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November / December 2019

Ken Achs

Midwest Group of Companies

Image: Saskatoon Chamber

“The Harder You Work The Luckier You Get”

One Year Later

Cannabis Legalization in Saskatoon

| Members in the News pg. 9 | Non-Prof its pg. 22 |







































Thursday, November 7th Remai Modern • 8:00 am - 3:00 PM To register please visit:


November / December 2019

Image: Saskatoon Chamber


Darla Lindbjerg, Chief Executive Officer Kendra Cruson, Vice President, Operations Terry Lawrence, Acting Director of Operations Margot Orr, Director of Policy and Government Relations Roz Macala, Executive Assistant Trish Cheveldayoff, Communications Coordinator Janelle Kubica, Member Services Coordinator Henry Buitrago, Creative Coordinator Treena Skaalid, Events & Sponsorships Coordinator


Chair Chris Sicotte - AON 1st Vice-Chair Carla Browne - Real Canadian Property Management Professionals Inc. 2nd Vice-Chair Jason Aebig - Creative Fire Past Chair Peggie Koenig - Koenig & Associates Inc. Executive Sandra Ribeiro - Canadian Light Source Inc. CeCe Baptiste - Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology (SIIT) Todd A. Denzin - Nutrien Linda Exner - PCL Construction Management Ltd. Katrina German - Dale Lemke - Quicklinkt Solutions Inc. Adam McInnes - Med Hack Enterprises Incorporated Graham Snell - Saskatoon Aerocentre Colton Wiegers - Wiegers Financial & Benefits Penny Yeager - MLT Aikins LLP

Cover Story Page 14

Featured Content


Publisher: Kendra Cruson Editor: Terry Lawrence Layout & Design: Henry Buitrago Contributing Writers: Kendra Cruson, Chris Sicotte, Darla Lindbjerg, Trish Cheveldayoff, Elizabeth Ireland Sales: Kendra Cruson, Trish Cheveldayoff Photography: Henry Buitrago Canadian Publications Mail Agreement




New Members

No. 40052085 Return Undeliverable Addresses to: Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce 110-345 4th Avenue South, Saskatoon, SK S7K 1N3


BUSINESS VOICE is a publication of the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce Copyright 2019 Phone: (306) 244-2151 Email: Website: Twitter and Instagram: @stoonchamber


Upcoming Chamber events

August & September 2019






Members in the News

Members celebrating expansions, new ventures, anniversaries and more

Ken Achs Midwest Group of Companies

One Year Later

Cannabis Legalization in Saskatoon


Chamber Happenings


Chair’s Message

“The Harder You Work The Luckier You Get”

Chamber Events

'Tis the Season to Shop Local YXE

Disclaimer: BUSINESS VOICE makes no warranties of any kind, written or implied, regarding the contents of this magazine and expressly disclaims any warranty regarding the accuracy or reliability of informations contain herein. The views contained in the magazine are those of the writers and advertisers: They do not necessarily reflect the view fo the Business Voice magazine and its publisher the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce.




CHAMBER EVENTS The Chamber SUMMIT will facilitate valuable discussions through panels centered on indigenous business, the future of workforce and procurement. Each of these panels bring together experts to share insights and knowledge on the topics. The SUMMIT will also include the findings from the nine sectoral Chamber SUMMIT roundtables that took place in early October.

Grow with Google is an initiative aimed at helping entrepreneurs, small businesses and individuals across Canada be better prepared to succeed in the changing economy. Each session includes: 1: Get Your Business Online 2: Reach Customers Online with Google

POST-TRAUMATIC GROWTH THE NEW BEGINNING Be inspired by a former Canadian Forces soldier who overcame heartbreaking adversity. Learn how to thrive after facing your own obstacles, whether personal or businessrelated.

SPEAKERS: See inside cover


SPEAKER: Jody Salway

DATE: Thursday, November 7th TIME: 8:00 am - 3:00 pm LOCATION: Remai Modern

DATE: Friday, November 15th MORNING SESSION: 10:00 am - 1:30 pm AFTERNOON SESSION: 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm LOCATION: Prairieland Park

DATE: Thursday, November 28th TIME: 11:30 am - 1:00 pm LOCATION: Delta Hotels Saskatoon 405 20th Street E.


& This is your introduction or refresher on how you can make the most out of your Chamber Membership. Learn about the Chamber Group Benefits Plan; cost savings programs for Staples, First Data and more; marketing opportunities; advocacy; events and other info you need to know.

DATE: Wednesday, December 4 TIME: 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm LOCATION: LB Distillers



Connect with the business community and enjoy great food and drinks at Chamber on Tap on the first Wednesday of each month. Learn Entrepreneur Insights when our host Nadine Kanigan interviews members of the business community. SPEAKER: Daria Malin, Boost Strategic Coaching DATE: Wednesday, November 6th

This is a come-and-go event for our members and free of charge with a donation of a toy or non-perishable food item for the Chamber’s adopted family!

SPEAKERS: Walter and Colleen Mah, North Ridge Developments DATE: Wednesday, December 4th

DATE: Thursday, December 12th TIME: 11:30am - 1:30pm LOCATION: The Chamber Office



Come ChristMingle with the Board of Directors and Chamber staff for a quick bowl of hot chili and fresh buns... with lots of butter! Yummy holiday surprises abound.




Your Voice in Business Image: Gina’s Portraits

As the voice of business for Saskatoon, the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce worked diligently and in the best interest of our business community throughout a year that brought many challenges and changes. It has been a busy fall for the staff and board of the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce. I, along with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and other government and industry leaders from across the province, recently participated in a successful trade mission to Japan and South Korea. The trade mission was organized by the Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership (STEP) in reaction to the newly signed Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for TransPacific Partnership (CPTPP), which is the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and ten Asian pacific countries including Japan. Exports to Japan from Saskatchewan totalled $1.11 billion in 2018, more than 99% of those exports were agri-food products. Japan was Saskatchewan’s third largest agri-food export market in 2018. The trade mission provided us with many opportunities to promote Saskatchewan canola exports and other high-quality agricultural products. The Chamber also recently hosted several events during Small Business Week October 21st-25th and in early October, we wrapped up our Summit roundtables. The roundtables were broken down into nine sectors representing our diverse business community. Thank you to everyone who took part. These discussions are critical as the Chamber prioritizes our advocacy efforts moving forward. We hit the ground running in September as we kicked off our fall event season with PIVOT-The Opportunity of Disruption. The event featured keynote speaker Jim Harris who provided an informative and thought-provoking presentation on disruption in the workplace. He was joined by Peter Stoicheff, the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Saskatchewan and Dr. Larry Rosia, President of Saskatchewan Polytechnic. Our academic leaders provided insight into what our academic institutions are doing to prepare the workforce of the future for what’s to come. One industry that has been greatly impacted by disruptive innovation is our retail sector. More and more Canadians are choosing to shop online. It’s a challenge for Saskatoon’s retailers. Saskatchewan currently ranks tenth in terms of year-over-year retail sales growth among the provinces. With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, it’s important we all spread the word about the many benefits of shopping local. It’s good for everyone!

Darla Lindbjerg, CEO Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce Currently, one of the shining stars in retail is the cannabis sector. The legalization of cannabis in Canada recently celebrated its oneyear anniversary. Seven Saskatoon businesses were awarded the opportunity to receive cannabis retail store permits. In August of this year, Saskatoon sent a strong signal to cannabis retailers that the city is open for business and is welcoming of new industries. After initially establishing a $10,000 cannabis store business licence renewal fee, Saskatoon city council voted to significantly lower the renewal fee to the standard $85 rate. The Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce joins Saskatoon’s cannabis store owners in applauding the city’s move to standardizing business licensing across the city. Planning is underway for the 2020 Saskatoon Achievement in Business Excellence Awards (SABEX). If you would like to nominate a person or a business, the deadline for nominations is November 29, 2019. Awards will be presented in 8 different categories on April 24, 2020. With the Holiday Season approaching, we invite you to stop by the Chamber office for our annual ChristMingle December 12th. Please join us as we celebrate the season with some delicious chili and some festive hot chocolate.

Darla Lindbjerg, President & CEO, Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce




NEW MEMBERS Alexene Immigration & Employment Services Inc.

Providing immigration services to employers and individuals with securing proper documentations to hire foreign nationals. Arlene Ruiz 106 McCallum Lane, Saskatoon p: (306) 715-3755 w: Immigration / Relocation

Beauty Home Furniture & Interior Decoration

Providing a variety of products, like indoor/outdoor furniture, office furniture, home furnishing decoration and tea sets to help every customer have a beautiful home. WeiWei Lin 1622 Ontario Ave, Saskatoon p: (306) 500-0088 w: Retail - Home Furnishings / Decor

Children's Wish Foundation (SK Chapter) Working with communities across the country to provide children with life threatening illnesses the opportunity to realize their most heartfelt wish. Denise Kendrick 3602 Millar Ave, Saskatoon p: (306) 955-0511 w: Non-Profit Organizations

Fire & Flower Cannabis Co.

Canada's cannabis shop, bringing you a guided and informed experience in locations across the country. Andrey Kharitonov Suite 400, Centre 104-5241 Calgary Trail, Edmonton p: (833) 680-4947 w: Retail

Frontier Veterinary Services

At VCA Canada, we're pet people too understanding the importance of your morning snuggles and the tail-wagging excitement when you come through the door, even if you're only gone for five minutes. Laura Lyons / Ruthie Siddoway 2035A Alberta Ave, Saskatoon p: (403) 541-0815 w: Veterinarians / Animal Services

J & Z Transport Inc.

Local distributor of The Epoch Times in the Saskatoon area reporting on international and Asian news. Jack Zou 312 East Pl, Saskatoon p: (306) 270-2123 Advertising / Public Relations and Publications / Publishers

Kota Graphics & Design Inc

Signs and graphics of all kinds: wraps, fleet, tradeshow, strorefront, architectural and full colour wide format printing. Paul Vass 6-4003 Millar Ave, Saskatoon p: (306) 652-7058 w: Signs

macbeeners business goods

Servicing businesses across Saskatchewan in first-aid and safety, janitorial and coffee. Derek McInnes 2-227 Wheeler St, Saskatoon p: (800) 878-2072 w: Distributors



(August & September)

Newrock Developements

A national home building firm specializing in attainable housing in Saskatoon. Michael Chudoba 406 Nicklaus Dr, Warman p: (306) 270-5032 w: Home Builders / Renovations

Odd Couple Restaurant

A Canadian-Asian restaurant recreating favourites in a fun expression of the union between East and West. ingredients and cooking techniques inspired by Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Japanese. Andy Yuen 228 20th St W, Saskatoon p: (306) 668-8889 w: Restaurants

Pi Co. Pizza Bar

Offering quality, made-to-order, Neapolitan-style pizzas in a unique quickserve experience. Mike Gordon 201 1st Ave S, Saskatoon p: (306) 281-5182 w: Restaurants

Prairie Packaging Inc

Quality materials, dedicated craftspeople, and a commitment to customers with hands-on your project, making it the very best it can be. Dave Bouvier Bay 100-1720 Ontario Ave, Saskatoon p: (306) 979-8880 w: Manufacturers

R3 Construction

Saskatoon's most skilled and caring concrete company providing the pristine and expedient concrete services available to both the commercial and residential markets. Joel Rempel 2924 Miners Ave, Saskatoon p: (306) 203-2838 w: Concrete Products / Supplies


NEW MEMBERS RE/MAX Guardian Commercial

Saskatchewan Landlord Association

Ritchie, Shona

Saskatoon Media Group DBA - CJWW/92.9 The Bull/98COOL

Specializing in commercial real estate for Saskatoon and surrounding areas. Our goal is to maintain the highest level of service and client care possible. Gilbert Dobroskay 412-105 21st St E p: (306) 665-4444 w: Real Estate - Commercial Property Management Home-Based Business

To represent member interests to government regulatory authorities and provide education and other resources to assist members in the Saskatchewan rental housing industry. Cameron Choquette 300 3rd Ave S p: (306) 653-7149 w: Non-Profit Organizations

AM and FM commercial radio stations licensed to serve Saskatoon and area. Vic Dubois / Tim Kostuik / Dawn Mann / Mike Sands 366 3rd Ave S, Saskatoon p: (306) 244-1975 w: Radio Stations Advertising / Public Relations

(August & September)

Shercom Industries Inc.

Tire Recycling - collection, processing, and manufacturing. Shane Olson 305230 Township RD 382, Corman Park RM 344 p: (306) 933-0600 w: Manufacturers




& September)

101078600 Sask Ltd. 101284198 Saskatchewan Ltd. 614225 Saskatchewan Ltd. 621451 Saskatchewan Ltd. Air Canada / Air Canada Express AlSask Property Contract Services Ltd. Anthonys Fashion Archwest Tools Ltd. Assante Capital Management Ltd. Avenue Restaurant Inc. Big Bang Hair Salon Blue Moose Media CAA Saskatchewan CAKe.Hair Design Canadian Blood Services Canadian Elite Basketball League / Saskatchewan Rattlers

Candle Lake Golf Resort Caron Transportation Systems CBRE Limited CFCR Radio Chef de Partie Catering Cherrybomb Beauty Bar Clarity Coaching & Development Clip 'N Climb Saskatoon Inc. Cliptomania Colliers International CyberVision Inc. Dean Angell Ent. Inc. Definitely You Spa Inc. Dillon Consulting Limited Discovery Seed Labs DK Security Solutions Inc. Downtown Saskatoon

Dr. Leslie Macaskill Medical Prof. Corp. Dr. Naomi Whelan DRIVING FORCE Vehicle Rentals, Sales and Leasing Early's Farm & Garden Centre Electronic Products Recycling Association Saskatchewan Electronic Recycling Association Ellen's Whole Body Health Ltd. Epic Alliance Inc. Essence Recruitment Fab Tech Welding Inc. Federated Co-operatives Limited Fertilizer Canada Firebird Business Consulting Ltd. Firesign Holdings Corp. Five Star Excavating Ltd.





& September)

German Cultural Centre Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools GT Glass Ltd. Henry Moulin & Associates at Coldwell Banker Signature Herb C. Pinder Jr. Hino Truck Sales Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Home-MD Construction Corp. Hounjet Tastad Harpham Hudsons Saskatoon Ltd. ImageWorx Auto IMP Canada & Mercan Group of Companies Impact Diesel Performance Inc. Impact Marketing Services Limited Inclusion Saskatchewan Innovation, Science & Economic Development Canada Jet Electric 2014 Ltd. Jetpatcher Canada Ltd. John Evers K. Sutherland Architect Ltd. Kinsmen Foundation Knowledge First Financial Laurier Drive Medical Clinic Levis Media Lutheran Early Learning Centers Inc. Lyft Marei Therapeutics Inc. Medicentres Canada Inc. Meewasinota CRF Midtown Stylists Boutique (1982) Ltd. Mike's Hydraulics Sales & Service Ltd. Montana's BBQ & Bar NSC Minerals Ltd. Nu-West Electrical Services Ltd. Oakville Investment Properties

P & H Milling Group Parr Auto Body Pattison Outdoor Prairie Region Paul Davis of Saskatoon Paull Chiropractic and Massage Therapy PCL Construction Management Inc. Pelican Media Penny Lane Cabinetry & Design Performance Plus Distributors Inc. Planet S Magazine Professional Computer Services Queen Street Pharmacy Quorex Construction Services Ltd. Riversdale Business Improvement District Rock & Bloom Rooterman Ryan Miller Ryan Mollberg iSask Mortgage Brokers Inc. Saskatchewan Association of Immigrant Settlement and Integration Agencies (SAISIA) Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission Saskatchewan Jazz Festival Inc. Saskatchewan Pension Plan Saskatchewan Rush Lacrosse Club Saskatchewan Trade & Export Partnership Saskatchewan Workers' Compensation Board Saskatoon & Region Home Builders' Association, Inc. Saskatoon Animal Control Agency Saskatoon Fire Protection (1983) Ltd. Saskatoon Import Auto Service Saskatoon Wash World SaskMade Marketplace




Seventy Seven Signs Ltd. Sexual Health Centre Saskatoon Sherwood Chevrolet Inc. Slobodian Pharmacy Soul Paper Sunrise Foods International Inc. Superior Cabinets Synergy Sales Inc. The AIM Program The James Hotel The Keg Steakhouse & Bar The Western Producer The Willows Golf & Country Club Today's Technology Marketing Group TownePlace Suites Saskatoon by Marriott Tri-Star Transport Triumph Construction Inc. True Potential Health Services Inc. U of S - Edwards School of Business, Executive Education U of S - Student Employment & Career Centre Universal Church Supplies Universal Realty Ltd. Varial Technologies, Inc. Varsity Dental Group Vendasta Technologies Verdient Foods Inc. VIDO W.D. Plastics Ltd. Warman Diagnostics Ltd. - The Ultrasound Centre Waymarc Industries Ltd. Webb's Office Equipment Inc. Wiegers Financial & Benefits Wurtz Industries Ltd. YasTech Developments Inc.


MEMBERS IN THE NEWS Arbutus Properties

Arbutus was founded with a vision to plan and build better communities; complete, connected, compact where individuals and families can thrive. Through research, design and innovation, we strive to provide exceptional living environments reflecting our commitment to build superior places to live. Award-winning homes, shopping, a walkable neighborhood and design controls, the Meadows is becoming a complete community. These same values are behind the design and development of 2 high-rise communities in downtown Seattle. We also invested 3 years of innovation on Solair, Canada’s first sustainable neighborhood and are excited about the spin off businesses and recognition that this project will provide Saskatoon.


CRAVINGS is a one-stop-shop for everything from belly bump to big kid! In 2006, the modern store for babies and mamas launched with overwhelming success and with a driving force of passion and enthusiasm! CRAVINGS is a multi-award-winning business and continues to be Saskatoon’s premier maternity, baby and kids’ boutique.

Bamboo Shoots

Bamboo Shoots, a video production company based in Saskatoon, Regina and Calgary was recently recognized for the SGI commercial “Knock on the Door.” The commercial was awarded a silver medal at the 2019 Summit Creative Awards. Bamboo Shoots, working alongside Regina’s Phoenix Group, helped SGI to convey an important message. “Impaired driving continues to rob families of loved ones on a regular basis,” says Wally Start, President of Bamboo Shoots. “Our team took the task of developing a commercial with impact very seriously. Working with both Phoenix Group and SGI, we were able to construct a narrative that leaves a lasting and meaningful impression on those who view it.” The Bamboo Shoot’s SGI commercial was chosen out of more than 4,500 entries from 27 countries.

In March 2020, CRAVINGS will be expanding for the 4th time since its inception! It will be located on 8th Street beside Just for You Day Spa, across from Winners and Starbucks. CRAVINGS’ mission is to support and empower growing families by providing a curated selection of must-have products, expert knowledge and consistent service excellence.

Chris Molenaar Realty

‘Tis the Season: Why Winter is a Great Time to Buy/Sell your Home It’s a common misconception that you shouldn’t try to buy or sell during fall and winter. Savvy buyers and sellers know how to use the real estate “offseason” to their advantage: • Less competition, more motivation. • Greater personal attention and cost savings during ‘slow time’ for businesses. • Easier to maintain curb appeal, no lawn maintenance! Chris Molenaar is proud to introduce eXp Realty to Saskatoon. This productionbased technological brokerage is a perfect fit for the city’s booming tech sector and forward- thinking business community! Be part of the action and take advantage of all the offseason has to offer!







Furniture World

Furniture World has been in Saskatoon since 1990. The Sorensen Family, the owner operator of Furniture World and Sorensen’s Furniture in Saskatoon have been in the furniture business in Saskatchewan for 45 years. Through hard work and a commitment to providing quality products at reasonable prices, Furniture World has become a staple in the retail furniture market in the City of Bridges. As a true family enterprise, three generations of Sorensens can be seen in the store on any given day, happily providing quality service and quality products at small town prices to their Saskatoon neighbours, and surrounding communities.

Prairie Proud

“Prairie Proud” can be summed up as Wear the Pride. Invest in the Prairies. We are committed to providing current and former prairie residents the opportunity to wear their pride in quality casual wear while investing back into the heart of the prairies through charitable contributions. Cole Thorpe, founder and designer of Prairie Proud, started in his spare bedroom 5 years ago and to date the company has contributed $45,000 and counting to prairie-based charities & initiatives across the prairie provinces. Prairie Proud has recently expanded to 642 Broadway Avenue, Saskatoon after nearly four years as part of the Ideas Inc. incubator community!


Progressive Property Management Ltd

Progressive Property Management Ltd, is a locally owned full-service Real Estate brokerage serving Saskatoon and surrounding area. They specialize in Residential Property Management for both Condominiums and Rental Investors. Local entrepreneurs, Bill and Hillary Sayed opened their doors back in 2002, and with their team have been 10 BUSINESSVOICE SASKATOON

providing hands on property management solutions to their clients since this time. If you have questions about how the management team at Progressive Property can help, just call, email or drop into our office during regular office hours. We are open 9-4:30, Monday thru Friday. Progressive Property Management will be celebrating 18 years in business this January.


Momentum is a Saskatoon based clothing, footwear, outerwear and accessory store. We have access to rare and highly sought-after specialty brands, and an impressive selection of sneakers. We sell what we like, and we shop worldwide for our highly curated offering. From extremely rare sneakers – to everyday items. We seek goods across a spectrum of price points and styles. Select menswear made in Canada, USA, and Italy. Bags from Japan. Even a few local brands! We recently created a homewares section – stocking items from Modernica, Hay Design and B&O play. Stop in soon for some Nike’s and an Arc’teryx jacket!




MEMBERS IN THE NEWS Royal LePage Varsity

Kamanashis Deb is a Saskatoon real estate agent who arrived in Saskatoon in 2008 with $20 in his pocket. Since then, Deb has achieved incomparable success in his field and has repeatedly gained recognition for effectively representing his clients. Deb says there are four characteristics that best describe Saskatoon and make it a global magnet for investment and newcomers; its people who share a common commitment to cultural tolerance; an entrepreneurial spirit informed by an inspiring vision to create, foster and find talent; remarkable technologies-from the Canadian Light Source Synchrotron to Saskatchewan’s plantbased supercluster; and trust. “Tolerance, talent, technology and trust-four pillars that ensure Saskatoon will thrive throughout the 21st century,” says Deb.

Soul Paper

Soul Paper [sohl-pey-per] Verb 1. Our passion, everything paper and the joy that is sparked through its many uses. 2. To provide enlightening workshops, corporate branding and custom stationery for events, bridal and lives many milestones. Noun 1. Family-owned, heart-centered, one of a kind Stationer and creative hub in Saskatoon, celebrating the simpler time of creating

Sandy Shores Resort

Sandy Shores Resort, an award-winning development, announced plans for a 200+ slip in-land marina and commercial site on Lake Diefenbaker! The announcement included a call for vendors and accommodations near the marina. Owner Rauncie Kinnaird stated, “Lot sales have been great with demand gaining strength after the water treatment plant was completed. Now many homes and cabins are under construction. Lot owners are loving the shoreline trails, beaches with swimming docks, parks, and a new playground!” Sandy Shores Resort is an easy one-hour drive on pavement from Saskatoon, making it an ideal location.


with your hands and the handwritten word. 2. The journals, sketchbooks, decorative papers, planners, greeting cards, art supplies and notebooks that feed your soul every day. 3. A website and online marketplace. 4. 118 – 20th Street West Riversdale, Saskatoon. Facebook @soulpaper Instagram @lovesoulpaper Celebrating our 6th Holiday Season serving Saskatoon.

Saskatchewan real estate will emerge in the new year as a stronger, united industry. The amalgamation of the Saskatoon Region Association of REALTORS®, Association of Regina REALTORS® and Association of Saskatchewan REALTORS® will allow for an enhanced voice for real estate advocacy, and improved product and service offerings for REALTOR® members in the province – all of which will have a positive impact on property owners in Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan REALTORS® Association will take effect on January 1, 2020 with CEO Jason Yochim leading the organization. “This amalgamation, along with our drive to innovate, has seen Saskatchewan emerge as a leader in real estate throughout North America,” Says Yochim. “We have many exciting opportunities ahead of us!”







Steelmet Supply

Steelmet Supply began as a small family owned and operated steel supply warehouse in 1980. Since then it has quickly grown into a large steel supply shop, and in the late 1990s Steelmet added a selection of furniture and decorative products to their retail location. With a focus on quality,

The Urban Farmhouse The Urban Farmhouse (TUF) began with the building of a dream home and expanded into a unique business that's main focus has become a trustworthy and personable Real Estate venture operated by Broker, Rhonda Lavoie. Knowing just how hard it is to become a successful local business, the TUF team has created a blog series entitled TUF Local where small businesses are showcased in order to raise awareness and offer support from the community. We all know just how important it is to shop local. Keeping money in our city helps support our families.


maintenance free patio furniture Steelmet has seen great success throughout the years. Today Steelmet remains family owned, and in conjunction with its parent company Rely-ex Contracting, continues to serve the province. Steelmet will be celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2020. To find out more visit Steelmet’s website or social media pages.

Western Fitness

Western Fitness is proud to have established itself as a reputable retail business in the fitness industry in both residential and commercial fields. Being family owned and operated, we tailor our service to each customer to ensure everyone can feel a part of the Western Fitness Family. With a company philosophy of “Making Every Body A Healthy Body” we understand that choosing the right piece of equipment is about committing to something that will help you meet your goals now and into the future. Having been a 4-time winner of the Consumer Choice Award since 2010, we believe it is because of our dedication to offering our customers certified technicians, top brands, and honest advice. With a great selection of equipment for cardio, strength training, boxing, martial arts, yoga, balance, and rehabilitation we invite you to contact us with any questions or visit us in store to look around. Let us help you find what is right for you.


Twisted Goods

It’s safe to say that a soft market is not what most retailers would call desirable, but the unique opportunities that arise in times of economic downturn should not be ignored. As a brick and mortar retailer seeking premium commercial spaces- we’ve been able to open two new locations this year in mall spaces that would have previously been too competitive for a business of our size. As a small, Saskatchewan based business- adding stores in Midtown Plaza (SK) and Cross Iron Mills (AB) has extended our company profile and afforded us new attention from prestigious centers seeking new retailers. Growth can be scary when times are tight, but don’t miss a great opportunity to seize the day (or the square footage!)




A New Era of Care for Moms & Kids

Saskatchewan is no longer one of two Canadian provinces without a dedicated maternal and children’s hospital. Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital opened its doors to patients at the end of September, offering state-of-the-art equipment and facilities tailored to caring for the unique needs of children.

The 176-bed facility features 100 per cent private patient rooms, with a focus on familycentred care and a child-friendly environment. For the first time in the province, families now have access to a dedicated pediatric cardiac catheterization lab, a pediatric sleep lab and pediatric surgical suites. The ground floor of the hospital includes Children’s Emergency and Pediatric Surgery and Recovery, designed to make each family’s experience as stress-free as possible. Pediatric Outpatients is located on the main floor and hosts clinics for more than 20 specialty services. The upper floors of the hospital include the Pediatric Inpatient Unit, Saskatchewan’s only Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital is also revolutionizing care for moms-to-be, as it’s home to one of Canada’s largest Single Room Maternal Care Centres. This innovative new model of care lets women labour, give birth and stay with their new baby all in the same private room. “Together we reached this historical milestone and we are determined to ensure the future is bright today, tomorrow and for the next generation,” said Brynn BobackLane, President and CEO of Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation. “Our new

chapter has begun as we strive for excellence in maternal and pediatric health care across all four corners of Saskatchewan for our children and families who need it.” To learn more visit




Ken Achs

Midwest Group of Companies “The Harder You Work the Luckier You Get” by Elizabeth Ireland

Image: Saskatoon Chamber


One of the themes of this issue of Business Voice is real estate and real estate development. So, who better to speak with than Saskatoon mega-entrepreneur Ken Achs, the President and CEO of the Mid-West Group of Companies? Achs is described in Peter C. Newman’s 1998 book Titans: How the New Canadian Establishment Seized Power as “a land developer who started as a hot rodder.” It’s true that Achs’ business empire began modestly with an auto body shop on Broadway Avenue (where the Bulk Cheese Warehouse is now located). It’s also true that Achs was a drag racer of impressive speed and he was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2003. What gets lost in the book’s description is Achs’ down-to-earth demeanour and his willingness to share his insights, even after 50 plus years of immense success. Today, Mid-West Group is involved in commercial and residential real estate development, commercial and residential property leasing and property management. Outside of Saskatchewan, the group of companies owns and manages properties in Alberta, British Columbia, Arizona, California, Nevada and Washington. Achs still maintains an automotive division. One of the most telling things about Achs is that he has lived in the same radius of 10 to 15 blocks in Saskatoon’s Broadway district for his whole life. His parents met in Montreal; his Hungarian father Henry moved to Saskatoon in the early 1940s to work at Intercontinental Packers Limited with his friend from Europe, Fred Mendel.

“Not a clue what I wanted to do,” says Achs, describing his time after high school and a stint studying at the University of Saskatchewan. His original plan to become a schoolteacher fell through and he jokes, “saved a lot of children from miserable lives.” He then worked in the meatpacking business at Intercontinental Packers and he was not a fan of that work. Armed with his driver’s licence, the one constant in Achs’ early life was his love of automobiles. “Automotive gave me a leg up for my future businesses.” In fact, it was Achs’ successful auto body and parts business that led to an investment in real estate and, eventually, property management and real estate development. “I don’t have great ideas of grandeur. Over the years, I’ve approached my businesses in bite-sized chunks.” In his personal life, Achs was the single father of three children for many years. While his two sons worked in his shops and on his construction sites for summer and part-time employment, they make it clear to Achs that the business “was not their deal.” Now with families of their own, his son Kevin lives in San Francisco and his son Robert lives in Minneapolis. Achs describes his daughter Shelley as seeming to be the most apparent heir for the business, a trained accountant, but Shelley passed away at age 29 from cancer. Over the years, the name Ken Achs has also become synonymous with heritage building restoration in our community. “Restoring buildings was more happenstance than anything,” says Achs. One of his most memorable projects was the restoration of the CP railway station on Idylwyld Drive. Originally built in 1908, the station was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1976 and a Heritage Railway Station of Canada in 1990. On 2nd Avenue South, Achs is proud of the Hutchinson Building – a downtown landmark designed by architect Frank P. Martin that was home to the Saskatoon Hardware Store until 1970. The Hutchinson Building was designated a heritage property in 1999.



“I don’t have great ideas of grandeur. Over the years, I’ve approached my businesses in bite-sized chunks.”.

Image: Saskatoon Chamber

Ken Achs - Mid-West Group of Companies

COVE R STORY Obviously, employees who work with Achs are in his words “not clock watchers, they don’t wear watches. They make a good living, but this is not a nine to five place. I believe in putting in an effort and getting it done.” As if to prove this point, a porter pops into Achs’ office on Saturday morning during our interview and mentions that he is in to deal with a small issue at one of their properties. Finally, Achs is a mentor in the Raj Manek Mentorship Program and both Ken and Colleen were inducted into the 2018 Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame. He is also an inductee into the SABEX Business Hall of Fame and has been awarded numerous other prestigious honours.

Image: Saskatoon Chamber

Back on Broadway, the Fire Hall No. 3 building on 11th Street West was restored by Achs and his team to its former 1911 glory (it’s now the Hose & Hydrant Brew Pub). “They are neat buildings, and each meant something to me.” What are Achs’ favourite buildings in Saskatoon? Of course, the CP railway station but also his own luxurious new build located at 450 2nd Avenue North. With all the bells and whistles, this office building is where the Mid-West Group is headquartered today. A bit more behind the scenes, Trevor Jacek is the Chief Financial Officer of the Mid-West Group of Companies. Achs describes Jacek as “doing a great job and he’s unique because he gets along with me.” Lise Paquette is Achs’ highly competent long-time Executive Assistant. Paquette also acts as a key resource for commercial tenants and corporate relations. Achs’ wife of 25 years, Colleen Wilson, is the company’s Executive Vice President, Legal Affairs. A lawyer by trade, Wilson is a multihyphenate herself. She was a popular television personality for more than 25 years and has a sense of design reflected in MidWest’s properties. Those in the city’s horse community, know her as a thoroughbred racehorse trainer and the former chair of the Saskatchewan Horse Racing Commission. A dedicated equestrian, Wilson still owns four horses and is a devoted animal lover; a passion shared with Achs.

A Business Legend Honours a Music Legend

Despite singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell’s several Grammy Awards and many other accolades, her relationship with Saskatoon can only be referred to as, well, complicated. Mitchell started her legendary music career in the 1960s playing at the Louis Riel Coffeehouse. At the time, the coffeehouse was located across the street from Ken Achs’ first auto body shop on Broadway Avenue. Achs notes that back then Broadway was “the Haight-Ashbury of Saskatoon.” While it was still a temperance colony until the 1980s, and local establishments could not serve liquor, it was “still a cool place.” Over the years, Achs and his wife Colleen Wilson have kept in touch with Mitchell through mutual friends. Now challenged by health issues, Mitchell is based out of California. “After my wife and I met a 23-year-old woman in rural Ireland who was a big Joni Mitchell fan, I realized that I needed to do something to honour her incredible talent. Joni is well-known around the world and she grew up right here in Saskatoon,” says Achs. This discrepancy between Mitchell’s internationally lauded fame and the city’s lack of recognition bothered Achs. He also points out a huge two-night celebration of Mitchell’s 75th birthday at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles as an example of where Saskatoon has missed the mark. As a result, in 2018 Achs was instrumental in creating two plaques to pay tribute to Mitchell’s musical artistry and lasting impact on generation after generation. One plaque is on Broadway Avenue while another is at River Landing on the newly named Joni Mitchell Promenade. Achs is very proud that the celebration of plaque installation was livestreamed to Mitchell’s living room back in Los Angeles; much to the delight of Mitchell who texted and called throughout the day.















When are you too old? by Kendra Cruson

Marie Ens founder of Place of Rescue (centre of photo with cell phone)

We all have regrets. Maybe you wish you would have followed through on that startup idea or made that investment that was recommended to you. The good news, it seems, that there is still time.

be missionaries. From 1960 to 1975, this couple and their young family served the people of Cambodia tirelessly. But then there was the Khmer Rouge and the only safe place was out.

Imagine the Canadian Prairies back in the 1930s and 40s. What comes to mind? – Perhaps thoughts of those serving in the war or of those left behind in Canada? Maybe for you this was so long ago you cannot even image it. Regardless of what comes to mind now, this story begins way back then.

After a short pastorhood upon returning to Canada in 1975, they were reassigned to Paris, France to work with the Cambodian church there. This is where they stayed until Norman suffered a massive heart attack. After 35 years of serving the Cambodian people together, Marie found herself alone.

The year is 1934. A beautiful baby girl is born in a string of seven! Raised on the Saskatchewan Prairies in a large family would certainly prove to build a foundation for her special future, that young lady is Marie Ens (married name).

While this is really bad in itself, shortly after her husband died, Marie turned 65 and the mission told her she was too old to serve and that retirement was eminent. Marie sadly returned to Canada. Her new life now void of a life partner and of her life’s work.

Fast forward to 1960, this baby girl is grown and married to a like-minded young man, Norman and they are starting out their life together. A life of sacrifice and drama! Get packed! They are moving to Cambodia to

About six months after Marie returned to Canada she knew this was no longer her home. In 1999, she was dreaming of something new. This something was really big. Her vision came to life in 2001

when she moved back to Cambodia. Yes, you read this correctly. A single woman, now 67 years old, moving to Cambodia to start something new. That something? An orphanage. A special home for kids and those forgotten by society. Her vision realized. It is a Place of Rescue. Maybe you have done the math and know that Marie Ens is still not too old, even though the number counter points to 85. She is still living in Cambodia, she is still single, and she is still running her Place of Rescue. She now leads a team that cares for over 400 orphans. At the beginning of this story you were asked, “when are you too old?”. Has your limit changed? I hope so. Knowing Marie Ens gives me the inspiration to continually start new things and the drive to keep working. To make a difference. What will you start?






Working for You The Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce continues to actively advocate on behalf of its membership. Recent items to highlight include the following: Consultation on Saskatoon’s Sustainability Projects

Over the last several months the City has been involved in numerous consultation processes and high-level roll outs of environmental and sustainability projects. The Chamber has been actively working to capture what matters most to our members. The Chamber will continue to advocate for its membership on projects such as the Low Emissions Community Plan and Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Waste Diversion Strategy. The Chamber conducted a survey over the summer months to gauge our members’ level of support for the Low Emissions Community Plan. Although some responses indicated that the plan was a step in the right direction, the majority of respondents expressed concern the plan would result in an increased tax burden, increased cost associated with new retrofits for energy efficient upgrades, increased government regulation and uncertainty on the business environment. The Chamber has actively engaged City Council with these concerns and through this process we have already seen a step in the right direction by administration looking to revoke the mandating language that would strongly impact businesses that can be found throughout the report. The Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce will continue to work with City administration and elected officials to ensure the business community’s interests are heard.

Chamber SUMMIT Roundtables

The Chamber SUMMIT Roundtables are an annual event that bring together our diverse business community to share their expertise and discuss the issues that matter most. This year the Chamber changed things up a bit and held the Roundtables over a three-day period from October 1-3 in advance of the SUMMIT. During these robust discussions we heard from 85 business representatives. Discussions ranged from what factors foster

Centres of Influence Roundtable with the Honourable Bronwyn Eyre

On October 8th the Honourable Bronwyn Eyre Minister of Energy and Resources and Minister Responsible for SaskWater and SaskEnergy addressed key stakeholders in the Energy and Resource fields. Minister Eyre focused her address on the effects that her portfolio will have on the business community and corresponding supply chains. Her presentation focused on the landscape of the resource sector in the province today and how this is greatly impacted by Federal decisions on energy. With environmental concerns being very prominent, the uncertainty in the natural resource and energy sector of our province

a resilient and local healthy environment, to what organizations are doing to prepare for environmental regulations. Organizations brought forward issues with government regulations, trade, commodity pricing and social issues of crime, homelessness and environmental concerns. All of these aspects will come together to form the basis for the advocacy plan for the next year. The advocacy plan is the framework from which the Chamber will work to advocate to the federal, provincial and municipal governments as well as other organizations on behalf of the greater Saskatoon business community. has led to a fundamental marketing flaw. Minister Eyre discussed how the rhetoric around this sector needs to be changed to represent the reality that Saskatchewan is a province with a resource sector that is highly efficient and green. The development of the sector has also created many jobs that have had the capacity to pull individuals out of poverty which needs to be showcased. Minister Eyre talked about the importance of standing behind this sector and showcasing these realties, “Branding Canadian energy starts with being proud of Canadian Energy.” As a country there is inconsistency in the messaging of the industry, which has had ramifications such as dramatic reductions in foreign investment. The conversation also brought to light the importance of embracing alternative renewable resources as energy sources. The natural resource sector is not an “either/or” but rather it is important to diversify and make sure that all sources are being integrated and that advancements in efficiency and greener technologies are shared. The Chamber will continue to address the concerns of our members and businesses in Saskatoon and the surrounding area to ensure that Saskatoon has a thriving business climate and is the place to live and do business on the prairies.




Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan Inc.

Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan Inc. was incorporated in 2015; we have taken up the enforcement of Saskatchewan’s Animal Protection Act, that had historically been performed by the Investigative Services division of the Saskatchewan SPCA. Our dedicated and experienced Animal Protection Officers and other staff members have transitioned to the new organization and continue to apply their knowledge and expertise to the resolution of concerns about

animal care across Saskatchewan. Our mission is to ensure the humane treatment of animals through education and enforcement of animal welfare legislation where required. We aim to respond to animal welfare complaints around Saskatchewan in a professional and effective manner. Our vision is a future where all animals have the Five Freedoms; freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from pain, injury, and disease, freedom from distress, freedom from

discomfort and freedom to express behaviours that promote well-being. If you witness an act of animal cruelty or animals being deprived of adequate food, water, shelter, or care, please call our office during regular office hours Monday to Friday from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm at 1-844-3820002. For after-hours emergencies involving animals, please contact your local RCMP or police service.

Catholic Family Services Saskatoon

Catholic Family Services Saskatoon (CFS) is a mission driven organization with a focus on positive community impact. We achieve results utilizing a variety of strategies including clinical services, family 22 BUSINESSVOICE SASKATOON

and community programs as well as early learning and family centres. Founded in 1941, CFS Saskatoon delivers support to the Saskatoon community by providing relevant and meaningful programs


and services to individuals, couples and families. We are leaders in developing innovative programs and services often in partnership with other organizations that meet the dynamic and ever-changing needs of individuals and families in our community. CFS Saskatoon is governed by a community based, volunteer Board of Directors who are committed to the work of the agency. Qualified staff provide professional and confidential assistance to anyone who is experiencing personal and family difficulties. We are excited to showcase two exciting programs this fall. One is a collaboration with other family service organizations in Saskatchewan to offer walk-in single session counselling and the second is the expansion of programming for children and youth living with anxiety. We will be offering 22 groups in 12 schools this fall. Please check our website for more information about our programs and services.


The Saskatchewan Landlord Association The Saskatchewan Landlord Association (SKLA) is an industry organization that represents over 18,000 rental housing units in Saskatchewan that range from single rental house owners to some of the largest property management firms in the province. The Association provides programs and services to our members through three key pillars; advocacy, education, and research. Cameron Choquette was recently appointed as the new Executive Officer and will be leading the Association out of Saskatoon. With a background in not-for-profit management and governance, Cameron will be a valuable addition to the Association and its members. As the rental housing industry continues to evolve in Saskatchewan, the Association closely monitors how legislative and policy changes could impact our members. SKLA regularly meets with municipal and provincial governments to ensure that landlords in the province have a voice at the table. Advocacy is just one benefit of being a member of the Association. Education and networking opportunities are also offered to members

to share best practices and learn about new strategies for effectively managing their properties.

To join the Association, stop by and see Cameron at 300 3rd Ave S or call 306-6537149.

Supporting Survivors of Sexual Violence Since 1975

The Saskatoon Sexual Assault and Information Centre (SSAIC) has grown tremendously since its inception in 1975. Gone are the days of grassroots rape crisis phone

lines powered by a handful of volunteers, or a single counselling staff person waiting for a slow trickle of clients, if any showed at all. Since the Ghomeshi case captured public

interest in 2016, SSAIC has been handling a steady increase of people of all genders seeking help after an incident of sexual violence, often at the hands of someone they knew and trusted. Our public education program includes a grade 4 child sexual abuse prevention program that features in both the Public and Catholic school systems, as well as a “First Responder to Sexual Assault� program that equips participants who encounter disclosures of sexual abuse and assault through their work with background knowledge, tools, and referral sources to better serve those who are sharing their most vulnerable secret. We hope for the day our services are no longer necessary, but until then our mission as we continue to grow is clear: We believe survivors, we support survivors, and we advocate for change. To connect with our programs and services, visit




One Year Later Cannabis Legalization in Saskatoon by Elizabeth Ireland

Image Courtesy of: Aurora Cannabis Inc.


October 17, 2019 was the f irst anniversary of the legalization of recreational cannabis use in Canada. Business Voice took this opportunity to speak with f ive cannabis companies with a local presence.

Image Courtesy of: Aurora Cannabis Inc.

For a bit of background, Saskatchewan is one of the provinces that allows private cannabis retail spaces and made 51 store licenses available through a lottery system. One year later, approximately 35 of the businesses have met all of SLGA’s requirements to obtain their store permit. October 17th of this year saw the legalization of edible cannabis, cannabis extracts and topicals.

Aurora Cannabis

One of the biggest players in the space, Aurora Cannabis Inc. is publicly listed on the TSX and the NYSE under the symbol ACB. Cam Battley is Aurora’s Chief Corporate Officer and he clocks many miles each year travelling around the world on behalf of the company. Aurora has 3,000 employees globally, including approximately 260 people in Saskatoon. Located southeast of the city, the Aurora Prairie facility is focused on medical cannabis, including its science and research initiatives. Aurora paid $1.1 billion to acquire CanniMed Therapeutics, the previous owners of the facility, in early 2018. There have since been a further $20 million in upgrades. While Aurora currently does not have any retail locations in Saskatoon, “that’s not to say we won’t in the future. We believe that more retail stores across Canada will help to continue to decrease the unregulated market for cannabis,” says Battley. Battley is very positive about Canada’s leadership in the cannabis space as a country and its “mature, pragmatic approach” to legalization. Uruguay is the only other country that has legalized cannabis on a national level and Aurora has a presence there as well. “We are inventing a global industry and right now is a unique window of opportunity for domestic and international markets,” says Battley.

Fire & Flower Cannabis Co.

Andrey Kharitonov is Fire & Flower’s District Manager for Manitoba and Saskatchewan. With a very large retail presence across Canada, Fire & Flower is headquartered in Edmonton and traded on the TSX under the symbol FAF. In early May 2019, Fire & Flower announced its purchase of Prairie Sky Cannabis for $13 million. The deal included four retail locations of Jimmy's Cannabis Shop in Saskatchewan, which have since been rebranded. Fire & Flower now has seven cannabis and cannabis accessories stores in the province – in Battleford, Estevan, Martensville, Moosomin, North Battleford, Regina and Yorkton. Fire & Flower’s slogan is “we’re here to give Canadians the educated and curated experience they deserve.” Kharitonov describes the stores’ vibe as “more high-end and chill, hopefully the atmosphere and the bright colours put a smile on the customer’s face.” The stores’ “cannistas” focus on customer education and tailoring an individual experience. Fire & Flower’s website describes the feeling as “contemporary without the clichés. Open, bright and inviting, our shops are designed to encourage a modern, mindful and safe cannabis culture to grow.” In addition, Kharitonov points out their new Spark Perks program is ideal for customers who want to order online, enjoy exclusive deals and get access to members-only events.




Andrew Gordon is Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Community at Kiaro. The Vancouver-based company opened its curated cannabis store on 20th Street West in the Riversdale neighbourhood of Saskatoon. With its sense of community, compatible nearby businesses and the Farmers’ Market, Gordon is thrilled with the location. Kiaro focuses on socially responsible cannabis retail, personalization and exceeding customers’ expectations on all levels. The company also has a store in La Ronge. Gordon describes Saskatchewan as “the best provincial model. However, one surprise has been the lack of customer conversion in the online market. While we see a lot of traffic online, it’s not yet converting into buys.” Gordon points out that over 70 percent of the cannabis market in Canada is still exercising itself in the unregulated environment. He explains that, based on the experience of US states, the conversion of cannabis customers from an unregulated to a regulated market usually takes about three to five years. “I also want to tip my hat to the City of Saskatoon for being forward-thinking in terms of operating fees and industry consultation. The city currently has six stores in operation that they can be really proud of,” says Gordon. Since June 2019, Kiaro has been in partnership with Pineapple Express for its same-day delivery service.

The Pot Shack

The Pot Shack is owned by Geoff Conn, who won the cannabis permit lottery for a Saskatoon store. Notable for its convenient location just off 8th Street at Grosvenor Avenue, the Pot Shack is managed by Conn’s close friend and retail management veteran RJ Faford. The Pot Shack prides itself on the wholesome, inclusive and down-to-earth store experience that it offers customers, plus the convenience of free parking. The company has “15 employees and pays a living wage to encourage employee retention,” says Faford. The Pot Shack’s full-time employees receive their group benefits plan through the Chamber’s program. According to Faford, the store itself has a “relaxed, laidback grandmother’s cabin theme,” often with a game on television in the background (preferably the Riders). The Pot Shack’s knowledgeable “budtenders” help educate customers on the components of a safe, good-quality cannabis product. Faford emphasizes the store’s option of craft cannabis – premium, organic products that are not harvested or processed through automation. Lots of attention to detail goes into a craft cannabis strain. Faford mentions the diversity of the Pot Shack’s customers as “a balanced mix” of age, gender and income-level. He looks forward to the continued decline of the unregulated market for cannabis and the successful emergence of licensed producers across Canada.

Image Courtesy of: Aurora Cannabis Inc.


Saskatchewan is one of the provinces that allows private cannabis retail spaces and made 51 store licenses available through a lottery system. One year later, approximately 35 of the businesses have met all of SLGA’s requirements to obtain their store permit. BUSINESSVOICE SASKATOON



Westleaf and Prairie Records

Vertically integrated, Westleaf Inc. has assets operating or under development in cannabis cultivation, extraction and processing and retail distribution. Westleaf is based in Calgary and listed on the TSX Venture exchange under the symbol WL. Thunderchild First Nation, an independent Cree First Nation near Battleford, Saskatchewan, is one of Westleaf ’s earliest (and largest) investors. A large-scale cultivation facility, called Thunderchild Cultivation, is now under construction in Battleford and will employee close to 100 people when it reaches full capacity in the coming years. Adam Coates is Westleaf ’s Chief Commercial Officer and was the company’s first employee after its original founders. Coates spent seven years working with Labatt’s, which he describes as “an amazing training ground.” In 2017, Coates saw the opportunity to try to shape a new industry and create meaningful brands by joining Westleaf.



The Company operates three stores in the greater Saskatoon area under the Prairie Records brand – in Warman, in Stonebridge and on Broadway Avenue. Westleaf won the store lottery for its Warman permit and purchased the other two stores in April 2019, all in accordance with SLGA rules. Coates explains the Prairie Records store theme and mood as a play on the ritual and community of a neighbourhood record store (and helps differentiate the brand from other retailers). So far, Prairie Records has attracted “new and established cannabis users from all walks of life and we continue to grow our customer base,” says Coates. Plus, Prairie Records is being noticed beyond Saskatoon – it was recently named ‘top cannabis retailer’ in Canada by the Grow Up Conference & Expo. Prairie Records also uses Pineapple Express for their same-day delivery service in the Saskatoon area.


How A.I. is Transforming Digital Experiences? by Mouneeb Shahid, founder of On October 8th, I had the pleasure of speaking at the 10th World Indigenous Business Forum ( to over 700 delegates who gathered in Vancouver on the topic of how Artifical Intelligence (A.I.) is impacting the future of business. The WIBF brings together leaders from corporate and non-corporate sectors, government and nongovernment organizations, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together for face-toface conversations, investment possibilities and a social and economic purpose. Today we are dwelling in the fourth industrial revolution that is powered by technologies such as A.I. to create new opportunities and drive economic growth. The goal of A.I. is to simulate human intelligence through computer systems and machines. If done successfully, algorithms can be programmed to make decisions or provide recommendations by recognizing patterns in large amounts of data. The key is to define guidelines to make machine learning possible, so "intelligent" systems learn and get better over time. From potato chips to porn, businesses can use A.I. to understand their customers better, improve their products and services, and automate business processes. As a result, companies can gain a competitive edge in the market place by expediting innovation and predicting market trends. When it comes to digital experiences, A.I. can create highly personalized environments for customers so that businesses can get increased levels of interaction and engagement.

An essential requirement of making A.I. effective is to have access to large amounts of data. Big data, along with our digital footprints all across the web and social media channels, can be used to feed the "marketing machine" with relevant behavioural information of your target audience. The result is a precise customer journey map that pinpoints actions required to make a decision. The data from real-time customer insights from a variety of touchpoints and interactions can allow businesses to make precise predictions, and reduce the risk for strategic decisions. Successful businesses understand that customer retention is just as necessary as customer acquisition. As a result, A.I. has helped in offering immediate and scalable customer support on demand through simple tools such as chatbots. By this Christmas, over 80% of conversations happening online would be via chatbots. The goal here is not to

replace human interaction, but to elevate it. This approach allows businesses to respond to customers quickly for the majority of their questions. Only when it comes to more complex inquiries, an actual person can get involved and offer assistance. The advantages are significant, but the barriers in adopting A.I. are primarily related to the lack of understanding, lack of skillset and fear of the unknown. We know the A.I. is paving the way to Industry 4.0, and succeeding in business requires us to adopt and adapt. To learn more about how you can use Artificial Intelligence for improving your customer and digital experiences, visit us at




Co.Labs Companies Tackle Real Estate and Used Auto Sales by Elizabeth Ireland

Jordan Dutchak, Executive Director of Co.Labs in Saskatoon, has two tech companies top-of-mind when it comes to the real estate and retail sales industries – Embrace Technologies and Curbie. A real estate broker himself, Conrad Neufeldt is the CEO and Co-Founder of Embrace Technologies. Its brand, the Canadian Home Buyers Guide, aims to transform stressed and intimidated potential home buyers into empowered homeowners. In the province of Saskatchewan, its website is (in Alberta its localized website is “We’re homeowners too. We believe that the home buying process should be transparent, secure, simple and customized to each home buyer’s unique journey,” says Neufeldt. During its first year of business, the

Canadian Home Buyers Guide was used to help Canadians discover more than $100 million in mortgage eligibility online – helping many individuals find incentives and pre-qualify for homes when they have previously been declined for a mortgage. Says Neufeldt: “Co.Labs has been so instrumental in bringing the tech community together. Without that community supporting us along the way, I can honestly say Embrace Technologies wouldn’t be anywhere close to where we are today.” Nine months ago, Embrace Technologies embarked on raising its first round of private investment from local angel investors. Neufeldt will be attending The Tech Trip (TTT) in San Francisco this October. The Tech Trip is a program for local tech entrepreneurs to join representatives from Co.Labs and Saskatoon Regional Economic

Development Authority (SREDA) in the Bay Area to meet potential investors, customers and mentors. Alex Cruder is the CEO of Curbie (curbie. ca) – an artificial intelligence-powered online vehicle retailer, focused on providing near-new vehicles without the hassle of a traditional car-buying experience. Curbie also has backing from investors specific to the used vehicle space. “As a member of the Co.Labs community, Curbie has benefited from both the professional and peer mentorship available. This launch pad has enabled us to move from a company of two humble co-founders to a business having raised $4 million, a growing team of 12 employees and customers in five provinces. We look forward to seeing the continued growth of Curbie and other Co.Labs companies,” says Cruder. Curbie boasts some of the highest quality used vehicles in the market, free delivery to the customer’s door, a three-month warranty and a seven-day test-own period. According to Cruder, Curbie is “revolutionizing the car buying experience with every click.” Dutchak finishes his thoughts with the excitement surrounding an announcement in July of $250,000 in funding for Co.Labs from Western Economic Diversification Canada “to increase youth participation in tech entrepreneurship” in the province. Co.Labs is Saskatchewan’s first technology incubator and has served as a creative collaboration space for 84 tech start-ups in its first 28 months of operation. Co.Labs is funded by the provincial and federal government through Innovation Saskatchewan and Western Economic Diversification Canada. Co.Labs Innovation Place 229-116 Research Drive, Saskatoon | @colabsyxe





The 1st WEDNESDAY* of every Month 4:30 pm

LB Distillers

*Except January when it’s held 2nd Wednesday

Connect with the business community and enjoy great food and drinks at Chamber on Tap on the f irst Wednesday of each month. Learn Entrepreneur Insights when our host Nadine Kanigan interviews members of the business community. Wednesday, October 2nd

Wednesday, February 5th

Gord & Maureen Haddock

Alex Fallon

The Haddocks have owned eighteen plus businesses including The Body Shop and lululemon. "Work hard, have fun, make money and do good things."

Alex has worked for blue-chip organizations like Rolls-Royce, Cameco Corporation, the Government of Saskatchewan and the British Government (think 007) and is currently the President and CEO of SREDA.

Trek 2000 Corporation


Wednesday, November 6th

Wednesday, March 4th

Daria Malin

Evan Drisner

Daria is a strategic advisor to business owners and professionals in the areas of business development, personal branding, and advertising.

Evan Drisner is the managing partner of NuFab Building Products, part of the AllFab Group of Companies, a manufacturing, and resale company in the construction industry.

Boost Strategic Coaching

NuFab Building Products

Wednesday, December 4th

Wednesday, April 1st

Walter & Colleen Mah

Asif Moola

North Ridge Development is one of Saskatchewan’s Top 100 Companies. The Mahs have received numerous recognitions, including the Governor General’s Innovation Award.

In 2001, Asif Moola bought Momentum Clothing, a Saskatoon based retailer that specializes in streetwear, sneakers, outerwear and premium accessories.

North Ridge Developments

Momentum Clothing

Wednesday, January 8th

Wednesday, May 6th

Andrey Kharitonov

Jim & Brenda Nowakowski

Fire & Flower Cannabis Co.

Andrey recently took on the role of District Manager for Saskatchewan & Manitoba for Fire & Flower Cannabis Co. He is responsible for creating an industry-leading guest and team member experience.



JNE Welding

The Nowakowskis are part owners of JNE Welding, a custom industrial steel fabrication company with two locations in Saskatoon and employ 130-150 skilled people. Jim is the Past President and Brenda is the Past VP of Finance.

Accelerate your business with FREE Conexus business courses!

Agriculture: Tax Planning

November 7

3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Business Process Improvement

November 21

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Agriculture: Understanding Financial Statements

November 28

9:30 am – 11:00 am

Taxation for Small Business

December 17

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

Sign for FREE at

Brought to you by

Real people, real impact. Milton Greyeyes knows Saskatchewan – from his roots as part of Muskeg Lake Cree Nation to his current role as Coordinator, Supplier Diversity and Inclusion at Nutrien. We’re growing our company by drawing on Milton Greyeyes Coordinator, Supplier Diversity and Inclusion Nutrien

the skills and insights of people who know our province, our industry and the needs of growers all over the world. BUSINESSVOICE SASKATOON



Thursday, December 12th Time: 11:30 am - 1:30 pm Location: The Chamber office

Come ChristMingle with the Board of Directors and Chamber staff for a quick bowl of hot chili and fresh buns... with lots of butter! Yummy holiday surprises abound. This is a come-and-go event for our members and free of charge with a donation of a toy or non-perishable food item for The Chamber’s adopted family!




Chamber Happenings Chamber Photo Shoot

In August about 25 Chamber members made their way to “City Perks” a friendly neighbourhood coffeehouse located in one of Saskatoon’s character neighbourhoods. The coffeehouse served as the perfect backdrop for a Chamber photo shoot. From there, the group made its way to the beautiful “Delta Hotels by Marriott Bessborough,” often referred to as Saskatoon’s “Castle on the River.” They ended the day in the upscale offices of the Chamber. The Chamber’s Creative Coordinator and in-house photographer extraordinaire, Henry Buitrago, captured some amazing photos. The images will be used by the Chamber throughout the year to showcase our diverse membership in our “Business Voice” magazine, in our social media and in our event promotional materials.

Chamber Golf Classic

It was a beautiful September day as about 100 golfers participated in the 30th Annual Chamber Golf Classic at Moon Lake Golf and Country Club on Thursday, September 12th. Teams of four participated in a fun Texas scramble format. Several prizes were awarded including prizes for the lowest scoring team and the highest scoring team. Following the golf, participants were treated to a delicious buffet.




Chamber Happenings

Name Your Warrior Federal Debate

The Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce hosted “Name Your Warrior", an all-party candidates’ debate on Tuesday, September 10th. A crowd of about 100 people gathered at the Broadway Theatre to

hear from Randy Hoback, the Progressive Conservative Party Candidate for Prince Albert, Tracy Muggli, the Liberal Party Candidate for Saskatoon Grasswood, Erika Ritchie, the NDP Party Candidate for Saskatoon Grasswood, Mark Friesen, the People’s Party Candidate for Saskatoon Grasswood and Jan Norris, the Green Party

Candidate for Saskatoon University. Chamber CEO Darla Lindbjerg served as the debate moderator. The candidates debated several important hot topic issues including trade, the environment and natural resources, immigration, fiscal responsibility and business investment and competitiveness.

PIVOT-The Opportunity of Disruption

PIVOT-The Opportunity of Disruption was held at Prairieland Park on Wednesday, September 18th. The keynote speaker was Jim Harris, a sought-after expert on the subject of disruptive innovation. Jim’s presentation was informative, thoughtprovoking, and a lot of fun! Other speakers included Peter Stoicheff, the President and Vice-Chancellor of the U. of S., and Dr. Larry Rosia, President and CEO of the Saskatchewan Polytechnic. They provided insight into what the academic institutions are doing to prepare the workforce of the future. The evening began with an entertaining exercise in disruptive networking and ended with a lot of laughs as the world’s first soft, throwable microphone; the “Catchbox” was tossed around during the Q & A session.




Chamber Happenings

Chamber Summit Roundtables

The Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce held its annual Summit Roundtables October 1-3. Chamber members

gathered to discuss the most pressing issues facing their businesses. Representatives from across our diverse business community took part in the discussions which will form the basis of the Chamber’s Advocacy platform.

Chamber 101/Future Members Night

Chamber on Tap

It was a full house at LB Distillers on Wednesday, October 2nd for the season premiere of Chamber on Tap. Our new host Nadine Kanigan sat down with Gord and Maureen Haddock. The Haddocks own Trek 2000 Corporation, a family business that was formed in 1986, when the couple brought The Body Shop franchise to Saskatchewan.

Gord and Maureen were candid as they shared their wealth of knowledge when it comes to owning and operating a business, having owned 18 plus businesses. At times, they even got a little personal. Gord got the biggest laugh of the night when he talked about not only working alongside his wife but sharing her bed as well!

There were many new faces at LB Distillers October 2nd for the season premiere of Chamber 101. This event is held the first Wednesday every second month. It is designed to be informative in a relaxed environment, where members or soon-to-be members can learn about the many benefits of a Chamber membership. Information is given about the Chamber Group Benefits Plan; cost savings programs for Staples, First Data and more; marketing opportunities; advocacy; and events.




Many Canadians exercised their right to vote but many also stayed home. The latter always surprises me. Your vote is your voice when it comes to politics, and it’s important to make your voice heard. If you feel strongly about anything, voting is your chance to do something about it and make a difference. As a single voice, it can be difficult to affect change. But as a group of “one” or a single voice made up of many, change can happen. The Chamber recently conducted its SUMMIT Roundtables. This was the second year for the roundtables and by all accounts, they were a huge success. We had over 100 people take part in nine roundtables over three days, which provided our members the opportunity to have their voices heard. They shared their expertise in their fields and raised the most pressing issues facing their businesses today. The discussions from the SUMMIT Roundtables will form the basis of the Chamber’s Advocacy platform. Together, as a united voice, we too can harness the Power of One! The holiday shopping season is upon us and industry experts are predicting the remainder of 2019 could be challenging for some retailers.

Consumer debt levels in Canada are at an all-time high, resulting in less discretionary income to spend on non-necessities. E-commerce also continues to grow in Canada as more consumers are shopping from the comfort of their homes. Amazon continues to gain market share in Canada. Amazon Prime memberships have increased substantially in Canada over the past couple of years. While online shopping represents less than 10% of the Canadian retail market, it’s growing much faster than sales at physical stores, signalling a shift as well as challenges and opportunities.

If you are a locally owned business, how do you compete with the big box stores or the internet retailers, which can usually offer lower prices and a larger selection? Encouraging local shopping has never been more important than it is today. There are many ways Saskatoon’s consumers can support locally owned businesses. They can start by taking the time to learn about the many locally owned businesses in our community. Many would be pleasantly surprised to see what’s in their own backyard by simply taking a walk or going for a drive. Consumers could also make shopping at locally owned businesses part of their daily life. Those on a tight budget may be tempted by the lower prices being offered by the big-box stores, but there are ways to get around the problem. For one, consumers

As a single voice, it can be diff icult to affect change. But as a group of “one” or a single voice made up of many, change can happen. Chris Sicotte, Chair Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce


Saskatoon Chamber Board Chair Chris Sicotte


Canadians recently went to the polls to vote in a Federal Election. They were tasked with deciding which local candidate can best represent them in Ottawa and ultimately which party can best lead the country for the next four years.

Image: Gina’s Portraits

Tis the Season to Shop Local YXE

could budget for it and set aside a small sum each month specifically for local shopping. Shopping locally for food is another way to support the local economy. A locally owned grocery store is a good place, but a farmers’ market is even better. Shopping at the farmers’ market has several advantages over shopping for groceries at the supermarket. The Chamber is committed to the success of all businesses and that certainly includes our locally owned businesses. Here’s to a successful 2019 holiday shopping season! Your Chamber wants to hear from you - so please do not hesitate to contact me, or any board member with a question, comment, or concern. Sincerely, Chris Sicotte Chair Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce Chris Sicotte is the Chair of the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce and Indigenous Liaison, Commercial Risk Solutions of AON


Chris Sicotte Chair


Sandra Ribeiro Executive


Katrina German Director


Colton Wiegers Director


CREATIVE FIRE Jason Aebig 2nd Vice-Chair







Carla Browne 1st Vice-Chair

CeCe Baptiste, Director

Dale Lemke Director


Penny Yeager Director

Todd A. Denzin Director

Dr. Adam McInnes Director

Peggie Koenig Past Chair

Linda Exner Director


Graham Snell Director

Chamber Board of Directors Working for You! BUSINESSVOICE SASKATOON

Images: Gina’s Portraits



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