Success stories

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Success Stories

Community Futures is pleased to showcase some of the many good news stories in rural Alberta. Everyday we help people like you start and grow successful small businesses.

Howlin Coyote Motorcycle Campground

Les and Dianne Anderson
Range Road 141 and Hwy 652 south of Vilna, AB


The Howlin’ Coyote Motorcycle Campground is a unique camping experience exclusive to motorcycle enthusiasts.

Dianne and Les Anderson envisioned a campground designed and built specifically for motorcycle riders. After travelling across Canada on their bike their suspicions were confirmed that that this type of service for motorcyclists was virtually non-existent.

They began their search for the ideal piece of property in 2005 and in 2009 they found it in Smoky Lake County they knew that their small business venture was finally going to happen.

Their work began determining the cost of creating the businesses. Roadways, campsites a shelter and a Store/Shower building would be required for the vision they seen. They had saved for many years with this project in mind but it just wasn’t going to be enough! After being politely refused by one of the major Banks they spoke to Mr. Paul Pelletier, General Manger at Community Futures and submitted a business plan for his consideration for financing their business venture. After the Board considered and approved the venture they were on their way!

The business is now in its third year of operations. Motorcyclists from as far away as England and of course motorcyclists from our vast Country as far as PEI have visited the campground. The comments have all been positive and as the third year ends prospects are good for success of their Business venture.

An annual “Biker Bash” is held in August as a fundraiser for the Fallen Rider Monument that will be erected in Two Hills, Alberta. This event not only recognizes the fallen rider but it provides an opportunity for motorcyclists to show off their skills on their rides in the rodeo! The evening entertainment is great and a good time is had by all of the campers in attendance and many new friendships are struck.

Howlin’ Coyote promotes the many beautiful lakes, museums, and other tourist attractions within touring distance from their campground. The campground boasts a country store for all the necessary food and camping supplies.  They have a horse- shoe pit and the store holds several other games that are available to registered quests for their enjoyment.

This summer the campground provided a venue for a very special couple as they said their special vows during their wedding ceremony hosted by Howlin’ Coyote. A small rainfall happened about an hour before the wedding but the sandy soil saved the day and the wedding went off without a hitch! They say a little rain on your wedding day brings good luck – ask Les and Dianne.

Les and Dianne continue to build the business. Marketing is crucial when starting a business like this when there are few examples across the country in which to model a new business. The success is dependent on the motorcyclists that visit the site and of course the media.

They are both involved in the local community groups and are always willing to lend a hand to make a venture successful. The Chamber of Commerce was the first group to benefit from their personal life experiences in the legal formation and the many ventures undertaken under the leadership of Dianne. They take an active role in community events not only to promote their campground but to encourage travellers to the north east sector of Alberta.

This unique business, like many others, comes with unique challenges and opportunities!  Community Futures was the one place where their idea was provided serious consideration and the organization was bold enough to finance a new idea and concept in tourism geared towards the motorcycle enthusiast!

Edo Japan

Mike and Chrysline
Lethbridge, AB


Mike Esquivel knows the importance of hard work to get ahead.  He started working for his grandfather at the age of twelve and as soon as he was of legal age to get into the fast food industry, he took the first position he could get as a dishwasher.  He worked hard, taking extra shifts, volunteering to do more and he soon graduated up the ladder until he was working as a waiter in the upper end restaurants in Edmonton while supporting himself through college.

He took no holidays or extra time off and was no stranger to receiving the employee of the month award.  “My focus was to learn and train so I could move up the ladder within the corporation,” says Mike.  He wanted to understand this industry and all aspects of the micro business systems.  His hard work paid off and he was recruited by Planet Hollywood to train to be one of the site managers.  “I watched my managers and learned what not to do and my efforts paid off.  I trained in San Diego then finally got my own restaurant to manage in Vancouver.”

Mike spent four years in Vancouver before returning to Lethbridge to help his parents with a new business venture they started.

“Everything I learned about a responsible work ethic came from my parents”, explains Mike. “I watched my mom and dad work sometimes as many as three jobs so I could have the educational opportunities and a career of my choice.  So when I had an opportunity to help them, I was glad to come back to Alberta.”

However he missed the fast pace of the restaurant business and in 2008 when an opportunity came for his wife Chrysline and he to purchase EDO Japan in Park Place  Mall, they branched out in a new direction. “I had a clear understanding of my capabilities in the restaurant environment so when the opportunity came our way, we didn’t hesitate.”

Mike stated, “I know what customers want and I know how to give it to them.  They want to experience good taste, a clean environment and excellent service.  So that was our intention.”  Soon their success with the first store developed into an opportunity to purchase a second and eventually a third EDO Japan location.  “Our first location had been open about a year when the head corporation offered us the second store.” 

“I had no idea of how to go about the financial implications of purchasing a second store when I learned about Community Futures.  The people there were so easy to work with and taught me the ins and outs of the financial world of growing your business.”    Mike described how the people at Community Futures believed in him and in his business succession plan, offering sound business advice and the financial assistance to reach his future business goals.

The past six years have been a whirl wind for Mike and Chrysline, Not only has their businesses grown by three but so has their family, with a daughter and then a set of twins.  “I am busy in all aspects of my life, but the most important thing I have learned these past few years about owning a business of my own is that life is about balance.  My life has to be balanced between business and family.  I only have so much time, and I want some of that time to be about memories for my children.”   As dedicated as Mike’s work ethic is, he fully understands through experience that time is what a family really needs.

Mike describes himself as a happy man and he believes life is about happiness in his business world; happy family, happy staff and happy customers.  It is a formula that works for him and the high expectations he places on himself.  He is definitely a young entrepreneur who is serious about his work, understands his business, enjoys life and has lots and lots of energy.

Park Place Mall
L04, 501 - 1st Avenue South

Lethbridge, Alberta  T1J 4L9


Coulee Creek
3703 Mayor Magrath Drive South

Lethbridge, Alberta  T1K 8A8


West Lethbridge
#23, 550 University Drive West

Lethbridge, Alberta  T1J 4T3


Liquor Lodge Inc.

Marc LeBlanc
Jasper, AB


Our doors opened at around 1:30pm on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2007. Marc LeBlanc, the founder of Liquor Lodge Inc. began developing the plan for the store in 2006 while still working in the sales department for Coca Cola.

With a vision for clean visual merchandising, the store was developed from scratch in a brand new building. Using modern shelving combined with rustic log woodwork, the store took on a unique look and quickly became a favourite with the locals and tourists alike.

Now after a few years Liquor Lodge has evolved into a full service store with free delivery, great hours and some of thebest staff you’ll find in the business. We work on the premise that to build loyalty you must continuously work on your selection and your service. We intend to be serving our great customers for many years to come

Bonnie’s Vision & Eye Care

Bonnie & Barry
Taber, AB


Bonnie & Barry started their Vision care business in 2000 which is located in Taber, AB. Bonnie and Barry’s son has also joined the business after finishing schooling as an optician.  Bonnie’s Vision & Eye Care are now able to make their own lenses, and have also been able to hire an optometrist to come in once a week to bridge the gap in services to their clients. With increasing demand from her clients, one day a week was not enough time for all the eye care needed.  The optometrist soon started her own business right next door with adjoining doors and this partnership is still strong today providing quality full service to their clients.  We congratulate them on their efforts to provide this service to our area.  It is only through endurance and good planning they are still successful today.

Lethbridge Tactical Supply

Sarah and Shaun Jorgensen
Lethbridge, AB


They were a young couple, with a young family who had a good idea for a business. However, their education and work histories were not in business management and they wanted some assurance to move forward.  “A good idea is great but without a plan, it is just a good idea,” states Sarah Jorgensen owner of Lethbridge Tactical Supply.      So she and her husband Shaun took their idea and went to Community Futures Lethbridge, where they attended the training workshops, worked with the professionals, completed the research and developed their business plan.  At the end of the process, they entered the Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge for Southern Alberta and placed in the top three finalists, confirming their idea was indeed a good one. 

“I would recommend the process for anyone who wants to start a business,” states Sarah, “I learned the inner workings of a business, from target marketing, to researching the statistics.  It was a confidence builder and confirmed we were doing things right.”

Lethbridge Tactical Supply opened their doors in January 2012, and supply high quality gear and safety equipment to a variety of industries from police and emergency services, security corporations, construction, and oil field companies.  Their small business provides products to customers in the Southern Alberta region and has been developing a loyal following as far away as Red Deer.

“We supply tactical equipment which I describe as something small used for a higher purpose.  The gear has to be efficient, reliable and dependable for the safety of our clientele.We focus on the quality of goods, services and warranties,” explains Sarah.  She searches for the best product and develops her supplier lists to match her customer’s needs.  “ You have to listen to your customers; they will tell you what they want and what they don’t want.”

LethbridgeTactical Supply is a husband-wife operation with Sarah doing the majority of the storefront operation.  Recently they were able to hire an employee to help with store.  The business plan has changed somewhat to accommodate the surprising number of different types of customers coming in the door and having to adjust their supplies and inventory to the market.  Sarah describes her store as “the type of store you don’t know you need anything from until you come in the door.” 

The storefront is starting to attract an out door activity clientele.  Hunters, hikers and campers are coming to the store to buy the high quality boots to keep their feet warm, the tough, durable pants that don’t wear out and to  browse the variety of flashlights available. “We have a flashlight that you can see for three blocks with,” laughs Sarah.    

Sarah talks about her business with commitment and confidence. She knows her business and credits her husband for the variety of products carried by the store.  Shaun works in the emergency services and is privy to the wants and needs of his co-workers for their safety.  Lethbridge Tactical Supply is dedicated to keeping their clientele safe by providing top quality gear and equipment and the success of the business confirms the need.   

Power Train Savers

Nowal Pierson
Vauxhall, AB


Power Train Savers is a company that is located in the small town of Vauxhall, AB. Nowal Pierson is the owner/operator of this company that manufactures and sells an after-market product for drive train protection.  Instead of replacing a complete drive shaft, differential or axle, you can install the torque fuses at a fraction of the cost and have a quarter of the down time.  The sales of this product have gone through the roof.  Nowal has his product being used in major cities (i.e.New York) and using his product on their entire fleet of trucks. (i.e. garbage, gravel, sweepers etc.)  The Power Train Saver also has application for much larger vessels.  It is currently being used in ferry systems as well as ships and barges.  Nowal invented this product and it is fully patented.  Nowal has been able to increase his sales staff allowing him to spend more time inventing new innovative products that we will be seeing on the market in the future.

Sonnax is a licensed distributor of Power Train Savers product. An example of the Power Train Saver product can be found here:

http://www.sonnax.com/downloads/catalogs/Sonnax-PTS-Catalog2011-Vol3.pdf

Nowal also has a sign post business that is much along the same line of the Power Train product. The sign would have an after-market joint in the post so that if it is hit, just the pins can be replaced not the whole post reducing all of the work of making a new hole etc.

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