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Newcomers to Canada














Filling labour market gaps

WIGHTMAN TELECOM Service, new tech drive success

ROGER BROOKS Tourism expert assesses county

CORPORATE GIVING Businesses help local communities

Not all superheroes wear capes... Some of them do tax.

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Business Leader Magazine 905 Gartshore Street, Box 252 Fergus, Ontario N1M 2W8 Email: *COVER PHOTO by Jaime Myslik: Ahmad Tajo of Danby Appliances


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Embarking on a prosperous 2018 2017 ended on a high note for most local businesses, causing many to be hopeful that 2018 will remain strong as well. The difference of course is new labour legislation introduced by the Wynne Liberals last fall comes into effect. Oddly, the outcry about $15 per hour for the minimum wage scheduled for Jan. 1, 2019, will be less onerous on business than the huge jump in minimum wage rates that took effect the first of this year when the rate went from $11.60 in October to $14 on Jan. 1. Along with this direct monetary hit are a slew of other legislated changes that will be difficult for small local businesses to incorporate into current practices. The expansion of holiday time to three weeks after five years of service, personal leave up to 10 days per year with two of those days paid, minimum notice times on shift cancellations, equal pay across the board for part-time and casual workers performing the same task as a full-time employee - among others will exact a cost on businesses province wide. Many of these changes are noble, but they exact a cost on business and for some it may spell doom. It brings back memories of McGuinty’s Family Day legislation wherein he was heralded as one swell guy for giving people a break in February. Employees for most companies let out a cheer that day when government gave them another paid holiday – failing to realize it was their employer who got to pay the bill and had the plant or office idled for the day. One idea floated by the Liberals to offset the financial impact of these new costs to business was a potential decrease of one percent in corporate tax rates. Quick math suggests to us it would be far more preferable to pay more corporate tax on profit, than it is to pay and be responsible for employee costs under this new regimen. Adding to the pressures coming about under these new rules are two somewhat overlooked facts. It has been reported elsewhere that the Ministry of Labour will be hiring 175 new employment standard officers, which they hope will get to investigate at least one in 10 businesses. Fines have been increased and directors will face stricter penalties.

All businesses would be well advised to review current practices and be sure that they are up to speed with changes. ***

Who is that guy? It isn’t just guys, but understandably, they get stereotyped in this role. Out of Canada’s top 100 earners at TSX-listed companies, 97% were men, with only three women represented on the list. By 11am on Jan. 2, the average top-earning CEO made more money than the average Canadian worker does in a whole year. With an annual compensation package of over $10 million, these high earners are making more than 200 times what an average Canadian makes just shy of $50,000 per annum. By day’s end on Jan. 2 those CEOs will earn what a significant number of families have for annual income. It is a disparity we have written about before, but it seems to be getting more egregious as the decades pass. What does that guy do with all that money? The downside of this type of news is the mistaken belief that all businesses and or businesspeople are created equal. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Waltz up and down main streets in smalltown Ontario and see the number of closed up shops or those hanging on by a thread. Business is a struggle, with little guarantee of outcome, save and except a pile of responsibility to customers served and workers employed. We hope 2018 turns out to be a good, solid year and that local businesses are up to the challenges that lay ahead.

The huge jump in minimim wage ... (and) a slew of other legislated changes ... will exact a cost on businesses.




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Newcomers to Canada: filling labour market gaps BY JAIME MYSLIK


GUELPH-ERAMOSA - When Ahmad Tajo arrived in Canada more than a year ago he didn’t know how to open a bank account or get a cellphone SIM card or register with a family doctor. Now he does. Tajo is one of many Syrian refugees who came to Canada after fleeing their war-torn home country and, as many other refugees, he wanted to find work. Tajo and his family arrived in Canada on Dec. 19, 2016 and he was employed by the Danby Appliances IT department by the end of January 2017. “I started working immediately,” he said. “The good thing when I started here, I didn’t need to train. “Of course, every day you will know new things, but it was easy.” Tajo had been working for 10 years in IT in Syria and he earned all his certifications in English. He explained that there is no option to learn IT in Arabic - English is the only possibility. So, starting work in the IT department as a help desk analyst at Danby was a natural transition. However, not all refugees and newcomers to Canada are able to speak English upon arrival. “They don’t practice it so it will be a shock

in language, culture, work environment - yeah, everything,” Tajo said. Sandra Cocco, executive director of Immigrant Services Guelph-Wellington, said a common challenge for newcomers is the debate about whether they should try to get a job immediately or take English classes so they can increase their chances to find their desired employment. Danby, a Guelph-Eramosa Township refrigeration and specialty appliance company, has taken this struggle in stride and has tried to make employment opportunities available to any newcomer, whatever their English proficiency and whatever their skill level. Currently the company has at least 10 full-time employees who are newcomers to Canada, but it has had up to 24 at one time on contract. Director of human resources Melody Esfahani explained Danby’s intake process for newcomers is different from other job postings. “We try to make it very simple for them,” she said. Once Danby is contacted by a sponsorship family, sponsorship group or the newcomer, Esfahani said she tries to get an idea of what they’re looking for in Canada and what


“The goal is to just give them the foundation they need so they can be successful in other companies.” - MELODY ESFAHANI, DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES DANBY APPLIANCES


they did back home. Then she explains the opportunities available at Danby. “I like them to come in and have a look, especially if they’re going to be working in the warehouse,” Esfahani said. “I want them to understand what the work environment is because I’d say that has also been a bit of a challenge for the newcomer, where maybe they were in an office setting back home and now they’re expected to wear safety shoes and a bright neon vest and clean units. “So, it’s helping them to kind of get to that understanding that maybe this isn’t long term, but perhaps this is something you need to do in the short term to get to where you want to get to.” Once a schedule is agreed upon, Esfahani said the newcomer usually signs a three-month contract with Danby. “There’s no background checks, there’s no references, there’s no interview,” Esfahani said. “It’s just really understanding what are they looking for and them understanding what we do and what the opportunity is.” Sohrab Rahmaty, employment coordinator at Immigrant Services Guelph-Wellington, says more employers may want to consider a similar intake process. He said within the current economic environment manufacturing businesses are going to need to rely heavily on newcomers to fill vacant positions. “We can’t use an HR hiring practice that was meant for the 90s or for a different demographic for a newcomer,” Rahmaty said. “I’ve been to some of these mock hiring processes where I’ve met the HR managers and they say ‘okay this is what they go through’ and it’s a six-hour behavioural interview exam and testing and it’s just for ... a labour position that anybody could more or less perfect or master in a month’s time. “So I tell them you’re having a challenge hiring people, maybe we need to look at the hiring process.” Cocco said Immigrant Services encourages employers hiring for lower-skilled work to make the hiring process more accessible. “The question is, do we really need them to go through this rigorous process to do something that really ... after a month’s time they’re going to be either a good operator or not,” she said. “And so you have that threemonth probationary period. “Why make the assessment thing so difficult that you’re not even going to get to the real skill that’s needed?” The unemployment rate in Wellington County and Guelph is relatively low, but Cocco explained this sometimes presents challenges for employers who are hiring. She suggested companies having difficulty filling labour needs look at newcomers as a potential source because 11 per cent of Wellington County residents are immigrants and 21% of Guelph residents are immigrants. “A lot of them are coming at a specific age

and with family,” Rahmaty said. “So when you’re in those circumstances ... you tend to want to get into a company and stick with it ... because you have to find a means to an income ... “So, what newcomers do is they bring that stability ... a very desired aspect right now in the manufacturing world is someone that can come in, work, you know put in overtime, and also be able to do shift work, but also be

“People are friendly. They are supportive, cooperative; they are very nice and this is Canadian people, not only in Danby.” - AHMAD TAJO, NEWCOMER FROM SYRIA

consistent to come into work.” Danby has a program called Ease into Canada that is designed so newcomers get the most out of their three month-contract. “You’re setting them up with the basics of working so that when they go into another company they now know what someone means by checking your pay stub,” Esfahani. The Ease into Canada program also helps to explain T4s, benefit plans and how to submit taxes. The program also makes translators available to newcomers, both in the warehouse and office, and offers English as a second language lessons on site once a week. “What we’re trying to also do is encourage conversation groups,” Esfahani. “That is coming along slowly so it’s finding the volunteers within the Danby group of people and then finding interested Ease into Canada participants who want to practice their English.” She said employees are also encouraged to attend employment and newcomer programs at Lutherwood and Immigration

Services Guelph-Wellington, even if it’s during company time, as long as business needs are not affected. “We’d love it if we could hire everyone, but realistically that’s not possible,” Esfahani said. “The goal is to just give them the foundation they need so they can be successful in other companies.” Danby recently received a grant from Immigration Services Guelph-Wellington to work on an Ease into Canada Manufacturing Toolkit along with Immigrant Services and the Wellington County economic development department. Esfahani said they’ll be looking at the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis and tweaking the toolkit in the first half of 2018 and then trying to replicate it in another company in the second half of the year. The idea is to have it ready for use by 2019 or 2020. “The goal is make this replicable, make it easy for other companies to incorporate because there is value in drawing from this candidate pool,” she said. “They are hard-working people who are eager to work, who need the opportunity and I know that there are companies out there who struggle to find candidates. “I see them doing job fairs, I see them reaching out to me asking if we have anyone, so I think it’s a matter of tapping into that resource and it’s a win-win situation if we can get good at that.” One of the key challenges for newcomers trying to find work in Wellington County is transportation. “There are employers in the county and the population isn’t growing out there, they need people and they’re here,” Cocco said. “So how do we get them from A to B?” Not all newcomers want to move to smaller towns so Cocco suggested a transportation strategy. Because it’s often difficult for newcomers to purchase a car until they have a job, she said a community transportation strategy is necessary. “We can’t have city transit so companies need to be thinking about a small investment that could lead to a big solution for a labour market gap,” Cocco said. “How much would it cost to run a bus? “And if you have enough people that you could make stops, maybe companies have to work together ... where they share the costs of something like that and you do a drop off here and a drop off there.” Tajo said his experience in Canada and at Danby is the best work environment he’s ever experienced. “People are friendly. They are supportive, cooperative; they are very nice and this is Canadian people, not only in Danby,” he said. “They appreciate your work and this is one of the most encouraging things. “But I come here every day and I’m happy.”



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Proprietor, Partnership or Corporation: How Should I Structure My Business? One of the first decisions you need to make when setting up your business is whether to operate as a proprietor, partnership or corporation. There are a variety of factors you need to consider:

Simplicity and Administrative Costs Partnerships and proprietorships are simpler to administer than corporations. Transactions are easy to understand and financial statements are not always required therefore simplifying accounting and bookkeeping. Additionally, no separate tax return has to be prepared for the business as it is included as part of the personal tax return. In the case of partnerships, legal advice may be required to register the partnership’s name and prepare a partnership agreement. Depending on size, the partnership may also be required to file a partnership information return with the CRA. For corporations, accounting and bookkeeping costs will be higher because of the added complexity of the corporation and the necessity to prepare financial statements along with separate corporate and personal tax returns. Additional legal costs will also be incurred to set-up the corporation and prepare annual shareholders’ resolutions. Limited Liability With partnerships and proprietorships, all personal assets (not just the business assets) can be exposed to the creditors of the business. Additionally, in the case of partnerships, each partner is jointly and severally liable for the actions of the other partners. This means that even if only one of several partners is negligent, all of the partners can be exposed to the accompanying loss. The corporation, because it is a separate legal entity, provides protection of personal assets from creditors. It is also possible to setup a separate holding corporation to provide additional protection. However, it should be noted that personal guarantees could be required for corporate debt that would offset some of this protection. Deductibility of Losses For proprietorships and partnerships, any losses for tax purposes from the business can be deducted against other sources of personal

income. For corporations, losses can only be used to offset business or property income within the corporation. If losses are expected in the early years of your business, it may be preferable to have a proprietorship or partnership over a corporation. However, it should be noted that the amount of proprietorship or partnership losses that can be deducted against personal income may be restricted or even denied entirely by the CRA if it can be established that there is no reasonable expectation of profit. Tax Deferral Proprietorships and partnerships are exposed to progressively higher tax rates as taxable income increases. This means that profitable businesses could be paying income tax at rates over 50% therefore limiting the amount of after-tax cash available to invest in the business. Corporations, on the other hand, have a flat tax rate of only 15% (as of calendar 2017) in Ontario up to $500,000 of taxable income. This low rate of tax means there is more money available in the business to pay off debt, invest in assets and meet working capital obligations compared to partnerships or proprietorships. It has recently been announced that this 15% rate will be even further reduced to 13.5% in 2018 and then to 12.5% in 2019. It should also be noted that the deferral advantage for corporations increases as income increases. For businesses with lower incomes, there may be little to no tax deferral advantage at all. Social Benefits Many government benefits, such as the personal HST credit, EI maternity benefits, the Canada Child Benefit and Old Age Security are affected by the amount of income reported on the personal tax return. In the case of proprietorships and partnerships, all of the income generated from the business has to be reported on the personal tax return regardless of whether it is actually needed for living expenses and this could limit or eliminate

these benefits. With a corporation, you can limit the amount of wages and dividends paid to the shareholders and therefore it is much easier to qualify for these benefits. Non-Calendar Year-End Corporations can choose a non-calendar year-end for tax purposes. The main advantage of this is to provide a window of time to plan in advance for personal taxes which are always based on the December 31 year-end. Another advantage is that the year-end can be chosen at a time when the business is not as busy and you have more time to attend to the year-end administrative work. Proprietorships and partnerships cannot choose a non-calendar year-end without suffering adverse tax consequences. Therefore, this is not a viable option for them. Secondary Wills Under Ontario law, secondary wills can be set-up to address the shares of private corporations. The advantage of doing so is that the assets of the corporation would not subject to probate tax upon the death of the shareholder which can be up to 1.5% of the value of the business. It is not possible to set-up a secondary will to deal with the business assets of proprietorships and partnerships. Therefore, the probate tax cannot be avoided. Conclusion This article outlines only some of the major advantages and disadvantages of each type of business structure. There are many additional complexities that cannot be addressed in a single article. Therefore, it is important to get professional advice to determine which business structure is right for you. Collins Barrow can provide that professional advice to make sure you make the right decision.

Guelph Wellington Dufferin 0342 Gerrie Road, Elora


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Many members are very excited about our upcoming Community Improvement Plan in both the Town of Erin and the County of Wellington, so I think some façade facelifts are on the horizon. We also want to pull off even bigger and better events in 2018, so the planning will be starting early for our annual favourites, plus some new events ‘to be announced.’


2018 is going to see serious construction in both downtown Elora and Fergus. In both communities our 2018 resolution is to be “open and ready for business, regardless of construction.”



Winter can be a tough time for business, but embracing your local shoppers is an important factor. The Village of Erin offers a unique shopping experience for visitors and residents alike, and many merchants bring in new and never-seen products to spoil “Erinites” and “Hillsburghers” during the slower months. Our four-seasons strategy in Erin also embraces those who come to enjoy our winter rural beauty and like to warm up with a little Village of Erin charm… especially with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations just around the corner.



Winter promotions are the best way. Embrace the season! Many merchants use the slow post-holiday winter season to empty out last year’s merchandise and offer deep discounts. The slower season is also a great time to do those cosmetic things like repaint, re-organize the floor plan, plan and order your next season’s wares, etc.




Much of the winter months are dedicated to planning for our busy season of projects and events throughout the year. We don’t have any specific/different projects for winter at this time.


In Fergus the BIA will be undertaking a renovation of its website, and preparing for the closure of the St. David Street Bridge in Fergus. Both Elora and Fergus will be using the winter months to formulate new shop local campaigns.

Fergus Email: Website: Elora Email: Website:


Critical positioning of our upside-down sale (mid-March) gives merchants something to look forward to and a great chance to clear out last-copies and make way for the new. The BIA also tries to have regular meetings so merchants stay engaged with one another. Merchants are also very busy bringing in new products during slow months, so social media promotions are very important when customers need a little inspiration to come out from under the covers and pay their village shops and services a visit.



In both communities the BIA is undertaking a focused shop local program across both traditional and social media platforms. In Fergus, watch for a fun program that involves the bridge closure. The post Christmas season offers events such as Valentine’s Day, Family Day and even Easter (April 1), all of which will be leveraged.



The AO Smith Corporation office and distribution centre in Fergus recently won the Lloyd B. Smith President’s Safety Award for excellence in workplace safety. The award is presented to one facility a year and Fergus was one of 23 facilities throughout the world vying for the honour. The announcement and award presentation was made on Nov. 19 at an award ceremony at the AO Smith facility in Fergus.

Local AO Smith wins safety award


BY JAIME MYSLIK FERGUS – The AO Smith Corporation office and distribution centre in Fergus recently won the Lloyd B. Smith President’s Safety Award for excellence in workplace safety. “Fergus is the first Canadian facility to earn this honour in its 63-year history,” said AO Smith president and chief operating officer Kevin Wheeler at a Nov. 16 award presentation. “And you all are the first distribution centre to win this award, ever.” He said the Lloyd B. Smith President’s Safety Award is the most sought after award in the entire AO Smith corporation. The company provides hot water solutions like water heaters. The Fergus plant was one of 23 facilities throughout the world vying for the honour. “It’s meant to recognize all of you for the role you play in making this a safe operation,” Wheeler said. “You’ve done a terrific job of identifying potential hazards, preventing accidents, continuously improving the work conditions for everyone here at the Fergus facility.” The Lloyd B. Smith President’s Safety Award is presented to the facility that shows the greatest improvement year after year in safety performance. Senior vice president of global manufacturing Paul Dana challenged the Fergus facility to try to win the award two years in a row, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since 1969. “The company uses two criteria to evaluate each location,” Wheeler said. “First, we looked for the statistical evidence for improvement over the prior year and secondly, the facility must demonstrate (it

has) a comprehensive and sustainable safety program in place.” To help with this evaluation three safety statistics are gathered based on U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration measures. One statistic was the lost workday incident rates. “This relates to the most serious work-

“You have a team that works extremely hard to instill a safety-first culture here in Fergus.” - KEVIN WHEELER, CEO, AO SMITH

related injuries that result in one or more lost days,” Wheeler said. Another measured statistic was the recordable incident rate. “This category tracks those significant work-related injuries,” he said. The last measured statistic was the workday incident rate, which identifies the total number of lost workdays per calendar year. The Fergus facility had no accidents that led to lost time in 2016. “You placed at the top of the lost workday case incident rate and the lost workday incident rate categories,” Wheeler said.

“You were among the top three facilities in recordable case incidents rate category and, all in all, had a very impressive workplace safety here in Fergus.” The joint health and safety team - consisting of management co-chair Mary Shannon, union co-chair Emerson Woods, Paul Schwantz, Joanne Whitney, Rob Henderson and Garf Smith - is responsible for earning the award for the Fergus centre. “You have a team that works extremely hard to instill a safety-first culture here in Fergus,” Wheeler said. “A culture that is summed up by a statement that ‘no single water heater is more important than our people’s safety.’” The joint health and safety team conducts monthly safety audits, delivers safety training, evaluates data and addresses any incidents at the facility. “You’ve worked hard to create the programs that are needed to ensure employees understand their role when it comes to workplace safety,” Dana said. “First line supervisors are out there making sure that everybody’s safe, doing inspections and ... they’re doing the audits, not only on accidents but on near misses to make sure that we’re preventing those in the future.” Last year the team revised the facility’s accident reporting process and had new equipment installed to prevent trailers from accidently pulling away from the loading dock early. “I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished last year,” Whitney said. “Keep up the good work. Please be safe, that’s most important to me.”



Golden Ontario Products receives licence to export beef to China BY LYNNE TURNER MOUNT FOREST - Thanks to a new export licence, Golden Ontario Products can now export Canadian beef to China. Receiving the licence was the culmination of five years of work by officials with the company, located just outside of Mount Forest. Golden Ontario Products president and majority owner Nancy Kingsley-Hu was joined by general manager Patrizio (Pat) Donato, office manager Lorri Dickert and several dignitaries in making the announcement in October. Kinglsey-Hu said obtaining the licence means the company can now take advantage of a largely untapped market. “You can’t just export to China, you need permission, so this has been a collaboration between the two countries,” Kinglsey-Hu told those gathered on a bright, sunny day. The company president was described as being “a pinnacle of patience and persistence (because) that’s what it takes to work with China.” Kingsley-Hu, her husband and children lived in Shanghai for several years. She imported honey and beer to China. She said some of her backers wanted her to look at exporting beef to China and that’s when the five-year odyssey to obtain the licence began. When she began inquiries, the Kincardine Economic Development Board told her the 20,000 square foot Frey’s abattoir near Mount Forest was on the market. Golden Ontario Products purchased the building in December 2013. “The first years were rough,” Kingsley-Hu said. “The regulatory hurdles were daunting. Importing honey and beer was easy compared to this albatross.” Kingsley-Hu said her goal in “buying this plant was to give something back. “I was from Goderich and used to be in the financial industry. I knew things about trade deficits. So I wanted to be able to send something to China that they would want instead of always having things coming here.” Golden Products Ontario presently employs 30 people but in the near future that number will jump to 60 - and eventually to 100 to 150 people. There are also plans to double the size of the facility. “This will permanently sustain the business

and mean an expansion of the workforce,” said Donato. “We will be processing 80 beef a week to start.” “The ultimate goal is to process 80 beef a day,” Kinglsey-Hu said. “There are 1.3 billion people in [China].” Donato, described as one of the key players on the journey, owns Donato International. He considers himself to be a farmer first and said it is high time Ontario farmers stand up for themselves. “Some of the best farmers on the planet are in Ontario and it’s time we stand up and take our accolades,” he said. He said he couldn’t have wished for a better partner than Kingsley-Hu.

Walker were in attendance and offered their congratulations. Breaking into “literally the largest market in the world” is good news for the company itself as well as the community, including the 490 beef farmers in Perth- Wellington, Nater said. “This is a great opportunity for added employment, and also rural economic development,” he added. “It is so important for these communities to have the opportunity to expand into foreign markets and do a great job expanding our economy locally.” Walker said the announcement “gives confidence to our area.”

“You can’t just export to China, you need permission, so this has been a collaboration between the two countries.” - NANCY HINGSLEY-HU, PRESIDENT OF GOLDEN ONTARIO PRODUCTS

“To me, to represent Canada on the international level is humbling,” he said. Entire animals will be processed and sent to China, frozen, to be used primarily in the hospitality industry. Rainer Knickmann of Mount Forest, who works for C&D (Canada) Import and Export Inc., one of China’s largest buyers, said Chinese regulations are “extremely strict” and he is thrilled with the news from Golden Ontario Products. “It’s a huge challenge to sell to China, (so) this is a really big deal,” he said, noting that in all of Canada only seven companies have the licence just obtained by Golden Products Ontario. “This company is going to buy cattle locally as farmers come to understand it’s here. This is going to bring foreign money to our farmers,” Knickmann said. Both Perth-Wellington MP John Nater and Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill


Wellington North councillor Steve McCabe said, “The biggest winner here, aside from China, is our local beef farmers.” Southgate Township CAO Dave Millner said his township is “excited and proud” to have Golden Ontario Products located in their community. The plant is located on the Southgate side of the Wellington North/Southgate border. Also taking part in the ribbon cutting ceremony were John Schut, a business development consultant with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Southgate Mayor Anna Marie Fosbrooke; Sara Kutulakos, executive director and COO of the Canada China Business Council; and Li Yanhua, consul (commercial) with the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Toronto. A luncheon featuring locally-raised beef was held at the Mount Forest Sports Complex for dignitaries and invited guests following the ribbon cutting.

Kindred Credit Union achieves gold status


KITCHENER – Kindred Credit Union (Kindred) is excited to once again achieve Gold Level on the Aon Best Small and Medium Employers in Canada list. The study, now in its 19th year, is published in the December print edition of Maclean’s magazine. “Kindred’s purpose in part is to inspire peaceful, just and prosperous communities,” said Brent Zorgdrager, chief executive officer. “And it’s very encouraging to hear through the Aon survey that staff are highly engaged and believe we’re fostering this kind of community internally.” The Aon Best Employers in Canada Study is the county’s premier benchmark for assessing the quality and performance of workplace excellence using global standards based on more than 20 years of learnings and best practices from Aon studies conducted all over the world. To learn more about the Aon Best Employers studies, visit www.

The Arthur and District Chamber of Commerce recently recognized the late Mary Schmidt, who was posthumously awarded the Citizen of the Year award. Schmidt, who passed away on July 17, owned and operated Arthur Travel Service Limited for 30 years. She was active in the Arthur chamber and served as chair of the Saugeen Economic Development Corporation. From left: Sean Garrett and Lisa, Rebecca, John and Daniel Schmidt accepted the award in Mary’s honour.

Now THAT takes the cake!

Fergus’ Fancy That Cake owner Kellie Barclay, right, assisted team lead Chrissie Boon from Too Nice to Slice in Kitchener in the seven-hour Live Global Cake Challenge at America’s Cake Fair in Orlando on Oct. 13. The pair competed as Team Canada against nine other teams. They were asked to create a minimum 36” tall cake featuring their country. Team Canada chose to play off Canada’s 150th anniversary. A naughty beaver swimming in the water chewed the log on which the 150 birthday cake was resting. The beaver was sporting an Anne of Green Gables hat and braids. The tree had northern lights painted on the bottom half and the Canada 150 logo on the top half. A canoe was resting on top of the tree logs - some Canada 150 tulips and Ontario trilliums adorned the canoe, along with an Inuit art piece by a Canadian artist. The canoe paddle sticks out of the canoe and the birthday cake is resting on top. The birthday cake featured red maple leaves, a tier decorated to reassemble a Mountie uniform and “150” candles on top.


chamber round-up


How will the one percentage point cut in the corporate tax rate from 4.5 per cent to 3.5% on the first $500,000 worth of profit help your small business members? Minto John Cox Many local businesses are feeling financial pressure from every direction. Rising operating costs, smaller profit margins, increased minimum wage all are weighing heavy on their minds. Far more must be done to make Ontario an attractive place for investment. No doubt, some small business owners will welcome the tax relief and some may even benefit from it. However, it does little to address the other serious challenges facing small business in Ontario, or the obstacles to business investment threatening growth and expansion.

Centre Wellington Kira Bailey Many of our businesses are breaking even or making a modest profit. Not many, to my knowledge, make close to $500,000 profit. If a business makes $60,000 profit – that would be a savings of $600, which, given the cost of doing business, is a relative drop in the bucket (i.e. increases to minimum wages, paid personal leave days, etc.).

Mount Forest Trish Wake Our small businesses will take whatever break they can get. With the increase in minimum wage and inflation on products and services, savings somewhere across the board will be well received.



Keeping in touch with Wellington County Chambers


How will the $1,000 incentives to hire employees between 15 and 29 years of age and to retain them for six months, impact your members? Minto John Cox Many of our employers struggle to find skilled workforce but welcome any financial incentives available to assist them. In the past some of our businesses that hire seasonal workers automatically received hiring grants without the application process. These employers and others may face a challenge to find the time to fill out a lengthy application form.

Centre Wellington Kira Bailey This is a small incentive to the cost of hiring and training an employee. A part-time person who works 15 hours per week at $14/hour would gross $210 per week. Consider it may take 2 to 3 months to train them, that is $1,680 to $2,520. If an employee stays with the same employer for six months that could be helpful. However, Employment Standards gives the employer three months to end an employment agreement, after which time it becomes more difficult for the employer.

Mount Forest Trish Wake Our members currently hire quite a few youth or students from the area. While incentives are great, how many businesses will utilize this resource?

CHAMBER ROUND-UP BUSINESS LEADER spoke to Chamber of Commerce representatives within Wellington County about area events and news in their respective regions.


A new year means New Year’s resolutions. What resolutions are some of your businesses making? Minto John Cox Rather than the businesses making a resolution, the community and consumers should make a resolution to offer more support to small businesses. Each person needs to collectively make a conscience decision to spend money in the community in which they live. Everyone will benefit and the community will prosper and continue to grow. Small businesses create jobs and employ youth, they support the local economy and beautify main streets, they sponsor youth sports and activities, organize local events and so much more. Without a thriving business community, everyone suffers.

Centre Wellington Kira Bailey Many are trying to figure out how they can work with Bill 148 – a resource would be a handbook Steering Through Change prepared by MNP LLP with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. Check out


What is the economic outlook for early 2018? Minto John Cox Our members are always positive and keeping busy. Even though January may be a slow month, as everyone regroups from the holiday season they will use this time to prepare for the spring and beyond. Everyone is very optimistic and the economic outlook is very positive all across Minto. Email: Website:

Centre Wellington Kira Bailey With a provincial election slated for June we are already seeing the current government making some efforts to gain your vote. Ask yourself how these changes will be paid for over the long run. Are we trying to have lower costs now at the expense of a generation down the road? Many are hopeful, but some may be adversely affected by municipal, provincial and federal policies. You are invited to attend the Annual Mayor’s Breakfast on Jan. 31 for more information about timing and cost, call 519-843-5140 for details. Email: Website:

Mount Forest Trish Wake We hear trim the expenses a little more, do more advertising, stretch that dollar just a little further. As the administrator for the Chamber of Commerce and on behalf of the board, I would like to put a bug in their ear and say their number one resolution should be to engage more with their local chamber. I think we have come to a point where businesses are members but they truly don’t understand what we can and will do for them. Starting in the new year our resolution is to have a face-to-face conversation with each member and get an update on their operations and services.

Mount Forest Trish Wake Early 2018 is going to start off slow, I believe, as it often does after the spending that happens around the holidays. Then you also have snowbirds, and winter travel that decrease the in-town spending. The increase in minimum wage will also affect the small businesses in our area. However, I am certain with some time the kinks will work out and we will plateau and start to rise again just in time for spring. Email: Website:


TORONTO - The province has passed legislation that officials say will make it easier for businesses to grow and create more jobs. The Cutting Unnecessary Red Tape Act, 2017 will reduce regulatory burdens and practices that cost businesses time and money, while protecting environmental and health standards and ensuring worker safety, the government states. The changes include: - reducing regulatory costs: requiring all ministries to offset every dollar of new administrative costs to business by removing $1.25 of old and unnecessary costs, while protecting environmental, health and worker safety standards; - streamlining compliance for small business: ensuring that undue burdens aren’t placed on small businesses when new or amended regulations are introduced, while maintaining robust environmental, health and safety requirements and other public interest protections; - international or national standards alignment: increasing harmonization with other jurisdictions and adopting international or national standards, where appropriate, when developing or reviewing regulations; - rewarding good actors: recognizing businesses with good compliance records and lowering their costs by reducing requirements, without compromising the environment health and safety, and other protections; - electronic transmission guarantee: providing businesses the option to electronically submit any required documentation to the Government of Ontario instead of more costly paper submissions; and - reducing fees and other costs: reviewing licence and registration fees paid with a goal of providing relief to small- and medium-sized businesses. For more information visit www.

Minto chamber develops way for consumers to support charities through businesses BY PATRICK RAFTIS

MINTO - The Minto Chamber of Commerce has developed an innovative way to support community organizations while promoting local business. The chamber has been operating the “Think Minto First” fundraising campaign for the past 10 years. Through the program, not-for-profit groups sell gift certificates for participating Minto businesses and receive a percentage of the sales as a donation. At any given time there could be up to three different teams, clubs and organizations selling gift certificates for local business. The chamber administrates the program and businesses pay a $50 administration fee. Somer Gerber, business development coordinator for the chamber and LaunchIt Minto, says the program is “a great way for local organizations to raise money while keeping it in the community that supports them.” Gerber said organizations that have participated in the fundraiser have had “outstanding success” and “the businesses that participate like the fact they are able to give back to the community and organization while making money, growing their business and getting new customers into their business.” Currently 22 Minto businesses are involved and Gerber notes the chamber is always looking for new participants to sign up. There is a one-time participation fee of $50 and the business can decide what percentage they wish to give back to the organization,


with donations generally ranging from five to 20 per cent. Gerber said the program has been used successfully by groups like the Harriston and District Horticultural Society and Palmerston Hospital Auxiliary. The horticultural society has been using the program for five years now. In the first year the group made $210, while last year they earned over $700 and sold almost $7,000 worth gift certificates for participating businesses. Gerber said the chamber would love to expand the range of organizations taking advantage of the fundraising opportunity offered by Think Minto First. “We would like to see local sports teams run this fundraiser,” she suggested. Individual businesses in Minto also contribute to their local community through a variety of programs, including: - support for the local Harriston Legion Christmas Toy Drive by Leslie Motors; - support of Minto Fire’s annual Touch A Truck fundraiser by Minto Auto and Car Star; - Krown Rust Control of Palmerston hosts an annual Wash for Wish car wash event in support of the Children’s Wish Foundation; - Gramma Jo’s restaurant in Clifford hosts an annual Breakfast with Santa for local youngsters and their parents; and - the Minto Chamber of Commerce incorporates a collection for the local food bank at its annual holiday social.



Ontario passes legislation aimed to help businesses save time and money

Tuck elected president of new Mapleton chamber BY CAROLINE SEALEY DRAYTON - After months of planning, the reorganized Mapleton Chamber of Commerce is now up and running. The organization’s general meeting and membership drive in November included the election of officers. Mapleton resident Greg Durocher officiated the election of the new executive consisting of president Amber Tuck; treasurer Cathy Burton; secretary Dale Franklin; vice-presidents Jenn Landman, Wayne Mick and Donna Hirtle; and directors Jocelyn Martin, Dave Taylor, Beth Anne Rumph and Jeff Duimering. Memberships were accepted from 25 businesses in Mapleton Township. The chamber offered “a one-time lower

membership fee” of $50. The chamber received a $4,100 donation from Mapleton Township to assist with startup costs, including a part-time staff person.

Guest speaker for the evening event was Johnston Group vice president of chamber relations Dave Angus of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The former president and CEO of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, Angus said through the chamber he and his parents were able to build relationships, secure suppliers and seek out practical advice for their family-run business. “Every individual can make a

difference,” Angus said. Noting the chamber is a platform for different ideas, he said action is needed to bring those ideas to fruition. Business owners need to come together with a respectful attitude when around the table discussing the community and the businesses within it, he noted.

“I am excited and optimistic about the Mapleton chamber.” - DAVE ANGUS, FORMER CEO OF THE WINNIPEG CHAMBER OF COMMERCE “The chamber does not sit in the stands. The group is about finding solutions while on the field in the huddle, mixing things up,” Angus said. The chamber as an international network has no other international brand as powerful as it is. The organization is highly respected and ready to be leveraged.” The Chambers of Commerce do not compete with each other, but respectfully

support one another as part of a fraternity that connects chambers together. “I am excited and optimistic about the Mapleton chamber,” Angus said. “Greg Durocher has a lot to offer, use him.” In a question period that followed, Durocher stressed that “localness” is the key and encouraged the chamber to connect with other urban/rural chambers in the area. There are 350 Chambers of Commerce in Ontario. He also suggested working together to build a positive working relationship with local government. “Deal with local issues in a caring, understanding way, as it’s the only way to make change,” Durocher said. “It is important to have a strong business community. There will be members that rarely attend meetings and events, but will participate in the benefits the chamber has to offer.” Durocher added, “Things are always happening at the chamber. You never know if the person you meet at a chamber meeting may be the person to buy out your business when you retire or they may be the next star employee that you hire.” Angus said, “Surveys of the chamber have revealed that most members join for networking. Make sure members connect, get together, have fun and talk.” - With files from Patrick Raftis



Wightman continues to offer new telecom technology with focus on customer service BY JAIME MYSLIK


CLIFFORD – Wellington County is home to one of the only remaining family-owned and operated telecom companies in Canada. Clifford-based Wightman Telecom has been in the county for more than a century. Now owned by Paul and Blair Wightman, over the years the company has experienced a number of ups and downs, as well as numerous technological advancements in the telecom industry. “After the last war and in the 1950s there was several hundred small phone companies in Ontario and they all sort of met their demise when they couldn’t get over the high cost of upgrading and technology changes and that sort of thing,” said co-owner Paul Wightman. “We’ve always been able to sort of get ... over that hurdle.” Over the last decade the company has focused on bringing fibre optic lines to customers throughout Wellington County and beyond. Wightman currently provides service to about 20 communities. The company is now working to bring fibre optic service to Centre Wellington, with the

goal of having Elora completely retrofitted by mid- to late-2018. This spring Wightman will bring the service to Stratford. Paul said fibre optic lines have the capability to deliver an unlimited volume of bandwidth. “Everything is brand new, latest technology and designed for maximum throughput,” he said. The first customer to receive the service in Elora was Gerrie’s Garden Centre and Farm Market. “What we notice is a little higher internet speed,” Tim Gerrie said. “We don’t do a lot of uploads and downloads, whereas somebody who’s doing large uploads and downloads could see the huge difference. “It’s probably five times as fast [as] it was with the traditional ... line.” However, Elora is not the first area to receive the fibre optic upgrade by Wightman. For decades, Paul said, Wightman would often wait to see how new technology would unfold in Toronto or Kitchener or Guelph before developing a business plan to offer the same services to the company’s rural base.



In the early 1900s, Robert Wightman, a Howick Township farmer, was told he would not be receiving phone service, so he began his own phone company. He strung lines between 60 of his neighbours’ houses throughout the township. In 1911 he connected to Bell’s long distance lines at Clifford. In 1928, he handed over Robert Wightman Telephone Company to his son, Ben.

However, about 25 years ago Paul said the company realized it could actually move ahead of the competition when it heard a large competitor told the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) it could be decades before Hanover received DSL (digital subscriber line.) “We said, ‘Hey that’s lovely. We’ll be there

Ben Wightman, climbing a telephone pole


Leila Schnurr married Ben Wightman in 1925. In 1928, Ben purchased the Clifford, Ayton and Neustadt exchanges. Leila was the company’s lead operator and office administrator until Ben’s death in 1948. Leila became one of Canada’s first female telephone operators. With her son Ray, she purchased automated dial technology for Wightman. This effectively ended the era of the switchboard operator. In 1954, an ice storm destroyed the company’s phone lines, which led to the installation of underground cabling.


Leila was inducted into Canada’s Telecommunications Hall of Fame in 2006 for her leadership during the post-Second World War period. She was also chosen to demonstrate the role small businesses have played in Canadian telecommunications.

next week,’” Paul said. “So, we filed all the paperwork to do it; we went and did it. “Who do think was number two on our heels?” It was the same corporation that had stated it would take a decade to do it. Now most homes in Hanover have Wightman’s fibre optic service. “You see what happens when you assume you know what the customer wants?” Paul said. “So (we) changed our perspective and said ‘No, we can’t wait until we see what [others are] doing in Toronto, Kitchener or Guelph.’ “We’re going to be ahead of them in

this rural area in the middle of mid-western Ontario.” Paul said Harriston received a lot of attention in 2008 when Wightman first installed fibre optic lines in the town because it had the highest internet speeds in Canada. While fibre optic lines are primarily being installed in villages and towns with a higher urban density, Paul said whenever repairs are made to aging lines the company is keeping up to date. “We’re not buying traditional copper cable like (we) used to 20 years ago. We’re replacing it all with fibre and glass and electronics to new technology,” he said.

Paul attributes much of the company’s ability to make innovative decisions to being family-run, as well as having a leadership team he trusts. “We can make decisions very quickly and we can decide to do things that big companies or big boards can’t decide,” he said. “They look at their investment and they think they’d be better to put their money elsewhere. They see all kinds of threats on the horizon, so they bail ... “The family can look at it say, ‘Okay no problem, we can wade our way through some of these things and carry on.’” Paul also said he and Blair have an intuitive business sense. “We say it’s in our DNA that we just know what is the next right decision and the timing and quite literally we can make those decisions on the spur of the moment and go forward,” he said.


“We provide local service, we have real humans here that answer the phones ... they’re not sitting on another continent halfway around the world.” - PAUL WIGHTMAN, CO-OWNER, WIGHTMAN TELECOM AT THE INDUCTION OF LEILA WIGHTMAN INTO CANADA’S TELECOMMUNICATIONS HALL OF FAME, 2006, TORONTO. (L-R) HALL OF FAME FOUNDER LORNE ABUGOV, PAUL WIGHTMAN, BLAIR WIGHTMAN AND HALL OF FAME MEMBER LIS ANGUS.

However, they no longer do it all alone. The century-old company has been passed down generation to generation, from Robert Wightman in 1911 to his son Ben Wightman in 1928, to Ben’s wife Leila in 1948, to their son Ray Wightman in 1976, and to Ray’s sons Paul and Blair in 1987. However, about 10 to 15 years ago the brothers decided to bring in outside talent. “My brother and I sat back and said if we really want to win this game we’ve got to bring in some talented management people, which we did,” said Paul. “And so for the first time in a hundred years, we brought in people from outside the family to help us run and grow the business because ... there are times when the task ... is more than one or two can manage. “You’ve got to bring in help to help manage those things and that decision to evolve ... the

business has been very, very rewarding.“ Before hiring the leadership team of managers who make day-to-day decisions, the business didn’t have a board of directors. “My brother and I were the board,” Paul said. “We’d meet in the hall and say, ‘What do you think about doing this or that,’ and we’d make decisions. “Now we have a board, we have a board of advisors, we bring the family and involve them in those board discussions and meetings and it’s been a process that’s worked and been very positive.” Despite all the business and technological changes over the years, one factor has remained constant: Wightman is people-centred. “Our motto for many, many years ... literally decades, is we simply put people first and I think we’ve always looked at the customer as the primary reason we’re doing


things,” Paul said. “At the end of the day we’re not there to make computers fast, we’re there to make customers happy by making their computers work fast. “We’re not happy until the customer’s happy and so that’s been our target.” The company also prides itself on being local. “We provide local service, we have real humans here that answer the phones ... they’re not sitting on another continent halfway around the world,” said Paul. All the customer service representatives either work at the main office in Clifford or at satellite offices in Hanover and Fergus, and they have the authority to solve customers’ problems. “We’ve ... empowered those service representatives to actually pick up the file

“We are a family of great people who want to deliver ‘wow’ experiences each and every day.” - MISSION STATEMENT, WIGHTMAN TELECOM

and go to the person and ... solve a problem,” said Paul. “It doesn’t get lost in a maze of a hierarchy.” Gerrie said he experienced this firsthand. Within a week after the business had connected to the new fibre optic network, there was trouble with his business’ debit machine. “The phone and internet worked, but the debit machine for some reason wasn’t reading the codes,” he said. “So they changed something on their end, came back, got (it) working, and no problems. “Service has been excellent. Like you call them up, they’re here.” Paul said because he and Blair were raised in the small town of Clifford they made the choice to stay out of big cities. “We thought there is a market in small-town rural Ontario, we’re going to treat people like they treat us.” BL


Ray Wightman worked closely with Leila at Wightman Telecom after his father died in 1948. He helped to bring the company into the modern telecom era. When Leila passed away in 1976, Ray took over until his retirement in 1987. During his time as the lead of Wightman Telecom, Ray saw the deregulation of phone sets, the introduction of cell phones and the incorporation of Wightman Contracting. In 1965, Ray became the founding director of the Ontario Telephone Association (later the Ontario Telecommunications Association). The organization consists of independent telephone companies in Ontario that lobbied the federal and provincial government for necessary improvements to the telephone services across the province. In 1995, Ray was given a life membership by the Ontario Telephone Association and, in 2007, he was inducted into the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame. In 2012, Ray received a Diamond Jubilee medal to recognize his commitment to public service and community involvement, and for modernizing communication services in Wellington County. Ray was also heavily involved in the Clifford community. He was a director and lifelong member of the Clifford Rotary Club and he served for 37 years on the Clifford volunteer fire department. Ray was also involved in the construction of the Minto-Clifford school in Harriston while he was on the Clifford Public School Board from 1963 to 1964. Ray was also on the Clifford municipal council for 11 years, including two terms as reeve and two terms on Wellington County council. Ray passed away in 2017.




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Pearle Hospitality’s Elora Mill project receives $1.5-million boost from Ontario government Phase one to be completed by spring BY MIKE ROBINSON

ELORA - Ontario will provide a $1.5-million grant for the north bank redevelopment of the Elora Mill. The province is partnering with Pearle Hospitality to transform the Elora Mill into a year-round destination that officials say will create 110 new jobs in Wellington County’s tourism industry. Pearle is contributing $13 million to the first phase of the project, which is expected to be completed by spring (the balance of the project is expected to be completed in four years). With support from the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund, Pearle will restore the north bank area of the Elora Mill and convert five historic buildings into a hotel and conference facility. This will help the company expand its operations and create construction and hospitality jobs for the region.

The Elora Mill was built in 1833 and operated as a grist mill until 1974. “We are proud of our long history in the hospitality business in Ontario and excited to add to it with this exciting new development,” said Pearle Hospitality president Aaron Ciancone. “We are committed to creating the best tourist destinations in the province and, at the same time, supporting the local community in Elora.” He noted the day’s announcement was taking place in the Granery building which will be used to host conferences, meetings, weddings and events. Across the road are more hotel suites under construction. “It all ties in nicely. We are using a lot of local stone so the stonework matches,” he said. “I grew up with grist mills my entire life. I have love and respect for them.


“We are committed to creating the best tourist destinations in the province and, at the same time, supporting the local community in Elora.” - AARON CIANCONE, PRESIDENT PEARLE HOSPITALITY

“Since I was a young man, I’ve had an eye on this property. When it became available seven years ago there was no doubt in my mind that this gristmill would be my next big project.” Ciancone explained the province’s financial support “has allowed us the opportunity to properly restore this heritage landmark. “Over the decades, this heritage site has never had the privilege of having a proper restoration until now.” He added, “We are all excited about building a world class tourist destination.” Jeff Leal, Minister Responsible for Small Business, stated in a press release that the government’s partnership with Pearle Hospitality “is just one of the ways we’re supporting local economies through the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund...” Representing Leal at the funding announcement, Guelph MPP Liz Sandals described a tour of work in progress as “fascinating.” “People from this area will know the Ancaster Mill, the Cambridge Mill and the Whistlebear Golf Club as local Pearle projects,” she said. “You’ve had a real success story as a family business and I congratulate you.” She described the announcement as “terrific news” for the region and “a great example of what can be accomplished when industry and government work together.” She added, “I know Pearle Hospitality has worked extremely hard to make this project happen. Your company is a very valued member of Ontario’s hospitality

industry.” Sandals stated, “We also know that tourism faces intense global competition ... The answer in how to compete lies in more innovation by transforming locations and offering the very best in hospitality and by having the most skilled and loyal employees one can find anywhere. “I see all of those things happening here at Pearle Hospitality.”

“Over the decades, this heritage site has never had the privilege of having a proper restoration until now.” - AARON CIANCONE, PRESIDENT PEARLE HOSPITALITY

Centre Wellington Mayor Kelly Linton noted, “the stonework and exceptional attention to detail” included in the project will help “transform” downtown Elora. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said. He added the township is doing what it can to assist, from the rebuilding of the Victoria Street pedestrian bridge to the reconstruction of Mill Street West. “It is going to be an amazing place for

locals and visitors to Elora and is going to be a preferred tourism destination,” said Linton, who also recognized the province for its funding. “I’m really looking forward to this opening up, and my wife can’t wait for the spa to open up ... she’ll be on the list,” said Linton. “The community is proud and overwhelmingly supportive of this project.” Linton said he considers that a testament to Pearle and its work with Centre Wellington’s heritage committee and local residents and businesses. Wellington-Halton MPP Ted Arnott said the “once-in-a-generation project will allow our community to take its rightful place as one of Canada’s finest hospitality destinations.” He added he has worked for more than four years with successive township councils and staff “to help with the proposed renovation of this extraordinary and historic heritage property.” He added, “As I have said before, the scenic beauty of our province and the generous hospitality of our people give Ontario a significant competitive advantage in the world-wide tourism marketplace. And with this project in Elora, the world will come to us, and we will welcome our visitors with friendly warmth and kindness.” Ciancone thanked the mayor for being a strong advocate of the revitalization of Elora’s downtown. He noted Elora is already a sought-after destination and with the reopening of the Elora Mill and concurrent township projects, it will become known by many more ... as the place to visit.



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+ Balances Cheque presentations, draw winners and donations around the county.

On behalf of Canarm AgSystems Wayne Mick recently presented a donation of $1,125 to the Palmerston and District Hospital Foundation to foundation development officer Dale Franklin. The funds were raised by employees, through a silent auction of salvage building materials, prior to their ongoing office demolition and rebuild project.

Thanks to Guelph Toyota, Hopewell Children’s Homes has a new van to transport children or adults with developmental special needs to and from the Ariss facility when their parents need a break. The not-forprofit organization was established 35 years ago and supports children, youth and adults with developmental special needs. Guelph Toyota sales manager Ron Stewart said, “We were more than happy and very proud to do such a thing for this organization.” Attending the presentation in October were, from left, respite services manager Kathleen Bernier, respite coordinator Michelle Hayward, residential manager for the home Sam Currie, personal support worker Jackie Sproul, resident Hannah Milton, Hopewell executive director Kim Rodrigues, board member Laurie Iversen, Guelph Toyora product advisor Lauren Vsetula and Guelph Toyota sales manager Ron Stewart. 24 | BUSINESS LEADER WELLINGTON COUNTY

Last fall, franchisee Jennifer Antolin hosted a grand reopening of the 372 Stone Road West McDonalds restaurant location in Guelph. To celebrate, the restaurant hosted an event for family and friends, which included crafts, Guelph Gryphons’ Gryph, Ronald McDonald and live music from the Heavyweights Brass Band. Antolin’s renovated restaurant offers guest experience leaders, McCafé Bakery, digital kiosks and the first of its kind interior package, officials state. A donation of $3,000 was presented to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Guelph, an organization that facilitates life-changing relationships that inspire and empower children and youth to reach their potential, both as individuals and citizens. Trevor Morris, Ronald McDonald and Antolin presented Jennifer Tremaine of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Guelph and her helper, Jayme, with the donation.

At the beginning of December, the Mount Forest Christmas Bureau provided Viking-Cives Ltd. with a list of Christmas “Angels.” Staff pulled together and provided Christmas gifts for all 49 children. The company also donated a pair of socks and underwear to each of the 150 children registered with the Christmas Bureau. Further, employees purchased $567 worth of food to donate to the Christmas Bureau.

On Nov. 18 the Rockwood Firefighter’s Association held a community pancake breakfast in support of Muscular Dystrophy Canada. Those who attended and completed a home escape plan were entered into a draw to win a pizza dinner. On Nov. 25, members of the fire department visited the Wing family home in Rockwood to deliver pizzas donated by the Purple Pig Pizzeria. After 20kgs of pancake mix, 14 bottles of syrup and 20kgs of grapes, $1,100 was donated to Muscular Dystrophy Canada. “The department expresses great thanks to the community,” officials state.

In December, Giant Tiger Fergus donated a $1,750 gift card to the Centre Wellington Food Bank. “The holiday season is a particularly busy time of year for the food bank. At Giant Tiger we are committed to making a difference in our communities ensuring that families in need get the support and necessities they require,” said store manager Jeff Reinhart. “We are proud of the partnership we have with our local food bank.” From left: Centre Wellington Food Bank volunteer Adam Rogers, Reinhart and food bank manager Fred Aleksandrowicz.


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Tourism expert Roger Brooks assesses communities in Wellington County BY MIKE ROBINSON

FERGUS - Roger Brooks, of Roger Brooks International, was in Fergus in December to relay his observations and provide an assessment of communities in Wellington County. The event was held at the Fergus Grand Theatre as part of the county’s business retention and expansion action plan. Attended by local politicians, economic development and tourism officials and business owners, Brooks’ 60-point assessment covered topics such as entrances, business activity, marketing materials, housing, environment, facades and downtown cores. The presentation by Brooks, a certified speaking professional (CSP) and expert in travel and tourism, focused on three key questions: - Would I want to live here? - Would I want to visit here? - Would I want to open a business here? Wellington County’s economic development director Jana Burns noted, “As local business owners, we might know where to go for what, but the image we think we might be putting forward to outsiders, may not exactly be that. “We want to make sure this is a place people want to move into or invest in.” In addressing the audience, Brooks said “The top activities in the world are shopping, dining and entertainment in a pedestrianfriendly setting such as our downtowns. “Those are not the reasons why we go there, but it is what we do when we get there.”


“I really believe that Elora will become Ontario’s premier destination village within the next few years.” - ROGER BROOKS

He said communities need to create an environment where people do these things. “If you don’t like to hang out in your own downtown, neither will visitors.”


Brooks explained that he and his wife Jane, “the real secret shopper,” toured the county in early December to conduct their “destination assessment.” He said there was no advance contact with economic development officials - “We just came here like any other visitor would.” Brooks noted his team has been involved in assessing over 1,500 communities across the United States, Canada and western Europe, but he had never before been to Wellington County. Brooks reviewed some of the area’s marketing but did not address it, “because you’re really only as good as your product.” There is a lot of competition out there, he said. “Marketing will bring people to Wellington County ... just once. The only thing that brings them back is your product: your retail shops, your activities and the people we interface with,” Brooks explained. “We looked at your signage, your gateways, your overall appeal, parking, rest rooms, what is there to see and do - even at this time of year.” In looking at where Wellington County could draw people in from, Brooks said a quick assessment of surrounding areas indicated there are 2.8 million people - not including Toronto. “What does it take to bring them into this county?” Brooks asked. He said he would provide facts which should act as guiding principles for the next 20 years.



Brooks said he and his wife came as visitors “... but so do site selectors, commercial real estate agents, and investors.” He explained tourism could be a community’s only form of economic development because people come, spend money and go home. He considered money spent outside Wellington as “leakage.” And when the community spends more money outside the community than within it, “you die as a county - or individual community.” Brooks added tourism is the fastest growing industry in Canada, particularly in southern Ontario. Locally, Brooks said, “One thing that really blew us away, is that this county is Ontario’s hill country. You have the hills, the streams, the rivers, the lakes, the scenic farms and amazing downtowns and villages, excellent shops, activities. “We couldn’t get it all done ... in a week ... in December. “To me that says you should be in the tourism game.” Brooks said during that week he did go to most of the major communities in Wellington “and a lot of places in between.” He said issues facing the area include: - how to get people to explore Wellington County when there is so much more competition in the region; - how to spread visitors out to include the outlying communities; and - how to extend the seasons. As to the final question, Brooks said businesses need to operate all year because people who live in the community, live here throughout the year. Another issue he addressed is how to increase visitor spending. Here, Brooks said, “the first rule is - can you get people to stop? “If you can get people to stop for just two hours in one of your smaller communities, spending will double. If you can get someone to spend the night, spending will increase by four times.” He said one thing he noticed in his travels is a shortage of accommodations, considering the population. Brooks agreed there are a lot of great bed and breakfasts, adding “sometimes tourism is not about getting more people - it can be about getting fewer people to stay longer.” He cited Stratford as a prime example that has visitors returning year after year and staying multiple nights. PROMOTE LOCAL BUSINESSES

Brooks said one thing he noticed is local marketing is generic and “could describe any city or town in Ontario.” However, he said the biggest draw for many visitors are the businesses.

Mentioning shops in St. Jacobs and Niagara on the Lake, as well as the Napa Valley region (with 290 wineries), Brooks stressed, “The best tourism destinations are built on private sector investment, not public sector amenities. “Your lakes, your rivers, your streams and trails are public amenities ... they don’t get visitors to spend 10 cents ... your businesses do.” While it is not the primary reason people come to an area, Brooks said 80% of all nonlodging tourism spending comes in the form of shopping, dining and entertainment. BUSINESSES HOURS, CURB APPEAL

Brooks stressed 70% of all consumer retail spending takes place after 6pm.

“Marketing will bring people to Wellington County ... just once. The only thing that brings them back is ... your retail shops, your activities and the people we interface with.” - ROGER BROOKS

decorate their storefronts to draw people in. He suggested that rather than saying “Erin has all these great shops, pick two or three (to promote).” That way, he said, visitors walking to those shops will see others in between. He said many of Erin’s businesses did an incredible job beautifying their businesses for Christmas. Decorating is something Brooks recommended happen all year long. “One thing we noticed about Elora that we thought was pretty awesome, were the merchants who recommended that they visit other shops within the community,” Brooks said. “It was so cool that merchants were promoting their competitors.” He also raved about Jester’s Fun Factory in Fergus, noting, “When you walk into the store there are more than 800 jigsaw puzzles - possibly more than any other location in the province.” Overall, Brooks said, “One of the things we love about this county is it is a great drive even in December.” He explained “a lot of the places we discovered, such as York Soaring, was by accident. Soaring is a really cool experience.” Other opportunities include ziplining and river tubing in the Elora Gorge. “Remember, whatever you are promoting, it needs to be worth the drive,” he said. Brooks said one consideration could be promoting the top 12 to 18 antique stores in the county. INVITE VISITORS TO RETURN

“If you want people to spend the night, there needs to be things to do after 6pm,” said Brooks, adding this does not just apply to tourism - but local business as well. He stressed curb appeal is a major part of getting visitors through the front door. “We judged many of your restaurants based on that curb appeal,” he said. Noting women account for 80% of all consumer spending and make 70% of all travel decisions, Brooks said they tend to travel where they feel safe and welcome. He later added businesses wanting to attract visitors need to have consistent hours and days of operation - so people know. WELLINGTON ‘ANCHORS’

Brooks stressed the need to market the community’s “anchor tenant” - or what makes a visit a special trip. His first suggestion was to create a series of trails - not walking and hiking trails - but trails connecting businesses and communities. In making specific comments, Brooks declared Arthur’s Cash & Carry “is the best Christmas store in Ontario,” describing the store as “fantastically merchandised and decorated.” He said many businesses do little to

Brooks said all signage should always promote the next season, because it acts as an invitation for visitors to come back. He noted places such as the Drayton Festival Theatre do promote upcoming performances. “To me a destination must be worth the drive and better or bigger than what a person would find elsewhere - or different,” said Brooks. He also recommended not getting tied into geography and instead thinking about the consumer experience. Brooks said maps not only need to identify where businesses are located, but highlight the roads needed to get there. Brooks contended “people don’t go to counties - they go to Napa Valley not Napa County.” He recommended the creation of a geographic identifier other than Guelph or Wellington County. “It sets an ambience,” he said. “You can be a year-round destination.” He added, “Something about Elora seems more homegrown than places such a Niagara on the Lake. What is cool about Elora is the sense that we live and work here. “I really believe that Elora will become Ontario’s premier destination village within the next few years.”



GRAND OPENINGS Anniversaries & Retirements Collins Barrow - Guelph Wellington Dufferin announces retirements

Curtis-Villar, a chartered professional accountant company, has grown to a point where it needs more space so it officially opened a new office on St. Andrew St. in Fergus on Dec. 14. Members of the staff as well as members of the Guelph branch gathered for the occasion. The partners are in the front row and include, from left, Victoria Curtis, Lori Curtis, Aileen Hawkins representing the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce, ribbon cutting sponsor Sherry Copplestone and Susan Curtis-Villar in the red jacket.

GUELPH - Partner Dennis Zinger and principal Andy Smart are retiring from Collins Barrow - Guelph Wellington Dufferin. Zinger’s career began in 1979, when he decided to lead a small accounting office in Elora. From these humble beginnings, he played a pivotal role in the growth of the firm to what it is today – one of the largest accounting firms in the Wellington and Dufferin counties with offices in Guelph and Elora. A partner at Bairstow, Smart and Smith since 1990, Smart dedicated himself to developing one of the most well-respected accounting firms in Guelph. In 2016, after many successful years in practice, Smart helped facilitate the merger that formed the Collins Barrow - Guelph Wellington Dufferin of today. “Dennis and Andy have each had remarkable careers in their own right and provided immeasurable value to our firm,” said Collins Barrow - Guelph Wellington Dufferin managing partner, Tom Blonde. “Their mentorship and commitment over the years has given us the strong foundation to continue to deliver exceptional service and grow our firm. We are grateful for their dedication and wish them all the best in the future.”

The Vault Coffee and Espresso Bar held its grand opening on Nov. 18 with a ribbon cutting. Front row from left are: Wellington-Halton Hills MP Michael Chong, owners Lori and Dale Clarke and Centre Wellington Mayor Kelly Linton. Back: Vault staff Dylan Clarke, Meghan Williams, Sabrina Woodhouse and Meriah Woodhouse. The cafe is in the first floor of the historic Marshall Block building in downtown Fergus. The cafe’s name is derived from the building’s early years as an Imperial Bank of Canada branch. The original vault from this bank still exists and is in working condition.


Former Toronto Blue Jays star Joe Carter, an integral part of the team’s World Series victories in 1992 and 1993, was in Fergus in the fall as part of the official opening of Samdeo’s Cafe, a new food outlet in the Fergus Walmart. Samdeo’s Cafe aims to offer affordable, healthy meals as well as a premium coffee blend from Jamaica and is open from 7am to 10pm daily. A member of the Samdeo’s staff picks fresh produce, meats, cheeses, dairy and bread daily from the aisles of Walmart to fulfill the menu needs. On opening day Carter signed anything that was put in front of him, mostly Blue Jays’ memorabilia. Longtime Blue Jays fans Cliff, left, and Betty Marter had Carter sign a t-shirt.


Jim and Jo-Anne Weltz welcomed patrons to enjoy a free coffee and slice of cake in September in celebration of the first anniversary of Gramma Jo’s Restaurant in Clifford. From the early morning coffee crowd to the late night dinner talkers, there were slices for everyone as Gramma Jo prepared three anniversary cakes. From left: Jim and Jo-Anne Weltz and waiter Tanner Loos welcomed patrons for the one year anniversary of Gramma Jo’s Restaurant.



Corporate giving: how businesses are giving back to their communities BY OLIVIA RUTT

WELLINGTON COUNTY - There is an old idea that businesses exist solely to make money. Yet many businesses in Wellington County are working against that concept and are giving back to the community. Giving back as a business can be beneficial in many ways, such as boosting employee morale and improving community relations. It can also be a benefit to the company during tax time. Above all, it supports charitable organizations that rely on donations to operate.

“We’re a small-time business, we’re not big, and we’re people ... when (customers) come in, and we’re able to support something like this, they get to know us a little bit better.” - AMY HABERMEHL, CO-OWNER GRANT’S AUTO SERVICE


Every Christmas season for the past six years, Grant’s Auto Service in Palmerston has been home to the Adopt-a-Family tree. Amy Habermehl, co-owner with her husband Grant, said she wanted to find a way to give back to families in need. She found

the Children’s Foundation’s Adopt-a-Family program, which matches donors with families during the Christmas season. Donors shop for the family’s “needs” and “wishes” so the children have gifts to open on Christmas. Most of the program’s families in northern Wellington County are served through Grant’s Auto Service. Habermehl takes the families’ needs and wishes and divides them up onto individual paper stars on a tree in the front of her shop. “Families can now come in and take one


gift off the tree, and it’s a lot easier financially for them,” she explained. The stars go up the day after Remembrance Day, and she said most of the stars are quickly spoken for by individuals, churches and businesses. “I started it because my kids were needing that check,” she said. “We need to understand that Christmas is about giving, not receiving.” In 2017, 16 families were matched with donors and each year it gets a little bit bigger. Habermehl waits until all the gifts come back before she starts shopping for her donations, to ensure no one is left out. “My family takes a family ... I wait until the end, and then we find what didn’t get chosen off the tree, and that’s what my family (donates),” she said. “The business, we always pick up whatever is left.” The employees also help out with packaging and delivering the presents. “I feel like they can be proud of where they work, I hope, knowing that we do things in the community,” said Habermehl. Corporate and individual donations account for 42% of the Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington budget. About 35% of all donors are businesses. “Without corporate donations, there

would be many children in our community going without,” said Glenna Banda, executive director of the Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington. “It’s wonderful to see these businesses investing back into their community by helping empower young people who are currently struggling so they can have a brighter future.” Habermehl also runs events throughout the year to give back to the community. One event, “empower-pose yoga,” aims to raise money as well as empower women. The first year raised $1,000 for the Palmerston and District Hospital. The second year, funds raised were given to the Harriston Kinsmen for flood relief. Grant’s Auto Service also supports other community and sports events in Minto. Habermehl said her family lives by her grandfather’s motto: “you give back to the community you live in.” “We give back to the community, and I feel as though our customers are all kind of in the same mindset ... they’re very willing to help out with whatever,” she said. She added it is good for the community to get to know her and her business. “We’re a small-time business, we’re not big, and we’re people ... when (customers) come in, and we’re able to support something like this, they get to know us a little bit better,” she said.



Jim Phillips, “chief cook and bottle washer” aka owner - of Copernicus Educational Products in Arthur, said he had an epiphany in 2009. He had been giving personally to Nature Conservancy of Canada for many years, but he thought he could incorporate giving back into his business and also involve employees. Copernicus became a corporate sponsor around that time. In 2017, it donated $55,000 to Nature Conservancy. Gradually, the company started adding more volunteerism and corporate giving into its policies. One such program is Trees for Schools, which supplies seedlings and seed packets to schools in southern Ontario. It started in 2009 with a 1,200-seedling donation. To date, the company has donated over 115,000 trees and 5,000 wildflower seed packets. The employees help package and distribute the trees. The company is also involved with the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada’s roots and shoots program, the World Wildlife Fund in China

“My hope is that it helps our employees be more motivated and happier knowing that the goal isn’t just sales, growth and profits, that there’s hopefully a greater good what we’re doing.” - JIM PHILLIPS, OWNER, COPERNICUS EDUCATIONAL PRODUCTS

and My Classroom Needs’ outdoor education support. “I think it’s part of a bigger picture, so we overall are just trying to become a more socially, environmentally responsible company because ... up until 2009 it really was almost an afterthought,” said Phillips. “I started to realize we need to be more a responsible company because manufacturing is so focused on consumption and we’re a manufacturer. “We’re a bit of a drain on the planet, so we basically need to try and do what we can to reverse some of our negative effects on the planet.” Internally, the company is also doing what it can to support its employees’ devotion to various organizations. During the holiday season, staff members can bring an organization to the company’s attention, and Copernicus will donate $100 to that charity on behalf of the employee. The company has also won two awards from the Learning Partnership for its “take your kids to work day” program. “The design team created a fantastic take

your kids to work day program that gets kids hands-on, and they actually get to design and make their own product. And they get to bring it home at the end of a day,” explained Phillips. Copernicus has also recently implemented an employee volunteer program. “Every employee has up to twenty hours per year of paid volunteer service,” said Julia Scullion, Copernicus’ social and environmental responsibility coordinator. Whether the employee volunteers during work hours or non-work hours, Copernicus will reimburse them for that time, she explained. “That again is how we’re hoping to involve our employees in encouraging them to participate in not just what the company cares about, but individually what they care about,” said Scullion. She said the company is trying to bridge the disconnect between the interests of the company and the interests of its people. Phillips added many companies are moving in that direction. “My hope is that it helps our employees be more motivated and happier knowing that the


goal isn’t just sales, growth and profits - that there’s hopefully a greater good that we’re doing,” he said. Copernicus has a considerable donation objective. “Our goal is to donate/spend 1% of our sales on social and environmental projects and causes,” said Phillips. The donation is split between environmental education, global sustainability and local/community initiatives. Copernicus is also working on becoming B-Corp certified, which means the company meets “rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency,” according to the B-Corp website. There are more than 2,100 certified businesses in the world. Scullion said many businesses believe it takes a lot of income to be able to become a more environmentally and socially responsible company. “It can be a little bit intimidating, but I think the most important thing is just to do whatever you can,” she said. “You don’t have to make some huge commitment right away ... it’s whatever you can do, so I think an incremental approach is helpful.”

“I think that it’s important for all companies in small and large towns to find that organization that’s true to their heart and be devoted.” - KATIE POPE, OWNER OF MOTION ELECTRICAL CONTRACTING LTD.


Katie Pope, owner of Motion Electrical Contracting Ltd. in Fergus, saw how important Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) was to her life, so she wanted to give back any way she could. “I actually was a little sister,” she said. “I wanted to be able to give back in whatever capacity I could because I saw the difference that it could make.” Pope sits on several committees with BBBS of Centre Wellington and her business, which she owns with her husband Ryan, sponsors many BBBS events, including the Big Night Out Gala, Bowl for Kid’s Sake and more. Employees of MEC also put together a bowling team for the Bowl for Kids event.

“They know that it is an important, integral part me,” said Pope. She added giving back to the community is a great team-building exercise for the employees. “It just helps build that morale and company culture,” she said. Being a part of the community is essential to Pope and her business. “I think that it’s important for all companies in small and large towns to find that organization that’s true to their heart and be devoted,” she said. For BBBS of Centre Wellington, about 12% of its 2017 revenues came from corporate donations and sponsorships. “By partnering with local businesses we get the opportunity to educate them about why we exist, what the need is for our programs, and how they can make a difference,” said Kristen Drexler, executive director of BBBS of Centre Wellington. She added corporate donations allow the organization to run larger events that cannot be funded through grant money. For Pope, it is important to show that her business is socially responsible. “I feel like we need to support each other and if the community is supporting us then


it’s important that business owners … support our community on various levels,” said Pope. It also allows her to be recognized by her customers. “It’s great to be associated with a charitable organization,” she said. “It feels good, and you’re making a difference, so you’re kind of hitting all of the bases in one.”


Not only is giving back good for employee morale, community relations and the charitable organization, but it can also help during tax time. Bud Arnold, tax manager with Collins Barrow Guelph Wellington Dufferin, said there

“Nobody likes to pay taxes, so if you’re in the situation that you’re going to be paying a lot of taxes, maybe you’d rather give some money to a good cause then to the government’s cause.” - BUD ARNOLD, TAX MANAGER, COLLINS BARROW GUELPH WELLINGTON DUFFERIN

be deducted taxable income. “The other way is more the traditional charitable donation for philanthropic or altruistic reasons; that you’re giving for the sake of giving, to support whatever good cause there is,” said Arnold. “Those donations have to be made to a registered charity, and they are limited for corporations ... you can only deduct up to 75% of your net income.”

For sole-proprietorship, the traditional donations can be claimed on a personal tax return, up to 75% of net income, for a tax credit. “Nobody likes to pay taxes, so if you’re in the situation that you’re going to be paying a lot of taxes, maybe you’d rather give some money to a good cause than to the government’s cause,” Arnold said, laughing. He added it could be a good way to help keep employees engaged.



are two ways for businesses and corporations to write-off donations come tax time. “The easier way that they might not think of all the time, it’s just calling it a promotional expense or advertising,” said Arnold. Both sole-proprietorship and corporations can write-off a sponsorship to the charity if there is a documented promotional or advertising benefit to the company. For corporations, a traditional donation can




Social Media Trends Prepare For Change In 2018

The digital landscape is always changing; ads via messenger are now available, Instagram made millions of people switch from Snapchat to their platform, U.S. President DonaldTrump has another 140 characters to spew nonsense. While the latter is not nearly as important as the former, it does beg the question: what should you expect from social media in 2018?


Facebook Messenger ads


900 million people currently use Facebook Messenger. This number is hard to ignore. Expect to see greater amounts of advertisers choose to promote their products or services via Messenger. Add the option to target ads via messenger if you’re already targeting the newsfeed, sidebar, and/or in-app ads on Facebook.

Instagram stories

Snapchat who? Ever since Instagram ‘copied’ the likes of Snapchat with their ‘stories’ feature, people have been ditching Snap and moving [back] to Instagram. It’s a little scary when you realize one company made millions of people switch to a new/ different platform. Where does the axe fall next?


Generation Z

Move aside millennials, Generation Z is here. Just when you thought you had millennials figured out now comes the time to promote to Gen Z. Right now the oldest GZ’s are 22 years old; old enough to work, young enough to spend more than they make. Expect to see more traditional brick and mortar businesses embrace online shopping. With the rise of augmented and virtual reality there will come a point in time where you’ll be able to try on a custom tailored suit or dress in your own living room.

LOAC 2018, New York City

In March I will be attending the 9th Annual Local Online Advertising Conference at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. This is an event where more than 400 industry leaders gather together to address critical trends affecting the digital media industry. Some of the largest media and publishing companies in the world will be there and I’ll be right in the thick of it. This will be my second appearance at the conference and the ninth consecutive time for the Wellington Advertiser. I’m very excited to learn from some of the top industry leaders in the digital landscape: Randall Rothenberg, CEO of IAB; Gian Fulgoni, co-founder and CEO of comScore; Scott Hagedorn, founder and CEO, Hearts & Science; and Rishad Tobaccowalla, chief growth officer, Publicis Groupe, to name a few. Keep your eye out for the next edition of Business Leader for key takeaways from the conference.




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Business Leader Winter 2018  

The Business Leader is a magazine published by the Wellington Advertiser to promote local commerce, private enterprise and celebrate investm...

Business Leader Winter 2018  

The Business Leader is a magazine published by the Wellington Advertiser to promote local commerce, private enterprise and celebrate investm...