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Supporting the visions of entrepreneurs one story at a time. Volume 5 | Number 3



 It’s Time for a Conversation About Alberta’s Labour Code By Josh Bilyk

10 41

 New City Taxes Don’t Scream “Business Friendly” By Paige MacPherson

 Edmonton Chamber of Commerce



Go Jared! The CEO of Go Auto Has one Gear – Drive By Nerissa McNaughton









ince opening their doors in early 2006, Liftboss Materials Handling has gone about what they do, in a much different way than their competitors. Service has always been the focus right from the beginning, with regards to the forklift industry. They have grown a strong customer base in the 10 years they have been open and in 2012 became the Doosan heavy equipment dealer for central and southern Alberta. One of those long-term customers is On-Track Railway Operations, another Alberta-based company that prides itself on doing things much differently than any other. On-Track’s expertise spans six decades and is an accomplished designer, manufacturer, supplier and contractor of railway material handling systems and services. Their first project was with Canadian National Railway in 1978, when Ken Massé, founder, developed the first process for wood tie rehabilitation for ties generated from the P8-11 concrete tie program. Over the years, it became apparent there was a growing need to develop new machinery and equipment to meet the rigorous demands of contract service. On-Track develops machinery to provide contract services tailored to meet specific needs. They have a reputation for being an entrepreneurial company in the highly specialized “maintenance of way” field. As a result, On-Track is industry known for demonstrating improved concepts in all areas of railway material handling. On-Track bought their first Doosan® machine back in 2010, a DX190W wheel excavator. They are still using that unit today. They have purchased another new DX190W wheel excavator, three additional Doosan DX180LC track units, and a DL350 loader from Liftboss, authorized Doosan heavy equipment dealer since 2012. On-Track Railway Operations Ltd. is an experienced contractor and leader in the development and manufacture of specialized railway material handling systems and work all over North America. Liftboss is a full-service Doosan heavy equipment company that focuses on servicing the customer above all else, and offers new and used sales, parts and rentals in the heavy equipment industry.

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Supporting the visions of entrepreneurs one story at a time. Volume 5 | Number 3



49 66 71 75



Spalding Hardware Celebrates 65 Years

Screen Savers Plus

What Does the Carbon Tax Mean for Your Business? By Laura Bohnert


Celebrates 10 Years

T  etra Tech

Celebrates 50 Years

The New Mortgage Rules: What are They and How do They Affect you? By Nerissa McNaughton

36 56

A  kash Homes

Celebrates 15 Years

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B OMA Edmonton News - Spring 2017 Hoppy Days Less than a year in operation, Edmonton’s Brewery District is already winning over skeptics and delivering the goods for its tenants. By Ben Freeland

Building Up Edmonton’s construction and renovation sector looks to regain momentum. By Nerissa McNaughton


Business in Edmonton Inc.


Brent Trimming


Nerissa McNaughton

COPY EDITOR Nikki Gouthro


Jessi Evetts



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It’s Time for a Conversation About Alberta’s Labour Code BY JOSH BILYK


umours have been swirling around the Alberta business community for months that the government intends to revamp the province’s labour code. If there’s substance behind these rumours, we need to talk. Three specific changes to polices that play a fundamental role in defining the relationship between employers and employees are said to be under consideration: card check certification, contract arbitration and banning the use of replacement workers. Currently, if employees wish to form a union, a secret ballot vote takes place requiring a majority of votes cast in favour of unionization. A “card check” policy would make it much easier to certify a union – requiring just a signature from a percentage of employees. Unions support card check processes for obvious reasons, but employers prefer a secret ballot process that encourages discussion and debate and ensures a majority of employees are consulted. In one case involving a card check certification, the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, Ontario sent two carpenters on a Saturday to build a shed while their co-workers enjoyed a day off. Because these two workers constituted the entire work force that day and signed union cards for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, dozens of municipal employees who had no say in the matter wound up as certified union members. Currently, once a union is certified as the bargaining agent for a group of workers, the union and management are required to start negotiating a first collective agreement. If a first collective agreement can’t be reached, the union or the management may request the services of a mediator. The government cannot impose a first contract on the business

– but the changes being discussed would change all that and tip the balance of negotiations in favour of unions. Banning the use of replacement workers in Alberta in the event of a strike would also tip the scales toward unions. Currently, Alberta businesses can hire replacement workers during strikes. If implemented, these changes would radically change the relationship between employers and workers in Alberta – possibly for the worse. These changes would stack on top of recent policy changes that have impacted Alberta’s overall competitiveness, such as dramatic increases in the minimum wage and corporate and personal tax rates. Many business leaders are afraid to speak out on these issues. They fear being branded “anti-union” or being off-side with a government that derives a great deal of support from organized labour. Alberta companies have successfully worked with unionized employees for decades and many wouldn’t change a thing, but those relationships were built on labour relations rules that made sense for both employers and employees. Other companies fear government changes will make it easier for a small, vocal minority of employees to impose a collective agreement on workers who may not support it. Let’s get the issues out in the open and have an honest conversation. We need to have a public conversation and go through an open, full and true consultation with all Albertans about Alberta’s labour relations rules – rules that have, for the most part, delivered solid economic growth, high wages for workers and safe working conditions.





New City Taxes Don’t Scream “Business Friendly” BY PAIGE MACPHERSON


t’s no secret businesses across Alberta are struggling. In many cases, Edmonton businesses are no exception. Both employers and employees have been dealt a series of tough hands. Edmonton’s economy slowed in 2016 and job losses (particularly in lower-paying jobs) became a reality for many. Although office vacancies aren’t nearly as bad a problem as they are in nearby Calgary, office space sits unused in Edmonton, with the office market vacancy rate at 11.9 per cent. Commercial and industrial property values in Edmonton had decreased by 4.9 per cent as of July 2016, compared to a year earlier. Business insolvencies are also up. In the second quarter of 2016, business insolvencies were up 13 per cent over where they were in the second quarter of 2015, according to the city’s economic insights. During tough economic times, taxpayers look to their government to lead by example. While small businesses and families are chipping away at their spending to make ends meet, they should expect their politicians to do the same. Forty-two per cent of Edmontonians said they are not receiving good value for the city taxes they pay, with only 31 per cent in favour, according to an October 2016 Mainstreet Research poll. The other side of the tax equation is spending. Paying taxes isn’t such a bother when taxpayers can see their money is being spent responsibly, in a way that delivers value for dollars. That same Mainstreet Research poll showed city spending was identified by the largest share of respondents as their top issue going into the next municipal election.

Spending at the city level has been unsustainable for quite some time. According to a December 2016 report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Edmonton exceeds a reasonable level of spending by 2.18 times. Over the last decade, real operating spending in Edmonton increased by 70 per cent while population growth increased by only 32 per cent. It’s right there on the City of Edmonton’s website that “Edmonton strives to ensure a business-friendly tax environment without compromising the quality of infrastructure and services that support business and its workforce needs.” Because nothing screams “business friendly” like new taxes, right? Alongside Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson is continuing to ask the provincial government for increased tax powers that could make Edmonton a more expensive place to do business. As finance minister, Joe Ceci has overseen the imposition of the province’s multibillion-dollar carbon tax, a 20 per cent business tax hike, an income tax hike, a train fuel tax hike and beer tax hikes. Now he has taken over the city charters file for the provincial government. It would be unsurprising to find business owners shaking in their boots. If the goal is truly to create a business-friendly environment, giving entrepreneurs and job creators a much-needed break, then new city tax powers are the wrong direction for Edmonton. It’s time for the mayor to rub the dollar signs from his eyes and halt his ask for new tax powers. Instead, city council should get with reality and offer long-term tax relief by making meaningful spending reductions. Then they can say with confidence that Edmonton truly is business friendly.




Nominations are now closed; thank you to all who have nominated, and to the nominees who are part of this year’s program. We look forward to assembling another group of influential people from our business community who will be honoured for their contributions towards making Edmonton a great place to live and work! Business in Edmonton will celebrate the 2017 winners at our 5th Annual Awards Gala, and our July issue will feature the Leaders and their companies.

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ud, Sweat and Gears owner Paul Burgess has a university education to thank for his three-store chain of Bike, Ski and Snowboard outlets. However not the way you would think. At 19 Burgess’s university Education was failing miserably and ended when he walked over to the professor and told him he was dropping out. Burgess recalls the professor just shrugged his shoulders and said “perhaps university isn’t for you.” That same day Burgess found work at the local bicycle store, building new bikes and

cleaning the floors. Long hours, hard work, and having pride in accomplishments has been the education Burgess cherishes most, one taught by his father in their family grocery store. “Dad always led by example, he worked hard every day, gave back to his community enormously, and always tried to do right by people.” Two key things Burgess attributes to the success and ability to grow his business were the purchasing of the

buildings, and diversifying into winter product in the off season. “Having control of my retail location gives me the stability to pursue growth options outside the constrictions of a lease.” With the everchanging market conditions and challenges of a seasonal business, Burgess also saw the need to diversify his product selection and secure his workforce. With the addition of skis, snowboards and Outerwear for the winter, customers have a year-round relationship with the business that Burgess believes really cements the bond between the staff and customers. Burgess started the business over 30 years ago in his laundry room, handing out flyers door to door, slowly growing the business to its current three locations. The original store in Sherwood Park now acts as the headquarters after the 2013 purchase of a flailing Spruce Grove store and the newest store which opened last year in Red Deer. Now, over 30 employees not only service and sell the store’s product, but are the driving force behind the success. Stepping back and empowering the staff to control the day-to-day operations has allowed Burgess to focus on

the direction, marketing and product mix to help ensure the success of the business. “The great thing about cycling is that it’s free for everyone. There’s no enrollment; its passive entertainment that you can do at anytime, anywhere. You don’t have to be signed up or qualify, just willing to get outside and have some fun.” Burgess likens running the business to that of racing a bike, “If you coast, you get passed, you only get out of it what you put in, sometimes you suffer, sometimes you succeed, but in the end it’s those challenges that make it so rewarding.”

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BDC Study Points to Positive Economic Expectations The results of a recent Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) study show 70 percent of Canadian entrepreneurs expect increased sales for 2017. Last year just 45 percent had such optimism. With renewed confidence in the economy, entrepreneurs plan to boost business investments to $96.6 billion in 2017, putting this total at 1.6 percent higher than 2016. The strongest areas of growth are predicted to come from technology, manufacturing and exporting. “This survey confirms the optimism we’re hearing from our business clients every day,” says Pierre Cléroux, BDC’s vice president, research, and chief economist. “Entrepreneurs are increasingly confident in the economy, with exporters leading the way in terms of investment intentions. Canadian businesses are ready to invest and they have growth on their minds. Our research also confirms technology is playing an increasingly important part in our economy. Greater investment will help Canadian companies get more productive and that’s key for staying competitive in the current business environment.” The survey was completed with data and input from 3,988 executives at small and mid-sized companies. Alberta leads with a 17.1 percent jump in planned investments. The Atlantic region anticipates the same level as last year, and Quebec reports a 0.6 percent expected increase. British Columbia and the territories expect a 5.4 percent investment decline, and Saskatchewan and Manitoba expect a drop almost inversely proportional to Alberta’s gain – 17.5 per cent. To date, planned investments for technology firms have taken a giant leap forward, up 41 percent over 2016 investments. Coming in second is manufacturing, up 17 percent and from coast to coast, entrepreneurs are prioritizing growth and productivity projects in IT, training, machinery, equipment and vehicles. The BDC study also noted that the top drawbacks to investing right now are a lack of cash and a lack of qualified personnel – and this is not as dire as it seems when compared to last year’s biggest obstacle: the economy.

For the current year, less than one in four businesses plan to use credit. The majority are looking to finance investments thorough working capital and/or internal funds. BDC’s study indicates great things for 2017. Even companies that were not expecting to grow this year plan to invest an average of $150,000. After many months of economic uncertainty, low oil prices and the financial fallout from the devastating fires in Fort McMurray, Canadians are facing the future with ever-growing optimism. Business Development Bank (BDC) is the only bank in Canada that works exclusively with small and mediumsized businesses. BDC has more than 110 business centres from coast to coast that provide companies in all sectors with financing and advisory services. BDC Capital, the bank’s investment arm, offers equity, venture capital, flexible growth and transition capital solutions. BDC is proud to present a free productivity marketing tool to show entrepreneurs where their business stands when compared to other Canadian companies. Learn more about this tool, and more about BDC at ABOVE: PIERRE CLÉROUX, BDC’S VICE PRESIDENT, RESEARCH, AND CHIEF ECONOMIST. PHOTO SOURCE: BDC



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TEC Edmonton’s Established and New Programs Focus on Helping Entrepreneurs Reach Their Goals TEC Edmonton’s recent VenturePrize marked the business accelerator’s 15th year running the popular competition. VenturePrize, where companies across the province submit business plans in health, fast-growth, student and information & communications technology categories, also provides seminars on business, marketing and legal topics. The seminars help participants get ready to pitch their business plans to the judging panel. “This is a very exciting year for VenturePrize,” said TEC Edmonton CEO, Chris Lumb. “We look forward to offering the best of TEC Edmonton’s network of expertise to help Alberta companies achieve their goals.” In addition to the milestone anniversary of VenturePrize, TEC Edmonton is pleased to announce the TEC Innovation District, a community workspace in downtown Edmonton’s Enterprise Square where technology-focused entrepreneurs can access mentorship and coaching from TEC Edmonton’s team and experts. Companies that are accepted into TEC Edmonton’s new program receive personalized mentorship, coaching, 24-hour use of the workspace and access to TEC Edmonton’s network partners. The space is funded by DynaLife and the University of Alberta. “The Innovation District is much more than a workspace – we have an ‘entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs’ philosophy at TEC Edmonton, where business owners learn directly from people who have built successful companies,” says Lumb. “The street front space is another way for technology entrepreneurs to access our services.” “Alberta small businesses have a bigger economic impact per capita than small businesses anywhere in the country, and support from incubators like TEC Edmonton are a big reason for it,” says Honourable Deron Bilous, Minister of Economic Development and Trade. “Their mentorship and expert advice for Alberta entrepreneurs means that, working together, we will continue to innovate, excel and build an economy for the future.” “This space provides a conducive environment for collisions of ideas, and it provides an opportunity to meet and learn

from other entrepreneurs,” says Hammad Jutt, CEO of TVCom, and one of the TEC Innovation District’s newest tenants. “We will also have the chance to meet industry experts and seek the support of TEC mentors.” TEC Edmonton accelerates emerging technologyfocused companies and helps them to grow successfully. A joint venture between the University of Alberta and Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, TEC Edmonton operates the region’s largest accelerator for early-stage technology companies while also managing the commercialization of University of Alberta technologies. Since 2011, TEC clients have reported $680M in revenue, raised $350M in financing and funding, invested $200M in R&D and grown both revenue and employment by 25 per cent per year. They now employ over 2,400 people in the region. In the last four years, TEC has helped to create 22 spinoff companies from the University of Alberta. TEC Edmonton’s awards and recognitions include being named the fourth best university business incubator in North America by the University Business Incubator (UBI) Global Index in 2015, and “Incubator of the Year” by Startup Canada in 2014. To learn more about TEC Edmonton or VenturePrize, visit:




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he carbon levy came into effect on January 1, and while some have already received their rebates, many businesses are looking at it as just another tax increase—one that is adding insult to injury in an inhospitable economy. How much of an impact is the carbon levy going to have on the business world? The carbon levy introduces a financial incentive to encourage families, businesses, and communities to reduce their usage of transportation and heating fuels (diesel, gasoline, natural gas, and propane) that release carbon pollution into the environment. For 2017, the levy will apply to the amount of carbon pollution that is created at a rate of $20 per tonne, and in 2018, that rate will increase to $30 per tonne (the exceptions being marked gasoline and farm fuels, which are exempt from the levy).





While the carbon levy means an overall tax increase, many households are eligible for the Climate Leadership Adjustment Rebate, an income-test program that is designed to help lower and middle-income Albertans offset the increase in carbon costs. The rebate is based on income rather than energy use, and six out of 10 households will automatically receive a full rebate, as long as they’ve filed their 2015 taxes. An additional 6 per cent will receive a partial rebate and small businesses will receive a one-third tax rate reduction. However, while the majority of Alberta’s population may stand to see a benefit from the carbon levy, it’s hitting the majority of businesses hard in an economy that is already making it difficult to keep the doors open. As Joel MacDonald, founder of, describes, “We are seeing a lot more traffic as people try to better understand the new carbon tax, and in some cases, it is causing Albertans to review their options.” “ is Alberta’s leading energy rates comparison website,” notes MacDonald. “We provide an unbiased third party review and comparison of Albertans’ electricity and natural gas retailer options. We’ve noticed that a large number of Albertans are taking an interest in electricity and natural gas retailers, using the carbon levy as an impetus to review their option. From late October to December, traffic on our website tripled. The carbon levy has brought the increase to their attention, and now they are asking what they can do to decrease energy costs.



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“For those with fixed priced energy products, there will be a definitive increase on their bills. Those who have chosen floating rates will have to wait and see if the levy charges will be offset by a change in market price. “The carbon levy is also applied differently between natural gas and electricity. The natural gas levy is billed to each individual consumer, whether they are in residential housing or in a business. They’ll see a line item on their natural gas bill that says ‘carbon levy 1.011 cents per GJ (plus GST).’ In 2018, that will increase to 1.517 cents per GJ (plus GST).” MacDonald continues, “Electricity rates will increase as well, but with electricity, carbon is being created at the generation sites, not at each individual home (or business). In this case, it is the generators that will be charged the levy, and they, in turn, will pass the fee along to the consumer in the form of higher electricity prices, but it will not appear as a line item on your bill.

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“The goal is to reduce carbon. If it costs more, then people will be more motivated to find alternatives or use less, and in terms of natural gas heating. The increase is really not that significant for the vast majority: if your natural gas bill is one per cent of the overall budget and you are expecting it to increase 10 per cent, then the carbon levy is only adding a tenth of a percent of an increase to the overall budget.” However, MacDonald notes, “One piece of feedback we have received is that small business are very





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For Lee McMann, transportation and logistics manager at Allen Services & Contracting Ltd., the frustration is genuine. “The carbon tax is just another obstacle in a tough business environment,” he notes.

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“The Premier commented that fuel prices fluctuate between 4 and 5 cents per litre anyways, so we should hardly notice the increase created by the carbon tax,” McMann says, “but we’ve noticed a pretty dramatic difference. We’ve had increases in excess of 5 per cent of our fuel costs as result—and fuel costs represent 35 per cent of our operating costs. That’s just our first direct cost, so it’s definitely impacting margins, and those impacts may have significant consequences for the future of a transportation-based company.”

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“We are going to have to make changes,” he notes. “Suppliers send us information indicating that the carbon levy is being added to invoices. We’ve seen increases ranging from 1.4 to 2.5 per cent. Throughout the downturn in the economy, the company margins have been tightened considerably over the years. Another 2 or 3 per cent squeeze will affect operations, and that means we’re going to have to take a look at the type of work we continue to do and how profitable that might be. “The other thing we are extremely cautious about is the government in the Northwest Territories. So far, they haven’t implemented the carbon levy there, but they have one year to do so or it may be imposed upon them. When that happens, our Northwest Territories operations will be impacted, and because the cost of fuel is considerably higher there. Those impacts will be dramatic.”

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Allen Services has been offering road transportation, ice road transportation, and civil construction in Edmonton for 14 years, and it has been operating in the Northwest Territories since 1980. “Because of our operations in the Northwest Territories, we’ve had a pretty exceptional year. But that being said, two months ago the phones stopped ringing,” says McMann. “Over the last two years, our margins have really been crushed. It’s a tough economic time in the industry,” McMann continues, pointing out that a




THROUGHOUT THE DOWNTURN IN THE ECONOMY, THE COMPANY MARGINS HAVE BEEN TIGHTENED CONSIDERABLY OVER THE YEARS. ANOTHER 2 OR 3 PER CENT SQUEEZE WILL AFFECT OPERATIONS, AND THAT MEANS WE’RE GOING TO HAVE TO TAKE A LOOK AT THE TYPE OF WORK WE CONTINUE TO DO AND HOW PROFITABLE THAT MIGHT BE. number of transportation companies have taken a serious hit as a result of the recession. “So many of our competitors were forced to go out of business last year, and there is a huge amount of equipment leaving the marketplace, heading east or to the U.S.. There has been a lot of talk about things turning around, and we are starting to see more equipment moving on the highway, but we aren’t seeing that come back to business yet. It’s been a considerably tough time for Alberta, and it’s going to take time for businesses to find their feet again, but the strong will survive,” he adds, citing their Northwest Territories operations as key to their continued success.

frustrating. It seems like the harder we work, the more the government wants of it. “It’s a hard hit in a tough economic time, but we just have to try to get through,” he concludes. “The light at the end of the tunnel is that we are assisting our employees in building a better future.”

“We’ve kind of hammered out a niche marketplace in the far north,” McMann explains, “and that has helped us maintain our margins.” That could change with the carbon tax. “It’s frustrating,” McMann confesses. “The government says the carbon tax is cost-neutral, but it’s not. It’s going to impact everyone because even grocery store items are going to be affected by increases in transportation costs. We have a responsibility to our employees. It’s critically important that we can offer them a reasonable lifestyle. They are hardworking people, and that’s partly why this becomes

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f you are in Go Auto’s Edmonton headquarters and happen to cross paths with a tall young man that is radiating with enthusiasm and energy, chances are you’ve passed Jared Priestner, Go Auto’s CEO; and as he’s happy to point out, being on a car lot is in his blood. “My dad was in the car business as I grew up,” says Priestner from the comfort of Go Auto headquarters’ on-site bistro. “That’s how I got a taste of the business. The only other job of any significance that I’ve had, other than working at Go Auto, was when I was in high school. I did work experience at Klondike Cycle and Sports, which was owned by a local entrepreneur named Dave. “He was an unbelievable boss to work for. He gave us and a few other guys a ton of leeway to think about the inventory, compensation systems and the brands that we carried. That really helped me in my business today; he showed us, and gave us, hands-on experience in running a business on a smaller level.” Priestner went to Georgian College in Ontario to attend a special program for car dealership management, and there he learned a valuable lesson outside of the classroom. “I answered the student questionnaire very honestly,” he laughs. “Do you like to party? Yes. What time do you go to bed? 2 a.m. I ended up in the loudest, rowdiest party dorm!

I quickly realized that wasn’t going to work, so I came back to Edmonton and did two years at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT).” While he was at NAIT, Priestner’s father purchased one of Ford’s driving school franchises, so the young man finished up his schooling and joined his father in the car business, learning the ins and outs of running a dealership. Priestner is a day-at-a-time kind of guy, investing in work when he’s at work, and engaging in play when he’s off the clock. “I have a humongous music collection of both CDs and digital files!” he admits. “I have about 20,000 songs, from delta blues to hard-core punk to hip hop.” He credits his parents, who were into the Rolling Stones, Beatles and Bob Dylan when those musicians were in their heyday, to launching his love of music, and in high school, he was in a fledgling basement band. “I picked competitive sports as a kid and I’m a diehard sports fan,” the CEO continues. “I look at business and sports as comparative. I looked at all the highest performing sports teams, such as the New England Patriots and the San Antonio Spurs. They are the most cohesive teams with the strongest leaders because their leaders figured out a way to tell them they would only win as a team. A collection of stars with





GO AUTO IS ABLE TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN QUALITY STAFF BY DIFFERENTIATING ITSELF ON EVERY LEVEL. FOR INSTANCE, HEADQUARTERS their own agendas doesn’t win. Everyone achieves personal success from buying into the team. That is my core belief, and I brought that mentality to work from day one. As leaders, you have to go into the corners. You can’t ask people to do what you won’t do yourself. The team loses creditability if you don’t show you are willing to do that work yourself.” That doesn’t mean it’s all work and no play for the man whose personality is larger than life. “I love being in a business where everything is always changing! Sometimes you have to put business first, but I also love my life outside of my business too much to become a diehard workaholic. I have a great wife, a young son, I love to travel and be with friends. There is a lot more to life than work, and life is too short to spend it being obsessed with business. That being said, you have to turn on the work when it is warranted. The key is to have fun and exciting people, things and plans outside of work so you are not always defaulting back to work.” When he is working, however, he puts just as much of his heart into his job as he does into his hobbies. “When Go Auto acquires a business, we are typically able to double the revenues of that business within 24 months of operating it,” Priestner says with pride. “The benefits to Edmonton, and within Canada, are good quality jobs and careers that pay well and are stable. We’ve probably added, on the conservative side, 1,500 jobs to the market, and most of those jobs are in Alberta. “We have a very strong promote-from-within policy. Someone can start as a sales person and end up running a multimillion dollar business in a shorter period of time than with another company. We have a different viewpoint on who gets promoted and how. What counts is giving the right people the right chances, over and above what’s on the resume. For example, we have people that have started in a detailing bay and now run a division at just 30 years of age.”



HAS A COMMERCIAL KITCHEN THAT PRODUCES 6,500 HEALTHY LUNCHES FOR THE STAFF PER MONTH. Priestner greatly enjoys “the ability to give people life changing opportunities: seeing someone new to Canada working their way up to running their own business; seeing them be successful and using their training to be successful with minimal supervision; looking people in the eye when they show up and letting them know that the only limit on your career is you. Go Auto has lots of examples of people in the company that took the chance and ran with it.” The CEO addresses the industry’s challenges with his characteristic good humour, and with a sports-themed approach. “It’s challenging, navigating the ups and downs of the Alberta economy,” he admits. “We’ve seen how things can get in the 2008 recession, and now the oil-based recession. It’s very challenging from a strategic point of view: how fast you grow, how lean you keep your staff, how much bench strength you keep, how much talent you keep on the bench. Also, we have some exceptional competitors in Edmonton. Some of Alberta’s largest dealerships are based in this city, and they are very good at what they do.” Go Auto is able to attract and retain quality staff by differentiating itself on every level. For instance, headquarters has a commercial kitchen that produces 6,500 healthy lunches for the staff per month. “My mom taught me that the key to people’s heart is through food,” Priestner laughs. It’s precisely these small and unusual touches, over and above the employee benefits — development and training and the focus on a positive staff culture — that have grown the company from five dealerships and 350 staff to 40 dealerships and 3,000 team members.

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Priestner cheekily admits to having had a little help when it came to the now instantly recognizable company name. “I was watching the Colorado Avalanche play in Denver and they had advertising in the penalty box. There were a few dealerships in Denver that were using ‘Go Auto’ and I like it, so I took it!” He laughs. “That’s a true story! But they stopped using that name in the States shortly after, so it’s okay.”

Go Auto is passionate about giving back to the community and supports the Bissell Centre, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Canadian Cancer Society, CIBC Run for the Cure, CNIB, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Easter Seals, Edmonton Meals on Wheels, Edmonton Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Kids with Cancer Society, Little Warriors, Muscular Dystrophy Canada, Ronald McDonald House Charities, STARS, Stollery





I have high standards and want to make sure I eat well. If I was in a different position, or when I retire, I’d be a chef. I like to cook as much as I can.” For now, he’s happy to cook on the side and drive Go Auto forward fulltime, taking inspiration from those that laid the foundation of the company and staying in tune with what the staff across Canada need to be successful, all in the pursuit of matching quality cars with deserving owners and growing budding careers in the automotive dealership industry. “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know,” he says of his leadership style. “The more experience I get, the more success and challenges, the more I realize there is so much more road ahead of all of us as leaders. You can’t be humble enough, and you can’t be satisfied for a minute with where you are at. There are so many aspects, from being a self-learner to changing with the times to identifying good talents to being able to carve out a career path so they stick with you long term. Those are all things you never master; never stop learning. “I learned so much from my dad. He was the main mentor to everyone in our business group. Mom was the other biggest influence in my life. No matter what was going on, Mom made things a great home and always had a smile on her face. This brought a different dimension so things weren’t always so serious. If you didn’t score the winning goal or ace the test, Mom loved you just as much, and that created balance.” Priestner is excited about what lies ahead.

Children’s Hospital Foundation, YESS, YMCA and ERA, to name just a few of the company’s philanthropic pursuits. When he’s not dynamically running the brand or actively working in the community where lives, works and plays, Priestner is indulging in his love of cooking, music, sports and travel. “Both my parents were great cooks,” he says of where he got his love for making and eating world cuisine. “I love to eat!

“The future has never been brighter! Go Auto is going to stick to the formula we always had to grow ambitiously, but not at a rate where we get too big for our britches. We have to be able to develop leaders at a rate where we can take on new opportunities. We don’t want to pass on opportunity, but we also want to have the right people in place to capitalize on it.” He concludes, humbly, “I hope to parley my experience and learning. I lead the league in mistakes, and I hope I learn from those and apply those lessons to the next 10 years – and continue to stick with the plan, not rewrite the formula.”






ate last year, the federal government announced a major shift in Canadian mortgage rules. With the new paradigm now firmly in place, it’s time to take a look at the fine print, and how it affects us all. Providing clarification on the ins and outs of the rules are Nathan Mol, Realtor, Liv Real Estate, and Lori Hutson, mortgage associate, Regional Mortgage Group (affiliated with Dominion Lending Centres). “Insured mortgages with less than 20 per cent down have to pass a ‘stress test’ and qualify at the Bank of Canada’s five-year posted rate, which is 4.64 per cent today,” adds Hutson. “This results in qualifying for up to 25 per cent less.” Hutson also notes that the Bank of Canada’s qualification rate includes a 25-year maximum amortization, a $1 million purchase price cap and that the property be a primary residence, which means occupied by the owner(s), not rented out or used as a vacation home. “This will result in decreased



options as lenders need to amend their guidelines to meet federal criteria, resulting in restricted insurance for low ratio or conventional mortgages,” informs Hutson. Mol notes: “It has reduced the price of the home that home buyers (with a down payment of less than 20 per cent) can afford by about 20 per cent, depending on the situation. This means that, previously, many first-time buyers that were looking at homes in the $450,000 price range now can only qualify for a mortgage with a purchase price of around $370,000.00. Likewise, a first-time buyer who previously had a max price of $400,000 would now qualify for $320,000. “These prices are significant since they reflect typical entry price points for a new suburban single family detached two storey, three-bedroom home with a double attached garage, or smaller detached two-storey homes with rear detached garages. As a result, first-time buyers will either need to save up for several more years, or adjust their price point lower



and adjust their expectations towards an older house, a half duplex, or a townhouse. It all depends on the neighbourhood, age, and house condition. Older bungalows can still be found for $350,000 and up, half duplexes from $320,000-$370,000, and townhouses from $250,000-$350,000.” These measures may seem drastic, invasive and even punishing, but they are there for a reason. “Measures had to be taken against the recent trend of house flipping to avoid property transfer tax from investors,” says Hutson, talking about the sharp rise in real estate investors that purchase an older home, fix it up and sell it at a profit while avoiding capital gains taxes. That’s not the only reason for the rules, however. “If interest rates rise, home owners will still be able to afford their mortgage payments,” Hutson points out.

Hold on. Isn’t home affordability the responsibility of the homeowner? Typically, the answer would be yes, but a look back to the events leading up to the 2008 recession reminds us all that easy, cheap credit and huge, expensive houses create a recipe for disaster. The federal government is taking steps to ensure that Canadians only buy what they can actually afford, so if interest rates rise, homeowners can continue to make mortgage payments. The new rules have been in effect for a few months now, and Mol can already see the difference. “Based on my experiences, as well as discussions with other agents, I can see the rule changes have a larger impact on entry priced homes in newer neighbourhoods rather than in more mature neighbourhoods,” says the Realtor. “I have found that most of my buyer clients in more mature central neighbourhoods typically have 20 per cent or more for a down payment, versus the newer suburbs where 5-10 per cent is more common.




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“I thought I would dig a bit deeper and compared 12 months of average sale prices in two housing category types leading up to Oct 17, 2016, when the rule changes took place, versus the average sale price that occurred between Oct 17, 2016, and January 20, 2017. I compared two-storey, three-bedroom single family detached homes with double attached garages built in 2010 or newer against three-bedroom bungalows less than 1,200 square feet above grade with double detached garages that were built prior to 1980. Since the rule changes were implemented, the newer two-storey homes’ average sale price declined 2.64 per cent, whereas the average sale price of older bungalows has declined 1.97 per cent. “There is a seasonal trend for prices to decline towards the end of December anyway, so too much shouldn’t be read into the exact amounts of decline. However, it is interesting to see that the decline of sales prices of newer two-storey homes was 25 per cent greater than the decline in older bungalow prices.”

While the new rules make it tougher for all insured homebuyers to go from renting right into owning their dream home, both Mol and Hutson have great advice for those looking to get on the first rung of the property ladder. “Be dedicated in saving up for your down payment, and make sure any payments you have are paid on time,” encourages Hutson. “Get pre-approved; then you know what your price range will be. And see a mortgage broker! We don’t work for one specific lender; we have many lenders with many different options. Not all mortgages are created equal, and with access to so many products, a broker can match you with the affordable mortgage that best suits your needs. Remember, the rules will affect everyone differently.” “The most important first step is to find a good team to work with, which includes a good mortgage broker, Realtor, and real estate lawyer—a team you can discuss your own unique situation with, and one that is able to provide you with solid





advice based on their experience and insight,” counsels Mol. “Your first home will often not be your forever home, but rather a stepping stone to that dream home. “I have seen many mistakes made by first-time buyers who got caught up by the modern countertops and furniture in a show home, but didn’t notice some other location or layout issues that lost them money when it came time to sell. Your agent and mortgage professional can give you advice that will help you obtain a property that either has strong resale potential or could become a good investment property to hold onto long term when you make your next move. These are usually not the properties that look flashy and will first

grab your attention, so there are many factors to consider that may not be obvious at first – such as considering how different layouts may appeal to different demographics of buyers or renters at different life stages.” Rules happen for a reason, and when those reasons affect the entire housing, debt and finance market from coast to coast, measures have to be taken to protect us all – the impulse buyers as well as the diligent savers. The new rules may take some getting used to, but in the end, there are still investors, brokers and realtors waiting to make dreams of home ownership come true…it just may not be in your dream home, for now.

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ike many leading global companies, Edmonton International Airport (EIA) is capitalizing on the emergence of new markets and a reduced-cost environment to expand. Specifically, EIA is investing resources into both commercial developments and infrastructure as part of a larger plan to develop an aerotropolis, or airport city, on its vast 7,000 acre land holdings, the largest of any major Canadian airport. The expansion and investment will further the airport’s mission to drive regional economic development, grow revenues and build passenger and cargo air services. One of the primary targets for growth is found in workforce development, being realized through an education and training collation dubbed the Alberta Aerospace and Technology Centre (AATC). Two multi-million dollar flight simulation projects were recently completed at EIA: Canadian North’s 737 flight simulator and HNZ Topflight’s helicopter flight simulation training device. Both are industry-leading and certified for pilot training. A third component of EIA’s education and training initiative was announced early in 2017. The Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) will begin construction this summer on a 20,000 square foot facility and five acre test driving track at the airport, which includes a driving simulation trainer. This development will allow AMTA to conduct complete driving and safety training for commercial drivers at one centralized location. With major private investment in EIA, 2016 was a strong development year, which continues to drive growth in 2017. Key development highlights included the start of construction of the 585,000 square foot Premium Outlet Collection – EIA, and the completion of Rosenau Transport’s 211,000 square foot warehouse and shipping facility, which allows goods to get from anywhere in the western Canadian landscape to its final destination within 24 hours. Other major players developing at the airport include Aeroterm and Terracap.


March 2017 | BOMA Edmonton Newsletter |

KLM Cargo at EIA. Photo by Early Rain Photography.

These expansive developments benefit from EIA’s core business – air service. All commercial development at EIA supports air service by attracting new passengers, new cargo and services, and by providing revenue that is reinvested into the airport. Infrastructure upgrades and on-site developments helped attract Air China Cargo to Edmonton, which offers the only scheduled cargo freighter between mainland China and Canada, expanding inbound and outbound trade between western Canada, China and Asia. Making multi-modal land-to-air and air-to-land transportation easier and more accessible for importers and exporters delivers on one of the airport’s core business strategies: driving economic growth for the region. In that frame of mind, it’s easy to understand why an airport would be involved in the types of developments that have recently been announced on site. Horseracing Alberta announced that Century Casinos has been selected to develop a new mile-long race track, including food and entertainment facilities with slot machines on-site at EIA. Aurora Cannabis began construction of an 800,000 square foot facility at EIA, which will be the world’s largest and most advanced medical cannabis production facility. Eighty per cent of Aurora’s distribution is targeted for air cargo.

Rendering of Premium Outlet Collection. Photo supplied by EIA.

A key component of EIA’s development strategy is turning the airport into a destination, rather than a transit point, which would attract passengers to fly through Edmonton instead of other routings. As EIA’s aerotropolis continues to develop and take shape, the airport expects a significant influx of passenger traffic coming through its doors, from two distinct target markets. The first is what the airport calls its “regional hub” strategy. The basis of this tactic is attracting passengers from connecting markets, such as Grande Prairie or Saskatoon, to fly through Edmonton to connect to their final destination, as well as attracting cargo to EIA through the Rosenau network between these regional markets. The communities targeted by this approach are identified by their proximity to Edmonton and convenient flight connections through EIA. The purpose is to build demand and grow capacity for domestic, US and international routes that are already in place. With the onset of European non-stop service via KLM, Icelandair and WestJet, new regional growth has occurred due to the larger catchment connections through these flights. EIA is capitalizing on this rising trend by leveraging its developments as added incentive for passengers to connect through Edmonton. The other air service strategy focuses on attracting international inbound traffic for leisure and business travel to Edmonton. EIA collaborates with key partners such as Edmonton Tourism, Edmonton Destination Marketing Hotels, Travel Alberta and Tourism Jasper to grow demand from international points of sale to Edmonton by developing strategic alignment in key areas such as driving itinerary development through international travel trade channels. The airport plays a critical role in improving the visitor economy through increased hotel night stays and tourist spending in Edmonton, and the international market is a key sector here. The aerotropolis will contribute greatly to these efforts by attracting an increase in tourists to the region. The aerotropolis is also expected to influence business travel by adding another reason for meeting and convention organizers to choose Edmonton as a host city. With plenty of pre- and post-conference activities available, business travellers will have an opportunity to engage in entertainment and retail options right at EIA. Enhancing the experience at the airport will provide an even better final impression for travellers who might be in Edmonton for the very first time. At the end of the day, the relationship between commercial development and airport operations is clear. Everything happening at and around EIA works to inject life into the local economy and improve the passenger experience for Edmontonians and visitors alike.

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here’s no doubt Edmonton has been making some great strides when it comes to improving the look of its downtown core. Projects like ICE District’s 66-storey Stantec Tower and the 54-floor JW Marriott Hotel-Legends Private Residences are just some of the $5.5-billion worth of construction projects proposed or underway in 2017, and WSP Place is another great addition to the rejuvenation project. Sitting on the southwest corner of 109 Street and Jasper Avenue, one of the city’s most high traffic areas, the old Associated Engineering building, a pre-fabricated concrete building built in the 1970s, is almost ready for its unveiling as the new and greatly improved WSP Place. “We started the renovations about a year ago,” says Vivian Manasc, architect and principle of Manasc Isaac, the firm responsible for the planning and execution of the WSP redevelopment. “Our goal was to take it from a 12-storey concrete block to a sustainable, beautiful and functional structure.” Working with ProCura and Chandos Construction, the renovation team had to plan the project carefully, as there was nearly 100 percent occupancy throughout the renovation schedule. “Extensive renovations like this are always complex when you have tenants in the building,” Manasc admits, “We really had to ensure careful planning and communication, not only within our renovations team but with the property manager and the tenants themselves, to ensure it was as smooth as possible.” The renovations were extensive. WSP, named after one of its tenants, was to be transformed from the dated, boring concrete facade to a more up-todate aluminum and triple-pane window wall system, similar to the Chateau Lacombe Hotel’s transformation in 2016. However, its renovations weren’t just to improve the vanity of the structure. “Just about everything inside has been redone,” says Masasc. “The lobby has a new contemporary feel, the washrooms are redone and even most of the floors have been completely reconfigured for the tenants.” Manasc Issac focuses much of its architectural efforts on improving sustainability in buildings as well, and WSP Place is no exception. The new design replaces much of the building envelope, adding high-performance materials and al-

3 March 2017 |

BOMA Edmonton Newsletter |

lowing more natural light to spill into the space. High performance windows, window frames and insulation help keep heat and cold out of the building, reducing operating costs. Improved climate control makes for a comfortable and healthy work environment, while updated mechanical and electrical systems decrease electrical consumption by 40 percent. New heating and ventilation, tenant space improvements and green additions, such as a natural gas fired cogeneration plant and solar panels on the roof will target high LEED environmental standards. Key commercial tenants in the building include AIMCO, Central Social Hall, Employabilities, ProCura’s Edmonton headquarters and WSP. When the building is complete this spring, the renovation team will have significantly changed the look of the key downtown intersection and the efficiency and air quality inside the building will also be greatly improved. WSP is the third newly built (or significantly upgraded) property completed by ProCura on three corners of 109 Street and Jasper Avenue. About a half block east, ProCura redeveloped the old Professional Building and renamed it the Intact Building. This project was completed in 2009. On the southeast corner, the old Mayfair hotel was demolished and turned into Mayfair Village North, a luxury 238-suite residential rental building completed in 2016.



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ver wonder how Edmonton’s downtown streets stay clean? Who picks up the bottles? Who sweeps off the cigarette butts? You’d be surprised at the answer. It’s a small group of five vulnerable men and ladies who walk the downtown streets Monday to Friday for three hours a day. Many of them have been homeless in the past or have had other major life challenges, and this is how they earn a living wage. They are employed by an initiative known as Downtown Proud!, a program started in 2010 by the Boyle Street Community Services (BSCS) and partially funded through the City of Edmonton’s Capital City Clean-up program and the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Edmonton.

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March 2017 | BOMA Edmonton Newsletter |

The Downtown Proud! team collects about 152,000 litres of litter and 5,000 used needles a year. Along with their regular downtown cleaning duties, the crew has also taken on a number of additional assignments, including litter clean up during MacEwan University and Norquest College’s welcome back to school events, Alberta Culture Days, and the Christmas Tree Light Up event sponsored by the Downtown Business Association. Up until now, these hard workers have done all their cleaning by hand, but that changed this year when BOMA stepped in with a donation that will make their jobs a whole lot easier. On Friday, January 20, during a press conference in the Edmonton Tower lobby, BOMA unveiled five new street cleaning carts (valued at $12,000) as donations to Downtown Proud! “This is a great initiative that we’re happy to be a part of,” said Percy Woods, president and CEO of BOMA Edmonton. “Downtown Proud! helps employ people who have really had it rough. There is a sense of pride in these workers who work to keep our downtown streets clean, and we’re glad to be able to contribute to their work. “These cleaners do such a great job, but they really were lacking the equipment they needed to make their jobs easier. We hope these carts help make their jobs, and lives, easier.” The workers seemed thrilled at the donation, even trying them out during the press conference. “These are like the Cadillacs of street cleaning carts,” said Julian Daly, executive director of BSCS. “We’re really grateful to BOMA for this generous donation. BOMA has been very supportive towards Boyle Street Community Services, and the new carts are another example of the association’s generosity. These new carts will certainly help our crew in continuing to do the fine work they’ve been doing in cleaning the downtown area.” Councillor Scott McKeen echoed those sentiments. ”I want to thank BOMA for this innovative contribution to downtown. Not only will the street cleaning carts help ease the load for Downtown Proud! workers, they will help set a standard for downtown cleanliness that we can all help to maintain.”

2017 Board of Directors

Canada’s Largest Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade are Working Together to Propose Airport Reform


Chair: James Merkosky Partner, Tax Services, Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP Vice Chair: Len Rhodes President & CEO, Edmonton Eskimo Football Club Treasurer: Bryan DeNeve Senior Vice President Finance & CFO, Capital Power Past Chair: Bill Blais President and CEO Maclab Development Group


Dr. Glenn Feltham President & CEO, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology Crystal Graham Partner & Licensed Interior Designer, Kasian Architecture Interior Design & Planning Ltd. Dawn Harsch President & CEO, Exquisicare Inc. Alyson Hodson President & CEO, zag creative Elan MacDonald President, Impact Consulting Scott McEachern Vice President, Engineering & Projects, Enbridge Pipelines Inc. Dennis Schmidt Partner, Dentons Canada LLP Craig Thorkelsson Manager, Corporate Taxation PCL Constructors Inc. Liza Wold Partner, Miller Thomson LLP

Chamber Executive

Janet Riopel President & CEO Edmonton Chamber of Commerce Max Frank Vice President, Membership & Operations Edmonton Chamber of Commerce Ian Morris Vice President, Finance Edmonton Chamber of Commerce Danuta Woronowicz Vice President, Policy & Outreach Edmonton Chamber of Commerce


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

By Janet M. Riopel, President & CEO


anada’s airports are more than staging points for the departure and arrival of people and goods. They are strategic and economic infrastructure assets that significantly contribute to Canada’s employment and prosperity. They are vitally important to our national, provincial, and local economies. The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce is a member of the Canadian Global Cities Council (CGCC), a coalition of the eight largest urban regional Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade in Canada. We are calling on the federal government to support the nation’s international airports and foster economic growth by reforming key policies, thereby maximizing our competitive position. Canada’s international airports create vital access to high growth global markets and facilitate significant economic benefits in tourism, trade, and overall business productivity. Our current state lacks competitive advantage. This hinders our economic potential, and affects Canada’s profile and ability to remain relevant in the eyes of foreign investors, international business travelers, and tourists. As a position paper recently released by the CGCC highlights, Canada’s airports are strategic economic infrastructure assets that significantly contribute to national employment and prosperity. The position paper urges the federal government to make airport policy reforms that will align Canada with global best practices, and further calls upon all levels of government to factor international airports into transit infrastructure planning. The CGCC’s position paper noted that the international airports in Canada’s largest cities generate significant economic activity – $59 billion in total – and are concentrated areas of employment for their regions. This high level of economic activity could be improved even further if the recommendations are adopted. Here at home, the Edmonton International Airport is a key economic driver for the Edmonton region, contributing significantly to both local employment and the provincial economy overall. Based on a 2014 Economic Impact Study, the Edmonton International Airport estimates the total economic output of the airport at $2.2 billion annually, and over 12,600 person years annually of employment. That’s over $1 billion in total GDP plus another $1 billion in associated economic activity.

Members in this Issue Realtors Association of Edmonton and Celico Builders Inc. in Building Up on page 60 Lewis Estates Golf Course in How the Golf Industry Is Playing Through the Economic Downturn on page 68 Continued on the next page... BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // MARCH 2017


The CGCC has identified five recommendations for improving the competitive position of Canada’s airports. Airport Security Screening 1. Adopt an internationally competitive service standard The issue: International airports such as London’s Heathrow have standards that 95% of passengers be screened within five minutes. No service standards are set for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA). The solution: Adopt an internationally competitive service standard to ensure passengers are screened quickly and efficiently. 2. Implement a targeted screening approach The issue: Programs such as NEXUS have less benefit to business travellers than programs like the Pre-Check clearance in the U.S. The solution: Replace Canada’s one-size-fits-all passenger screening approach with a targeted screening approach that will expedite the screening experience for low-risk passengers. Border Entry and Visa 3. Foster the development of global air transit hubs The issue: Other countries develop their airports into global transit hubs to facilitate trade, attract investment, and create jobs by allowing travellers to transit through secure facilities without a visa. In Canada, only travellers from a small number of countries can transit without a visa and only Canadians are allowed access to automated border clearance. The solution: • Harmonize and streamline immigration and customs with other trusted jurisdictions. • Allow low-risk travellers to transit without visas, expand “trusted traveller”programs, and allow citizens from low-risk countries to access automated border clearance. 4. Strategically align immigration and border facilitation for priority markets in tourism, investment and education The issue: Canada’s competitors align their international marketing strategies with border



entry and visa requirements. The solution: Ensure travel to Canada is as seamless as possible by aligning promotion of Canada as a trade, tourism, investment and education destination with border entry and visa requirements. Airport Transit Connectivity 5. Develop airport transit and multimodal hubs The issue: In other countries, governments plan transit systems, often building multiple lines simultaneously, in order to establish networks and attract high-quality employment clusters near airports. Canada is not keeping pace with developing these types of transit-supported, employment-generating hubs. The solution: Implement a capital program and other supportive policies to develop transit and multi-modal hubs around Canadian airports (where volumes warrant). The federal government has already noted many of the solutions to these issues in various government reports. The CGCC urges the government to take action now to ensure that the competitive potential of Canada’s major international airports is fully realized. The Edmonton Chamber would like to hear from you. Would airport policy reform help your business expand globally? You can contact us by email: policy@

Learn more about the Canadian Global Cities Council, and read the full position paper online at Founded in 2015, the CGCC is a coalition of Presidents and CEOs of the eight largest urban regional Chambers of Commerce/ Boards of Trade in Canada: Edmonton, Brampton, Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg. Representing 52 per cent of Canada’s GDP and more than half of the country’s population, the CGCC collaborates on international and domestic issues impacting our regions’ competitiveness. The CGCC focuses on infrastructure, economic environment, trade, and talent.

Freshwater Creative Corp Member profile Freshwater Creative Corp Partner: Jeremy Chugg What’s your story? Well, I was born into a video production family so I guess that part is in my genes. Freshwater Creative, though, is video - plus a lot more. In 2006, I became the Edmonton partner of a video production company based in Calgary. Even back then it was becoming clear that most video communication would be migrating to the web. We read the writing on the wall and in 2010 merged our video production company with a leading digital/web company to become Freshwater Creative. The idea to bring together our video expertise with digital marketing has been a successful one as these two areas continue to overlap, offering our clients a full sweep of communication and production solutions. Our team has a deep understanding of branding, digital marketing, design, webdevelopment, social media and of course video. We think of ourselves primarily as digital storytellers and I think we’ve spun some pretty good tales over the years. What are three things people are surprised to learn about your business? People are usually surprised by the depth of our offering. Those that know us as a video production company often don’t realize the horsepower we have in digital and web. And even our web clients are sometimes caught offguard by our ability to develop complex sites with sophisticated data driven applications.

Jeremy Chugg, Partner, Freshwater Creative Corp.

What has been your biggest challenge in the last 12 months? Personally I’d say the biggest challenge has been staying in the right frame of mind. There is so much gloom and doom in the media and on the street and it is very, very important not to buy into it. Great things are happening in this City and province, and we will overcome every obstacle. So the challenge is to stay positive. What do you think is the biggest issue impacting Edmonton small businesses at this time? I think the biggest issue facing us all is change. It’s a time of enormous change – the ground is shifting under everyone’s feet. The key is to stay nimble and be able to meet change with change.

Lots of people are surprised when they learn we have offices in both Edmonton and Calgary.

What’s your secret to keeping your employees engaged? We are currently at 15 employees between Edmonton and Calgary, so still a size where oneon-one engagement with employees happens daily. So that helps. I also think allowing a certain amount of flexibility in how our employees manage their work/life balance goes a long way.

What has surprised you in the last 12 months? We have been pleasantly surprised by the resiliency of our company and our staff. It’s tough out there but we’ve been able to continue to grow and even bring onboard new staff. A great deal of the credit goes to the creativity and perseverance of our people.

Do you have a personal mantra? I don’t. I’ve always sort of wanted one, but have never settled on anything. I’m open to suggestions. When it’s really busy if find myself saying, “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.” I’m guessing Steve Jobs used something different. Continued on next page... BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // MARCH 2017


As a new chamber member, what have your first impressions been? Well, you know, it’s easy during the intensity of doing production to hunker down in my own little world to get the job done. As a new member, I hope that the Chamber helps me to keep my head up by attending events and staying plugged in. To help me see the big picture - that is so important in staying agile and making the right business decisions.

What is your favorite thing to do in Edmonton? It’s always hard to pick just one thing. Edmonton has great theatre and music scenes. With a busy, growing family, I have less time now to go to the theatre or a gig, but when I do, I have a lot of fun. It’s also been a pretty great year to catch an Oilers game at Rogers Place.

Our Chamber mandate is to create the best environment for business in Edmonton. If you could make one substantial improvement to Edmonton’s business environment, what would it be? We need to help our fellow Canadians from coast-to-coast understand us better. Too often we’re seen as shortsighted and anti-environment and nothing could be further from the truth. We need to tell our story clearly and honestly, and participate fully in the national dialogue.

Your most favorite place in the world? I haven’t traveled as extensively as I would like, so I’m hoping that I have yet to get to my most favorite place. In February it’s hard not to want to be on a Hawaiian beach, but in August it’s awfully hard to beat the family lake lot at Wabamun.

Apple or Android? Apple.

Coffee or tea? Coffee. Dark Roast. A lot of it.

Connecting Business The New Trump Regime: Energy, Environment & Trade

The Edmonton business community came together at a luncheon on January 24, to listen to Paul Michael Wihbey and Dave Hancock provide insight on the new North American political landscape and what that means for Alberta business. L to R: Washington DC’s Paul Michael Wihbey; Edmonton Chamber President & CEO, Janet Riopel; Alberta Enterprise Group President, Joshawa Bilyk; former Alberta Premier, Dave Hancock.



What makes us different? We believe it’s our quality service!

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Specializing in... • Accounting • Legal • Administrative • Human Resources • Management/Executive

Suite #1760, Phipps-McKinnon Bldg, 10020-101A Avenue, Edmonton, AB T5J 3G2 • 780.498.2700

Connecting Business 2017 Chamber Ball

Bob Nicholson, CEO & Vice Chairman of Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG), proudly accepts the 2016 Northern Lights Award, recognizing the positive and lasting difference OEG has made in the community.

With the official decree and a bang of the gavel, Mayor Don Iveson officially swears in the new 2017 Board Chair, James Merkosky.

Local Edmontonian and Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, welcomes guests to the gala.

A beautiful rendition of ‘O Canada’ by the always flawless Canadian Soprano Caitlin Wood.

Johnny Reid and his band wowing attendees as guests dance the night away at ice level.

Complete with paparazzi, guests experienced the red carpet treatment as they entered the Scotiabank Premium Entrance at Rogers Place for an evening of celebration, dining, dancing and entertainment.



Mayor Don Iveson and partner Sarah Chan arrive in style to join the Edmonton business community in celebrating the hard work and achievements of the 2016 business year.

Celebrating the hard work and commitment of outgoing Board Chair Bill Blais, President & CEO Janet Riopel, and incoming 2017 Board Chair James Merkosky, present Bill with a gift in recognition of his work as 2016 Board Chair.

The Edmonton business community came together to celebrate. And celebrate they did, in glamorous gowns and stylish black tie.

Chamber Ball guests enjoyed the opportunity to venture inside exclusive areas of Rogers Place, including the Oilers Hall of Fame room, normally only reserved for players and pre/post game media.

Entering Chamber Ball at ice level through the Oiler players entrance, flanked by two stunning Mercedes Benz; what a start to ‘an evening of brilliance!’

The Honourable David Eggen, Alberta’s Minister of Education, connecting with guests at the Ball.

Extremely rare access to the entrance of the Oilers Dressing room was an event highlight, with guests able to take pictures with the 5 Stanley Cup replicas! BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // MARCH 2017


2016 Mayor’s State of the City Address

My Chamber

keeps me involved on current issues impacting Edmonton businesses.

2016 Mayor’s State of the City Address

My Chamber

keeps me informed on emerging policies in both the public AND private sectors.

2016 Mayor’s State of the City Address

My Chamber

keeps me connected to other business leaders.

Mark the date in your calendar today to join your fellow Edmonton business leaders at our annual Mayor’s State of the City Luncheon on May 24, 2017.



Advocate. Educate. Connect.

Photo by Micheal Cudjoe Photography Ltd.

Spalding Hardware Enjoys

65-Year Legacy



t takes time to build a legacy. Since 1952, Spalding Hardware has been striving to do just that. Through hard work, dedication to customers and providing quality products, Spalding Hardware has established a solid reputation in the construction industry. Over the past 65 years, Spalding has evolved from builders and general hardware in Calgary and Edmonton into a high-tech

ASSA ABLOY would like to thank Spalding Hardware for 50 years of partnership and congratulations on your 65th Anniversary!

company that provides everything from doors and hardware to site assessments and access control. “You need to become full service,” says Ed Toy, executive vice president of Spalding Hardware. “That means selling the hardware, installing it, troubleshooting it and overall customer service.” Spalding has broadened its scope and changed its business model over the decades. When John Manes and Ed Toy joined the company in the early 1980s, one of their divisions provided general hardware supplies like sandpaper, screws and glue to lumber yards. With the introduction of the big-box stores, this became a less competitive enterprise so after the pair became owners, they looked at making significant changes. “We had an opportunity to buy the business in 1994. The economy wasn’t great and it was a bit of a risk – putting up our personal property to take that leap, but we did it. And I’m certainly glad that we did,” says John Manes, President and CEO of Spalding Hardware. As Manes and Toy took over the helm, they steered the ship in a different direction to reflect the needs of its customers and the changing industry. Within a few years, they shut down the general hardware division and transitioned those employees 1


Photo by Smiley Eyes Photography

Joshua Manes – V.P. Operations, Calgary.

Photos by Micheal Cudjoe Photography Ltd.

John Manes – President & CEO, Calgary.

Ed Toy – Executive Vice President, Edmonton.

into something completely new. The aftermarket division complemented the construction side by providing service to customers over the life of that building. As clients’ needs have changed door and hardware components have worn out, the aftermarket division has been available to maintain the product and support the customer. This type of diversification has been key to helping Spalding Hardware ride out the several economic downturns it has experienced over the decades. This isn’t the only innovation the duo has introduced. The Calgary and Edmonton branches each has a showroom to showcase designer-driven product to professionals in the industry as well as to private customers looking for something unique for their custom home renovations and builds. Spalding also boasts an on-site fabrication shop in each city that allows them to do on-the-fly custom door and frame fabrication for smaller projects. “Every project needs something different so it’s not a cookie-cutter business for sure,” says Manes. In fact, the business is the furthest thing from cookie cutter. Today’s company has evolved beyond simply doors, a few hinges and a mechanical lock. The industry has become increasingly high-tech, and Spalding prides itself on staying abreast of the latest advancements in technology. The company offers the best in access control and automation technology and ensures the staff is well trained to support and install these products. As products have become more complicated, installation has become more complex. Gone are the days of a generalist being able to throw up a door during a build; now it is a specialized and technical process that requires skill and training. Clients look to the Spalding team to handle all the openings installations to ensure everything is wired and put in place properly. Technology and electronics are big components of today’s openings business. Products are geared toward providing security while continuing to meet the life safety and barrier-free code requirements. Spalding Hardware offers exit devices (or crash bars) that are designed to aid in evacuation in case of an emergency. These components light up and sound an alarm, either with sirens or a voice directing people toward the exit. The company also offers fire doors and hardware assemblies that help contain a fire and compartmentalize a building, which helps to protect first responders. The focus on security has also filtered into institutional buildings like schools. Spalding helps schools incorporate systems that protect students and teachers from an internal or external threat while ensuring they can still get out safely. 2 | 65 YEARS


Since 1989, we have worked closely with architects, designers and distributors to produce some of the most intricate architectural door hardware in the world.

Honoured to be a part of the Spalding Hardware team. Congratulations on your success over the past 65 years! We look forward to many more years of partnership.


Spalding further accentuates security with the introduction of access controls into the door design. Different businesses have different needs, and Spalding doors can have card readers for access, automatic operators and sensors to ensure the openings function as they should.


“The challenge is how to make different technologies work together and also meet fire code, meet security and be trouble-free for the owners,” says Toy. Trouble-free is Spalding’s specialty. All 50 of the knowledgeable professionals at the company live by the 65-year-old philosophy of providing the best customer service from start to finish and standing by their product, no questions asked. Their motto is “We give you peace of mind” and they deliver upon that promise by always being there to solve any challenge, whether that may be advice about which option makes the most sense in a space or fixing an issue with a component. Service has always been key, and it has remained consistent as Spalding enjoys very low employee turnover. Management offers flexibility to accommodate life-work balance and personal circumstances while promoting an atmosphere of respect and compassion that flows from the top down. In turn, employees respond with hard work, pride in their jobs and an investment in the success of every project. And as many employees have been with the company for more than 10 years, with some at 20 to 30 years, customers are confident the service and product at Spalding Hardware is stable and reliable.

Acoustic Steel Doors & Frames to STC 59 Acoustic Wood Doors & Steel Frames to STC 54

With such a high level of experience and expertise at Spalding, the company has established itself as a leader in the industry. The company’s professionals are sought out by architects for design assistance to help them figure out what is needed during the initial stages of the process. They are also consulted throughout the build to ensure any changes made still adhere to both the design and safety codes. Manes further assists architects by hosting “lunch and learns” to help them better understand the scope of this area of construction. His aim, though, is to educate, not to hawk product. “I’m not a salesman. I don’t go in with a bag of doorknobs that I want them to buy. I talk about the process and how you apply the best solution,” says Manes. Congratulations to Spalding Hardware on their 65th Anniversary and thanks for our many years of partnership 4 | 65 YEARS


After all, the business is all about finding the best solutions to problems. Spalding taps its network of quality suppliers, many of whom have worked with Spalding for several decades, to ensure customers have access to the best choices from the best products on the market. They determine exactly what customers need – whether that’s having a door with card access or sensors or security features – and present the best options to clients. Options, however, can be overwhelming, even for architects and contractors who work in the field. Spalding is happy to whittle it down to the most fitting products for

Eighth Avenue Place. Photo by Jason Dziver.

The South Health Campus in Calgary was another enormous undertaking with more than 5,000 openings that required card access doors, automatic doors and specialty products for OR suites and X-ray rooms. Spalding provided design-assist services to the architects and worked with the designers, engineers and end users to ensure the project met code as well as the client’s needs. “Hospitals really put all of our skills to work because they are very complex, specialty openings,” says Manes. Spalding was also responsible for developing the hardware and door security for Eighth Avenue Place in downtown Calgary, where they made sure components met code while enhancing the esthetics of the building. In Edmonton, Spalding completed the openings in the iconic Edmonton Federal Building renovation. They provided the hardware and security interfaces for the art deco building, taking pains to update it for function while allowing it to retain its historic character. The company also just completed one of the towers in the ICE district that is home to the City of Edmonton offices and is currently working on the new Centre for Performing Arts at Grant McEwan University.

the project, budget and requirements and allow clients to choose from there. And the result is a portfolio of fantastic projects. Spalding has been involved in several noteworthy projects in both Edmonton and Calgary. After the 2013 floods in Calgary, Spalding was called in to help get the Scotiabank Saddledome up and running again in an incredibly short time frame. Being the original supplier to the project, Spalding had all the information and expertise to hit the ground running and was able to seamlessly restore the doors, frames and hardware after the disaster.

Even after 65 years, each project teaches the professionals at Spalding something and gives them motivation to continue to get better. It also motivates them to continue to build up and support the industry and the surrounding community. Manes has served as the president of both the American and Canadian arm of the Door and Hardware Institute and Spalding is also a member of the Calgary and Edmonton Construction Associations. With his focus on training and awareness of safe and secure buildings, Manes is also the current president of the non-profit organization the Door Security and Safety Foundation. Outside the industry, Spalding Hardware has supported various causes over the years including Renfrew Educational Services, Project Angel and Edmonton’s Ronald McDonald House through both product donations and fundraising support.

The STANLEY family of brands is proud to be a part of Spalding Hardware’s success. We look forward to continuing to work together for many more years to come.

Congratulations on 65 years!


South Health Campus.

While this year’s important milestone has given Manes and Toy an opportunity to look back on all they’ve accomplished in the industry and beyond, it is also a chance to look ahead at the future of Spalding Hardware. “We will be pushing in new processes, new ideas, new things that will help our customers and make us even more efficient,” says Toy. Spalding is working toward becoming a more lean company by streamlining its processes to minimize both environmental and time waste. Management is also involved in implementing lean thinking into the construction industry as a whole, and it uses its lean procedures to attempt to ferret out the inefficiencies in other stages of the job. At the same time the company is dedicated to continuing to provide the best, most advanced products on the market. Spalding is a leader in these areas and is always looking at ways to change how it does business in order to better serve customers. But even with all the changes it has experienced over the past 65 years, the company’s level of service and dedication is one thing that will never change. “If you keep your level of service above industry standard you’ll always be around,” says Toy. The next generation is poised to step in to ensure the company will indeed always be around and to protect the legacy that decades of hard work has built. The owners have spent more than three decades on day-to-day operations and are now stepping back and looking at succession planning. Manes and Toy are grooming Manes’ son Josh and a group of talented young managers to one day take over the responsibility of building the company and growing that legacy. They will be tasked with carrying on the high standards and strong relationships with suppliers, customers and staff into the future. “We wouldn’t have survived this long without our business partners – our customers and suppliers. We are looking at the next generation coming in and hopefully in the next 65 years we’ll continue to grow and be as relevant in the market as we are now,” says Toy. With its forward-thinking, amazing products and dedication to customers, there’s little doubt Spalding Hardware will be a leader in the industry for generations to come.

CALGARY: 1616 10th Avenue S.W. Calgary, Alberta. T3C 0J5 Phone: 1-800-837-0850 EDMONTON: 14531 121a Ave NW, Edmonton, Alberta. T5L 2T2 Phone: 1-800-837-0850 6 | 65 YEARS


Daybar would like to thank Spalding Hardware for their continued support. Congratulations on your 65th Anniversary!

Commercial Steel Doors and Frames Alberta Manufacturing 204 East Lake Blvd NE Airdrie, AB T4A 2G2

High Security Locks Thank you to Spalding Hardware for 10 years of partnership and congratulations on your 65th Anniversary!

Steel Door Manufacturing Group

Congratulations to Spalding Hardware on their 65 year anniversary

KN Crowder

Introducing the KN Crowder Catch’N’Close System KN Crowder now offers the Catch’N’Close system to the Crowder Track line - sliding door kits and barn door hardware. Bouncing and slamming is no longer an issue for Crowder Track’s sliding doors.

Congratulations Spalding Hardware on 65 Years! We wish you many more years of continued Success!

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Hoppy Days Less than a year in operation, Edmonton’s Brewery District is already winning over skeptics and delivering the goods for its tenants. By Ben Freeland


dmontonians can scarcely be blamed for suffering from a modicum of development fatigue. Over the past decade, Edmonton residents have seen their city embark on its biggest urban makeover in recent history, and with the city’s biggest architectural pièce de résistance—Rogers Arena—now complete, excitement has now truly given way to frustration over downtown Edmonton’s ubiquitous construction-related road closures. Coupled with lingering economic anxieties and one of the coldest winters to hit the city in recent years, Edmonton’s fall 2016 excitement surrounding the arena’s opening has given way to concerns over sidewalk hoarding and other consequences of continued development.

the summer of 2016, the Brewery District continues to open new structures and welcome new tenants. The spring of 2017 will see owners First Capital Realty open a new 3,500-square-metre, two-floor complex on the site for one of its most high-profile tenants to date, Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), and begin restoration work on the historic 1913 Molson Brewery building on the north side of the development. A yet unnamed microbrewery and restaurant are expected to move into basement and first floor of the building, with company offices set to occupy the upper levels once restoration is complete in 2019.

It is, indeed, business as usual for Edmonton’s developers as the city continues on its fast-forward trajectory. While 2017 will not be as momentous a year as 2016, several new downtown edifices are set to open their doors this year, most notably the new Royal Alberta Museum, NorQuest College’s new Singhmar Centre for Learning, and MacEwan University’s Centre for Arts and Culture. South of the city, one of the region’s most hotly anticipated new retail developments, the Premium Outlet Collection mall at Edmonton International Airport, is also set to open in the fall of 2017—and in doing so provide the region with 100 new stores (many new to Alberta) and creating around 1,000 new jobs.

The Brewery District has been a challenging development from the outset, both from a design standpoint and from a public relations point of view. As a combined restoration-construction undertaking, the district represented uncharted waters for developers First Capital Realty and Sun Life Investment and their design partner DIALOG, with the necessity of accommodating the future westbound spur of the Valley LRT Line making it all the more challenging. Moreover, the location of the development on the western periphery of Edmonton’s downtown core, linking the Oliver neighbourhood with heavily residential Westmount and Queen Mary Park, has necessitated the inclusion of a wide swath of urban stakeholders with competing desires and expectations.

Meanwhile, development continues at the site of one of Edmonton’s headline-grabbing 2016 openings. Operational since

Given the challenges and the initial skepticism the development provoked among many Edmontonians, public response to the


Safety - Make it Safe. Make it Home. Integrity - Do what is right for our clients, our partners and your teammates. Never stand still - Continuously improve. Relationships matter - Our partners and our team will make us more successful. Committed - To always add value, from concept to closeout.

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The Brewery District

Summerside Plaza

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Brewery District has been remarkably positive. Many have found the development’s design to be a refreshing change from Edmonton’s traditional indifference to historical architecture a refreshing change. “I like it,” says Grant Schneider, a transplanted Vancounverite and co-owner of Aligra Wine and Spirits in West Edmonton Mall. “It’s not that strip-mall effect. I find a lot of the buildings here in Edmonton are built on the cheap, so it’s nice to see this.”

EDMONTON BREWERY DISTRICT Upholding history. Building community.




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Even journalist Omar Mouallem, initially one of the Brewery District’s fiercest critics, appears to have warmed to the development. While he asserts that the jury is still out on the District, he concedes that he is now a regular visitor to its shops and that he is a fan of its wide sidewalks and the open patios, as well as its overall vibe. “When I went in to Loblaws on opening weekend, I don’t think I ever saw more smiles in a grocery store in my life,” he says. Meanwhile, the business owners now decamped in the Brewery District could scarcely be happier with their new home. “We’re delighted to be a part of the Brewery District development,” says Ariane McFayden, senior divisional manager of GoodLife Fitness, whose employers opened shop in the district in the fall of 2016. “This area gives us an opportunity to provide a very unique location and experience for Edmonton residents to work out in. Based on the great member turnout we’ve had to date, I think it’s safe to say people are really enjoying this new location.” McFayden asserts that the fitness club’s patrons are drawn, among other things, to the unique architectural and design feel that pervades the district. “I just love the décor of these buildings, and we’ve had great feedback on the beautiful lobby, with its large staircase and the interesting tiling on the walls. The Brewery District has a fantastic history, and it’s wonderful to see elements of that history preserved and showcased all through the development.”

She also commends the developers for the district’s user-friendly parking design, two thirds of which is underground. “I know our members love the free underground parking, which we offer. We know from our 38 years in business that anytime you can remove a barrier, like parking logistics, it helps play a role in the success of people’s long-term health and fitness goals.” While the district’s logistically challenging location has led to some PR headaches, for McFayden this has meant an unusually eclectic client base drawn to the new GoodLife location. “We’ve found that because this location is close to downtown, MacEwan University, NAIT, and nearby residential areas, we’ve been able to draw a very diverse client base, including students, business professionals, and older adults. It is great to see different segments of the population having a shared purpose of wanting to live active and healthy lives.” In addition to further retail outlets and showcase brewpub, the District is also expected to build two bicycle paths through the lot and add more bike racks, which it hopes will assuage critics who assert that the Brewery District is overly car-oriented. By the time the district is completed, it will also feature green space in the form of two landscaped pocket parks. As for the oft-levied criticism stemming from the development’s setback from 104 Avenue, the eventual westerly reach of the Valley LRT line will not only occupy this gap but also place the Brewery District within easy car-free reach of the downtown core and much of the rest of the city. “We’re still not open all the way,” says First Capital Realty’s Ralph Huizinga. “Give us some time.”

RECYCLE I M P AC T E D SOILS The Process of Cement Production The contaminated clay’s can be recycled by using the clay in the production of cement. The production of Cement requires:

The Benefits

limestone alumina (found in clay) sand Iron Ore (a catalyst)

Environmentally Sustainable Liability is Removed

These are melted and mixed together in a kiln transforming these into a crystalline substance called clinker. Clinker is then milled with gypsum to finally produce cement, which can be used in construction applications. The hydrocarbons that contaminate the clay are incinerated through the extreme heat of the kiln required to produce clinker.


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ast year, 2016, was tough for a lot of industries as the price drop of oil and gas spread out and affected all of Alberta. While the ICE District and a few other large projects in the city help to keep Edmonton growing, large and small builders across the city are looking forward to a more robust 2017. James Mabey, chair of REALTORS® Association of Edmonton, weighs in on the year ahead. “On the residential side, we are expecting a slow start to 2017 with a stronger performance in the latter half of the year,” says Mabey, noting that “2016 turned out to be a stable year, and we aren’t predicting anything drastic for 2017. The inventory level and composition will continue to be the driver in the market. We will still continue to see certain pockets of the market flourish, such as single family homes between $300,000 and $400,000. We will also see a dip in prices in those pockets with the bulk of the inventory mix and lower sales, such as condominiums.” Mabey has good news for commercial builders.

space, we are seeing a lot of businesses move into the newer builds, but often opting to take offices with less square footage. While the newer office spaces are filling, particularly downtown, some of the older buildings are half vacant. Commercial manufacturing is still struggling as a direct result of the downturn in the energy sector. Multifamily vacancy will likely soften rental rates, with location playing a bigger role now more than ever.

“As for the commercial sector, we are seeing a lot of smaller commercial developments within new residential areas popping up. Neighbourhoods such as Windermere and Edgemont have seen a lot of commercial growth as a result of residential development. As far as office

“ICE District continues to be a promising area of development with mid- to high-end office towers and restaurants under development. We are [also] seeing a lot of focus on revitalization of heritage areas within the city. Improvement to transportation corridors has made





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commuting easier for those in outlying areas. Newer neighbourhoods continue to lead in sales as well as listings, and we expect to continue to see a lot of activity in those areas in 2017.” When asked how Canada’s new mortgage rules would affect the construction and renovation industry, Mabey commented, “It is still early to see how the new mortgage rules will affect the market. They were designed to temper inflated markets like Vancouver and Toronto. Because we have seen price stability in the Edmonton region, we are not expecting it to greatly impact our average sale price. That said, there are definitely first-time buyers that may need to rethink the price point they are looking for, or save a bit longer to get into their ideal homes. The new mortgage qualification rules may also mean that duplex/row houses will continue to be popular as an alternative to single family detached homes. Many duplexes and row houses offer the affordability of condos, but the ownership style of a single family. Similarly, people may expand their search area and look outside their ideal neighbourhood to accommodate getting the house they want at a price that their mortgage will allow.” Mabey notes that it is important to engage the right set of professionals when dealing with real estate in a recovering economy. “REALTORS are professionals who have committed to serving their clients with integrity and competence. A residential REALTOR can give you the market information that buyers and sellers need to make the informed decisions that will help them meet their unique needs. They will interpret what is happening in the local market, identify neighbourhood trends and walk you through the buying and selling process to ensure you meet your housing goals. They have access to the MLS® system and know what is available for sale, what has sold and for how much. A REALTOR is there to provide advice to ensure your real estate transaction is completed competently and professionally. “Similar to residential, a commercial REALTOR understands the local market. They know about new

projects being developed in the area, vacancy rates and how they affect values, rental rates for buildings and what type of property management buildings have. They may also have access to important information, such as the renters in buildings, their rentals rates, lease expiry dates, tenants that may be looking to rent and redevelopment plans. Both commercial and residential Realtors provide skilled and conscientious services, and they advocate on their clients’ behalf to get them the best possible outcomes.” Daniel Iaccino, project manager of Celico Builders Inc., a custom home building company, weighs in on how the past year has been from a builder’s perspective. “I have seen a significant slowdown in the buying and selling of houses. The downturn or ‘correctional period’ we’ve been experiencing has caused buyers to sit back and wait to see what will happen, not to mention there have been a number of financial changes and new building codes that have made purchasing a home more difficult for potential buyers.” One thing Edmonton’s builders will continue to contend with, as they have over the past few years, are issues surrounding infills; but as Iaccino points out, positive changes are smoothing that process. “A few things have come into play: for starters, the municipalities have introduced more codes and regulations to help preserve the look and feel of these older neighborhoods. I believe





the increase in these specific developments is the pure interest people have in living in older established areas, but they still want the latest and greatest (brand new house). These new codes are helping the people already living in these areas have a say in what’s being built.” Whether Alberta is in a downturn, on the upswing or holding steady, Iaccino loves building in and around Edmonton and putting the company’s customized work to good use. “[Among other projects,] Celico is rebuilding in a home in Northwest Edmonton. This particular house caught fire back in August and, thankfully, the family made it out. I’ve been working closely with them to rebuild what they’ve lost. The house layout has been completely redesigned to create a comfortable space and add more value to the property than before. This is an example Celico’s experience and willingness to tackle any kind of project. “One of the biggest reasons I love building in Alberta is the different people I get to meet; from trades to REALTORS, clients and lawyers, they all have a different

take on life. The province we live in has a great mix of different cultures, religions and ethnicity, which leads to incredibly unique designs to fit their specific lifestyles.” He goes on to note that by choosing a custom build, property owners get what is right for them. The owners fit the space instead of having to try to fit into someone else’s space and vison. “There isn’t one floor layout that will work for everyone,” he laughs. “I would have to point out that people are becoming very selective with their choice of builder and type of house,” Iaccino points out about a growing trend in the region. “It needs to fit the bill or there is no point in buying. I encourage everyone to do your research on the builder – not just on the clients, but also on their suppliers and trades. These companies can reveal the truth about the builder and whether they’ll treat you with the respect you deserve.” A new year is underway, and with it, new and interesting experiences in the construction industry. As always, Edmonton and its builders are up for the challenge.





S A M E F O U N DAT I O N O F T R U S T Last year was a big year for JAPA and the Green family thanks to a new company and new dealership, along with a new building and a new task of introducing a fresh player in Western Canada’s construction equipment market. The JAPA Group of Companies has been doing business in Alberta’s capital region since 1972. Founded as JAPA Industries 45 years ago, the family-run business morphed into JAPA Equipment Rentals in 2003, and launched the sales-focused JAPA Machinery Group in 2016. Their mission has always been to combine high-quality equipment with exceptional service for their many customers in the construction, oil and gas, infrastructure and road building sectors of Alberta and Western Canada. For JAPA Industries, following this mission meant finding solutions for their pipeline customers in Northern Alberta’s tough terrain, and designing pipelayers to get the job done. JAPA Equipment Rentals continued the tradition of exceptional service, as they were at the forefront of importing compactors from XCMG, China’s largest heavy equipment manufacturer – and ninth largest worldwide – to provide their customers with a high quality/low cost rental option for their compaction requirements. JAPA Machinery Group was spearheaded by the JAPA Group of Companies’ second generation of Greens. XCMG approached them with talks of expanding the lines of equipment

being imported into Western Canada and opening a dealership. At just the right time, John Gallimore, a trusted 45-year veteran in the Alberta heavy equipment sales industry, joined JAPA Machinery Group’s team. With Gallimore’s sales experience and the Greens’ dedication to the JAPA Group of Companies’ mission, the solid foundation of trust between JAPA Machinery Group and its customers remains the priority and the base upon which this new look has grown. Being tasked with introducing a relatively unknown equipment manufacturer into the Western Canadian construction market is no small matter – regardless of a strong service and sales reputation. While being thoroughly impressed with the quality of the equipment, JAPA Machinery Group worked closely with XCMG to establish a competitive price point to gain market share and acceptance. Large companies like Apple and Lululemon have been battling the perceived North American stigma of Chinese manufactured products by including “Designed in USA” before listing that their products are made in China. With XCMG, it’s no different. These products are specifically designed and built for North America. The major components are either manufactured in North America or are brands familiar to and commonly accepted by North Americans. The equipment is assembled in China. JAPA Machinery Group’s message is: don’t associate XCMG’s low price with poor quality.

JAPA Machinery Group stands by every piece of XCMG equipment sold, rented and rental purchased. To back this, they offer a complete machine warranty FOB the machine, staying true to the JAPA Group of Companies’ mission to provide exceptional service.


As JAPA Group of Companies evolved, their shop and office facilities have needed to progress as well. They rang in December 2016 by moving into their new location, just west of Edmonton in Acheson Industrial Park’s Zone 3. The impressive building sits on 3 acres of land at 207 Ellis Drive, and includes 15,000 square feet of shop space, over 8,000 square feet of office space, and 3,000 square feet devoted to their parts department. It has become the perfect home base for the JAPA Group of Companies’ dedicated staff and fleet of field service mechanics and trucks to work toward satisfying all your service needs.

If you believe in a solid foundation of trust, the JAPA Machinery Group is ready to meet your heavy equipment needs.

207 Ellis Drive, Acheson AB T7X 5A7 | Tel: 780.962.5272 | Fax: 780-960.0541 |

Screen Savers Plus:

A Local Brand with Loyal Customers By Nerissa McNaughton


aunched by entrepreneurs and run by a group of innovative, passionate people, Screen Savers Plus services Alberta with the installation and repair of retractable screen doors, window screens, awnings, screen rooms, and motorized retractable screens. “I was in university and looking for some way to fund my education and keep myself busy in the summer months,” says company founder Arthur Boutin. “My brother in law, Keaton Hatch, learned how to build and repair screens, and so we decided to make a go at it. “Keaton had run the service with a few of his buddies the year prior, so we already had some ideas how to build and repair screens. His father had a cube van that Keaton converted into a mobile screen repair vehicle. We started by creating a whole bunch of road signs and did what we could to plaster them all over the city. I remember the first screen I did took me an hour and a half to repair! Now this same repair takes me five minutes. More and more people called and soon we were busy every day throughout the week. “Customers started asking us about screen doors and we found a DIY product that we could sell to them. Once the stores we were purchasing the kits from couldn’t keep up to us, we made a deal with a manufacturer (Wizard Screens).” Boutin continues, “Today, Screen Savers Plus has positioned itself as the truly local choice for all of your screen needs. We

source all of our screen materials from Canadian suppliers, fabricate all of our products locally and can repair or replace any type of screen in the market. We are Edmonton’s only completely mobile screen door and window installation and repair service. We are friendly, efficient, and focused on the highest level of customer satisfaction.” In 2016 Screen Savers Plus made another proactive move and entered a partnership with Three Knights investments, an Edmonton-based growth capital firm that is working diligently to prime the company for massive growth in years to come. “Screen Savers Plus’ greatest challenge in the coming years will be managing the growth of the business,” admits Boutin. “As the brand becomes more established and new products enter the marketplace, Screen Savers will continue to adapt and find ways to continue offering the highest level of customer satisfaction. Currently, we have more than 40 five-star reviews on Google, Facebook and Yelp; the only screen provider in Edmonton to achieve such a high ranking.” Boutin is very grateful to Brent for donating the first company vehicle and for his support during the startup years. He is also very thankful for Bill Knight’s patronage, mentorship and for introducing him to Entrepreneurs’ Organization. The company has big plans going forward. “Screen Savers Plus has devoted a considerable amount of time and energy

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to planning, preparing, and positioning the business for its biggest year yet in 2017. The team plans to take a multi-tiered approach to sales, develop a number of unique processes to keep us ahead of our competition, and offer a wider array of products to the marketplace. The team at Screen Savers is ready to take 2017 by storm.” To its customers, Boutin says, “Thank you for choosing a local product. When you chose to work with the team at

Screen Savers Plus, you are getting a Canadian manufactured, locally fabricated, and locally installed product with a lifetime warrantee. This directly stimulates our economy, and we thank you for making that choice.”

780-910-6688 •

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t’s a tough economy for entertainment and recreation industries, but despite the economic slowdown, and despite changes to the golfing demographic overall, golf clubs are managing to keep off the rough and into the green. How are they adapting? By thinking outside the box. As Ron VanderMey, head golf professional at Lewis Estates Golf Course, explains, being flexible is the name of the game when it comes to attracting new target demographics. “The demographics definitely have changed. Golf used to attract an older crowd, but now lots of youth and lots of women are getting into the game,” says VanderMey. “With these demographics, everyone is getting into the game—and that is a good thing for the industry. We have a big juniors program, and our ladies league is one of the bigger leagues in the city. We also started offering special events, like ‘date night’, which is very popular—it typically sells out in 20 minutes,” VanderMey laughs. “We also hold parent and child night after 5 p.m.,” he continues, adding that staying ahead of the game is all about “getting creative” with new opportunities. “All of our leagues here are full,” VanderMey notes, pointing to Lewis Estates’ central location as a big factor in its success. “We also have a good product and a fantastic course. Over last couple of years, we’ve been experimenting by adding food and beverage vouchers for our restaurant. It gives people an incentive to stay and have lunch on us—a thanks for coming out. It all helps, especially in today’s economy. “Last year we didn’t see as much of an impact as we expected from the economy—it was more a reflection on the weather—but we do notice some things are not picking up. Corporate passes from business memberships are down, and

tournaments are down because companies aren’t spending as much to have tournaments. “It’s still going to be tough year. Things are coming up, but we’re not out of it yet.” That continued strain on golf could add even more stress to Edmonton’s economy. “Golf is huge in Edmonton,” explains VanderMey. “It brings in tourism from all over—from the States (especially with the way our dollar compares) from out of town—people come in to play, and a lot of business gets done on the course. “It really is a fantastic game. Even if you just come to the driving range, it’s a great way to meet people, socialize, hit a couple balls, forget about a rough day, and have fun!” Murray McCourt, general manager and executive golf professional at The Ranch Golf and Country Club, agrees. “No matter what goes on, people need to have leisurely activities in their lives, whether that means golfing with friends or spending quality time on the green with family. Golf offers a well-rounded lifestyle and an extremely enjoyable game that can be played by the young and old alike. “It caters to an important part of people’s lives in terms socializing, family time, health benefits, comradery with friends and family and more, but there are other benefits to golf too. Golf courses and tournaments are a great way for businesses to grow. Businesses can thank customers or employees by bringing them out for day on the course.” Those tournaments aren’t just good for promoting strong business deals and efficiency among employees; they provide a lot of benefits for the economy. “Tournament business has people coming from far and wide to play and participate, and that really does help economy,”




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McCourt emphasizes. “People come into Edmonton, stay in hotels, spend money in restaurants and at shopping centres — there is no question that golf creates a significant positive impact on the economy.” The Ranch, heading into its 28th year of operation, has a number of claims to its success, including three Canadian tour events, and at one time holding a ranking among the top 100 golf clubs in the country. However, the golf club doesn’t just have its high-end status to thank for the fact that it is still one of the busiest courses in Alberta. “We’re pretty creative,” McCourt explains of the golf course’s growing success. “We’re definitely always thinking outside the box. You need to do that, in times like this especially. The economy has changed dramatically, and that has impacted business to a dramatic extent. We don’t have regular memberships. We have corporate members, public play, and tournament play, so our business was typically corporate based. “Some of the companies that had done golf tournaments at The Ranch don’t even exist anymore. That’s a huge revenue source that has gone to zero. Other companies are scaling back on tournaments, etc. It’s been challenging for us to maintain our level of business. We’ve had to figure out other ways to generate that revenue and keep the golf course busy.” McCourt’s solution? “Do more than just golf.” “We’ve done things a little differently to diversify in terms of promotional products. All clubs sell corporate products, but we’ve taken it to a new level by creating our own promotional product company called Tough Stuff Promotions,” says McCourt. “We also do weddings and Christmas functions, and, to encourage businesses to support us through the winter months, we host parties and meetings with a la carte add-ons, like sleigh rides, bonfires, and fireworks shows,” McCourt describes. “We’ve taken steps to make ourselves more appealing, showcasing ourselves as more than a golf course to encourage people to come out. “A few years back, we started the winter warrior challenge. It’s basically a tough mudder—5 kilometres and 12 obstacles—and we work with local charities to put it on. It’s



a good promotional tool, not to mention a lot of fun! We’ve had a ton of ideas for how to get more people out to golf and to use The Ranch in other ways. We’re doing big things others have never done in golf before, things that have the potential to drive business in our direction,” he adds, unwilling to say more about what The Ranch is up to, besides a hint that the “big reveal” will take place during March. “Fingers crossed it goes well,” McCourt smiles. Chad Rumpel, head golf professional at Eagle Rock Golf Course agrees that a tough economy and a changing demographic have introduced a few challenges into the business. “Every club is different,” Rumpel explains. “At Eagle Rock, we have a good core group of seniors, but the game is shrinking for a lot of reasons. It’s time consuming, difficult and too expensive. We hold corporate events, and we have noticed a big impact as a result of the economy. Alberta’s wealth is oil, and the decline of oil prices created one of the biggest impacts on golf: fewer corporate tournaments. Companies used to spend money to take clients or staff out on the green, but it hasn’t been happening in last year.” When the economic downturn, a short season, and fickle weather all combine, it hits golf courses hard, but the changing demographic has also offered Eagle Rock a competitive edge. “There’s a lot of competition out there, but the key to this demographic is the price point,” states Rumpel. “Eagle Rock is very aggressive when it comes to marketing its price point. Golf is expensive, so I concentrate on keeping a low price point and trying to get people bigger bang for their buck. “It’s about creating better value for the money people spend. People can play my course twice for the price of the golf course down the street, and we offer fun deals for the same services you would get going out to play a higher end club.” That focus on marketing, creativity, and maintaining a low price point helps, but nothing helps draw more people to the golf course than the nature of the game itself. “Golf is a great sport to go out and spend four hours with friends or work peers,” Rumpel concludes. “It’s a great way to network, and it’s fun for all ages. Whether you are 7 or 70, it’s the sport you want to take part in.”

Tetra Tech


After pioneering in the industry for 50 years, Tetra Tech takes its next leap forward. By Nerissa McNaughton


etra Tech, Inc. was founded in 1966 to provide engineering services related to waterways, harbours and coastal areas. For 50 years, the company has substantially increased the size and scope of its business and expanded its service offerings through a series of strategic acquisitions and internal growth. Today, Tetra Tech is a leading provider of consulting, engineering, program management, construction management and technical services. From its start, Tetra Tech has attracted the best and brightest minds in science and engineering, and it has always focused on bringing innovative solutions to its clients’ most complex needs. This focus, along with the quality of the Tetra Tech team, has grown the company to 16,000 employees located in 400 offices worldwide. Tetra Tech also employs more than 3,500 experts in Canada that work with a project from inception to the close of its lifecycle, from 50 offices across the nation.

As Tetra Tech expanded, so too did the company’s capabilities. “Tetra Tech has unique abilities in Canada’s water, environmental, energy, infrastructure, oil and gas and mining sectors,” notes Bernie Teufele, P.Eng. Tetra Tech Canada’s president. “Our innovations and specialized work in all regions of Canada include major cities, such as Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Vancouver and Montreal, as well as the more challenging environments of the Yukon and Northwest Territories. We help contribute to the vital infrastructure of the country through the development and improvements in roads and bridges; electrical and wind power facilities; oil and gas; ports and harbours; water and wastewater facilities; and municipal, industrial, and waste management infrastructure.” “Our motto is Lead with Science, and we are true to that,” says Teufele. “We bring world-class expertise to

Tetra Tech • 50 Years


Geotechnical Investigation, Arctic

Rock slope stabilization at Mayo in the Yukon.

Trans Canada Highway Slope Re-profiling. Yoho National park, BC.

Rock Catch Fence at Hoffman’s Bluff, just west of Chase, BC

our local environments as well as exporting our local expertise to projects across Canada and around the world. Since 1966, Tetra Tech has been leading with science to address our clients’ most complex needs. Our mission is to be the premier worldwide consulting, engineering and construction firm.” “Tetra Tech’s head office is in Pasadena, California,” explains Teufele. “In Canada, Tetra Tech is made up from the several companies that merged under the Tetra Tech name. The companies that came together under the Tetra Tech banner include several longstanding and well-established firms in the western Canadian technical consulting landscape, including Wardrop Engineering Inc. (founded in 1955), EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd. (founded in 1966), Fransen Engineering Ltd. (founded in 1980) and BNG and Caber Engineering Inc. (founded over 40 years ago). Tetra Tech pulled together the client-focused aspect of these highly technical industry leaders to create the company’s presence in Canada.”

On January 1, 2017, the company underwent an evolution by amalgamating several of the different Tetra Tech companies in Canada to become the basis of Tetra Tech Canada Inc. Teufele explains, “The amalgamation simplifies some of our internal business practices, but most importantly, it allows us to serve our clients with a much greater depth and capacity. We are much better positioned to take on projects of increasing size and complexity.” In 2016, Tetra Tech was involved in 14 of Canada’s Top 100 largest projects, illustrating its role as a significant player in the delivery of major infrastructure projects throughout the nation. Notable projects include the Turcot Interchange in Montreal, the Disraeli Bridge in Winnipeg, the North Commuter Parkway in Saskatoon, the Edmonton and Calgary Ring Roads and the major Alberta trade corridors, all of the LRT projects in greater Vancouver, the Site C Hydro project in British Columbia and the MacKenzie Valley Highway in the Northwest Territories.

Tetra Tech • 50 Years

Haul truck in the Pit at the Santa Elena Mine in Mexico.

Some of Tetra Tech’s unique capabilities include geotechnical engineering, hydrological modelling, asset management, road and rail data collection, emergency spill response, disaster recovery, ice road engineering, climate change services and carbon emissions reduction to name a few. With 50 years in the industry, Tetra Tech has a bird’s-eye view of some of the industries challenging trends. While the softening of some of the company’s key markets (mining, and energy) has had the company achieving a balance between work environment and cost cutting measures, an ongoing concern is the “cost-first approach,” which can undermine the integrity of the project – which is why Tetra Tech always focuses on doing the job right, not on cutting corners and turning in the lowest bid. “We understand that price needs to be a component of our work; however, we are seeing unhealthy competition that will only lead to reduced quality and service in our industry,” says Teufele with concern. “Many industry studies show that

the cost of cheap engineering is paid for somewhere else. Pay now or pay later. There is a price for poor workmanship and poor engineering. Our challenge is to show our clients the value they get from engaging qualified consultants to support their projects, and even more importantly, delivering on that value proposition. Thankfully, we still have many of those clients that understand the value of Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) and it is slowly gaining traction in our various market sectors. Tetra Tech was founded on providing the highest quality service, and its teams across Canada enjoy the projects and client interaction. “Working with clients to find solutions to their most interesting and complex problems is very rewarding,” smiles Teufele. “There is nothing more gratifying than the successful completion of a project after working with a knowledgeable client to find solutions to their challenges. We are at our best when we operate as an extension of our

Tetra Tech • 50 Years

7 Mile Hill Wind Farm. Hanna, WY, USA.

clients’ own resources. Through our technical and project management expertise, we love the projects that let us think out of the box to find ways to help solve the problems that keep our clients awake at 3:00 a.m.! Tetra Tech is a unique company of technical and project management staff that are hardwired to find solutions and deliver results.” Tetra Tech invests in its staff, clients, and the community. For more than 10 years, the company has supported Partners in the Horn of Africa, to empower local communities in Ethiopia to build key community infrastructure, it has raised tens of thousands of dollars for the United Way, supports Engineers Without Borders and has assisted local events and charities with time, money and resources.

“[We will continue to] find ways for our clients to succeed,” concludes Teufele. “If we can help the growth and success of our clients, we hope we can take part in their success through trusted client relationships to give us greater opportunities to expand our own services and geographic presence. This will also provide our staff with the kind of opportunities and challenges they want in their own careers. We look forward to expanding our services into new market areas, such as solid waste, leveraging up Tetra Tech’s global strength in water, and building a strong practice in western Canada to support industry demands.” For 50 years, Tetra Tech has helped to grow and support the nation. The next 50 sees the company continuing to make sustainable impacts that improve Canadians’ quality of life.

In recognition of Tetra Tech’s client-focused expertise, the company is proud to have received numerous awards through the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies (ACEC) awards, and to have been ranked No. 1 for 13 consecutive years on one of Engineering News-Record’s (ENR) annual lists, among many other recognitions. Half a century has passed for the company, but it’s a great big world out there with many more engineering puzzles to solve – and Tetra Tech couldn’t be more excited about that. Tetra Tech • 50 Years

President & CEO, Ash Gupta, and sons Dhruv Gupta & Hersh Gupta.


Provides Affordable Luxury to Create a Market Niche By Nerissa McNaughton


oaring ceilings, crown moulding and granite countertops are mainstays of estate homes and just some of the items new homeowners, and those looking to upgrade, look for when shopping the market. Akash Homes, an emerging Edmonton-based home builder celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, doesn’t want first-time buyers to have to wait for some of those features, and that is what sets them apart in a very competitive industry.

Congratulations Akash Homes on 15 years in business.

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“My father founded the company in 2002,” explains Dhruv Gupta, vice president. “He’s an engineer by trade and worked in Fort McMurray. While in that city he started buying commercial and rental properties. The progression into home building was a natural fit from there. The first home he built was for our family.” Gupta describes Akash as “a small to midsize builder. We stick to the starter homes and move-up projects. Our philosophy is that we like to give added value to our customers, and our main focus is that we believe all customers should have the qualities of an estate home, whether they are in an estate home or not.” For Akash, this means 9’ ceilings, high-end flooring and countertops, coffered ceilings and high-end mouldings can be standard elements in their homes, not upgrades. “It’s the little things you see in bigger homes brought to the mid-market,” Gupta smiles. “Our standard spec is high, and that is what has made us successful home builders. Our homes present a notable difference. Customers always know when they are coming into our product.”

Akash Homes | 15 years


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Akash Homes grew quickly. From the humble start of the family home, Ashok, president and CEO, branched out to building in various communities and established relationships with local developers. By 2015, Akash had expanded into Hawks Ridge at Big Lake, the prestigious Windermere development and other communities in greater Edmonton. The company still operates rental properties as its own division, and has joint venture partnerships in various other real estate holdings throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan. Gupta, a lawyer by trade, points out that being a family business presents another clear advantage. “In our business, with a few exceptions, the companies are all family businesses. When meeting with developers and builders in the industry, everyone understands and knows where you are coming from. From a customer standpoint, being a small-to-medium sized builder means the client has direct contact with the management team. There is an open line of communication, and they appreciate that.” His legal background also plays a big role in the company. “I always intended to join the business, but I joined sooner than anticipated because of Akash’s rapid growth. Akash Homes | 15 years | 2

another aspect of the business that keeps them on their toes. “Competition! That’s where the added value of our homes comes in. We’ve had to differentiate ourselves by way of design and added value, so we went the added value method. Competition is strong in Edmonton. There are lots of great companies run by smart people, but,” he grins, “competition is healthy.” It’s likely that their competitors feel the same way about Akash Homes. In just 15 years, the Guptas have taken the company from a one-man operation in a home office to a staff of seven, an office building and a strong presence in some of the most desired neighbourhoods in and around Edmonton. “We have our townhouse site in the Brighton development in Windermere. It’s geared at first-time home buyers. Out of the

When I started law school, the company wasn’t the size it is now. However, when I saw the growth, I was happy to come on board quickly. As a lawyer, my duties at Akash also include all the conveyancing and in-house financing work.” While many businesses, including home builders, are finding the current economic market challenging, the Guptas are embracing the changes and remaining confident and proactive. “We are simply addressing the economic issues by running lean and making tough decisions,” says Gupta. He goes on to note

It’s better under the umbrella™ From having the most knowledgeable employees on our team to selecting only the highest quality builders to endorse, Travelers Canada works hard to get things right. That way, if the unfortunate happes, you will be backed by unmatched resources, financial strength, proven expertise and a valueadded approach.

Congratulations Akash Homes on 15 Years!

Akash Homes | 15 years | 3

48 townhouses, 45 have double front attached garages. It’s a nice product, and it’s different from what you see with the usual townhouse market. In Hawks Ridge, our homes back onto a provincial park, making it one of a kind, if not the only of its type, in Edmonton. It’s not flat land. There are a lot of undulations, trees, nature, water and wildlife, all within five minutes of Yellowhead. We are also excited to be building in Sherwood Park in the Aspen Trails development. Sherwood Park is a new community for us and we are excited to be part of the strong growth in Strathcona County.”

Akash Homes is also a partner in the community, supporting many of Edmonton’s non-profit organizations and charitable causes. The company is especially proud to support the University of Alberta’s various initiatives.

Akash Homes also keeps up with the times. Gupta notes how much things have changed since his father started the business. Everything from print advertising giving way to social media marketing to granite being quickly supplanted by quartz, the changes are rapid, but the company is happy to note and incorporate those changes to the benefit of their clients.

Akash Homes looks forward to the years ahead, focusing on sustainable growth, and continuing to deliver the affordable luxury they know home owners want and deserve.

“[In this business], it never stops,” laughs Gupta. “You are always thinking and always working hard. It allows you to be flexible. You can’t be an entrepreneur in what you do unless you love what you do. I don’t get up and say I have to go to work. I go because I want to. I work late because I want to. It’s not work; it’s what I do. As for teamwork, opposing viewpoints create a healthy discussion. The management teams with the sales staff, our trade partners and industry suppliers. You work with these people and you want their input. We know we are working with them for a reason. I take their input as much as I can. My background is on the finance and legal side, so I rely on their expertise.”

On behalf of Akash Homes, Gupta would like to thank its customers, staff, sales people, trade partners, supplier partners, realtor partners, financial partners and developer partners because, “together we create homes where people can make memories and raise families in a product they can be proud of.”

#207 3132 Parsons Rd. NW Edmonton, AB T6N 1L6 Phone: 780.461.5110 • Fax: 780.450.9724

Providing safe and superior plumbing and HVAC installations for homebuilders since 1998. Serving Edmonton & area homeowners.


Always Plumbing & Heating Ltd would like to congratulate Akash Homes for their 15 years of continued success and wish them many more to come! Edmonton • St.Albert • Sherwood Park • Leduc • Spruce Grove

780-489-8118 For more information about our company visit us at

Akash Homes | 15 years | 4








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