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.

Thorium Crane Ltd.

Phillip Thomson
Penhold


Thorium Crane Ltd. provides on-call crane and hoisting services to residential, commercial, industrial, and petroleum based companies. Owner Phillip Thomson launched the company in October 2007 and has been operating in Central Alberta ever since.

Prior to 2015, Thorium Crane was heavily invested in supplying services to the energy sector. With the downturn in the local economy starting in 2015, the company was met with some challenges and had to diversify their client base in order to continue to thrive in the midst of changing economic conditions. In order to diversify and obtain new clients in different industries, and with the help of Community Futures Central Alberta, they were able to upgrade their equipment, strengthen relations with some of their key clients, open opportunities in new markets, and cut their monthly expenses.

Although the economic conditions in 2016 were still slow, Thorium Crane was able to make the most out of an unfavorable economic climate. Specifically, in 2016, Thorium Crane was able to:

·         Reduce their monthly expenses by 40%

·         Enter and serve the green energy and recycling markets such as solar energy, farm reclamation, barn-board and antique salvage

·         Strengthen and add key clients within the energy sector to position themselves for success when the economy picks up

Overall, Thorium Crane has a positive outlook and with a lot of hard work, upgrading their skill set, and venturing into other aspects of business, they have a lot to look forward to in the years to come and are excited to see what the future brings for their business. Community Futures is proud of the hard work that Thorium Crane has displayed and wishes them continued success with their business. Business inquiries can be directed to Phil at 403-357-4533.

Hymark Investments Ltd.

Mitzie Mytz
Boyle, Alberta


"I would like to start off by thanking Community Futures Tawatinaw Region for providing excellent services provided free of charge and management of my account.  As you already know, I was faced with some large difficulties with my business over the last 3-4 years.  I originally came to Community Futures to apply for company financing as I had been rejected by the bank I held my corporate accounts with.  I appreciate the fact you took the time to discuss options and met with me for training.  Until that point in time, I had never learned how to do a business plan, cash flow projection and many other useful business tools for success.   These services from Community Futures were free of charge to my business and I would have not been able to receive such training at the time otherwise.  As a result of my training, I did produce an excellent business plan and receive company financing to proceed with business plans. 

My company is called Hymark Investments Ltd which currently has 3 different divisions.  Lakeside Storage and Xcalibre Paintball were established in 2006 and received financing from Community Futures within the last 2 years.  Due to the nature of the paintball park being seasonal (summer 6 months), there became alot of initial “re-opening” costs each year with the revenue being received in later months.  Without the help of Community Futures financing, I would not have been able to complete projects necessary in spring months (i.e.: gravel for Storage Compound, paintball inventory, etc..).  This allowed the company to meet customer demands and perform maintenance of the facility according to schedule.  Since this time, I have seen positive changes in many aspects of the business while making larger debt repayments in later month with increased revenue.  The 3rd division of the company was established January, 2014 with the help of Community Futures, called Hymark Pilot Services.  With the purchase of new truck/equipment and offering new services, it has been proven to be a great success within the first 6 months.  With this addition moving forward in 2014, it is expected to increase annual revenue to the highest point in the existence of the company since 2006.  My company & staff strive to succeed but we could not have followed through with business plans in such an efficient and professional manner without the advisement and financial aid from Community Futures.  We highly recommend your services to other business owners and potential new start up companies.

We look forward to doing business with you in the future!

Mitzie Mytz
Hymark Investments Ltd
Office: (780)576.2211
Fax: (780)576.2215

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.   

Umami

Patricia Luu, Alex Luu and Sven Roeder
Lethbridge, AB


The ideas for the Umami Shop developed over time between siblings and friends while all were living abroad as young professionals working in the fast paced corporate world.  Although their work histories were diverse, they all agreed they were good at one thing – food; they all loved food!  But they wanted the concept to be different; to challenge the norm, to be original and eventually in 2009 the UMAMI Shop concept was first born in Chalon-sur Saône, France. And then in 2013 Umami Shop Canada, in Lethbridge, AB.

“Everybody eats”, states co-owner Patricia Luu as she described the thought process around the business concepts. “We grew up with organic, natural food that we cooked for ourselves.  Our parents owned the Asian Supermarket in North Lethbridge and they ensured we knew how to cook, to understand ingredients and mostly the importance of freshness and that is what we bring to UMAMI Shop.”

Umami is used to describe food that is “delicious” and was discovered by a Japanese professor, explains Patricia. “It expresses the deliciousness of food; the pairing of food to please the palette.” “We focus on fresh healthy products. We broke the global norm, and placed our kitchen at the front of the store. The Chef prepares the food; show cases the ingredients while the client watches. It is completely transparent, open and visual,” explains Patricia. The menu incorporates local ingredients, the customer observes, tries the flavours and can buy the ingredients at the store and then can go home to recreate, to play.”

“Our mission is to offer our customers a world food experience that supports our philosophy of eat, play, and laugh. Together.”  At UMAMI Shop the happiness is bringing people together to enjoy food.

The Umami Shop offers a lunchtime menu, a bakery, a deli, fresh local produce, a global grocery boutique, catering, as well as cooking classes in the evening.  The business caters to fresh food, prepared daily.  There are over 6,000 products in the shop with a diverse ethnic variety.

The three partners of UMAMI Shop, Patricia Luu, Alex Luu and Sven Roeder bring their own unique experiences to the business and the group has learned to leverage their skills to complement the success of the commercial adventure.  The opportunity arose to work with Community Futures and the business partners chose to take it.  Patricia stated “Community Futures took us seriously, they believed in us and helped us with the perspective of local business.  The business sessions help us understand the process of financially starting our business and the people were easy to work with.”

Umami Shop Canada employs a staff of ten.  “Our crew is amazing” beams Patricia. “They know all aspects of the business and are motivated by the everyday activity.”  Everyone believes in eating fresh, being healthy, understanding food and educating others about the food products in the shop.  “At first, one of our biggest business challenges was the hiring, but once we were open, people came to us.  They loved the new concept and wanted to be part of it.”

Patricia’s advice to young entrepreneurs is to seek and understand the opportunities in the community and take advantage of them for you never know where they may lead you.  “Then duplicate yourself” emphasizes Patricia. “Share what you learned and success comes back in folds.  It is about community and bringing people together.”

UMAMI Shop creates a space to eat, play and laugh while you enjoy fresh food, wonderful aromas and even a café latte if that is what your palate desires.

A new concept, new experiences, new adventures combine to make a savory taste of success by three young entrepreneurs doing what they love. 

UMAMI Shop
814-4 Ave South
Lethbridge, Alberta

Fourword

Mike Lilge
Grande Prairie, AB


Mike Lilge, has been operating Fourword since 2005 when he opened the bike and board shop with a partner. Two years later, after expanding from a small downtown location to a much larger location in the centre of the City, Mike and his partner were recognized as Young Entrepreneur of the Year via the Chamber of Commerce Small Business Week awards, sponsored by Community Futures Grande Prairie & Region. They have also been voted Canada’s Best Bike and Board shop for the last two years.

In early 2012, Mike approached Community Futures for assistance in once againgrowing his business. He had recently bought out his partner and had an opportunity to move from his expensive downtown location to a stand along building with stronger visibility, larger square footage and further opportunity to grow and expand his bike and board lines, inventory and to take on other product lines to which he will have exclusive rights to in the region.

For more information, visit www.fourword.ca

The Health Hub

Dr. Sarah Dash-Arbuckle
Crowsnest Pass


Now in its largest location, The Health Hub offers services of physical and mental health practitioners and a health food store catering to a growing population looking for natural products.

Naturopathic doctor and business owner, Sarah Dash-Arbuckle, says the clinic has the biggest team she has employed to date. This includes 11 accredited practitioners sharing six treatment rooms between physical and movement therapists, natural medicine professionals, mental and emotional therapists, and energetic and spiritual specialists. Four administrative staff round out the team.

Help from Community Futures Crowsnest Pass gave Sarah the opportunity to see what she was capable of and how to achieve her goals.

“Their support made me focus and identify more clearly where I was succeeding,” she says. “I needed to go through the process to see what I was capable of. They gave me the confidence to make the leap [to a larger location].”

Sarah says she began to sub-contract out space to other naturopathic professionals and began to see the revenue potential this would generate. Since moving to the current location, her business has quadrupled.

“Going through the smaller locations and the process of acquiring loans made me so much more aware of my business,” she says. “Community Futures helped clarify my vision, my goals and my financials. It allowed me to develop a clear plan. Otherwise, it would be like hiking without a map.”

Sarah also believes Community Futures organizations are essential to rural communities. Unlike traditional lending institutions, they look at small business in the context of where they are operating.

"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." ~ Walt Disney

 

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