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January 2013

New Store For Long Time Thunder Bay Based Company: Lowerys

When the Cat's Away Getting better frontline decisions - without you What A New Events Centre Could Mean To Thunder Bay EXPANSION OF AVIATIONRELATED INDUSTRIAL PARK UPBEAT HIRING CLIMATE EXPECTED FOR THUNDER BAY

New Office Building In Thunder Bay One Of The Most Advanced In Canada \

Local Company Does Hurricane Sandy Clean Up Work In New York


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THUNDER BAY BUSINESS JANUARY 2013

Local Company Does Hurricane Sandy Clean Up Work In New York BY SCOTT A. SUMNER

Thunder Bay BUSINESS Thunder Bay based company GridLink is back from several weeks of doing electrical work in New York after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. “ We were just down in New York working on Hurricane Sandy starting out in Vermont. Our company was invited to come down three days before the storm hit. They sent us towards the coast and then to Long Island for a few weeks. We had 8 staff and 7-bucket trucks there. There were high winds that knocked power lines down. We worked at Bedford in the Martha Stewart and Chevy Chase

neighbourhoods who had massive trees come down in their yards,” said Jody Bernst, President & Owner of Grid Link. Jody is trained as a power line technician and previously worked for Thunder Bay Hydro, Ontario Hydro, BC Hydro, in

California for a time and Alberta. “ It was a good experience for our young staff and nice to see their different work procedures and standards.” Gridlink was founded in December 2000. They currently have a staff of 20 including administrative, technical and mechanical. The core of their work is in the construction and maintenance of power lines including hydro vac excavation, directional drilling, fiber optics and civil work like line clearing and brushing. “ Our clients are usually utilities and industrial clients whom need a hook up of power. A mine needs to run power lines all over. We also work with Thunder Bay

Hydro in the areas of pole replacements,” said Jody Bernst. “ The business is going well. “ It was a life experience for our guys to work in New York, to be right in the heart

Sebastian Bart Foglia who does business development for GridLink and Jody Bernst, President & Owner of Grid Link of a natural disaster and help people get dards governed by the electrical authority their lives back in order.” said Sebastian for this type of work. Gridlink is a unionBart Foglia who does business developized firm and subscribe to the safety rules. ment for GridLink. “ My role is to greet the customers and service them the best “ We can do some routine tasks with out we can and also get new clients. Our de energizing the line which allows the health and safety program in second to plant to keep operating. Gridlink is well none. In our line of work it is a high risk positioned to meet some of the demand in environment and having a high regard for the mining area and we are expanding safety is important.” now to meet the demand that is currently being presented to our company. The Gridlink will come in to compliment the economy looks good from where we stand. Thunder Bay Hydro staff when they are My background in large utilities allows us too busy and can do private property lines. to implement some good procedures in our Typically the utility will end their line at company.” said Bernst. the property line and Gridlink will install Gridlink has just purchased a new larger the rest to where the customer is going to building on Mountdale Ave and will move use the power. There are stringent stantheir operation there next year.

www.thunderbaybusiness.ca Find out about Northwestern Ontario business on line. Reach thousands of unique computer users daily with your message. See videos on business happenings in our region. Call for information on our online advertising packages. Great print and electronic combinations! Call Sylvia or Sherry at 623-2348 www.northsuperiorpublishing.com


THUNDER BAY BUSINESS JANUARY 2013

Publisher’s Note Scott Sumner

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What A New Events Centre Could Mean For Thunder Bay

Each November I make the 3-hour drive to Duluth to spend 5 days over their Thanksgiving period. My first priority is to cover the annual Amsoil Duluth National Snocross presented by Traxxs. This major snowmobile race attracts some 40,000 spectators and 100’s of racers from all over the world. This year started out similar to the past with big concerns about snow availability for the race track. In fact my car told me it was 15 degrees Celsius on my way down on Thursday. The Spirit Mountain Ski area has over 20 snow guns, so they had been making snow, but is always a struggle it seems. This year the snow hit Thursday night and I woke up to a snowy scene in Duluth where the previous day there had been none. It is fun to stay at the Holiday Inn and Suites right downtown and connected by skywalks to Canal Park. This property is currently undergoing a $4 million renovation to all rooms and common areas. It will university hockey team. I have always said they do it big in America. The Amsoil Snocross races were excellent as usual and I did many interviews and videos on the event which you can see

in our sister publication NW Ontario Snowmobile News and web site www.slednews.com You can follow me on twitter Scott Sumner @tbay25

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Next Issue be the place to stay in Duluth. The development of Duluth always amazes me especially at their waterfront and with the large

freeway like road system they have. This year the timing was right to attend a UMD Bulldogs Men’s Hockey game when they played against St Cloud, MN. There has been lots of talk about our own events centre in Thunder Bay and attending a game at the new $80 million Amsoil Arena will certainly give you a glimpse of what could happen here in Thunder Bay. This arena is really a mini NHL facility with 6700 seats and many corporate boxes and a fantastic media set up. They have a large general media area, Home TV, Home Radio, Away Radio and Away TV rooms. It was fun to watch an exciting game next to the away colour commentator for radio. My hockey experience was complete with pizzas and soft drinks to keep the media happy. This game was sold out with 6700 tickets at about $30 each. That’s pretty good revenue for a

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THUNDER BAY BUSINESS JANUARY 2013

When the Cat's Away Getting better frontline decisions - without you by Jeff Mowatt As a manager, you may assume that the guidance you give to your employees while you're on-site, will translate into them making better decisions when you're away. Unfortunately, the reverse may be true. Sometimes a manager's advice on customer care ends-up making bad service even worse. For example, a supervisor reprimands a teller for being too slow. In response, the teller starts being abrupt with customers. A

store owner tells an employee that he is not up-selling enough, so he attempts to up-sell all the time - even when there is a long waiting line. Not good. Not for customers, employees, or profits. The solution is not to avoid correcting employees; instead, it's to augment your feedback with another tool. If you're not using it yet, consider using prioritized service standards. Here's how it works. Faster isn't always better

multinational oil company in charge of the help-desk call centre. The twenty employees who report to you are responsible for taking calls from coworkers all over the world with computer problems. Your department receives about five thousand calls a month. Your objective is to improve both your employees' customer service and their morale-on a limited budget. Incidentally, this is an actual case example based on one of my clients who asked me to assist in training their helpdesk employees.

Imagine that you're a manager in a If the manager tried to boost productivity and customer satisfaction by pushing employees to work faster, the results would likely have been a mess. You'd have employees who felt like they were being rushed and customers who felt the service was abrupt. Mistakes would happen that would require more time to correct later. Compare this poor outcome to the results of using prioritized service standards. Setting your standards Let's say that your management team has established these five corporate values or standards: quality, courtesy, efficiency, innovation, and safety. You then take these standards and interpret them for each department. When we applied this strategy to the oil company helpdesk, here's the ranking we determined: 1. Quality. In the case of the call centre, the 'quality' of the service is measured by the percentage of calls where the customer's problem is solved over the phone on the first call. It's why the department exists, so it's number one. 2. Courtesy. This relates to the customers' perception of the way they are being treated by call-centre employees. 3. Efficiency. This is where we measure call volume-how many calls the employee handles. 4. Innovation. This relates to ideas that help-desk employees generate to help reduce the overall number of calls. 5. Safety. In the case of a help-desk for a call centre, where co-workers are phoning with questions about using a computer, there is little physical danger involved. That's why it's listed last in the call-center's five values. The shift in decision making The next step is to train the help-desk staff on each of the five standards and their priority. Once this is done, the employees are held accountable for upholding them. For example, since quality comes before efficiency, they know that it's OK to take more time with a customer to fix the problem right the first time. In terms of courtesy, we equipped them with Influence with Ease速 skills on how to handle upset callers who are having computer problems. Efficiency is still important, so they know they can't spend fifteen minutes on idle chatter with customers.

Since innovation is also a standard, employees also know that they need to generate ideas to prevent future problems. In other words these service standards help to clarify the priorities upon which decisions are based. Without these standards, employees may focus on the last thing they were criticized for; regardless of whether it makes sense in a particular situation. The bonus is that these same standards can be applied to the company's other departments by simply adjusting the priority. Adapting with Ease Let's move from the help-desk of this oil company to the retail service stations. Gas stations have the same service standards as the help-desk, but gas station employees would interpret or prioritize the corporate values differently. For service stations you end up with the same standards; but the priority is now: 1. Safety 2. Courtesy 3. Efficiency 4. Quality 5. Innovation By having prioritized service standards for their department, gas station employees have a clearer idea of what's expected of them. Since safety is ranked higher than courtesy, kiosk cashiers know that it's OK to not turn on the gasoline pumps for a customer who's smoking near the fuel tank, even though the customer may not like it. Of course, since courtesy is the second priority, employees need to be equipped with communication tools that we provide on how to break bad news, without losing the customer. Bottom line - supervisors can do less leaning over the shoulders of frontline workers. Prioritizing your service standards will make employees less stressed and customers more satisfied. As for managers - who knows - maybe for once the cat will have a chance to play. Customer service strategist and professional speaker, Jeff Mowatt is an authority on The Art of Client Service . . . Influence with Ease速. For Jeff's other tips, self-study resources, and training services on this topic, click Improving the Sales and Service Culture. This article is based on the critically acclaimed book Becoming a Service Icon in 90 Minutes a Month, by customer service strategist and professional speaker Jeff Mowatt. To obtain your own copy of his book or to inquire about engaging Jeff for your team, visit www.jeffmowatt.com or call 1.800.JMowatt (566.9288).


THUNDER BAY BUSINESS JANUARY 2013

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UPBEAT HIRING CLIMATE EXPECTED FOR THUNDER BAY Thunder Bay area employers expect an upbeat hiring climate for the first quarter of 2013, according to the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey. “Survey data reveals that 13 per cent of employers plan to hire for the upcoming quarter (January to March), while 13 per cent anticipate cutbacks,” stated Florentine Bahlieda of Manpower’s Thunder Bay office. Another 71 per cent of employers plan to maintain their current staffing levels while three per cent of employers are unsure of their hiring intentions for the upcoming quarter. “With seasonal variations removed from the data, Thunder Bay’s first quarter Net Employment Outlook of 13 per cent is a slight increase when compared to the previous quarterly Outlook of 10 per cent,” said Bahlieda. “It is also a 10 percentage point decrease from the Outlook reported during the same time last year indicating a positive hiring pace for the upcoming months.” “Job seekers in all regions except Quebec are likely to benefit from a hopeful hiring climate from January through March, with employers in Western Canada and the Maritimes reporting the most positive Outlook,” said Byrne Luft, Vice President of Operations, for Manpower Canada. “With regional Outlooks experiencing slight increases compared to the previous quarter, job seekers should maintain confidence in the labour market as employers throughout Canada anticipate the hiring pace will remain steady through the winter. Most of the new jobs created in Canada this year have been full-time positions. This continuation of the trend toward fulltime employment is an encouraging sign.”

Manpower Employment Outlook Survey Reveals Canadian Employers Anticipate a Favourable Hiring Climate for the First Quarter of 2013; Job Prospects Strongest in Transportation & Utilities sector Canadian employers expect the hiring cli-

mate to remain favourable for the first quarter of 2013, with employers in the Transportation & Public Utilities sector reporting the strongest 1Q job prospects, according to the latest results of the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, the most extensive, forward-looking employment survey in the world. With seasonal variations removed from the data, the Net Employment Outlook of 13 per cent is a slight increase when compared to the Outlook reported in the previous quarter. This Outlook is also a one percentage point drop from the Outlook reported during the same time last year. However, results for the first quarter do represent a continued trend of steady hiring patterns seen over the course of the last year. The survey of over 1,900 Canadian employers reveals that 13 per cent of them plan to increase their payrolls in the first quarter of 2013, while seven per cent anticipate cutbacks. Of those surveyed, 78 per cent of employers expect to maintain their current staffing levels while two per cent are unsure of their hiring intentions for the upcoming quarter. “Job seekers in all regions except Quebec are likely to benefit from a hopeful hiring climate from January through March, with employers in Western Canada and the Maritimes reporting the most positive Outlook,” said Byrne Luft, Vice President of Operations, for Manpower Canada. “With regional Outlooks experiencing slight increases compared to the previous quarter, job seekers should maintain confidence in the labour market as employers throughout Canada anticipate the hiring pace will remain steady through the winter. Most of the new jobs created in Canada this year have been full-time positions. This continuation of the trend toward fulltime employment is an encouraging sign.” Transportation & Public Utilities Employers forecast an active hiring climate, reporting a Net Employment Outlook of 21 per cent for the first quarter of 2013. This quarter’s Outlook is a five

percentage point increase from the forecast reported for the previous quarter; it is also a nine percentage point increase from the Outlook reported during the same time last year. The Transportation & Public Utilities sector reported the strongest Outlook since Quarter 3 2008. It is the strongest Outlook for any sector in the first quarter of 2013. Services In the Services sector, employers anticipate a steady hiring climate for the first quarter of 2013, reporting a Net Employment Outlook of 16 per cent. This forecast is a slight increase from the Outlook from the previous quarter and a moderate increase from the Outlook of 11 per cent reported during the same time last year. Construction Reporting a Net Employment Outlook of 16 per cent, employers in the Construction sector anticipate an upbeat hiring climate for the upcoming quarter. This forecast is relatively stable when compared to the Outlook reported during the previous quarter and a moderate increase over the Outlook of 11 per cent reported during the same time last year. Finance, Insurance & Real Estate Employers report a Net Employment Outlook of 15 per cent for the first quarter of 2013, indicating a respectable hiring climate. This Outlook is a moderate increase from the forecast of nine per cent, which was reported for the previous quarter, and is an increase of five per cent when compared to the Outlook reported during the same time last year. Education Employers report a Net Employment Outlook of 13 per cent, indicating a hopeful hiring climate for the upcoming threemonth period. This quarter’s Outlook is a conservative increase from the previous quarter when sector employers reported an Outlook of seven per cent, and a considerable increase from the Outlook of four per cent reported last year during the same time. Manufacturing – Durables

The Net Employment Outlook for employers in the Manufacturing – Durables sector remains at a favourable 12 per cent. This Outlook remains unchanged when compared to the prior quarter’s forecast but it is a five percentage point decrease when compared to the Outlook reported in the same quarter last year. Wholesale & Retail Trade In the Wholesale & Retail Trade industry sector, employers anticipate a hopeful hiring climate, reporting a Net Employment Outlook of 11 per cent. This quarter’s forecast is unchanged when compared to the previous quarter’s forecast and is a slight decrease compared to the Outlook of 14 per cent reported during the same time last year. Mining Employers in the Mining sector anticipate a mild first quarter in 2013, reporting a Net Employment Outlook of eight per cent. This is a nine percentage point reduction from the Outlook reported in the previous quarter. The Outlook is modest, with a considerable decrease from the Outlook reported during the same time last year. Public Administration In the Public Administration industry sector, employers anticipate a fair hiring environment for the first quarter of 2013, reporting a Net Employment Outlook of eight per cent. This is unchanged when compared to the previous quarter. It is also relatively stable compared to the Outlook of nine per cent from the same period last year. Manufacturing – Non-Durables In the Manufacturing – Non-Durables industry sector, employers report a Net Employment Outlook of six per cent indicating a mild hiring climate for the first quarter of 2013. Employer hiring intentions are relatively stable when compared to the previous quarter, when employers reported an Outlook of five per cent.


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THUNDER BAY BUSINESS JANUARY 2013

New Store For Long Time Thunder Bay Based Company: Lowerys BY SCOTT A. SUMNER

Thunder Bay BUSINESS The name of Lowerys has been synonymous with office products in Northwestern Ontario for over 100 years now. Sam Lowery, great grandfather of the Christie family, founded this fourth generation business in 1905. Andrew Christie, grandfather, bought the business in the 1930’s. His son Brian Christie took over and 4 of his 5 children own and run the business today. They are Scott Christie, Sales Manager, Kim Christie, Furniture Manager; Andrew Christie who oversees the machine area and accounting and Shawn Christie who looks after the print area and helps in sales. The other Christie family member is Kevin

Christie who is a chef at the Valhalla Inn at Runway 25. He was in Toronto for 25 years before just recently came back to Thunder Bay. “ We have an operational manager, Jason Gerry, who came on board about two years ago with the start of the new building project and one of his main jobs has been to help us get that done.” said Scott Christie. Brian Christie still comes in 5 days a week to work at Lowerys with the same work ethic his father had. “ Brian started in the business when he was 10 and been at Lowerys for over 60 years. He knows a lot about the business and keeps us all under control and kind of dots the eyes and cross the tee’s.” said Kim Christie. The fourth generation Christie family has worked at Lowerys for almost all their lives. Scott started working in the business at the age of 10. “ I would walk here after school and help out. I did deliveries as soon

three brothers and sister got into it full time. A major competitor came in 1994 and required them to reorganize to compete and get prices the best possible. Today they offer some of the lowest pricing available.

Above: Scott Christie shows the large space that will allow better service to customers as I got my license but started full time when I was 22. Shawn started working here full time when he was 18. We all started in the warehouse, then moved into deliveries and then sales. We went door to door to do our sales then and still to this day it is the same way. We pride ourselves on our customer contact.” said Scott Christie. Lowerys have been an iconic business over the years in NW Ontario. In 1993 the

“ We have grown our core products and expanded by acquisition. In 2000 we bought SRC Sheldon Reproduction, then Guide Printing, an office products operation in Kenora and became partners in Fort Frances with a company. We also partnered with Terry Law and set up CompuSmart that we have merged into Lowery’s. We now have a US division of our printing area called SBS, and bought Copycorp, which offered Konica Minolta copiers. We acquired Kakabeka Crystal 2 years ago and integrated it into our operation. It was a big learning curve at Kakabeka Crystal from getting it out of the ground to manufacturing the product and then distribution,” said Shawn Christie. “ Today we have 8 categories of operation: furniture, office supplies, printing, network, IT, copiers, janitorial/sanitation and water. We always wanted to be a one-stop supplier. By expanding our categories we have really tried hard to be able to supply customers with everything they need for the office right down to telephone systems.” Lowerys also have a partnership with MODO, an advertising company. “ Over the last 5 years we have been developing our new office concept. Lowerys has been able to maintain our sales levels and expand but never have been a real retail destination with retail being just 5% of our business today. The new store will change that,” said Shawn Christie. “ There is a market to get into the retail market more so and have always wanted to do more retail. We have the products but just didn’t have the location. Our corporate customers may have to run out and get something right away and can now go out to an intercity location and get it from us.” Continued Next Page


THUNDER BAY BUSINESS JANUARY 2013

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New Store For Long Time Thunder Bay Based Company: Lowerys Continued From Previous Page The new store is located just off Memorial Ave adjacent to the current location of their warehouse and printing operations. This new 2 storey building addition is coming together quickly and will be connected to the existing warehouse and print shop buildings.

to close to about 120 staff in total when the new location is open, expected to be in mid January. “ We used to have been so hands on earlier. On the weekends we would be doing furniture installation. Our background was to be was lean and mean, but today we have many more employees to help serve our customers. We pride ourselves on our

“ We will have a cafe called Scribbles, within the site specializing in coffee and lunch. A store with in a store. People today

service to local clients.” said Scott Christie. “ Our new store took 5 years to develop because our day to day work takes

want more when they shop. If you have a short wait for our services you can stop, have free Wifi and a snack,” said Kim Christie. “ We are also building a big community boardroom with state of the art technology. Someone can rent or use our boardroom and then have it catered by Scribbles. We also want to offer the boardroom for charities. There will be seminars to learn about new products or ergonomics. People aren’t always comfortable with their work stations and will be able to learn more about ergonomics in our seminars.”

a lot of our time. We felt the timing was right with the potential mining boom on the horizon and want to be ready for that. We enjoy the business and sometimes all we think about 7 days a week is what goes

The footprint of the new building is 10,000 square feet per floor, with print at 6000 and the warehouse at 10,000 for a total of area of 36,000. The Lowerys furniture warehouse will be still located at Russell Street in another building owned by the company. “ The IT in the new store area will be very contemporary with 4-46 inch TV’s set up to run as one with streaming movies and demonstrating how you can interact with your devices. We want Lowerys to be a learning facility where we can put on classes in different areas such as digital camera or even have a 55 plus night. The technology of today can be scary and we want to help people get educated in the products.” said Kim Christie. Lowerys have hired about 20 new people so far who are in training and will ramp up

on here. We want to have some different offerings at Lowerys than anyone else in Thunder Bay or maybe the country- some

really interesting things with a cool look. It will be a unique shopping experience.”


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THUNDER BAY BUSINESS JANUARY 2013

EXPANSION OF AVIATION-RELATED INDUSTRIAL PARK BY SCOTT A. SUMNER

Thunder Bay BUSINESS Ontario is supporting the Thunder Bay International Airports Authority Inc. through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC). NOHFC has approved funding in the amount of $1 million, to allow Thunder Bay International Airport to build an extension to the aviation-related industrial park at the Thunder Bay International Airport Authority (TBIAA). This project will accommodate new tenants and allow for the continued growth of the aviation sector in Thunder Bay. Once businesses establish themselves in the expanded industrial park, it is estimated that (within 10 years) up to 270 fulltime equivalent permanent positions will be created – many of which are forecast to be high-paying professional positions. QUOTES “We recognize the important economic development role the Thunder Bay International Airport Authority plays in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario.

viding financial assistance to the private sector to help bring new jobs and economic prosperity to the North.” – Rick Bartolucci, Minister of Northern Development and Mines and Chair of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) QUICK FACTS Thunder Bay International Airport Authority (TBIAA) is a federally incorporated not-for-profit corporation operating the Thunder Bay International Airport (YQT) A nine-member Board of community stakeholders have articulated regional economic growth as a key objective that governs the TBIAA

Our economy in Thunder Bay continues to be one of the best in Ontario, and any further growth at TBIAA accommodated by this announcement will help continue the trend! I look forward to a continued partnership with CEO Scott McFadden in the interests of Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario.” – Bill Mauro, MPP Thunder Bay-Atikokan “The Airport and air transportation sector in Thunder Bay is responsible for half a billion dollars annually in economic activity, and over 5000 jobs. We’re very pleased that the provincial government has agreed to help the TBIAA with its next phase of commercial real estate expansion. The developed lots will be included in the Airport Community Improvement Zone, meaning that aviation-related companies will join others at the Airport that have already taken advantage of additional development incentives made possible several years ago by Bill Mauro. On behalf of the TBIAA I would like to thank Provincial Government, and in particular Bill Mauro, for his ongoing support of the Thunder Bay international Airport.” – Scott McFadden, President & Chief Executive Officer, Thunder Bay International Airports Authority Inc. (TBIAA) “Through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, our government is pro-

The TBIAA markets Thunder Bay’s competitive advantages to international aerospace companies and also seeks local opportunities to assist local companies in growing YQT NOHFC’s Infrastructure and Community

Development Program (ICDP) helps northern communities make the investments necessary to improve critical infrastructure and develop partnerships that find effective ways to create jobs and improve economic prospects in the North.

Bill Mauro, MPP Thunder Bay Atikokan “ Today we announced $1 million from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund to the Thunder Bay International Airport Authority which is going to help them expand the industrial park on the property. It will help attract more aerospace industry to Thunder Bay and NW Ontario. “ “ The airport already is a significant economic driver in this region and will continues with this growth. They have already e run out of larger lots so this is very timely now and will create 8 to 10 lots and up to 270 jobs over a ten year period. In 2006 we created the community economic plan which allows the City of Thunder Bay to provide tax incentives to aerospace companies that locate here. It makes it a little easier to attract companies. The Thunder Bay airport creates $500 million in economic activity and 5000 jobs which is a

large part of our economy. They are a major player in the local economy.” Scott McFadden, CEO of the Thunder Bay International Airport Authority. “ The project will expand the taxi way and road to the lots. Growth has been slow but sure and steady. The demand is coming from mostly existing companies but also from companies doing business in the mining sector. ” Ed Schmidke ,Manager of Business Development, Thunder Bay International Airport Authority. “ The economic impact of 1 Metroliner aircraft from Bearskin or Beech 1900 aircraft from Wasaya that have 19 seat capacity is generating 33 full time jobs, $1.5 million in labour income and $3 3/4 million in economic activity or GDP. There is support from gate agents, refueling, mechanics and support staff.” “ The new Chicago route will offer 375 connecting destinations from there so will really help the Thunder Bay traveler reach their US destination quickly.”


THUNDER BAY BUSINESS JANUARY 2013

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INJURIES AT THE GYM © 2013 Brian Babcock Many people make New Year’s resolutions to get in shape and start their January by joining a gym. No one resolves to get injured trying to get into shape. Thankfully, personal injury lawsuits arising from gym workout activities are rare. The most recent gym injury trial decision I have seen involved a slip and fall by the water fountain rather than gym activities. Gyms, like any property occupier, must take all reasonable steps to maintain their property in a safe condition. Because accidents can still happen, a line of cases called “supermarket cases” provides a judge or jury with a handy checklist of steps a reasonable store (or gym) must

take. To avoid liability the occupier must show they took steps to “put into place a system to safeguard against dangerous substances being allowed to remain” on the surface of the floors; and that there was in fact implementation of that system. In the

patron was injured by dumb bells falling on her arm. The gym was found to have a reasonable system of storage in place. The patron was responsible for her own injury.

water fountain case, the gym was found at fault, mainly because the layout was unsafe and they had poor records regarding cleaning and inspection.

The result is consistent with how the courts deal with recreational activities in general. Participants are usually found to have assumed the risk of the dangers they chose to undertake – very few Plaintiffs win zipline or whitewater rafting cases. Plaintiffs more often win when the danger was unusual or hidden, and the promoter or occupier did not warn them, or actually did something to increase this unusual risk. These same principles apply to gym activities.

In 2011, the same chain was sued when a

For this reason, proper signage and well

Legal Matters

drafted, carefully used “waiver forms” are very important. Disclosure of risks, and being able to prove that the patron was aware and agreed to the risks, is often effective protection for the occupier. The now old, but still famous local case of Crocker v Sundance is a useful reminder that occupiers must supervise patron’s activities, or pay the price if patrons take a risk for which they are not suited. For over sixty years, the lawyers at Weilers have been advising businesses about their legal risks, and representing businesses, insurers, and injured people when accidents happen. Have a safe 2013.

HAVE HEART… EVERYDAY! by Sherry Aalto The Thunder Bay Heart and Stroke Foundation have a few important messages for everyone. As the old saying goes,… ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!’ Who could argue that? To get right to the point, read the following because you may know someone, including yourself, who is afflicted or may become afflicted with heart decease. So, there are a few things you can do to help in the prevention and cure for such afflictions. Did you know,… Heart Month-February each year · today heart disease and stroke takes 1 life every 7 minutes and 90% of Canadians have at least 1 risk factor

· volunteers are the face and voice of the heart and stroke foundation · our team of volunteers, canvass neighborhoods across the city of Thunder Bay (and Canada) raising vital funds to give Canadians longer, fuller lives · Locally we need over 600 door to door canvassers to help us meet our goal for Heart Month Thunder Bay Chapter council · volunteer council works with staff and community partners to raise funds for the advancement of research and promote healthy living · if you would like to get involved with the chapter council please contact Tara Monteith, Area Manager for the Heart and Stroke Foundation

Corporate Support for over 50 years the Heart and Stroke Foundation has been on a mission to improve the health of Canadians · corporate sponsors are supporting the Foundation in its efforts to eliminate heart disease and stroke the leading cause of death in Canada · some of Canada’s leading corporations raise millions of dollars for vital heart and stroke research. · 5 Compelling Reasons to Join Us(corporate sponsors) o Build customer and employee loyalty. The Heart and Stroke Foundation is a leader in preventing and reducing disability and death from heart disease and stroke. o Strengthen the value of your brand by associating with ours. By supporting our efforts, you can bring positive attention to your brand while providing consumers with the tools they need to manage their health

o Promote a healthier workplace. Healthy employees are more productive and better motivated. Encourages involvement in the Heart and Stroke Foundation fundraising activity and promotes a spirit of social responsibility and boosts team spirit on and off the job. o Reach consumers in every community across Canada. Ways to support HSF Big Bike teams of 29 ride a 30 seat bicycle in May each year in Thunder Bay o Dress Red or Dress Down Days in February o Special Events planned and implemented internally o Provide hours of volunteer time for your staff to assist us in our programs Even if you just join the Heart and Stroke Lottery you will be helping support research and giving yourself a greater chance at a life lottery. Act now…Feel good!...Even Great!!

May 2013 bring everyone in our region continued growth and prosperity.


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THUNDER BAY BUSINESS JANUARY 2013

New Office Building In Thunder Bay One Of The Most Advanced In Canada BY SCOTT A. SUMNER

Thunder Bay BUSINESS True Grit Consulting Ltd has been on a fast growth track since their beginnings in 2006. The firm started with a staff of 4 then, currently have 40 people employed and have just moved into a very impressive 10,500 square foot brand new office building in Innova Park in Thunder Bay. Eric Zakrewski is the CEO of True Grit and from Thunder Bay while educated in Southern Ontario. “ Previously I had been a regional branch manager for a US company based in Thunder Bay. They started moving out of district markets when pulp and paper was declining. I chose to stay in Thunder Bay and hire as many of the staff from the previous firm as I could,” said Zakrewski. “ It has been a great growth as we have tried to focus on different areas of work than traditional engineering firms do while at the same time fulfilling the traditional services. To use a hockey analogy, we have sort of dug hard in the corners to grow and be different and it has been paying off.” True Grit works hard in remote First Nations communities and does a lot of engineering projects there. They provide a lot of specialty environmental and engineering services that other companies don’t offer and that aren’t available elsewhere. They offer more value and work harder. “ Working harder doesn’t mean working longer. A lot of our staff probably has a better quality of life than when they worked for other firms that traditionally worked on the longer hours approach. When our staff are here in our environment and atmosphere, they are really productive and work well together with diverse teams. The world doesn’t work on the long hours model anymore. People today want more family time, more quality time and to enjoy life,” said Zakrewski. “ Some days you have to work harder than others but that is not the mantra here. It is work smarter and a function of the commitments you make to your customers and what you will deliver. Quality, value and

Wendy St Pierre of True Grit and the wave wall entrance. The new 10,500 square foot building has state of the art features. The interior walls are moveable and use the Tecknion system relationships are our core values. You can to want to be here, enjoy what they do and In developing the new building the True make a better balance in life and realize then excellence is just a by-product. Your Grit team did start with a blank slate but happy staff will stay.” time is more productive then.,” said Eric knew whom they wanted to work with as If you get a chance to tour the new state Zakrewski. “ We have noticed our staff an architect. of the art True Grit building you will cerare coming in a little earlier now and there “ Cory Stechyshyn of FORM asked us to tainly be impressed. This has got to be one is an uplift in peoples mood. We focus on put down any concepts on paper as to what of the nicest set ups in Thunder Bay and our people, which are our only assets. We we wanted, sketch it out and send them over. He recently found the original sketch and it was not any where near what we ended up with. The new building was driven by our leasing two buildings and trying to hire staff to grow, so we needed our own building.” said Zakrewski. “ It is almost nothing like we ended up with. Cory encouraged us to work with an organization out of Calgary called Tecknion and they provided us with a presentation that blew our socks off. It had all the concepts we were looking for and even those we didn’t know we were looking for. They came in with FORM, gave a presentation and we ended up subscribing to all their ideas and this building will become a showcase in the region.” features many cutting edge design features. have a building but are not like a construcThe Tecknion group has done lots of “ When we settled on the design criteria tion company that has many pieces of projects like this in Calgary and Toronto. of the building it was creative collaborative space because that is what yields exceptional results. We believe no longer can you have a four sided metal box with bad air and no light, but it maximizes you return per square feet. We want our people

equipment. Our only asset is our people and when you offer good training and a good work environment it translates into the company image and profile. We look for a customer that wants a great staff and environment with that extra shine on the product and that is the kind of people we attract. If you getting a better product or idea and solution it are worth it.”

“ They feature lots of wide open areas for people to meet, talk and solve problems. That is really what we do at True Grit. We went from lots of small offices with a door, to lots of open space and shared areas where people can bump into each other. People can work together everywhere.,” said Zakrewski. Continued Next Page


THUNDER BAY BUSINESS JANUARY 2013

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True Grit Consulting Moves Into New State of the Art Office BY SCOTT A. SUMNER

Thunder Bay BUSINESS A very unique aspect of the new building is the interior cafe lounge for customers and staff. True Grit provides healthy snacks for their staff and nice coffee. Their motivation was people go into a place like Starbucks with their laptop and work. According to Eric Zakrewski every customer that has been there for the last few weeks want to come back and have a coffee in the lounge. There are also enclave or break out rooms where there are lounge chairs and you can work for few hours in complete silence. Each week more and more people are using them. “ We are exceptionally happy with our architects, FORM and contractor, Tom Jones that built the building. Everything came out perfect. Tom Jones did every aspect, every day like it was their building. They were a week ahead of schedule after starting in May and finishing the end of October, completely on budget,” said Eric Zakrewski. “ We are forward looking and have always been that way. If you have some faith and think their will be need for

your services or other services you can adjust your strategic plan accordingly. The partners here are all around the same age and looking for another 20 years of work and can enjoy our work environment. We see a future for the mining area, a revival of forestry and are doing more work than ever in the health sector. We will make sure our business evolves with our customers.” “ Adam Rose is a Manager and Principal

The new True Grit building look was inspired by many trips to Arizona. Eric Zakrewski, CEO of True Grit has lots of room for meetings in his office in the building. in the Engineering Services Division at sional place where clients can come in and ronment work, local roads work and we True Grit. The 33 year old works mainly in get the sense they are dealing with a higher have been on the forefront getting some of the civil side of the company with municistandard and quality company,” said Adam the larger municipalities to get their storm pal infrastructure, roads, geotechnical and Rose. “ You see that through our staff. It sewers in line to at least help mitigate areas that play off that like larger drainage is exciting to have this come to conclusion. flood effects so it won’t impact again.” Everybody has their own professional said Rose. “ I can say honestly I enjoy workspace with all the tools needed to do coming into work each day. There is an their job. I think the staff has been really excitement; energy and you feel you are engaged with the direction the company really contributing to Northwestern has taken. Everyone is on board.’ Ontario in everything you do. You “ We have had a lot of high level projimprove, you develop, you add design ects on the go such as major mining clients principles and see something that gets built we are helping get the approvals they need and employs people.” to move to the next step. There is the Thunder Bay Events Centre with the envi-

and mining development. He went to Confederation College and Lakehead University. “ When I came out of school I got some experience at the City of Thunder Bay Engineering Division and went on to another local consulting firm. The opportunity for me came at True Grit to help broaden their depth of services. It is unbelievable what we have developed here with the thought process we went through to develop this building. We want a profes-


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THUNDER BAY BUSINESS JANUARY 2013

New Office Building In Thunder Bay One Of The Most Advanced In Canada BY SCOTT A. SUMNER

Thunder Bay BUSINESS “ The inspiration for this building came from True Grit owner, Eric Zakrewski with a Scottsdale, Arizona type of influence after many trips there over the years. He was attracted to the colours and natural light, stone and different materials found there. We looked at a couple of existing buildings to see if they would fit with his program but in the end decided on a new building to get exactly what they wanted,” said Cory Stechyshyn, Architect with FORM. “ The front is the more public and executive area with the entrance, boardroom, waiting area reception and management offices. The centre core area is open, naturally lit and conducive to collaboration. It is a friendly and team spirited workspace. That is why we went with demountable particians and modular Tecknion office systems so they have a lot of flexibility and openness in there. The natural light makes it way through the centre and we use a lot of glass partitioning and doors using the Teknion system. The doors are like a barn style door with surface mounted hardware so they slid instead of swing. Swings doors use up floor space and aren’t as expressive.” said Cory Stechyshyn. The back area of the building is more service oriented where the testing lab is located as well as the mechanical and electrical room. The testing lab has always been at a separate location at True Grit but now it all-together. There is a fire separation from the rest of the building and that reduces noise and dust. A very unique aspect of the building is a central coffee bar inspired by Starbucks at Chapters. It is a way for staff to collaborate and find a common space to meet. Clients and guests can also be exposed to that environment and is very nice to have as part of the work setting. There are break out rooms as well which is a very current trend in office planning according to Cory Stechyshyn of FORM. “ The idea is to use open work space with partial privacy to allow natural light infused through the space. The loss of privacy by the open space means we have these private rooms with a telephone that provide privacy so the employee can get away from their desk.” FORM Architecture developed the external building design and internal building layout in cooperation with Open-Mind Interiors of Thunder Bay, which is a dealer for Teknion and provided guidance on how their system enhances the workflow. “ We worked together on that. Eric’s wife was involved in the interior look and tastes with the colours and finishes. The wave wall at the entrance is quite impressive and quite effective.,” said Stechyshyn. The building is very energy efficiency, with in floor heating and a thermally comfortable office environment. There is radiant heat from the floor slab and the make up air and air conditioning come from overhead. There is an external camera system for monitoring security, sensors on lighting, card access and a building automation system the firm can access from an I phone to see how the building is operating and make adjustments from any where in the world. “ I am quite happy with the outcome of the project. To me I feel we were able to get Eric and his team exactly what they wanted. They didn’t lose anything because of cost or size of the building. We were able to satisfy his vision and the needs of their firm quite well. The building is also designed to add a second floor of space.” said Cory Stechyshyn.

Profile for Scott Sumner

Thunder Bay Business Janaury 2013  

Read about new office buildings for True Grit Consultinng and Lowery's

Thunder Bay Business Janaury 2013  

Read about new office buildings for True Grit Consultinng and Lowery's

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