Business in Edmonton - March 2023

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POPPY BARLEY: SEWING THE FUTURE OF FASHION

Poppy Barley is a local, female-owned brand providing a sustainable fashion choice for North Americans. As their shoes and bags continue to gain traction, co-founders, coCEOs and sisters Justine and Kendall Barber never lose sight of Poppy Barley’s goals.

“We started Poppy Barley in 2012 because we couldn’t find anything like it,” says Justine. “In the beginning, we offered made-to-order tall boots and shoes online. Over the years our business grew and changed. Today Poppy Barley has retail stores, pop-up shops, an ecommerce store and made-to-order products. We focus on sustainability, versatility and comfort.”

Kendall adds, “Neither one of us could have ever imagined we’d have a company exactly like Poppy Barley, but Justine always loved design and architecture while being deeply committed to making the planet a better place, and I always dreamed of being an entrepreneur.”

The company started online and remained an ecommerce-only business for the first couple of years. Then a showroom opened, followed in 2017 by their first retail store in Edmonton. Another milestone took place in 2019 with the opening of the Calgary location. Then 2020 put a wrinkle in further expansion plans due to COVID. With the pandemic in the rear window, however, things are back on track and a Vancouver location is set to open this year.

It was during 2019 that Poppy Barley became a certified Benefit Corporation (B Corporation).

In a world where fast fashion dominates the industry to the peril of environmental resources and exploited workers, certified B Corporations take a solid stand. The certification proves commitment to the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. B Corporations focus on purpose, people and profit, keeping the impact of employees, production partners, customers, community and the environment at the forefront when making important business decisions.

It is this purpose and mission that is at the core of Poppy Barley’s success.

Justine confirms, “Poppy Barley products are designed for real life – to go from the office to the playground to a night out. Our products are thoughtfully designed for maximum comfort, versatility and longevity. Poppy Barley reimagines the fashion industry to create a new standard of luxury for people and the planet. Through considered design and uncompromising comfort, we offer highly versatile, sustainable products. All Poppy Barley products are designed in Canada and made in our factories in Mexico, Spain, Italy and Portugal.”

Kendall adds, “The fashion industry comes with astonishing environmental and social costs including pollution, water consumption, carbon emissions, human rights issues and gender inequality. The harmful impacts on the planet are undeniable. The only choice for Poppy Barley was to be part of the change and ensure that sustainability and ethical production are core fundamentals of our business model. We exist to re-think every step of the fashion industry to make it better – for our planet, for our people and for our future. There is a lot of greenwashing these days. It is hard to know which brands are legitimate. We became a B Corporation because we are not just talk.”

Being a B Corporation is not the only way Poppy Barley gives back.

ABOVE: KENDALL AND JUSTINE BARBER. PHOTO BY EMILIE IGGIOTTI
“We exist to re-think every step of the fashion industry to make it better — for our planet, for our people and for our future.”
by Nerissa McNaughton

Justine says, “In conjunction with the brand’s 10th anniversary, we made the decision to create the Poppy Barley Future Fund to support charities operating in The Girl Gap. Girls from ages 10-14 struggle as the confluence of societal and biological trends create a perfect storm for adolescents: rapid decline in confidence, poor mental health and a sexualized culture. The Poppy Barley Future Fund will commit $100,000 over three years to adolescent girls and non-binary youth as they navigate some of the most critical years of their life. Our first partner was KidSport Edmonton to help fund the registration costs for girls to play sports.”

ATB has been a key partner in the growth of Poppy Barley.

“The thing about growth,” notes Kendall, “is that you need to onboard your bank to believe in and fund your growth before it actually happens. ATB took a risk alongside us. They are creative in their solutions and really seek to understand our business. We firmly believe that our team at ATB believes in us. They have confidence in us as leaders and in our business model. The questions ATB asks us are smart and forward-thinking because they speak ‘Poppy Barley’ fluently. Our team has remained consistent and well-versed throughout our trajectory. ATB has been a key player in helping us overcome challenges and believing in our growth before it even happened.”

The outstanding products, vision and mission of Poppy Barley have not gone unnoticed. The brand has earned two Canada Post E-commerce Innovator’s Awards, a Best Independent Retail Ambassador of the Year award from the Retail Association of Canada, an Alberta Women Entrepreneurs Impact award, recognition from Women of Vision and a Western Living’s Designer of the Year award, among others. Justine was awarded as a distinguished alumnus from the University of Alberta.

What comes next for this agile brand?

“The future looks fun!” Justine and Kendall conclude. “We will open a store in Vancouver and then, hopefully, Toronto. We will expand more aggressively into the USA. Our product assortment will expand into new categories, such as knitwear. We’ll stay committed to our values and promise of luxury for the people and the planet. Hopefully, along the way, we will elevate the lives of the people who make, wear and support Poppy Barley.”

Have you been wondering all this time how they came up with such a unique name? The co-founders are ready to let you in on the secret!

“In medieval England – when every village had a shoemaker and all shoes were made just for you – cobblers used poppy seeds and barleycorns as the units of measurement for shoemaking. One barleycorn was equal to 1/3 inch and four poppy seeds equaled one barleycorn!”

Learn more about the brand at poppybarley.com.

ATB is pleased to present a 2023 profile series on the businesses and people who are facing challenges head-on to build a strong Alberta.

PHOTO BY ALYSSA LAU

ELEMENTS ROOF MANAGEMENT CONSULTING Saves Property Owners Time and Capital Expenses

For many years, Wade Engineering was known as a local expert in roof management and building envelope consulting. The brand has evolved with founder Allan Charles King, P.Eng, transitioning the firm into three separate disciplines, including the company he now owns –Elements Roof Management Consulting (ERMC).

With decades of experience in the roofing industry – experience that has seen King and his team tackle everything from the unique sloped roof on the original TELUS World of Science building to flat industrial roofs to pitched residential roofs – one point remains consistent: property owners that maintain their roofs save big on capital expenses. ERMC was created to hone in on the value property managers can retain when they have the proper long-term tools for roof management.

“The focus of ERMC is on preventative maintenance of roof systems,” explains King, “and the staff at ERMC have been working together in roof management services (under Wade Engineering and Elements) for many years – providing a combined total of 64 years’ experience.”

The services of ERMC were developed and perfected over three decades ago when King launched Wade Engineering. With the evolution to ERMC, he gets to focus on what he loves best – roof area management programs, roof condition assessments, specification preparations, tendering and inspections of work in progress, attic reviews and roofing portfolio overview summaries.

He continues, “Our typical projects include commercial, institutional, industrial and multi-unit residential buildings with local municipalities as well as provincial government, condominiums, and property management companies.”

The value of roof maintenance cannot be understated.

“Annual participation in a roof area management program can delay roof replacement costs and avoid expensive restoration of water entry events,” says King. “Over the life of a building, a roof area management program can save as much as 20 per cent of the capital costs of the entire building. Roofs are out of sight and often out of mind until an event occurs, such as water entry, which oftentimes is associated with costly remediation and the premature scheduling of a roof replacement. Events like this can be largely mitigated with regular and preventative maintenance.”

With the original company evolving into three separate entities, and with the emergence of ERMC, King is very happy that all three factions remain locally owned and operated in the city he loves – Edmonton.

“Attendance and interaction with the business community in Edmonton have allowed networking for business opportunities, as well as mentoring and teaching roof and wall system design, performance, innovation and upgrades. In addition,” he says “all the people I have worked with in the past and currently provide sound advice and ideas. We learn and grow together.”

When ERMC is not helping property managers save on capital expenses, you’ll find King and his team helping the community. ERMC contributes to MS research, World Vision International, Plan International, The Mustard Seed, Canadian Burn Resource Guide and Community Drug Alert. King is proud to have received a volunteer appreciation award from the Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI).

What comes next for ERMC? “Expansion of the maintenance diagnostic services of roof area management to include an inexpensive infrared review of roofs, software for client portal access to past and present deliverables and development of cost-effective roof coating upgrade programs that yield reliable roofing at a fraction of the cost of replacement,” says King. “We are also continuing to streamline and reduce prices for minor roof repair work by tendering roof specifications to trained and qualified contractors.”

Learn more at www.ermc.ca or on LinkedIn
Allan Charles King, P.Eng and Florian Donsbach, ARCA Accepted Roof Inspector, RRO.
8 MARCH 2023 // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM STORY TITLE // SECTION Supporting the visions of entrepreneurs one story at a time. FIND US ONLINE! BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM @BUSINEDMONTON BUSINESS IN EDMONTON BUSINESSINEDMONTON 27 REGULAR COLUMNS 11 Inspiring, Naturally! The River Valley and the Region’s Future By Catherine Brownlee 13 Hiring Students Boosts Regional Growth — and the Economy By
39 Edmonton Chamber of Commerce CONTENTS ON OUR COVER : ABOVE: SCOTT BOLTON, CEO, UFA CO-OPERATIVE LIMITED. PHOTO SOURCE: RIVERWOOD PHOTOGRAPHY COVER FEATURE 22 Keeping Us Fed UFA Co-operative Limited CEO Scott Bolton on the Opportunities and Challenges faced by Alberta’s Farmers By Melanie Darbyshire Volume 11 | Number 3
Elan Macdonald
10 MARCH 2023 // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM STORY TITLE // SECTION Supporting the visions of entrepreneurs one story at a time. 43 CONTENTS COMPANY PROFILES 43 GLVT Celebrates 35 Years 16 THIS MONTH’S FEATURES 16 Business Banking: Options and Services Banks across Alberta are helping entrepreneurs thrive By Nerissa McNaughton 28 BOMA Edmonton News Spring 2023 33 The Tricky World of Wealth Management Strategizing Encouraging good news By John Hardy 36 Essential Employee Benefits Workplace benefits that impact the individual and the business’ bottom line By John Hardy Volume 11 | Number 3

Inspiring, Naturally! The River Valley and the Region’s Future

The City of Champions, Canada’s Festival City, Gateway to the North, the Oil Capital of Canada; Edmonton is renowned for many things, but did you know our city is also home to the largest urban park in North America?

Twenty-two times larger than Central Park, the North Saskatchewan River valley parks system, also known as the Ribbon of Green, encompasses over 18,000 acres of parkland. Throughout the year, no matter the weather, you will find Edmontonians walking, hiking, and biking its many trails.

The regional park system was a godsend during the pandemic. Across the country and around the world, lockdowns sparked unprecedented changes in human behaviour. Something as simple as walking down to the coffee shop to have a latte and bite to eat was out of the question. People were stuck in their homes for most of their waking hours and the resulting mental-health toll – particularly in the form of depression and anxiety – was staggering. Getting out into nature was one of the few reprieves available, providing people in the region with a much-needed chance to reflect, relax and recharge.

By introducing this natural asset to thousands of new people, the pandemic inadvertently yet deservedly boosted the profile of the River Valley Alliance (RVA), a not-for-profit organization that is creating a world-class trail system on our back doorstep. The RVA’s goal is to complete a 100-kilometre continuous connection from Fort Saskatchewan to Devon. Working with the three levels of government, the organization’s work is well underway and includes the Terwillegar and Fort Edmonton footbridges, the Touch the Water Promenade, the funicular and many kilometres of trail.

Unfortunately, the RVA’s current tranche of funding will run out in 2025. The organization hopes to continue working with its municipal, provincial and federal partners to complete the 26-kilometre gap in the trail system from southwest

Edmonton to Parkland County. For the sake of the Capital Region, let’s hope they succeed. Supporting the park and trail system is a smart investment that will pay considerable dividends for decades to come.

In an ever-more competitive global economy, Edmonton is fiercely fighting to attract and retain top talent. Proximity to nature, particularly after the pandemic, is a highly desirable amenity. Offering people a range of low-cost, high-value recreation opportunities is one of the best ways for the city to stand out in a crowded field. It’s little wonder Alberta’s natural assets featured so prominently in the government’s recent campaign to attract skilled workers to the province.

The region’s river valley also holds immense tourism potential. After being cooped up during the pandemic, people are looking to get out and explore again. While we’re not there yet, domestic tourism has almost bounced back to where it was in August 2019. The continent’s largest urban park – one that features sun-dappled woods, skyline vistas, and historic locations rich with fascinating stories of Indigenous peoples and early European settlers – is a tremendous asset for the region to capitalize on.

Later this year, the RVA will unveil the regional trail’s name, which was chosen through collaboration with Indigenous Elders and knowledge keepers. I won’t divulge the name (I can’t, they won’t share it yet!), but I can say it’s a name of Cree origin that reflects the river valley’s storied history and celebrates the place it has held in so many hearts for millennia. As we look to the horizon, it’s wonderful to know that something so foundational to our city and region will continue to shape its future.

BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // MARCH 2023 11 ALBERTA
ARE BUSINESS
REPRESENTING FIRMS IN EVERY MAJOR ALBERTA INDUSTRY. AEG MEMBERS EMPLOY OVER 100,000 ALBERTANS AND GENERATE BILLIONS IN ECONOMIC ACTIVITY EACH YEAR.
ENTERPRISE GROUP (AEG) PUTS ALBERTA BUSINESSES FIRST BY SHARING INFORMATION, ADVOCACY AND BUILDING BRIDGES TO NEW MARKETS. AEG MEMBERS
OWNERS, SENIOR EXECUTIVES, INVESTORS AND ENTREPRENEURS
INSPIRING, NATURALLY! THE RIVER VALLEY AND THE REGION’S FUTURE // CATHERINE BROWNLEE

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Hiring Students Boosts Regional Growth — and the Economy

When I was president and CEO of Impact

Consulting – a government relations advisory and communications company serving local, national and international clients – I created a post-secondary student internship role.

Our first intern, Carly, spent her summer working with me after her first year of study at the University of Alberta. She was working towards a degree in political science, came from rural Alberta and didn’t have a lot of experience.

Carly was me.

I grew up in the Calgary area. When I was in my second year of university, I got an internship with the Government of Alberta that brought me to Edmonton. It solidified my love of policy and politics and it gave me practical experience that led to my first real job after graduation. So, when I first met Carly, I saw myself — and that desire to be given a chance.

Work-integrated learning experiences are obviously beneficial for students as those experiences give students practical skills to incorporate in their studies and prepare them for the future. But they’re also tremendously valuable to employers.

It’s priceless to have somebody to train on the job right as they are learning. Carly became the ideal employee for my firm. She brought fresh perspectives, energy and excitement to the team.

Carly stayed with the firm for the duration of her studies. The work-integrated learning experience shaped her into the likeness of exactly what the firm looked for in its employees.

Carly became a capable, talented professional who has chosen to remain in Edmonton post-graduation. The more we can do to give our students roots in the community, the more they are going to want to stay here. Each student who stays becomes part of our community of valued professionals, entrepreneurs and business owners.

With more than 53,000 post-secondary students, according to Alberta Advanced Education, currently studying at the eight institutions in our region, the opportunities to engage with and benefit from students are abundant. Access to the talent produced at a top Canadian university — all students at the University of Alberta have opportunities for work-integrated learning — is a major advantage for the Edmonton business community. Sharing your experience with a student is one way that any business, large or small, can invest in our local workforce.

Imagine retaining all of that talent in our region. The growth of our city and economy would be enormous.

For me, it was because of my Edmonton-based internship during university that I came back after I graduated. It sharpened my focus and connected me to this city where I have now worked, volunteered and raised my family.

Thirty years later, I’m still here.

BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // MARCH 2023 13
APPEARS
HIRING STUDENTS BOOSTS REGIONAL GROWTH — AND THE
ELAN MACDONALD IS PAST CHAIR OF THE EDMONTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND A FOUNDING DIRECTOR WITH EDMONTON GLOBAL. SHE ALSO SITS ON THE BOARDS OF COVENANT HEALTH, ATLAS BIOTECHNOLOGIES AND ALBERTA BALLET. SHE IS THE VICE-PRESIDENT (EXTERNAL RELATIONS) OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA. HER
COLUMN
MONTHLY IN BUSINESS IN
ECONOMY // ELAN MACDONALD

PCL Continues to Earn Top Employer Awards

Source: pcl.com

PCL named one of Alberta’s top employers for 12th straight years and earned a spot the list of Canada’s top employers for young people for the fourth straight year.

With North American headquarters located in Edmonton since 1932 and a very active office in Calgary, PCL has strong roots in Alberta.

“PCL employs hundreds of Albertans every day on job sites and in offices across the province, as well as across the country and even in Australia,” says Harmony Carter, vice president, people and culture. “We’re proud to give them the chance to learn new skills, advance their careers and deliver iconic projects for our clients and communities.”

PCL employees can attest to the strength of the company’s culture. One of those employees is Terence Young, team leader, technology architecture, with PCL’s Business Technology team in Edmonton. As part of a company that has made the bold decision to stand out with its high-tech edge, Terence is helping the whole construction industry evolve.

PCL has been named one of Alberta’s Top Employers a total of 16 times since 2006.

Selection is based on

• Physical workspace

• Work atmosphere

• Health, financial and family benefits

• Vacation and time off

• Employee communications

• Performance management

• Training skills and development

• Community involvement

PCL is also excited and honored to have been named one of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People for the fourth consecutive year. Canada’s Top Employers for Young People is a competition organized by the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project, a national competition to determine which employers lead their industries in offering the best workplaces.

“We value the contributions that our young employees make to PCL’s overall success and we strive to make them feel valued from day one of their employment,” says Harmony Carter, vice president, people and culture. “We had over 600 participants in our Canadian student program in 2022, and we hired numerous other recent graduates – all of whom got the mentorship, support and experience they needed to get a head start on their careers in the construction industry. Together, we’re building better futures for our employees, our clients and our company.”

One of those young employees whose future looks bright is Simon Lamy, a project coordinator with PCL’s new office in Montreal. After six co-op placements with PCL, including four in Vancouver, he knew he wanted a career with the company because of the passionate people he met along the way. Simon is also a proud recipient of PCL’s Canadian Buildings National Student Scholarship.

About PCL Construction

PCL is a group of independent construction companies that carries out work across Canada, the United States, the Caribbean and in Australia. These diverse operations in the civil infrastructure, heavy industrial and buildings markets are supported by a strategic presence in more than 30 major centers. Together, these companies have an annual construction volume of more than $8 billion CAD, making PCL the largest contracting organization in Canada and one of the largest in North America.

14 MARCH 2023 // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM OF F TH E
ABOVE: PCL NORTH AMERICAN HEADQUARTERS. PHOTO SOURCE: PCL

Get funding to train employees

Help your business grow and succeed

The Canada-Alberta Job Grant (CAJG) pays more than half the training costs for eligible Alberta employers to help invest in their employees. Employers can receive up to $10,000 to train an existing employee and up to $15,000 to train a new hire or unemployed Albertan. The CAJG also covers direct training costs, such as course or exam fees and textbooks. Applications are accepted year round. Apply today | alberta.ca/CAJG

Funding through this program is provided by the Alberta
in partnership
the Government of Canada.
Government
with

BUSINESS BANKING: OPTIONS AND SERVICES

BANKS ACROSS ALBERTA ARE HELPING ENTREPRENEURS THRIVE

What is one of the biggest hurdles for entrepreneurs? The answer is, finding or raising capital. Three banks in Alberta have programs and services designed to overcome this hurdle and help more small businesses’ dreams come true.

ATB Financial

Tanya Kroeker, VP Entrepreneurial Growth at ATB Financial, says, “Entrepreneurs have always been the cornerstone of Alberta’s economy and will continue to drive prosperity in the future. I am grateful to be part of the Entrepreneurial Growth team at ATB Financial that is focused on supporting Alberta entrepreneurs and businesses.”

What sets ATB apart is that its purpose has always remained true to help Albertans cultivate prosperity.

Kroeker notes, “ATB understands the province and the unique needs and wants of Alberta businesses. Everything we do is focused on how we can serve Albertans – from

THIS BANK WANTS TO HELP ALBERTANS SUCCEED BECAUSE IT UNDERSTANDS THE AMBITION AND THE POSSIBILITIES OF ITS BUSINESS CLIENTS. “THEY ARE DREAMING BIG; PARTNERING WITH THEM TO MAKE THEIR GOALS POSSIBLE IS WHAT’S TAKING ALBERTA INTO THE FUTURE,” SMILES KROEKER.

providing expert advice and supporting entrepreneurs with their business operations and banking needs, to connecting them with partners and like-minded businesses.”

This bank wants to help Albertans succeed because it understands the ambition and the possibilities of its business clients. “They are dreaming big; partnering with them to make their goals possible is what’s taking Alberta into the future,” smiles Kroeker.

16 MARCH 2023 // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM BUSINESS BANKING: OPTIONS AND SERVICES // BANKING

Our Special Projects team is proud to work with local businesses who have been important parts of our community for generations. We redefine full-service and bring expertise across all project types, at all scales and under all procurement models. As innovative solution providers and construction specialists, we are focused on achieving your project vision and business goals. PCL.COM

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ATB believes that small business owners should have access to expertise and complete banking services to support them in achieving their goals. The services, which include business and cash flow planning, help each owner start, expand or optimize operations. ATB can also connect small business owners with a strategist to help prepare for financial assistance requests and offers unique learning programs such as ATBX for access to planning guides, cash flow templates and networking.

“We understand that starting, building and growing a business is a journey; we provide the resources and expertise for all stages of business,” says Kroeker,

Additional support includes:

• The Entrepreneur Centre website: The site (atbentrepreneurcentre.com) has been recently relaunched and improved to bring ATB’s entrepreneurial products and services under one umbrella. A business owner can easily request to meet with a strategist and access financial literacy resources, which will become even more robust in the coming months.

• Branch for Arts + Culture (BFAC): This is a specialized team of bankers and community managers that provide innovative lending solutions, events and specialized services to creative entrepreneurs and non-profits. BFAC team members are artists/creatives themselves and that lens allows them to be empathetic and better advocate for projects, and for practices or organizations to get more substantial loans, lines of credit and other financing. BFAC also hosts events for artists to build community, connections and financial literacy within the industry.

• ATB Entrepreneur Centre Events: ATB hosts events across the province specifically for entrepreneurs and welcomes both clients and non-clients. The events help entrepreneurs learn essential skills, solve problems, build new connections and access industry leading expertise. They’re created by business owners, for business owners and are often hosted in the Entrepreneur Centre locations of Lethbridge, Edmonton and Calgary.

• ATB Entrepreneur Centre Newsletter: This newsletter keeps entrepreneurs and business owners

18 MARCH 2023 // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM
// BANKING

“TO ADVANCE THE ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT OF INDIGENOUS BUSINESSES AND COMMUNITIES, [BMO] PROVIDES FINANCIAL PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND ADVICE THAT CONTRIBUTE TO SUCCESS,” CLAIMS THE BRAND ON THEIR WEBSITE.

// BANKING Develop an actionable strategy for growth that meets your specific business needs Learn strategies to increase the value of your business, even if you have no plans to sell Learn about being acquired or acquiring businesses Learn where to begin and how to build your transition roadmap TOP
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• BMO for Women in Business: In recognition of the power of women, BMO provides personalized services and support to help women reach personal, financial and business goals.

Visit www.bmo.com/main/business to learn more.

Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)

With a focus on small and medium sized enterprises, BDC helps Canadian businesses prosper by providing financing, advisory services and capital. The institution has been complementing the financial sector since 1944. To date, BDC has worked with thousands of Canadian entrepreneurs, has committed over $47 billion exclusively to business owners and enjoys a high 94 per cent client satisfaction rate. This Certified B Corporation has earned a spot in Canada’s Top 100 Employers rankings for 15 years.

Recently, BDC was pleased to share its fiscal 2022 annual results, showing incredible ongoing support for Canadian business owners. In a media release, the institution shared that it has “served 95,000 clients, including 16,500 via programs delivered in partnership with the private sector.”

The release continued with a statement from President and CEO Isabelle Hudon.

“While uneven, the economic recovery gathered momentum through the year, and many entrepreneurs invested in new and

RECENTLY, BDC WAS PLEASED TO SHARE ITS FISCAL 2022 ANNUAL RESULTS, SHOWING INCREDIBLE ONGOING SUPPORT FOR CANADIAN BUSINESS OWNERS. IN A MEDIA RELEASE, THE INSTITUTION SHARED THAT IT HAS “SERVED 95,000 CLIENTS, INCLUDING 16,500 VIA PROGRAMS DELIVERED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE PRIVATE SECTOR.”

postponed growth projects. This created exceptional demand for BDC’s financing and advisory solutions. Building on an approach that is consistent with our unique mission, BDC was able to extend its reach and deepen its impact through lending deployed in collaboration with financial institutions to help entrepreneurs weather the pandemic’s effect.”

Not one to rest on its laurels, BDC is committed to pushing the envelope when it comes to diversity, equality and inclusion. The bank helps achieve this with a $160 million Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund (part of the Black Entrepreneur’s strategy) and the $150 million Indigenous Growth Fund.

Sustainability projects saw BDC commitments reach $1.2 billion, including $600 million for its Cleantech Practice (which invests in globally competitive Canadian cleantech firms).

Learn more at bdc.ca

Whether you have an idea and want to start talking to banking professionals, are ready to launch, are looking to grow your business or engage in succession planning, there are banks and programs designed with you in mind. From conception to completion, Alberta entrepreneurs have options when it comes to capital, financing and banking.

20 MARCH 2023 // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM BUSINESS BANKING: OPTIONS AND SERVICES // BANKING
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22 MARCH 2023 // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM KEEPING US FED // COVER
ABOVE: SCOTT BOLTON, CEO, UFA CO-OPERATIVE LIMITED. PHOTO SOURCE: RIVERWOOD PHOTOGRAPHY

KEEPING US FED

UFA CO-OPERATIVE LIMITED CEO SCOTT BOLTON ON THE OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES FACED BY ALBERTA’S FARMERS

It’s difficult to overstate just how essential Alberta’s farmers are. Year in and year out, through variable weather, economic and political conditions, they provide the food that Albertans, Canadians, the world, needs. From oilseeds and grains, to beef, poultry, hogs and other animals, from dairy and milk, to vegetables, fruits and tree nuts, Alberta’s farmers – numbering approximately 120,000 – are the often unseen faces and hands that keep our food supply operating. Without them, we’d starve.

A look at the numbers underscores their import: agriculture is the province’s second largest sector by value, with nearly $14 billion in foreign sales in 2021; agri-food contributed $7.9 billion to Alberta’s GDP in 2021; the number of farms in Alberta is increasing; and the province has the second largest total farm area in the country (behind Saskatchewan). Notably, Alberta is one of the few places in the world that produces more food than it consumes.

The latter point is particularly salient considering the global population is expected to grow by another 2 billion people by mid-century, with estimates suggesting we’ll have to increase food production by 70 per cent by 2050 to meet this demand.

All this is to say that Alberta farmers are very, very essential. And poised to become even more so as the world continues to grow.

Yet they find themselves the unwitting targets of a federal government intent on tackling climate change at all costs, including their livelihoods. Arbitrary caps on fertilizer emissions (a national target to reduce GHG emissions from fertilizer application by 30 per cent below 2020 levels by 2030), the so-called Just Transition (the plan to transform Canada to a low-carbon future) and an ever-increasing

federal carbon tax are federal policies with the potential to harm Alberta farmers.

“Our members are very worried about the direction of some of these announcements and the possible policies that will follow,” says Scott Bolton, president and CEO of UFA Co-operative Limited says candidly. “And it’s not that we disagree with the proposition of doing more with less. That’s precisely what we’re very good at doing; we’re all about being more efficient, reducing our costs and doing more with less. But the challenge is that these announcements – for example the federal government’s pledge to reduce fertilizer emissions by 30 per cent – were announced without any consultation with the people who will have to deliver on that pledge. There was no scientific evidence provided as to how these targets were determined.”

Bolton notes it’s not the goal (tackling climate change) that Alberta’s farmers and ranchers have an issue with, but rather it’s the lack of consultation and scientific backing behind these announcements. “The problem is there isn’t enough detail,” he continues. “It’s difficult to quantify what the impact will be. But frankly speaking, we won’t be able to produce the amount of food we do today with 30 per cent less fertilizer used, without significant advances in technology and application approaches.”

“And there is a real concern that this will increase food prices and may cause some farmers to be uneconomic,” Bolton continues. “That could cost jobs in rural communities and is the exact opposite of what we want to achieve.”

In addition to the fertilizer cap, the so-called Just Transition is expected to affect approximately 292,000 agriculture jobs in Canada. The nature of this effect is unclear.

BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // MARCH 2023 23 KEEPING US FED // COVER

“Another major impact will be on the global food system,” Bolton says. “Many parts of the developing world are importers of our food. We’re already seeing, with the invasion of Ukraine, how the cost of food and commodity prices have gone up, particularly staples like wheat. Further increases will put the most vulnerable at risk. These are the consequences if we’re not careful.”

The federal carbon tax is also set to increase again on April 1, adding to farmers’ expense sheets. “It’s an additional tax, an additional cost of doing business,” Bolton says. “And in challenging times, increasing costs are problematic. So it is a big concern in the agriculture industry.”

These challenging times include sky-high inflation, supply chains still recovering from the pandemic, and fears of a recession looming.

Luckily, Alberta’s farmers enjoyed a good year last year, as did UFA. “We’ll be reporting record results for the cooperative for the year 2022,” Bolton reports. “In general, Alberta farmers – specifically grain farmers – did pretty

well last year too. The 2022 crop was a good one. Yields and quality were good. And prices are high. Overall a good year.”

Founded in 1909, UFA has grown alongside the industry it serves, and today has several successful and growing business divisions. Its agricultural division comprises a network of 34 farm-ranch stores located in rural communities. These stores stock everything from gloves and coveralls to hardware items, gates, fence posts, fertilizer and seed, among many other items. “They are full-service agricultural one-stop shops,” Bolton says.

24 MARCH 2023 // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM KEEPING US FED // COVER
ABOVE: UFA MEMBER, KAITLYNN BOLDUC FROM CUDLOBE ANGUS, USES UFA’S PROSTOCK BRAND. PHOTO SOURCE: FRITZOLOGY INC. FOR UFA

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UFA’s fuel business – its largest division – includes 115 sites across Western Canada (predominately in Alberta, with some in Saskatchewan and northeast B.C.). These are typically cardlock fuel stations, and many include bulk fuel facilities as well. “We can deliver fuel right to the farmer or other industries,” Bolton explains. “Or they can fill up right at our site. We are quite a significant supplier of diesel fuel and gasoline to rural communities.” UFA also sells lubricants and other transportation related products at these locations.

A complimentary business to the agriculture division is UFA’s construction business, which is focused on farm construction projects like sheds and barns. “We sell the raw material if you want to build it yourself, or we’ll build it for you,” Bolton says.

Additional business divisions include a livestock division focused on the feed lot sector, and a division which provides maintenance support to the cardlock facilities themselves.

With the financial capacity to invest for growth, Bolton and his team are looking to grow UFA’s business geographically, particularly into Saskatchewan and Manitoba. “Our neighbours to the east are on a roll and have invested in agriculture as a province,” he notes. “And we think we can be part of it with an offer that will be well received.”

A new store in Lethbridge is also something to celebrate. “It’s going to be in Gasoline Alley,” Bolton reveals. “Great access of Highway 2. We’ve acquired the land and will build a full service

farm-ranch store and cardlock, with a drive-through bay for some larger product offerings. A big yard and modern store with all the bells and whistles. We hope to have it open in 2024.”

The other area primed for growth is the digital realm. “We are expanding our e-commerce offering so our members can buy a number of products from a number of key suppliers that we don’t normally carry in our stores, online,” Bolton says. “They can then pick them up at our stores. We’re quite excited about this phase of our digital expansion.”

With a little over 1,100 employees, UFA provides particular benefits to its members. First, it stocks the products and delvers the services its members need. “We have a complete offer of product that you can’t find anywhere else but UFA,” Bolton notes. “And we make sure we’re competitively priced.” Second, UFA employs a lot of rural Albertans. Third, as a forprofit business, the profit is returned into the community because members own the business.

“At the end of the year we pay a portion of our profit back to our membership,” Bolton says.

Closely connected to the communities in which it operates, UFA, through its Rural Communities Foundation, provides support to local community initiatives that would otherwise have trouble finding funding, for example, 4H, Ag for Life and other local, lesser-known causes.

“Ultimately we’re a grassroots organization,” Bolton notes. “So that’s where we focus our efforts, at the community level.

26 MARCH 2023 // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM KEEPING US FED // COVER
ABOVE: ARTIST RENDERING OF AN AERIAL VIEW OF THE NEW UFA RED DEER FARM SUPPLY STORE & CARDLOCK

We’re one member-one vote, so it stands to reason that our community investment is in a similar vein.”

Originally from a small town outside Edmonton, Bolton obtained his chartered accountancy designation from the University of Alberta before joining Pricewaterhouse as a young accountant. He worked in Toronto and Europe before landing in Calgary. He became a partner and eventually PWC’s energy practice leader. A desire to work in industry led him to the position of CFO at UFA in 2013. He became CEO in 2019.

The married father of four boys (including one with developmental disabilities) has a personal passion for the special needs community. He sits on the board of Calgary Quest School and is involved with organizations such as Inclusion Alberta.

He is also passionate about the agriculture industry, and points to the Business Council of Alberta’s recent publication, Define the Decade, which lists agriculture as the first pillar, as evidence of its importance to the province. “Agriculture is really under-recognized and it will only continue to grow,” he points out. “Part of the role of a cooperative is to be an advocate for the membership and the industry. Our organization tries promote the opportunities in agriculture to the government.”

From the provincial government, he continues, farmers want agriculture treated strategically, given the enormous opportunity for growth and for creating economic prosperity for all Albertans: “It’s very important for the provincial government to recognize that and provide the investment and attention to the industry that is warranted. I think we’re hearing good things on that from the provincial government, to be fair.”

Farmers, Bolton adds, would like to be at the table with the federal government when it’s making policy, to be able to provide their own fact and science-based policy.

With the potential to feed a growing world, Alberta’s farmers and UFA have much to look forward to. They have the land, the tools, the experience and the skill to produce the food our growing world needs. The federal government may be their only obstacle to success.

BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // MARCH 2023 27 KEEPING US FED // COVER
TOP: UFA MEMBER MAURY MCLEOD TALKS WITH SCOTT BOLTON, PRESIDENT & CEO, UFA. MIDDLE #1: SCOTT BOLTON, PRESIDENT & CEO, UFA (LEFT) DURING HARVEST WITH UFA MEMBER MAURY MCLEOD. MIDDLE #2: TATE SUTTER AND CLAYTON SMITH, UFA CUSTOMER ACCOUNT MANAGERS CONSULT WITH CUSTOMER, KYLE HAFNER. BOTTOM: UFA FARM & RANCH SUPPLY STORE TEAM MEMBERS LOAD UP PRODUCT FOR CUSTOMERS IN THE NEW LETHBRIDGE LOCATION PHOTO SOURCE: FRITZOLOGY INC. FOR UFA

BOMEX COMING SOON TO EDMONTON

After more than 20 years, the national building excellence summit of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) is coming to Edmonton! BOMEX 2023 is bringing together the best in commercial real estate to Edmonton from September 26-28, 2023. The BOMA Canada team and BOMA Edmonton committee are working together to pull out all the stops. Their goal? To have BOMA members from across Canada never think of their job, business, commercial real estate, or this city the same way again.

It will be three days of dynamic learning and connecting, and world-class tours and networking. Building owners will discover the latest trends for their properties from innovative thought leaders in commercial real estate. Building managers will learn how to better lead their teams and manage their buildings through leading-edge programming. Building operators will learn innovative best practices from across the industry to bring back to the properties they operate.

“We’re thrilled to be hosting BOMEX in Edmonton this year,” says Lisa Baroldi, President and CEO, BOMA Edmonton. “Real estate is the second largest contributor to Alberta’s GDP and we’re looking forward to showcasing the impact and contribution of commercial real estate on this city and province.”

BOMA announced that GDI Integrated Facility

Services and Ainsworth Inc. will be the BOMEX title sponsor for the fourth consecutive year.

“GDI Integrated Facility Services and Ainsworth are proud to be the title sponsors of BOMEX 2023 for the fourth year in a row,” said Fred Edwards, chief marketing officer, GDI Integrated Facility Services and Ainsworth. “BOMEX is an integral part of Canadian commercial real estate, and our nine-year involvement is a testament to the continued growth and success of the conference. We look forward to enjoying the great city of Edmonton.”

Sponsorship opportunities are still available and selling quickly. If you’re interested in sponsoring this big event, you can contact the BOMA Edmonton office at admin@bomaedm.ca.

BOMEX has been running for over 33 years and has seen over 500 attendees at its annual summit. For three days, attendees have grown to expect inspiring keynotes, interactive workshops, incredible building tours, and next-level networking opportunities. Registration will open soon.

“We look forward to seeing the Edmonton commercial real estate industry at BOMEX this year,” says Erin White, co-chair of the BOMA Edmonton BOMEX committee. “We know that we will make everyone from across the country feel welcomed in our city and region.”

28 MARCH 2023 // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM

DOWNTOWN CLEAN-UP TO BRING A SENSE OF SAFETY AND COMMUNITY

Daryn Kemp is mobilizing the business community to clean up downtown and hit the streets to activate the core. Daryn is the co-owner of Venger Electrostatic Coatings and a long-time BOMA Edmonton member.

After attending an engaging conversation focused on what downtowns need, Daryn floated the idea about a corporate challenge clean-up on April 22, 2023. Colleagues from various associations and businesses jumped at the chance to support his vision.

Phase 1 of the project will see 500 to 1,000 business representatives compete under their organization’s logo. Winning companies will have the greatest percentage of their employees come out for the fun-filled clean up. “It’s not just about picking

a sense of community and a feeling of safety in the downtown. That’s worth more than any garbage we pick up.” Kemp says that other areas of the city will be invited to participate, as well.

The City of Edmonton’s Capital City Clean Up is a key partner. Capital City Clean Up is a litter reduction and graffiti prevention program developed to help keep the city clean, safe and attractive. The Program provides free litter pick-up kits upon request to companies that engage in clean up in and around their offices and businesses throughout the year.

Phase 2 of the project takes engagement to the next level by reaching out to underkilled and underemployed people in the downtown core who are interested in training and employment opportunities. Daryn and his partners are talking with groups like End Poverty Edmonton, Downtown Proud, and Higher Good, which work in various capacities to end poverty and provide work opportunities and skill development to people.

The idea is to mobilize labour for painting, planting, and other jobs that commercial properties in the core already hire Daryn and other companies to perform on a regular basis. Kemp says the work is not technically challenging, but it is good work. “Instead of pushing away people, what if we could draw in and upskill

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people from Downtown Proud or Higher Good? That would really start to move the dial,” says Kemp. Kemp says that there are obvious challenges in the downtown core. “I realized that if I wait for the

city for fix this, dig us out of the hole, we will be in this forever,” says Kemp. “I appreciate their work and partnership, but it’s also up to you and me…the business community.”

• • • • • • • • • •
BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // MARCH 2023 31
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THE TRICKY WORLD OF WEALTH MANAGEMENT STRATEGIZING

Even though wealth management professionals are savvy about trends, strategizing, predicting the unpredictable and expecting the unexpected, 2022 was a surprising year.

“At the start of last year, there was general consensus that inflation would mostly return close to central bank targets by the fall, around 2% on annual basis in Canada,” says Edmonton’s respected Jean David (JD) Tremblay-Frenette, chief economist at the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo). “Instead, we are now toying with the idea of ‘higher inflation for longer’ and grappling with building portfolios that could be more resilient to inflation.

“Last year also made us realize the extent to which geopolitics can impact the future of trade amongst regions across the globe, how portfolio and investment flows cycle through, about growth, debt profiles and the long-term cost of money. Wealth management and diversification, from both an asset class and geographical perspective, have become increasingly important.”

In Alberta, the impact of the aging Boomer generation, combined with years of pandemic business disruptions and

BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // MARCH 2023 33 THE TRICKY WORLD OF WEALTH MANAGEMENT STRATEGIZING // WEALTH MANAGEMENT
ENCOURAGING
RIGHT: JEAN DAVID (JD) TREMBLAY-FRENETTE, CHIEF ECONOMIST AT THE ALBERTA INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT CORPORATION (AIMCO).
GOOD NEWS
“WEALTH MANAGEMENT AND DIVERSIFICATION, FROM BOTH AN ASSET CLASS AND GEOGRAPHICAL PERSPECTIVE, HAVE BECOME INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT,” SAYS TREMBLAY-FRENETTE.

health worries, are redefining wealth management strategies. The wealth management ecosystem is undergoing major disruption, primarily because of shifting demographics, as wealth shifts hand from Baby Boomers to Millennials. Another factor is constantly emerging and changing digital technologies, which are also boosting wealth management disruption, as well as the expectations of both investors and advisors.

“One of the big trends we saw among our clients is an increased focus on their health and wellness, and on getting their affairs in order as they age,” notes Cal Malhiot, vice president of RBC Dominion Securities for Alberta and Prairies. “We have established strategic partnerships with organizations like the National Institute on Ageing as part of a broader healthy aging strategy to help educate our clients on important issues they face as they age, such as avoiding fraud and cyber scams, preparing for health issues and organizing their estates.

“One of the new rules of wealth management is that you generally need to plan for longer life expectancies. In the past, people worked until they retired at the traditional age of 65. They collected their company pension, they invested in safe investments like GICs (which paid decent interest) and they lived for five or 10 more years enjoying their golden years.”

Now, when it comes to the basics and the strategies of wealth management and maximizing returns, there may be educated guesswork but there are no set rules.

Tremblay-Frenette explains that AIMCo invests globally on behalf of 17 different public pension, endowment and government fund clients across Alberta.

“Unlike other investment companies who may be compelled to pay closer attention to quarterly results and much shorterterm horizons, AIMCo targets performance over the longterm. We firmly believe that when you focus investments on the long-term, it outperforms trying to time holdings.”

He underscores that AIMCo has a 10-year total fund net investment return of 8.62 per cent, earning $78.1 billion in net investment returns for its clients.

Given the constant flux in the economy and the various unexpected broadsides, pension fund managers must also

manoeuvre a somewhat trickier tightrope than ever before. A pension plan is a retirement plan that requires an employer to make contributions to a pool of funds set aside for a worker’s future benefit. The pool of funds is invested on the employee’s behalf and the earnings on the investments generate income to the worker upon retirement. Pension fund assets need to be prudently managed to ensure that retirees receive promised retirement benefits.

For many years, this meant that funds were limited to investing primarily in government securities, investmentgrade bonds and blue-chip stocks. Today, pension fund managers are updating and re-defining their perspectives and focus.

34 MARCH 2023 // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM THE TRICKY WORLD OF WEALTH MANAGEMENT STRATEGIZING // WEALTH MANAGEMENT
“ONE OF THE BIG TRENDS WE SAW AMONG OUR CLIENTS IS AN INCREASED FOCUS ON THEIR HEALTH AND WELLNESS, AND ON GETTING THEIR AFFAIRS IN ORDER AS THEY AGE,” NOTES MALHIOT.
ABOVE: CAL MALHIOT, VICE PRESIDENT OF RBC DOMINION SECURITIES FOR ALBERTA AND PRAIRIES.

Some new fund manager strategies include top-down investing, bottom-up investing, fundamental analysis, technical analysis and other factors. Today, fund managers increasingly invest in a variety of asset classes, including private equity, real estate, infrastructure and securities like gold that can hedge inflation. In a sector with few strategic rules, pension fund assets must be managed with duty to ensure eligible retirees receive the benefits they were promised.

When it comes to the broader (more personal and private) minefield of wealth management, Malhiot underscores the many reports and surveys that show drastic new trends in lifestyle and aging. It’s a fact, and the stats are undisputable. People are living much longer in retirement; nearly two more decades on average past the traditional retirement age of 65, and they are re-calibrating wealth management goals, strategies and expectations.

“Things have changed a great deal since the days before the ‘Tech Wreck’ of 2000 – when investor speculation in technology stocks led to a bubble that inevitably burst,” he points out. “Investors learned some valuable lessons coming out of that painful experience. Today, investors are no longer looking for the latest ‘hot stock tip.’ They understand, more and more, that investing is a long-term process that involves setting goals and building a diversified portfolio to help those achieve goals.

“They get it. Some investments will go down, and others will go up. That’s why diversifying is important. Historically, the long-term trend of the markets is up. It helps tune out any doom and gloom about the latest ‘crisis’ affecting the markets and the economy and to stay focused on the long-term.”

While much of the business and economy aftermath of the pandemic is in the rear-view mirror, wealth management

experts suggest that the past years have also impacted perspectives about life-planning and wealth management. Malhiot mentions that the pandemic got people thinking about later-in-life planning and triggered thinking about legacy for the next generation and options for getting affairs in order.

“Ensuring that there is an up-to-date will that reflects current wishes and any recent life changes is essential. A recent RBC Wealth Management poll found that only 48 per cent of Canadians surveyed had a will, which is the basic building block of any estate plan. Among those aged 35 to 54, that dropped to 34 per cent.”

Whether it is private wealth planning or fund manager strategizing, wealth management has always been irrevocably connected to the economy. It’s why wealth management advisors and fund managers agree that at least part of 2023 will have lingering speedbumps. Goods supply chains will continue to weigh on markets, even if consumers spend more on services. Rising household debt will be a continuing concern and there is a lingering possibility of a recession, due in part to persistently high inflation.

The connection also translates into encouraging good news.

“Despite ongoing economic challenges, Canada’s economic situation is in decent shape, especially when you compare it to other countries,” Tremblay-Frenette says. “While the Bank of Canada has had a busy 2022 raising rates, the imminent economic downturn will reduce some of the excess demand that is boosting inflation. It will help prices and inflation expectations (both for consumers and corporations) come down and provide less risk over the long-term.”

BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // MARCH 2023 35 THE TRICKY WORLD OF WEALTH MANAGEMENT STRATEGIZING // WEALTH MANAGEMENT

ESSENTIAL EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

No doubt about it! In Edmonton and throughout Canada, there is a dynamic new fact of workplace life. Employers everywhere are taking more of an interest in the well-being of their employees. The COVID years proved to underscore just how important it is for businesses to support not only the physical health but also the mental health of employees.

For many Edmonton businesses, corporate health and wellness has become a vital organization priority, which not only impacts productivity, workplace atmosphere and other job-related aspects but also impacts the company’s bottom line.

36 MARCH 2023 // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM ESSENTIAL EMPLOYEE BENEFITS // CORPORATE HEALTH
WORKPLACE BENEFITS THAT IMPACT THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE BUSINESS’ BOTTOM LINE

The once vague topic of corporate health and wellness has morphed way beyond traditional benefits such as dental plans and quirky health coverage like massage therapy and gym memberships. Today’s cubicle conversations are about shortterm counselling, flexible work hours, life balance, fitness trackers, on-demand workouts, meditation and mindfulness, stress management, collagen for age reversal, sleep products and crisis responsiveness. Some companies have gone as far as incorporating a wellness day – a way for employees to take a day off and do a fun thing for themselves.

Recent surveys show that employers are doing more than “woke” lip-service and are walking-the-walk about the concept; healthy and happy employees are more effective, engaged and satisfied in their jobs.

“There has been a growing awareness that investments in employee well-being will support employee engagement, productivity and performance. In addition, it has also been shown to reduce costs like turnover, absenteeism and presenteeism in the workplace,” says Victoria Grainger, founder of Edmonton’s Wellness Works Canada, the respected not-for-profit workplace health and performance association supporting workplace wellness practitioners and employers in building healthy, high performing work cultures.

“Since the pandemic, there has also been a growing sense of responsibility for employers to support employee mental health. Let’s face it. We are living in an echo pandemic where the rates of mental health problems have surpassed the actual impact of COVID-19 itself. It continues to directly impact employees’ mental fitness and performance.

“The majority of all large organizations in Edmonton are invested in employee well-being. In some organizations, we still have ways to go to truly integrate employee well-being into day-to-day practices. Organizational well-being, or workplace health and performance, is much more than a program or initiative. It is about having a philosophy that, in order to do well, we must be well. It is a risk management and organizational performance tactic.”

Grainger adds that Edmonton’s businesses are focused on employee health and wellness. “It’s important to note that a corporate health and wellness plan does not require a lot of investment, fancy apps or gyms. It is simply about prioritizing employee well-being with things like flexible work options, recognition, empathy, civility and respect, and ultimately, a culture that has a people-first lens.”

While shifting workplace trends have been emerging for several years, corporate health and wellness consultants are unanimous. The past two years of pandemic work disruptions, stressing about jobs, health worries and adapting to remote work routines have taken their toll on mental health and other new-normals of corporate health and wellness.

BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // MARCH 2023 37 ESSENTIAL EMPLOYEE BENEFITS // CORPORATE HEALTH
ABOVE: VICTORIA GRAINGER, FOUNDER OF EDMONTON’S WELLNESS WORKS CANADA.
“IT’S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT A CORPORATE HEALTH AND WELLNESS PLAN DOES NOT REQUIRE A LOT OF INVESTMENT, FANCY APPS OR GYMS. IT IS SIMPLY ABOUT PRIORITIZING EMPLOYEE WELL-BEING WITH THINGS LIKE FLEXIBLE WORK OPTIONS, RECOGNITION, EMPATHY, CIVILITY AND RESPECT, AND ULTIMATELY, A CULTURE THAT HAS A PEOPLE-FIRST LENS,” ADDS GRAINGER.

According to Amrita Maharaj-Dube at Homewood Health, dealing with the pandemic triggered stresses, anxieties and economic uncertainties that contributed to an overall surge in the demand for mental health services at work.

“A recent StatsCan survey showed that one in three Canadians reported a decline in their mental health,” says Maharaj-Dube. “The need for a comprehensive continuum of mental health services is evident.

“The most sought-after wellness services by employers include individual and family mental health support, assistance with financial and legal matters and support for leaders managing their own mental health and that of their employees. Substance use issues can be particularly challenging, especially in safety-sensitive industries where the risks of errors or misjudgment can be catastrophic.”

She explains that corporate health and wellness initiatives are often part of a broader suite of tools, resources and supports offered as part of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Surveys show that in today’s market, a comprehensive EAP is essential to any competitive employee benefits package.

Maharaj-Dube adds that conversations with Edmonton business leaders is now focused on the promotion of EAP services to employees. Business leaders inquire about the type of support needed and the frequency of access, without compromising the employee’s confidentiality and privacy.

“These insights help leaders drive internal education efforts about EAP services. EAP is one of the most important benefits companies provide to their employees. Over the past five years or so, Homewood has noticed an increased demand for corporate health and wellness services, particularly among small and medium-sized businesses seeking to attract or retain top talent.

“As with other employee benefits, choice is key. Employees are seeking flexible and easy access to in-person and virtual modes of mental health care.”

Corporate health and wellness experts point out that mental health programs and training on resilience, well-being and burnout are very popular and effective, if offered consistently. Many local companies have also started to enhance health benefits, as well as offering

employee and family assistance programs to provide more mental health support.

A dynamic example of Edmonton area organizations modifying, updating and offering a broad range of health and wellness programs for employees is the City of Edmonton. The City employs more than 13,000 staff. Edmonton is a major employer and provides holistic and comprehensive workplace wellness programming, services and policies aimed at fostering a work environment that supports the well-being of employees, builds resilience and encourages employees to access resources when faced with challenges.

For example, the City’s health programs and resources include short-term counseling/crisis response and mental health training such as The Working Mind Program and Workplace Wellness Promotion (which includes Corporate Mindfulness Sessions, Domestic Violence and Our Workplace, which is eLearning focused on the moral, legal, and safety obligations regarding domestic violence and the workplace). The City also offers Wellness Wednesdays, Live Active sessions and two annual wellness fairs.

As an employer of more than 13,000 people, the City also offers other employee supports like a peer support program, workplace wellness consultations and sacred spaces (available for employees to use for quiet personal time and prayer).

“EAPs offering health and wellness initiatives are important to all employees,” Maharaj-Dube points out. “When it comes to Edmonton’s business pulse, small and mediumsized businesses are diversifying the economy and want comprehensive EAP services for their employees.

“In Edmonton, the energy sector is a major economic driver, although it continues to experience its share of hardships and uncertainties. Edmonton is also a major education hub and the new generation of employees entering today’s workforce expects a comprehensive mental health support program. It is why leading employers in Edmonton are increasingly offering these supports, to attract and retain employees.”

Grainger urges Edmonton business leaders to make corporate health and wellness a crucial priority. “I think a must-have is leaders supporting the psychological health, well-being and the performance of their people. After all, people don’t quit jobs. They quit bad managers.”

38 MARCH 2023 // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM ESSENTIAL EMPLOYEE BENEFITS // CORPORATE HEALTH

2023 Board of Directors

Board

Vice-Chair:

Architecture Interior Design and Planning Ltd.

Secretary-Treasurer: Jason Pincock CEO, DynaLIFE Medical Labs

Past Chair: Dennis R. Schmidt Principal, ALTURA Legal Advisory

Board Directors

Nicole Bird Owner, Rsvp Design Inc.

Nathan Carter Vice President, Projects and Construction, ATCO Energy Solutions

Jonathan Gallo Managing Partner, Gallo LLP Chartered Professional Accountants

Sandy Jacobson Vice President, Richardson Executive Search

Sam Kemble Chief Operating Officer, Workforce Delivery Inc.

Annemarie Petrov President and CEO, Francis Winspear Centre for Music

Amir Shami President and CEO, Rotaflow

Celia Wanderley Chief Customer Officer and Head of AltaML Invent, AltaML

Randy Allaire Chief Risk Officer, Servus Credit Union Edmonton Chamber Executive Cadence Bergman Director, Policy

Alexandra Hryciw Director, Strategy and External Affairs

Bobbi Elliott Executive Director, Finance and Operations

Amin Samji Director, Member Services Contact Edmonton Chamber of Commerce #600 World Trade Centre 9990 Jasper Ave, Edmonton, AB T5J 1P7 T: 780.426.4620 | F: 780.424.7946 edmontonchamber.com

Welcome our New Board

Chair:

Haydar Al Dahhan, P.Eng., P.E., IntPE, APEC

Iam honored to serve as Board Chair in 2023 and excited to work alongside my fellow board members. I have been a serving board member and contributor to the policy committee for the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce for the past three years. During my time on the board, I’ve gained a deep appreciation for the vital role that an active Chamber plays in supporting the wellbeing and economic growth of the community and businesses. As a business owner, I understand the many challenges you face. I am committed to making a positive impact and building on the outstanding work of the Chamber over the years.

In 2023, the Chamber will be focusing on diversity and inclusion, as well as ensuring that young leaders see value in what we offer. Edmonton is one of the youngest regions in the country and has been ranked the best community in the country for youth work, on top of that our province is the fourth largest supplier of STEM graduates in the country. We have the opportunity to build on this.

We will also continue our work on reconciliation and build partnerships to tap into the immense capability of Edmonton’s urban indigenous population. With the second highest Indigenous population in Canada, the Edmonton metro region has yet to unlock the vast potential Indigenous people can play in our economic prosperity. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to use its platform and connectivity to the business community to accelerate that potential.

Additionally, we will continue to advocate for the best possible business environment in the Edmonton’s metro region and build collaborative relationships with key partners such as Edmonton Global, Edmonton Unlimited, Health Cities, BOMA, UDI, NAIOP, and the Realtors Association. By doing so we can fuel innovation, help inform decision making and discover new markets.

We will be working even harder to advocate for support for our businesses; and as a group, advocate firmly to the municipal, federal and provincial governments to find support for the unique needs of our local business community. When COVID hit, there was plenty of support and that is something that needs to continue. Edmonton has always been a city of innovation and entrepreneurship, and I’m excited to continue to celebrate our rich heritage and vibrant future. Please look out for opportunities to get engaged and stay connected with the Edmonton Chamber’s work, events and opportunities to connect.

BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // MARCH 2023 39 Share your thoughts on business issues with the Edmonton Chamber at policy@edmontonchamber.com
Executive Chair: Haydar Al Dahhan President and CEO, Design Works Engineering
Aziz Bootwala Managing Principal, Edmonton, Vice President, Business Development, Kasian
Suite 212, 1524 – 91 Street S.W. Edmonton, AB T6X 1M5 Telephone: (780)489-4424 • Facsimile: (780)489-4420 info@appllp.ca • www.appllp.ca At APP & Associates LLP, our objective is to provide value added business advisory services including: • Accounting and Assurance • Tax and Estate Planning • Advisory and Consulting Your local Edmonton firm that thinks regionally, nationally and globally

Member Profile

Box Inc.

What’s your story?

My partner and I founded Indigenous Box in March 2021 after winning $5,000 from a pitch contest by New Relationship Trust.

I’ve always loved discovering new Indigenous businesses to support and love subscription boxes. I realized there wasn’t a box on the market that was made by Indigenous people, with us in mind, for anyone to enjoy. I wanted to create something that would help Canadians discover and appreciate the diversity of Indigenous business. Mostly, I wanted to make a box that Indigenous folks could open and feel like VIPs, because they are.

Indigenous entrepreneurs and makers are doing incredible things, and we wanted everyone to know that. Non-Indigenous Canadians are learning about the trauma and injustices that Indigenous Peoples in Canada are dealing with, and that’s essential. We wanted to tell everyone about the strength, beauty, and ingenuity that exemplifies Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous Peoples are Canada’s youngest and fastestgrowing population segment and are starting businesses at 9x the national average. We are the architects of this continent’s original supply chain; entrepreneurship is in our blood. We are starting to reclaim that space for ourselves.

We started telling that story and it was a message that resonated with A LOT of people. Initially we made 100 boxes and were worried they might not sell. When they sold out in four days we flipped our profits, restocked with double the amount and those sold out in 24 hours. Suddenly this was very real and viable.

We realized there was an opportunity to create new sales channels and customers for Indigenous businesses. We started marketing our boxes as client, employee, and stakeholder gifts, to build bridges between grassroots Indigenous business and these larger markets.

In nearly two years Indigenous Box has shipped over 35,000 gift boxes, achieving nearly $2.5 million in sales. We have an extensive client list and our gift service is trusted by over 400 companies and organizations. We are just getting started!

What do you enjoy most about being a member of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce?

The many opportunities to connect and network with other businesses in the Edmonton area are fantastic. We’ve been able to meet so many like-minded entrepreneurs, find service providers to help our business, and even grow our client list.

What is one thing people are surprised to learn about your business?

We’ve grown so rapidly in such a short period of time with such a modest initial investment. The truth is, we have an incredible community of supporters that make our success possible.

Who is your ideal client?

Our ideal client is looking for ways to engage with Indigenous businesses and communities and cares about reconciliation, especially economic reconciliation. We make it easy for organizations to give beautiful, unique, and meaningful gifts that show their values and commitments while making a real impact. When you support our business, you are supporting so many other businesses through an economic ripple-effect.

What has been your biggest challenge in business, and how did you overcome it?

We’ve grown so fast; we’ve had to learn an incredible amount in a short period of time. Our business is very operations, logistics and supply chain heavy so there are no shortage of challenges or opportunities to improve efficiency. Early on, we decided to take a playful, problem-solving approach. We imagined that our business was a school project and that we were trying to get a good mark. This approach has helped to keep us in a positive and forwardthinking mindset. There have been so many people who have offered their help and advice along the way. We haven’t done this alone.

If you could make one substantial improvement to Edmonton’s business environment, what would it be?

We are excited to see more and more Indigenous participation in commerce in Edmonton and beyond. Indigenous people have so much to offer, and we belong in this space as much as anyone.

42 MARCH 2023 // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM
Mallory Yawnghwe

BUILDING FUN, BUILDING SAFETY, BUILDING COMMUNITY FUTURES

GLVT CELEBRATES
43
35 YEARS

There are many construction companies in Western Canada, but few offer the “playful” twist provided by GLVT. While general contracting, concrete and landscaping/earthworks are services this company offers, GLVT is best known for its playground, skate park and spray park installations, upgrades and repairs.

Gerry Vogelaar opened GLVT on February 22, 1988.

The company was launched out of necessity,” says Garrett Vogelaar, B.Sc, president and Gerry’s son. “My father used to work for and co-own a construction company but saw a need for the niche products and customer service that make GLVT popular today. He started his own company as a one-man venture. I ‘joined’ at the tender age of six as dad’s ‘helper.’” Garrett laughs, “The truth is, I have been around tools my entire life. I joined officially around 2003 as a laborer.”

GLVT’s evolution would soon veer off the typical path, setting the brand on a journey that would change its long-term future.

Garrett explains, “Around 1997, my parents joined a volunteer committee for a community park that needed to be replaced. My father was the community league president, and my mother was on the treasury committee for the playground. Then, mom got hired by PlayWorks (at the time, a playground equipment supplier) and my

father got some contracts with PlayWorks. From there GLVT started building playgrounds and spray parks. That branched out to include pedestrian bridges, gazebos and skate parks.”

When Garrett formally joined GLVT, he had obtained a university degree and was working in a laboratory setting. However, the draw of the family business

GVLT CELEBRATES 35 YEARS | PAGE 2
Garrett Vogelaar, B.Sc

beckoned – and he wanted to work with his father again. The company transitioned ownership between 2016 and 2017 and Garrett used his increased responsibilities and roles to make big changes at GLVT.

“PlayWorks was our main client. I decided we needed to diversify and branch out. We overcame some significant challenges brought on by the transition and quickly grew from one main customer to around 40. We also began to really specialize in park construction. We continued to flip the script and now we also resell park equipment. GLVT provides 360 degrees of service from our products to our customer dealings, and within a unique niche.”

“He continues, “We do a lot of cool projects that are the centerpiece of a community where people gather and where families spend time together. We get to create landmarks with our parks and spray parks. That is very rewarding for the entire team.”

GLVT has completed more than 1,000 projects of varying sizes in Alberta, including the Arrkann Spray Park in Ardrossan Regional Park, the new wheelchair accessible swing in Spruce Grove’s Jubilee Park and the popular indoor playground inside of Parkland County’s Tri Leisure Centre.

Some of the installations are very distinctive. Garrett explains, “McKenzie Towne wanted a 35 to 40 foot fountain in their spray park. We had never dealt with a fountain before! On top of that, it was a recirculation spray park and set up for use year round with fire pits and a skating rink in the winter. All this made for a very challenging project that we greatly enjoyed.”

That was not the only time GLVT had to be incredibly innovative to get the job done. A playground in Ponoka called for a massively tall structure, attached with screw piles. This feature is not common in North America but that didn’t stop GLVT from learning about it and making it happen.

Then there is the Capilano skate park. GLVT installed prefabricated factory-made ramps and finished all the flatwork.

“Most skate parks have shotcrete concrete that is molded in the field,” says Garrett. “For this project, we used ramps indoors in ideal conditions. This means the ramps will last longer and be more durable. We thank the City for being willing to try this innovation in Capliano’s skate park.”

Another service provided by GLVT sees the company retrofitting old recirculation spray parks.

“A recirculation spray park is like a pool,” says Garrett. “It uses water from the municipality but not at the same rate. There is a tank underground that acts as the reservoir. When the water flows into the drain, it moves towards the tank and the pump pulls the water to a filter system to clean it. Then it goes back out to the spray pad. It takes more effort, but it is wonderful for water conservation.

Experts in park space construction for the past years!

Meet Your Accounting Power Team

Congratulations
COLBY • STECKLY CHARTERED PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNTANTS With over 65 years of combined accounting experience Magrath Business Centre #204, 14127 – 23 Ave NW Edmonton, AB T6R 0G4 780.461.0052 info@colbysteckly.ca www.colbysteckly.ca Congratulations GLVT on 35 years! We wish you many more years of continued succes. GVLT CELEBRATES 35 YEARS | PAGE 3

Building a new park around an old system is a challenge, but worth it for the value it brings both economically and environmentally to the city, town or municipality.”

The ultimate goal of GLVT, Garrett says, is, “to do great work for communities so they have beautiful spaces. We create landmark parks for families to enjoy. We want all our customers to know that we can help them achieve what they want for communities of all sizes.

“At GLVT, we are firm about our core values, the 5 Ds. Those are, do what you say, dependable teams, drive for improvement, determined to overcome and dedicated

CONGRATULATIONS GLVT ON 35 YEARS!

We wish you continued success and look forward to working along side your team on future projects.

Our Services

to craftsmanship. Those values help us succeed in our unique place in the construction industry. GLVT ensures safety is the primary concern for every team member and for the project as a whole. With GLVT, you get the best every single time. We push safety. We demand quality. And we advocate for both in our industry.”

Garrett, who is a proud recipient of a Business in Edmonton Leaders award, says a big thank you to the late John Kuby of PlayWorks for his role in bringing GLVT into the playground equipment and installation industry. Garrett also thanks the GLVT team, the company’s many clients and the communities the brand is happy to serve.

“We look forward to the future as we continue to build bigger and more complex projects,” Garrett concludes. “We love the construction side of the parks industry; we get to make kids and their families happy.”

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611 22 Avenue Nisku, AB T9E 7X7 info@glvt.ca • (780) 979-0066 glvt.ca GVLT CELEBRATES 35 YEARS | PAGE 4
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