The Business Advocate - June 2024

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The arts mean business

Family life and entrepreneurs

Kawartha Lakes Business Count


Two innovators on their entrepreneurial journeys

The Kawartha Regions' Premier Business Magazine • June 2024

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JUNE 2024 • VOLUME 01 • ISSUE 03

FEATURE 6 They may be creative, but local arts companies are also conscious of the bottom line.


Whether you’re shopping for clothes or shopping for a new ride, these two entrepreneurs have the future in mind.

FEATURE 20 These entrepreneurs are embracing innovation in their fields. Photo: Sienna Frost.

The Business Advocate is published three times per year in March, June, and October. It is distributed to high traffic locations across Peterborough and Kawartha Lakes, and mailed to every business in our catchment area. Fireside Publishing House family of magazines is independent and 100% local, based in the Kawartha Region.

Publisher: Roderick Benns

Printed By: Maracle Inc.

Editor/Business Development: Rebekah McCracken

Art Direction + Design: Barton Creative Co. Christina Dedes

Contributors: Ian McKechnie Susan Oliver Wesley Found Geoff Coleman Sarah Fournier

Photographers: Sienna Frost Web Developer: Kimberly Durrant

Send editorial inquiries to Roderick Benns at or by calling 705-341-1496.

The Kawartha Lakes Business Count helps take the pulse of the local business community.

OPINION 11 The miracle of compounding.

BIZ BEAT 18 How family life and business realities can work together.

BUSINESS PROFILES 24 Lindsay Paper Box Co. and PRI Engineering

Send advertising inquiries to Rebekah McCracken at or by calling 705-328-5188, or to Cara Baycroft at 905-431-4638. PRIVACY POLICY: The Business Advocate is independently owned & operated. The opinions expressed herein are the views of the contributors & do not necessarily reflect those of this magazine. Photos, text & art work contained in The Business Advocate are copyrighted & may not be published, broadcast or rewritten without the express permission of the Publisher. Liability for incorrectly displayed advertising is limited to publishing corrections or advertising credit for subsequent issues. The Publisher reserves the right to reject, revise, cancel, omit, discontinue or even decline to print advertising without reason or liability, & without notice. The Publisher has made every effort to ensure information contained herein was accurate at press time. The Publisher does not assume & hereby disclaims any liability to any party for damage, loss, or disruption caused by errors or omissions.


A diagnosis of osteoarthritis had Erik wondering if he would ever get back to the activities that keep him young. Fortunately, advanced services are available at his hometown hospital. Ross Memorial was the first hospital in Ontario to use the new hip replacement implant technology that got Erik back up and moving. Now Erik can return to hockey, golf, and hiking the trails with his wife, Denise. From the birth of their daughters to their parents’ end of life care, the Ross has always been there for them. It’s why they support the RMH Foundation and raise funds for hospital needs.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE In the third edition of The Business Advocate, we are proud to showcase two inspiring female entrepreneurs who are making waves in their respective industries. Safiya Khaki is the founder of Easy Fits, which makes a customized avatar for every customer at the heart of its business. She shares her story of how she turned her passion for fashion into a successful business. Sloane Paul is the co-founder of ARC Motor Company, a unique startup that retrofits classic cars with EV engines. Along with her brother, Tom, she has found a niche in the automotive industry. Many people think that art and business are incompatible, but strong business acumen is needed to be successful in artistic endeavours of all kinds. As writer Susan Oliver shows, we explore how a few local arts-related businesses need to balance their artistic vision with their financial goals, and how they can use business strategies to reach a wider audience and sustain their work. We are also delighted to welcome Sarah Fournier as a new columnist in The Business Advocate, joining Wesley Found and our panel of business experts. Sarah highlights two local entrepreneurs who are making a difference

in their communities and industries. In addition to our regular features and columns, we also have two profiles of local businesses that are thriving in their respected industries. PRI Engineering is a civil engineering firm that provides geotechnical, environmental, and construction services to clients across Canada. We learn about their projects, their values, and their vision for the future. Lindsay Paperbox Company is a family-owned business that manufactures and supplies paperboard packaging products to various industries. We discover how they have adapted to the changing market demands and how they maintain their quality and customer satisfaction. Need to reach other businesses for success? This magazine has you covered, given we are mailed to every business in Peterborough and Kawartha Lakes. Find our contact information on the contents page. See you next in October!

Roderick Benns,

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How three local arts and culture venues produce exceptional programming while never forgetting the bottom line BY SUSAN OLIVER



Big Science, choreographed and performed by Ryan Kerr and Kate Story at The Theatre on King. Photo by Andy Carroll.

The notion of the “business of the arts” may sound contradictory to some, particularly in relation to non-profit and charitable arts organizations. However, these organizations are well-organized entities engaged in economic activities and to achieve specific objectives. They incorporate key business elements such as strategic focus, operational excellence, customer relations, financial management, and continuous innovation and operate with a commitment to transparency, accountability, and ethical conduct. Significantly, they create value through their mission of benefiting the social good. While there is no one-size-fits-all business model for the non-profit or charitable arts, traditionally, they have been designed to serve the mission at the core while also generating working capital. Globus Theatre, Market Hall, and The Theatre on King are three long-running non-profit and charitable arts organizations in Peterborough and the Kawartha Region. Each stand as an example of different operational approaches devised to navigate unique challenges and opportunities. Located in Bobcaygeon and established in 2003 by Sarah Quick, artistic director, and James Barrett, artistic producer, Globus Theatre is a registered charitable organization with a mission to provide professional theatre in a rural area. Globus is the company in residence at the Lakeview Arts Barn (LAB) and presents entertaining and innovative works year-round. Pre-season, Quick reads about 40 plays and chooses what will fit. “I can picture the audience that will love each offering,” she states. She thinks outside the box with a mind to artistic excellence, creating works through unexpected sources, such as the This Day in Sports podcast, which will be performed live on stage this June. While never shutting down any ideas, Quick is always conscious of costs. Shows are a thoughtful mix of those that Quick knows will be popular too for “bums on seats” with ones outside the norm, that generate opinion and conversation. While continually rising production costs affect many theatres’ revenue goals, Quick states that theirs have not changed much over the years (budgets are based on previous years’ sales) because they choose the types of plays to produce in terms of affordability. “I come from a fringe festival background, so I have always considered whether a play is a five-hander or two-hander (five actors or two) and the extensiveness of the sets.” This allows them to keep ticket prices as affordable as possible in service of accessibility. “Globus is like no other organization in the country,” says Quick. “It is its own entity.” This is partly because of its unique connection to LAB, which for 15 years provided a

Sarah Quick, artistic director, Globus Theatre.

JUNE 2024


space with no rental fees, ensuring that revenue can be put entirely into production costs and the growth of the theatre company. With this support and ticket sales leading their revenue mix, Globus applied for very little government funding for many years. The pandemic precipitated a change to that model, with tourism funding now playing a role and serving as a benefit to the local economy in bringing visitors — including many enthusiastic Mirvish transplants — to the region. Sponsorship and a donor program provide much-appreciated additional support. Connection to the community and laying the groundwork for the next generation of art lovers is Globus’ raison d’être. Administrative staff are from the area, and people are trained within the organization to build the company. Classes are offered for children and youth in drama and performance, and participants get the opportunity to perform for a live audience. (The Christmas panto is so popular that it was triple cast this past year).

comprised of the operational components — rental costs, tickets, concessions — of the Centre’s rental and presenting programming streams. “We had a completely self-funded presentation series last year, which put $180,000 into artists’ pockets,” says Hogan. “I think there can be a perception that half of these (charitable) organizations are a cheque that gets cut (from the government), but it’s simply not the case in our position.” Market Hall has more than 200 bookings (rentals and presentations) a year, with rentals now being booked 12-18 months in advance. Earned income through municipal government funding accounts for 10 per cent of the mix; donations comprise the other five per cent. Market Hall navigates the balance between artistic excellence and financial viability first and foremost by having a solid strategic plan with clear and concise deliverable objectives. Hogan also takes some calculated risks by bringing

“It is about youth finding their place,” Quick says — a commitment demonstrated by rehearsals working around hockey schedules. For 20 seasons, Globus has thrived through continuous innovation. LAB activities went away during the pandemic, so the theatre administration shifted its operations from summer to year-round offerings. They removed seats and dotted people safely around the space, moved outdoors (with bonfires warming the audiences from the February cold), and provided online options, all giving much-needed engagement to their community. Globus is evolving again with a capital campaign to purchase its venue to “support long-term sustainability and further invest in the theatre’s team and programs to ensure providing innovative and creative programming for the next two decades and beyond.” Market Hall Performing Arts Centre Inc. is a not-for-profit, registered charity located in downtown Peterborough. Its mandate is “To establish, operate and maintain a facility or facilities for performing and/or visual arts in the City of Peterborough. To provide for the holding of theatre productions, music concerts, art exhibitions and education and informational programs relating to the arts for the general benefit of the public.” The centre operates under a service agreement with the City of Peterborough, leasing the building to deliver the services of a performing arts centre and event venue to the community. This agreement results in the costs of operating Market Hall for the tax base being infinitely more affordable than communities running their own municipal operations. “It is one of the best values that could be in place for a city,” states Chief Executive Officer Chad Hogan. “It is extremely high value for what is returned as evidenced by the revenue mix.” Self-generated revenue is around 85 per cent of the mix, 8


Chad Hogan, CEO of Market Hall Performing Arts Centre. Photo: Wayne Ferguson.

bigger acts into the room. “Not to say you start booking everything based around how much money you can generate, but there is a place, particularly in music, where artistry and commercial viability intersect, so when that does happen, it creates the conditions to pursue other projects which might be viewed in isolation much riskier on its own, but in the context of a season is much easier to justify based on the risk-calculations that you began the whole thing with.” Market Hall’s success is a testament to the vibrant community it serves. With a diverse client base ranging from local arts groups, filmmakers, and motivational speakers to government forums, it truly embodies a community space. As Hogan puts it, “If you are actively involved in the community, you would be hard-pressed not to make it through the doors a couple of times a year.” The Theatre On King (TTOK), Peterborough’s only black box theatre, is a unique cultural asset in the city’s downtown. It was established in 2013 by Artistic Director Ryan Kerr. Operating differently than most larger charitable organizations, TTOK is a non-profit charitable trustee of Public Energy Performing Arts (PE). With intersecting missions to enrich the community through inclusivity, risk-taking, and interdisciplinary arts incubation, and programming for a diversity of audiences, this type of partnership benefits PE by enhancing its capacity to fulfil its charitable mandate, TTOK in providing administrative and funding support for activities that might not otherwise be feasible, and the community through increased opportunity to experience innovative programming. Leasing the space from a private property management company, TTOK, in turn, rents to diverse artists and local groups. Working capital is generated from rentals, box office (with paywhat-you-can options), funding and

donations. Staff is paid a small wage, and Kerr and Artistic Administrator Kate Story (along with General Manager Shannon McKenzie) wear many hats: accountant, publicist, marketing, psychologist, and more. “Everything is about keeping the space open; there are no expense accounts; if money is needed for rent or utilities, it comes out of my salary,” says Kerr. TTOK is not just a theatre but a platform for collaboration and community engagement. Over the past 11 years, it has provided a space for theatre and dance performances, book launches, readings, comedy improv, workshops, and classes, each reaching the community 40 seats at a time. It has also fostered numerous partnerships with community organizations, including the New Canadians Centre, the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre, the Elizabeth Fry Society, and Trent Radio, demonstrating its commitment to inclusivity and diversity. Following the pandemic and the Peterborough City Council’s denial of community investment grant program funding in 2023, Kerr and Story shifted their operational model. Programming now is “less curatorial (presenting) and more a practice in art-making (incubating new work, mentoring emerging artists, hosting residencies, and providing resources and training),” says Kerr. This strategic shift has thus far allowed for a continued commitment to the art and the community. “Writing and performance saved my life,” says Story. “I feel a need to pay it forward.” By that measure, TTOK will continue to find a way to make their business of art work. With a purpose to serve and benefit the community, like any successful business, these organizations do so through strategic decision-making, creative initiatives, and hard work, enabling them to weather ever-changing economic, social, and political trends to continue to thrive. TBA

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Anything worthy of attention follows a compounding pattern. They are present in nature, art and indeed business. Compounding provides the beauty in our world and the living standard we all enjoy today. The way a business becomes successful is compounding on old growth. Popularized compounding terms are synergies, leverage, networking, and customer mix to name a few. What is crucial in understanding compounding in this context is a small catalyst, say a pivot in product offering or price, can produce an exponential change in business outcome and by extension your community over time. If I were to give you a choice between a million dollars or a penny that doubled in value everyday for 30 days, what would you take? Most would take the first offer. Break out your calculator and double a penny 30 times. That penny would be worth over $5,000,000! What if you increased the productivity of your business by one per cent everyday? Safe to say small tasks are transformative. The compounding effect is a way of thought rather than finance equations. Do you put more value on the present performance or laying the groundwork for future performance? In math language this is called your discount rate: how much of your time and resources do you put towards the present rather than the future?

The way we structure our society, and, in turn, our economy follows nature’s example. In this context, businesses in a community are a species of tree of different sizes, maturities, and locations. Other important community organizations and residents can be represented by the various other species of trees, shrubs, plants, and animals in the forest ecosystem. Together, we make the economy and community that is Kawartha Lakes. This vibrant and diverse ecosystem has a keystone species: small businesses. Businesses with less than 10 employees represent 74 per cent of all businesses in our area. Increasing the number of employees only makes this presence larger. We play a key role in the canopy, lungs, roots, and fungal system of our forest. Providing the Kawarthas with a temperate zone in which our communities beauty and living standards are based on. Collectively, we are the single largest employer and service provider. The most likely to volunteer, support our local media, arts, culture and sponsor the local soccer team. We do this not from a grand vision for our community but through small tasks that are harnessed by the eighth wonder of the world.

If I were to give you a choice between a million dollars or a penny that doubled in value everyday for 30 days, what would you take? Nature is built upon this concept. A tree may decide to spend most of its current resources producing seeds rather than growing its trunk and branches. They even use some of their resources helping neighbouring trees via a forest’s complex root and fungal system. While seemingly altruistic, keeping the forest healthy is valuing its own future. The ecology of our world and the economics of our business landscape are akin. From my perspective as an economist, this makes perfect sense: nature has the large task of finding the most productive way of allocating limited resources to create vibrant and diverse ecosystems.

Wesley Found is president of Linborough Property Corp and an active community member of the Kawartha Region. JUNE 2024


Safiya Khaki, owner of Easy Fits. Photo: Sienna Frost.





Two women with Kawartha Region ties innovate when it comes to online shopping and classic car EV conversions BY GEOFF COLEMAN

While at different ends of the consumer spectrum, two women with Peterborough connections are breaking new ground in their respective fields. One helps people when shopping on what we used to call the information superhighway, and the other gets people driving on what we still call a highway. One of the great things about shopping online for clothes is the free returns. If the fit is wrong, you can try another size without a lot of trouble. But, requiring a second delivery increases your carbon footprint, delays the fun of wearing something new, and we keep hearing free returns may soon be as out of style as padded shoulder blazers. Safiya Khaki and her company, Easy Fits, have a plan to help with that. The former university business and finance major turned software developer has created a way for shoppers to get it right the first time with a virtual model of oneself. “The way our software works is that as an end user you create an avatar customizable to your exact measurements and then you have the chance to add in gamified features so that the avatar resembles you not just through measurements, but through some features as well. Once you’ve created this avatar, you can use it on any of our partner sites via a widget.” When you enter one of her partner store sites, you can log into your account and the avatar will appear with the piece of clothing you’ve selected. You can then browse through different sizes as well as make the piece of clothing transparent to see a more accurate fit. Other features in the pipeline include a heat map for increased fitting accuracy, and as you continue to use the service you will get size recommendations through a machine learning algorithm. The process differs from other virtual try-ons such as those used for eyeglasses in that the camera-shy among us don’t ever have to take a photo. “We don’t require you to upload any images of yourself or even open your camera. The only time investment that you would put in is a two-minute onboarding process to create your avatar, and you’re set to try on clothing virtually,” says Khaki.

JUNE 2024


Incredibly, Khaki claims the avatar will work with any piece of clothing from any manufacturer: “Our process when onboarding a client involves taking their inventory and turning each item of clothing into a 3D model that is compatible with our avatars. Through our novel back-end process we can recreate any piece of clothing, in any size and material.” The company’s slogan is “feel good fit” arising from Khaki’s hope that everyone can feel their best, and most confident self every single day, starting with the pieces of clothing they choose to put on. “I moved to Canada as an international student four years ago, and I found it difficult to fit in, especially when going to networking events or attending meetings. I felt that I looked different from everyone else in the room – almost all the time – and the one thing I could control was my confidence. I began realizing that when I put on clothes that fit me well, it was just that much easier to be confident in myself.”

“We don’t require you to upload any images of yourself or even open your camera. The only time investment that you would put in is a two-minute onboarding process to create your avatar, and you’re set to try on clothing virtually,” says Khaki. The market is certainly huge. A full 41 per cent of Canadians have bought women’s clothing online, second only to electronics and computers. With that in mind, Khaki conceptualized the idea during the COVID pandemic, after unsuccessfully trying various methods to determine size when shopping online. None of them let her see what the piece of clothing would look like on before buying. Avatars did exist, AR did exist, advanced technology existed but nobody used this technology to solve this particular problem. “I first thought it would be as simple as taking avatara and simply superimposing a piece of clothing on it. Though I quickly found out it wasn’t as simple as that, I felt that the industry needed a solution and the least I could do was give it a shot.” The platform is for all genders, and currently integrates into storefronts that are powered by Lightspeed with Shopify & Squarespace next on the horizon. After two years of sweat equity, Easy Fits has caught the eye of investors with $275,000 raised in venture capital and angel investment. Additionally, the stores pay for the service. For every sale that is made on the retailer’s website where the plug-in is used, Easy Fits receives a percentage of the sale. 14


“Lots of challenges arise because technology like ours doesn’t exist in the market and we are subject to a lot of limitations in technology and software libraries. When I started this journey, I was a business and finance major at university. To many – and to myself, sometimes, too – it sounded unattainable to start a tech company without knowing how to write a single line of code. However, I did have other strengths, so I played to my strengths. I could lead, network and learn.” Initially, she spoke to universities to establish internships with their students and found students who could make a low-fi prototype. “After that, we got initial traction, and it was easier to attract the talent that we needed. All the while, I did start learning how to code and took multiple courses on tech leadership, and product and project management that allowed me to lead the team in building the product. I want to thank my mentors and advisors who have been pivotal in my journey, especially the Innovation Cluster.”

Sloane Paul and Tom Chep, the sister-brother team behind ARC Motor Company. File photo.

ARC MOTOR COMPANY Meanwhile away from the huge women’s clothing market Sloane Paul mines a very different niche market, eschewing leather jackets and hoodies for leather upholstery and engine hoods. Paul’s passion is converting gas-powered cars to EVs at her business, ARC Motor Company. “I always loved cars growing up. When I had the opportunity to restore my 1969 Ford Bronco, I wanted to electrify it, but couldn’t find a company in Canada to do so, to the specs that I needed. Therefore, I saw it as an opportunity to start ARC with my brother, Tom Chep, as COO and head of engineering. We focus on iconic classic cars and fleet vehicles. We have also just launched a new arm to ARC called ARC Recharge where we provide businesses and residents premium EV chargers.” Paul grew up in Peterborough and now lives in Toronto. But they decided to launch ARC in her hometown, considering their longstanding connection there. Peterborough is also where Chep still lives.

Older cars are better candidates for this kind of conversion, says Paul, because they’re simple compared to the computerized cars of today. If the car comes from an era where it could have been fixed by a backyard mechanic without a diagnostic tool, it has good potential for conversion. If it has a computer-controlled transmission for example, it may prove more challenging. Paul explains, “Every vehicle is a custom build. We are client-obsessed, so we make sure to design a build around what our clients want and need. Our clients are car lovers who come to us from all over North America.” So why do people want and need a conversion instead of buying a new, state-of-the-art EV? For some, the reason comes down to maintenance. In relation to classic cars specifically, potential clients of ARC Motors have a vehicle collecting dust that they absolutely would love to drive but don’t because it requires a lot of maintenance. “When you electrify a classic car, there is zero maintenance. You jump in and go.” JUNE 2024


In regard to fleet vehicles, when the truck is at the end of their warranty, it’s more cost efficient and better for the environment to electrify it. The truck’s most expensive part to maintain is the engine. So, once this is removed, there is nothing that needs to be maintained or fixed. It’s more cost efficient than purchasing a new electric truck and you’re helping reduce the amount of vehicles that end up in a scrapyard.” ARC budgets one to three months for each conversion. They do not take on bodywork or mechanical repairs, focusing only on turning a gas-powered vehicle into an EV. Conversion is a six-step process, beginning with a de-ICEing where they remove all components related to the internal combustion engine (ICE) and drivetrain. Next, they do a 3D scan of the vehicle to identify how much space is available to fit in the electric components, batteries and hardware. Then the engineers design a custom EV system to meet the client’s specs for range, torque, horsepower and so on, and then fabricate the necessary battery boxes, mounts, and brackets. After installation, it is given a road test, and any issues are addressed before they finally hand over the keys.

ARC budgets one to three months for each conversion. They do not take on bodywork or mechanical repairs, focusing only on turning a gas-powered vehicle into an EV. ARC Motors is a self-funded endeavour, and Paul and her brother are grateful for the support and guidance coming from both Community Futures Peterborough and the Kawartha Lakes CFDC. Speaking on behalf of the Innovation Cluster, Vice Chair Christine Crandall said they were extremely proud of all clients who have taken advantage of the services offered, adding that Easy Fits and ARC Motor Company are prime examples of what is required to be successful. “It takes passion to sustain you through the hard times. The most successful entrepreneurs are not just in it for the money.” The Innovation Cluster is in its 20th year and continues to evolve. Crandall says clients five years ago are very different from those she sees today. “In 2019 our clients were typically community entrepreneurs. These were mom and pop, smaller, hobby-based operations. Today we see more of a tech focus, whether that means IT or medical technology, and we see existing companies that are looking to become larger. In some ways this mirrors how Peterborough has changed from a big town to a small city.” TBA 16


Sloane Paul of ARC Motor Company. Photo: Sienna Frost.

Growth is coming to Kawartha Lakes How can your business benefit? Council has committed to 6,500 Housing Starts by 2031. The majority of growth is in Lindsay, where the population will nearly double in the next 10 to 15 years.

Notable developments in Lindsay: May 2024

Development Concierge Take advantage of the growth by scaling up your business. Our team can assist you with: navigating development projects connecting you with sector specific business programming and supports site selection funding opportunities Find more information at development-concierge

Economic Development Strategy Refresh

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Our Economic Development team is getting ready for this growth by refreshing our strategy for 2024 to 2029. Stay tuned to for project updates.

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While the term entrepreneur inspires images of someone working tirelessly on their business, delving deeper into the daily lives of these individuals uncovers a narrative that contradicts the solitary stereotype of the “solo-preneur.” Local business owners Corrie Worden of Kent Street Tattoo and Maria Coates of Turtle Riot have decades between their business start dates, but while many things have changed in business, the impact and involvement of their families in and on the business remains the same. Whether it’s been two or 20 years, it’s clear that the intricate tapestry of family life is deeply interwoven with the demands and triumphs of entrepreneurship – and no one from the family is exempt from involvement. Maria Coates is the visionary behind a groundbreaking game app, Flora’s Reign, that merges the natural world with augmented reality. She works closely with her husband, Brandon Bunnie, the game developer behind the app, exemplifying how entrepreneurship is a shared adventure. For them, Flora’s Reign is not just a game, but a testament to their shared passion and commitment to the business. “He does it because he loves to do it, and because he loves me,” Maria shares with a laugh. After beginning Turtle Riot while on maternity leave with her third child, Maria found that entrepreneurship gave her more control over where she channelled her energy. “Having a home-based business means the boundaries are blurred and that they’re always going to be blurred,” she explains. “Being able to decide how to work it into our schedule has allowed us to focus on centering care for our family.” The dynamic collaboration between Maria and Brandon goes beyond a mere division of tasks. It’s a fusion of complementary skills, shared vision, and a genuine concern for each other’s wellbeing throughout the business-building process. If one is getting stuck in the weeds, the other is there to pull them back to balance… and the production schedule. In entrepreneurship, family dinners become impromptu brainstorming sessions, car ride conversations revolve around business strategies, and a quiet evening can result in a pivot in the business or its offerings. For Corrie Worden of Kent Street Tattoo, her entrepreneurial journey with husband, Ryan, began in 2000 with an ecommerce business that started before the term entered the common vernacular. More than 23 years and a couple businesses later, Corrie stresses the need to be constantly thinking ahead and being open to trying new things. “You can’t coast in a business,” she explains, as Ryan, close by and preparing the shop for opening, nods his agreement. It’s a phrase Corrie’s dad used when he ran his electrical business that remains true for them as they manage their tattoo shop. “If you’re unwilling to try new things, you won’t know what might work and what might flop,” she ex-



Maria Coates worked closely with her husband, Brandon Bunnie, to create the game Flora’s Reign.

Corrie Worden of Kent Street Tattoo.

plains. During the pandemic, when closures and restrictions limited personal service offerings, Corrie and Ryan opened a vinyl business at the front of their shop. While the pivot initially brought in supplemental income, it also gave them the opportunity to introduce another passion to clients and gave a soft opening to people interested in tattoos but feeling anxious to come in to book an appointment. For women entrepreneurs like Corrie and Maria, the journey involves both the complexities of business and the pursuit of a balanced life. Taking advantage of the flexibility entrepreneurship offers has empowered these women to tailor their work hours to fit the demands of family life, allowing them to attend school holiday concerts, drive kids to appointments, or take a sick day without the guilt that accompanies the call into work. For them, it’s not just about creating something they’re proud of and provides for their families but reshaping the very structure of work to fit the contours of their fulfilling lives. For both women navigating the business landscape, their children are growing up immersed in a world where passion and dedication converge. “It’s all my kids know,” Corrie says of her four almost-adult children who have grown up alongside their entrepreneurial endeavours. “You put your sweat equity into the business and hope it works out, because you have no benefits, no holidays, and all four of your kids might need braces.” From witnessing the feast or famine of business ownership to absorbing the creative energy that fuels their parents’ ventures, kids of entrepreneurs are not mere spectators but often active participants in the journey.

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“My kids are all on board,” Maria explains when asked about her kids’ interest in the business. “They love coming up with new features and ideas for the game.” While the exposure brings unique opportunities for learning and growth for kids and adults alike, it also reminds Maria of their purpose. “What we’re doing is for our children,” she says. The experience of seeing an idea come to fruition shows the value of resilience, innovation, and the unbreakable bonds that come with building something meaningful. And in Maria and Corrie’s case, how the support of loved ones becomes the bedrock of success.

Sarah Fournier is the co-owner of Colour and Code in Lindsay. JUNE 2024




Downtown Lindsay. Photo: Kestin York. THE BUSINESS ADVOCATE

The 2023 Business Count for Kawartha Lakes was released recently, showcasing the municipality’s economic strengths – and some of its challenges. The Business Count is a collaborative venture supported by Kawartha Lakes Economic Development, local chambers of commerce and the Lindsay Downtown BIA, which provides insights into the region’s economic makeup. The annual survey helps enhance the city’s understanding of local businesses and serves as a pivotal tool for guiding economic development and policymaking. Rebecca Mustard, manager of economic development for the city, says one of the most practical and tangible ways the survey can help is when “a business shares that they are in need of assistance or has a question – (then) we are able to work with them right away.” Mustard says once the data is aggregated, “we use it to understand the structure of our local economy and inform programming development,” which helps with justifications when applying for funding to other levels of government. She says it also helps ground assumptions, such as that industry and trades sectors remain “a significant contributor to full time jobs across the municipality.” From June to August 2023, staff surveyed businesses and employment properties across Kawartha Lakes, including the commercial areas of Lindsay, Bobcaygeon, Fenelon Falls and Coboconk-Norland. While the Business Count 2023 brought Kawartha Lakes’ economic strengths to the forefront, it also identified challenges, such as skill shortages in certain sectors. Addressing these gaps presents an opportunity for both local businesses and policy makers, according to the city. When asked how this method of gathering data on this topic squares with other ways the city ‘counts’ its businesses and industry, Mustard says the Business Count is “a comprehensive street level data collection method.” She notes there are other data sources that count businesses, industry, and employment, which are available to see on the city’s website. This represents higher level data that comes from various sources including Statistics Canada. “Both provide valuable insights into the local economy with different collection methods.”

Rebecca Mustard, manager of economic development, Kawartha Lakes.

JUNE 2024


When asked if there was a concern with retail being too dominant, Mustard admitted the industry is strong at 30 per cent of the businesses owners who completed the survey. “Retail is a strong industry in this data set. When looking at the insights report, it is important to remember the geography being surveyed which has a focus on downtowns, commercial, and industrial areas. Due to this, we should assume to see a strong retail presence. Retail in these areas, particularly downtowns is a good sign of a healthy downtown.”

Businesses were grouped into four major categories: Arts, Culture, and Hospitality; Industry and Trades; Retail; and Services. The Retail and Services sectors (including accommodation and food services) dominated the number of businesses surveyed, illustrating the region’s strong consumer market. Meanwhile, Industry and Trades categories highlighted the importance of these sectors in providing employment in Kawartha Lakes.

Melissa McFarland, executive director of the Downtown Business Improvement Association in Lindsay, confirms there are only a handful of vacancies in Kawartha Lakes’ largest downtown. Mustard says the 2024 Business Count will be coming this summer, and the city is hoping even more businesses will participate. TBA

Total Businesses Surveyed: 672 Total Business Employment: 6,479 JOBS Occupied Floor Space: OVER 3 MILLION SQUARE FEET Independently Owned Businesses: 64% OF BUSINESSES SURVEYED




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HOW THE LINDSAY PAPER BOX CO. LTD. REDEFINES INDUSTRY STANDARDS IN FOLDING CARTON MANUFACTURING BY IAN MCKECHNIE There are benefits to being small. “Unlike larger competitors bogged down by bureaucratic layers, we empower our crosstrained employees to make swift, informed decisions, ensuring efficiency at every step of the process,” says Fierheller. “Our approach to communication cuts out the middle management of a large supplier.” Overall, the firm has thrived by leveraging its size, agility, and commitment to excellence in a field that many consumers probably take for granted – after all, it is what’s in the box that drives people to make purchases. But the box itself can speak volumes about a company’s commitment to quality and sustainability.

For more than 70 years, the Lindsay Paper Box Co. has been finding solutions to a myriad of packaging projects near and far.

“In today’s environmentally conscious world, sustainability is more than just a buzzword – it’s a responsibility,” says Fierheller. “That’s why Lindsay Paper Box is committed to promoting sustainability through our products and practices. Paperboard packaging, the perfect substitution for single-use plastics, is at the heart of our eco-friendly initiatives. By utilizing renewable resources and minimizing waste, we are helping to protect the planet for future generations.”

Founded in 1951, and originally located on the shores of the Scugog River at the end of Bond Street, the Lindsay Paper Box Co. soon outgrew these quarters and relocated to its current address at 55 Needham Street in 1989. Over the last 35 years, the company has made considerable strides in becoming a household name in the folding carton industry. Many products catalogued by Fortune 500 companies – ranging from camera and computer supplies to well-known food and beverage brands – can be found in boxes manufactured here in Lindsay. Among the firm’s memorable clients are microbreweries and wineries, with the LPB Co. working with these enterprises to help establish a new retail presence for their products. As an independent, family-owned manufacturer, the LPB Co. has thrived amidst fierce competition from industry giants, offering unparalleled value and reliability. And that spirit of family extends to the environment in which LPB employees work. Employees are trained in the principles of lean manufacturing, and as a cross-functional workplace, the LPB Co. thrives in having people from a variety of backgrounds come together to achieve common goals. “We have highly skilled operators and staff, the majority of whom have decades’ worth of experience,” says Greg Fierheller, who has owned the company with Tim Raven since 2009. 24


Greg Fierheller, top left, has owned the company with Tim Raven (bottom) since 2009. Photos: Sienna Frost.


PRI ENGINEERING LAYING FOUNDATIONS IN THE RENEWABLE ENERGY FIELD BY IAN MCKECHNIE about the prospects for PRI going forward – especially in the burgeoning renewable energy sector. While solar farms seem to be ubiquitous these days, Yazdani says that this sector has only made a splash in Canada over the last 12 to 15 years. “There are not a lot of guidelines and experts in this field, and that is what allowed us to propel the business,” Yazdani observes. “The nice thing about a niche market is that there is not a lot of competition; there are really not many individuals in North America that have the experience my team has here in terms of working on renewable energy projects.” And while PRI Engineering may have its foundations in Lindsay, it is laying literal foundations far and wide. Most of its projects are taking place in Alberta and in the state of New York. One especially exciting project involved PRI designing the foundations for a solar farm being constructed over a former tailings pond in northern Michigan. They have also been working with First Nations communities north of Vancouver Island on a solar-powered generation system to reduce the community’s dependence on diesel-powered generation. Nestled in a nondescript plaza at the northernmost end of St. George Street in Lindsay, PRI Engineering is making a decisive mark in the world of renewable energy and infrastructure projects. “I was working for a Mississauga-based company called Polar Racking Inc., and prior to that I was working for a competing engineering firm in Peterborough called WSP,” says Arash Yazdani, founder and chief operating officer of PRI. While working for the former, an opportunity presented itself. “One of my old customers reached out to me and asked for some help on a project” he recalls – and so impressed was his client with the results that Yazdani was soon asked if he could do more. Today, PRI Engineering employees some 26 people who are spread across offices in Calgary, Lindsay, and Mississauga. The head office on St. George Street has 10 people on staff, and many have roots in Kawartha Lakes, with alumni from local high schools being taken on by Yazdani’s firm after completing the post-secondary training required to work in so specialized a field. Half a dozen of PRI’s staff graduated from Fleming College, and Yazdani expresses concern about the impact recent course cancellations might have on his sector. “This is a very unfortunate, very shortsighted decision,” Yazdani says. “Those are programs that supported both the infrastructure and the mining industry, two sectors that are supposed to be in an economic boom here in Ontario.”

Renewable energy projects account for about 80 per cent of PRI’s business; the remaining 20 per cent involves more traditional infrastructure projects – such as the reconstruction of Kent Street, in downtown Lindsay, a few years ago. This market, however, is saturated with players, and PRI has more competition locally in the infrastructure sector than they do across Canada in the renewable energy field. “We are the only company based in Kawartha Lakes that does geotechnical engineering,” Yazdani says, “and a goal for 2024 is to grow the business locally.”

Arash Yazdani, (top and bottom), COO of PRI Engineering. Photos: Sienna Frost.

Though labour shortages are a challenge, Yazdani is excited

JUNE 2024



REWRITE YOUR BUSINESS MONEY STORY BY BRIAN RUMP Your business money story is not going as planned. That is, of course, if you are like most business owners, working hard but never seeming to have the time or money to live the life you want. If you don’t own a business or you own one and are making all the money you want, there’s no need to read further.

Business Coaching to help you rewrite your money story so that you earn the profit you need to fund the life you want.

A good story is about a hero (you), who wants something (a great life), but encounters a problem (oh so many when you run a business), and meets a guide (me) who helps them solve those problems to win the day and get the success they want. When you run a business every problem you encounter gets in the way of earning more money, and money is what you need to fund the life you want. You want to live in a good business money story. The problem is most businesses suffer from bad money stories, such as being afraid to ask for money, ineffective (or non-existent) marketing, sales staff who are afraid to sell, unclear economic priorities, a complete lack of processes, perpetually tight cash flow and your own personal limiting beliefs around money. This can look like trying to run your business on a patchwork of other people’s ideas and systems. It can look like applying your personal money beliefs to your business. It can feel like losing your suitcase and having to wear someone else’s clothes. It sort of works, but it’s not comfortable and doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t fit you. You want a business that fits you. The best thing about your business money story is you are the author. You can rewrite yourself a better story by discovering the parts of your business money story that are not serving your business. You then use simple frame26


Rewriting your money story is easy:

works to create focused economic priorities, simple and clear marketing, get your sales team to sell, and manage your cash flow so that you have enough money to fund the life you were after when you got into business in the first place. Tell me, as you read this what’s coming up for you when it comes to your business money story? I bet you can already spot the bad stories holding you back. Brian Rump is the business coach who helps you rewrite your business money story so that you earn the profit you need to fund the life you want. Brian is a former commercial banker, and consultant and is a Business Made Simple Certified Coach and a Certified StoryBrand Guide. If you’d like to live in a better money story, maybe you should talk to Brian? Email to set up a conversation.

1. Discover your money story 2. Identify the parts holding you back 3. Rewrite a better money story

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As a small business owner, driving traffic to your website and increasing SEO might be your primary goal, but getting eyeballs on your website is only half the battle. The true measure of success lies in conversion–transforming those visitors into paying customers. And yet, many businesses pour resources into their marketing strategy and tactics without optimizing their site for conversions. Long story short, if your website isn’t converting, you’re wasting money on marketing. As business owners, you might overlook the importance of user experience and focus more on your own goals. Aligning the content, design, and functionality with the needs and preferences of your target audience is essential for conversion. Here are some actionable steps you can take to enhance your website’s conversion rates and maximize the return on your marketing investment:

UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE Research and analyze your target audience to understand their pain points, interests, and preferences. This can help you tailor your content and design to resonate with your audience, addressing their main needs, desires, or concerns.

WRITE COMPELLING CONTENT Content is King, especially when it comes to engaging your visitors and persuading them to take the next step. Creating high-quality, relevant, and helpful content can help you captivate your audience and communicate your unique value proposition effectively. Incorporating persuasive calls-to-action (CTAs) to guide your audience through the sales process can help you convert visitors. SPONSORED CONTENT

CRAFT AN IRRESISTIBLE OFFER When asking visitors to take the next step in the buying process–whether it’s making a phone call, booking an appointment, or requesting a quote–it’s essential to make an offer that’s impossible to resist. Can you offer a limited time discount, a referral kick-back, or valuable information that positions your business as the superior choice? Knowing your audience and what drives them can help you develop this offer to improve conversions.

TAKE CARE OF THE BASICS Optimizing for mobile, enhancing the page load speed, and providing a seamless checkout process are all bare necessities for a website that converts. Taking the steps to make every website interaction a positive one for visitors is non-negotiable to ensure a consistent and reliable brand interaction. If they’re not immediately impressed, you will see bounce rates increase and conversion rates drop. Don’t waste money on marketing efforts that push people to an under-performing site. By partnering with website experts that focus on conversion, you’ll see a big difference in the effectiveness of your marketing. Invest in a website that drives sustainable business growth and turns your visitors into customers. JUNE 2024




Putting in place your Will and Powers of Attorney is important for your estate plan. However, estate planning in Ontario involves more than just creating a Will. It includes managing financial health, safeguarding assets, and ensuring family security. Without a proper estate plan, assets may be distributed according to provincial laws, leading to unintended outcomes. Inadequate planning can result in avoidable legal fees, taxes, and family conflicts. A well-crafted estate plan provides peace of mind by ensuring loved ones are cared for and financial affairs are organized. Typically, the estate planning process will involve the following steps:

INITIAL MEETING Your lawyer will discuss your estate planning needs, objectives, and provide recommendations. Gathering necessary information beforehand, such as current Will, investment summaries, tax bills, and any agreements that affect the way you are permitted to deal with one or more of your assets (such as a cohabitation or marriage agreement, co-ownership agreement or separation agreement), can make this meeting more efficient. You should also consider your specific instructions regarding your trustees, beneficiaries, and guardianship of minor children.

INVOLVEMENT OF OTHER PROFESSIONALS If appropriate and with your consent, your lawyer may engage with your accountant, financial and/or insurance advisors to determine the best approach to your estate plan.

DRAFTING Your lawyer will build your plan, including drafting your Will and Powers of Attorney, along with any additional documents tailored to your needs, such as Real Property Agreements, Deeds of Gifts, Trusts or Mutual Will Agreements. 28


REVIEW AND SIGNING Your lawyer will review your draft estate plan with you to receive your input and comments and address any questions you may have, prior to finalizing your plan for signature. Typically, your lawyer will witness your execution of your estate plan.

IMPLEMENTATION Once signed, it is essential to ensure effective implementation of the estate plan. This may involve transferring assets into trusts, updating beneficiary designations, arranging insurance, and making any other necessary legal arrangements.

REGULAR REVIEW Life circumstances and laws change over time, necessitating regular reviews of your estate plan. Your lawyer can assist in updating your plan to reflect life changes such as marriage, divorce, births, deaths, or a change in financial circumstances.

COMMUNICATION Transparent communication of your estate plan with loved ones, trustees, and relevant parties can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure your wishes are carried out as intended. Estate planning is a continuous process that requires careful consideration and professional guidance. With thorough preparation, collaboration with professionals and regular review, you can build a comprehensive estate plan that secures your legacy, protects your loved ones and ensures your wishes are fulfilled. SPONSORED CONTENT



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WHAT DOES INSURANCE MEAN TO YOUR BUSINESS? BY ERIN EMERY, SENIOR FINANCIAL CONSULTANT From start up, through development, and into the succession stages of a business, owners put their everything forward. There is little time to consider threats that can cripple business operations. What if a partner or shareholder is diagnosed with cancer and must undergo treatment? Could the business continue without their support and expertise? The average course of chemotherapy is three months or longer. Depending on the stage of cancer there could be four plus cycles of treatment1. This could result in a treatment period of one year and additional time for recovery resulting in one to two years to return to normal. There are a few options if this situation occurs. The existing partner(s) or owner(s) may take on extra workload. Or the business hires someone at an additional cost. A better option is for the company to purchase a Key Person Critical illness insurance policy on all partner/owners and key employees. For an annual premium the policy would pay out a tax-free lump sum on diagnosis of several different critical illnesses (cancer, heart attack, stroke, etc.). Most critical illness claims are for cancer2. What if a partner was in a car accident and unable to return to work? Would the surviving partner(s) be in business with their spouse? An average of one in three people in Canada will be disabled for more than 90 days before age 653. The company would most likely take on debt to buy out the partners shares. A disability buy sell policy will pay a lump sum over one to two years to buy out the partners shares if they are totally disabled and unable to complete 80% or more of their occupational duties. For an additional cost you can add a residual or partial disability rider that would payout for loss of duties less than 80% as low as 20%. Most disability claims are related to pain, flexibility, mobility and mental health4. Business overhead insurance is an affordable way to cover fixed expenses such as rent, employee wages, marketing, utilities, etc. for up to twenty-four months if you are disabled. Businesses can own both overhead expense and a disability buy sell policy. What if a shareholder or partner passes away unexpectedly? Like a disability buy

sell policy businesses can purchase a life insurance policy to fund a buy sell agreement upon the death of a shareholder or partner to avoid using operating capital or debt to buy out the deceased shareholder. If the shareholder agreement is set up properly the funds from the life insurance proceeds flow through to the deceased shareholders estate tax-free through a credit in the Capital Dividend Account (CDA). Careful planning is required in the shareholders agreement for corporations. A lawyer, accountant, and financial planner should be consulted to ensure each type of policy and agreement are set up properly. Further planning is required for complicated health history. In most cases an advisor can work with you to provide an affordable solution that works.

Mabee & Associates Private Wealth Management Investors Group Financial Services Inc. This is a general source of information only. It is not intended to provide personalized tax, legal or investment advice, and is not intended as a solicitation to purchase securities. Erin Emery is solely responsible for its content. For more information on this topic or any other financial matter, please contact an IG Wealth Management Consultant. Insurance products and services distributed through I.G. Insurance Services Inc. Insurance license sponsored by The Canada Life Assurance Company. 1. Canadian Cancer Society – Chemotherapy: treatments/treatment-types/chemotherapy. 2. Society of Actuaries Product Matters March 2017 Issue 106 Pg. 15: newsletters/product-development-news/2017/pro-2017iss106-ljucovic.pdf. 3. CLHIA A Guide to Disability Insurance pg. 1: CLHIA_LP4W_LND_Webstation.nsf/resources/Consumer+Brochures/$file/Brochure_Guide_to_Disability_ENG.pdf. 4. Statistics Canada New Data on Disability 2022:

JUNE 2024


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