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When the path forward wasn’t clear, Angela Armstrong decided to blaze a trail



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COWAN GRAPHICS: Supporting Your Brand Visibility for Over 75 Years


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

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

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

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


Supporting the visions of entrepreneurs one story at a time. Volume 9 | Number 6



Are we Getting in our Own Way? By John Liston


Feds Come Up Short in Budget 2021 By David MacLean


Edmonton Chamber of Commerce



The Innovator

When the path forward wasn’t clear, Angela Armstrong decided to blaze a trail By Nerissa McNaughton








Aaron Barr, CEO of Canadian Rockies Hemp Corporation (CRHC)



nnovation is happening in every corner of Alberta. Even here, in the picturesque town of Bruderheim, just 40 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, big ideas are turning into big business. For Aaron Barr, CEO of Canadian Rockies Hemp Corporation (CRHC), the cultivation of industrial hemp is transforming 21st century farming, impacting climate change and sustainability and is also an Alberta business success.

“Finding a way to incorporate industrial hemp into broadacre crop rotations not only gives Prairie farmers another crop with a local market but also offers carbon capture. The cultivation of industrial hemp sequesters C02 while CRHC and its manufacturing partners produce sustainable, green input materials for a wide range of industries.” He points out that the opportunities with industrial hemp make it easy to be an innovator but, “financing and commercializing the innovation is not so easy.” That’s where InnoTech Alberta, a subsidiary of Alberta Innovates, shines. It is the government funding agency that boosts research, helps to grow business, enables

Alberta’s start-up community to make new technology happen and helps turn great ideas into successful business ventures. Bright ideas. “Overall awareness of hemp among general public (customers), elected officials, regulators and growers is continuously improving,” says the knowledgeable Dr. Jan Slaski, principal researcher with the Plant Sciences Bio Industrial Services division of InnoTech Alberta. “Of course we must still work hard to raise awareness about hemp and its opportunities among different target groups. The key is understanding hemp as a Prairies crop. Business as well as politicians now recognize the positive impacts of the hemp industry on Alberta’s economy.” Starting this summer, CRHC’s Bruderheim operations will process 50,000 acres of hemp per year, producing 50,000 tonnes of fibre and 110,000 tonnes of hurd, making CRHC the largest hemp processing plant in North America. “Without InnoTech’s support,” Barr adds, “it wouldn’t have been possible to commercialize our bright idea.”



Supporting the visions of entrepreneurs one story at a time. Volume 9 | Number 6




 he Quick Recovery and T Thriving of the Private Aviation Industry By Will Porter


51 57

32 37

The Future of the Workplace

A year after major transformation in the professional workspace, is a return to normal likely? By Natalie Noble

B OMA Edmonton News Summer 2021

S  inclair Supply Ltd. Celebrates 75 Years

 BH Chartered Professional K Accountants Celebrates 40 Years


 id-City Construction M Management Inc. Celebrates 40 Years



Celebrates 50 Years

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here has been a lot of talk about, and progress on, red tape reduction in Alberta. However, what we are discovering from our members at the Alberta Enterprise Group is this: members don’t necessarily want to reduce the number of regulations, they want to know there is a clear path to getting approved. If you look the word “permit” up in the dictionary, it means to “give authorization or consent to do something.” In practice, however, it has evolved in Alberta that a permit is used as a mechanism to stop things from happening. It doesn’t have to be this way. We go on regular Canada Connects Trade Missions to bring a little bit of Alberta to the world and to see how the world does business. Our last mission was to Nevada in 2018. Nevada is a case in point, where permitting is used to advance, promote and move a business idea into action. We visited the Tahoe Reno Industrial Complex, the brainchild of entrepreneur and businessman Lance Gilman. Lance has a bold presence and a can-do attitude. He wanted to bring Tesla founder Elon Musk to his business park as an anchor tenant. Musk blew him off initially, but with persistence he managed to secure a 15-minute meeting to make the pitch for Musk to set up his lithium battery factory at the business park. Musk initially said he wouldn’t consider it because it would take years to get approval. Lance assembled a meeting with all the decision makers and approvers. The Mayor of Reno, a state government official and the fire chief all sat around a card table at a construction site to share Lance’s dream for the industrial park.

get a building permit in 30 days. They now brag about this speed on their website with a joking line “you read that right.” Tesla has now built Gigafactory 1 with partner Panasonic and they intend for it to be the largest building on the planet. The park is now home to 100 companies, including tech darlings like Google, Blockchains and Switch. The state’s fastest growing employee demographic is 18 to 25 year-olds, because they can leave their pricey 800 square foot apartment in Silicon Valley and buy a five acre ranch close the mountains while being 20 minutes from the Reno airport. They are located on a rail line that gives them easy access to major markets on the West Coast. The complex now employs over 25,000 people. This culture shift was pioneered by Governor Brian Sandoval, who was in the office from 2011 to 2019. As Governor Sandoval told us, “My job is to teach the bureaucracy we are going to say yes, unless we have a good reason to say no.” In Alberta, we start from a position of “we are going to make you jump through 12 hoops until you can convince us to say yes” (and they are subject to change). We’ve got it backwards expecting that businesses must be policed at every step. We have vast resources in Alberta. We have access to markets in California and Texas. We have access to glorious mountain parks. We could think of a dozen places where an entrepreneur could build a business park with Tesla as an anchor tenant. The only thing standing in the way is ourselves.

When Musk raised his objection, Lance told him they could get a permit for grading the site in seven days and they could






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

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

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

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

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


Feds Come Up Short in Budget 2021 BY DAVID MACLEAN


he past year has taught Canadians a valuable lesson – manufacturing matters. As manufacturers have demonstrated on countless occasions during the pandemic, manufacturing is not only vital to our economic success, but essential to helping our country face our toughest challenges. From the production of PPE to the manufacture of vaccines and medicines, a strong and healthy Canadian manufacturing industry is in Canada’s best interests. That’s why we expected a little more to support local manufacturing in the most recent federal budget. First off, we commend the federal government for recognizing the importance of the manufacturing sector and addressing many challenges faced by Canadian manufacturers. Recapitalizing investment supports like the Strategic Innovation Fund, enhancing accelerated capital write-offs, extending the wage subsidy, helping companies transition to net-zero, investing in skills training and childcare, are all very positive initiatives that will help industry recover from the pandemic. However, the government missed an opportunity to address fundamental issues plaguing the long-term health and growth of the manufacturing sector. Longstanding requests from Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters to significantly drive technology investment and scale-up and commercialization through a comprehensive, targeted manufacturing strategy were largely missing. As we inch closer to the end of the worst of the pandemic, governments around the world are investing massively in the manufacturing sector. The federal government missed an opportunity to have a more comprehensive approach which would have helped to make our manufacturers more competitive. A lot of the measures announced were positive

and will help, but there is not enough in there to move the needle and drive long-term growth. Canada is lagging far behind when it comes to productivity. It’s important to note that the growth of business capital investment in Canada over the past five years was 8.8 per cent, compared to 30.4 per cent in the United Kingdom and 28.1 per cent in the United States. This means the gap is widening, and this long-term erosion of our industrial competitiveness directly affects manufacturers’ ability to respond to the current crisis or future ones. We must turn the ship around. The lack of a comprehensive manufacturing strategy as recommended by the Government’s own Industry Strategy Council in today’s budget is placing our sector in a difficult situation. This is not the plan that will launch our industry forward or see us win the global race. We’re going to continue to work with the federal government to get the right policy mix needed for long-term growth and more resilient Canadian supply chains. Manufacturers need more help to de-risk incentivized digitization, automation and technology adoption in order to drive productivity growth. We also need to look at “patent box” regimes that reward commercialization and production of Canadianmade advanced technologies, thereby eliminating a key competitive disadvantage between us and a growing number of international peers. There’s much to do to help Canada increase value-added exports, but the pandemic has clearly shown us the upside. A genuine manufacturing strategy that is simple and focused would be a good start. CANADIAN MANUFACTURERS & EXPORTERS (CME) IS THE VOICE OF CANADIAN MANUFACTURING. CME REPRESENTS MORE THAN 2,500 COMPANIES WHO ACCOUNT FOR AN ESTIMATED 82 PER CENT OF MANUFACTURING OUTPUT AND 90 PER CENT OF CANADA’S EXPORTS.





o many in 2013, bitcoin was still an abstract concept. To Adam O’Brien, founder and CEO of Bitcoin Well, it was an opportunity to disrupt how society views money. He instantly had a passion for this cryptocurrency and became a local thought-leader early on, teaching others about bitcoin and facilitating transactions himself. “Bitcoin is the best form of money in the world. Taking full control of your tokens is the true way to experience financial sovereignty,” says O’Brien. He deployed the first bitcoin ATM in Alberta and Saskatchewan in 2014, and his ATM transactions grew from weekly to daily visits by 2015, signaling the prevalence and legitimacy of bitcoin in Canada. As the Bitcoin Well (previously Bitcoin Solutions) network spread across Canada, they established an Eastern Canadian presence through an acquisition in 2019, followed by three more in 2020, and today have 125 ATMs nationwide. As the business was growing, so was O’Brien’s vision for how to reach new customers, but the technology and functionality he wanted wasn’t available yet. Adam O’Brien and industry titan Dave Bradley co-founded Ghostlab in 2020, a company that supplies Bitcoin Well with custom built technology. They develop software that makes it easier for retailers to give a better experience helping their customers to buy and sell bitcoin. Ghostlab recently deployed its debut hardware-agnostic bitcoin software on a traditional cash ATM. Partnering with traditional operators gives society a larger network of locations at which they can access bitcoin and offers new purpose to existing ATMs. With 12 machines currently in circulation, Bitcoin Well is poised to expand through Ghostlab’s software and traditional ATM operators. Ghostlab is aggressively hiring for their new headquarters in Edmonton to support this growth. Bitcoin Well is now the third-largest bitcoin ATM provider in Canada and is looking to strategically expand into countries around the world. It is also expected to become the world’s first publicly traded bitcoin ATM company, trading under the ticker BTCW on the TSXV exchange. Through Bitcoin Well and Ghostlab, O’Brien has a hand in growing the financialtechnology industry, employing great tech minds in Edmonton and showing traditional investors that bitcoin is sound money.

Adam O’Brien, founder and CEO of Bitcoin Well

O’Brien expects continued growth over the next several years in both online and in-person service offerings as well as team members. He is currently designing a 35,000-squarefoot head office in downtown Edmonton that will have a public space to interact with and educate customers about bitcoin. The two-floor office will also have collaborative and creative workspaces, a café, games area, nap pods and comfortable seating for offhand conversations that often lead to innovative ideas. “We have an archaic thousand-year-old monetary system that we are disrupting, and we need people to be in different headspaces when they are fingers to the keyboard versus when they are thinking about the next idea,” O’Brien says. Bitcoin Well expects that within 18 months the downtown space, which accommodates up to 200 people, will be filled and he plans to open satellite campuses to further expand their reach – perpetuating the founder’s mission of financial sovereignty for all. Bitcoin Well continues to be a trusted source of bitcoin education and expertise for Canadians looking to invest.

To learn more, you can visit Bitcoin Well’s offices in Edmonton and Calgary, search online at bitcoinwell.com or call 1-888-711-3866. To apply to work here, visit ghostlab.ca/jobs or get in touch with Bitcoin Well.



ONEC Named One of Canada’s Best Managed Companies “DESPITE A YEAR OF UNPRECEDENTED ONEC Group of Companies was recognized for overall business performance and sustained growth with the prestigious Canada’s Best Managed Companies designation. The 2021 Best Managed program award winners are amongst the best-in-class of Canadian-owned and managed companies with revenues over $25 million demonstrating leadership in the areas of strategy, capabilities and innovation, culture and commitment, and financials to achieve sustainable growth. Now in its 28th year, Canada’s Best Managed Companies remains one of the country’s leading business awards programs recognizing Canadian-owned and managed companies for innovative, world-class business practices. Every year, hundreds of entrepreneurial companies compete for this designation in a rigorous and independent process that evaluates the calibre of their management abilities and practices. ONEC was a winner of Canada’s Best Managed Companies program in 2016 and requalified in 2021 to maintain its status as a Best Managed Gold Standard company. ONEC credits its years of continued success to its commitment to innovation and continuous improvement, and the constant evolution of its integrated project delivery/ONE team approach. At ONEC, the aim is to consistently inspire and empower clients, partners, and staff to achieve operational excellence while also endeavoring to make a positive impact within industry and the communities in which they operate. “This year’s Best Managed winners demonstrate the organizational grit required to thrive in these increasingly uncertain times,” says Peter Brown, partner, Deloitte Private and Co-Leader, Canada’s Best Managed Companies program. “By putting their people first, and showing the courage to experiment and take risks, they were able to overcome some



CHALLENGES, OUR TEAMS CAME TOGETHER IN A TRUE SHOW OF RESILIENCE AND DEDICATION, SUPPORTING ONE ANOTHER IN ORDER TO MEET THE NEEDS OF OUR CLIENTS AND REMAIN HEALTHY,” SAYS WIART. of today’s most pressing challenges. This year’s winners were able to succeed because they weren’t afraid to fail.” Applicants are evaluated by an independent judging panel comprised of representatives from program sponsors in addition to special guest judges. 2021 Best Managed companies share commonalities that include (but are not limited to) enabling a remote workforce, making employee health a top priority, acting with an increased sense of purpose and social responsibility, and a significantly heightened focus on cash flow. “Despite a year of unprecedented challenges, our teams came together in a true show of resilience and dedication, supporting one another in order to meet the needs of our clients and remain healthy,” says Denis Wiart, CEO of ONEC Group of Companies. “This award is a true testament to the strength of all of those who make ONEC all that it is, each and every day.” The 2021 winners of the Canada’s Best Managed Companies award will be honoured at a virtual gala. The Best Managed virtual symposium will address leading-edge business issues that are key to the success of today’s business leaders. The Best Managed program is sponsored by Deloitte Private, CIBC, Canadian Business, Smith School of Business, and TMX Group.








Photo taken prior to COVID-19.

BUILDING YOUR FUTURE Join PCL Construction and you can write the plan for a future that you own. Bring us your talents, your passions and your best efforts every day, and we’ll help you transform your vision from a dream into reality. With us, success isn’t a competition — it lives in the commitment to professional growth that we all share.






Edmonton Chamber Welcomes Incoming President & CEO

The Edmonton Chamber is pleased to announce that Jeffrey Sundquist has been appointed president & CEO effective June 1, 2021, having succeeded Janet Riopel in this role. Serving at senior executive levels in both private and public sectors, Jeffrey has significant experience in economic development, trade, international diplomacy, corporate strategy, acquisitions, finance, and higher education. He has worked internationally throughout his professional career, conducting business in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and the United States. Jeffrey previously served as Chief Executive Officer of EDC Environmental Group of Companies, the parent investment company of environmental services companies in Canada and the United States treating industrial wastewater and contaminated soil. Before that, as the senior diplomat appointed to the High Commission of Canada in London, he represented Alberta’s policy, trade, investment and reputational interests in Europe.

knowing that the Edmonton Chamber will continue to deliver on it’s considerable and highly-respected legacy with strong and focused leadership.”

Jeffrey has served on a number of Chamber board and policy committees, most recently as the Board Vice Chair. He also serves on the Boards of Edmonton Global, EDC Environmental Group, is an advisor to the Canada UK Chamber of Commerce, and served as Chair of the Greater Edmonton Region Chambers of Commerce.

“The Edmonton Chamber’s modernization and return to relevancy over the past six years has been tremendous.” said Elan MacDonald, Chair of the Edmonton Chamber’s Board of Directors. “Jeffrey’s experience will bring a new dynamic to the organization, and I can’t wait to see how our Chamber evolves once more under his leadership.”

“Jeffrey’s keen understanding of the Chamber community, his passion for economic development, and his experience in international relations will bring a new perspective and fresh ideas to our organization.” said Janet M. Riopel, outgoing president & CEO, “I leave with the great satisfaction of

“Janet has built a very strong team which has strengthened the relevance and voice of the Edmonton Chamber.” said Jeffrey Sundquist, incoming president & CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, “During these challenging times, now more than ever, a strong Chamber is essential to the business





X community and the Edmonton Region, and I look very forward to taking on this important role.”


About the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce For over 130 years the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce contributed to ambitious, foundational projects that have helped build Edmonton into the city it is today. Our track record of success has made us the sought-after voice of business in Edmonton. Our member companies represent small, medium, and large businesses, and every sector of the economy, from heavy industry and manufacturing to retail and non-profit organizations. We are proud of our work and our members. We are unwavering in our commitment to using our powerful voice to champion Edmonton and the entire region as a great place to live, work, and do business.




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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEADERS MONTHLY SPOTLIGHT BROUGHT WESTERN BANK AND PRIME CAPITAL GROUP Listen to our podcast here: primeforgrowthpodcast.buzzsprout.com

Glenise Harvey, Principal A&H Steel


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

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




he COVID-19 pandemic will go down in history as a time of trials and tribulations for industries around the world. While many industries struggled, others rose to the occasion, providing essential services required in a time of need. The private aviation industry was able to provide safe transportation in a time where commercial airlines had to close down, or greatly reduce capacity in order to reduce the spread of the pandemic. Speaking with the Canadian Business Aviation Association, Anthony Norejko, president and CEO explains what happened at the initial onset of the pandemic lockdowns, and how the private aviation industry responded. “The business and private aviation sector were on the forefront of protecting Canadians in the early days of COVID by: repatriating Canadians from every part of the globe, including regions that had little to no scheduled service; delivering PPE and medical personnel and supplies to small and remote locations, a role that continues to this day; delivering other essential cargo; and continuing to support Canadian businesses with safe and healthy point-to-point access to support customers, maintain essential services and connect businesses and communities.”

Initial responses were strong across the industry. At Aurora Jet Partners, providers of aircraft management, charter services and aircraft brokerage, Jeff Kufeldt, vice president of sales, talks us through their response to the pandemic. “Initially in the spring of 2020 when the pandemic hit full force around the world, we had a significant spike in flying activity. Our primary job was getting our jet owners and their families/employees back into Canada as international borders were closing and airlines started to cancel flights.” Kufeldt continues, “The charter business was also very busy during this time. We had dozens of calls every week from people trying to arrange flights to get back home from all parts of the world. This continued into late spring as many snow birds who had decided to stay away from airports all together were finally ready to come home. Throughout the summer and fall of 2020 our international flying was understandably slower than a typical year and many of our clients were choosing instead to travel with us domestically. International flying did pick up over the colder months with many clients hiring us to take them to Hawaii and the usual sun destinations in the south.”




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Sales of private aircraft, while slow to begin with at the start of the pandemic, picked up quickly, resulting in low inventories for many companies. President of Prairie Aircraft Sales Ltd., Kathy Wrobel breaks down events early last year. “When the pandemic first shut everything down, I was in the middle of my trade shows and in attendance at the Edmonton Boat and Sportsman Show. We all went into lockdown and things were pretty quiet for a couple of weeks but started to pick up right away. I ended up selling over 40 aircraft last year ranging from small singles to a Citation 680 and everything in between. Then 2021 started out the same with things being very busy and inventory being low.“ Wrobel further illustrates why people turned to private aviation. “With the airlines shutting down or reducing flights, the availability not only went away, but the flights that were available were very expensive. Where you used to be able to hop on a WestJet flight for a few hundred dollars, that same flight was suddenly $800+. It was cheaper to fly your own aircraft and that is what folks decided to do. It is safer, more convenient, and all round a better choice. The skies are not as crowded, and airports are quiet. It’s a great time to learn to fly and explore. Aviation has remained one of the few activities that will provide you freedom, and who doesn’t love to fly?” Kufeldt also gives a summary of how their jet brokerage business has been positively affected, saying, “During this time our jet brokerage business had its busiest year ever. Even now going into the summer of 2021 we are in the

process of acquiring three jets for clients and we expect this to continue as more companies and individuals want unfettered access to their own aircraft while completely avoiding crowded airports and security lineups.” Norejko of the CBAA sheds further light on why charters and sales increased during the pandemic. “We believe that restrictions in commercial service plus the added layers of health and safety at fixed-base operators (FBOs) have both contributed to an increase in the sale and charter of private aircraft. While airports have worked very hard to keep their terminals clean and workers and passengers safe, FBOs have an added advantage of fewer people congregating, an easier-to-monitor environment, and the fact that all passengers are known to flight managers. Along with the ability of private aircraft to fly when and where is needed on demand, business aviation has become a real alternative to commercial aviation for an additional number of people.” The CBAA provides essential services and advocates for business and the private aviation industry. Norejko gives us some information about business aviation in Canada. “In 2017, business aviation generated $12.1 billion in economic output, $5.8 billion in GDP, and contributed $3.5 billion in wages to 47,100 jobs, 23,000 of which were directly attributed to business aviation.” Explaining the role of the CBAA, Norejko says, “Our major task is to educate government and business leaders on the importance of business aviation to our economy and social wellbeing. Our three key points are that business aviation is: a critical asset that creates economic opportunity and jobs throughout Canada, a world leader in the creation and adoption of technologies that reduce ABOVE: CANADIAN BUSINESS AVIATION ASSOCIATION (CBAA), ANTHONY NOREJKO, PRESIDENT AND CEO.




Kufeldt describes the services that Aurora Jet Partners offers to clients. “Aurora Jet Partners offers a complete turnkey solution for new jet owners. We look after everything for the client including the acquisition of the jet, hiring and training the pilots, the ongoing maintenance and safety management, the flight logistics, regulatory requirements and accounting. We currently have jets based in Vancouver, Kelowna, Edmonton and Toronto.”


Although the pandemic has not ended yet, vaccinations have been rolling out for a few months and the end is in sight. The private aviation industry will continue to provide essential services to individuals and businesses in our time of need, from travel, to the delivery of much needed PPE and other essential cargo. Sales and chartering are not expected to slow down anytime soon, and businesses looking to secure safer, more economical and convenient travel options have many companies available and ready for their business.


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When asked about prospects in the future, Wrobel at Prairie Aircraft Sales has a positive outlook. “With inventories being low, we have been working with our buyers on acquisitions and purchase assists in bringing aircraft into Canada when required. There are a number of logistics involved and may be overwhelming to those who do not know the process. With the contacts and relationships we have made over the last 30 years we work hard to make these transactions seamless for our clients. We look forward to a very busy rest of 2021!”


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THE INNOVATOR When the path forward wasn’t clear, Angela Armstrong decided to blaze a trail BY NERISSA MCNAUGHTON


ngela Armstrong is the president and founder of Prime Capital Group of Companies, a direct lender specializing in the equipment finance and lease solutions that enable businesses to scale and grow. Armstrong and her team focus on competitive, creative, responsive solutions for clients and companies, and they never stop evolving to meet the needs of a changing marketplace. For Armstrong, the decision to go from an employee of a large firm to a business owner in an extremely challenging field wasn’t what she expected from her career. “I was running a branch of a company and was with them for 14 years after graduating from university,” Armstrong explains. “It was my first full time job. I had actually gone to university to train as a lawyer but I was recruited to that firm and I said okay, I’ll try it for year. Fourteen years later I was in business development running a branch from Edmonton – the youngest branch manager at the time in the company’s history.” But in the business world, change is inevitable. “The company did the math,” Armstrong continues. “They decided to scale capacity by using technology. It was the right decision, but it meant closing the branches. My job went away. For a while I lobbied to have a job in their head office in Winnipeg without leaving Edmonton but unlike now, the technology wasn’t there for remote work in 2000.

It was either move into a sales position, move to Winnipeg, or leave the company. I had a four year old and a newborn. Moving the family wasn’t the right choice, so I parted with the company on good terms.” She thought that was that, but her former clients had other ideas and kept coming to her for help. “I got busy helping previous branch clients so I thought, why not do this for a year working from home? Things kept getting busier and I needed to expand. A friend of mine said why don’t you open a leasing company?” Armstrong’s first response to her friend was, “What? I don’t know how to do that!” To which her friend challenged her right back, “What don’t you know? Let’s have lunch next week. If you don’t have an answer for ‘why not,’ let’s talk about what else you can do.” Within the space of a week Armstrong thought about it, researched it, and applied for a business line of credit. At lunch with her friend the following week she said, “Well, I got capital, so I guess I’m opening a leasing company.” Prime Capital was born. “We started with $40,000; now we have millions in capital,” reminisces Armstrong. “Looking back, do I have any regrets? No. I’m really happy with the journey I have been on. I’ve learned a lot and sometimes the hard way. Kids fall down RIGHT: ANGELA ARMSTRONG, PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF PRIME CAPITAL GROUP OF COMPANIES. PHOTO SOURCE: EPIC PHOTOGRAPHY INC.







when they walk. They fall off their bike when they learn to ride, but they want to do it anyway. Somewhere along the line as an adult you become fearful of risks, and that’s a shame. When you fall but get up and realize you can keep going, it is such a great feeling to know you are doing something incredible.” Armstrong was at a crossroads and took her own path, but she does see the future she would have had if she stayed the course – and it’s not a bad view. “That company was acquired by a major bank and is driving impactful change in the industry, but I’m still in the market and I get to innovate things on my terms, my way.”

Prime Capital’s four core values also help enable the company’s success. Those values are: • Creative mind: never say no unless all creative options have been exhausted • Value: everyone’s contributions and feedback are valued with equal weight • Commitment: not to “just good” but to excellence

That agility has been vital for Prime Capital to be able to pivot, fast, when necessary.

• We’ve got your back: we do what it takes to make the team, clients, and vendors feel supported

“The 2008/2009 crash transformed the market for private industry. A lot of small entrepreneurial companies were being acquired by large institutional lenders because of the state of the market. Suddenly if you couldn’t scale, you couldn’t compete.”

Armstrong also knows that growth does not happen in a bubble. She advises, “Business owners live a bubble of their own intention, not because of ego, but because of the focus it takes to do this. You are busy; so very, very busy. This is why you need to bring in people that are not afraid to tell you that you’re crossing a line from which you can’t return. You have to be humble enough to say, ‘I brought this person on board for a reason.’ If you don’t listen to them you are a fool – and I don’t want to be a fool. The barrier to growth is often the business owner. When you start a company, everything is up to you. You must recognize your capacity limitations and find the right people to help you get past that capacity and on to the next phase.”

Angela chose to compete. “We invested in technology and figured out more operational rigour. We worked really hard to stay relevant because the only other choice was to sell the business.” It wasn’t just Armstrong’s leadership, her team’s tenacity, or the investments in scaling and acquiring technology that kept the company growing. Prime Capital distinguishes itself among its competition by focusing obsessively on client relationships. “There is a tendency to think of finance as transactional,” says Armstrong. “The transaction is the act of acquiring equipment, getting an invoice, getting the terms for the customer, etc. Then you pay the vendor and start a contract. For Prime, however, sometimes I meet a client and it takes two years before we start doing business with them because we are curating the relationship. We spend the time getting to know them and their business. It’s what we have done all day, every day for 21 years, first locally, and now with our clients and vendors in the U.S. market. We curate relationships from the minute we meet the client, so


if we don’t have a Prime solution, we can introduce them to someone that can help them succeed. The relationships matter to us; it doesn’t matter if the transaction is through Prime Capital or not.


One of the people Armstrong credits as being instrumental in her personal and professional success is her husband, Dan Forest. “Dan came from a family of entrepreneurs and he had a curiosity about software development,” she says. “When I worked as a branch manager, I asked him if there was a better way for me to create contracts. This was back when server farms still took up entire rooms in the office and we were doing forms in triplicate on a typewriter. In response, he learned how to program and code and created a product for my team that pulled information from a database and automated it into a contract. That was the start of his career in programming. He now

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manages ERP systems (enterprise resource planning software) for a large, global company. She reflects, “Every entrepreneur in a relationship is familiar with the conversation when they go to their partner and say, ‘I’m going to quit my steady job and do something from scratch.’ Remember, I had just given birth to my second child and had no capital when I made my decision to start a leasing company, but at no point did he ever say ‘you are crazy, we can’t afford that, it’s too risky.’ Coming from a family of entrepreneurs he knows the journey is not smooth and he has trepidation about risk, but he’s always been supportive. There are many nights he stays up helping me with work problems, and the family has seen me on my laptop for half the day while we were away on vacations.” Armstrong also admits to having a hard conversation with her spouse about household management. “When he migrated from an office to working from home, I asked to renegotiate the roles in the family. Like all families we have roles that work for us, but I needed to change things. I asked for five years so I could put all my effort into the business. At that point the kids were in their late teens, so we made some shifts that gave me more continuity in the business and more work hours. There was a lot of company and professional growth because he was prepared to be that support person in addition to his job.” Knowing firsthand how challenging it is to be a female small business owner, Armstrong passionately helps bring the stories of other female entrepreneurs to light, showcasing their journeys, their success, and most of all, their innovative spirits. “Innovation can be service, the way you create a client experience, how you remove redundancy – it’s not just about

technology,” Armstrong points out. “Innovation can be improving corporate culture. It’s about being proactive to the changes that keep you moving forward. Complacency is the enemy of innovation!” Prime Capital has innovated, evolved, grown, and succeeded through its startup phase and through times of economic uncertainly. Now, it’s 20th anniversary passed during the throes of the global pandemic. Rather than muse over the regret of not being able to gather the team, clients, and supporters to celebrate this milestone, Prime simply looked to its fourth core value: we’ve got your back. ABOVE: PRIME CAPITAL AND PARKWOOD HOMES STAFF WHO WORKED TOGETHER IN DECEMBER 2019 ON OUR PCG CHARITABLE WGYBACKPACK INITIATIVE.




improving situations for others and your industry, peers see and recognize that. It means a lot.” Armstrong is also thankful for an Alberta Business Award of Distinction and several nominations for the Royal Bank’s Women of Influence Award, as well as being recognized by her industry peers as a Member of the Year on three occasions. She is the industry’s first female board chair and credits the industry with its efforts on its diversity and inclusion, from its new Future Leaders initiative to its three-year old Women in Asset Finance group.

“I WANT TO GIVE BACK JUST AS MUCH OR MORE THAN I’VE GAINED. RECOGNITIONS ACKNOWLEDGE YOU ARE ACHIEVING THAT AND DOING SOMETHING GREAT FROM AN INDEPENDENT STANDPOINT. WE GRACIOUSLY, HUMBLY, ACCEPT THE VALIDATION.” “Instead of celebrating when everyone has pandemic fatigue, we decided to hold a celebration later when everyone has breathing room after COVID. Meanwhile we are focusing on positivity and sharing the success stories of other entrepreneurs. Those stories fuel us all.” Readers of Business in Edmonton magazine can enjoy those stories in Prime Capital’s sponsored segment, where two female entrepreneurs are profiled each month. In 2018 Armstrong was celebrated with a Business in Edmonton Leaders award. “That was meaningful for me as I am proud of industry awards that stem from recognition by peers,” she says. If you care about something and put effort into it with the goal of

“I want to give back just as much or more than I’ve gained. Recognitions acknowledge you are achieving that and doing something great from an independent standpoint. We graciously, humbly, accept the validation.” She concludes, “I stand here only because of the team that stands beside me. I’m a little embarrassed to see my face on things because it doesn’t truly represent what goes on beneath the surface. I’m the cheerleader. I’m the coach. I’m the figurehead, and maybe an inspiration and the visionary. That’s my job, but without a team, my mentors, my supporters, my community and my family, there wouldn’t be Prime Capital.” It’s been 21 years since Armstrong couldn’t come up with a viable answer to “why not?” when asked about starting her own leasing company. That’s more than two decades of growth, of change, of evolving, and doing everything it took to carve a path forward through seemingly unsurmountable odds, but as the times change, so does Prime – and Armstrong is excited about the future. “Our next two year objective is to grow our eastern cohort and diversify our product lines. We’ll also unveil a digital ecosystem that will disrupt how business is conducted in the capital lending space. It’s fun to be a part of creating something that has yet to be done.” For Armstrong, when it comes to moving forward with confidence, capitalizing on the opportunities with grit, tenacity, and determination is the name of the game, and she can’t wait to keep innovating the lending industry and developing solutions alongside her team.








arch 16, 2020 started off as business as usual for most Edmonton professionals. This includes NIRIX, IT experts delivering technology and digital workspace innovation for businesses. Since its 2001 launch, it’s safe to say president and CEO Steven Hsu knows exactly how essential technology is when challenges arise. “When restrictions came in [that day], I told my staff to go home,” he recalls. “Our entire operation – from phones, to accounting, sales, purchasing, datacenter operation, product development, workflow and technical support – everything switched to online within three hours. We haven’t been in office mode since then. We support our entire client base of about 7,000 users, all from home.” In just over a year, the structure and environment under which the majority of professional businesses in Edmonton are operating has completely transformed. Many people are still working remotely and with increased flexibility. Some say the change was inevitable, with COVID merely accelerating it. So, how have corporations adapted, and will they ever return to the traditional office model? Deanne Beis, partner and founder at Tenfold HR Solutions saw first-hand that those prepared to work remotely found the disruption minimal. She and her team were already set up to be mobile, using laptops, video calls, and Teams to



collaborate with each other, support and meet with clients both onsite and remotely, as well as meeting in coworking space a couple days each week. “Other than not being able to go in and see each other in the coworking space, the shift to working from home was of minimal impact for us,” says Beis. At Edmonton-based recruitment consulting agency Svensen Neighbour Recruiting, partner Shannon Neighbour saw swift change all around her. Much of her business had been done in-person. “It felt very disruptive in the workplace at first. Everyone went home and companies quickly learned how to collaborate even though no one was in the same space together,” she says. “Now that we’ve been doing this virtually, we’ve realized how much easier it is. It’s a good long-term solution we may not have thought of, but we were forced to think of it. So, here we are.” As these professionals navigated their businesses and supported client organizations through over a year of pandemic disruption, they’ve each gained a unique view into the ways businesses are coping and moving forward. The learnings are many; the impacts, sure to be long lasting. The pandemic’s sudden disruption pushed even the most skeptical organizations to give working from home and flex time a try. Successful transitions depended on adapting quickly and planning is critical. “This includes having good

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business continuity planning in place for technology,” says Beis. “If people weren’t already using video technology and didn’t have employees set up with laptops, if everyone was on a desktop, that was a huge problem in the beginning.” Working from home is more about the individual’s perspective and nature of their role than the whole company. “Some who are more introvertive and their work is not as collaborative, they’ve loved working from home,” says Beis. “Others have a higher need to see people throughout the day. They’ve found working from home really hard and can’t wait to get back to the office.” Prior to the pandemic Hsu himself was considering flex time and remote work for his staff. The pandemic’s push meant businesses like NIRIX had to evaluate work-from-home policies and will likely continue to contemplate the ways they might manage their workforce going forward. He says flexibility for staff will continue to be important, and that businesses may also reduce their physical office footprint and its associated costs. “I’ve gone through an entire year working with my staff from home,” he says. “I feel confident, and I trust that they are working. In fact, I’ve actually found they’re working even harder.” He attributes this to a softening of the line between work and personal responsibilities. “Instead of stopping work right at 4:30 every day, they now have the accessibility to balance personal and work responsibilities at optimal times rather than having such a clear division of time and the rushing that often comes with it.” Recognizing that people can be productive and efficient while working from home, many may not wish to return to the office in the traditional weekly schedule. Companies are now seeking out tools and practices to sustain a long-term competitive advantage in this new landscape. A large part of NIRIX’s service is in cloud computing – thirdparty management, storage, and centralization of digital data in massive facilities rather than the in-office server room. They’ve since taken this further, building oneWorkspace. The platform surpasses traditional office setups where any and all applications such as Outlook, Office and Excel were installed locally on office desktops.

With oneWorkspace, users log in to a unified digital platform from any location, any time, and over any connection while the user experience is identical to working in the office. “Staff have access to everything they use for work. They’re no longer tied to working on that PC in the office,” says Hsu. “Wherever you are, and whichever device you choose to access it on – a Mac, a PC, an iPad or cell phone, it doesn’t matter, it’s the same experience. Your personal oneWorkspace truly roams with you.” Should the work-from-home trend continue, Beis says companies will look to monitor and measure productivity. From her perspective, while companies were not micromanaging employees, owners still desire a sense of productivity. “There are more cloud-based applications available for this these days,” she says. “We’re lucky that we’re living in an age where there are lots of options available that aren’t onerous and cumbersome.” Hsu agrees that employers hesitant to move towards this model prior to the pandemic had productivity concerns. “They’re looking for ways to ensure people are productive and on schedule,” he says, adding that productivity tracking is a two-sided matter between measuring efficiency for the business and respecting employee privacy. “Our platform offers productivity tracking through an optional feature. When it’s enabled, it can track things like how much time they spend on email, on browsing, or on an application that’s used in their industry every day.” In light of all these learnings, the biggest disruption may be yet to come as businesses determine what the future of their work structures, processes and policies will look like. Should the pandemic eventually ease off Edmonton’s professionals, Neighbour says there will be no light switch that sees everyone back in the office as before. ABOVE: TENFOLD HR SOLUTIONS. PHOTO SOURCE: CREDIT MELANIE WHITTINGHAM, DESIGN PHOTOGRAPHY @DESIGNPHOTOYEG




Many may not wish to return to the office in the traditional weekly schedule. Central to building effective teams is implementing strong HR policies and parameters that address how time is divided between collaboration and working alone. “But we also need to find a way to remind people this is a job,” says Neighbour. “A light has really been shone on how we put these systems in place so people can be productive and successful in their job no matter where they’re working from.” This includes planning for people to continue to work from home. “How can we support the person who now wants more flexibility in their schedule, maybe someone we’ve hired who isn’t local, but we want to keep them on our team?” says Neighbour. “Organizations, HR departments and senior leaders will have to start thinking about what the path forward looks like.”

NIRIX will keep their physical office, recognizing that certain workflows are improved with members physically present together. “I feel, and I think my staff feels the same, that physical communication [and] team building is not the same without that physical presence,” says Hsu. “Now, the benefit is that I know how my team works. If they want to work from home [or remotely] they have that flexibility and they have my trust.” There is much for professionals to celebrate as they navigate into year two of transformation. Beis commends the adaptability and flexibility people and corporate entities exhibited. “We all dug deep, we were able to really flex and adapt faster than I ever thought we’d be able to,” she says. “I’m not saying it was easy, but people’s resilience, the way they supported each other, the amount of care and attention taken to deal with situations and do what was best for each other was really encouraging.”




JUNE 2021

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COVER 3 • Business of Energy • June 2021

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



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

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

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

4 • Business of Energy • June 2021



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

Steve Trimble

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

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


David Yager | Alberta’s Fossil Fuel Future Is Secure



by David Yager

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

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

6 • Business of Energy • June 2021

Alberta’s Fossil Fuel Future Is Secure | David Yager

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

Alberta’s Fossil Fuel Future is Secure

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

David Yager | Alberta’s Fossil Fuel Future Is Secure

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

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

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

8 • Business of Energy • June 2021

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

Local Company with a Universal Impact | Cover



by Nerissa McNaughton with photos by Epic Photography Inc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

9 • Business of Energy • June 2021

Cover | Local Company with a Universal Impact

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 • Business of Energy • June 2021

Local Company with a Universal Impact | Cover

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

11 • Business of Energy • June 2021

Local Company With a Universal Impact

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

Cover | Local Company with a Universal Impact

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

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

12 • Business of Energy • June 2021


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

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




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


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

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

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

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

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

WELCO || 50 YEARS || 1

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

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

WELCO || 50 YEARS || 2





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mongst other things, the past year has been a massive social experiment. Restrictions and guidelines made working from home mandatory in many cases, and businesses had to trust that their workforce would continue to be productive. Companies and their staff adapted their processes and some learned that working from home had benefits and drawbacks they didn’t expect. But what does this all mean for the future of office space? Will things go back to pre-pandemic normal, or will they continue to evolve? The use of technology really helped redefine productivity in the workplace and most companies learned that people don’t need to be in an office to still earn revenue. Despite this, findings from 2020 have shown that strictly working remotely is not a formula that works for many organizations. “We’re having a lot of fun with our clients as they evaluate performance,” says Cory Wosnack of Avison Young. “It was a great experiment in our ability to be productive through technology and working remotely, but many teams want to be back together in person.” Some of the greatest progress and discoveries are made from the social connections that come from people working together. These connections create loyalty, and it’s often the accidental collisions that produce the greatest ideas. “We are seeing more tours of office space take place in the last 60 days than we saw in the 10 months prior, so it’s exciting because companies are starting to make plans,” says Wosnack. This trend is important to more than just landlords. The office market is the front end of the cycle, six months after the transactional part of the business construction, engineering, architectural, moving, and IT companies all become busy. “So, when we’re seeing a high degree of activity it gives us some opportunity to foreshadow six months from now that those other industries will become busy as a result of those transactions.” Pre-pandemic, we were already seeing trends moving toward more open-concept spaces and less segregated offices. Part of this was a cost optimization strategy; however, companies are finding that young adults work differently than the generations that came before them, with increased productivity in more high-energy, collaborative environments. “You have to respect that there’s a need for space between employees, but you still want to be able to accom-

AvisonYoung-Bistro modate the attractions for young people that need a high-energy workplace,” says Wosnack. Restrictions and health guidelines have required changes to layout and office furniture such as adding partitions or increasing space between staff to allow for social distancing. “To further complicate matters, we’ve learned that while people’s residences have become more like the workplace over the past year, designs are trending to make the workplace feel more like their residence,” says Wosnack. “It’s a really interesting direction, resulting in offices that feel more like luxury hotels.” Offices are blending open concept with separated rooms for video conferencing or quiet spaces for those who need them to concentrate. In addition to increasingly popular amenities such as fitness centres, showers, change rooms, and bike storage, office designs are now including features such as more informal living room type seating areas and large bistros. “Laidback spaces for people to go have team meetings, job interviews, or meet with new clients in a more relaxed social setting, that’s the work environment of the future,” says Wosnack. Many offices will likely adopt a sort of hybrid model between work from home and staff in the office. Needs will shift to more unassigned seating to allow for the flexibility for people to work from home and in the office on any given day of the week. “Going forBUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // JUNE 2021


ward, people may want to work from home 2-3 days and in the office the other days and as employers, we need to trust our employees’ choices,” Wosnack says. Prior to 2020, employers typically wanted employees to work in a defined work structure, including location and between specific hours of the day. Employer’s trust has been off the charts, and they have been able to accommodate the choices of their employees to deliver their best product when they choose. Whether that is in the evenings after their children go to bed, or on the weekends, companies are being able to meet the needs of how employees do their best work, and balance their other life obligations, trusting that the work product will be there. With office vacancy rates remaining high, tenants are given a wider selection to choose from, making for a very competitive market. Wosnack explains that the competition extends far beyond lower rental rates. “Tenants today are more interested in quality than price, so a low price doesn’t ensure success. It’s more about the quality. The quality of the building and the quality of the attractions for your staff to want to be in the office in that building. Companies are willing to pay if they see a good value proposition with a better-quality building.”

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Further impacts of the work-from-home mandates resulted in downtown Edmonton, like many in the country, missing the vibrancy that comes with bustling streets and the successful businesses at street level. We forget that pre-pandemic there could have been up to 40,000 students in the downtown, plus office workers and even tourists at any given time. They will come back again, but to draw them back, Wosnack feels we need to focus on street-level activation. Bringing back the businesses, the events, a renewed focus on the beautification projects and making the downtown an attractive place for people to visit. “We need to increase the “give-a-care” factor, and that will come with more people repopulating these buildings again and the increased demand that will come for the retail and hospitality industries. It comes with a risk for business owners to take a chance on new businesses and working with entrepreneurs,” says Wosnack. It’s nearly a clean slate to find a better way to blend life and work and help our city recover.



ow many times have you experienced a pain point with a software application and thought – there must be a better way, if only the developer better knew my industry? That’s exactly what happened three years ago, when the Aspen Properties team set out to modernize property management. They applied their more than 100 years of combined experience in property ownership and management to find a better way. The team developed property technology or proptech built by property owners for property owners. The application or app, called Caret, is working so well that the team formed a new company, Caret Ltd.

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“We saw a problem and looked for the best ways to solve it, we’re not a software company looking for problems to solve,” says Morely Barr, co-founder of Caret Ltd. What originally started as an in-house need to create a better tenant experience in their own buildings, quickly grew into a 100 per cent white-labelled tenant experience app. White-labelled means the app is branded to suit the company using it with the added capability to tweak the app to best suit their needs. Aspen knew their peers and the industry at large would benefit from the app, which immensely improves the relationships between tenants, property managers, and building owners. “It’s a purpose-built solution that does the essentials of property management really well,” says Barr. Caret isn’t a project that was put together hastily. It was borne out of years intimate knowledge of prop-

erty management and commercial real estate. Under the guidance of Chief Technology Officer Stefan Radeta, the team set out to thoughtfully leverage and adapt technology to help improve property management. Probably the most important aspect of the Caret app is the ability to connect all tenants and their staff to property managers quickly and easily. This helps build relationships and streamline operations to allow for quicker response times, better communications, and more efficient building management. Previously, if there was an issue in the building, the person who discovered the issue would report it to the office manager, who would then contact the property manager, who would then contact the appropriate service people to resolve the issue. The original person may hear back in an hour or a few days with an update. With Caret, the app takes advantage of

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the fact that everyone has a mobile phone nearly all the time. To overcome the barrier of reporting an issue in the building, a tenant opens the app, submits a service request with a description and image if necessary. The request goes straight to the service team, gets answered, and the requestor sees the answer right away. Scheduling delays due to parts or service techs are all communicated via the app. The process no longer needs to go through a filter tenant contact – it goes direct and improves engagement between everyone who needs to be involved. We all know there is so much more to building management than just service requests. Caret removes the need for key fobs or key cards, using the app to grant access to specific offices and building amenities. The amenitization of space is becoming an important part of commercial real estate. Nearly all buildings have some sort of amenities, such as fitness centres, golf simulators,

and conference centres. Some Aspen properties even have skating rinks and basketball facilities. The use and management of these facilities all get wrapped into the app so tenants are able to use the app to book the amenities. “Since COVID came along and changed the rules for the use of amenities, the app contains all necessary COVID waivers, availability schedules and more,” says Barr. Prior to Caret, if there was a problem in the building that impacted many people, one person may report it and then it would be dealt with. Through the app, the building manager may get multiple service requests for the same item, allowing them to better identify major issues and giving them insight into building operations not previously available. This is a stark contrast to how things have been done in the past, where a building manager may not hear from the CEO of a company unless there is a major problem. With Caret the CEO can send a quick message and see an immediate response. The app opens a new level of communication and strengthens the ten-

ant – property manager relationship to allow for more open and frequent engagement. Caret is among the growing ranks of tech startups in the global software industry, but is based in Alberta, making it a locally grown option from professionals who know first-hand the struggles that property owners and managers in Edmonton and the rest of Alberta face. It’s an Alberta-made solution that comes at a good time for the commercial real estate industry and for Alberta. While other industries in the province are struggling, the tech industry is still rapidly growing. This makes Caret an innovator and part of Alberta’s push to diversify economically. What are the next steps for Caret? To start at home and then go abroad. The essentials of property management cross borders around the world and are relevant to office leasing, industrial leasing, and even residential leasing. There is a huge opportunity to grow this new business, and while Caret Ltd. is focused on Edmonton and Alberta for now – there are no limits to the company’s growth possibilities.

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he community that a club can build amongst its members is easily the single greatest reason that people remain at that facility. The club culture is the glue that binds the people and differentiates it from simply a golf course. The Glendale Golf & Country Club has made huge strides in changing its club culture over the past several seasons. Long known as the “player’s club” in Edmonton golf circles due to the toughness of the course and its large percentage of low handicap golfers who made up the membership, that stigma is being reshaped to truly show the full scope of the Club. It’s our family friendly facilities and programs that are leading the charge. Will the course continue to be manicured to exceptional standards and in championship condition? Absolutely, but the focus is on what we offer to all golfers whatever their skill level. The change in attitudes of both the new management as well as the membership has created an ambience and feel that is very relaxed and inclusive while at the same time upholding golf’s storied traditions. The Club is seen as a place of recreation and relaxation, a happy place, an escape from the stress of everyday life. This last statement could not ring truer than in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic changed all of our lives forever. What the Club gave our members was

Probably the largest draw for families continues to be the outdoor pool facility that is unique compared to the other private golf clubs in the city. The ability for families to enjoy Edmonton summers poolside complete with licensed food and beverage service sets us apart. We offer swimming lessons and golf/swim camps throughout the season as well. Our well-appointed clubhouse affords the ability to host events of any size: weddings, parties, meetings, golf tournaments, all the way down to daily restaurant offerings. Memberships are available in various forms for the 2021 golf season and beyond. For those looking at a long-term investment, shareholder memberships provide an ownership stake. Just looking to try the Glendale for a year or two before deciding? We also have associate memberships that allow you to try the Club and see if it is a good fit. The future is bright at the Glendale Golf & Country Club. When considering your private club options, keep us top of mind. For more information or any questions, please feel free to contact me at gmcgarry@theglendale.com. We would love to show you what sets the Glendale apart today!

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A Warm Farewell

2021 Board of Directors Board Executive

Chair: Elan MacDonald Vice President (External Relations), University of Alberta Vice Chair: Dennis R. Schmidt Principal, ALTURA Legal Advisory Secretary-Treasurer: Craig Thorkelsson Head of Tax, PCL Constructors Inc. Past Chair: Bryan DeNeve Senior Vice President, Business Development and Commercial Services, Capital Power Janet M. Riopel Outgoing President & CEO, Edmonton Chamber of Commerce Jeffrey Sundquist Incoming President & CEO, Edmonton Chamber of Commerce

Board Directors

Haydar Al Dahhan President and CEO, Design Works Engineering Aziz Bootwala Managing Principal, Edmonton, Vice President, Business Development, Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning Ltd. Nathan Carter Vice President, Operations Audit, ATCO Jonathan Gallo Managing Partner, Gallo LLP Chartered Professional Accountants Sandy Jacobson Vice President, Richardson Executive Search Annemarie Petrov President and CEO, Francis Winspear Centre for Music Jason Pincock CEO, DynaLIFE Medical Labs

Edmonton Chamber Executive

Scott Channon Director, Marketing and Communications Brent Francis Director, Advocacy and Outreach Christen Rumbles Director, Finance Amin Samji Director, Member Services


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


Janet M. Riopel, Outgoing President & CEO, Edmonton Chamber of Commerce


s many readers know, June marks my last month in my role as President & CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce.

I enthusiastically embraced this opportunity in 2014, because I saw that it would allow me to focus on my passion for community and city building in a very keen way. I also saw a unique opportunity to rebuild and modernize the Edmonton Chamber, ensuring that it mirrors the structure and complexities of our current business environment. I leave with the satisfaction of knowing we have come a long way towards accomplishing those goals. I’m proud that the Edmonton Chamber has become far more flexible and agile so that it can be responsive and relevant to our ever-changing landscape. We now have a strong value proposition, robust strategic and operational plans, a well-honed advocacy framework, and a highly skilled Chamber team. All the right factors are in place for new leadership, which will bring fresh perspectives and ideas as the organization continues to evolve. In my 30+ years as an Edmonton Chamber member, I’ve enjoyed many roles, including as Chair of the Board of Directors. I’m truly grateful to have had the experience of leading as its CEO, and I will remain a strong champion and supporter. My successor, Jeffrey Sundquist, has extensive experience in international relations and a passion for economic development. With his wide scope of experience, Jeff is the ideal person to lead the Chamber into the next chapter of our 132-year history. I firmly believe this next chapter will be one of economic growth and diversification. Despite the challenges we have faced throughout our economic downtown and the pandemic, each day more amazing and transformational opportunities reveal themselves. I believe that our political and business leaders are firmly focused on seizing them. Our community is poised and ready to become a key North American hub for transportation and logistics, find new and innovative uses for our responsible and ethically-produced natural resource products, and grow food that sustains us and our world. We have the expertise to weave technology and artificial intelligence throughout to best advantage, and we are increasingly expanding our capability to maximize efficiencies and effectiveness. Above all, our business community has unmatched resiliency, adaptability, and entrepreneurialism. I know that we will emerge from our current challenges even stronger than before, and blossom as we realize our true potential. I feel a genuine sense of gratitude that I have been afforded many opportunities to contribute to the health, vibrancy and success of our Region and its exciting future. I feel that I have truly made a difference. My heartfelt thanks goes out to our Board of Directors, the Chamber team, our dedicated volunteers, and the incredible members that give the Edmonton Chamber such perspective and strength. In closing this chapter, I thank you, dear readers, for the generous support and constructive feedback that you’ve shared with me over the past seven years. This is not goodbye – I look forward to the day that I will see you again on this exciting adventurous journey.


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As a member of one of the largest chambers in Canada, you have access to a wide range of contacts, resources, discounts, events, and brand exposure. You’re also part of our strong collective voice to government that will help give your business the support it needs. Call us today at 780.426.4620 and start leveraging your membership.


Leadership team at our most recent company-wide annual summit, held at Sun Peaks in 2019.

TLC Solutions Inc. Member Profile Seungbum Yoo, President & CEO, TLC Solutions Inc. www.tlcsolutions.ca What’s your story? At TLC Solutions Inc (TLC), our purpose is to help people love technology. Established in 1999, we are a privately held information technology firm, headquartered in Langley, B.C., that has grown to nine offices located across British Columbia, Alberta, and California. We offer a wide range of IT services, such as Managed IT support, Strategic and Technical Consulting, IT department optimization and the implementation of enterprise-class Communications Solutions. Our dedicated team of network and computer experts aim to solve any IT issue that may arise while providing the highest level of customer service. As I write this, our live customer satisfaction score is 99.2%. We are very proud of this high standard that we are setting for ourselves. Our team voted to select our five company core values and we think they represent our brand perfectly: Teamwork, Loyalty, Honesty, Accountability and Joy. Yes, joy made the list because we appreciate how important it is to love your job and its impact on a proper work-life balance. We have been named a finalist in the 2021 HDI Service and Support Awards for best culture so we feel that we have found the right mix for our team and our customers. What do you enjoy most about being a member of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce? As a relative newcomer to Alberta, (our Edmonton office officially opened in 2018), we feel fortunate to contribute to the Alberta marketplace. We appreciate the Chamber’s focus on building the vision and relationships necessary for the community to thrive. We love that our membership in a trusted, central hub of education and communication provides us with a better understanding of the economic



climate as well as the opportunity to offer value to fellow chamber members. Who is your ideal client? Our ideal clients include small to medium-sized businesses, from across many sectors. Like all facets of business, a client who understands the need to take a long view of technology is beneficial. We can make immediate changes and improvements, but it is the strategic planning and execution that can result in higher efficiencies and benefits. We believe regular communication builds a bridge of trust and understanding and creates a solid foundation of a partnership. We enjoy many long-term relationships and have been working with some clients for 20 years. What has been your biggest challenge in business, and how did you overcome it? I think that for many companies, we can all agree that 2020 brought various challenges. Our clients had their workforce need to work from home, which required reliable and secure communication connections in environments that we could not control. We needed to offer immediate, practical solutions for remote meetings, soft phone systems and electronic document signing capabilities. With all of that though, I would have to say that the biggest challenge has been the inability for our team to physically meet and work together as often as we would wish. With our focus on culture, we have had to be creative ourselves to overcome it. We decided to take virtual a step further than our routine chats and weekly video calls, using our RingCentral and Teams platforms to host a daily online lunchroom, Friday winddown, online trivia, monthly lunch and learn sessions and celebration lunches (just to name a few!). We anticipate that fall of 2021 and 2022 will provide the opportunities to bring everyone together again!

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Celebrating 75 Years of Growth and Expansion


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

The original Sinclair Stove and Heating in 1948.

In the next 15 years, Dan and Bill worked to see growth and expansion for Sinclair. In 1963, the company opened a second branch in Calgary with a desire to serve Southern Alberta. Four years later in 1967, growth continued as Sinclair moved to a new 12,000 squarefoot warehouse and office in North Edmonton. The company ended the ’60s with another branch addition, Edmonton South, and a 6,000-square-foot expansion to their main Edmonton North location.

Sinclair Supply Ltd. • Celebrating 75 Years


Cindy, Dean, Kim and Freddy in the Edmonton North Sheet Metal Shop. Photo by Rebecca Lippiatt.

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

Congratulations on your 75th Anniversary!

Following Bill’s retirement in 1972, Dan became the sole owner of Sinclair Supply Ltd. and worked to continue the growth and expansion he had been focused on for the last 25 years. Business was good and Sinclair found itself cramped in its Edmonton headquarters, and finally made the move in 1986 to their current location of 10914-120 Street in North Edmonton. The ’80s saw considerable expansion. Branches were established in Red Deer (1987), Regina, and Saskatoon (1988), but the growth didn’t stop there. One successful decade led into the next with the ’90s ringing in four more branches; Lethbridge, Surrey, Victoria (1991), and Fort McMurray (1998). Additionally, Sinclair acquired Majestic Heating Products and amalgamated it into the South Edmonton branch to provide full sheet metal capabilities. To finish out the monumental decade, Sinclair expanded the main Edmonton warehouse to include a custom sheet metal facility for a total of 105,000 square feet of space. Following the turn of the century, Sinclair finished out its additions with branches in Nanaimo, Kelowna, and Kamloops (2004 and 2006). Grand Prairie, Prince George and Terrace (2008), and Winnipeg (2012). As past president and CEO Paul K. Lachambre states, “Dan had an uncanny ability to open his new shops in locations that were ideally situated to meet the market’s needs”.

Sinclair Supply Ltd. • Celebrating 75 Years • 2

Today the company is lead by CEO Dean Herman and Dan’s daughters Kim and Cindy who are the directors of the company. Following his passing in 2019, Dan’s legacy remains an integral part of Sinclair. His daughters Kim and Cindy, directors of Sinclair, remember his leadership fondly, “We are proud to be part of a legacy our father built across Western Canada. The platform Dan built as a family business is designed to support other local businesses and the community. By cultivating relationships over the years, growing and serving customers, we are still going strong today, 75 years later.” Dan with his hiking friend Levii.

Following an impressive and extensive history, Sinclair has no plans of slowing momentum going in to their 75th year of business. When asked what continues to make Sinclair different than other HVAC/R retailers, Kim notes, “Being able to supply everything a customer needs to complete a new home build, an apartment project or any commercial job, and if there’s something out of the ordinary to complete the job, our team can fabricate it in our sheet metal shop to help our customers meet their project timelines.” Cindy adds, “On the service side of the business we also stock thousands of parts typically required for fast repairs if your furnace or A/C fails in extreme weather.”

Bill Sinclair and Dan Sorochan.

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Although Sinclair has grown from a small two car garage, to 17 locations across Western Canada, CEO Dean Herman notes that there are three key principles that have contributed to Sinclair’s success, and have separated them from the competition. Not only are these some of the keys to Sinclair’s success, but as Dean says, “These are principles Dan believed in and worked hard to instill in the company. These same values still guide us today”. As Dean says, the main values of Sinclair’s business include, first, “Quality products and inventory; having the right part at the right time. This is part of our history, our story – Sinclair has always been the place to go for your everyday HVAC/R needs and those hard to find parts.” Secondly, “Technical support; we have some of the most knowledgeable and experienced staff in the industry, and this is something not only our customers have come to rely on, but also the industry.” And finally, the key being “Customer relationships. A number of our customers have been with us as equipment dealers for well over 20 years. Our staff consider many of these customers’ friends.” When put altogether, Dean notes, “When we do these things well it creates a bond with our customers and our staff that is hard to break.” Although Sinclair is celebrating 75 years of growth and expansion, they do not plan to stop here. Recent technological and internal improvements shows the company is putting an emphasis on remaining modern and competitive, “We are currently in the process of updating all our technology platforms. The first step was updating our ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) Tool which we just went live with in April, and now we’re on to the next phase, which is to upgrade our website and ecommerce platforms,” confirms Dean. “We know a robust online

Sinclair Supply Ltd. • Celebrating 75 Years • 4

to the SAIT RECfund. In 2006 in celebration of Sinclair’s 60th anniversary the company also donated $100,000 to NAIT in support of the HVACR programs. When Dan presented the cheque he said, “I don’t know of a finer place than NAIT to educate and maintain the workforce in our industry.” Sinclair upholds Dan’s view on the importance of educating the HVAC/R workforce through donations of $75,000 each to NAIT and SAIT in 2021 as a celebration of the company’s 75th anniversary. Cindy mentions another fun fact and very unique way in which Sinclair gives back. “Dan always had a love for dogs and one way to give back was to help the Edmonton

Getting ready for summer with A/C and furnace inventory. Photo by Rebecca Lippiatt.

presence and ecommerce strategy is more important than ever and this is really about taking that next step to meet the changing needs of our customers. These upgrades will make it easier and more convenient for our customers to find the parts and equipment they need 24/7.” Advances not only come from a technological perspective, but also in the realm of product growth and inclusivity. As the company enters their milestone anniversary, Sinclair is excited to bring on the Luxaire and Guardian line of HVAC equipment in all 17 of their branches. This will give the company a full line of commercial packaged rooftop units and residential furnaces as well as the benefit of access to the replacement parts for the major brands that Johnson Controls manufactures. Branching outside the business world, Sinclair has and continues to be a leader in the volunteering community by partnering with causes such as Edmonton’s Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, Winhouse, Nature Conservancy, and Women Building futures. The group jokes that there are almost too many to list. Kim, Cindy, and Dean all note that giving back was something extremely important to Dan, and they work to continue that legacy today.

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

Sinclair is also invested in continuing the growth and education of the HVAC/R community. On top of their previous charitable events, the company supports NAIT and SAIT through scholarships for the sheet metal, refrigeration and gasfitter apprenticeship programs and donations of equipment and parts to the different trades departments. The power behind your mission

On Sinclair’s 60th anniversary the company celebrated by contributing its largest donation in support of education


Sinclair Supply Ltd. • Celebrating 75 Years • 5

K9 unit. Since 1990, when our main Edmonton North warehouse is empty in the evening hours, our location is used to train police dogs.” Summarizing the 75 years, Cindy, Kim, and Dean all believe it is important to say thank you to their vendors and longtime partners. “Without their support, we would not be here today.” They would also like to acknowledge Paul K. Lachambre. “Paul retired from Sinclair in September of 2020. Prior to joining Sinclair as president in 2015, Paul was Dan’s personal and Sinclair’s corporate lawyer for over 40 years. He was a trusted friend and advisor to Dan and was instrumental in setting up the leadership succession of the company upon Dan’s retirement in 2017.”

technology, buildings and infrastructure. These are key foundational needs to ensure we live up to Dan’s principles of providing excellent technical support, service and availability of product. These things are what distinguish us in our industry and what our customers and employees have come to expect.” It’s been more than 75 years since Walter opened up shop in a small garage and Dan joined Sinclair Supply as a 19year old teen. Both men would be rightfully proud of the foundation they set for the company, how their influence continues to inspire its success, and how Sinclair Supply Ltd. continues to positively impact the industry and the community now, and in the years to come.

Cindy and Kim want to recognize Dean for, “his keen and thoughtful leadership during these unprecedented times. Dean didn’t miss a beat. With the building of our company-wide team, he brings new excitement and anticipation for Sinclair’s presence in the HVAC/R industry in Western Canada.” As a summary of the company today, the group says, “We are in the early stages of our five-year strategic plan, which is focused on investing in our people,

EDMONTON NORTH 10914-120th Street Edmonton, AB T5H 3P7 Phone: 780-452-3110 EDMONTON SOUTH 6243 88th Street Edmonton, AB T6E 5T4 Phone: 780-465-9551

ssl.ca Social media: @sinclairsupplyltd on Instagram, and Sinclair Supply Ltd. on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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

Contact or visit your local Sinclair Supply branch for a complete thermostat selection.

Sinclair Supply Ltd. • Celebrating 75 Years • 6


By Nerissa McNaughton with photos by Rebecca Lippiatt

The founders look back on how their early decisions set the course for the future, as the present partners celebrate a milestone anniversary


BH Chartered Professional Accountants is celebrating 40 years. At this milestone, the now-retired founders look back at how it all began and how the decisions they made then set the course of KBH’s future. In 1981, Ken Kouri was four-and-a-half years into a partnership with an accounting firm, but he saw himself going in a different direction. “To be blunt, that firm was falling apart,” Kouri says. “My best option was to leave. I said to myself, what was I going to do? I was 30 and came from an entrepreneurial family and I knew accounting, so I decided to go into business on my own.” Kouri shared this information with his friend David Berezan and his wife over dinner. Berezan casually said, “Do you have room for me?” “I laughed and we went home,” Kouri admits, “but then I thought, ‘hey, was he serious?’ I called him the next day to ask and he said, ‘Yes. I’m getting ready to leave this place and set up on my own too.’ So, I said, okay let’s talk.”

Now the upcoming firm had two members, and both knew there was a piece of the puzzle still missing. “One of the things in accounting I can’t stand is tax work!” laughs Kouri. “So, I called up John Heinrichs and said, ‘would you do consulting for a small firm?’ Heinrichs said, ‘yes,’ but a week later he called back saying, ‘I know where you can get a good tax man. Me! I’m thinking of moving on and I’d like to join you.’” “Just like that there were three of us, and Kathy. She was our receptionist, secretary, and assistant,” smiles Kouri. “So, we all said, let’s get to work.” The founders saw the company continue to grow up to, and after, their retirements but among the growth, there were challenges. In 2003, a fire ripped through their building. Their offices were destroyed and what wasn’t burned was damaged by smoke and water. However, luck was on their side. The file room with all their clients’ information was smoke damaged, but the files were able to be cleaned and used.

KBH Chartered Professional Accountants • Celebrating 40 Years


“For several years after that when I came home my kids would sniff and say, ‘you were working on an old file weren’t you?’” laughs Kouri. Even though their paper records were smoke damaged, KBH had been an early adopter of technology. Approximately 70 per cent of their data had already been computerized and backed up. Their IT team restored their files, and the firm was operational again in a temporary location just two days later. Berezan, who had a career in accounting that saw him travelling across the western provinces and into the states, says KBH’s success can be attributed largely to hard work.

Congratulations to KBH on 40 years of excellence.

“We just did the work. We kept going. We worked long hours,” says Berezan. “Hard work was a value from day one.” He continues, “When we started, I brought in some clients and we expanded geographically too, such as in Saskatchewan and our work in the U.S. markets.” Berezan cites the American work and the courses he was able to take to continually fuel his knowledge as career highlights.

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Congratulations to KBH on 40 Years of business excellence!

“From my standpoint, we started with three people but no matter the size and resources of the firm we set out to see our clients. We spent time with them to help them plan for their futures. We connected and built relationships. We were loyal to our clients and as we grew, we never lost that loyalty. We saw other firms grow and collapse, but we never did. I have always enjoyed the people side of the business. I enjoyed the job and working with John and Ken.” Heinrichs was the youngest of the founders. He says, “Even though I was the least experienced among them, I brought the ability of the firm to do tax work in-house. That was one of the unique things about our practice. For a small firm we didn’t have to farm out our tax work or leave it to lawyers.” Heinrichs was happy to help found KBH because not only did he resonate and was familiar with the other two founders – they were all from Saskatchewan – he didn’t see a partnership happening with the firm he was with at the time and liked that he could be an equal partner with his friends. “A milestone for me,” Heinrichs continues, “was getting our first computer. It was about three feet high, two feet deep and two feet wide. It cost $50,000 and couldn’t do then what your smartphone can do now! Another highlight was when we added Ward, our first partner. As the years went on, we added more. That is one of the truly nice things about the firm – how many of the partners are people that actually articled with us.” What started with three accounting professionals is now a thriving firm with a dozen partners and more than 50 team members. Business advisory, accounting and audit, tax planning, wealth planning, and more are offered from experienced, dedicated professionals.

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Perhaps the success of the firm can be summed up in a story that resonates strongly with all three founders.

KBH Chartered Professional Accountants • Celebrating 40 Years • 2

There was a client that had been with KBH since day one. His firm grew to the point where he was able to sell it to a larger interest. Now that client had a national firm and plenty of resources behind it, but they remained with KBH. As the years went on that client diversified into a group of companies and continues to enjoy a large market presence and rapid sustainable growth. That company remains with KBH. When you care about your clients the way KBH does, those clients remain loyal to the firm that supports their journey. The founders conclude, “We were always willing to get down to business and get the work done. Roll up your sleeves and treat the customers the way you want to be treated. The key to our success was simply going to work.” As the founders reminisce, the current partners are excited to look forward.

Louise Chauvet, Partner

“KBH is the accounting and advisory firm that the founding partners set out to establish,” say the partners. “We are leaders in the industry and strive for a one-of-a-kind experience for our clients and our team. With clients we start with ‘right now,’ then look at where they want to be in the future and plan how we can get there. We meet on a regular basis to ensure progress towards the goal. Our diverse team stands by your side through your whole journey from start-up to succession/sale.” The partners continue, “Our office is inclusive, whether that is assistance with establishing funding that may be more difficult to attain for some, or ensuring your child is taken care of during

Ward Thompson, Partner

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Congratulations to KBH on your 40th Anniversary! KBH Chartered Professional Accountants • Celebrating 40 Years • 3




Shabir Ladha, Partner

meetings. We have toys and activities to help kids stay occupied. Some of our rooms have glass walls that kids can colour on. If a parent needs to pause the meeting to tend to their child, that’s OK too.” The partners are grateful to the team, clients and community, including, “numerous lawyers, investment advisors, lenders and more. Their support has been instrumental in our growth.” Here’s a snapshot of KBH’s evolution:


KBH was founded on June 1, 1981. During the 1990s, “Luggables,” the firm’s first portable computer, joined the team. The Provost office opened on January 1, 1990, the first of many acquisitions to come. In the early 1990’s the first articling students were hired and KBH decided it would be an official training office for CA students. Ward Thompson became the fourth partner in 1994. KBH established two awards in 2001: Outstanding Facilitator and Outstanding Professor for the Chartered Accountants School of Business. The year 2003 was pivotal as it was the year of the fire and the retirement of KBH’s longest standing employee. The firm was quick to bounce back and by 2006 added its first two female partners, Mohini Kumar and Louise Chauvet. The growth also meant a move to a larger space in 2007 and the progression to a paperless firm. That year, Shabir Ladha and Karen Masuda, were promoted to partner.


Ken Kouri retired in 2008, and Chireen Chick was added as a partner. KBH joined Allinial Global, an association of independent accounting firms, in 2009. As KBH celebrated 30 years in 2011, Chris Pfliger became a partner. Next year KBH moved again to a larger office. The last remaining founding partners retired in 2013 and the following year the name Kouri Berezen Heinrichs rebranded to KBH . In 2015, Tony Edgington and Aman Perhar became partners. KBH Wealth Planning was added as a new service in 2016. One year later , KBH was proud to become a founding member of the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Edmonton. Derek Schultz became a partner in 2019. Despite adapting to working from home and virtual meetings through 2020, growth continued, and in 2021 Jenn Miller and Lucas Heath were added as the firm’s 11th and 12th partners.


KBH is grateful to have weathered fires, recessions and a pandemic and still be going strong after 40 action-packed years. With a legacy set by three hardworking founders and a lifetime of support for businesses across Western Canada and into the U.S., KBH is the professional accounting firm you can rely on to help you succeed.


3825-93 Street NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 5K5 E info@kbh.ca | P 780-463-8101 | www.kbh.ca KBH Chartered Professional Accountants • Celebrating 40 Years • 4

Summer 2020 concrete job at the Muttart Conservatory.

MID-CITY CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT INC. Celebrates 40+ Years a Local, Experienced Customer-Focused Choice By Nerissa McNaughton


od and Marian Stawnychy launched Mid-City Construction Management Inc. in 1980. Rod, president, recalls starting the company with one Caterpillar 931B Track Loader and one lowboy, digging basements, and providing service to both residential and commercial customers. Now, 41 years later, the company employs more than 200 and has a top-of-the-line fleet

of skid steers, loaders, track hoes and tandem trucks and provides service across a variety of excavation, underground, and paving projects. “Rod was a sandbox kind of guy,” says Daniel Stawnychy, Mid-City Construction Management Inc. COO and Rod and Marian’s son. “He was really into Tonka trucks and

MID-CITY Construction Management Inc. | 40 years


whatnot. When he was older he did some work in development with his father, but between taking up trucking and buying himself a small track loader, he and Marian decided to go into business. That’s how Mid-City was started.” Daniel joined the family business officially in the late ’90s after spending some time during his high school years employed in the shop during the summers. He’s had a front row seat to watch the family business grow. “In 2015 we acquired Stelmach Construction, a paving company. Our most recent acquisition is the concrete placing company Golden Spike Contracting,” says Daniel. “Mel Richardson and his team at Golden Spike bring more than 30 years of concrete finishing work, enabling Summer 2020 in front of Jasper Place High School on 163 St. us to continue offering the best in coloured and stamped concrete, architectural and blasted/exposed design, base work, concrete removal or in particular, allows the team to grade down to the rehabilitation, and parking lot maintenance.” millimeter with fewer passes and time than traditional methods. Less operational time means more savings for Acquisitions and planned growth are just two strategies Mid-City customers. Mid-City uses to remain competitive in the industry. Leveraging technology is also important to the brand. Saving customers time and money is all part of the Currently, GPS survey assistance and grade control corporate values, which include exceeding expectations, systems are used on all grading projects to ensure having a passion for company success, striving for outstanding accuracy and time efficiency. Grade control, company unity, always being driven to improve, and above all – an unwavering dedication to customer satisfaction.

Congratulations to Mid-City Construction, a long-time BURNCO partner on the occasion of their 40th Anniversary!

“Corporate culture is important to us,” says Daniel. “We pride ourselves on our culture and our team. The way we operate has enabled us to retain the expertise and loyalty of long-term team members. We have people that have worked with us for 10+ years. The longest-term employee has been here for over 32 years.”


You’ve encountered Mid-City’s work around the city. Some of their projects include the following:




The company is also proud to remain an independent family business as this gives it the advantages of being able to directly reduce downtime, lower costs by eliminating third party contracting, take care of maintenance and repairs faster, and upgrade equipment without the need for head office approval. These attributes help Mid-City not only provide fast, efficient, cost-effective service to customers, they also help the company maintain a lower carbon footprint.




Aggregate 780.733.1459






Asphalt 780.733.1458

Ready Mix 780.463.8380


• The expansion and renovation at Fort Edmonton Park. There has been extensive construction happening at Fort Edmonton Park over the last few years. MidCity is very proud to be a part of this project that means so much to the community of Edmonton. In 2018 and 2019 Mid-City did all the excavation work for the Indigenous People’s Experience, bringing people back to 1846 and 1920 First Nations and Metis cultural heritages. Mid-City also worked on the 1920s themed Carnival Midway.

MID-CITY Construction Management Inc. | 40 years | 2

Congratulations to Mid-City Construction Management Inc. on 40 Years! #100 – 53251 RR232, Sherwood Park, AB T8A 4V2 | Main: (780) 472-8265 Toll Free: 1-800-661-5667 | Fax: (780) 478-5699| www.tanks-a-lot.com/s3precast

CONGRATULATIONS Mid-City Construction Management Inc. on 40 Years!

Rod, Kristi (Dan’s wife) on far left, Daniel, Christine (Rod’s daughter) and five out of 7 of Rod’s grandchildren are pictured.

We Hold The Highest Industry Standards For Quality and Safety Box 3161, Spruce Grove AB T7X 3A5 780-686-5988 | www.spartanhydrovac.com

1980 with Rod’s first piece of equipment a track loader.

• Centennial Park expansion road in Sherwood Park. MidCity was the general contractor for Strathcona County and was responsible for all excavation, underground utilities, concrete, paving and landscaping in 2019.

Congratulations Mid-City Construction Management Inc. on your 40th Anniversary! We are proud to be a part of your success.

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• The new CapitalCare Norwood expansion redevelopment project. This will provide over 40,000 square meters of space for continuing care and postacute care for Edmonton area residents. Mid-City was responsible for all the underground utilities in 2019. This project is slated to be complete in early 2024. • The Beaumont Sport & Recreation Centre (AquaFit Phase 2) expansion and modernization. Included is a NHL sized ice surface, an indoor field house, a high school gymnasium, a climbing wall and running track. Construction started in the fall of 2018 and was completed in 2020. Mid-City did the excavation, underground utilities, and paving on the project. • Discovery Park. This is a commercial and industrial area located north of the Edmonton International

MID-CITY Construction Management Inc. | 40 years | 4

Airport. Mid-City has been very proud to work with Remington Development Corporation since the first phase in 2019, doing the excavation and underground utilities scope of work. In addition to major projects like these, you’ll see MidCity’s white trucks and blue logo around Edmonton daily on a variety of paving projects, doing parking lot repairs, helping with broken or collapsed water and sewer lines, removing snow and sweeping out parking lots. As with most businesses in the region, COVID-19 has posed challenges. “It has affected the market,” says Daniel. “As an essential service we were able to continue operating without interruption and with the applicable safety protocols in place, but costs for materials, etc., have gone up, which makes our commitment to fast, cost-effective service for customers even more important. We know that businesses across all sectors are facing similar challenges right now.” Another challenge that Mid-City faced was the passing of Marian Stawnychy. Not only was she by Rod’s side launching the business from the start, she was a key part of the company in its operations, heart and soul. Taken too soon, she is deeply missed by all and her legacy will always have a positive impact on the company.

Yet, be it business or personal challenges, Mid-City is incredibly resilient and focused on the reliable service for which it is known. Daniel says, “One of the things I enjoy the most is that we are a local, family owned and operated business from right here in Edmonton. Our team is like a big extended family. We love Edmonton because it is a big city, but it feels like a small community. The connections are close, especially in construction.” Community is important to Mid-City. The company enjoys supporting charitable interests like Sport Central and Shiloh Youth Ranch. Sport Central’s primary goal is to “retrieve, repair, recycle and redistribute sports equipment to kids who cannot afford the opportunity to play,” while Shiloh Youth Ranch is on a mission to boost the abilities and esteem of youth aged 7-17 through a mix of summer camps and year-round mentorship programs. Mid-City believes strongly in the youth of today and the impact they will have on our community’s future, and is proud to make a difference alongside these organizations. For Mid-City, being community minded doesn’t stop at giving back. By joining and a supporting a variety of industry organizations they are an effective force and voice in improving their industry too – while continuing to learn from others within it.

SMS Equipment is proud to partner with Mid-City Construction Management Inc. and congratulates them on their 40 years in business


MID-CITY Construction Management Inc. | 40 years | 5

“We are active across a broad spectrum of associations including but not limited to Alberta Construction Association, COR, Contractor Check, Alberta Human Services, Partnerships in Injury Reduction and Alberta Road Builders,” says Daniel. “Each association provides a different point of view. We learn from them as each brings something different and valuable to our business, as well as helps open the doors to opportunities through collaborative networking.” If Rod, Daniel and the team could tell potential clients one thing it would be this: “Give us a shot.” Working with MidCity means working with an experienced team that is active

CONGRATULATIONS Mid-City Construction Management Inc. on 40 Years!

MacEwan University excavation job.

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Pulverization at Starkey Road in Sturgeon County.

Congratulates MID-CITY CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT on 40+ Years! Wishing you many more successful years of building the future!

in providing the best service for customers, enjoys giving back to the community, has a plan for sustainable growth, and stays on top of the education and technology needed to remain competitive yet environmentally conscious.

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“We thank our clients, vendors, great staff, and community for helping us enjoy more than 40 great years,” concludes Daniel. “The next step is continued growth without ever losing sight of our main goal – complete customer satisfaction.”

Proudly serving Edmonton’s road builders since 1966. • RENTALS • INSTALLATIONS • LANE CLOSURES


7103–42 Street, Edmonton, AB, T6B 2T1 Ph: 780-463-0385 • Fax: 780-469-4378

www.mid-city.ca T 800.661.7346 E info@atstraffic.ca atstraffic.ca | Since 1966

You can also connect with the company on social media by following @MidCityInc on Facebook, @MidCityLtd on Twitter and @midcityinc on Instagram. MID-CITY Construction Management Inc. | 40 years | 6



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

inventory on hand and to do repair work, and it has provided a lot of synergy for the staff.” The company retained ownership of four of the bays and found top-notch tenants to rent those spaces from them. The team is proud to be part of the success of other local businesses starting out just like Welco had so many years before. Today, Welco has expanded more than just its offices. It also diversified its business from strictly mining products to now including clients in industrial food and beverage, pharmaceuticals and biotech, pulp and paper, pulse and grain crops, energy and manufacturing. The company has the solution, regardless of what you’re pumping, moving or mixing. Besides quality equipment, Welco is also providing factory-trained authorized personnel to service that equipment. As more clients outsource their repair work, this remanufacturing arm is becoming a larger part of Welco’s business. By maintaining these multiple revenue streams, the company has been able to continue to steadily grow the business despite down times in certain sectors. It has also grown the company by growing the staff, and Welco now has a staff of 32 employees in Calgary along with representatives working in Vancouver, Edmonton and Saskatoon and the new Fort McMurray location. That staff is made up of myriad professionals – salespeople, marketing



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

growth analysts, licenced P.Eng.s, Red Seal industrial mechanics, CPA accounting professionals, logistic experts, Management Information Systems and Business Intelligence analysts – who come together to help their clients succeed. The staff also includes the third generation to be involved in this western Canada family business.

and collaborates with them to find the highest quality customized equipment that best fits those needs, all the while helping them become greener and more efficient through innovative solutions like using a cyclone solution to help a foundry clean quench water for extended use while easing demand on the environment

Michael Welch credits his dad’s work ethic (which spread throughout the company and took root in every department) with Welco’s 50 successful years in business. The people are the difference, and the company works hard to attract and retain talented people. It also supports apprentice mechanics through the Alberta Advanced Education Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP), helping to repopulate the industry with talent through grassroots development of the trade.

Since the beginning, Welco has been dedicated to helping its partners succeed and Michael and his team have carried on Jim’s tradition of going above and beyond to ensure that their success happens. Jim taught Michael early that it was critical to always have what customers needed, and today that translates to a warehouse with multi-million dollars in inventory on hand so they can quickly meet clients’ needs.

“There are 32 people in the whole company and look at all that fire power,” says Michael Stark, Sales Director for Welco. “The company has really been built around establishing and operating in all functional areas.” While most distributors simply offer clients a catalog of products to choose from, Welco takes a more active, holistic approach. Staff know the inventory inside and out and pride themselves on delivering more than just a piece of equipment; Welco delivers solutions. The team learns the clients’ specific needs

“For a lot of our clients, their production keeping up is part of their value to their shareholders. It goes back to our promise of maximum up-time, which is what we provide our clients,” says Michael Welch. No matter what is happening in the world, be it an economic downturn or a global pandemic, the Welco team prides itself on keeping clients up and running. When COVID-19 shut the doors of many businesses in 2020, Welco accelerated its plans to implement technology to better deliver customer service. Not only did the company not miss a beat but neither did its clients.

WELCO || 50 YEARS || 2

Happy 50th anniversary, Welco!

Gold is traditional for a 50th anniversary, but we’d take on any industrial minerals project with you. Congratulations on reaching this milestone. And thank you for all you do to help us support customers in Western Canada with key technologies, including Krebs® Pumps, Cyclones, and Slurry Valves, Raptor® cone crushers, Pneumatic Technologies, and Advanced Filtration Technologies.


WELCO || 50 YEARS || 3

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

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

“We’ve ramped up on digitizing archives so it’s all accessible to anyone who needs it,” says Franco Vignone, Vice President of Operations for Welco. “We’ve continued to grow our systems and provide customers with the right solutions. That’s what Welco is all about – the right people finding the right solutions for customers.” Despite the challenges of the past year, Welco is in a growth cycle as it looks to the future. It is actively adding to its team in Calgary and recently opened an office and warehouse location in Fort McMurray to better support its energy clients there. It is also looking to add offices to provide enhanced

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WELCO || 50 YEARS || 4


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Profile for Business in Edmonton Magazine

Business in Edmonton - June 2021  

Business in Edmonton - June 2021  


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