Business in Edmonton - February 2019

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Supporting the visions of entrepreneurs one story at a time. Volume 7 | Number 2



Corporate Income Tax Rates Don’t Show the Full Picture By Terry O’Flynn, AEG Chairman




Committed to Caring Dawn Harsch engages a new generation of business owners as Edmonton’s Chamber of Commerce chair By Nerissa McNaughton







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Manufacturing Competitiveness is an Election Issue By David MacLean, CME Alberta Vice President

Alberta Businesses Tangled in Red Tape By Amber Ruddy

dmonton Chamber E of Commerce



Capilano Library We are Edmonton’s construction leaders. We look beyond your immediate needs to see the bigger picture, provide solutions, and ensure that we exceed your expectations. We work with our clients to understand their goals, overcome challenges, and earn their trust. We are PCL Construction.

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Supporting the visions of entrepreneurs one story at a time. Volume 7 | Number 2





53 57 60

30 37 49

V alard

Celebrates 40 Years

U ltimate Homes & Renovations


Celebrates 15 Years

67 60



Alberta’s exempt securities market has come a long way, but does it live up to its promise to be an oasis of calm for jittery investors? By Ben Freeland

Serving Something for Everyone Edmonton’s diversity meshes well with our venues, caterers, and tourism operators By Nerissa McNaughton

The Big MBA Advantage The MBA degree provides skills and advantages that go beyond the classroom and beyond the boardroom By Jamelie Bachaalani

FSA & RRSP: Retirement T Savings Tips from the Professionals Three financial experts share their advice on how anyone at any age can save for a comfortable retirement By Zachary Edwards

Celebrates 40 Years


Exempt Market to the Rescue?

Building into the Future Construction gets technical and innovations continue to emerge By Fay Fletcher

New Year. New Name. Same Remarkable Experience. Downtown Edmonton’s largest event space, previously known as the Shaw Conference Centre, returned to its roots as the Edmonton Convention Centre on January 1

FOR EVERYTHING THAT CAN GO WRONG UNDER YOUR ROOF, THERE’S THE NUMBER THAT LIVES UNDER OURS. Fifty percent of businesses may never re-open after a disaster. That’s why knowing the easiest way to contact SERVPRO® is so important. Because the sooner you get in touch with us, the quicker we can start to minimize the damage, as well as the cost. Just contact SERVPRO of Calgary South or SERVPRO of Edmonton Southside to activate the cleanup team that’s faster to any-sized disaster. We’re a leader in giving control back to homeowners, property managers and even entire communities after the ravaging effects of water and fire. So whether you’re responsible for 1,000 square feet or 100,000 – it’s your decision to call on the very best. Your trusted, local SERVPRO professional. Services in Canada provided by independently owned & operated franchises of SERVPRO International, LLC.


Business in Edmonton Inc.



Just like you, we know the opportunities and challenges of doing business in Alberta.


Put an Alberta Blue Cross employer benefit plan to work for you. Call us today.

780-498-8500 | Photo by Katarina Kaempfe, Alberta Blue Cross employee.

Brent Trimming


Nerissa McNaughton Nikki Gouthro


Jessi Evetts


Nancy Bielecki

REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS Amber Ruddy Terry O’Flynn David MacLean

THIS ISSUE’S CONTRIBUTORS Nerissa McNaughton Zachary Edwards Fay Fletcher Ben Freeland Jamelie Bachaalani


Cover photo by Epic Photography Inc.


Sarah Sikora Evelyn Dehner Bobbi Joan O’Neil Chris MIller



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Corporate Income Tax Rates Don’t Show the Full Picture BY TERRY O’FLYNN, CHAIRMAN, ALBERTA ENTERPRISE GROUP


axes in Alberta are famously competitive, and they are part of what makes up the Alberta Advantage. However, even as rates for small business have dropped, it’s clear that the tax rate is not showing the full picture of what’s going on in Alberta’s business community.

And let’s face it, Edmonton is still very largely tied to oil and gas. With pipeline disputes, protests and everything else preventing the energy industry from bouncing back, too many businesses are faced with increasing costs, uncertain futures, and shrinking profit margins.

Since the beginning of 2017, small businesses in Alberta have enjoyed a drop in the tax rate from 3 per cent to 2 per cent. Larger corporations have seen their taxes increase from 10 per cent to 12 per cent, but on a federal level, small business taxes went down, dropping a full per cent from 11 to 10 between 2015 and 2018. Corporate income tax on the federal level remained steady at 15 per cent since 2012.

But thank goodness we have a competitive tax rate, right?

Make no mistake; taxes on business are a good thing. They help pay for the things Canadians have earned and deserve, from our world-renowned healthcare system to everyday things like roads and grants and incentive programs. However, it’s a big mistake to just look at the competitive tax rate and assume that businesses are thriving. In many cases, they are not. Corporate income tax is paid on what is left after expenses are deducted from profits. Those expenses include everything it takes to keep the lights on, like gas and electricity, and employees’ salaries. Over the past few years, small businesses have been hit again and again with impacts that erode their profits. In Edmonton businesses must deal with sharply rising property taxes on top of increased minimum wage (and its impact on the entire wage scale), carbon tax, increased fuel costs and more. Therefore, many businesses are working harder, but earning less.

Again, taxes are paid from what’s left when expenses are deducted from earnings. Lower profits mean paying less taxes – and that affects the public sector, infrastructure, and everything else those taxes pay for. The recession is supposed to be over, but for the many companies that borrowed to the limit to stay afloat, the struggle continues. Rather than just pointing to a nice tax rate and assuming Edmonton business are doing well because they pay less tax than other provinces, let’s start taking a long, hard, and honest look at what can really help our economy – supporting business in more effective ways. While Alberta continues to argue about Kinder Morgan, the Americans have placed thousands of kilometres of pipeline. While other provinces and countries fight to be competitive, Alberta is locked in pointless squabbles and a punitive framework that keeps us from being a big player – or a player at all on the world’s economic stage. We may have a great tax rate, but what we need is real support to keep the lights on and our workforce gainfully employed.




Manufacturing Competitiveness is an Election Issue BY DAVID MACLEAN


more diverse, resilient Alberta economy depends on a strong manufacturing sector. With an election around the corner, it’s time to put manufacturing on the provincial agenda. You’ve probably heard it a million times, but Alberta is moving in the wrong direction when it comes to competitiveness. While everyone agrees we need a stronger manufacturing sector in order to stabilize the provincial economy and smooth out the boom and bust cycle, it’s getting tougher to make things in Alberta. The provincial government raised corporate taxes during a downturn, biting into already dwindling business profits. Changes to occupational health and safety rules add additional burdens and WCB premiums are on the rise. Of course, the carbon levy adds another layer of cost to doing business. This election could be a turning point. It’s a time to take a good, hard look at our business climate and stake out policy positions aimed at putting people back to work and diversifying the economy. At Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), we’ve been calling for the creation of a formal manufacturing strategy – a blue print that would guide the province toward doubling manufacturing output by 2030. That plan would apply to other sectors as well, but manufacturing (including petrochemicals) would be central. What would a manufacturing strategy in Alberta look like? To begin, it would assess how Alberta (and Canada generally) stacks up internationally when it comes to attracting investment. Alberta has some disadvantages – it’s a landlocked province with a high cost of living. It also has advantages – including a world class oil and gas sector that

serves as a bedrock market for Alberta-made products, and a highly-skilled and technology-savvy workforce. In order to capitalize on these strengths, we need to make Alberta an attractive place to invest, and that starts with tax policy. Finance Minister Joe Ceci applauded (as did we) the feds when they unveiled their more aggressive Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance – allowing manufacturers the flexibility to write off 100 per cent of equipment and technology investments within the first year. Why not mirror that policy provincially? We also need a plan to address one of the biggest challenges for manufacturers – the attraction and retention of skilled labour. We must do a better job of promoting manufacturing and trades as viable career options. We need to make it easier and less costly for manufacturers to do inhouse training to ensure our people have the skills needed to compete globally. We need to work with other levels of government to reduce barriers to labour mobility in the country and provide incentives for workers to relocate to high-demand jurisdictions. There are countless ways to boost manufacturing, but it all begins with a plan. Alberta’s political leaders first must acknowledge that Alberta isn’t attracting the investment needed to sustain growth into the future, and that needs to change. This election is an ideal time to present ideas to voters for growing the sector, creating jobs and diversifying the economy.




Success Adds Up

Laura Boyko – Edmonton

Carling Tang – Edmonton

Niko Carman – Edmonton

Beni Hopfe – Edmonton

Prashant Borda – Edmonton

Raymond Ma – Edmonton

Kali Morris – Leduc

Lindsay Lenton – Leduc

Jessica Tiessen – Fort McMurray

Moe Farhat – Fort McMurray

Success is the result of perseverance, hard work and the ability to capitalize on opportunities. MNP proudly congratulates our Edmonton, Leduc and Fort McMurray team members on successfully completing the 2018 Common Final Exam (CFE). As a leading national accounting and business consulting firm, here are 10 more ways we can help your business succeed. For more information, contact Dustin Sundby, Regional Managing Partner, at 780.453.5382 or


Alberta Businesses Tangled in Red Tape BY AMBER RUDDY


ave you ever waited on hold for government information? Been given conflicting advice on how to comply? Endured silly, redundant or downright confusing instruction? Then you know what it’s like to experience red tape. Unfortunately for business owners, this is an ongoing challenge that tends to increase in complexity year after year. Having to spend time and money to understand government regulations and deal with red tape impedes small business growth. In fact, about three in five small business owners feel excessive government regulation discourages them from growing their business. To combat the red tape dilemma of “death by a thousand paper cuts,” the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) hosts an annual Red Tape Awareness Week – dedicated to highlighting the burden, cost and impact of excessive regulations on small business owners. CFIB has been leading the fight against over-regulation for more than 10 years – and we’re nowhere near finished. The average business owner doesn’t have a human resources or compliance team to navigate red tape – it falls squarely on their shoulders. Progress nationally shows more politicians and decision-makers recognize the problem and are working to solve it. But more work is needed; red tape continues to be one of the top burdens business owners face. Holding provincial governments accountable for their track record is important, which is why CFIB continues to issue a Red Tape Report Card. In the report, provinces are given a grade which assesses the progress governments make (if any) on political leadership, comprehensive public measurement, and constraints on regulators to put checks and balances in place.

IT’S TIME TO SHOW LEADERSHIP. THE PREMIER SHOULD MAKE COMMITMENTS IN THE BUDGET, THRONE SPEECH AND MANDATE LETTERS TO CHAMPION RED TAPE REDUCTION. The Alberta government gets a big fat “F” for being a laggard on regulatory reform. It’s time to show leadership. The premier should make commitments in the budget, throne speech and mandate letters to champion red tape reduction. The Alberta government should appoint a minister responsible for regulatory reform and accountability. A comprehensive public measure should be both credible and cover as many government rules as possible. It should include the total regulatory burden tracked over time. In addition, the measure must be reported publicly at least once a year. Finally, there should be a clear cap on government rules, so the burden doesn’t grow indefinitely. Reducing excessive regulation has real potential to grow the economy, allowing business owners to focus their resources on serving their customers, innovating, improving productivity and expanding their business. It’s time to turn awareness into action and get governments to cut red tape to bring back the Alberta Advantage.





Thank you to our 22nd Annual Snowflake Gala sponsors, guests and volunteers who helped us exceed our goal and raise more than $1 million* to fund leading-edge training for the remarkable staff at the Stollery Children’s Hospital. Together, we’re giving the sickest kids the best chance, anywhere in the world, to live a long and healthy life. We look forward to celebrating with you at our next Snowflake Gala on December 9, 2019. Thank you to our 2018 Snowflake Gala sponsors:


The Garritty’s Mike, Robi, & Family

Photos by Rob Hislop, Christina Sirman-Hundt *Gross revenue




Amazon to Build Fulfillment Centre in Leduc Leduc County is excited to welcome Amazon’s latest Canadian venture, a 1 million square foot fulfillment centre. This will be the second facility of this kind in Alberta and the 11th in Canada. An estimated 600 jobs will be created, and the opening is planned for 2020. “We are pleased to welcome Amazon – one of the world’s most innovative companies – to the community. Leduc County is business-friendly and encourages business and employment growth and diversification by creating an environment that fosters development,” said Leduc County Mayor Tanni Doblanko. “We couldn’t be more proud that Amazon has selected Leduc County as the location of its newest fulfillment centre in Canada. Amazon’s expansion will create well-paying, stable jobs for our citizens and help diversify and strengthen our local economy, the long-term sustainability of our region and our community-at-large. Leduc County is an ideal location for world-class businesses to set up or expand their operations, as evidenced by the fact Fortune 500 companies such as Amazon want to invest here.” “This announcement by Amazon is another vote of confidence in the Edmonton region as an economic hub in Alberta,” said Amarjeet Sohi, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Mill Woods and Minister of Natural Resources. “The new centre will spark economic activity and create good-paying jobs in our region. I look forward to [the] construction.” “We are working hard to encourage investment, diversification and the creation of more good jobs in Alberta,” said Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. “[The] announcement by Amazon means hundreds of jobs and more opportunities are on their way, helping to make life better for more Alberta workers and families. I want to congratulate Amazon for once again investing in Alberta and thank everyone who helped to make this investment possible.” “Our ability to create over 600 good-paying jobs with great benefits is thanks to the network of support we’ve

received and the skilled workforce in the region,” said Glenn Sommerville, director of Amazon Operations in Canada. “We’re grateful for the welcome we’ve received from government and community leaders and excited by our growth in Alberta and ability to better serve our customers.” The online retail giant provides incentives to employees, such as its Career Choice program that pays up to 95 per cent of tuition for courses that provide education for in-demand fields. Employees do not have to train in skills particular to Amazon to access this program. Since Career Choice launched, more than 16,000 employees around the world have worked towards degrees in diverse fields such as nursing, radiology, game design and visual communications. It is also no secret that Canadians love Amazon! During the 2018 holiday season, 57 per cent of Canadian shoppers ordered on the Amazon app, while free one-day and freesame day deliveries increased by 100 per cent. Amazon’s four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking, have been instrumental in getting the brand to where it is today. ABOVE: JEFF BEZOS, CEO, AMAZON PHOTO SOURCE: AMAZON







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The Fort Edmonton Park Expansion Makes History Come Alive - Again Fort Edmonton Park is the largest living museum attraction of its kind in the city—one that details and preserves the origins of the Capital City. Started in 1967, the park grew to 158 acres, portraying early Edmonton life from the 1800s through the early 1900s. The Park houses original and restored/ recreated buildings such as historically significant churches and retail stores, the Capitol Theatre and Hotel Selkirk. The attraction preserves history, but now it’s making history come alive again with a multi-phase expansion that will completely reinvent the guest experience. The expansion will also create stronger exhibits that show the city’s history in a more dynamic and interactive way. Ongoing and planned development includes: • Indigenous People’s Experience: When complete, this will be the first exhibition of this kind in North America to recognize the contribution of the city’s Indigenous peoples to Edmonton, Alberta, and Canada. The exhibition will accurately and respectfully share First Nation and Métis stories through multimedia, personal storytelling, and interactive activities. Communication is underway with the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations and the Métis Nation of Alberta for development of this initiative. When complete, the Experience will be open year-round. • The Midway Expansion: Already in operation, the midway takes you back to the 1920s with an old-fashioned wooden Ferris Wheel and horse carousel. The expansion will provide even more of a time-travel experience with a new Ferris Wheel, the addition of a revue theatre, an authentic fun house, 1920s food stalls, a maze, and a side show.

• Hotel Selkirk: The historic hotel will expand by 22 guest suites and will add a ballroom that can hold up to 250 guests. Already a popular wedding destination, the upgraded hotel will be able to handle larger wedding parties in addition to conferences and events. The expansion will be styled after the historic Windsor and Albion blocks, thanks to a façade that will be placed between the existing hotel and the Capitol Theatre. • New Admissions Area: Facilitating entry into the park will be the new guest services and entry area. With the expansion, the train station – a hallmark of Fort Edmonton Park – will be better showcased and more accessible. Helping to raise funds and awareness of the project is the Fort Edmonton Park Foundation. The Foundation was formed in 1969 by a group of concerned citizens that wanted to keep the history of Edmonton alive and share it in a meaningful way with the world. The public can connect with the foundation to learn more about Fort Edmonton Park’s expansion and to donate to the project. Learn more about the foundation at www., and read more about the expansion at Meanwhile, if it’s been a while since you have experienced Fort Edmonton Park, make a point of getting out there this season. There is still plenty to do, see, eat, and experience; the Park remains open during its regular seasonal hours as the project goes on.




The REALTORS® Association of Edmonton Reflects on Last Year, and What’s to Come


s we embark upon a new year, we like to look back and reflect on what has happened in Edmonton’s real estate industry. It was a challenging year in real estate. We saw the impact in our housing market with increased inventory and lower prices. We felt the impact with longer days on the market and fewer sales.

But this is not the first time we have encountered obstacles. For more than 90 years the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton and our REALTOR® members have served our communities. We have persevered through the economic policies of 35 mayors, 17 premiers and 23 prime ministers.

Home ownership is a key component of the national economic fabric. Regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age or socio-economic status, the dream of owning a home is alive and well in Canadians.

When we help our clients buy and sell homes, we help build communities that foster integration and cooperation – communities that provide a safe environment for all residents and contribute to the betterment of the region. We help build communities that thrive.

Michael Brodrick, Chair, REALTORS®

Home ownership stimulates the economy. Association of Edmonton From the direct support of REALTORS®, REALTORS® are also a community – home inspectors and mortgage brokers one built on cooperation and respect. to the retailers of furnishings, electronics and maintenance REALTORS® and our industry partners come from all walks provisions, the role of home ownership in creating economic of life, representing many cultures and speaking many diversity cannot be overlooked. languages. We work together every day to ensure that the biggest purchase our clients will ever make is handled The current market is not easy to work with. Rising interest professionally and ethically. We support one another and offer rates, coupled with the mortgage stress test, which was encouragement when times are tough. implemented as a national policy with total disregard for regional differences, have had a significant downward impact Whatever the future holds, we remain strong and committed. on the price point at which buyers can qualify and purchase. The REALTORS® Association of Edmonton will continue to This has lowered prices and negatively impacted home equity – support our members with the services and information they a substantial asset for many homeowners. need to uphold the REALTOR® brand and offer the highest level of professionalism; and in turn, our members will We live in challenging times. Daily, our radios, television continue to support their clients and their communities by screens and social media streams are filled with stories of helping individuals and families continue to achieve the dream tragedy, segregation, economic woes, uncertainty and fear. of home ownership. By embracing the concepts of diversity, We have friends and neighbours struggling with job loss and community and resiliency, we can weather the storm and help financial difficulties. In fact, some of us may be facing these to build a better tomorrow. issues ourselves.

Moving Life Forward. Your next phase of life starts with a REALTOR®






hen Adam Derges, founding partner and vice president of strategic initiatives at Raintree Financial Solutions, is asked what led him establish his own firm, his answer is simple: he wanted a firm he could trust with his mother’s money and he couldn’t find one. “I started the firm because I was seeing all these exempt market brokerages popping up at the time, but [I felt they] were making decisions that were not in the best interests of their clients,” he asserts. “All this was happening in the recent aftermath of the 2008 market crash, and it was obvious that people hadn’t learned their lessons. In fact, I was on the verge of leaving the industry but was persuaded to start my own firm after hearing from many investors who shared my concerns.”








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RSM Canada LLP provides public accounting services and is the Canadian member firm of RSM International, a global network of independent audit, tax and consulting firms. RSM Alberta LLP is a limited liability partnership and independent legal entity that provides public accounting services. RSM Canada Consulting LP provides consulting services and is an affiliate of RSM US LLP, a member firm of RSM International. Visit for more information regarding RSM Canada and RSM International.

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In 2009, a series of amendments to Canada’s securities regulatory system ushered in a new class of investments under the banner of exempt market securities. So-called exempt securities – securities unburdened by onerous process of filing a detailed prospectus – have since become a popular means for high net worth investors to diversify their holdings beyond stocks, bonds and cash and to invest in specific market sectors, including innovative early-stage companies not yet large enough to be publicly listed. Exempt securities exist outside the realm of public stock exchanges, being bought directly from companies and exempt market dealers (EMDs), making them difficult to resell. As such, the exempt market is not a domain for a first-time or inexperienced investor, as Curt Boechler, a senior advisor at the Alberta Securities Commission, explains. “These investments are generally illiquid and subject to a set of conditions called ‘resale rules’, which can include a hold period on the securities. Whether in the private or public market, individuals should ensure they are familiar with resale restrictions and any other important aspects of the security before investing.” In the market’s early days in western Canada, EMDs overwhelmingly dealt in energy and real estate investments. The market has since become increasingly eclectic, encompassing niche real estate domains (including farm land and holiday resort holdings), health care, infrastructure, selfstorage, and most recently, Canada’s nascent cannabis industry. “The main advantage to the exempt market is being able to access unique investment opportunities that you can’t get through a public company,” says Raintree CEO Peter Kinkaide. “If you’re in a position to handle certain types of risk, namely the illiquidity that generally comes with such investments, the returns can be significant.”

Management, Management, Management While the sector has grown in leaps and bounds over the past decade, it has not been without its growing pains. A May 2017 report by the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) asserted that many EMDs had “significant deficiencies in the collection and documentation of KYC (know your client) information,” resulting in low-risk clients being saddled with high-risk investments, short-term investors with long-term securities, and other such misplacements of assets. Similar observations have been made by securities commissions in other provinces. The key to investor success in the exempt market, Derges argues, is finding the right management team. RIGHT: PETER KINKAIDE, CEO OF RAINTREE





“In real estate, the classic mantra is ‘location, location, location.’ In our industry, it’s ‘management, management, management.’ When you buy into the exempt market, you’re not buying into a company per se – you’re buying



management. In this sector, deals are won and lost based on the capability of one’s management team. Most of the problems we’ve seen in Western Canada and elsewhere have resulted from poor management.”


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Derges concedes that even the best exempt market securities dealers have made mistakes, and that prospective investors are well advised to ask potential brokers about their past missteps. “Probably the most common mistake in the industry has been to underestimate the need for proper placement of investments so as to ensure an appropriate balance between liquid and illiquid assets,” he explains. “We’ve seen it happen that clients have a portfolio too heavily weighted towards illiquid assets, and then a life event occurs that necessitates quick access to their wealth – quicker than can be achieved with difficult-to-sell assets. This can really screw everything up for investors. In short, if your dealer doesn’t admit to any missteps along the way, they are either lying or too inexperienced to be trusted.” He further adds that potential investors should look for dealers with good corporate governance and a vested interest in their clients’ success. “At Raintree we all have skin in the game, and we’re highly motivated to earn investor returns. This has been part of the company’s DNA right from the start.” An Oasis of Stability? For an investment sector once notoriously unregulated and rife with shady players, the exempt market has come a long way in western Canada in terms of respectability. Moreover, the sector may, in fact, be emerging as a bastion of stability amid increasingly uncertain economic times. At a time of chronic instability in the energy sector and mercurial real estate fortunes, Raintree and other exempt market players in Alberta have increasingly sought to shift their focus to sectors that are as close to recession-proof as possible, such as health care, building management services, and other essentials. “We just launched a new investment strategy focused on an aggregation of dental practices, and we’ve just closed our first cannabis offering,” says Kinkaide. “We are constantly looking for these types of investment opportunities. Right now we’re staying way from sectors like Bitcoin and Blockchain, as we prefer sectors that have been through their first full growth cycle. Farmland is also a very popular investment sector right now, and one that has been very successful for us for the last 10 years.” Derges adds that Raintree has been successful in investing in sectors that would never occur to most people, like elevator operators and other building management companies – companies whose business models rely on code compliance.



Professional Development IT PAYS TO KNOW

Reduce Costs and Risk of Audits Marty S., CPM - Member

“If you own an office building, it doesn’t matter if you have 90 per cent occupancy or 10 per cent – you have to keep the elevators running,” he notes. “Could things get so bad economically that companies can no longer keep their buildings running, or people stop going to the dentist? It’s possible, but these are typically the last sectors to be affected by economic hard times.” Such stability, he adds, is increasingly hard to come by in Alberta’s current economic climate, in which making any sort of economic predictions is virtually impossible. “I’ve pretty much given up on making predictions,” he says. “If you had told me five years ago that you would have an NDP government here in Alberta, Trudeau in Ottawa, Trump in the White House, a 40 per cent vacancy rate in Calgary office towers, and $11 oil, I would have said you’ve lost your mind – and yet here we are. The stock market is a pretty perilous place these days, so people are looking for investments with some real assurance, and as such I believe the exempt market is going to see huge growth in the years to come. If we were expecting a bull run it’s doubtful that people would be eager to invest in dental practices or elevator operators, but given the kind of turbulent waters we appear to be heading for, this is exactly the kind of stability people want.”

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to Caring



awn Harsch has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and a Master of Business Administration degree. She is the founder and owner of ExquisiCare Senior Living, the chairperson of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, a former Business in Edmonton Leader, an Avenue Top 40 under 40 award winner, a Global Woman of Vision, and recently received recognition in the Edmonton Mayor’s Awards. She has plenty to be proud of, but she measures her success day by day as she achieves her overriding passion of providing respectful care for the elderly in residential settings, where friends and family are welcome, and seniors always feel at home. “I had a close relationship with my grandparents,” Harsch says of what sparked her passion for eldercare. “I have a very deep respect for the elderly.” We need to be more respectful of our seniors. They are the individuals that built our cities, our country, and fought in our wars. At the core of my value system is the belief that it is not okay to institutionalize our parents.” She went into senior care to correct what she sees as a grave injustice.



“I earned my MBA right after I got my nursing degree because I always intended to work in the business of healthcare. In our publicly funded health system, there is a pie of funding dollars: cancer, children, cardiology – issues like those get a big piece of the pie. The injustice is that only a small sliver of that funding pie is left for seniors, and that’s a shame. Early in my nursing career I worked in a number of long-term care facilities and that is where the idea for ExquisiCare was planted in my head.” Harsch continues, “The care facilities I worked at looked and felt like hospitals. There were six-bed wards with people separated by a curtain. I thought, this is not okay. There simply must be a more dignified way of caring for our treasured elders.” She took action. “I married my business thinking with my nursing experience. I knew there were great options for private assisted living, but what was out there for 24-hour care? Only the institutional model. So, the ExquisiCare business plan took shape when I was completing my MBA.






“WHAT WE GIVE TO OUR SENIORS AND FAMILIES IS PEACE OF MIND, “That business plan sat on the shelf for years while I enjoyed a great career with Alberta Health Services (AHS). However, I always had a burning desire to activate my vision. When changes came to the way AHS operated in 2010, I left and built the first ExquisiCare home.” An ExquisiCare home is unlike any other long-term care facility in Alberta. With a goal to provide purposeful living, Harsch and her team have built two custom homes in residential areas, with a third one slated for construction during the spring of 2019. Each home has 10 bedrooms with an ensuite bath and walk-in closet. The living room, kitchen, and dining room are shared. The homes are staffed 24/7 with professional nursing and allied health staff. Three nutritious home cooked meals and snacks are provided. Respectful assistance with the activities of daily living (personal care, grooming, medication, etc.), along with housekeeping and laundry, are delivered on site. Concierge services like hairstyling and dental appointments are arranged upon request. Friends and family are encouraged to visit, and many stop by to share the evening meal with their loved one. “What we give to our seniors and families is peace of mind,” Harsch explains. “It’s important that our seniors feel like they belong, and that they are at home.” Having long-term care homes in residential neighbourhoods is very beneficial for the seniors’ state of mind, especially for those suffering from dementia or memory loss. “In an institutionalized facility, seniors with dementia often try to leave because it doesn’t feel like home,” Harsch points out. “Our environment feels like home. We see much less wandering and fewer behavioural issues.” The communities have been very welcoming to the ExquisiCare homes as well, with neighbours coming by to visit and volunteer. It doesn’t hurt that the seniors hand out full sized chocolate bars on Halloween! But it’s not always easy. Harsch is married and has three children, including a set of twins, and with the nature of her business there is very little downtime.



IT’S IMPORTANT THAT OUR SENIORS FEEL LIKE THEY BELONG, AND THAT THEY ARE AT HOME.” ~ DAWN HARSCH “There is give and take,” she admits. “It’s a juggling act for sure. The life of a small business owner can be lonely. I work harder now than I ever did when I worked for someone else. As an entrepreneur you work 24/7, especially with a business that goes 24/7. It’s not a work life that ends each day at 5 p.m.. I can’t shut my brain, or my phone, off. However, I do love the ability to set the direction of the company and run things the way I think they should go. When things get tough, I make a point of reflecting on the difference I’m making for the people we serve. She points out that having the support of her husband and family, and the support of networks like Entrepreneurs’ Organization, is crucial for entrepreneurs. As a long-term resident of Edmonton that has always been very active in the business landscape, Harsch is excited to embark on her term as the Chamber of Commerce chairperson. “To me, Edmonton feels like a bunch of small towns smushed together! It’s such a friendly, community-minded place. No matter where I go, I run into people I know, and with all the charitable events, it’s a very giving community as well. “When I was new to small business, I didn’t fully understand what the Chamber did. I was initially drawn to it for the networking opportunities. Quickly, I realized there was so much more to the Chamber, especially for small business.” Harsch continues, “I joined the Chamber as a member, but soon found a place on the board. While on the board I was on the policy forum committee, and co-chaired governance and nominating. I put my name forward for the chair position because I really feel it is important for small businesses to see other small business people involved in the Chamber. The Chamber does so much advocacy for small businesses, and people don’t always realize that.

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“During my time as chair I really want the voice of small businesses to be heard. I want to be an example for other small businesses to see the value of the Chamber, and to get involved.”

generation of business owners. I will answer the question: how can we make sure membership continues? If I can achieve increased membership or a strategy to ensure our membership is growing, I feel my term would be a success.”

She knows there will be challenges in this coming year, and she’s prepared to face them. “It will be a challenge to manage the time commitment, but I have an amazing team at ExquisiCare and the Chamber staff are phenomenal, so I know I will have plenty of support.”

There have been many Chamber highlights for Harsch on her journey to the chair. She greatly enjoys the Chamber Ball, and recently had an opportunity to speak to city council about the budget.

There is plenty to be excited about, and that excitement offsets the challenges of the time commitment. “I am excited to bring together the board to be laser focused on how we can move the Chamber forward with the inclusion of the new generation. Member-driven organizations are changing. Millennials don’t necessarily belong to organizations like Chamber or see its value. What I hope to do is help define that value and engage the new

“Following my presentation to city council, strangers actually stopped me in the street to thank me for what I said about the budget,” she smiles. “That was very cool, and it showed that the Chamber is responding appropriately to the needs of our members with our advocacy efforts.” Harsch encourages small businesses in Edmonton to join the Chamber. “Your membership matters because the advocacy efforts that the Chamber engages in on your behalf is invaluable. As a small business owner, it would be near ABOVE: DAWN HARSCH, FOUNDER AND OWNER OF EXQUISICARE SENIOR LIVING AND THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE EDMONTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. PHOTO SOURCE: EPIC PHOTOGRAPHY INC.




impossible for me to call the Minister of Health and get an audience with her, but I can do that through the Chamber. This organization works with the governments at the municipal, provincial, federal, and even international levels. To make the most out of your membership, go to the events. You never know who you are going to meet. Get involved in giving feedback. Edmonton is such a great community in terms of supporting one another.” Work-life balance and giving back are important to Harsch, and she wholeheartedly puts her signature energy and enthusiasm into all aspects of her life. Harsch supports many local charities, but says, “My passion outside of elder care is actually baseball! My husband played ball in California and my son shares in his love of baseball. There wasn’t a good option for minor league baseball in south Edmonton, so I, along with a group of parents, incorporated and started a minor baseball league in 2017. It’s called the Southwest Edmonton White SOX. The first season we had 250 members. The past year we were over 480, and in 2019 we anticipate over 600 kids! The growth has been unbelievable. I know as Canadians we are supposed to love hockey, but baseball is a great sport too! Helping to run the SOX is definitely a second or third full-time job, especially from January to June, but I love it and I love knowing that we are creating an opportunity for all these youngsters to get outside!” It’s going to be a busy year for the chairperson and business owner, but Harsch is more than up for the challenge. “ExquisiCare is building our third home. Then I will expand the model, which is a community of three homes, into other areas. Perhaps our next community will be in St. Albert, Calgary or Vancouver. “I want to grow the model across Western Canada. With an aging population, there certainly is a need for this. “With the expansion, I will give other nurses the ability to run the community in their own region. There are a lot of nurses out there that want to do better in senior care but, may lack the business know-how. One needs to have a good

heart to care for seniors, but the care also must be carried out professionally, with the right medical team, and with appropriate business processes to make it sustainable. That’s the support our ExquisiCare team will offer to these nurses. “The expansion will change how ExquisiCare is run. Currently, my husband and I own the homes, but I will look for the right partners to share in our values and the company’s growth.” Harsch will also be expanding on another initiative she launched two years ago called Care at Home. This service bridges the gap for seniors that are not ready for a full-time care facility, but require assistance while living in their own homes. “Care at Home is a boutique and personalized, Edmontonbased, home-care company, not a franchise. Along with the nurses who work in Care at Home, we are very proud to be Edmonton owned and operated. Going into someone else’s home is a very personal matter, and we believe it cannot be a cookie cutter approach,” says Harsch. As for working with the Chamber, “This is a very exciting time! With the upcoming federal and provincial elections, we will be doing a lot of advocacy.” Looking back, it’s easy to see how much she has accomplished in such a short period of time, but Harsch doesn’t have a habit of looking back. She always looks forward. When she sees hurdles, she finds a way to leap right over them, through grit, determination, and connecting with important organizations like the Chamber. “As an entrepreneur, I don’t typically see obstacles. I have ‘shiny ball’ syndrome – I see something shiny or exciting and I go for it! That’s why my husband and I are such a good pair. He slows me down to look at things objectively. “I truly believe that anything you want, you just go after it and make it happen. Just make it happen. There will always be detractors and naysayers. I’ve certainly encountered them. But I have a deep conviction in value of the care that we provide, and it is this conviction that enables me, my team, and my family to do what we love every day.






ourism is a growing industry in Edmonton, and like any other sector, it does not exist in a bubble. Having more international guests in our city is having an impact on how Edmonton handles events, conferences, and those always in-demand catering menus. “Tourism is a billion dollar industry and has significantly increased in the last five years,” confirms Renee Williams, director international market development, Edmonton Tourism. “Thousands of Albertans are employed in the tourism sector and the destinations within the province host millions of visitors from regional and international markets each year. In the last five years, Edmonton has seen an increase in direct international air access, as well as domestic and U.S. air access thanks to the great work of our partners at Edmonton International Airport. With an increase in air access to our gateway destination, visitors will stay longer and spend more in our destination.”

There is plenty to attract international visitors to Edmonton. “From our many vibrant festivals, to major sporting events plus attractions and experiences, a visitor can explore Edmonton with an itinerary curated for their specific wants and needs,” Williams adds. “Our city has much to do, from outdoor adventure and wilderness, to shopping, culinary, arts and culture. It is awesome to be able to sell a destination with so many extraordinary offerings!” The city also functions as a starting point for tourists to explore other destinations in Alberta. Williams explains, “Edmonton is a gateway destination to the northern Rockies and northern Canada. We work closely with Tourism Jasper in international markets to showcase the offerings of the two destinations. We have built strong relationships with international tour operators, airlines, and media, and we work with those partners to curate and market the kinds of experiences their clientele wants to have in our ABOVE: EDMONTON EVENT CENTRE IS A POPULAR PLACE FOR EVENTS OF ALL KINDS. PHOTO SOURCE: ECC



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destination. Edmonton is the only urban centre in the province flanked by two national parks on the east and west sides. The opportunity to see and experience wildlife and outdoor adventure are key selling features for us in our international markets.” Edmonton’s tourism sector has had a positive effect for international event planners. Williams points out that the Capital City’s welcoming atmosphere and the way our festival community and hospitality sectors come together to showcase the destination around a major event makes our city an attractive location for personal and corporate events. The ability to back end a conference or wedding with K-Days or the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival, for example, boosts action in the hospitality sector as well as draws guests from all over the world to our doors; and when the world is at your doorstep, it’s important to cater to the diversity, while also showing off the city with pride. Prairie Catering subscribes to this notion by offering a menu that includes everything from Alberta beef to Greek donairs. “Edmonton, like most of Canada, is rich and diverse in culture. Not only do our corporate clients demand quality, they want to be able to feed their diverse teams and clients. We are a company that believes in supporting that,” points out Jimmy Shewchuk. In addition to running Prairie Catering, Shewchuk has been a consultant, conceptdeveloper, owner/operator and serial entrepreneur in the hospitality, restaurant, club and catering business. For Shewchuk and his team, local and international concepts are an exciting part of the job. “We are always looking to improve our offerings,” he notes. “That comes from two real sources. First, we take inspiration from great restaurants, local and abroad, and shape them into our own items that are catering friendly. More importantly, some of our best items come from tried and true family recipes. Nothing beats that!” Edmonton Convention Centre (ECC), formerly Shaw Conference Center, has been embracing the city’s diversity for many years, hosting locals and internationals for a wide variety of events; and of course, making sumptuous menus inspired by cuisines from around the world.



EDMONTON’S TOURISM SECTOR HAS HAD A POSITIVE EFFECT FOR INTERNATIONAL EVENT PLANNERS. WILLIAMS POINTS OUT THAT THE CAPITAL CITY’S WELCOMING ATMOSPHERE AND THE WAY OUR FESTIVAL COMMUNITY AND HOSPITALITY SECTORS COME TOGETHER TO SHOWCASE THE DESTINATION AROUND A MAJOR EVENT MAKES OUR CITY AN ATTRACTIVE LOCATION FOR PERSONAL AND CORPORATE EVENTS. “We are a gathering place to trade and celebrate in the heart of Edmonton at one of the city’s most historic sites. Over the years we have seen every type of event imaginable come through our venue with consistent cultural events. Our team welcomes opportunities to celebrate and customize events–no matter the size or scope,” smiles Richard Wong, general manager. “The Edmonton Convention Centre is proud to support the Edmonton community as a gathering place to celebrate, trade and innovate. Our people have been our key differentiator for more than 35 years. Our team is empowered to redefine service excellence¬ and create relationships with our guests.” The ECC menus are constantly under development to support this goal of service and relationship excellence. Wong explains, “We deliver a remarkable dining experience for every budget, appetite and event. Executive chef Serge Belair and executive pastry chef Jason Wang lead our team of world-class culinary artists featuring 11 Red Seal chefs. Internationally experienced, our team proudly creates every dish in-house using 60 per cent locally sourced ingredients from community growers.

The art of event planning and catering is a seamless blend of finely attuned service, delectable cuisine, innovation, and ambiance. The Sawmill Restaurant Group founded in 1976 and one of Edmonton’s iconic steak house, catering and event based establishments are in the business of celebrating. In addition to their individual locations all offering private rooms and designated celebratory areas, they equally established their premiere catering services in 2000. With their 18 year reputation and experience this distinguishes them as truly Edmonton’s premiere choice for any special event including:

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“In 2015, we launched our first East Indian menu inspired by the diversity of events held at the venue. We have positioned ourselves as a destination for our region’s East Indian community to celebrate and provide an incredible menu that can serve this diverse group. Items from our East Indian menus remain some of our most popular dishes. We are proud that our team of internationally experienced chefs are able to create an authentic menu that provides our guests with an exceptional culinary experience.” ECC looks forward to remaining a top venue for events from around the world. “Recognized as one of North America’s top five performing venues, we are committed to providing remarkable experiences for our guests. We work in collaboration with Edmonton Tourism to showcase the Edmonton experience to international meetings and conventions. We are passionate Edmontonians and we are committed to enhancing the delegate experience as Edmonton’s centre of connection. We are a gateway between the city’s downtown core and North America’s largest urban parkland,” Wong

concludes. “Hosting an event in Edmonton’s river valley, guests enter the largest event space in downtown Edmonton, steps away from the city’s best hotels and restaurants. We offer event planners customized services and event space spaces to fit any occasion with 150,000 square-feet spread over three levels. Our culinary expertise offers guests an authentic farm-to-table experience featuring the best local products from Edmonton’s culinary industry. Committed to sustainable event operations, our facility was the first convention centre in Canada to receive Green Key Level 5 certification, and we are one of only five venues in Canada to receive the prestigious ASTM International certification.” Edmonton has the means, motive and opportunity to be the diverse and welcoming city it is known for, one that attracts international guests and can accommodate weddings, conferences, events and shows from many different cultures. With venues and caterers actively evolving to meet diversifying needs and wants, the Capital City continues to be a top destination for locals, and for residents and guests from abroad. ABOVE: EDMONTON EVENT CENTRE IS A POPULAR PLACE FOR EVENTS OF ALL KINDS. PHOTO SOURCE: ECC







he MBA, or Master of Business Administration, is an internationally recognized postgraduate degree. The MBA program develops the skills necessary for careers in business and management through a core curriculum that hones in on leadership, strategy, analytics, human resources, finance, marketing, operations, and information technology. According to The Association of MBAs’ (AMBA) 2017 Application and Enrolment Report, MBA applications declined by 44 per cent between 2009 and 2014, and enrolments dropped by 8 per cent. However, the report revealed a hopeful uptick – between 2015 and 2017, applications and enrolments spiked, respectively, by 10 per cent and 24 per cent. Considered to be one of the most prestigious degrees in the world, does the MBA program hold up to its reputation outside of the classroom?




In 2016, Canadian Business included The University of Alberta’s (U of A) MBA program on their top 10 MBA list. U of A’s Alberta School of Business has five areas of focus: energy finance, innovation and entrepreneurship, operations and business analytics, public sector and healthcare management, and strategy and consulting. Students can complete their MBA via a variety of programs. “The full-time, part-time, fast-track, Executive MBA and Fort McMurray MBA all lead towards the same degree – the Master of Business Administration. The primary difference is in the delivery of the programs,” Christopher Lynch, senior director of recruitment, admissions and marketing for U of A’s Alberta School of Business explains. “The full-time program is completed over two years, and the typical student is looking to make a substantial change or shift in their career direction. The part-time option, which usually takes students three to four years to complete, is best suited for people looking to move up within their current organization or industry. The fasttrack program is specifically designed for students who have an undergraduate degree in business. The Fort McMurray MBA is offered in-person in Fort McMurray and classes are held once a month over the course of three years. The Executive MBA is a two-year program offered in Edmonton and classes are delivered once a month over a four-day block. Generally, students who enroll in the Executive MBA program are 38 to 40 years old, in a senior position, and looking to further their career.” Over the past 10-15 years, U of A’s MBA program has seen a continual increase in students pursuing both their part-time and Executive MBA programs. Jennifer Jordan, principal and owner of Jennifer Jordan Interior Design, graduated from the University of Alberta in 2005 with an MBA in marketing and consumer behaviour. She completed her program part-time over four years through the general MBA stream. “The part-time structure really worked for me because I was able to apply what I was learning to my day-to-day activities. It is also a more affordable option if you can maintain your salary while chipping away at your MBA.”

The tuition for both the full-time and part-time MBA programs at U of A’s Alberta School of Business is (currently) $28,000, but for Jordan, the knowledge she gained was priceless. “The MBA was incredibly valuable to me in so many ways. I gained the knowledge and understanding I needed to start my own boutique interior design practice, and this year marks a dozen years of successful practice. Interior design is a very collaborative process. It involves working within multi-disciplinary groups to deliver large, complex projects. Not only did my MBA strengthen my abilities as a leader, but the program’s focus on teamwork also enhanced my communication and consensus building skills,” she explains. “It improved my strategic planning skills, which led to team growth, higher client satisfaction, and more revenue. All of this has made us one of the leading licensed and professional practices in Canada. Our work has extended as far as Roatan, Honduras; New York, New York; Danville, Kentucky; and Cabo and Baja California Sur, Mexico as well as many projects in Canada.”




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Athabasca University’s asynchronous learning environment provided an opportunity for me to dream of future possibilities through educational achievement, while meeting with my home and work responsibilities.” Nathan W. Sack, MBA ‘18 Capacity Development Manager First Nations Financial Management Board Indian Brook First Nation, Nova Scotia


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ATHABASCA UNIVERSITY’S ONLINE MBA HAS EARNED A PLACE AMONG THE TOP MBA PROGRAMS IN THE WORLD. BEING THE WORLD’S FIRST ONLINE MBA PROGRAM FOR EXECUTIVES WHEN IT LAUNCHED IN 1994, IT OFFERED AN UNPRECEDENTED OPPORTUNITY FOR LEARNERS. Charlene Butler is the president and founder of Butler Business Solutions Ltd. She is also an alumnus of U of A, having graduated with her MBA in 2009 with a specialization in natural resources, energy, and the environment. She also holds several other degrees. “The full-time MBA program exceeded all of my expectations and was more fun than I ever dreamed it could be,” says Butler. Prior to pursuing her MBA, she had over 25 years of work experience and was employed at a senior executive level in both the energy and insurance sectors. “I pursued my MBA after deciding I wanted to start my own consulting company. As I was in the midst of completely changing careers, the MBA program was instrumental in my transition. The opportunities for networking are unlimited, and I took advantage of as many as I could. The MBA office was supportive by providing me with the names of graduates who had entered the consulting field. Those MBA alumni provided me with the advice and guidance I needed to incorporate my own consulting company, which I did at the end of my first year in the program. Networking with the dean and other faculty members resulted in having clients prior to graduation.” While grades are important, Butler urges students to participate in as many events and activities outside of class as they can. “Those opportunities truly transform your MBA from a degree to a life-altering experience. If you take advantage of all the program has to offer, it will open so many doors for you.” Athabasca University’s online MBA has earned a place among the top MBA programs in the world. Being the world’s first online MBA program for executives when it launched in 1994, it offered an unprecedented opportunity for learners. “Taking your MBA online offers a unique, customizable learning experience that is tailored to your lifestyle and time commitments. Because our students don’t reside in one



physical location, there are greater opportunities for them to connect with experienced managers and leaders from different industries all around the world. Athabasca University’s online MBA is built to enhance peer-learning and collaboration, and there is ample opportunity for students to interact and participate in discussions and group work,” says Deborah Hurst, dean of Athabasca University’s Faculty of Business. With 2019 as the program’s 25th anniversary, Hurst says to stay tuned because it will be a year full of celebrations for the Faculty of Business. Kurt Thomas, founder and CEO of the Edmonton-based Stay With Ease Hospitality company, is completing his MBA online with a specialization in entrepreneurship at The Australian Institute of Business. “Statistically, nine out of 10 startups will dissolve within the first 36 months, and only a small percentage of those remaining businesses will make it to the 10-year mark, Thomas notes. “For my company to have the chance at either possibility, I knew I needed to make a significant leap. Since starting my MBA program, I have been able to meet leaders in entrepreneurship, investment, and startup spaces.” From business development and admission into tech-based accelerator programs, to flying to different provinces for basecamps and networking events, Thomas has been able to apply the theories and practices he has learned to every aspect of his business and personal life. “In a short period, I have had the privilege to meet and work with many amazing people, create new skill sets, and achieve a few milestone accomplishments. Pursuing my MBA has significantly impacted my life, and I can honestly say I never appreciated or respected the power of higher learning as much as I do today,” he concludes. So, does the MBA hold up to its reputation outside of the classroom? The answer is a resounding and undisputed, “yes.”

Get your business exportready with TAP

2019 Board of Directors Board Executive

Chair: Dawn Harsch President & CEO, ExquisiCare Senior Living and Care at Home Vice Chair: Bryan DeNeve Senior Vice President Finance & CFO, Capital Power Treasurer: Craig Thorkelsson Head of Tax, PCL Constructors Inc. Past Chair: Len Rhodes President & CEO, Edmonton Eskimo Football Club

Board Directors

Dr. Glenn Feltham President & CEO, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology Sandy Jacobson Vice President, Richardson Executive Search Elan MacDonald Senior Vice President, National Client Development, Global Public Affairs Scott McEachern Vice President, Pipeline Control, Enbridge Pipelines Inc. Dennis Schmidt Legal Counsel and Associate Development Manager, Alldritt Land Corporation LP Jeffrey Sundquist Chief Executive Officer, Clean Industrial Technologies

By Janet Riopel, President & CEO Edmonton Chamber of Commerce


s your business ready to export? With the lower Canadian dollar and growing global economies, now may be the perfect time for you to begin exporting. Statistics Canada reported that just 11.5% of small businesses in Canada exported in 2014. Exporting not only allows your business to dramatically increase your volume of customers, but entering diverse markets allows your company to interact with a geographically wider customer base, and to incorporate innovations from around the world. Many businesses haven’t considered entering markets abroad because the field is complex, and finding answers to common (and not so common) questions can be tough. How do you identify the market that is best for your product? What permits or regulations do you need to know about? Where can you learn about shipping and customs? According to Export Development Canada, there are 200 individual markets, and each country contains unique market regions. Navigating a field this large and diverse can be overwhelming and often businesses don’t know where to begin, even when they have a product that is ready for a global market. Guidance through the Trade Accelerator Program Edmonton’s World Trade Centre, in partnership with Edmonton Economic Development Corporation and the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, offers the Trade Accelerator Program (TAP). TAP launched in Edmonton in the fall of 2018, and the first cohort completed the program in December.

Dr. Jenelle Trenchuk-Saik President & CEO, Parker Ford and MacKay Specialty Opticians

Edmonton Chamber Executive Janet M. Riopel President & CEO

Dave Warren Chief Operating Officer Tim Ferris Director, Member Services Brent Francis Director, Advocacy and Outreach


Edmonton Chamber of Commerce #600 – 9990 Jasper Avenue Edmonton, AB T5J 1P7 T: 780.426.4620 • F: 780.424.7946



TAP is a dynamic, hands-on series of workshops over six-weeks for small to medium-sized enterprises, providing essential knowledge, resources and coaching to scale up, develop and execute an export plan. TAP can help your company navigate global trade, learn about best practices and develop an entry plan into new markets by connecting you with experienced experts and mentors. TAP’s partners include the Royal Bank of Canada, Export Development Canada, Business Development Bank of Canada, the Province of Alberta, Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, Dentons, BBE Expediting and PwC Canada. This program was developed four years ago by the Toronto Region Board of Trade under their World Trade Centre banner. The purpose of TAP is to help small and medium-sized businesses learn about exporting. The program includes an intensive two-day workshop to offer basic information, followed by a day of market entry planning. Participating

business owners work on their export plans, with the help of the TAP team, over a three-week period. They then submit their plans to expert advisors who provide constructive feedback and mentoring in order to refine plans and ensure businesses are export ready. How to get started Interested companies can apply to participate in the TAP program right now. Spaces are limited and workshop sizes are kept small so businesses can benefit from individualized attention. Companies should be exporting a product already or have taken exploratory steps to expand into new markets, and must dedicate two senior representatives to participate in the program and complete the export plan. With the help of TAP, your business can export faster, more confidently and successfully. For upcoming application deadlines and more information, please visit

“The value that Pura Botanicals has received from the Trade Accelerator Program is not only being able to plan how we’re going to export into a new market, but also having a panel of experts there to guide and coach us—bringing all their wisdom and knowledge to the table. Having those contacts afterwards for support and resources is invaluable.” Lane Edwards, Founder and CEO, Pura Botanicals Members in this Issue University of Alberta and Athabasca University in The Big MBA Advantage on page 37 AMH Financial Services and CIBC in TFSA & RRSP: Retirement Savings Tips from the Professionals on page 49 PCL in Building into the Future on page 53



GEEP Canada Inc. Member Profile Mark Schell, General Manager What’s your story? I spent most of my career working in the Agriculture Industry in Alberta and Saskatchewan. I was the CEO of an Ag Company that I built to Top 50 status in Saskatchewan. My wife and I moved back to Alberta in 2010 to be closer to our families. In 2012 I began work in the recycling Industry and for the past five years I have been the GM of Global Electric Electronic Processing (GEEP) in Edmonton. Our processing facility is located at the Edmonton Waste Management Center in North East Edmonton. We employ approximately 65 to 85 staff and our primary function is to recycle electronics, extract valuable precious metals and divert as much as possible from landfill. We package our processed materials and sell to environmentally approved buyers throughout the world. For example, shredded circuit boards are packaged and sold to refineries in Japan. Approximately four years ago, I took on the additional task of being GM for our GEEP Calgary facility. This facility is very different from Edmonton, which focuses on End of Life material, as it has a computer refurbishment Mark Schell, GEEP Canada Inc. Edmonton General Manager, pictured in front of the hard center and remarketing department. drive shredding machine and chain shredder at GEEP’s Edmonton recycling facility. We accept gently used computer equipment from clients, securely old glass CRT TVs each day. One would think wipe all data from these systems, grade them these should be coming to an end, but they just and remarket them to wholesalers throughout keep flowing in. the world. Revenue is then divided by a profitsharing matrix which benefits GEEP and the An interesting thing occurred a couple of years clients. ago at our GEEP facility in Barrie, ON; one of our employees found $100,000 in $50 bills in an old What are two things people are surprised to television. There happened to be some additional learn about your business or don’t know about papers with the money that helped us to trace your business? the money to its original owner who put the I always receive “raised eyebrows” from people money in the TV for safekeeping back in the 80s. when I tell them we process nearly 1,000



What has surprised you in the last 12 months? I have been totally surprised by the Alberta Government’s reluctance to include more electronics into the Alberta Recycling program. In 2004 Alberta initiated the first electronics recycling program in North America, which included visual display devices, computers and printers & peripherals. Today, it hasn’t changed, and all other provinces have surpassed us in program development yet our government refuses to add additional e-waste into the recycling program. The frustrating thing is that 80% of Albertans are in favor of electronics recycling, but our government views the inclusion of additional electronics as something political. Meanwhile our landfills continue to fill with electronics and responsible processors like GEEP cannot financially handle the burden without support. What has been your biggest challenge in the last 12 months? Procuring high quality employees is always a challenge. Even though the starting wage for labourers at my facility is well above the current $15 minimum wage, the reduced gap has caused some challenges for us finding qualified employees. What do you think is the biggest issue impacting Edmonton’s small businesses at this time? Most certainly the economy is the major contributing factor currently affecting ALL businesses. I sense the economy is on an upward trend now, so the worst is behind us. What’s your secret to keeping your employees engaged? I’m a hands-off manager. I like to empower my staff and permit them to make decisions, which gives them a sense of accomplishment. Furthermore, I believe in recognizing my staff’s efforts. Although I can’t always give people everything they want, I find acknowledging their efforts, providing a thank you or pat on the back is well received and very motivational.

What do you enjoy most about being a Chamber member? I enjoy being part of this amazing group made up of many strong, entrepreneurial business and individuals. In many ways, I am humbled that we are Chamber members. Our Chamber mandate is to create the best environment for business in Edmonton. If you could make one substantial improvement to Edmonton’s business environment, what would it be? The City of Edmonton must complete a review of its operating costs. Businesses can no longer absorb ever increasing municipal taxes without some type of review of how our tax dollars are being spent. What is your favorite thing to do in Edmonton? I love to golf! I try to play at least twice per week in the summer, and I like to mix it up and try as many different courses as I can. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that over the past 10 years the quality of restaurants opening in Edmonton is world-class and I enjoy trying out as many as possible. Apple or android? Apple! I made the complete switch in 2005 when Apple wasn’t cool yet and have never looked back. In fact, I was in the audience in 2007 when Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone. Your most favorite place in the world? Sorry, but I have two. I absolutely love Palm Springs because of the weather, the golf and the proximity to L.A. But my other favorite place is Kraków, Poland. My beautiful wife, Danusia, is Polish and we try to get there every two years to spend time with family. Coffee or tea? Not just any coffee…..Starbucks!

Do you have a personal mantra? As I’ve aged, I find myself quoting my Mom. She told me, “Mark, always do the right thing!” It seems a little cliché, but it has real meaning for me.



Connecting Business A Conversation with Minister Amarjeet Sohi Following the release of the Government of Canada’s 2018 Fall Economic Statement, Hon. Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Natural Resources, joined Edmonton Chamber members and guests on November 30, 2018, to discuss the outlook for Alberta’s economic future.

Head table guests included (left to right) Mark Plamondon, Mayor Bob Young, Minister Amarjeet Sohi, MP Randy Boissonnault, Janet Riopel, Scott McEachern and Jerry Bellikka.

Janet Riopel welcomes Chamber members and guests in advance of Minister Sohi’s keynote.



Minister Sohi responds to media following his keynote.

YEG Innovates Presented by ATCO On December 5, 2018, Chamber members and guests heard from a panel of local innovators who are at the forefront of innovation in Edmonton. From artificial intelligence and virtual and augmented reality, to emerging health technologies and fibre optic networks, attendees had an insightful look into how technology will change the way we work, live and do business.

Guests at the head table included (left to right) Elan MacDonald, Cheryll Watson, Reg Joseph, Francois Blouin, Zouheir Mansourati, Tracey Crone and Janet Riopel.

Panellists included (left to right) moderator Cheryll Watson, VicePresident, Innovate Edmonton; Zouheir Mansourati, VP, Customer Network Implementation, TELUS; Reg Joseph, CEO, Health City; and Tracey Crone, Executive IT Consultant, IDX.

Guests enjoyed an opportunity to interact with Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, courtesy of the Microsoft Store.





Chamber Presented by

Wednesday, March 6, 2019 Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium

Sip, Savour, Socialize! Learn more at










etirement. For some, it feels like a lifetime away. For others, it is right around the corner. But in all instances, careful planning and dedication are needed to make sure that there is enough money on hand come that last day of work. For such planning, a financial advisor and some knowhow on retirement savings are absolutely necessary. The building blocks of almost every retirement savings plan in Canada are the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) and the Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Both operate differently but have one thing in common: they grow and compound interest-free. This makes them powerful tools to use in any retirement savings plan. “TFSAs and RRSPs are really important tools for retirement savings,” says Tim Weber, consultant for Investor’s Group. “Basically, an RRSP lets you deduct your contributions from your income, but you are taxed when you start withdrawing. TFSAs are the opposite: contributions aren’t deducted from your income, but you aren’t taxed on withdrawals.” Contributions are handled differently as well. For RRSPs in 2018, you can contribute 18 per cent of the earned income you reported on your tax return in the previous year, up to a maximum of $26,230. For a brand new TFSA in 2018, you can contribute up to $57,500 today. After that, you can put in a maximum of $5,500 every year.




“About 13.5 million Canadians held at least one TFSA and there were about 18 million TFSAs held by the end of 2016. This would indicate that TFSAs have become a very popular vehicle for Canadians.” The main reason for this, according to Husband, is the flexibility. Not only can you withdraw the money at any time, but TFSAs can be used for more than just your retirement. “It’s important to remember that TFSAs were not designed as a retirement savings vehicle,” says Davis Graham, portfolio manager and investment advisor with CIBC Wood Gundy. “They were designed for people to save up for the big purchases, which is why they are so handy for younger people.”

THE TFSA HAS BECOME AN INCREASINGLY POPULAR WAY FOR CANADIANS TO SAVE MONEY. ANDY HUSBAND, FINANCIAL ADVISOR WITH AMH FINANCIAL, SAYS MORE AND MORE CANADIANS ARE PUTTING MONEY INTO THESE ACCOUNTS. The TFSA has become an increasingly popular way for Canadians to save money. Andy Husband, financial advisor with AMH Financial, says more and more Canadians are putting money into these accounts. “According to recent data provided by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), there was about $233 billion held in TFSAs at the end of 2016,” he says.

That flexibility is one of the major reasons why TFSAs make sense for people in younger demographics, especially new graduates and people in their 20s. Husband notes, “Generally speaking, for most younger people, retirement is a long way off and their needs are more short-term, i.e. buying a house, buying a car, going on vacations [and] getting married,” he says. “A TFSA would work better for them because of its flexibility.” Ideally, one could maximize the money they put into both their RRSP and TFSA, but this isn’t necessarily possible for many people. Instead, sometimes one is more beneficial than the other. In general, it’s better to maximize your TFSA when you aren’t earning more than you will during your retirement to take full advantage of the tax savings. If you are in a higher tax bracket than what you anticipate for your retirement earnings, the usual advice is to put money into your RRSP. “For the person closer to retirement, obviously they are wanting to accumulate retirement savings,” says Husband. “They should pile as much into an RRSP as they can.” This rule, of course, depends on a number of different factors and can change depending on many more. Your marital status, age, income, citizenship and potential inheritances can mean a completely different retirement plan. Americans, for example, cannot benefit from TFSAs but can benefit from RRSPs.




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For young people, like recent grads, people in their 20s and those just starting to save for retirement, there are plenty of tactics, advice and plans. However, the start of any savings plan is to avoid credit card debt and build yourself a healthy savings account for future unexpected expenditures. “There aren’t many hard and fast rules when it comes to investing, but there are two I always tell people: avoid credit card debt and save at least three months’ salary for a rainy day fund,” says Weber. “That’s for if you lose your job or your house needs a new roof. You need to have a fund that you can access that’s separate from your retirement plans.” Making the right contributions with an eye to your tax bracket is important, but Husband also recommends taking your annual tax return and making that money work for you in the future. “Unfortunately, most people think a tax refund is a bonus from the government and they just take it and spend it, when in reality it is a refund of your over-contributions,” he says. “A sound retirement strategy would be to contribute any tax refund to an RRSP to help contribute towards a higher retirement income.”

“A SOUND RETIREMENT STRATEGY WOULD BE TO CONTRIBUTE ANY TAX REFUND TO AN RRSP TO HELP CONTRIBUTE TOWARDS A HIGHER RETIREMENT INCOME.” ~ TIM WEBER For those who will probably earn more in retirement, Graham recommends a different plan. “There are people out there who will likely make more money in their retirement than during their working years because of inheritances,” says Graham. “For them, I recommend other investment strategies for their retirement because RRSPs don’t offer the same sort of advantages.”

Graham doesn’t recommend any major risks for young people starting their retirement savings. Instead, he says slow and steady wins the race. “I like to be very safe with people’s money when they are young,” says Graham. “I recommend GICs for them. The growth is slow but guaranteed. There is nothing more discouraging for a young person than making their first investment right before an economic drop, like the one we may see soon, and losing money right off the bat.” For many, retirement seems like it is a long way away, but it can come up much quicker than you imagine. To prepare, it is best to start thinking about it early and understand what strategy is best for your current and future circumstances. While it may be too early to start making large contributions, it is never too soon to sit down with a professional and think about the future. With powerful saving tools like the TFSA and RRSP available, your retirement could be more comfortable and come sooner than you ever imagined.




Assembly employee torquing bolts on lattice tower.


Any Size Anywhere Valard’s reach goes global as it continues to innovate solutions here at home By Nerissa McNaughton


alard, the largest contractor of its kind in Canada and among the largest in North America, is a vertically integrated transnational Canadian utility and construction contractor, with growth initiatives in Europe, Australia and the United States. Valard’s services are diversified and include engineering, procurement, construction and maintenance for substations and electrical transmission and distribution lines. Through its Valard Telecom division and sister company G-TEK, Valard provides complete telecommunication solutions. A focus on a sustainable future sees the Valard Group of Companies innovating and delivering in

the renewable energy sector. The Valard Group also provides complementing services such as welding, engineering, directional drilling, project development, financing, fabrication, and much more. “The current incarnation of Valard was founded by Victor Budzinski and Bill Budzinski, when they bought a majority stake in Valard Construction in 1978,” says president and CEO Adam Budzinski. “Victor and Bill had previously been in business in Whitehorse under the name Ryco Contracting, and had been servicing communities up and down the Alaska Highway. Moving their business to Grande Prairie was the next logical step in their geographic growth into larger markets.”

Valard • 40 years


Transmission line stringing crew hanging insulators with helicopter.

American storm recovery since 2012. These latest initiatives will see us take on major projects in these markets and establish a permanent presence.” When the Budzinskis took ownership of Valard in 1978, the company had a staff of just five. During the winter of 2018, staff peaked at approximately 3,990 across all the divisions and subsidiaries.

President and CEO Adam Budzinski.

Under the leadership of the Budzinskis, Valard thrived and has continued to grow and diversify, with 2018 being a record year for the company. “Valard has recently rebranded its Corporate Controls group as Professional Services and is providing third-party consulting to other contractors and owners,” Adam explains. “Valard’s project management execution is backstopped by a suite of internally developed software packages, as well as advanced coordination of software from partner vendors to create a low-overhead, major project environment that can process, store and disseminate a large amount of project data with a minimal team. “We are currently working on growth initiatives to move into Norway, Poland (where we just broke ground on our first project), Australia and the United States. Valard has been active in Europe since 2011 and has participated sporadically in

“Big contributors to Valard’s success have been our willingness to lead the market rather than to accept it,” continues Adam. “Valard made early investments in its health and safety, and its quality and environmental groups that led current trends by as much as 10 years. We have always been willing to offer a premium product rather than just being the cheapest bidder. Our vertical integration has also been a constant effort over the last 10 years – while there have been growing pains at times, we are currently enjoying a significant advantage relative to our peers who must seek subcontractors or partnerships to compete with us.” Valard’s work is seen in high profile projects such as Alberta’s Fort McMurray West Transmission project, Eastern Alberta Transmission Line, Shell Saturn Substation, and the Labrador Island Link Transmission Line, among many others. Adam reflects on some of the projects he found memorable. “A few significant moments for me were the completion dinners for the Muskrat Falls project and

Valard • 40 years • 2

Substation crew reviewing prints.

Aerial access on transmission line

the Hydro One Bruce X Milton project. Both of these were difficult in their own right for different reasons, but they forged very strong relationships with the clients that we worked with to get them done. With major construction projects, there will always be points of conflict and misunderstandings; getting past this is what makes a good project great.” Adam continues, “Another key point for me was receiving an award from our owner, Quanta Services, for our first year with revenues over $1B in 2014.” (Valard has steadily brought in revenues in excess of $1B since 2014.) Valard is proficient in adapting to an industry whose climate is ever-changing. Adam explains, “Valard’s greatest challenge is keeping our project teams fed with work. We call it the “Giant Work Eating Monster” and it needs to be fed with a steady supply of backlog. The current economic environment in Canada is complex and getting more so. While complexity is actually advantageous to us over some of our peers, if owners and investors can’t bring project concepts to term because of regulatory challenges and anti-industry sentiment, there will be nothing to compete for, and the project teams that we have built will be lost.” However, Valard has a history of overcoming challenges, and has celebrated many successes over the years. “Our work with First Nations predates industry trends towards their inclusion in projects as well as some of the more recent judicial milestones,” Adam says with pride. “We always ensure that our First Nation and other Indigenous partners make meaningful contributions to our projects, and that we have a net-positive impact in the communities in which we work. This was established by our founder, Victor, and his executive vice president, Roland

Bailey. Victor and Roland worked together in small communities when they were young linemen at Northwestel. This impacted both of their outlooks on how communities can be engaged to help execute projects, and to benefit from the economic inputs these projects have for communities. “On a similar note, my work at Valard has privileged me to see all the corners of Canada. I’ve travelled to the remotest parts of Ontario, Labrador, the Yukon, the North West Territories and Nunavut, as well as conducted business in all the provincial capitals and major economic centres. This is not an experience that is unique to me; many of our employees have seen all the corners of this country and truly experienced its diversity. “Additionally, it is very rewarding to stand back and understand all of the careers that we have kickstarted and nurtured – the leg-ups that we have given young people taking their first jobs out of high school or university, or local residents in the hundreds of communities we have worked in that have received training, advancement or a solid season’s work while it was available in their backyard. Projects are an economic stimulus, but that stimulus is really about having a positive impact on people’s quality of life, and their sense of accomplishment and contribution to their community.” Adam does admit, though, that they have an unusual and rather cheeky method of ensuring each project is delivered on time, on budget, and with their signature stamp of excellence and innovation. “We drag our clients, kicking and screaming, to a successful project completion!” he laughs, but further explains that Valard’s mission is to overcome challenges and take a leadership role to ensure successful projects for their clients and for the communities where work is taking place.

Valard • 40 years • 3

Employees participating in 2018 Alberta Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer.

“Regardless of what barriers might exist to an orderly execution of the project, we stay engaged and continue working towards getting the project done on time. This means we don’t threaten to walk off a project if there is conflict or change. We see the project through and ensure that when we resolve differences, we are doing so from the vantage point of a completed project, as opposed to a failed one that has become mired in a loss of direction. “We have more experience in power system construction than any enterprise in Canada today; having the confidence to tell an employer or client that they are wrong sometimes puts a relationship at risk, but it is always in the service of giving them the best possible outcome. Putting our experience at the service of our clients is the best thing we can do to ensure their project is beneficial to both their investors and the communities they serve.” The company is equally concerned with the success of its staff, both in the office and in the field. “Valard has an over-reaching commitment to safety reflected in its pioneering OSHAS 18001 safety program, as well as in its supporting safety culture,” Adam confirms. “We have always believed that

experience is the most important contributor to safe outcomes, and as such have always paid a premium to have people of profound experience employed on our projects. Valard is often at odds with other organizations that demand terminations for broken rules, and instead has maintained focus on deliberate negligence as the sole reason to terminate a person. If the employees make bad decisions because they are uninformed, that is the fault of the organization, and we need to correct our approach. The employee that has made a mistake and recognized their contribution to an incident is the most likely not to make that mistake again.” Forty years have passed since the Budzinskis purchased Valard, and each passing year has solidified the company’s position as a reliable, effective, focused and successful contractor. Valard thanks its teams, clients, and community partners for continuing to trust them to deliver on a promise of “any project, any time, anywhere.” With an unwavering commitment to its employees, clients, community and the environment, and with a dedication to using the best business practices to bring each project to an efficient completion, Valard looks back on a history it can be proud of, and a future full of opportunities.

4209-99 Street Edmonton, Alberta T6E 5V7 Phone: 780-436-9876 • Fax: 780-436-9822 • Valard • 40 years • 4



40-YEAR LEGACY again with its foray into new home building in 2017, becoming Ultimate Homes & Renovations to reflect its dedication to all areas of the business.

anny Ritchie learned to install and cap windows from his father at a young age. The youngster loved the work and in 1979, he and his brother Terry founded Ultimate Window Capping in Edmonton. They quickly earned a reputation for quality products and unbeatable customer service. The company flourished and Ultimate Window Capping became Ultimate Exterior Renovators, a go-to company throughout the 1980s. It continued to grow under the guidance of vice-president Marc Cloutier as the founders expanded the operation into Calgary.

“Our renovations have expanded to such size that it often makes more sense to rebuild instead of renovate,” says Ritchie. To aid in this, Ultimate recently recycled a home to avoid the wasteful demolition of a perfectly good structure. Clients sell their existing house (which is then moved to a new location) and Ultimate keeps the demolition debris out of the landfill.

“In September 1991, loonies fell from heaven in Calgary and Allstate Insurance asked us to come down and repair homes that were damaged by hail. By July 1992, we were doing a lot of work down here so I moved to Calgary and kept the Edmonton operation running with Marc,” says co-owner and president of Ultimate Homes & Renovations, Danny Ritchie.

Ultimate prides itself on thinking outside the box and finding unique solutions to challenges regardless of the project or the location. The company’s Edmonton roots ensure that every job, large or small, will receive the same level of professionalism and care regardless of where it is done.

In 1995, a homeowner asked the company to do an addition over the garage before replacing the hail-damaged roof and siding. Ultimate was all too happy to accommodate, and with the large renovation under their belt the company became Ultimate Renovations. The company rebranded

“We want all Albertans to know that we take the same approach with every project – it doesn’t matter if the home is in Edmonton or St. Albert or Calgary or Cochrane. The bottom line is that their home is important to them which makes it important to us,” says Marc Cloutier. 1 57


the full 40 years,” Ritchie says. “I believe in treating them right and as a result, everyone stays.”

The team tackles every job with the same eye for detail, adherence to budget and timeline, and quality standards. To maintain the high standards, the company uses in-house trades teams for everything from installation to construction to custom cabinetry. To consistently deliver these high standards, the Ritchie brothers have empowered their management team to bring in the best people, all the while being available to clients 24-7 themselves. Whether staff is related or not, there is a family environment of respect and fun at their offices, as happy employees lead to happy clients.

The corporate culture at Ultimate has contributed to the company’s success and word-of-mouth advertising has helped it grow into one of the top renovation and custom home builders in Alberta. And the industry has noticed. BILD has named Ultimate the renovator of the year nine times since the company started submitting projects in 1998. Since then, they have won 42 SAM Awards in a variety of categories and been nominees or finalists in many others.

“I have surrounded myself with good people and there have been a lot of our people who have been here a long time – many over 20 years and a few for

Ultimate also received the Best Renovated Home in Canada award for its sixth show home in 2017. The company remodels these homes from top to

would like to congratulate...

Exterior & Roofing Centre Inc. Edmonton, Acheson and Surrounding Area



bottom and showcases them before selling the property. It gives potential clients a chance to see the transformative work Ultimate can do as well as solidifies the company’s place as an industry leader. The site workers’ craftsmanship, the design and stellar construction come together to earn each of Ultimate’s show homes awards, and clients can be confident in the quality of the work knowing the project is an award-winning home.

Outdoor Living Space Tour to promote what they can do to spruce up a yard. With the blessing of past clients, the tour visited six amazing southeast Calgary spaces to inspire clients about the endless possibilities of outdoor living. Danny and Terry Ritchie have assembled a talented creative team who have brought their vision to life for the past 40 years, evolving and growing with the industry. As the company enters its fifth decade in Alberta, it’s clear the award-winning group at Ultimate is just getting started.

The team loves to share their vision with potential clients, and last September offered the Ultimate


We are proud partners of Ultimate Homes & Renovations.


From our team to yours, congratulations on 40 years!

9545 63 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 0G2 (780) 430-6441 •

Congratulations Ultimate Homes & Renovations! CONGRATULATIONS ULTIMATE HOMES & RENOVATIONS!

Canada’s leader in tropical hardwood, decking, siding, soffit & more 403.541.9009 | Bay 8, 6304 Burbank Road SE Calgary AB please visit

4260 93 St, Edmonton, AB, T6E5P5 780-432-3947 | |




to Ultimate Homes & Renovations on 40 years!


Buyers of all types of scrap metal, batteries and brass.

Proudly serving the city of Edmonton & surrounding areas


4510 68 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB (780) 468-3951 |



Jeff Huston



eff Huston has seen some… well, let’s just say he’s seen things that most of us prefer not to discuss; but the reality is, no matter where you are, at some point nature will call. When it does, Handi-Can might be the one answering.

event, too far away and in the heart of the busy construction season. I didn’t want to let my yearly customers down, so I found local people to fill the void for BVJ.” Then he smiles sheepishly, “Also, I lost the bid!”

Handi-Can rents, sells and services portable toilets and temporary fencing. The company also provides high-rise, wheelchair accessible, and executive heated toilets, along with hand washing stations and pump-out services.

Losing the bid was not a deterrent, however, as Huston was busy positioning Handi-Can to serve the Edmonton, St. Albert, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Beaumont, Nisku, Leduc, Sherwood Park, Lac Ste. Anne and Parkland County regions. Additionally, construction firms and event planners were loving the cleanliness of Handi-Can’s portables and the outstanding and professional service, so Huston decided to expand.

You’ve seen their colourful stalls at festivals, sporting events, construction sites, and concerts. At an outdoor wedding you may have enjoyed the executive portable with its flush toilets, air conditioning and running water. Huston strives to make Handi-Can the number one choice for people who go number two. Under his leadership, the business has grown quickly. “When I bought Handi-Can, I was renting half a building in Spruce Grove,” he says. “I was living in Edmonton but wanted to move back to the country and buy an acreage.” Huston bought the acreage, built a shop and moved the company to his property. “We started with six trucks and 600 toilets. I hired my sister-inlaw to do the clerical work. I bought the company right at the start of summer, so we grew quickly with all the construction work, festivals, events and golf courses opening up.” Prior to his ownership, Handi-Can had a contract with Big Valley Jamboree (BVJ), a contract Huston upheld for one year. “Being new to business and getting thrown into to BVJ was quite the learning curve.” Huston admits. “It was too big of an

Handi-Can • 15 Years 60

“I acquired another portable toilet company about five years ago,” he explains. “The inventory included 200 portable toilets and another truck. A large commercial contractor was one of their main clients, so that new business was advantageous. I hired one of their employees and two years ago, from the same company, purchased their temporary line fencing.” Three years ago, Handi-Can outgrew the acreage facility and built a beautiful cabin-style 8,000 square foot building in Spruce Grove to grow operations and to have a spacious, professional office for the business and his team. Today, Huston reflects on the past 15 years, what has made the business a success, and how the inventory has grown to include 10 trucks and 1,200 toilets, along with 75,000 feet of temporary fence panels. “It’s a needed service that everyone uses but having an excellent team is what makes the business last. We started with three people. Now, during the summer, we have up to 20.

“I’ve treaded cautiously in taking on new business until I know we can handle it and not let other customers down. I’m very mindful of growing sustainably. “Handi-Can stands out because we follow through and deliver on our promises. We have integrity. We have nice equipment. We look professional and act professional in the way we dress, clean our toilets and operate. We are timely and precise. I really care about the business and the customers.”

Huston thanks his team for their hard work and his clients for their loyalty. He also thanks his father, who was instrumental in helping him launch and be successful with the business. Handi-Can looks forward to a future of steady growth, new acquisitions, and being the go-to portable toilet and temporary fence provider for the region’s construction and event needs. “After 15 years it’s business as usual,” he smiles. “We will keep doing the things that have made us successful so far.”

Congratulations Handi-Can on 15 years in business! As their legal advisor since their inception we are honoured to be a part of their success.

327 Saskatchewan Ave Spruce Grove, AB 780 962 9400 |

Norman R. St. Arnaud - Barrister & Solicitor 2500 Commerce Place • 10155 - 102 Street Edmonton, AB 780-425-2500 •

Quality Products - Delivered Fast

Congratulations to Handi-Can for 15 years.

We wish you many more years of continued success.




Construction gets technical and innovations continue to emerge BY FAY FLETCHER


dmonton’s skyline is soaring as building projects continue to rise across the city. However, there is more than construction going on. Edmonton’s builders are embracing technology that is changing, challenging, and moving the industry forward in interesting and exciting ways.

our database for information pertaining to each individual project. For our administrators, we have built a system that automatically creates everything from quotes for a customer’s request to work orders for subcontractors, material orders, invoices and so on.”

“It is 100 per cent important for builders to explore technical innovation,” says Leeran Giovannoni, project manager/ estimator at EGM Drywall Systems Inc., a residential and commercial drywall contractor specializing in steel framing, insulation, drywall, taping and acoustical ceilings. “Not only for builders, but for everyone in the construction industry. It seems like a lot of industries are adapting to new technologies and digital ways of doing things, but construction seems to be an industry that is adapting quicker than most others.”

The agile company has plans to implement even more tech in the future.

EGM Drywall is no stranger to technology.

“We are in the process of developing a mobile software/ application that will handle our current system with some very fascinating new features, including a geo-tracking module. We have also added an invoicing feature so that all subcontractors are issued a work order automatically and the jobs are invoiced automatically. There is a material order portion that goes directly to our suppliers, which eliminates the need for paper orders. All correspondence is done in real time through the app.

“We have implemented technology into our building processes as well as administrative processes,” Giovannoni explains. “We have equipped our field management team with tablets for ease of communication and quick access to

“The reason for moving towards a more digital solution is not only to eliminate the day-to-day mistakes that everyone makes, but to also streamline our processes so that each job is treated the same way and each job is controlled properly.” ABOVE: EGM DRYWALL SYSTEMS IN ACTION: CREDIT EGM DRYWALL.



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Giovannoni notes the speed at which EGM Drywall and others in the construction industry are adapting to new technologies. “Ten years ago, we did our steel framing layouts on site with a chalk line and a marker. Now, we are on jobs with a laser scaling machine and a laptop. It’s changed so much in the last 10 years, and with more accuracy and more detailed processes using technology, its only going to keep being adopted by the industry… especially with modular building. We think that’s the way of the future with regards to technology and construction. Controlled environments, assembly-line like processes and so on.”

“We have also implemented ‘just in time’ delivery of information and specification to trades and suppliers so that the customers can make changes right up to when the products are ordered and the work is getting done.

Rob Rogers, construction manager, Western Modular Homes is quick to agree.

Mosaic Home Services Ltd. works with homeowners, property managers, and commercial contractors through a group of independently managed brands focused on improving living spaces. With several subsidiaries under the brand (including Iron Shield Roofing, Colour Envy Painting and Everlast Vinyl Fencing), co-founder Steven Knight relies on technology to ensure Mosaic always runs at peak efficiency.

“Many people still have the impression that factory-built housing is somehow lesser quality than a site built home due to the abundance of cheap trailers made in the past,” says Rogers. “I believe over the next 10-20 years the building industry will see many more changes than in the past. More offsite building of components or modules is definitely the way of the future. If you look across the world, many countries (like Germany, Sweden and Japan) are already building a lot of their housing this way. “North America is behind in offsite building technologies, but there are a few companies in the U.S. trying to disrupt the construction industry this way. For example, Marriot Hotels has chosen modular construction for all its new builds and Katerra is building thousands of apartments through offsite methods. The UK and New Zealand are struggling with housing shortages and the government has been pushing for more offsite construction to help solve the problem.” Western Modular Homes is a frontrunner in Edmonton when it comes to innovation in processes and technology implementation in offsite building. “Having most of the construction happening all under one roof allows us to innovate easier than a site builder could,” Rogers explains. “One of the most innovative things we have done is figured out ways to ship over-height houses underheight. If we hauled them at full height it would be very expensive to get the power companies to take the lines down, so we figured out different methods for tackling this problem. This includes hinging the roof system and some of the walls.



“You can also tour some of our houses online if you have a Samsung gear VR. It is a really cool technology!” For the modular home builder, the future is exciting. “There is some really good robotic machinery that can make housing components. The future will see more offsite building with advanced machinery,” Rogers concludes.

“Over the past few years we have implemented a field service management tool that’s actually Edmonton based. It’s called Jobber,” explains Knight. “We use Jobber to quote, schedule, complete, and invoice work across most of our brands. This tool allows us to keep all departments of our business on the same page with every client, every project, and every point of communication. We’ve built our processes around this platform to improve the overall client experience, while making training and scaling up our business simpler. We’re able to complete work faster and more efficiently than our paper-based competitors and deliver a better client experience on each project.” Technology, says Knight, is important for the construction industry now and into the future. “Without innovation, builders and people in construction will continue to struggle,” he says. “The market is demanding builders that adapt their systems and build businesses that deliver products to market more efficiently. Technology is the best tool to accomplish those objectives.” PCL Construction is a group of independent construction companies working in the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, and in Australia. Its operations in the civil infrastructure, heavy industrial, and buildings markets amount to an

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annual construction volume of more than $8 billion, making PCL one of the largest contracting organizations in North America. Daniel Doherty, manager of virtual construction, is expertly positioned to see, analyze, and implement the technology that improves the construction sector, but also the mindsets that impede it. “The architectural, engineering, construction and owneroperated (AECO) industry in general is starting to see the rapid development of technologies which have been available for decades, most notably, building information modeling (BIM), which is a digital twin of the built environment, initiated during design, refined during construction and eventually used for operations and maintenance,” Doherty says. “Although utilizing BIM can generate huge benefits for every stakeholder in the value chain throughout the entire lifecycle, to realize its full potential BIM requires a significant change in project execution, i.e. deliverables, scope definitions, contracts, procurement, etc.,” he continues. “The fact is, the AECO industry is notoriously risk adverse, so when standardized process that are historically entrenched are challenged and new workflows are introduced which change deliverables and ultimately how money is spent on a project, there is understandable trepidation, which manifests in outright rejection by some. Consequently, BIM is rarely used for robust lifecycle applications, no matter how much value it would bring. The industry tends to retreat to what is familiar and, regrettably, the status quo is teeming with waste and inefficiencies.” However, he sees a shifting paradigm, and is pleased that PCL embraces the technology that keeps the company growing. “There is value in utilizing BIM technologies throughout construction,” Doherty insists. “PCL continually utilizes BIM and related technologies as part of a wider lean construction initiative meant to reduce waste and streamline project delivery. We are continually looking for ways to exploit technology to boost productivity, improve quality and optimize processes.” PCL has also embraced 3D scanning, robotic total stations, augmented reality, virtual reality, autonomous drones and environment sensors.

“In the last five years we have seen almost exponential growth in the use of mobile devices (iPhone, iPad) in combination with cloud storage, which has greatly enhanced communication between stakeholders, improved information flow and storage, as well as reduced paper waste,” Doherty adds, but he also feels there is still a long way to go. “It is no secret that the construction industry has a productivity problem. Granted, there are many different reasons for this, for example safety regulations, design complexity etc., but one cannot ignore the lack of technological adoption in the AECO industry. “It would be impossible to ignore artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, 3D printing, 5G or any other of the ‘almost there’ technologies. All will be tied together, and each will have profound impacts on the AECO industry. I, for one, am getting impatient with the entire industry and the reluctance to accept the ‘already here’ technologies and can’t wait to see some real disruption because those that have invested and have committed to utilizing technology will be stronger for it.” Doherty concludes with a statement that rings true now and for the future of the building industry in Edmonton. “Construction is vital to our entire socioeconomic structure. Given the position we are in as a society, implementing the tools available to become a more sustainable industry is not an option, it’s a necessity.” Special thanks to the Edmonton Construction Association for making its members available to provide insights for this article.





NEW YEAR. NEW NAME. SAME REMARKABLE EXPERIENCE. Welcome (Back) to the Edmonton Convention Centre

tie-back anchors, extending 225 feet into the earth to prevent the structure from sliding towards the North Saskatchewan River.

Downtown Edmonton’s largest event space, previously known as the Shaw Conference Centre, returned to its roots as the Edmonton Convention Centre on January 1.

Officially opened in 1983 as the Edmonton Convention Centre, the venue hosted Tina Turner, Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana in its first year alone. Backstreet Boys, Pearl Jam, Metallica, N’Sync, Guns ‘N Roses (among other notable acts) have all visited the venue since.

Breaking New Ground The idea for a trade and convention centre to be constructed in downtown Edmonton first manifested in the early 1960s. Designed by local architect James Wensley (Manulife Place, Scotia Place), it wasn’t until February 22, 1980 that ground officially broke on the Grierson Hill location where the Edmonton Convention Centre stands today. Construction required one of the largest soil and rock excavations ever undertaken in the world. More than 3.5 million cubic square feet of earth was excavated during construction—totalling approximately 12,000 10-ton truckloads of earth. Built into the riverbank underneath Jasper Avenue, the building was the first-known project in Alberta to use permanent post-tensioned

Community Connections The Edmonton Convention Centre is a venue for Edmonton; a venue for Edmontonians. This sentiment speaks to the organization’s values—putting people first and enhancing the quality of life of Edmontonians by creating economic and social benefits. “Edmonton’s downtown convention centre has been an integral part of our community and growing skyline for 35 years,” says Richard Wong, general manager, Edmonton Convention Centre. “We have built our reputation on providing remarkable experiences while still maintaining an unwavering commitment to our people.”




DID YOU KNOW? THE EDMONTON CONVENTION CENTRE IS ANYTHING BUT CONVENTIONAL. YOU MAY BE SURPRISED TO LEARN A FEW NEW THINGS ABOUT THIS EDMONTON LANDMARK: • The building is 10 storeys high. Seventy per cent of the facility is built into the river’s hillside, making it appear much smaller than it actually is. • During an average dinner service, a server is required to walk an estimated 36 km while carrying an average of 35 lbs of food per course. • The iconic atrium is covered in 16 tons of glass. • The venue’s halls are large enough to accommodate a Boeing 727 aircraft. • Built into bank of Edmonton’s river valley, the centre is a natural ‘heat sink’ that traps heat and increases energy efficiency. • The Edmonton Convention Centre welcomed its five millionth visitor in 1996 and its 10 millionth visitor in 2008. • Half of the venue was rebuilt in less than 10 weeks after rainstorm damage caused by “The Great Flood” in 2012. • The kitchen is equipped to serve up to 6,000 meals in one day. • The most eccentric concert rider ever received was Marilyn Manson’s request for a dressing room as cold as a meat locker!

The venue’s largest community program is Homeless Connect, a bi-annual tradeshow that was founded by the Edmonton Convention Centre and Homeward Trust in 2008. Over the course of one day, the event provides health, social and legal services to more than 2,000 marginalized and in-need Edmontonians. In 2009, the venue was the first organization in Edmonton to sign up for the Edmonton Food Bank’s Second Helping Program. Every year the kitchen freezes and donates nearly 3,000 kilograms of overprepared meals to those in need.



Taste the Difference Local Makes Executive chef Serge Belair is at the wheel of a well-oiled machine that employs 30 cooks and 11 Red Seal chefs. For Chef Belair, supporting the local culinary scene and local producers is a no-brainer. “The food served to our guests is grown by our community, for our community,” says Chef Belair. “If one of the largest

WE ARE THE EDMONTON CONVENTION CENTRE. Where business can still be done with a handshake.


commercial kitchens in Edmonton can support local and operate sustainably, so too can others in our city.”

five venues in Canada to have received the prestigious ASTM International Certification.

Sixty per cent of the Edmonton Convention Centre’s food is purchased from local producers to reduce the environmental impact of food production and to support the local economy. Meats from Meuwly’s and cheese from Old School Cheesery often make their way onto charcuterie boards, while fresh produce from Erdmann’s Garden & Greenhouse or Forest Scene Farms can by found in salads and vegetable dishes.

On average, the Edmonton Convention Centre’s onsite waste management and recycling programs divert more than 250,00 lbs of waste from landfill annually. In 2018, the venue eliminated its use of plastic straws—saving an estimated 253,000 plastic straws each year (a distance that would stretch more than 40 kilometres)!

The Edmonton Convention Centre kitchen is buzzing for more reasons than its award-winning culinary team. In 2016, the Edmonton Convention Centre welcomed their newest tenants—a hive of honey bees installed on the southeast corner of the property. The hive grows to approximately 100,000 bees each summer and can produce more than 90 pounds of honey. From sweeteners to speciality deserts, the culinary team uses the signature honey in a variety of dishes served to clients and guests.

Sustainability Matters In 2018, the Edmonton Convention Centre welcomed 7,500 global leaders to the inaugural Cities and Climate Change Science Conference and hosted the UN Women’s Safe Cities Global Forum which welcomed 20 nations to Edmonton. A growing demand for sustainable venues coupled with the venue’s existing commitment to sustainability helps position Edmonton as an attractive destination for progressive events. “We work closely with event organizers from the very beginning of the planning process to make sure their sustainability goals are attainable and measurable,” says Melissa Radu, sustainability manager at the Edmonton Convention Centre. The Edmonton Convention Centre’s in-house sustainability manager not only helps clients minimize the environmental impact of their events, but ensures the venue is doing its part too. The Edmonton Convention Centre was the first convention centre in Canada to receive the Green Key level five certification and it is one of only



“Sustainability can no longer be an afterthought. At our venue, sustainability is one of the fundamentals of planning and we enable our clients to set loftier goals that support the future of their events and our environment.”

Welcoming the World to Edmonton The venue plays an important role in enhancing the city’s reputation in a competitive international market. In collaboration with Edmonton Tourism, the team at Edmonton Convention Centre focuses on attracting large-scale meetings and conventions to the city. Owned by the City of Edmonton and managed by Edmonton Economic Development (EEDC), the Edmonton Convention Centre welcomes more than halfa-million annual guests who, in turn, deliver more than $26 million in annual economic impact. “We are excited about the possibilities to use the Edmonton Convention Centre name as a platform to elevate the local community and economy,” said Derek Hudson, CEO, Edmonton Economic Development. “The new name reflects EEDC’s continued dedication to building Edmonton as a regional, national and international destination for events, meetings and conventions.” The venue’s reputation for warm hospitality and attention to detail proves it can punch above its weight among large convention centres across the continent. In 2018, it was recognized by the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) as one of North America’s five top performing venues—the only Canadian venue to receive this honour since 2012.

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