Success stories

Call toll free in Alberta 1-877-482-3672

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.

Seriously Smokin'!

Jamie Ayles & Marie-Lyne Richard
Canmore, Alberta


What happens when you have talent and passion, but no idea how to start or operate a business? If you’re like many aspiring entrepreneurs, you dive in and hope your dream somehow turns into success.  Chances are all you’ll earn is a membership in the Failed Business Club. Not as exclusive as you might think, over 30% of all new ventures in Canada join within their first two years of operation.

It can be done, though.  Jamie Ayles and his fiancée, Marie-Lyne Richard started Bow Valley BBQ Inc. three years ago and their business is smokin’ hot and saucy!

A mutual interest in food production led this Canmore-raised executive chef and his food and retail management fiancée to the idea of selling an exclusive line of sauces and condiments.  Jamie’s ability to blend the right ingredients had already led to menu development consulting for several restaurants. While both were enjoying secure management positions at a northern Alberta resort, they worked on their dream of returning to Canmore to turn the growing demand for his culinary creations into a business of their own.

Jamie attributes his training as a chef as why he recognized all the right ingredients were also needed to make their business idea a success. The couple understood early on that without strong business skills, no matter how much talent they had, their idea would fall flat. “The food industry is difficult.  I knew how to create delicious gourmet sauces and condiments,” he says. “We both had management experience, but needed to learn more about the best business practices.”

Jamie contacted Community Futures Centre West in Cochrane for help and with their guidance, learned the basics of business planning, financing, marketing and other core skills. Marie-Lyne concentrated on expanding her web design, social media and bookkeeping skills through independent studies.

The pair secured an initial youth loan through Community Futures, and through a recommended food production grant program, soon began producing their line at Alberta’s Food Development and Processing Centre in Leduc. They recently received additional financing to purchase Boccalino Grotto Fine Foods, an established condiment line available in major grocery stores across western Canada. “We started off with mason jars, homemade labels and five base products,” Jamie recalls. “Now we just bought the business, complete with a production plant, that was an initial inspiration to us when we started in 2012 - family run and based in Canmore. Although Bow Valley BBQ is already a high growth brand, buying Boccalino’s has opened up even more opportunities as we move forward. “

“The support we’ve received from Community Futures has been great. From our initial meeting in a Canmore coffee shop to funding a second loan so we could expand, we’ve been treated with respect and understanding.  They believe in us.”

Jamie’s chef secret for new entrepreneurs? “You’ll hear a hundred reasons not to start a business. But if you’re willing to mix hard work (the secret ingredient) with time and more effort than you thought possible, like us, you’ll wish you had made the move to self-employment earlier!”

Visit Bow Valley BBQ Inc's website at http://www.bowvalleybbq.com/

Top Hand Western Shop

Duane Warren and Katherine Balbar
Claresholm, AB


One of the goals of the entrepreneur is to earn your living doing the things you love. Duane Warren and Katherine Balbar started the Top Hand Western Shop in Claresholm to do just that.

“Top Hand” is a saddlery and western wear business and much more. The business provides for all of the needs of participants and fans of the various horse and rodeo events taking place at the Claresholm Agriplex and in Nanton. Duane is well known having 43 years within the industry and has superior knowledge of quality, style and fit in tack and saddles. People will come to Top Hand just to watch him work customizing saddles and harnesses. Top Hand’s customers come from all over Alberta as well as British Columbia, Saskatchewan and the USA.

Top Hand Western Shop opened in the Spring of 2010 with the help of Community Futures to serve as the source for everything equestrian having a large and unique selection of horse tack, including saddles for roping, reining, cutting, barrel racing or ranching; bridles, bits, pads, stirrups and more. You can find the best cowboy gear, shirts, jeans and outerwear along with belts, hats and boots that can be customized on site. They also carry a great selection of horse supplies such as supplements and grooming supplies.

Duane and Katherine’s entrepreneurship supports the jobs of two more employees that make sure that the customers enjoy their shopping experience.

It is the lucky few that get to earn their living doing the things they love to do. It still requires a strong plan and the marshalling of resources.

And for that, Community Futures is ready to help.

Play2Learn Daycare Services

Melanie Poulin
Elk Point, AB


Early 2009 began the vision of my venture.  I am a local born and raised community member of Elk Point.  I grew up here, moved away to ad to my life experience and returned to my “home town” to raise my 4 children. I come from a strong family of entrepreneurs and knew that there was a community need that needed to be filled. It was never a thought that any project I decided to do would fail….. It was just the HOW was I going to make it work!

Along with a grant for a “Making Space for Children” provincial government initiative, I put my business plan together and came to Community Futures for support and guidance and the BUSINESS LOAN that was crucial to proceed forward.  The first stage of my “small business” venture became a reality!  But my team and I soon realized that expansion was necessary to continue to grow at the fast rate we were (and still are) growing today!

Community Futures was there again for advice, help with documentation and mentorship! Jody was calm and when my excitement for the project needed some “sensibleness”, he prevailed! The daycare has continued to make our small community stay that much more vibrant as Play 2 Learn Daycare has purchased an existing town building (thanks also to The Elk Point Elks Lodge #460). We have done renovations with Community Futures Loans and continued the growth of Early Childhood Development in Elk Point!

The potential for additional business has also been seen!  We are able to provide space for smaller group activities such as First Aid Classes, Ukrainian Dance Club, or various club meetings. We have built a permanent home for our towns Jack and Jill Preschool program. We host initiatives with Norquest College and support community members with availability of English classes right here at Play 2 Learn so that community members need not travel far to get to these needed classes

I appreciate Community Futures. As a young business person with drive and motivation to put business initiatives together YOU are an important catalyst as everything comes with a price tag. You were (and are) the help I needed and Community Futures has done just what the title implies…… helping build a community’s future!!

by Melanie Poulin, owner/operator

The Hair Lounge-Relax Your Home

Wendy Bates-Wiebe
Airdrie, Alberta


 

 

“Please make sure you emphasize how important the Airdrie community is to us,” says Wendy Bate-Wiebe, owner of one of the hottest hair salons in Airdrie. “Without their support, my business couldn’t have grown by 40% each year.” This civic-minded Airdrie citizen has nothing but good things to say about her journey from a start-up operation in 2008 to employing 20 people in 2015 at her thriving business, The Hair Lounge. “The business community welcomed me with open arms and since Airdrie itself has an amazing sense of community, I felt at home here from the moment I arrived.”

After graduating top of her class in 2004, Wendy spent three years learning the business aspect of running a salon while working for another establishment. When a small house became available, it was as if her 5 year plan, written while still at school, was destined to become a reality. “I had written that within five years after graduation, I’d have my own salon, operating from a house, and here was the chance to do just that.”

Unfortunately two local banks didn’t agree, so on the recommendation of a friend, Wendy approached Community Futures Centre West for financing help. “Right from the start, they believed in me”, recalls Wendy. Armed with renewed confidence and a loan, she spent several months renovating, then opened her doors in December 2008. A second loan three years later enabled her to expand, and Wendy was able to pay them both in full within five years. She credits hard work, great staff, a sense of purpose and most of all, support from the community, as keys to her business growth and success.

“I was scared when I first started out, but I worked twelve hours a day, interacted with every client and slowly built a loyal group of women. My staff is phenomenal – nobody leaves, so we have a solid group of stylists who are just like me – genuinely interested in providing great experiences. We know hair really matters to people and is a sensitive issue. That’s why walking in to our salon is like walking into our home – we want it to be a fun, relaxing environment.”

The winner or runner-up of Readers’ Choice Awards every year since the salon opened, The Hair Lounge is also an Airdrie Winning Edge award winner, earned the Family Friendly award in 2014 and most recently, received the 2015 Eco Edge Business award.  A strong supporter of the local food bank and meal programs for local school children, the salon holds several events each year to promote awareness and raise money for these causes.

“My advice to any new entrepreneur is to engage yourself in your community. Get out there, make yourself known and become involved. It all comes back to you.” Wendy smiles as she adds, “And be yourself. Come see us at The Hair lounge - we’ll make you feel at home.”

 

Photo by Bruce Tannas

Story by Patricia Alderson

 

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

 

MICANN Ventures Inc.

Michael & Anne Muyres
Rocky Mountain House, AB.


Partners Michael and Anne Muyres started their business in 2000 as a small welding and fabrication shop just outside of Rocky Mountain House.  A few years later, Michael had gained considerable experience and knowledge to weld on and repair vehicles that transported dangerous goods but was limited to what he could do without proper certification.  “Customers started encouraging me to obtain our certification with Transport Canada,” says Michael.  After carefully assessing the needs of potential customers, it became apparent that Rocky Mountain House needed a facility to provide ‘one stop’ services to customers that hauled dangerous good.  At this point, many had to go to the cities for work to be completed.

It was at this stage that Community Futures Central Alberta met the husband and wife pair in 2011.  They had applied to become a registered facility with Transport Canada.  “We needed a bit of help to get us there,” said Anne.   “Community Futures really helped us to gain the financing we needed to bring our business to the next level,” Anne stated.  In October 2013 MICANN Ventures Inc. became a registered facility with Transport Canada in accordance with CSA Standard B620.

Since then the company has been growing quickly and continues to add to their current employee base. “Right now we are looking for someone who holds their journeyman welding ticket or a third year apprentice welder,” says Anne.  If you or someone you know is interested in these positions, or if want to find more out about MICANN Ventures Inc., call them at (403) 845-3040 or go online to www.micannventures.ca

Pages

? Top

Success stories

Community Futures Network of Alberta

Share

Facebook icon
Twitter icon
Google icon
Pinterest icon
LinkedIn icon
e-mail icon