgary and southern Alberta. SBL




Contractors were awarded with the bid to construct the Indoor Training Facility which will act as the year-round hub of the Webber Academy Athletic Park. The indoor facility includes a large field house with artificial turf, batting/pitching cages and an infield baseball diamond. The facility includes additional space for a weight training gym, yoga/dance studios, cafeteria and food services, classrooms, meeting rooms, offices and conference rooms. Over the next several months Webber Academy will announce the details of the Wildcats Baseball Academy which will provide unique opportunities for existing students and community level baseball players to participate in high quality skill development and competitive baseball instruction. Webber Academy is excited to bring this one-of-a-kind facility to our students, the community of Springbank, community and city of Calgary baseball and soccer players and the many others who will get to utilize the Athletic Parks amazing features. Learn more at

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Megan Rokosh & Chris Rokosh Global CMO Havas Health & You/Connect Medical Legal Experts


he president and CEO of Connect Medical Legal Experts not only created an industry to fill a need, she collaborates with her daughter Megan in a way that inspires both of their lives and careers.

Chris Rokosh was labor and delivery nurse when she was asked to provide medical expertise on a legal matter 20 years ago. The lawyer she worked with indicated how hard it was to find good healthcare experts to testify in court, and Chris identified an industry gap. Based on this, she started an education program on the role of the nurse in the medical legal world, which has now evolved into a global education company and pool of medical experts that have provided expert opinion on more than 2,500 cases around the globe. “I am very lucky to be one of the only businesses in this space in Canada,” says Chris. “The innovation was in trailblazing and adaptation. I had to take the U.S. model, which is very different based on their method of healthcare, and adopt it for Canadian healthcare, law and business.”

“Havas takes innovation very seriously, particularly in the COVID era,” says Megan. “We’ve dealt with so much disruption in the health industry in the last decade and now as COVID shook the foundations of health as we know it. Havas has adapted by combining data, emerging tech and content together as we work in new ways to elevate the health of patients and people around the world.” Innovation has always been a part of their lives. Chris’ husband, Rick, was a pioneer in IT, creating a system which enabled a remote work model long before COVID forced a widespread WFH initiative. Thanks to his innovation, Connect Experts was able to continue present services, scale quickly and move into new markets while keeping overhead and their carbon footprint at a minimum. Chris’ daughter Katie is the event planner for all Connect Experts’ conferences and son Steve produces the ‘Inside Medical Practice’ podcasts. When asked how innovation has inspired their greatest accomplishments, Chris says, “Finding and filling a need where no industry existed before. Not just hearing the problem but finding the tenacity, courage, and grit to solve it.”

While she was trailblazing, Chris’ daughter Megan worked along side her while forging her own path.

Megan adds, “Now that I’ve moved to focusing on health there is nothing more rewarding than knowing your work is making an impact on people’s lives all around the world. There is a sense of satisfaction in being able to connect 5,000 people around the world with a spirit of real human purpose.”

Megan works in NY as the Global CMO of Havas’ health division.Throughout her career she has consulted with Connect, bringing her knowledge of strategy and brand building to the family business.

They conclude, “If you have an idea, don’t be afraid to try! Innovation is a constant practice. We are about to enter into one of the most opportunistic, entrepreneurial periods in history. The world needs fresh new ideas now more than ever.”


Glenise Harvey, Principal A&H Steel


&H Steel has raised the bar on supporting Western Canada’s construction industry for 50 years. Founded by brothers Andy and Hank Kotun, the company underwent changes as Hank moved on and Glenise’s mother, Olga Chebuk, became Andy’s partner. Today A&H is led by Glenise Harvey and Andy’s son, Craig Kotun. “I had gone into education and left the running of the business to the general managers and Craig,” says Glenise. “I acted as one of the directors of the company and continued with teaching, but in about 2013 I made the decision to get more involved. What drew me in was the awareness that as an owner I was ultimately responsible for not just the financial success of the business, but more importantly, the livelihoods of many people, as well as their experiences while at work. I had basically been gifted with a business and through a series of events I came to realize that I needed to take a much more active role in the stewardship of it alongside my business partner.” For Glenise, innovation means creating the ideal company culture. “I was determined to shift the culture,” she notes of when she came on board A&H full time. “To be clear, there was nothing ‘wrong or bad’ about the culture. I viewed it as not in alignment with what I knew to be true of the kind of culture that allows people to develop to their fullest potential

and to be fully engaged. In my career as an educator, I had a fairly extensive background in psychology, brain research, providing appropriate feedback, coaching, motivation, etc. What I saw before me was the opportunity of creating a workplace culture where adults could have the best possible working experience. One story that touched me deeply was when an employee told me that they weren’t too sure about ‘all this culture stuff’ until his wife told him that whatever he was picking up at work was making him a better man.” She continues, “At A&H, our innovation is based on training and developing our employees in our core values and then working diligently at operationalizing them: no BS (authenticity); I say it, I mean it (integrity); I own it (responsibility); I give a sh*t about others (bigger than myself); and happiness. Our values are everywhere. They are on the walls in the office and the fabrication shop. Everyone in the office has a framed copy for their desk/office. They are talked about constantly. Most importantly, we invest a significant amount of time and financial resources training and developing our people in the technology of human relatedness based on our core values.” She advises other female entrepreneurs, saying, “My experience as a woman in business, particularly in the construction industry, is the joy of just being me. I bring my feminine qualities to the table because they are needed in a masculine world. If you are a woman in a business in which you are surrounded by only other women, the same applies… invite men to your table. I love working with my business partner. We see the world differently and we have grown to appreciate and respect that about each other. Always keep developing yourself as a leader. Your people depend on you to never stop innovating and growing yourself to be the best you can be.”





here are a few key characteristics of every successful business partnership. A common goal and vision; the prospect of mutual reward; shared values; a keen enthusiasm for the enterprise. To succeed, the partners must want to work together and must do so well, to the benefit of the whole. Great things can be achieved when dedicated minds come together. PBA Group of Companies (PBA) and Steel River Group (SRG), both of Calgary, believe they have formed one such successful partnership, and have set out to prove it. The two organizations, from different industries, with different backgrounds, experience and expertise, have grounded their strategic partnership in a shared value of building community. Their leaders – PBA CEO Patricia Phillips and SRG founder and CEO Trent Fequet – have big plans for the alliance. “We’re both value-based businesses,” says Fequet. “After Patricia and I met, it didn’t take long to connect the dots as far as our goals and mandates. The synergies were obvious.” Fequet founded SRG five years ago as a privately held Indigenous-owned diversified management and construction consortium, to support Indigenous-led businesses in creating and capturing value for their people and communities. With six SRG-owned companies (Steel River Solutions, Steel River SICIM Pipeline, Steel River Energy Services, Steel River Equipment, Water Care Company and the P4 Development Group), six affiliated ecosystem companies, and numerous Indigenous partners throughout the country, SRG works with Indigenous nations and communities across Canada.

“We’ve come a long way since starting,” Fequet reflects, “but until recently we didn’t necessarily have that reputable Western Canadian-focused developer by our side. Someone who could help with industrial developments, commercial developments, resort developments. Kind of a one-stop shop.” Enter stage right: Phillips and PBA. Founded by Phillips’ father 56 years ago, PBA is a full-spectrum real estate company that owns, develops and manages diverse industrial, office, hotel, residential and retail properties in and around Calgary. Philips has led the company as CEO for 16 years. “Our relationship began this year, after we met through a common business associate,” Phillips recalls. Phillips and Fequet are also on the Board of Governors of Look Forward Calgary. “We quickly realized we have a lot of common values. I was very interested to learn about what Trent was doing with Indigenous communities across Canada. And we talked about the hotel developments that they’re involved with.” Currently constructing a hotel of its own in downtown Calgary – The Dorian, with 310 rooms on 27 floors, slated to open in July 2022 – PBA’s experience was informative for SRG. “I introduced Trent to some of our partners, like the CEO of Marriott Canada, for example,” Phillips says. “And I offered some suggestions for their hotel developments. It’s our different skillsets which formed the foundation of our strategic partnership.” Partnering with PBA fit well within SRG’s People-PublicPrivate-Partnership (P4) model, its development framework RIGHT: TRENT FEQUET OF STEEL RIVER GROUP AND PATRICIA PHILLIPS OF PBA GROUP. PHOTO SOURCE: BOOKSTRUCKER







guiding the relationship between Indigenous Nations and local communities, private industry groups and various levels (municipal, provincial and federal) of government. As a private partner, PBA will accelerate and increase the frequency and size of major projects available to SRGaffiliated Indigenous communities. “Patricia and PBA have the resume, the decades of experience, and relationships with the larger chains, the financial institutions,” Fequet says. “An overall level of experience and financial backing that we don’t have. We have access to the communities, and a wide breadth of execution capabilities within our ecosystem. So that’s where need versus need matched up nicely.” Still early in the relationship, there are some very exciting projects on the horizon. “Each project will be unique,” Phillips explains. “But our goal will always be to go in and support the needs and wants of the Nation we’re working with. From a developer’s perspective, we’ll be looking at understanding the market and how we can create success for those communities.” “For us it’s being a quarterback and allowing access to the right people,” Fequet adds. “We need to understand the community’s goals and then package the right overall team, whether it’s more construction, financial or other capabilities focused. It will be project-by-project, what’s best for the region and our partners.” It’s not all about economics though, as Fequet highlights the importance of culture: “We’re both very devoted to synergizing the cultural and social aspects of the communities into each project.” The approach is one PBA, a private women-led and owned company, has employed for over half a decade. “Our mission is to connect people every day to make space for their dreams,” Phillips says. “We have deep roots in the community.” Having worked in male-dominated industries for most of her career, Phillips is no stranger to adversity. She got her start in Geneva, Switzerland, as a policy advisor for the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (the World Trade Organization today), and then landed on Wall Street where she worked for Credit Suisse First Boston.

“I was one of the very first women on Wall Street to really move forward on shattering the glass ceiling,” she recalls, “and I loved that challenge. It informed my understanding of what it means to be a leader.” She returned to Calgary after her father, who was ill, requested she join the family business. Her first development was Strathcona Square Shopping Centre, for which PBA won the International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC) Maple Leaf award. Not easily satisfied, Phillips went onto found and successfully sell three energy companies. She assumed the role of CEO of PBA in 2005 after her father passed away. Currently under construction, The Dorian represents PBA’s new direction and development. “It’s a rare development in that we’ve brought dual Marriott flagship brands together,” she says proudly. “We were the first Autograph awarded flag by Marriott in Alberta. And we’ve married that with the




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Courtyard by Marriott. It presents an opportunity, from a hospitality perspective, to allow the more price sensitive traveler to stay at a similar offering as the luxury traveler.” Another exciting PBA project currently underway is Southbow Landing, a 545-acre master-planned community in Cochrane. PBA has led the design, engineering and regulatory approval process as development manager. “It’s an opportunity to work a skill set that we’re hoping to be able to provide to SRG and its community partners,” she says. Fequet recognizes the benefits for SRG: “For all communities – not just Indigenous – success is when everyone is pointing in the right direction. When everyone understands the culture, the region, the people, the history, where the needs and wants and focus are as we go forward together.” Originally from a small Innu community in Quebec, much of Fequet’s career was spent in construction. Naturally, the first few SRG and alliance partner companies were in the construction industry. From civil to industrial to pipeline, construction was how SRG gained its legs. “But then a year ago, COVID hit, and I realized we had to pivot, we had to accelerate the business again,” he explains. “I started to accelerate the diversification away from construction and towards the P4 model. I started to look at how we could expand the business into areas that support the needs and wats of our Indigenous community partners.” SRG made some moves into the forestry, development, water care, environmental care, caribou (wildlife recovery), and harvesting of sea life for the cosmetic industries. “We’re really diversifying our portfolio,” he says. “And as we grow we will reinvest back into the P4 model and overall development projects.” Within the short span of five years, SRG has made some significant strides. “We became the first Indigenous-owned prime contractor ever for TransCanada this past year,” he says. “It’s a major accomplishment. We’re pretty proud of that.” With 8,000 per cent growth last year, SRG won Canadian Business Magazine’s Fastest-Growing Startup in 2020. “We’ve seen some amazing revenue growth,” he says, “and it’s allowed us to diversify a lot quicker.”

To its Indigenous partners, SRG has been a crucial support to achieving social and economic goals. For example, the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, in joining SRG as its first Indigenous partner, wanted to improve its 66 per cent unemployment rate. “We went in and helped them analyze the entire community needs,” Fequet explains. “And we purchased a minority interest in Backwoods Energy Services, of which Alexis is now a majority owner.” Within three years of becoming involved, SRG took Backwoods from employing 20 Nation members to 250, and from $5 million in revenue to $100+ million. “We try to work ourselves out of every partnership we enter into,” Fequet continues. “We go in and develop a five or 10





year plan. We set up cooperation agreements, USAs, focus on mutual accountability. The community’s goal is ultimately to take over the legacy assets. With Backwoods we had a six-year plan, and later this month we’ll be announcing that Alexis is going to buy back the company from SRG, to be the 100 per cent owner and operator.” A similar partnership has been struck with Little Shuswap Lake Band which, prior to its involvement with SRG, owned and operated the Quaaout Lodge and Spa and Talking Rock Golf Course. “Within one year of our involvement they had expanded operations to include a multi-million-dollar construction company,” Fequet marvels. “Just 12 months ago the community struggled to realize additional revenue streams.” There are also plans underway to expand the hotel and the overall resorts experience at Talking Rock – something Phillips and PBA can help with. “We’re ideally suited for Indigenous communities that are needing and or wanting to improve their governance through the lens of synergizing the cultural, social and economic goals,” he continues. “We can really help communities that are struggling with employment. I personally believe that if

you take an individual and focus on getting them employed, they’ll change their own life, and their family’s life. And in turn, they’ll change the community in which they live.” It’s a sentiment Phillips and PBA share, exemplified by their many philanthropic efforts. “We currently have multiple non-profits as tenants in our properties and are a major matching donor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary & Area,” Phillips offers. “We are proud supporters of the Terry Fox Foundation, Kids Cancer Care and the Magic of Christmas program.” SRG focuses on youth with its charitable giving, regularly helping to set up youth councils in the communities in which it operates, supporting initiatives like Bullying Ends Here, the Coaster Association (a nonprofit from Fequet’s home region) and Stardale Women’s Group, which supports and empowers Indigenous teen girls and women. For both Phillips and Fequet, and their respective organizations, the partnership is ripe for success, leveraging complimentary expertise, a shared enthusiasm for the future, and a mutual desire to do good. “It’s so synergistic,” Phillips delights. “We’re thrilled.”






ost people remember last year’s run-on toilet paper,” says Chris Nash, president of the 15,000 member Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA). “But they might forget there’s been a steady supply since. That illustrates one of the largest impacts of the pandemic on our supply chain: awareness. People are now much more in touch with the ways our products get to market. From toilet paper, toothpaste and pasta to machine parts and medical equipment, we now take the availability of the things we depend on a little less for granted. COVID-19 has reminded us how fragile the supply chain can be – if we’re not careful.” It’s complex, ever-changing and essential. Business calls it supply chain or logistics. But, according to the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, “Logistics is the process of planning, implementing and controlling procedures for the efficient and effective transportation and storage of goods including services.”






o many in 2013, bitcoin was still an abstract concept. To Adam O’Brien, founder and CEO of Bitcoin Well, it was an opportunity to disrupt how society views money. He instantly had a passion for this cryptocurrency and became a local thought-leader early on, teaching others about bitcoin and facilitating transactions himself. “Bitcoin is the best form of money in the world,” says O’Brien “I am really excited to know that Bitcoin Well is playing a role in enabling society to experience financial sovereignty.” The founder is also adamant that his business model remains non-custodial. To have a non-custodial wallet means you have sole control of your private keys and in turn, full control over your bitcoin. This concept is foreign to traditional banks, but it’s what makes his mission of enabling financial sovereignty possible. In 2014, he was the first to deploy bitcoin ATMs in Alberta and Saskatchewan and his ATM transactions grew from weekly to daily visits by 2015. This signaled the prevalence and legitimacy of bitcoin in Canada, so O’Brien continued to grow his network. Since then, Bitcoin Well (previously Bitcoin Solutions) has completed four acquisitions and established a strong Eastern Canadian ATM presence. As the business was growing, so was its vision for how to reach new customers, but the technology and functionality they wanted wasn’t available yet. Adam O’Brien and industry titan Dave Bradley co-founded Ghostlab in 2020, a company that supplies Bitcoin Well with custom built technology. They develop software that makes it easier for retailers to give a better experience helping their customers to buy and sell bitcoin. Ghostlab recently deployed its debut hardwareagnostic bitcoin software on a traditional cash ATM. Partnering with traditional operators gives society a larger network of locations at which they can access bitcoin and offers new purpose to existing ATMs. With a total of 125 ATMs nationwide, 12 of them running ghostATM software, Bitcoin Well is gearing up to expand into countries around the world. It is also expected to become the world’s first

Adam O’Brien, founder and CEO of Bitcoin Well

publicly traded bitcoin ATM company, trading under the ticker BTCW on the TSXV exchange. In addition to bitcoin ATMs, Bitcoin Well offers online and in-person bitcoin transaction services. This has proven to be a successful model at their headquarters in Edmonton, so Bitcoin Well recently opened another office in Calgary. Bitcoin can be intimidating for newcomers, but Bitcoin Well has a customer service team to offer in-person or phone consultations on everything from how bitcoin works to securely storing it, giving their customers peace of mind. “It is going to give Calgarians the same white-glove service of learning how to use bitcoin and understanding the benefits of bitcoin,” O’Brien says. “It’s something Calgary hasn’t had access to since Dave closed the original bitcoin store in Calgary in 2015.” This new office is one of many campuses planned to open in the coming years. Bitcoin Well continues to be a trusted source of bitcoin education and expertise for Canadians looking to invest.

To learn more, you can visit Bitcoin Well offices in Edmonton and Calgary, search online at or call 1-888-711-3866. To work at Ghostlab and have your code enable financial sovereignty, visit or get in touch with Bitcoin Well.


Without the intricate industry jargon, the five key elements of supply chain logistics are: storage, warehousing and materials handling, packaging and inventory, transport, information and control. “Nationally, the trucking industry has grown by double digit percentages for several years,” Nash notes. “We move $850 billion of goods – that’s more than three times as much as Canada’s largest rail carrier. And those trends hold in Alberta, considering that commercial trucking was exempted from the Canada-U.S. border closures for the entirety of international travel lockdowns.” Trucking and are rail are the vital spokes of the giant wheel that is the supply chain and logistics sector and the numbers resoundingly show that logistics is a massive economic force in Canada, employing hundreds of thousands of workers and acting as a key component of interprovincial and international trade. “Trucking and rail are complementary to each other in the supply chain,” explains the industry respected Matt Faure, CEO of Trimac Transportation. “Trucking provides the majority of transportation for short haul moves and for meeting surge capacity, while rail is predominant on longer haul movements.” There is industry consensus that these are both exciting times and trying times for the supply chain and logistics sector. Constantly evolving technology is transforming trucking and distribution. Electronic Logging Devices/ELDs for drivers to track their hours of driving electronically vs. paper logs that have been used since the 1930s. Finding qualified talent (supply chain managers with the industry understanding and competency to keep things running smoothly) is vital. And the surging demand for trucking confronts challenges like constantly unexpected weather, unpredictable fuel price hikes, provincial, federal and environmental regulations and globalization. The logistics sector was already experiencing a momentum of dynamic change before the pandemic hit. Like dealing with the warp-speed impact of technology to boost supply chain efficiency, reliability and sustainability and for the safety and security of all modes of transportation, warehousing and logistic activities.

“PERHAPS THE MOST GENERAL EFFECTS AND IMPACT OF THE PANDEMIC ON SUPPLY CHAINS AND LOGISTICS WERE CAUSED BY IMBALANCES BETWEEN SUPPLY AND DEMAND ON A GLOBAL SCALE,” EXPLAINS DA SILVEIRA. Supply chain experts agree that although the pandemic was a jarring broadside for business, it was also a teachable moment and accelerated change in the logistics sector. “Perhaps the most general effects and impact of the pandemic on supply chains and logistics were caused by imbalances between supply and demand on a global scale,” explains Giovani J.C. da Silveira, professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management at the Haskayne School of Business and director of the Canadian Centre for Advanced Supply Chain Management and Logistics. “As the pandemic impacted different regions at different times and levels of intensity, industries observed significant increases or decreases in activities that could not be anticipated by regular forecasting models. This led to idleness




(and subsequent job losses) in many sectors and stockouts or excessive capacity utilization in others. Business managers, including in the logistics sector, had to solve problems in areas such as scheduling and capacity, infrastructure management and work health and safety which were beyond usual business parameters.” Trimac’s Matt Faure points out that “the logistics sector has always been critical to the North American economy but capacity has been somewhat taken for granted in the past, due to relative stability. With the disruption of the pandemic, focus on protecting the supply chain was pronounced as it became an essential service during the lockdowns.


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“The pandemic was incredibly challenging to operations,” he says. “Navigating lower demand while managing higher costs with heavy restrictions in place. Many companies across the supply chain had to look at fixed costs differently, finding ways to make fixed costs variable, and maintaining a lower cost structure that – due to ongoing uncertainty in the market – we can expect to persist for at least another 12 months.” Many logistics sector insiders suggest that, while the COVID-19 impact was significant, it was a valuable learning curve for other possible crisis management. “Crises which may relate not only to health emergencies but also to




NOW THAT BUSINESS HAS SURVIVED (ALBEIT A BIT BATTERED AND BRUISED) THE IMPACTS OF THE PANDEMIC, FAURE IS POSITIVE ABOUT THE RESILIENCE OF THE LOGISTICS SECTOR, LESSONS LEARNED AND ABOUT MOVING FORWARD. environmental and natural disasters and financial debacles,” da Silveira warns. “Supply chain and logistics managers must build reliability and resilience against future shocks and reduce the risk of future disruptions.” He admits that while the pandemic has increased the speed of changes that were already happening in the logistics sector, the new priorities will become even more visible in the medium-term, as preparedness for future crises replace the effort to deal with the current crisis. “Four key trends will probably shape the logistics sector in the future,” he predicts. “Increased emphasis on automation in areas where labor can be safely and easily replaced; the disintermediation of supply chains, as more and more even reluctant consumers substitute main street shopping with online shopping; greater use of analytics for improvement and optimization of supply chain management decisions; and an increasing need to respond effectively to social expectations regarding environmental, social and corporate governance.” Faure also cautions about a lingering challenge for the supply chain sector, particularly the trucking industry. “Coupled with an aging demographic among North American drivers, the underinvestment in infrastructure and the exposure of smaller carriers to the impacts of the pandemic, there’s a renewed focus on the sustainability of the supply chain and in having strong, stable partners that provide certainty.” He agrees that dealing with the pandemic underscores some industry changes which had already begun. “The sector has largely reverted to issues that were present pre-COVID-19.

That included driver shortages in some regions, an aging demographic and near-term access to incremental fixed assets to meet demand in the mid- to longer-term. “The pandemic accelerated the digitization of the supply chain, as we changed the way we interact with customers and our employees.” Chris Nash notes from much experience, “The pandemic raised awareness of our industry’s essential nature. It grows in step with consumer expectations of the safer, faster, more reliable, and more efficient delivery of goods. Demand for our services, and the expansion of more resilient supply chain and logistics corridors, will continue rising this year.” Now that business has survived (albeit a bit battered and bruised) the impacts of the pandemic, Faure is positive about the resilience of the logistics sector, lessons learned and about moving forward. “Safety continues to be a top priority and always will be. Regardless of external market conditions, most carriers will continue to focus on it. In the near term, the focus is on increasing capacity, in both drivers and equipment, in meeting increasing demand. In tandem, priorities will also remain on investments in technology and innovation, along with consolidation within the industry.” Looking at 2021 and beyond, Nash is upbeat that “the consolidation of global supply chains and the continued growth of data-driven, connected commerce makes our industry more vital than ever before.”








ealthy living has always been an important and often challenging fact of life. But it’s also a daunting, complex and complicated (sometimes confusing, conflicting and controversial) taken-for-granted goal.

While health experts and health care providers agree that the COVID crisis is likely to be followed by a period of adjustment to various new normals, the focus on healthy living will continue and probably be supercharged.

Particularly in an unprecedented and difficult year, when the average person was pre-occupied with jarring health worries and health-crisis management, conventional health and healthy living factors were inadvertently upstaged and minimized. Issues ranging from heart disease, cancer and diabetes to obesity, inactivity, addictions, mental health, food-consciousness, fitness and even optimizing healthy workplace environments were relegated to the back burner.

“As a practicing physician in emergency medicine, I found myself dealing with illness, not health,” says the personable and dynamic Dr. Rohan Bissoondath, one of the founders and medical director of Preventous Collaborative Health, the unique Calgary health centre that takes a fresh approach to healthy living. “This was very frustrating because I knew that many of the conditions I treated could have been prevented. With years of treating patients after they had fallen ill, I now focus on a proactive approach to health.”



FYidoctors Changes the Face of Medical Aesthetics By Rennay Craats


ince opening its first location in 2008, FYidoctors has become the world’s largest optometrist-owned eye care company, with 280 locations and growing. Despite its size, it has maintained the philosophy for individual service and care that made it such a success. “We continue to grow, always remaining doctorled and patient-focused,” says Dr. Al Ulsifer, chairman and CEO of FYidoctors. Dr. Ulsifer met often with doctors in various fields looking to replicate the incredible FYidoctors model, but after meeting Dr. Jason McWhirter, advice turned into partnership. The two shared a common ethic and philosophy and by the end of the meeting they also shared a vision for what a nationally-branded medical aesthetics chain could be. “It was a natural fit. Our DNA is about enhancing life, and ReNue aligned with that,” says Dr. Ulsifer. “We spent years building a strong infrastructure that we felt could be used for other health professions. We moved from being an eye care company to a multi-disciplinary health provider.” Dr. McWhirter had grown his medical aesthetics brand ReNue locally, with two Calgary locations and an Airdrie clinic, but since his partnership with FYidoctors it has grown to 12 clinics across Canada with 36 more in various stages of development or acquisition. While some clinics operate under another name (including Skinpossible), they will all eventually be under a common banner to create a cohesive, trusted brand in the market. That brand provides patients with a practice that incorporates plastic surgeons, family physicians, dermatologists and nurses to ensure patients get the best possible care for whatever

brings them through the door. People want to control the way they age, and ReNue provides anti-aging and positive-aging procedures and products to empower them to do so. “We look at it from an emotional perspective rather than a procedural one,” says Dr. McWhirter, VP and chief medical officer of Medical Aesthetics. “We look at patients’ needs and help them look as good as they feel.”

ReNue offers patients a variety of procedures to accomplish this, from Botox to reduce fine lines, dermal fillers to help with volume and lift, micro-needling for deeper penetration of products, laser skin tightening to help battle sun damage and provide elasticity, and the latest technology like CoolSculpting for non-invasive body contouring. ReNue’s knowledgeable team also consults patients about which medical grade products best fit their skincare needs. Medical aesthetics serves a wide range of people, and while the core drivers are Baby Boomers, more Generation X and Y along with Millennials are seeking prevention and embracing the self-care ReNue promotes. “It’s a fascinating business with great growth,” says Dr. Ulsifer. “It used to be a secret if you got Botox or procedures. Now people post it to Facebook.” The secret is out, and the rapid growth of ReNue across Canada is proof that it’s here to stay.

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he idea of traditional 9-to-5 business operations is giving way to something much more exciting. Today’s offices are vibrant, connected communities that mix residential with commercial spaces. This philosophy isn’t new to everyone: University District, located in the city’s northwest, is already incorporating this thinking with its development of a complete, diverse, energized and sustainable Calgary community. “Office space is going to have a core requirement that isn’t about the actual office space itself. It’s going to be about the location, the nearby amenities and its connection to open spaces, retail, recreational and lifestyle activities that will become focal points for future offices,” says James Robertson, president and CEO of University of Calgary Properties Group, the developer of University District. University District (U/D) checks all the boxes. It is centrally located, close to the University of Calgary and hospitals, and is part of a vibrant new community that balances its urban feel with a natural escape. The commercial area enjoys easy access to recreational opportunities in the development and are ensconced by 40 acres of open park and natural spaces. Central Commons is an urban space made social, offering a great place for those who work and live in U/D to grab lunch or shop along the plaza or relax in the sun with friends. Businesses are drawn to University District with its combination of residential, retail, and diverse office spaces that suit a variety of needs. The development features smaller spaces suitable for individual practitioners like an accountant or lawyer, next-level spaces perfect for medium-sized companies with around 20 staff, and some larger spaces for more expansive companies attracted to the amenities, lifestyle proposition and overall well-being of the area. “The location, which is adjacent to the hospitals including the Foothills Medical Centre, combined with the proximity of the University of Calgary allow us to believe that we will attract companies that are looking to connect with world-class talent coming out of both health care settings and the University,” Robertson says. University District will be a business hub that, when completed, will host 1.5 million square feet of office space throughout the development, with 40,000 square feet becoming available for lease

this fall. The community has integrated healthy lifestyle components into the office space design, from ample green spaces and walking and running trails surrounding the offices to underground bicycle parking to encourage tenants to bike to work. The offices also include shower facilities to accommodate tenants who want to cycle, run or walk to work or get active on their lunch break. In addition, University District is home to boutique fitness businesses like YYC Cycle and Orangetheory Fitness, making it even easier to live healthy. “We’re really trying to make sure that we provide opportunities to complement the office space so office users don’t have to provide their own fitness facilities,” he says. Lifestyle is an integral element of University District’s design, and the community supports residents and businesses with their efforts to lead a healthy, balanced life.


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He enthusiastically shares the professional opinion that that the general population, under the direction of politicians and health leaders, has been preoccupied with the masking and distancing of asymptomatic individuals. Dr. Bissoondath notes that “The most glaring omission from daily reports and conversations has been to stress the importance of an individual’s state of health. For me, the true job of a doctor is to work with patients continuously to foster the best health possible. Because being healthy isn’t a short-term proposition. It is a work in progress.” He cautions that, particularly the past year of constant health bulletins, warnings and worries, people may be saturated and de-sensitized about the basics of long-term healthy living. “It’s very possible that some people are confused or burned out by ever-changing and inconsistent messaging, warnings and restrictive orders from our medical professionals and political leaders.” In addition to the random clinical specifics of prevalent health issues like cancers, cardiovascular and kidney disease, glaucoma, and macular degeneration, the medical community and the public also deal with chronic conditions and long-term health matters such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes and the surging tragedies of addiction and mental illness. With health attention focused on high profile curses like COVID, heart disease, cancer and others, other aspects of healthy living – like eye care – get overlooked. For example, according to the Alberta Association of Optometrists, dry eye is a chronic, but treatable disease. Although there is no cure, Doctors of Optometry offer treatment to manage the conditions and improve comfort. If left untreated, dry eye can be health risk, damaging and even scarring the eye. The proactive, positive approach to healthy living emphasizes: regulating blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, a well-balanced diet, physical activity, maintaining blood glucose levels and a healthy body weight. When it comes to healthy living, the jury’s in and the verdict includes the collaboration of conventional doctors and specialists, optometrists, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, exercise kinesiologists, dietitians, pharmacists, psychologists, massage therapists as well as long-term attention to vital healthy living basics such as: maintaining

DR. BISSOONDATH NOTES THAT “THE MOST GLARING OMISSION FROM DAILY REPORTS AND CONVERSATIONS HAS BEEN TO STRESS THE IMPORTANCE OF AN INDIVIDUAL’S STATE OF HEALTH.” appropriate blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood glucose are proven factors related directly to genetics, diet and physical activity. The experts agree. Aiming for good health – without medications or surgical interventions – is the ultimate goal of healthy living. A subtle but significant aspect of contemporary healthy living are innocuous habits and behaviors at work. Even though one of the most pandemic-disrupted of all routines has been the way people work. Particularly this past year, a lot of people were unexpectedly locked into working by remote, in a spontaneous home office (dining room table, basement, den, etc.) and necessity has likely created problems. “Most common mistakes people make when they had to work remotely, from home,” says Louis Stack, president and founder of Calgary-based Fitter International, supplying premium professional and personal products that help people recover from and prevent injury, maintain balance and fitness.






“They settle for what is in front of them. The couch, the table, the recliner or whatever was comfortable. Suddenly those few special spots had to serve them 15 hour a day for both work and home life. It’s where the problem comes in. There is no separation.” He admits that it sounds vague and airy-fairy but, he cautions that people need a place that is different to break-away to. “For many of us,” Stack says, “our home is now also our office, our school, our gym and maybe even our rehab clinic for one or more of our family generations. There has never been a more important time to understand how to maintain the health benefits of working at home.” As a respected and in-demand consultant, Stack points out that he has learned a few things while helping employees and employers realize the benefits of staying healthy by activating office environments. “The first rule: Decide to change your workspace from a health liability into a healthy asset! • Be Proactive! Make an effort toward real long-term health gains rather than making changes to just reduce injury and illness. Prehab instead of Rehab! • Elbow to Eyeballs. This is the distance from your elbows to your eyes when you are standing or sitting with good heads up, relaxed posture. It’s the space you need between your keyboard and your monitor. Anything less, is a health liability! • Every 30 minutes stand for one minute with excellent posture, to recalibrate your body with gravity. When you feel you need to shift or move, stand up!”

He emphasizes that physical habits are also vital components of healthy living. “Just like you have good habits of daily oral hygiene and wearing a seatbelt in a car, make frequent movement around excellent posture a daily habit too! Balance is the essence of movement, and movement is the essence of life!” One contemporary health factor is inevitable and can’t be easily altered: age. From Millennials to Gen Xers and boomers, aging – at any age – is often stereotyped and misunderstood. Dr. Bissoondath emphasizes that a vital key to achieving healthy living being “metabolically optimized.” Simply put, as we age our metabolism declines, both in effectiveness and efficiency. The bad news for now, is that the decline is inevitable. The good news is that the rate of the decline is very much within our control. Sometimes our rate of metabolic and functional decline is referred to as our biologic age as opposed to our chronologic age. “An everyday example of this occurs meeting someone who looks 35 and then it’s discovered they are 45. The opposite happens as well. The 45-year-old who looks 55. Many people shrug that it’s a result of genes – either good or bad! Nothing could be further from the truth. That we age (chronologically) is a matter for the physicists. How we age (biologically) is up to us.” Ultimately, healthy living is a basic of long-term planning. “Noah knew a flood was coming, so he built an ark,” Dr. Bissoondath says with a broad smile. “There will be more pandemics in our future. What’s the best way to plan for it? Better masks? Isolation? If we follow the trends of the past year, that might seem like the only reasonable course of action. But your pandemic ark must be optimal metabolic health. This means not simply the absence of illness, but the optimal functioning of your various organ systems.”






niversity District encompasses 200 acres of land on the western edge of the University of Calgary and is now home to an exciting mixeduse community that promotes a healthy and balanced lifestyle. It boasts office spaces that will bring a variety of businesses to the area, restaurants and cafes, along with boutique fitness, all linked by an abundance of green spaces and pathways. “We are continuing to develop our parks, but we already have a 12-kilometre running path around the entire community, for the most part through natural and park areas,” says James Robertson, president and CEO of University of Calgary Properties Group, developer of University District (U/D). “The ability to go for a run or a cycle or to walk your pet is immediate. You don’t have to travel to get to the park, you’re already there.” For residents, there’s no need to leave U/D. Everything is found on residents’ doorsteps. If they do venture out, there’s easy access to public transit options, with multiple bus routes and BRT stations in the community, and close proximity to three LRT stations. The neighbourhood was designed to be an inclusive community that promotes connection with others through its amenities and residential developments that allow people to live and work in the area. This awardwinning inner-city development has something for every demographic and lifestyle. For example, Aria, the rental condominium building, stands above a Save-On-Foods grocery store, and the residence features an outdoor amenity courtyard, gym, yoga studio, games room and lounge, while there’s a broad selection of townhomes and condominiums with a variety of floorplans and amenities to choose from.

“We thought a lot about the day-to-day activities, so we have everything from a dog park to a playground, grocery store to a coffee shop, wine store to dentist and daycare. It covers most essential needs right out of the gate,” Robertson says.

This unique community includes a 50-plus healthy living and an assisted living residence that allows Calgarians to age in place. Further, Calgary’s top home builders, including Brookfield Residential, Homes by Avi and Truman, have designed beautiful, modern residences, condominiums and townhomes that accommodate every housing need and stage of life while creating a vibrant community.

The urban village feel of U/D offers ample green spaces, pathways and extra-wide sidewalks to encourage residents to get out walking, cycling or jogging. In addition to boutique fitness options such as YYC Cycle and Orangetheory Fitness, some of the residential developments include their own fitness centres to encourage residents to stay active and healthy.

With great retailers already in place, including Market Wines, Clever Daycare, Curious hair salon, Scotiabank, Five Guys, Monogram coffee and Freshii, and other fantastic dining and retail establishments opening soon, University District has considered what residents need and quickly delivered it.

University District is more than a collection of new homes and rentals; it’s an experience, a lifestyle, an opportunity to be part of a vital community. As the community continues to grow it has quickly become a coveted place to live, work and play in Calgary, making livability add up nicely in this northwest location.


• Immediate possessions available • Walking distance from a world-class University & two hospitals • Active retail main street with grocery store now open! • 24 hour daycare provider • Dedicated urban dog park • Community connection to walking, cycling and transit


Learn more at





THE EYE DOCTOR IS IN Much more than eye charts and glasses


here are many reasons Albertans slide into the exam chair at their optometrist’s clinic. It could be as basic as the calendar rolling around to the date of your regular eye exam appointment. This is a prudent first step to clear vision and ensuring your eyes are healthy, as most eye diseases have no early signs or symptoms. During regular eye examinations your optometrist examines the tissues and structures inside your eye looking for what may be lurking in the background. The eye is the only non-invasive place on the body where doctors can see internal tissues and blood vessels at work, which is why optometrists can also be the first health professionals to discover medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancers like leukemia. Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in working age adults worldwide. Yet many diabetics have not been screened for the disease, nor manage their eye care. There is Alberta Health Care coverage towards these medically necessary appointments. So, if you have diabetes be sure to see your optometrist and obtain the facts about the impact to eye health. Within the category of medically necessary appointments, dry eye is also a frequent complaint. Regardless of colloquial terminology, when your eyes are stinging, feeling gritty, itchy or simply uncomfortable, these are all symptoms of dry eye. You may also have fluctuating vision, a burning feeling or feel like there is a foreign body in the eye. Moderate to severe cases can cause blurred vision, light sensitivity or even periods of excess tearing. “Dry eye symptoms can result from the normal aging process, hormonal changes, exposure to certain environmental conditions, problems with normal blinking or medications such as antihistamines, oral contraceptives or antidepressants,” explains Dr. Andrea Lasby, Calgary optometrist and member of the Alberta Association of Optometrists. “Dry eye can also be a symptom of general health problems, such as arthritis, or perhaps a consequence of UV exposure and some environmental irritants.” During your exam your optometrist focuses on your general health, use of medications and your home and work environments to help determine what may be causing dry eye symptoms.

They will also use specialized equipment to evaluate the issue. Basically, dry eye occurs when eyes don’t produce enough tears or produce tears that don’t have the proper chemical composition. “Everyone has a thin layer of tears that coat the front surface of their eyes. It is these tears that keep our eyes healthy and comfortable.” It might seem like just an annoyance, but there are risks to untreated dry eye. It can damage and possibly scar the sensitive corneal tissues of the eye, impairing vision. Also, it can make wearing contact lenses more difficult. While there are many reasons you could be experiencing dry eye, the condition is treatable. Your optometrist may prescribe medicated eye drops, or suggest lubricating eye drops or ointments. Changing or supplementing your diet to increase the intake of omega-3 fatty acids can also be helpful to reduce systemic inflammation. “There are many new procedures such as intense pulsed light (IPL), radiofrequency (RF), eyelid microexfoliation or instruments that utilize a combination of directed heat and pulsatile pressure to the eyelids that work to relieve obstructions of the meibomian glands and reduce inflammation. In cases of aqueous-deficient dry eye (when the eyes do not produce enough water), small plugs may be inserted in the corner of the eyelids to slow drainage and loss of tears,” says Dr. Lasby. “There are also new prescription medications available to help your body produce more of its own tears.” Your doctor of optometry has the proper knowledge and specialized equipment necessary to diagnose and treat visual health issues. They can prescribe medications or provide referrals to a specialist, if needed. They also routinely co-manage eye health issues with physicians, ophthalmologists and retinal surgeons. Your vision and eye health are worth protecting! That protection begins with a simple phone call to book an appointment for a 20-minute eye exam. Finding an optometrist close to you is easy. Just use the search tool at and enter your postal code.

Urgent Eye Care

It happens: People don’t call their optometrist first for urgent eye care. Eye emergency? Doctors of optometry are trained to diagnose, treat and prescribe medications. Alberta Health coverage is available towards your urgent eye care appointment. Visit to find an optometrist.






esilient perfectly describes Alberta’s agri-food sector!

In addition to the vital public health and safety factors, Alberta agriculture in 2020 has been broadsided by various complications. But it continues strong, strategic and focused. “Canada is one of a handful of countries around the world that exports food,” says the knowledgeable Candace Laing, vice president of Sustainability & Stakeholder Relations with Nutrien, the world’s largest provider of crop inputs, services and solutions. “Our food systems have a positive reputation for being among the safest and most reliable on the planet. Agriculture and agri-food also play an important role in our economy, both on the national level and provincially.” Scott Bolton, president and chief executive officer of UFA, the influential 120,000-member association of Alberta farmers, is gung-ho. “Our province and in particular the



farmers and ranchers which our co-operative serves, are critical to our country’s economy. In addition to the primary and processed agricultural and food products, the agri-food industry also provides opportunities for manufacturing that supports thousands of high-quality jobs for Canadians.” The specifics are impressive and underscore momentum. “Alberta’s agri-food sector is an important part of the Alberta economy, contributing $9.2 billion in GDP and employing close to 70,000 Albertans,” explains Jamie Curran, assistant deputy minister of the Trade, Investment and Food Safety Division of Alberta’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. “Despite experiencing significant challenges due to COVID-19, Alberta’s agriculture and agri-food sector has been a bright spot in Alberta’s economy through the pandemic and will continue to be a big contributor to the province’s economic recovery. The agri-food industry in Alberta is export oriented and continues to be the third largest exporter of agri-food



looks back on the first COVID-19 surge as a learning lesson. “When the pandemic hit more than a year ago, many were woken-up to the reality of how fragile our food system is and how important food security is for society.” products in Canada (after Ontario and Saskatchewan). Agri-food products account for more than 21 per cent of all Canadian goods exported internationally.” He highlights that despite last year’s broadsides, Alberta’s agri-food numbers not only reached a new industry high at $7.5 billion (up nearly eight per cent from 2019), but 2020 was also the second highest year on record for livestock market receipts. Curran adds that food and beverage processing also showed an upward trend as active contributors to Alberta’s economy, averaging $14.3 billion over the past five years (2015 - 2019). “Albertans produced 32 per cent of Canadian wheat, 29 per cent of our canola, 48 per cent of our barley, 20 per cent of our oats and led the nation in cattle and calf inventory,” Laing itemizes with enthusiastic industry expertise. “One would think that given the economic impact, everyone now understands just how important farmers and agriculture are to our country.” Alberta’s agri-food productivity, performance and outlook are positive. Although COVID-19 has definitely taken a toll, the industry has effectively managed the unprecedented crisis. Laing

Curran is also upbeat about the response of Alberta framers. “The agility and resilience demonstrated by the agri-food sector to quickly adapt to COVID-19 has been exceptional. As a result, the food supply chain has remained safe and secure. Alberta producers and processors have been innovative, flexible and dedicated in maintaining food safety and security during the pandemic.” Even in normal times, it’s no secret that in some parts of the country, the vital role of agriculture is often taken for granted and somewhat misunderstood. Not that there are any silver linings about the pandemic, but its jarring social impact may have shaken things up a bit. “As we’ve witnessed this past year,” Bolton says, “there is a new appreciation when the grocery shelves are empty or the price of food goes up. The pandemic demonstrated the critical importance and integrity of Canada’s food supply system which not only feeds Canadians but people around the world.” Even with the momentum of agri-food positives, the industry is dealing with some current speedbumps. “Labour continues to be a challenge for the agri-food sector,” Curran explains. “Last April we launched the Agriculture Jobs Connector, an online tool for Albertans to find essential agriculture work opportunities and for agriculture businesses to find workers.





Since its launch, the site has been visited more than 30,000 times, directing people to the resources they need.” Analysts and Ag insiders share a consensus that despite dealing with pandemic restrictions, regulations and lockdowns and other recent speedbumps, Alberta’s agrifood industry is dynamic and focused on the impact of technology, managing climate change with a commitment to sustainability and embracing innovation, like the emerging Ag trend of plant proteins.


“Agriculture is a unique and highly technical business made up of driven, well-educated entrepreneurs,” Curran adds. “And Alberta farmers have always been early adopters of new best practices and innovators in their field.”


Nutrien’s Candace Laing underscores the technology boon in the agri-food industry. “One of the most promising areas in the next frontier of agricultural innovation is the convergence of digital capabilities and science applied to agriculture and farming. Considering the huge number of critical decisions and activities a grower has to make on the farm throughout the season, we have come a long way over the past several years to centre our approach around enabling growers to digitize the farm and automate many of our operations through technology.”


Curran confirms that the plant-based protein industry is a focus of the provincial government and has been identified as an area of emerging opportunity. “As a major producer and exporter of pulses, cereal grains, canola, and hemp, Alberta is an attractive site for processing to help address the increasing North American and Asian market demands,” he says. “Over the past two years, the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) program, which aims to enable growth and diversification of Alberta’s value-added industries, has committed more than $1.4 million in funding to support the plant-based protein industry.” It’s more widely understood and accepted than ever before that with all it’s uniqueness, the agri-food industry is also a complex big business attracting investment funding and the upward trending commodity prices. “Crop prices have all risen since mid-August,” Curran points out. “Canola seed prices are up 60 per cent, feed barley and milling wheat prices are up 35 per cent, oat prices are up 30 per





cent and yellow pea prices are up by 45 per cent. Demand for vegetable oil, meal, and feed grains is strong across the world, notably from China. The business of agriculture trends and stats show that with the lowest (eight per cent) corporate tax rate in Canada, Alberta is now the most tax-competitive business jurisdiction and also acknowledged as one of the most attractive investment destinations in North America. “Agriculture and Forestry has set a target to attract $1.4 billion over the next four years,” he says. “It will create more than 2,000 jobs and get Albertans back to work in emerging sectors like hemp, agri-technology and value-added processing of grain, oilseed, plant protein and meat.” The numbers show that Alberta has already achieved more than $527 million in investment and created more than 981 new jobs. “Especially given this past year, Albertans know now more than ever that agriculture will be key to economic recovery,” Bolton says. “Canada and the world depend heavily on the safe, high-quality agriculture and agri-food products that come from Alberta. The pandemic has really created new opportunities to examine any underlying issues within our industry, and to begin to address them in a positive and proactive manner.”


JUNE 2021

Universe Machine 3 Generations: Kurt Feigel Jr., Markus Feigel, Kurt Feigel Sr., Nathan Feigel and Konrad Feigel.


tio a w P pen! e N wO o N

Grow your business and connect with other professionals at the premier club for Calgary business. With membership incentives available now, there is no better time to join. • Membership is open to ALL businesses • Transferable Corporate Memberships • 15 meeting & event spaces, with physical distancing capabilities • Exclusive Member networking events • Business Centre & Brew 319 workspaces to get you out of the office • Connected to the +15 for easy access to and from business towers • Award winning Chef and wine cellar • 70+ Affiliated clubs to access You Belong Here When I arrived in Calgary, I wanted to be part of the business community. Since joining the Calgary Petroleum Club, my network has expanded dramatically; hosting business & networking events, taking my wife for dinner or just grabbing a coffee, the club provides a great space to do anything. When I’m downtown, you can find me at the Petroleum Club. - Jon Cornish, CFA | RBC Dominion Securities

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The Environment and Resource Development? Canadians Value Both

by Cody Battershill

Profile: Trimble Engineering Associates Ltd. by Rennay Craats

04 05 06 09 14

Alberta’s Fossil Fuel FutureFEBRUARY Is Secure 2019 by David Yager

Local Company with a Universal Impact by Nerissa McNaughton

Profile: Welco by Rennay Craats

Pat Ottmann & Tim Ottmann


Melanie Darbyshire

COPY EDITOR Nikki Mullett


Jessi Evetts


Epic Photography Inc.


THIS ISSUE’S CONTRIBUTORS Melanie Darbyshire David Yager Cody Battershill Rennay Craats


Evelyn Dehner Courtney Lovgren Jessica Patenaude

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COVER 3 • Business of Energy • June 2021

Cody Battershill | The Environment and Resource Development? Canadians Value Both



llow me to meld together a few news items in order to make what I think is a vital point about Canadian pride in our natural resources sector. First up, consider a recent Ipsos poll commissioned by Resource Works that suggests Canadians firmly support the country’s natural resource sector. More than eight in 10 respondents (81 per cent) agreed that “natural resource development is good for Canada.” (Only 13 per cent disagreed.) Further, more than eight in 10 respondents (83 per cent) suggested “Canada’s natural resource sector is an important contributor to the Canadian economy today.” (Only 10 per cent disagreed.) Similarly, respondents said they view the sector as important to restarting the Canadian economy. Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) agreed that “investment in Canada’s natural resource sector will help Canada’s post COVID-19 economic recovery.” (Only 15 per cent disagree.) Those are surprisingly strong results. They suggest to me that Canadians feel a real connection to the resource sector, that they understand the stakes for workers, families and communities, and that they value the sector’s economic contributions, Canada-wide. The connection feels even stronger when you realize Canadians insist on the toughest Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria in the world. The second item I want to mention is the fact Canada ranked in the top 10 countries in the latest 2020 Social Progress Index (SPI), a comprehensive measure of quality of life, independent of economic indicators.

In fact, Canada upped its SPI ranking by two spots over 2019’s results, and seven spots over figures for 2018, placing seventh of 163 nations covered in the 2020 index. And of the world’s top 15 oil exporters, Canada ranks behind only Norway on the 2020 list. In a similar vein, Canada ranked 14th globally on the Green Future Index 2021 – again the second highest spot among the world’s top 15 oil exporters. Why is it that Canadians feel strongly about ESG issues – including world-leading environmental performance – while they continue to look to the natural resources sector as a key aspect of the Canadian economy? To me, the answer is simple. As far as I can tell, Canadians see our natural resources sector as a solid case study in ESG excellence. Whether it’s environmental commitments, the health, safety and human rights criteria, the continuous technological innovation, or the substantial and growing Indigenous participation – Canadians choose a strong resource economy AND solid performance on ESG criteria. I’m guessing that’s a real source of Canadian pride. The Ipsos poll of 2,000 adult Canadians was conducted online from March 17 to 22, 2021. The data were statistically weighted by region, age, gender and education to reflect the Canadian population according to Census data. The poll is accurate to within +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 B times out of 20. OE

Cody Battershill is a Calgary realtor and founder / spokesperson for CanadaAction. ca, a volunteer-initiated group that supports Canadian energy development and the environmental, social and economic benefits that come with it.

4 • Business of Energy • June 2021



rant Trimble graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Geological Engineering degree in 1958. His career started with Pan American Petroleum in Oklahoma, which led him back to Calgary in 1960. In 1969, Grant left Pan American and went into business with his brother, Harvey, before establishing Grant Trimble Engineering in 1971. “Our concentration from the get-go was reservoir engineering — conducting reserve estimates and enhanced recovery studies,” says Grant Trimble, founder of the firm. Over time, the firm developed a specialized expertise performing economic evaluations of oil and gas properties, interfacing with banks, law firms and investment groups on their clients’ behalf. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Grant also expanded the firm’s oil and gas property management services, including land, accounting and production optimization. Grant’s son Steve followed in his footsteps, graduating from the University of Waterloo with a Geological Engineering degree in 1988 and beginning his career with Imperial Oil before joining forces with Grant in 1991. Grant and Steve had not planned it this way, but a combination of events created an enticing opportunity to team up. “It was an exciting opportunity, but not necessarily the place I planned to spend the rest of my career,” says Steve Trimble, current president and principal engineer of the firm. But plans have a way of changing, and in 1996 Grant proposed that Steve buy him out. A four-year payment plan followed that would see 100 per cent ownership transferred to Steve in 2000. In 2002, Grant stepped away from consulting, leaving Steve in charge of the firm’s future. The name of the firm changed to Trimble Engineering Associates in 2000, and while Steve dropped his father’s name, Grant’s influence remained. “I learned a lot from my Dad,” Steve says. “He showed me the importance of working hard, being available and providing every service you can to help your clients be successful.”

Steve Trimble

Trimble Engineering Associates developed a more focused specialization under Steve’s guidance, with approximately 80 per cent of its business coming from oil and gas evaluation services and the balance from strategic advisory services and oil and gas property management. While Steve didn’t set out to aggressively grow the firm, his leadership and integration of technology allowed revenues to grow naturally without adding materially to overhead. He and his team of engineers, technologists, and support staff have embraced technology to increase efficiency, which has proven to be particularly valuable mitigating client costs in the recent challenging economic climate. Steve Trimble is optimistic about the future of Calgary and the energy industry, and sees growth and opportunity beyond recent events. In his view, Calgary will thrive going forward, riding a new wave of prosperity supported by innovative hydrocarbon and alternative energy initiatives originated in Alberta. Trimble Engineering Associates is proud to have served the Calgary business and energy community for the last 50 years and looks forward to continuing this service in support of its clients’ future growth and success.

Suite 2200-801 6 Avenue SW Calgary, Alberta T2P 3W2 (403) 261 - 4720 •


David Yager | Alberta’s Fossil Fuel Future Is Secure



by David Yager

hile clearly not scripted, U.S. President Joe Biden’s first joint address to Congress on April 28 contained revealing words about the unmentioned realities of his administration’s climate change commitments. Biden said the U.S. only produces 15 per cent of worldwide emissions. But he then added, “The climate crisis isn’t our fight alone; it’s a global fight…because if we do everything perfectly it’s not going to matter.” Coming from the new president who campaigned on his climate change credentials and only a week earlier had vowed to reduce U.S. emissions by 50 to 52 per cent in only nine years, this level of candor is refreshing. Because when it comes to climate change, all the facts are rarely discussed. On Earth Day, April 22, Biden hosted international teleconferences during which multiple countries pledged to increase previous 2030 emission reduction commitments from Paris in 2015. Canada raised its target from 36 per cent to as high as 45 per cent. But China, India, Russia and Australia declined. This includes three of world’s top carbon energy producers. These countries are responsible for 41 per cent of global emissions. China and India have stated they continue to expand coal fired electricity generation. How can you save the world when the world won’t participate?

Alberta and its oil producers have been saying this for years. It’s a global issue requiring global solutions. But unlike many other petroleum producers, we’re committed to doing much better. Unfortunately, today’s climate debate is not about physics, economics, human needs, sources or distribution. The scale of the energy needs of 7.8 billion people is difficult to comprehend, the units of measurement foreign to most. Instead, climate change is about emotion, aspirations, politics and moral commitment. All we have to do to replace fossil fuels is believe it must be done and vow to try harder. All that is required is political commitment and enlightened legislation. “Net zero by 2050” is stated so frequently nowadays by so many it is assumed that if that if this goal is repeated often enough, dreams can become reality. Society must and will attempt to reduce emissions. That ship has sailed. Canadian and gas producers are committed to do better. Because it has been under assault for 15 years, Alberta’s petroleum industry is ahead of many others in embracing the carbon emissions reduction challenge. But Alberta’s contribution will not be to exit the oil business while others continue to produce. Despite what you see, hear and read so frequently, Alberta’s oil industry has a secure future. Hydrocarbons dominate the world’s primary energy mix. Over three-quarters of the world’s

6 • Business of Energy • June 2021

Alberta’s Fossil Fuel Future Is Secure | David Yager

Multiple respected forecasts show that in the “business as usual case,” world oil demand in 2050 will rise or remain unchanged because of economic and population growth. Petroleum consumption will only be reduced if governments legislate and force the so-called “energy transition.” Or if new low emission energy sources emerge that don’t yet exist. Last year, oil producing giant BP was the first to forecast that for the world to actually achieve net zero by 2050, civilization had to find replacements for 70 per cent of current oil demand. Transportation fuel and petrochemical products like plastic. The population is projected to rise by another 13 per cent to 8.8 billion by 2050. We’ll see how that goes. Canada is an energy powerhouse. Only 0.5 per cent of the world’s population produces four per cent of its energy. Natural Resources Canada’s Energy Fact Book 2020-2021 data details the massive economic void created if oil, gas and coal disappeared. Our country is the planet’s sixth largest primary energy producer behind only China, U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia and India. This includes petroleum, natural gas, uranium, coal and hydroelectricity. Producing and exporting energy is one of Canada’s largest industries. For oil, 88 per cent of production is exported. Figures for uranium exports are 57 per cent, natural gas 45 per cent. Excluding uranium, Alberta’s primary energy production is materially greater than the rest of Canada combined. The energy business and its support sectors constitute 10.2 per cent of Canada’s nominal GDP, $219 billion. Of the $154 billion in direct energy GDP (production), nearly 50 per cent comes from Alberta alone. This is significantly greater than the total for all the other recognized energy producers combined; British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador. Direct employment statistics are similar. While Alberta does indeed have the highest carbon emissions per person in Canada, that is because most of the oil and gas production is exported and consumed elsewhere. All large producers with low populations flunk this intentionally embarrassing mathematical analysis. Meanwhile, consuming countries, states and provinces get a hall pass on emissions from energy production. From 2000 to 2018 oil sands emissions rose with production volumes, but emissions per barrel declined by 36 per cent. Electricity emissions fell 46 per cent over the same period primarily from mothballing coal power plants. The renewable energy sector is beginning to move the needle. But it is primarily for domestic use, not export. In 2018 only seven per cent of Canada’s electricity generation came from nonhydro renewables. Economically, Alberta’s oil sands sector remains huge. A recent report by the MacDonald Laurier Institute is titled, “Why The Oil Sands Aren’t Going Anywhere Soon And How Investment and Production Benefit Canada.” In a summary in the Financial Post on April 30, author Philip Cross wrote, “Many Canadians outside the prairie provinces have trouble understanding – or accepting – that Alberta’s oil 7 • 7Business • Business of Energy of Energy • December • June 2021 2020

Alberta’s Fossil Fuel Future is Secure

energy needs come from coal, oil and natural gas. Oil consumption peaked at 102 million barrels per day in late 2019. While it tumbled last year because of the lockdowns, Washington’s Energy Information Administration figures global demand will return to this level in late 2021 or early 2022.

David Yager | Alberta’s Fossil Fuel Future Is Secure

sands are still enormously important to our economy. The $8.5 billion of new investment in the oil sands last year represented 4.5 per cent of all Canada’s business investment in 2020 and was four times the capital spending by the auto manufacturers who eastern-Canadian politicians continue to lionize and subsidize.” On emissions, Canadian oil producers are ahead of the curve when it comes to meeting 21st century society’s expectations. However, “The industry long ago lost the public relations battle about its environmental impact. As a result, the improvement…has been largely ignored. The chief economist of the International Energy Agency acknowledged this new reality when he said the contribution of the oil sands to global emissions ‘is not peanuts, it is a fraction of peanuts.’” With new oil pipelines under construction west and south – and LNG exports from B.C. soldiering forward despite the pandemic – are Alberta’s battles over? Do jobs and the economy actually matter? Are the oil sands not really a terrible threat to the future of the world? Things will improve if the debate becomes as factually accurate as President Biden’s inadvertent confession. A worldwide transition to low emission energy is a daunting challenge. It is much easier to opine than to deliver. Roger Pielke Jr. writes extensively about climate change. Responding to Biden’s emissions reduction pledge, Pielke observed what the commitment “…to create a carbon pollution free power sector by 2035” means. America began the year with 1,852 coal and gas-powered generation facilities that will either have to be shut down or made emissions-free. Pielke wrote, “There are 164 months until 2035. This means that more than 11 of these fossil fuel power plants…will need to be closed every month, on average, starting today until 2035.” But because of recent electricity shortages or blackouts in California and Texas, there is a movement to add more natural gas generation for backup. Both states have invested heavily in renewable electricity, but recent weather extremes have exposed their vulnerability and reliability.

Energy transition is a popular idea until the lights go out. Fossil fuels also help feed the world. Studies show that about half the world’s food is produced using nitrogen-based fertilizer made from natural gas. Hydrocarbons also power irrigation, mechanized farming equipment and techniques, refrigeration and storage, and bulk transportation to market. Much of the food on store shelves travels vast distances. How else does Canada get fresh fruit and vegetables in the winter? Alberta can and will contribute through the development of technologies and processes to reduce emissions all over the world. But to succeed, the energy transition must be rooted in an agreed upon set of facts and in a manner by which the cure is not more damaging than the ailment. As climate change has moved from a concept to public policy, the relationship between Alberta and its oil sands with the rest of Canada and the world has been mostly negative. Alberta cannot be allowed to strip mine more bitumen, expand oil sands production, build more pipelines or increase emissions. However, because of the continued need for oil and Alberta’s oversized contribution to the Canadian economy, it’s time for the critics to demonstrate what they can do. Show us how to feed the world, keep the lights only, maintain the economy and substitute reliable, low-cost fossil fuels with zero-carbon alternatives without massive lifestyle and economic disruption. And without further borrowing our governments into insolvency. Relax, Alberta. Our fossil fuel business is here to B stay. OE

David Yager is a Calgary oil service executive, energy policy analyst, writer and author. He is president and CEO of Winterhawk Well Abandonment Ltd., a methane emission reduction technology company. His 2019 book From Miracle to Menace - Alberta, A Carbon Story is available at

8 • Business of Energy • June 2021

Universe Machine Management Team: Ron Feigel, Fred Aleksic, Andreas Schmidt, Garry Czurlok, Vlad Pohnert, Doug O’Neill, Kurt Feigel Sr. and Kurt Feigel Jr.

Local Company with a Universal Impact | Cover



by Nerissa McNaughton with photos by Epic Photography Inc.

or nearly 60 years Universe Machine Corporation has manufactured, modified, and repaired metal products for the energy and heavy industries. The company was founded in Edmonton and is a known as a reliable manufacturer, an innovator, and a wonderful place to work in the province.

Universe Machine and the family that owns and runs it embodies all this – and more.

Alberta runs on energy and since this commodity is constantly in flux, events locally and abroad influence and affect the manufacturers servicing the industry. Those involved in supplying the oil and gas sector with the products it needs to thrive are companies helmed by visionaries that can weather the storms, pivot when necessary, have grit and determination while constantly seeking ways to maintain growth no matter what phase of boom or bust the province is in.

“The longer I stayed, the more I fell in love with Canada, then with Erna, whom I married in 1962. We started a family and launched Universe Machine in 1965,” says Kurt Sr., founder and CEO. “I wanted to provide for my young family while having the freedom to forge my own path.”

Universe Machine was founded by Kurt Feigel Sr. He arrived in Canada at the age of 18 in 1960 and planned to stay for a year or two. Sixty plus years later, he’s still here.

In 1965 Universe Machine was a three-person operation in a 2,000 square foot building. By the end of the 1980s and after three expansions and

9 • Business of Energy • June 2021

Cover | Local Company with a Universal Impact

The early 2000s saw the largest expansion to date, which led to Universe Machine becoming a modern manufacturing company with up to 200 employees in a 100,000 sq. foot facility. This expansion made Universe Machine’s valve division the largest of its kind in all of Canada.

Universe Products Division: Power Tong Equipment, Ron Feigel and Fred Aleksic.

Universe Valve Repair & Modification Division: Jakob Fuss and James Rieland.

Universe Manufacturing Division: Machining a large part to size on a CNC Vertical Boring Mill, Rolf Reukema.

growing assets of large equipment, the building had grown to over 50,000 sq. ft. in Edmonton’s southeast industrial area. The 1980s was also the beginning of the innovative and high-quality line of Universe Power Tong Energy Equipment, engineered and built in-house. Universe product expansions later included Hogs – an industrial waste shredder for the forestry industry, and a variety of valve test stands.

Today, Universe Machine continues to be a leading company in Edmonton and in Alberta, both in the products it produces and the way the team is led. It is a family business with both Kurt’s family and original employees’ families working together. The oldest son, Kurt Jr. took over the reins as president in 2014 with a broad vision to expand, diversify and modernize Universe Machine as a leader in Western Canada and globally for manufacturing, modifying and repairing metal products for heavy industry. Cousin Ron Feigel, business development manager, completed his machining apprenticeship at Universe Machine and later returned to the company to work in administration. The third generation of Feigels, which includes Kurt Jr.’s sons, comprise the next generation of the family working in the business. Universe Machine has grown to include the following divisions: Valve repair and modification: As the largest authorized repair and modification facility of its kind in Canada and the only Canadian company with membership in the Valve Repair Council, Universe Machine provides hydro testing, trim changes and extensions, along with full valve refurbishing back to OEM specifications. Under this umbrella, Universe Engineering provides CRN# and certified processes. Machining and welding: Those in this division enjoy working on some of the largest and most unique components in western Canada for a wide variety of projects and under certifications such as ISO 9001:2015, APEGA and ABSA. Work is industry-tested to, and exceeds, the highest standards. Products: This division offers engineered equipment that is patented, tested, and proven for industries’ harshest conditions. Under this umbrella, equipment is innovated for the oil and gas, valve and forest industries. How did Universe Machine continue to grow year over year?

10 • Business of Energy • June 2021

Local Company with a Universal Impact | Cover

An example of this adaptation was seen at the onset of the pandemic. “Business dropped significantly near the beginning of the pandemic but has improved somewhat since we also provide essential services to keep necessary equipment operating in Western Canada,” explains Ron. “We had to run leaner to survive, even before COVID as the Alberta economy struggled. However, this has spurred innovation and efficiency improvements. It has led to exploring further diversification, automation, and increasing capabilities. Having more time and resources enabled us to discover new opportunities, to ramp up R & D and to continue innovating our current line of products and services. This has proven to be beneficial in the short-term, and we are confident this will provide long-term benefits as well.” Kurt Jr. adds, “As the pandemic took hold and borders closed, we quickly started to reevaluate priorities and focus more on our own back yard; in other words, western Canada. We shifted our engineering to more R & D work on new or improved products and services, some for the western Canadian forest industry with products we could quickly take to market locally, and others for the oil and gas industry that would hopefully be ready to roll out internationally as the COVID crisis eventually ends. This was not only good for keeping staff busy during a very slow time but was also helpful in boosting morale within the entire organization as management looked and planned ahead for a brighter future.” He continues, “However, Universe Machine is not the only one who stands to profit from the efforts the company is taking to invest in research and development during challenging times. This move will enable Universe to produce products more efficiently in the future, thereby staying globally competitive, satisfying customers’ needs and keeping Albertans employed. In other words, investing in research and development means investing in Canada’s future economy, and that is the best way to reinvest stability and growth into our future.” With his many years in the business, Kurt Sr. speaks to why resilience and innovation are important in the energy industry. “Resilience as defined by Merriam-Webster is, ‘an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change,’ says the founder. “Some of the misfortunes or changes we have experienced are our harsh environment, a cyclical economy with many legislative changes and changes in government. Our resilience shines when we are creative and willing to collectively work together to meet the misfortunes with calm, compassion and to bounce back with a renewed adaptability and hope of success. “Regarding innovation, Edmonton is known as a blue-collar service centre that designs, manufactures and repairs all manner of commodities. Perhaps it is not widely recognized how many amazingly talented, humble, and innovative people we have here in Alberta. They are inspiring to work with! Many world-leading products and inventions encompassing numerous industries quietly came to life here in this province. “Resilient and innovative Albertans have played a significant role in making Canada such a wealthy and highly regarded country to live, work and play in.” As the business development manager, Ron helps navigate the ever-changing world of governments, policies, and legislation.

11 • Business of Energy • June 2021

Local Company With a Universal Impact

“Over 55 years of success has been attributed to, first of all, hard work,” says Kurt Jr. “And, it is very important to also have good employees and people around, which creates a strong team. We have a strong retention because we run our company like a family. Everybody is important. Many businesses in our industry face numerous ongoing changes so it’s important to operate lean, remain flexible and adapt quickly. We have demonstrated how we can adapt quickly!”

Cover | Local Company with a Universal Impact

“With the recent change of government, provincial policies have become more accommodating and helpful for energy industry businesses, but our Federal Government has increased Alberta’s energy industry difficulties with regulatory changes, damaging new policies and not supporting or enabling wise utilization of Alberta’s abundant natural resources,” explains Ron. He goes on to say how local communities and consumers can be supportive now, and in the future despite the ongoing changes. “In general, it is good to buy local wherever possible, supporting regional and Canadian businesses. Every Canadian should lobby the government to support infrastructure and the reduction of red tape to allow Canadians to develop and market our natural resources across Canada instead of importing. We should support removing roadblocks that impede selling our highly regarded and environmentally superior resources worldwide.” As the decades ticked away and Kurt Sr.’s business grew to involve his family and grandchildren, he looks back very fondly on his decision to remain in Edmonton. “I was very fortunate to have a lot of good people and great local businesses that helped along the way,” he reminisces. “Edmonton feels like a close-knit and caring community where people and businesses help each other succeed. What I appreciate in Edmonton is that there still seems to be a fair bit of mutual respect, trust, and collaboration. With small businesses here especially, it seems easier and quicker to get things done and deals can still be closed verbally or with a handshake. “As for the province, Alberta is truly magnificent with the Rocky Mountains to the west, wide open spaces to the north, and filled with vast and diverse natural resources throughout that have greatly contributed to the wealth of not just Alberta, but all of Canada. I especially respect the hard-working, resilient, and innovative nature of Albertans who have wisely utilized Alberta’s energy and natural resources we have been blessed with. That provincial utilization helps improve the entire country.” Universe Machine is very invested in giving back to the community. The company robustly

supports the next generation of industrial innovators by supporting the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s (NAIT) mechanical engineering, machinist, and welding trades programs and the University of Alberta’s mechanical engineering program. “Kurt Jr. is also personally involved with the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories, is the chair of the Alberta Red Tape Industrial Manufacturing Panel. He sits on the board of the Shepherd’s Care Foundation which is now comprised of seven senior care centers in Alberta that care for over 2,000 seniors and employ 800 staff,” adds Ron. For his contribution to Alberta’s heavy industry and the employees and students within it, Kurt Sr. was honored with a Pinnacle Award in 1993 and was an Alberta Business Hall of Fame inductee in 2019. Yet, the family remains ever humble, instead shifting the praise for Universe’s many accomplishments to include others. “There are too many great employees, businesses and people to mention,” says Kurt Sr. “But I would like to acknowledge several very long-term customers including Stream-Flo/ Master Flo and Enbridge Inc./Interprovincial Pipeline. Both have been utilizing our services since near the time Universe Machine began in 1965. Advocacy groups like the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation have been helpful, along with our board of advisors – Allan Scott and Terry Bachynski.” Universe Machine is the company with a solid past and an eye on the future. No matter what comes its way, the family business is ready. “It does look like supply and demand for oil and other natural resources will continue to balance out in 2021, and we are confident our industry will thrive as businesses continue to adapt and governments change or adjust for the better. In the meantime, Universe Machine will continue to run lean and efficient, innovating, and diversifying,” concludes Ron. “In summary, our focus will be on continuous improvement and effectively mentoring the B next generations.” OE

12 • Business of Energy • June 2021


ike dazzling flowers in a garden, most bright ideas need nourishment and cultivation. That’s the role and mandate of Alberta Innovates – the province’s largest research and innovation agency. Alberta Innovates boosts research, helps grow business and enables Albertan companies both large and small make new technologies flourish. Across every sector, these innovations improve Albertans’ quality of life and contribute to a prosperous future for the province. One recent high-profile example happened when InnoTech Alberta, a subsidiary of Alberta Innovates, hosted part of the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE at the Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre (ACCTC). The coveted XPRIZE is a global competition to inspire the development of innovative new technologies. The 54-month Carbon XPRIZE catalyzed new carbon conversion technologies to help solve climate change with $US20 million in prize money. Each of the five competitors in the natural gas side of the competition was given access to one of ACCTC’s 25,000-square-foot research test bays and its carbon capture unit. In April, the XPRIZE Foundation recognized CarbonCure Technologies of Dartmouth, N.S. for

its breakthrough clean-tech innovation to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into usable products. CarbonCure successfully demonstrated its technology to convert CO2 emitted by the Shepard Energy Centre into a strengthening agent for concrete. The result? Emitted carbons are embedded permanently in the concrete instead of being released into the atmosphere. While CarbonCure walked away with the grand prize, other competitors, including Calgary-based Carbon Upcycling Technologies (CUT), were able secure major industry partnerships to continue development of their own technologies. “Calgary’s growing reputation as a tech hub is exemplified by the ACCTC when it comes to clean tech development,” says John Van Ham, executive director, Sector Alignment and Programs with InnoTech. “The facility enables technology developers to test, validate and scale up game-changing new technologies that transform CO2 into value-added products such as carbon-based materials, chemicals and fuels.”



im and Rita Welch founded their company in 1971, using their oldest son’s vacated bedroom as an office. From there, the Welch Company – Welco – became the regional go-to for finding rental or specialized equipment for a number of major potash and coal projects being developed in Western Canada. Through dogged determination and hard work, Jim attracted the attention of some major U.S.based equipment suppliers. “We were able to negotiate representative agreements, and we morphed from a rental company into supplying production equipment to various markets in western Canada,” says Michael Welch, Jim and Rita’s son and President of Welco. It wasn’t long before Welco outgrew the back bedroom and moved into a small warehouse office complex. Continued growth forced Welco to move again, first into one bay in Foothills Industrial and then taking over another bay and another until the company was spread across nine bays. This disconnected workspace didn’t support Welco’s collaborative environment, so in 2016, the team moved Welco into a new 25,000-square-foot complex on 61 Avenue SE that brought its distribution centre and factoryauthorized service centre all under one roof.


spaces from them. The team is proud to be part of the success of other local businesses starting out just like Welco had so many years before. Today, Welco has expanded more than just its offices. It also diversified its business from strictly mining products to now including clients in industrial food and beverage, pharmaceuticals and biotech, pulp and paper, pulse and grain crops, energy and manufacturing. The company has the solution, regardless of what you’re pumping, moving or mixing. Besides quality equipment, Welco is also providing factory-trained authorized personnel to service that equipment. As more clients outsource their repair work, this remanufacturing arm is becoming a larger part of Welco’s business. By maintaining these multiple revenue streams, the company has been able to continue to steadily grow the business despite down times in certain sectors.

“Moving to a consolidated location totally transformed the company,” he says. “We increased the volume of sales around 35 per cent in a single year, just because we had the ability to have more inventory on hand and to do repair work, and it has provided a lot of synergy for the staff.”

It has also grown the company by growing the staff, and Welco now has a staff of 32 employees in Calgary along with representatives working in Vancouver, Edmonton and Saskatoon and the new Fort McMurray location. That staff is made up of myriad professionals – salespeople, marketing growth analysts, licenced P.Eng.s, Red Seal industrial mechanics, CPA accounting professionals, logistic experts, Management Information Systems and Business Intelligence analysts – who come together to help their clients succeed. The staff also includes the third generation to be involved in this western Canada family business.

The company retained ownership of four of the bays and found top-notch tenants to rent those

Michael Welch credits his dad’s work ethic (which spread throughout the company and took root

WELCO || 50 YEARS || 1

in every department) with Welco’s 50 successful years in business. The people are the difference, and the company works hard to attract and retain talented people. It also supports apprentice mechanics through the Alberta Advanced Education Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP), helping to repopulate the industry with talent through grassroots development of the trade. “There are 32 people in the whole company and look at all that fire Michael Stark, Peter Lipp, Ryan Bouffard, Michael Welch, Liam Hodgson, power,” says Michael Stark, Sales Charlie Matheson and Franco Vignone. Photo by Riverwood Photography. Director for Welco. “The company has really been built around establishing and operating in all functional “We’ve ramped up on digitizing archives so it’s areas.” all accessible to anyone who needs it,” says Franco Vignone, Vice President of Operations for While most distributors simply offer clients a Welco. “We’ve continued to grow our systems catalog of products to choose from, Welco and provide customers with the right solutions. takes a more active, holistic approach. Staff That’s what Welco is all about – the right people know the inventory inside and out and pride finding the right solutions for customers.” themselves on delivering more than just a piece of equipment; Welco delivers solutions. Despite the challenges of the past year, Welco The team learns the clients’ specific needs is in a growth cycle as it looks to the future. It and collaborates with them to find the highest is actively adding to its team in Calgary and quality customized equipment that best fits recently opened an office and warehouse those needs, all the while helping them become location in Fort McMurray to better support greener and more efficient through innovative its energy clients there. It is also looking to solutions like using a cyclone solution to help a add offices to provide enhanced coverage foundry clean quench water for extended use for the growing industry and geographical while easing demand on the environment opportunities throughout western Canada and the territories. To better serve clients across Since the beginning, Welco has been sectors, Welco is also building on its current dedicated to helping its partners succeed exclusive Business Partner’s product lines to and Michael and his team have carried on grow its fit-for-purpose solutions. Jim’s tradition of going above and beyond to ensure that their success happens. Jim taught Michael Welch and his Welco team appreciate Michael early that it was critical to always what it took for the company to reach this have what customers needed, and today that milestone and they continue to offer world-class translates to a warehouse with multi-million equipment, service and solutions to its diverse dollars in inventory on hand so they can clients. With more staff, new strategic locations quickly meet clients’ needs. and new equipment offerings complementing long-time product lines, Welco is All Systems Go “For a lot of our clients, their production keeping as it enters the next half-century. up is part of their value to their shareholders. It goes back to our promise of maximum uptime, which is what we provide our clients,” says Michael Welch. No matter what is happening in the world, be it an economic downturn or a global pandemic, the Welco team prides itself on keeping clients up and running. When COVID-19 shut the doors of many businesses in 2020, Welco accelerated its plans to implement technology to better deliver customer service. Not only did the company not miss a beat but neither did its clients.

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A ‘RENTER’S MARKET’ Purpose-built rentals contribute to added choice and affordability BY JAMIE ZACHARY


algary renters continue to be treated to proverbial field of dreams when searching for their next home as the fallout of the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns that began in early 2020 has resulted in added choices and competitive rents. According to the most recent data from real estate research firm Urban Analytics (UA), the overall occupancy rate for newer rental apartment buildings in Calgary, Airdrie and Cochrane was 84 per cent heading into 2021. While this was two per cent higher than the previous quarter, it was down one per cent on a year-over-year basis and well off peaks in 2018. Meanwhile, UA noted average rents for newer purpose-built rental units decreased by two per cent from the previous quarter, as well as almost consistent declines in every type of turned-over apartment style across the market. The company attributes the overall decrease in rental rates to persistently high vacancy rates that are encouraging many landlords to continue offering rental rate incentives to attract tenants. The Canadian Rental Housing Index reports average rent in Calgary is $1,355, compared with $1,279 in the province.

A separate report this past spring from paints a similar picture, with the average rent in our city sitting at $1,358 as of March 2021. This was again echoed by the most recent Rental Market Report from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), which pegged rent for an average two-bedroom at the end of 2020 at $1,323. CMHC noted this was actually up slightly from the year prior as property managers have used nonprice measures to compete for tenants. Meanwhile, CMHC’s latest report pegs the overall vacancy rate in Calgary at 6.6 per cent, an increase of 3.9 per cent from the same period a year prior. The national housing agency noted these vacancy rates have not been seen since 2016. “Pandemic related impacts, oil sector job losses and continued rental supply increases led to increased vacancy rates,” says Michael Mak, senior analyst, economics with CMHC. Yet Calgary Residential Rental Association president Gerry Baxter suspects the actual vacancy rate much higher, noting CMHC only surveys buildings with three units and up. That excludes what he calls a significantly sized secondary rental market in the city that includes condo subleases and the secondary suite sector.




“Even when at four per cent, that’s a bit on the high side,” he says, noting vacancy rates in the 2.5-to-three per cent range reflect more balanced conditions. “Since 2014, it’s really been a tenant’s market.” Driving much of this continued competitiveness in the market, purpose-built rental construction in Calgary continues to run at a brisk pace despite the pandemic. Overall, Urban Analytics noted it was tracking 84 newer rental apartment projects by the end of 2020, including two new projects – The Scarlet by Trico Home and Giordano by Brava Developments – launched in the fourth quarter which brought 137 new units to the market. “There were 16 projects considered to be actively leasing in Calgary at the end of Q42020. Three projects became full leased,” noted the report. Included in those active projects were two in the core: the 238-unit The International development in the core, which was 33 per cent leased, and the 379-unit UPTEN by Strategic Group, which was 30 per cent leased. Outside of downtown, UA noted the 145-unit Aria project in University District at 48 per cent leased and the 112-unit The Royal in Mount Royal at 71 per cent leased. Other additions to Calgary’s rental landscape recently have included the 278-unit Park Central Tower by Hines in the Beltline, the 106-unit Sage Hill Views by Anderson Builders Group in the city’s northwest, 112-unit The Royal by Trico Homes in Kingsland, 79-unit Summit II by Hazelview Properties in the city’s south, 21-unit Bergen by Brava Developments in Mission and 51 units in the first phase of Slokker’s Elliston Village.



Looking forward, an estimated 94 new purpose-built rental projects representing an aggregate total of 23,712 apartment units are currently proceeding through the planning and construction process in Calgary and could come online within the next two years. CREB chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie says Calgary’s rental market is catching investors’ interest, reflected through new starts in the purpose-built multi-family asset class. “It makes sense. It’s been harder to get into home ownership,” she says, pointing to mortgage stress tests that were already challenging many would-be homebuyers, combined with persistently high condo supply levels.


Page 1 - BOMA Calgary Continues to Advicate to key Decision Makers on Behalf of our Industry Page 4 - BOMA BEST Corner


By Jay Islam, Policy and Government Affairs Advisor at BOMA Calgary

BOMA Calgary Continues to Advocate to key Decision Makers on Behalf of our Industry


OMA Calgary been off to a quick start in 2021 representing Calgary and Southern Alberta’s Commercial Real Estate (CRE) Industry as policy makers look for input into their decisions for the upcoming year and beyond. BOMA Calgary, along with our industry partners, have been at the table with officials from all three levels of government discussing the ways in which the commercial real estate industry can help improve programs while supporting economic recovery and growth. Here is a snapshot of what we’ve been up to:


Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, BOMA Calgary, along with our industry partners,have been engaged with senior levels of the Federal government to suggest improvements to commercial rent support programs. After successful advocacy on the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (CECRA), we have been at the table to help support and improve its successor, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS). BOMA Calgary and our commercial real estate partners have also struck a working group with The Honourable Jim Carr, Special Representative to

the Prairies, where senior industry leaders can provide direct feedback on programs and the role the industry can play in economic growth and recovery. This working group also provided industry the opportunity to provide input towards Budget 2021, which directly informed the decisions made by The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.


Industry leaders from BOMA Calgary and our partner associations are having ongoing conversations with The Honourable Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation as well as Invest Alberta, as a part of an industry working group to highlight the role of the industry in attracting investments to our city and province, while identifying areas for further collaborations. CRE professionals have an exceptionally valuable perspective on what businesses are looking for, and we are excited to be able to share these insights with key decision makers the provincial government.

RECA In June 2020, the Government of Alberta passed amendments to the Real Estate Act that implemented



BOMA Calgary News

BOMA Calgary News is a co-publication of BOMA Calgary and Business in Calgary.

sweeping changes to the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA). The amendments were introduced to make the governing body more accountable and representative as the regulator for Alberta’s real estate brokerage, mortgage brokerage and property management licensees. While there are many positive changes to RECA’s governance structure that are a direct result of BOMA Calgary’s ongoing advocacy, we are currently working to ensure the commercial sector has the fair representation that has been lacking. BOMA Calgary is also engaged with RECA to support the transition of licensing education to third parties while improving the relevance of coursework to licensees.

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PANDEMIC RESPONSE BOMA Calgary and our partners were there for the industry when the provincial government was considering evictions moratoriums, and through our work we were able to support the province in creating a program that protected those tenants who were not able to benefit from CECRA while not being punitive to landlords. Through this process we were also able to build a strong connection with the department of Jobs, Economy and Innovation.


BOMA Calgary remains an invited member for the Calgary Emergency Management Agency’s (CEMA) Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic early last year, we have been heavily involved with the group as decisions are made that have direct and considerable impacts on our industry and have been actively sharing information provided by the group to our members. Our involvement has allowed us to serve as your voice on such issues as +15 closures, elevator restrictions, signage, vulnerable populations, as well as lobbying early to allow construction work to continue. We have also been engaged with the City as it looks to further the Green Line Project, where we, along with our partners, have successfully advanced for improvements to the final plan, while positioning ourselves as key and trusted stakeholders. As part of the City of Calgary’s Bridge Stakeholder Working Group, we are providing feedback on design concepts for the Bow River Bridge that will be part of the project. The structure will impact how our downtown looks and functions for many decades, and BOMA Calgary is at the table ensuring the industry’s interest are represented.

BOMA Calgary is also part of the ongoing process of refining and investigating the effectiveness of the Building Maintenance ByLaw (BMB). The BMB impacts nearly all our members and as such must remain complementary to the industry’s practices rather than hindering them. We remain engaged with City Administration in understanding the effectiveness off the current bylaw and are working with them to investigate potential adjustments that would ensure the ongoing success of the bylaw. COVID-19 has undoubtedly brought us many challenges, but with these challenges also came opportunity to increase our industry’s presence and influence with key decision makers. BOMA Calgary remains committed to representing your voice at these tables and ensuring your concerns are heard by decision makers as they develop economic support programs, work to create economic recovery plans, and undertake placemaking projects that improve our City.










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espite lockdowns, shutdowns, public health worries, layoffs, school closures and people working from home making for one of the bumpiest rides in Calgary business history, Calgary’s real estate market may be in transition but it is active, strong and feisty. According to CREB’s most recent Quarterly Update Report, by the end of the first quarter, there were 5,945 sales in Calgary, which works out to 43 per cent higher than the 10year average and the best start to the year since 2007.






CREB explains that (nationally) the economic challenges associated with COVID-19 brought about a dramatic rate cut from the Bank of Canada and an even more significant drop in the discount rates for mortgages. Calgary stats also show that the low interest rate environment, combined with pent-up demand and a trend of increased savings, is supporting stronger than expected gains in Calgary resale activity. “It is currently exceeding expectations,” says CREB chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. “But rising prices are expected to support new listings growth and also impact the pace of sales growth. This will help support more balanced conditions for the Calgary market.” She adds that new listings rose to the highest first-quarter levels seen in over a decade while it did little to move Calgary’s overall inventory levels, which averaged 4,687 units in the first quarter. The tightening conditions that started halfway through last year have caused prices to trend up, and the price growth pushed quarterly prices four per cent higher than the first quarter of last year. “It has been counterintuitive to many, considering the job loss and economic challenges that face the province and the city,” she says. “But this is still a story of recovery for prices, which currently remain well below the highs recorded in 2014.”

There’s a consensus: 2020 has been ‘one of those years’ for real estate in most Canadian municipalities. The markets are abuzz with trending, analysis, strategizing and market issues like housing bubbles, parabolic prices, affordability, the tightening screw of another mortgage stress test and more. “Market conditions have become tighter over the last year everywhere,” notes Shaun Cathcart, senior economist of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). “Among Canada’s five key markets – Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Ottawa – Toronto and Ottawa have the tightest demand-supply conditions. Calgary and Edmonton increasingly shifting to a seller’s market. Just one year ago, they were buyer’s markets, or close to it.” “The past year has been filled with twists and turns all over the world,” says Alan Tennant, CREB president and CEO. “The Calgary housing market was no exception. Looking forward to the second half of the year, Calgary has moved into sellers’ market conditions.” Lurie gets Calgary-specific about how national issues like skyrocketing home prices, house bubbles, the stress test and affordability impact the Calgary market. “Most of the recent gains in Calgary prices is related to the seller’s market conditions. Low interest rates and pent-up demand have supported strong growth in sales. The pace of new listings growth keeps supply levels low, favours the seller and causes steeper price gains. Of course, buyers must still meet the mortgage qualification rate.





most of this current quarter. “However, as prices continue to rise, we could start to see more new listings. This may help push the market toward more balanced conditions.” CREA’s Cathcart doubts warnings about a Canadian housing bubble. “The current pace of price growth is entirely in line with the current historic demand-supply imbalances. It was there before COVID-19 but it may have been turbocharged by the pandemic. “Trending shows that 2020 was the year that a home became everything. It’s not surprising that so many people who did not have one of their own to ride out this pandemic, really wanted one. Many who did have a home hunkered down and were not inclined to give it up.” He points out that a demand-supply imbalance causes buyers to compete against each other for scarce listings, often pushing prices up.

CREA’S CATHCART DOUBTS WARNINGS ABOUT A CANADIAN HOUSING BUBBLE. “THE CURRENT PACE OF PRICE GROWTH IS ENTIRELY IN LINE WITH THE CURRENT HISTORIC DEMAND-SUPPLY IMBALANCES. IT WAS THERE BEFORE COVID-19 BUT IT MAY HAVE BEEN TURBOCHARGED BY THE PANDEMIC.” “But the five-year discount rates are amongst the lowest we have seen since figures have been tracked.” Real estate professional rarely speculate and Lurie adds that the Calgary will likely remain a seller’s market throughout

“On the affordability side, part of this has been offset by rock-bottom interest rates. Affordability has become tougher over the last few years but housing is still affordable in Canada, which is why so much is selling – but it’s not cheap.” CREB’s 2021 housing market forecast shows that while sales are expected to rise by nearly five per cent on an annual basis, persistent economic challenges are expected to prevent stronger growth. Conditions are expected to remain relatively tight for lower-priced and mid-range homes in the market, likely resulting in stronger price gains. CREB stats also caution that lack of job growth for higher-paid professional positions could result in persistent imbalances in the higher price ranges, impacting price recovery in the upper end of the market. Despite recent speedbumps, the Calgary outlook is good. “There still remains choice for homebuyers of all types, especially in the condo market,” Tennant adds with reams of stats and much enthusiasm. “It’s also exciting to see a city like Calgary being consistently named as one of the most affordable and best places to live in the world.”









usiness interruption (BI) insurance is a very specialized and often misinterpreted type of insurance coverage. One common misconception is that BI insurance covers all employees and/or the loss of use of premises. In fact, there are different types of BI coverage, therefore, it’s important for business owners to understand what they all mean. Consulting with an experienced insurance broker can help.

In addition to explaining the value-added aspect of having BI insurance, a broker can also assist with tailoring BI insurance to the specific exposures a business may have in order to mitigate its loss, should one occur. BFL CANADA is one of the largest risk management, insurance brokerage and benefits consulting firms in the country. Managing partner, Calgary branch leader Greg Cortese says, “I would suggest all types of businesses would




WHEN EXPLAINING BI INSURANCE, CORTESE OFTEN ASKS HIS CLIENTS, “IF YOU CAME TO WORK TOMORROW AND A FIRE HAD BURNED DOWN THE PREMISES AND EVERYTHING IN IT, AND ALL YOU HAD WAS YOUR MOBILE PHONE, WHAT IMPACT WOULD THIS HAVE ON YOUR BUSINESS’S ABILITY TO GENERATE INCOME?” benefit from some level of BI insurance. Some more than others. A business that is very dependent on a specific site or location to generate their revenue, with little to no ability to generate revenue without that physical location, would be the greatest exposure.” Having grown up with a family that owned restaurants, Cortese understands the importance of a physical location and how it relates to revenue generated or lost. “I grew up in a family that owned restaurants and always heard my dad

say ‘location, location, location.’ Therefore, it is so important for some restaurants to not only have a physical location but also be in the right location. For example, if a fire were to cause damage to a restaurant resulting in a closure for an extended period of time, all of the revenue would come to a complete stop. There is no way for that restaurant owner to generate any form of revenue from that business until such time that the premises are either replaced or repaired.” For businesses with a smaller BI exposure, a specific form of BI coverage called Extra Expense would be recommended. Extra Expense pays for both reasonable and necessary expenses such as the cost of setting up a temporary office while damaged office space and equipment are being repaired or replaced. For example, a plumbing contractor would be considered a business with a smaller BI exposure. Cortese says, “These types of contractors typically generate all of their revenue away from their premises. They go to the client, perform a service and get paid. This means, if they have an office location that suffers a loss, it may interrupt business in the short-term, but as long as they have their systems backed up offsite, they can find a temporary or new office space to work from. This doesn’t have a huge impact on business as the plumber can still operate and generate revenue.”





THE REASON BUSINESSES AND COMPANIES IMPLEMENT RISK MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS IS TO IDENTIFY ALL POSSIBLE RISKS, REDUCE OR ALLOCATE THOSE RISKS AND PROVIDE A RATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR MAKING BETTER DECISIONS RELATED TO RISKS. When explaining BI insurance, Cortese often asks his clients, “If you came to work tomorrow and a fire had burned down the premises and everything in it, and all you had was your mobile phone, what impact would this have on your business’s ability to generate income?” He says this question prompts a lot of conversation. “Not only about insurance, but about business continuity planning. What planning can the business do pre-loss to ensure that they can continue to operate post-loss?” According to professor of Risk Management and Insurance at the Haskayne School of Business Anne Kleffner, there are three main categories associated with the risk management process: identify (events and sources of risk), analyze (the likelihood and consequences of risk) and evaluate (is the risk acceptable?). During the evaluation phase, businesses and companies can either choose to leave the situation as is, treat it or eliminate it. Equally important in the risk management process is the strategy for treatment and the ability to measure and monitor success. Kleffner says, “The “guts” of risk management are really assessment and treatment.” The reason businesses and companies implement risk management systems is to identify all possible risks, reduce or allocate those risks and provide a rational foundation for making better decisions related to risks. Kleffner explains that risk management can essentially be divided into four buckets: property, liability, personnel and income. Businesses must address all four buckets and make provisions to protect property and personnel, while decreasing liability and maintaining income. “Business continuity plans are fundamental,” emphasizes Kleffner. “Businesses and companies must protect themselves from large losses.” Kleffner says that without risk management, businesses may not be able to achieve their strategic objectives. Risk management is relevant to both small and large businesses.“ It just looks different,” says Kleffner. Cortese emphasizes the importance for business owners to understand the different forms of BI insurance. He also explains that BI loss must be triggered by an insured peril. When it comes to BI insurance and COVID-19, he says the topic has been “interesting.”





“There is much debate whether or not BI and loss of revenue because of COVID-19 constitutes an insurance claim. More often than not – no. Traditionally, the intent of BI insurance is that there must be physical damage to the premises resulting in business interruption – like a fire, flood, or earthquake. Many non-essential businesses over the past 12 months have been forced to close down, due to COVID-19, but have no physical loss to premises. There is no tangible damage to their property. Yet they have had a severe impact to revenue and profit.”

Health Clinic afloat when the clinic was flooded in 2016. She says, “Based on guidance from our insurance broker, we followed all the BI coverage criteria each year. This included filling out worksheets, listing assets and liabilities etc. When our clinic got flooded, BI insurance covered rent costs in a temporary space, while repairs were being done to our original location. BI insurance allowed us to continue working without having to shut down. In our line of work, clinicians cannot make up for lost time. Our commodity are our people.”

There are basically two main forms of BI coverage: Earnings Form and Profits Form. Earnings Form pays only until the damage is repaired or the property is replaced. Profits Form continues to pay until a business resumes to its normal, preinterruption level of income, subject to the maximum period of indemnity listed in the policy. “Most indemnity periods,” says Cortese, “run between 12 and 24 months. Obviously in the event of a BI claim, there is involvement from accounting to assist the insured in proving their loss. BI insurance not only pays net income (net profit or loss before income taxes), but also normal operating expenses incurred, including payroll, that continue despite the partial or full interruption of operations.”

Based on her personal experience, Huang recommends small business owners consider purchasing BI insurance. “If it wasn’t for BI insurance, we would not have been able to continue business operations during the closure while our clinic was being repaired.”

For small business owner Dr. Beverly Huang, BI insurance helped keep her business Grassroots Naturopathic Medicine

Cortese believes BI insurance is beneficial to business owners. “They (business owners) often focus on insuring their physical property – buildings, contents, leasehold improvements, equipment and vehicles. And yes, these are very important properties to insure. But I always tell clients one of the most important insurance coverages they can purchase is BI. It protects their income – and, after all, this is why they are in business.




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Navigating an Unpredictable Journey: The future of the tourism industry


algarians are exceptionally proud to call our city home – our friendliness, Chinooks, river pathways and strong sense of community have created a truly remarkable place. But Calgary is not just loved by its residents, it’s also a tourist destination for people across the world. With unbeatable proximity to the mountains, the

greatest outdoor show on earth and outdoor festivals yearround, Calgary attracts 7.7 million people from around the world each year. In an ordinary year, tourism employs one in 10 Calgarians, is the foundation of 20,000 businesses in Alberta and supports Calgary’s economy to the tune of BUSINESSINCALGARY.COM // BUSINESS IN CALGARY // JUNE 2021


$2 billion. However, as we know, tourism has been one of the industries hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic – and there’s a long road ahead before the sector sees a full recovery.

•Technology continues to disrupt how travel is planned and experienced.

After seeing declines in everything from hotel occupancy rates to food and beverage purchases over the past year, Calgary’s tourism sector has a unique opportunity to reimagine its future, leveraging our strong history as a destination while rethinking the possibilities that lie ahead for the sector.

•Canadians are increasingly looking to add selfimprovement to their trips – often through yoga and meditation or charitable work.

With Calgary as a gateway destination to the Rocky Mountains, the sector comprises a critical part of our economy, supporting hotels, restaurants and cafes, sport and recreation, and arts and culture businesses across the City. Despite a challenging year, during which tourism has ground to halt, much of the City’s tourism infrastructure remains in place and will continue to be fundamental to the Calgary’s long-term success. Calgary and Alberta’s tourism sector, including hotels, restaurants and cafes, sport and recreation, and arts and culture, are all focused on welcoming people and ensuring we are a destination of choice. However, each of these have seen major challenges this past year – an indication of the hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. By the numbers: The impact of COVID-19 on the sector •Alberta has seen an 82.4 per cent decrease in air passenger travel, year over year. •The sector’s unemployment rate was 16.2 per cent as of February 2021. •Hotel occupancy has decreased by 21.6 per cent, year over year. BRIGHT LIGHTS AT THE END OF THE RUNWAY: THE FUTURE OF THE INDUSTRY With the past year shaking the industry to its core, the tourism sector has the opportunity to reimagine its future. With rapid change affecting every part of the economy, we outline some of the key trends that industry experts close to home and around the world were focussed on before the pandemic, and how tourism might change after too. Experts in Calgary and elsewhere over the last few years have focused on key trends in the sector: Long-term trends in the Tourism sector •China continues to have the most outbound tourists. •There is an increased demand for experienced-based tourism.



•We see a trend towards ‘slow travel’ that prioritizes rest over sightseeing.

•Sustainability is top-of-mind for many Canadians, planning trips or choosing travel products that minimize their carbon footprint. What the pandemic might mean for recovery The pandemic has disrupted every aspect of our lives and analysts predict the pandemic will have lasting impacts, some of which may alter the trajectory of the trends outlined above. a) A continued focus on social distancing Our current need to maintain a safe distance from others during the pandemic may become a staple of travel. Crowded places, and even entire cities, may now induce anxiety for some travellers instead of the excitement they once did. Tour operators may have to shift their programming to accommodate smaller groups and social distancing, even as the pandemic ramps down. An added challenge will be providing this space for travellers sustainably as we combat climate change and transition to the low carbon economy of the future. b) Shifting transportation and market expectations The pandemic may influence where people want to travel and how they want to get there. Destinations that controlled outbreaks well during the pandemic may see a boost in popularity given a new association with safety. At the same time, the means of getting to a particular destination might change, too, as travellers may now demand increased cleanliness and safety precautions before travelling by road, rail or plane. c) A focus on reunion travel For so many, the pandemic has meant time away from friends and family – birthdays, celebrations and special moments have been missed. The loss of these moments may catalyze a new focus on reunion travel when pandemic restrictions make it safe to do so. This emerging trend will likely require less planning of incountry activities, and greater focus on providing safe transportation and accommodation plans to-and-from a reunion destination for tourists.


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(From top to bottom) Michael Stark, Franco Vignone, Michael Welch. Photo by Riverwood Photography.


im and Rita Welch founded their company in 1971, using their oldest son’s vacated bedroom as an office. From there, the Welch Company – Welco – became the regional go-to for finding rental or specialized equipment for a number of major potash and coal projects being developed in Western Canada. Through dogged determination and hard work, Jim attracted the attention of some major U.S.-based equipment suppliers. “We were able to negotiate representative agreements, and we morphed from a rental company into supplying production equipment to various markets in western Canada,” says Michael Welch, Jim and Rita’s son and President of Welco. It wasn’t long before Welco outgrew the back bedroom and moved into a small warehouse office complex. Continued growth forced Welco to move again, first into one bay in Foothills Industrial and then taking over another bay and another until the company was spread across nine bays. This disconnected workspace didn’t support Welco’s collaborative environment, so in 2016, the team moved Welco into a new 25,000-square-foot complex on 61 Avenue SE that brought its distribution centre and factory-authorized service centre all under one roof. “Moving to a consolidated location totally transformed the company,” he says. “We increased the volume of sales around 35 per cent in a single year, just because we had the ability to have more inventory on hand and to do repair work, and it has provided a lot of synergy for the staff.” The company retained ownership of four of the bays and found topnotch tenants to rent those spaces from them. The team is proud to be part of the success of other local businesses starting out just like Welco had so many years before.

WELCO || 50 YEARS || 2

Today, Welco has expanded more than just its offices. It also diversified its business from strictly mining products to now including clients in industrial food and beverage, pharmaceuticals and biotech, pulp and paper, pulse and grain crops, energy and manufacturing. The company has the solution, regardless of what you’re pumping, moving or mixing. Besides quality equipment, Welco is also providing factory-trained authorized personnel to service that equipment. As more clients outsource their repair work, this remanufacturing arm is becoming a larger part of Welco’s business. By maintaining these multiple revenue streams, the company has been able to continue to steadily grow the business despite down times in certain sectors. It has also grown the company by growing the staff, and Welco now has a staff of 32 employees in Calgary along with representatives working in Vancouver, Edmonton and Saskatoon and the new Fort McMurray location. That staff is made up of myriad professionals – salespeople, marketing growth analysts, licenced P.Eng.s, Red Seal industrial mechanics, CPA accounting professionals, logistic experts, Management Information Systems and Business Intelligence analysts – who come together to help their clients succeed. The staff also includes the third generation to be involved in this western Canada family business. Michael Welch credits his dad’s work ethic (which spread throughout the company and took root in every department) with Welco’s 50 successful years in business. The people are the difference, and the company works hard to attract and retain talented people. It also supports apprentice

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WELCO || 50 YEARS || 3

Michael Stark, Peter Lipp, Ryan Bouffard, Michael Welch, Liam Hodgson, Charlie Matheson and Franco Vignone. Photo by Riverwood Photography.

mechanics through the Alberta Advanced Education Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP), helping to repopulate the industry with talent through grassroots development of the trade.

50 Years Strong and only getting stronger

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Congratulations to Welco on reaching 50 years in business! We’re proud to help you enter your next few decades with thousands of new leads to lean on.


“There are 32 people in the whole company and look at all that fire power,” says Michael Stark, Sales Director for Welco. “The company has really been built around establishing and operating in all functional areas.” While most distributors simply offer clients a catalog of products to choose from, Welco takes a more active, holistic approach. Staff know the inventory inside and out and pride themselves on delivering more than just a piece of equipment; Welco delivers solutions. The team learns the clients’ specific needs and collaborates with them to find the highest quality customized equipment that best fits those needs, all the while helping them become greener and more efficient through innovative solutions like using a cyclone solution to help a foundry clean quench water for extended use while easing demand on the environment Since the beginning, Welco has been dedicated to helping its partners succeed and Michael and his team have carried on Jim’s tradition of going above and beyond to ensure that their success happens. Jim taught Michael early that it was critical to always have what customers needed,

WELCO || 50 YEARS || 4

We specialize in solving the tough, complex business challenges through proven systems for communicating with, developing and motivating people.

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Juan Torres, Michael Stark, Marcel Rodriguez and Marinela Soler.

and today that translates to a warehouse with multi-million dollars in inventory on hand so they can quickly meet clients’ needs. “For a lot of our clients, their production keeping up is part of their value to their shareholders. It goes back to our promise of maximum up-time, which is what we provide our clients,” says Michael Welch.

You’re golden!

No matter what is happening in the world, be it an economic downturn or a global pandemic, the Welco team prides itself on keeping clients up and running. When COVID-19 shut the doors of many businesses in 2020, Welco accelerated its plans to implement technology to better deliver customer service. Not only did the company not miss a beat but neither did its clients. “We’ve ramped up on digitizing archives so it’s all accessible to anyone who needs it,” says Franco Vignone, Vice President of Operations for Welco. “We’ve continued to grow our systems and provide customers with the right solutions. That’s what Welco is all about – the right people finding the right solutions for customers.” Despite the challenges of the past year, Welco is in a growth cycle as it looks to the future. It is actively adding to its team in Calgary and recently opened an office and warehouse location in Fort McMurray to better support its energy clients there. It is also

As a proud financial partner, BMO celebrates 50 years of Welco’s contributions to the business community of Alberta. ®

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WELCO || 50 YEARS || 5

Ryan Bouffard, Charlie Matheson, Liam Hodgson and Shawn Judson.

looking to add offices to provide enhanced coverage for the growing industry and geographical opportunities throughout western Canada and the territories. To better serve clients across sectors, Welco is also building on its current exclusive Business Partner’s product lines to grow its fit-for-purpose solutions. Michael Welch and his Welco team appreciate what it took for the company to reach this milestone and they continue to offer world-class equipment, service and solutions to its diverse clients. With more staff, new strategic locations and new equipment offerings complementing long-time product lines, Welco is All Systems Go as it enters the next half-century.

Congratulations Welco on 50 years! Mount Royal Village, 502-1550 8th Street SW Calgary, Alberta P 403.229.0411 | F 403.229.0485 | W

WELCO || 50 YEARS || 6

HEAD OFFICE 5475 61 Ave SE Calgary AB T2C 5N7 Toll Free: 1.888.279.8636

CALIBRE COATINGS 35 YEARS STRONG by Rennay Craats with photos by Riverwood Photography


erry Jennett forged a career in painting quite by accident. As a University of Calgary geology graduate, he quickly discovered there were few jobs available amid the oil price crash in 1986. What started as a way to earn money in university turned into a post-university career. Jennett purchased an old truck, threw in his ladder and painting tools, and Terry Jennett Painting was born. Calibre Coatings 35 Years Strong • 1


Walter Godek - Estimator, Barry McGraw - Estimator, Kevin Ford - Sr. Production Manager, Isabell Motz - Estimator, Chris Kulbaba - Chief Operating Officer, Terry Jennett - President, Teana Lindsay - Project Coordinator, Austin Quach - Estimator, John Wayne Eslinger - Business Development Manager, Shaun Christie - Production Manager and Brian Walpot - Production Manager. Inset: Alberto Sgrosso - Chief Estimator.

Over the next 35 years, he grew the company from a small truck-and-ladder outfit to a large commercial painting firm that employs over 200 people during its summer peak. Much has changed since the early days; Jennett changed the name to Calibre Coatings, expanded operations and added satellite offices, and merged with another company to make Calibre Coatings one of the biggest painting contractors in Western Canada. What hasn’t changed is the dedication to customer service and producing quality work that has carried the company through the decades. It remains the mission of Calibre to serve its commercial clients the best they can, meeting their needs while exceeding their expectations. One way Jennett found to do that was through a merger with Venture Painting in November of 2017.

“Terry and I got to know each other through the Alberta Painting Contractors Association and had the same views on various aspects of the business. After months of discussions, it made sense to join forces and move forward as a team rather than competing against each other,” says Chris Kulbaba, formerly of Venture Painting and current chief operations officer for Calibre Coatings. Both companies offered the same services and shared a dedication to ensuring customer satisfaction whether it was a small, touch-up job or a massive school board or hospital project. Each company was known for excellent results in a variety of commercial and light industrial projects, from vinyl and graphic wall coverings to pressure washing and concrete sealers, architectural coatings and floor coatings to industrial protective

Calibre Coatings 35 Years Strong • 2

It remains the mission of Calibre to serve its commercial clients the best they can, meeting their needs while exceeding their expectations. One way Jennett found to do that was through a merger with Venture Painting in November of 2017.

Congratulations Calibre Coatings on another milestone! Dulux is proud to be a trusted business partner since 1986. ®

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coatings and abrasive and water blasting. The union created a forward-thinking team that has helped grow Calibre in the province and beyond. “When Chris and I merged, we did make some changes. We looked at the positives of each company and made adjustments to enable us to better serve our customers,” says Terry Jennett, founder and president of Calibre Coatings.

Congratulations to Calibre Coatings Ltd for 35 years of hard work and dedication! Rogers Insurance is proud to support you in your commitment to excellence and safety. We wish you continued success for the future!

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Processes are streamlined, making Calibre teams more efficient on jobs. The company is able to handle large projects for clients and has a long and proven track record of quality outcomes on even the most complicated projects. Calibre has worked on numerous notable projects in Edmonton including the Stantec Tower in the Ice District and the University of Alberta Dentistry Pharmacy Redevelopment project along with projects in Calgary including Cambridge Manor and Chinook Care Centre senior centres, the South Health Campus and Brookfield Tower downtown, and the company is gearing up to work on the Lowe’s Distribution Centre and currently working on the Calgary Cancer Centre. “The Calgary Cancer Centre is one of the biggest feature projects in Calgary over the past several years. Most

Calibre Coatings 35 Years Strong • 4

Congratulations to Calibre Coatings on your 35th anniversary! Supporting your business is our business. Pros Need Pros.

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Chris Kulbaba - Chief Operating Officer, John Wayne Eslinger Business Development Manager, Kevin Ford - Sr. Production Manager and Terry Jennett - President.

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Processes are streamlined, making Calibre teams more efficient on jobs. The company is able to handle large projects for clients and has a long and proven track record of quality outcomes on even the most complicated projects. Calibre Coatings 35 Years Strong • 5

3/25/21 4:59 PM

For 35 years, Calibre Coating has built that reputation on unbeatable customer service, professionalism and a quality product. Big or small job, new or longtime client, the Calibre team will continue to bring Western Canada its very best. of the trades at the Cancer Centre have been split up amongst several companies to accommodate the project size, and for the contractor to instill trust that Calibre Coatings could complete the project effectively speaks volumes of our abilities,” says Kulbaba. Clients trust in Calibre’s expertise and experience for these projects, and they know they will get a quality product on time and on budget. For that reason, Calibre Coatings enjoys enduring relationships with longtime clients like EllisDon and PCL who have made Calibre part of their trades family. The relationships that Jennett has formed over the past 35 years have allowed the company to become a highly respected partner for Alberta’s construction industry, and other contractors look to partner with Calibre on projects as well, especially on the commercial side. The team is always open to growth opportunities both in their Alberta operations and through acquisitions that allow them to provide service to clients across Western Canada. Calibre Coatings expanded into British Columbia in 2014, acquiring a painting outfit in Kamloops called Decor8 Painting that aligned with the corporate philosophy of the head office. The team expanded from there with an office in Vancouver and a satellite location in Kelowna, all operating under the Decor8 banner but managed by Calibre in Calgary. The Calibre Group of companies include Renue Recycling which provides 100 per cent recycled paint and Cal-Res Coatings which is the residential painting branch

Congratulations to Calibre Coatings on your 35th anniversary!

in Calgary. Calibre is dedicated to providing quality workmanship, professionalism and service in every aspect of the industry. To provide quality service and products requires quality people, and Calibre Coatings has the best in the business. Just as the company attracts and retains great clients, it also attracts great staff. Some of the staff are celebrating 20-plus years with the company and are an important part of Calibre’s success over the decades. “Once we find good people, we hang on to them,” says Jennett. “It’s definitely about having the right people. I couldn’t have done this on my own.” With a staff with years of experience and expertise in all areas of painting, it’s no wonder that Calibre has become the go-to company for coatings. Business development officer John Wayne Eslinger, a new addition to Calibre’s winning team, worked for a competitor before relocating to Calibre and he saw the impact of the reputation for quality when bidding against them. “The biggest thing I battled against prior to joining the Calibre team was their great reputation for people, the quality of work and doing what they say they are going to do,” says Eslinger. “It was a hard battle to fight.” For 35 years, Calibre Coating has built that reputation on unbeatable customer service, professionalism and a quality product. Big or small job, new or longtime client, the Calibre team will continue to bring Western Canada its very best.

Head Office (Alberta) 6224 - 29th Street SE Calgary, AB Phone: (403) 287-7728 8804 51 Avenue NW Edmonton, AB, T6E 5E8 (780) 451-6680

Calibre Coatings 35 Years Strong • 6

Photo by Rebecca Lippiatt


Celebrating 75 Years of Growth and Expansion


inclair Supply Ltd. is a one-stop-shop for HVAC/R parts and equipment, custom sheet metal, and a wide range of controls. Sinclair has, and continues to be, a staple in the HVAC/R wholesale industry, all while keeping the signature family touch they have had since the very beginning. The company was originally founded as Sinclair Stove & Heating by Walter Sinclair in 1946. Walter began operations with just a handful of men in a small two car garage located in Edmonton, Alberta. In 1947, Walter brought on Dan Sorochan as a general purpose employee. Over the years, Dan worked hard and as the Sinclair grew, he moved his way up in the company. In 1953, Walter Sinclair passed away and Dan was named general manager. The small business kept growing, and in 1957 changed its name to Sinclair Supply Ltd. Along with the name change came a co-owner partnership between Dan and Walter’s son, Bill Sinclair. In the next 15 years, Dan and Bill worked to see growth and expansion for Sinclair. In 1963, the company opened a second branch in Calgary with a desire to serve Southern Alberta. Four years later in 1967, growth

The original Sinclair Stove and Heating in 1948.

continued as Sinclair moved to a new 12,000 squarefoot warehouse and office in North Edmonton. The company ended the ’60s with another branch addition, Edmonton South, and a 6,000 square-foot expansion to their main Edmonton North location. Following Bill’s retirement in 1972, Dan became the sole owner of Sinclair Supply Ltd. and worked to continue the growth and expansion he had been focused on for the last 25 years. Business was good and Sinclair found itself cramped in its Edmonton headquarters, and finally made the move in 1986 to their current location of 10914-120 Street in North Edmonton.

Sinclair Supply Ltd. • Celebrating 75 Years


Cindy, Dean, Kim and Freddy in the Edmonton North Sheet Metal Shop.

The ’80s saw considerable expansion. Branches were established in Red Deer (1987), Regina, and Saskatoon (1988), but the growth didn’t stop there. One successful decade led into the next with the ’90s ringing in four more branches; Lethbridge, Surrey, Victoria (1991), and Fort McMurray (1998). Additionally, Sinclair acquired Majestic Heating Products and amalgamated it into the South Edmonton branch to provide full sheet metal capabilities. To finish out the monumental decade, Sinclair expanded the main Edmonton warehouse to include a custom sheet metal facility for a total of 105,000 square feet of space. Following the turn of the century, Sinclair finished out its additions with branches in Nanaimo, Kelowna, and Kamloops (2004 and 2006). Grand Prairie, Prince George and Terrace (2008), and Winnipeg (2012). As past president and CEO Paul K. Lachambre states, “Dan had an uncanny ability to open his new shops in locations that were ideally situated to meet the market’s needs”. Today the company is lead by CEO Dean Herman and Dan’s daughters Kim and Cindy who are the directors of the company. Following his passing in 2019, Dan’s legacy remains an integral part of Sinclair. His daughters Kim and Cindy, directors of Sinclair, remember his leadership fondly, “We are proud to be part of a legacy our father built across Western Canada. The platform Dan built as a family business is designed to support other local businesses and the community. By cultivating relationships over the years, growing and serving customers, we are still going strong today, 75 years later.”

Following an impressive and extensive history, Sinclair has no plans of slowing momentum going in to their 75th year of business. When asked what continues to make Sinclair different than other HVAC/R retailers, Kim notes, “Being able to supply everything a customer needs to complete a new home build, an apartment project or any commercial job, and if there’s something out of the ordinary to complete the job, our team can fabricate it in our sheet metal shop to help our customers meet their project timelines.” Cindy adds, “On the service side of the business we also stock thousands of parts typically required for fast repairs if your furnace or A/C fails in extreme weather.” Although Sinclair has grown from a small two car garage, to 17 locations across Western Canada, CEO Dean Herman notes that there are three key principles that have contributed to Sinclair’s success, and have separated them from the competition. Not only are these some of the keys to Sinclair’s success, but as Dean says, “These are principles Dan believed in and worked hard to instill in the company. These same values still guide us today”. As Dean says, the main values of Sinclair’s business include, first, “Quality products and inventory; having the right part at the right time. This is part of our history, our story – Sinclair has always been the place to go for your everyday HVAC/R needs and those hard to find parts.” Secondly, “Technical support; we have some of the most knowledgeable and experienced staff in the industry, and this is something not only our customers have come to rely on, but also the industry.” And finally, the key being “Customer relationships. A number of our customers

Sinclair Supply Ltd. • Celebrating 75 Years • 2

Congratulations to the entire Sinclair Supply team on 75 outstanding years.

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Sinclair Supply Ltd. • Celebrating 75 Years • 3

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have been with us as equipment dealers for well over 20 years. Our staff consider many of these customers’ friends.” When put altogether, Dean notes, “When we do these things well it creates a bond with our customers and our staff that is hard to break.” Although Sinclair is celebrating 75 years of growth and expansion, they do not plan to stop here. Recent technological and internal improvements shows the company is putting an emphasis on remaining modern and competitive, “We are currently in the process of updating all our technology platforms. The first step was updating our ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) Tool which we just went live with in April, and now we’re on to the next phase, which is to upgrade our website and ecommerce platforms,” confirms Dean. “We know a robust online presence and ecommerce strategy is more important than ever and this is really about taking that next step to meet the changing needs of our customers. These upgrades will make it easier and more convenient for our customers to find the parts and equipment they need 24/7.” Advances not only come from a technological perspective, but also in the realm of product growth and inclusivity. As the company enters their milestone anniversary, Sinclair is excited to bring on the Luxaire and Guardian line of HVAC equipment in all 17 of their branches. This will give the company a full line of commercial packaged rooftop units and residential furnaces as well as the benefit of access to the replacement parts for the major brands that Johnson Controls manufactures. Branching outside the business world, Sinclair has and continues to be a leader in the volunteering community by partnering with causes such as Edmonton’s Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, Winhouse, Nature Conservancy, and Women Building futures. The group jokes that there are almost too many to list. Kim, Cindy, and Dean all note that giving back was something extremely important to Dan, and they work to continue that legacy today.

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Sinclair is also invested in continuing the growth and education of the HVAC/R community. On top of their previous charitable events, the company supports NAIT and SAIT through scholarships for the sheet metal, refrigeration and gasfitter apprenticeship programs and donations of equipment and parts to the different trades departments. On Sinclair’s 60th anniversary the company celebrated by contributing its largest donation in support of education to the SAIT RECfund. In 2006 in celebration of Sinclair’s 60th anniversary the company also donated $100,000 to NAIT in support of the HVACR programs. When Dan presented the cheque he said, “I don’t know of a finer place than NAIT to educate and maintain the workforce in our industry.” Sinclair upholds Dan’s view on the

Sinclair Supply Ltd. • Celebrating 75 Years • 4

importance of educating the HVAC/R workforce through donations of $75,000 each to NAIT and SAIT in 2021 as a celebration of the company’s 75th anniversary. Cindy mentions another fun fact and very unique way in which Sinclair gives back. “Dan always had a love for dogs and one way to give back was to help the Edmonton K9 unit. Since 1990, when our main Edmonton North warehouse is empty in the evening hours, our location is used to train police dogs.”

Thank you Sinclair Supply Ltd. for helping ensure our products are getting to the right customers at the right time.

Congratulations on your 75th Anniversary!

Summarizing the 75 years, Cindy, Kim, and Dean all believe it is important to say thank you to their vendors and longtime partners. “Without their support, we would not be here today.” They would also like to acknowledge Paul K. Lachambre. “Paul retired from Sinclair in September of 2020. Prior to joining Sinclair as president in 2015, Paul was Dan’s personal and Sinclair’s corporate lawyer for over 40 years. He was a trusted friend and advisor to Dan and was instrumental in setting up the leadership succession of the company upon Dan’s retirement in 2017.” Cindy and Kim want to recognize Dean for, “his keen and thoughtful leadership during these unprecedented times. Dean didn’t miss a beat. With the building of our company-wide team, he brings new excitement and anticipation for Sinclair’s presence in the HVAC/R industry in Western Canada.” As a summary of the company today, the group says, “We are in the early stages of our five-year strategic plan, which is focused on investing in our people, technology, buildings and infrastructure. These are key foundational needs to ensure we live up to Dan’s principles of providing excellent technical support, service and availability of product. These things are what distinguish us in our industry and what our customers and employees have come to expect.” It’s been more than 75 years since Walter opened up shop in a small garage and Dan joined Sinclair Supply as a 19-year-old teen. Both men would be rightfully proud of the foundation they set for the company, how their influence continues to inspire its success, and how Sinclair Supply Ltd. continues to positively impact the industry and the community now, and in the years to come.

Congratulations to Sinclair Supply on your 75th anniversary. Johnson Controls thanks you for your continued partnership and dedication to the industry. We are proud to be your preferred HVAC/R Controls supplier of choice.

CALGARY 4033 9th Street SE Calgary, AB T2G 3C7 Phone: 403-571-6340 Social media: @sinclairsupplyltd on Instagram, and Sinclair Supply Ltd. on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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Sinclair Supply Ltd. • Celebrating 75 Years • 5





ou don’t have to remind Kurby Court that the last year and a half has been a rollercoaster ride. He’s had a front-row seat.

Court’s first day as president and CEO of the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre was March 4, 2020. Two weeks later, Canada was in a pandemic, prompting him to lay off staff, followed by a seesaw of restrictions easing, tightening and eventually resulting in the convention centre becoming Alberta’s largest vaccination site.


all the more difficult by new, and foreign, remote working conditions. “Up to this point, we, as an organization, had been very contact focused,” says Court. “For this team to go remote was a stretch. Remote working was something we were never intending to set up.

“It’s been an absolute rollercoaster,” says Court. “But the biggest thing for us is every single staff member here knows we’re contributing to re-opening.”

“Not surprisingly, virtual fatigue set in early. There was the stress of rearranging the convention calendar. Emotions were at an all-time high. The technology wasn’t there to begin with. We had to quickly pivot, including putting our leadership capabilities to the test on how to handle this, especially from a human aspect.”

Seeing the forest through the trees started at the outset of the pandemic for Court as his team sought to make sense of the pandemic’s impact to the convention calendar – made

Fast-forward to a year later and many of his staff are now back on site to some degree. But it has also led Court to the inevitable question of what will his workplace look like moving forward?



“For the foreseeable future, I see us keeping remote working in play,” he says. “And I think our employees have come to value the flexibility – and for us to trust them doing it. From an employee-employer relationship, this can be a real nice opportunity for employers to showcase their trust.” Court is not alone. As vaccine efforts shine a light at the end of the tunnel, more flexible work arrangements are being considered by many organizations as a permanent solution. At the Chamber of Commerce, Ruhee Ismail-Teja, acting director of policy and communications, says many members have shifted the culture within their organization to be more focused on deliverables and, in many cases, are rethinking the role of the workplace. “Most of what I’m hearing from our members is about shifting to a hybrid approach. A lot have expressed how hard it is to collaborate without being in the office, but they also see the value of flexibility,” she says. For the Chamber itself, staff have been working from home throughout the pandemic. Ismail-Teja says because the transition to remote working has gone smoothy, there hasn’t been a rush to go back to the office and, therefore, are anticipating working from home for the remainder of the second quarter with a re-evaluation closer to summer. “Longer term, we are planning to go back mostly or completely full time, as many of us miss the social aspects of work, particularly being a small staff team,” she says. “That said, I think we will have added flexibility for employees given that we have confidence in our staff team’s ability to do great work while away from the office.” At Stikeman Elliott, preparations for a possible remote work scenario began long before the official order home in March 2020. Nicole Lecours, executive director of the Calgary office, says business continuity preparations involved all offices from across the country, and, as a result, “we were quick to make the transition to remote. It was incredibly smooth in terms of how well it went and how efficiently people were able to function.” While a small contingent of staff have remained on site throughout the pandemic, the rest have largely remained

“IT’S BEEN AN ABSOLUTE ROLLERCOASTER,” SAYS COURT. “BUT THE BIGGEST THING FOR US IS EVERY SINGLE STAFF MEMBER HERE KNOWS WE’RE CONTRIBUTING TO REOPENING.” remote. Lecours estimates at the high end, only 15 per cent of the staff have been in the office at a given time – compared with a full-time in-office environment pre-pandemic. As for the future, Lecours says Stikeman Elliott is still having those conversations to determine the best fit moving forward. “But one interesting piece involves office space planning for the workforce of the future, for when our lease expires,” she says. “That is a huge factor because at that time we will need to decide how much space we need, and how it needs to be designed. Whatever we decide will undoubtedly reflect what we have learned from our remote operations during the pandemic.” Koula Vasilopoulos, district president for Western Canada and South America at global human resource consulting firm Robert Half, agrees that “flexibility” will be a prevalent theme moving forward.





Alistair Shepherd-Cross, president and co-founder of Teamit, a Calgary-based company that specializes in helping companies recruit, cultivate and sustain high-performing, remote technical teams, noted over the past six months many companies have come to the realization that some form of remote working might be viable post pandemic. “Many have seen the value of remote work and have put to bed a lot of the old biases and concerns about productivity and whether it could actually be done,” says Shepherd-Cross, whose company has helped move more than a dozen tech companies from the Silicon Valley to Calgary over the past four years.

“THEY WANT THAT CHOICE. THEY WANT TO BE ABLE TO MAKE THE CHOICE THAT’S RIGHT FOR THEM WITHOUT ANY KIND OF GUILT TIED TO IT,” SAYS VASILOPOULOS, WHO IS BASED IN CALGARY. “They want that choice. They want to be able to make the choice that’s right for them without any kind of guilt tied to it,” says Vasilopoulos, who is based in Calgary. Those sentiments were backed by a recent survey by Robert Half that found more than half of all employees surveyed prefer a hybrid work arrangement. Interestingly, one-third would look for a new job if required to be in the office full time. “(The responses) were not surprising to me at all. It’s not only consistent with what clients have been telling us,” says Vasilopoulos. “As we’ve navigated through the last year, they’ve recognized there’s benefit to work-life integration, but also a realization that they miss the human interaction – the social part of working with others. “The sooner that companies can understand the needs, the wants and the desires of their employees and the people on their team, the sooner they’ll be able to begin to help people shape what their future space looks like.”

“They’ve seen the realization that this is the future and have embraced a lot of the things that have gone on over the past 12 to 16 months. And it’s poured rocket fuel on something that was already going on.” Shepherd-Cross also anticipates many sectors will see increased competition for talent as job seekers have more choices for companies willing to hire outside of the local area. “People looking for work now have vast numbers of opportunities to consider compared to what they did a year ago, which has made the entire market more competitive and has already started to push up salaries,” he says. Dr. Laura Hambley, Calgary-based partner at Humance, a national human resources consulting firm and co-founder of Work EvOHlution, adds that while Calgary has been an employers’ market for some time, that will soon shift to the employees’ favour. “In the war for talent, organizations that have adopted flexibility as part of their culture will win,” says Hambley, who has been focused on remote team leadership as early as 2003, including authoring books on telework adoption. “People will leave for less money in exchange for flexibility.” Yet she adds that in this hybrid environment, Hambley adds it won’t be black and white, either. “It can’t be a manager saying yes or no,” she says. “A true hybrid will be done as a strategic transformation into the future of work and what we want our organization to be.” ABOVE: KOULA VASILOPOULOS, DISTRICT PRESIDENT FOR WESTERN CANADA AND SOUTH AMERICA AT ROBERT HALF.



Tony Cade, Susan Cohen, Peter Stow, Debbie Williamson and Dave Ashwell.


by Rennay Craats with photos by Riverwood Photography

n 1981, Nik Binder turned his proclivity for tinkering with the University of Saskatoon’s mass spectrometers into a business dedicated to servicing these scientific instruments for users across Canada and beyond. In the early 1990s, Nik moved the operation to Calgary and added Peter Stow, who worked for a similar company in the UK, to the team in 1994 to help him build the company in Alberta. And build it they did. Isomass Scientific Inc. grew into an internationally respected company with an expanded product line of instruments for sale and service along with the parts and consumables required for these instruments from

internationally renown companies such as Elemental Microanalysis and Adaptas. Isomass Scientific became exclusive distributors for a range of magnetic sector mass spectrometers along with elemental analyzers and lasers from Thermo Fisher Scientific and Teledyne Scientific and Imaging, bringing their high-quality technology to customers. “We are proud to be distributors for some pretty big companies and have exclusivity in Canada for the products of theirs that we sell,” says Peter Stow, President ISOMASS SCIENTIFIC || 40 YEARS


of Isomass Scientific. “It’s a matter of knowing your market and being a big fish in that market so that people come to you as the preferred supplier.” And Isomass is the preferred supplier for university science departments, government laboratories and private laboratories across Canada and around the world. For 40 years, Isomass has outfitted laboratories with quality equipment in four product categories: isotopic analysis, elemental and trace analysis, laboratory and ancillaries, and fragmentation. While it is in a niche market predominantly featuring mass spectrometers, Isomass has expanded its offerings to provide broader service to clients. ISOMASS SCIENTIFIC || 40 YEARS || 2

“We’ve taken on a couple of other product lines from different manufacturers that complement the main products we sell,” says Peter. “They don’t have a lot to do with mass spectrometry but I see these machines in almost every geology department I go into across Canada.” For example, Isomass offers grinding equipment that produces geological thin sections measuring 25 microns, allowing geologists to identify the crystals in rock. The company is also promoting the possibilities of SELFRAG (selective fragmentation) equipment that uses up to 200,000 volts to liberate minerals for analysis, fragment materials for processing and disaggregate products for recycling, all in mere seconds. Isomass conducted a trial

support for customers. Peter acknowledges that many of Isomass’s clients are university departments or government laboratories using grant money to build or expand their labs, and there isn’t often much left over for support contracts. Isomass’s philosophy is that each sale is an investment, and supporting customers throughout the lifetime of the instruments for free via phone and email will encourage them to return to Isomass for future orders. “When students move on to start their own labs or move into the industry, if they have been supported, who are they more likely to lean on down the road?” Peter says. “We’ve very much taken the long-term view.” That long-term view has paid off. Most major universities in Canada, and many minor ones, have labs populated by Isomass instruments. In Alberta alone, the University of Calgary has eight Isomass instruments in its labs and the University of Alberta boasts 10. For some clients, new equipment isn’t in the budget, so Isomass is happy to take back equipment at the end of its life and repurpose it. If it’s in good condition, technicians refurbish it for resale and if it’s not feasible to refurbish, Isomass strips it for hard-to-find parts for client repairs.

that found this technology could separate the oil from the sand in the tar sands, an application that has potential if a user is interested in exploring the technology to scale it up. “Most scientific instruments are a tool that you use, and it’s not the tool itself that is interesting, it’s the application of it,” he says. Over the years, Isomass has gotten to know its market well and is invested in clients’ success. The team doesn’t just deliver an instrument and walk away. Instead, the firm incorporates a strong support component into the business, offering maintenance and service on instruments as well as lifetime phone and email ISOMASS SCIENTIFIC || 40 YEARS || 3

“A used instrument gets one of our products in their lab, and they get accustomed to it and the software that’s provided with it. Often that will lead them to come to us when they do have the funds for a new or additional instrument,” says Dave Ashwell, Operations Manager for Isomass Scientific. In the same vein, the markets are small, with at most 3,000 laboratories using these expensive instruments worldwide. Not only do many scientists know each other but they often collaborate on projects. Word travels quickly and recommendations carry weight; Isomass’s reputation for quality products, support and service attracts scientists to the company if they are in the market for instruments or consumables. Isomass works hard to ensure clients are successful with their instruments. It has a robust operator training program for new and preowned instruments that attracts users from all over the world. In fact, it is such a good program that its manufacturing partner Thermo sells its clients the Isomass training courses, and two of Isomass’s engineers have presented courses at the factory to the manufacturer’s own engineers. “This shows our standing with our supply partners and the power of our reputation,” says Peter.

That reputation is also one of great service that keeps clients’ laboratories running. Isomass carries a significant inventory to ensure that service technicians will have what they need when they need it. With a large customer base in Eastern Canada, Alberta’s earlier time zone allows them to receive a late request from Ontario or Quebec and still have time to overnight ship parts to the lab saving clients downtime and extra labour costs for service calls. Isomass Scientific has worked with many customers for their entire lab careers, staying connected and engaged with the community through industry workshops as well as ongoing support. After 40 years in business, Isomass has turned suppliers into partners, customers into friends and staff into family. Whether it’s a local laboratory or one as far away as Serbia or Argentina, Isomass Scientific provides the instruments and support they need to succeed.

#140, 5700 – 1 Street SW Calgary, AB T2H 3A9 Phone: (403) 255-6631 | T/Free: (800) 363-7823 | Email: ISOMASS SCIENTIFIC || 40 YEARS || 4


McKenzie Meadows Golf Tip:



have only golfed a couple of times this season. Of the five people I golfed with, three of them have asked me to help them with their short game. Considering one of the other five golfers was our head golf professional, this seems like a large percentage asking for help with their short game. These three golfers have a lot in common: • Avid golfers, playing golf two to three times a week. A three, nine and fourteen handicap. • They putt from absurd places; even through rough at times because their confidence is so poor. • None of them have committed to a golf lesson (even though they talk about it), but all of them watch videos and try to gather information from the internet. • They practice and insist that they just need to get their timing down. These three guys are all successful business people and were high achievers in sport; a former Calgary Flame, a National Team hockey player and a president/CEO of a corporation, and so I ask myself … why do they insist they can figure this out on their own? Eventually we have to own our swing and figure it out for ourselves, but this is different than doing it on our own. The short game should be easy, shouldn’t it? We have all kinds of information on all aspects of the swing and/or the short game available to us on the internet. So why not just fix the problem ourselves? Firstly, you need to know

what the problem is to fix it. Surely you are not doing everything wrong. If you are trying numerous things, you might just be clouding your mind with stuff. Or maybe you are trying to change something you are already doing correctly. So you blame it on timing and you continue to work at your game, some good, some bad, but no real and consistent improvement your abilities. My tip is this. Get some help! Forget about all the information that is bombarding your brain from the internet. See a PGA of Canada professional and have him/her probably evaluate your technique, and improve your understanding of where you are and where you want to be. Provide the structure and drills you need to assist you in your progress. The same basic structure and help a coach or mentor assists with to help you achieve success in business and sport. Now, to my three Amigos: I know you are not coming to a lesson, so here is a drill to help you with your chips and short pitch shots. Not a tip, but a drill. I have analyzed your chip and pitch swings and you all have this in common: overactive wrist and hand motion resulting in topped shots, fat shots and on occasion a good shot. This pattern has led to your lack of confidence. Drill: Set up and hit some one-arm chips with an eight iron. First using your left, then with your right. Now try this in a short pitch swing using a sand wedge. When you can hit five good shots with each hand, you can add the other hand.





here are so many reasons for the terrific popularity of Calgary’s Springbank Links Golf Club. Most of them have something to do with golf!

Of course, the play, the game and the layout are important. But it’s more, much more than that. “It is not always the best courses that get the best results,” says the Kevin Heise, the general manager of Calgary’s Springbank Links, operated by the Windmill Golf Group. “We have a very good course, but how we welcome and treat people is a key feature that is appreciated by golfers and drives our tee sheet. Everyone expects good playing conditions, a cold beer and a great steak. So if we are doing just that, we are average.” In addition to superb golf, the Springbank experience makes it special. “We have always said we want to be the Disneyland of golf clubs,” he adds, “by being incredibly welcoming and friendly. Of course, location, a challenging but enjoyable layout, a friendly atmosphere and excellent service are vital. But we constantly adjust our ways of doing things to provide our membership with ‘more-thangolf’ benefits.” The solid popularity is resounding proof that golf is great at Springbank, although Springbank golfers do have their favorites and challenges. Heise acknowledges that “Of course the 19th hole – complete with 16 taps! – is always a big hit, but before you get there, hole #5 is an incredible par-3 over a steep coulee, backdropped by the Bearspaw

Reservoir and Bow River valley which is stunning. There’s golfer consensus that Springbank’s hole #7 is probably the most challenging. It requires a drive through a narrow chute of trees and then another carry over a gully to make the green. Two accurate shots are needed. “On the back, hole #14 is a great golf hole. A long par-4, wrapping around a lake with the green alongside an overhauled sandstone waterfall, one of our winter reno projects that turned out super.” Great golf, manicured fairways and greens, friendly staff with exceptional service and constant improvements and golfer-centric innovation are the keys to the Springbank Links experience. The pandemic speedbumps of 2020 have been an example of Springbank’s innovation when it comes to charity and corporate tournaments. “Some are postponing, but it can be done,” Heise says with enthusiasm. “Instead of doing a shotgun start that may break AHS gathering rules, tee times can be assigned back-to-back-to-back. The key part is, rather than gathering afterwards for the traditional banquet, we run multiple food stations and BBQs to feed everyone on the course, sprinkle in some drink holes and tie fundraising over certain holes as well. Scorecards are collected and the day’s results are emailed out to all participants. It works really well.” Just another example of the Springbank Links specialness.





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To see what else is new at Springbank Links visit: BUSINESSINCALGARY.COM // BUSINESS IN CALGARY // JUNE 2021





oliticians have always been seen as fair game for the media, but few have allowed themselves to be such a good target as our provincial government.

So many expected so much from a return of a conservative party but feel let down because its popularity has sure taken a hit. Leadership and timing are so important yet decisions have been made that deserve us taking a shot at. First off, at a time when the world is taking notice of climate change and the terrible damage to our environment – Brazilian rain forests – it is not time to suggest topping off a mountain to dig for coal. A deserved public backlash. And then after recognizing that people are fed up with the pandemic and are being urged to take in some fresh air for health’s sake, why slap an entrance fee on Kananaskis. We were told that all moneys would go back into the park, but starting with new parking lots is not something the chipmunks and chickadees might get too excited about.

City council have not been behaving much better. Experts at waffling. Do any of us really know where we are at with our money being spent on a new arena, Green Line or the proposed revitalization of downtown? A question on the downtown plan is why has Calgary Economic Development hired a Toronto company to help? And I note in its comments that housing is important but although I applaud the new residential towers by HomeSpace, the idea of encouraging more seniors’ living, affordable housing and student accommodations will do little for the high-end retail and fine dining establishments. One more city hall comment. We will be getting a new mayor and at least half a dozen new alderman come October.



Probably about time, but the scary thing is there is no apprenticeship to becoming an alderman – or even a mayor. Yet the new people sitting in the chambers could be quickly deciding on big budget items.

Time for a smile. I read a quote by Warren Buffet in the Berkshire Hathaway annual report: “Ronald Reagan cautioned that it’s said that hard work never killed anyone, but I say why take the risk?”

I note that the nominees for new members of the Glenbow Museum include a great grand niece of Louis Riel, a member of the Blood Tribe in Lethbridge and a member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte in Southern Ontario. Good thinking. And I hope that they will help put an emphasis on the Museum side that was such a passion of founder Eric Harvie, as well as the Glenbow’s interest in being a contemporary art gallery.

Hi-Tech is deemed to be the saviour of the city, but it’s not a new industry for Calgary; many firms were launched after the post-NEP downturn. That’s when Premier Peter Lougheed created a joint venture telecom company with NovAtel to help diversify the province’s economy.

Final Words A bird in the hand is worth two Kleenex.

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