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.

Image Crafters

Fred Makowecki
Drumheller, AB


In 1982 Image Crafter Signs was incorporated with an initial investment of $12,000.00. With that capital Image Crafters was able to purchase a state of the art computerized vinyl cutting machine, turning that investment into $125,000.00 per year working out of his garage, until 1995 when the company leased a building downtown. Within five years the company had outgrown that building and moved to their current building which he had purchased in 2004. Image Crafters then came back to Community Futures for another $30,000.00 investment to purchase a bigger vinyl cutting machine, inventory and for manufacturing. This machine was able to produce products within 24 hours for delivery of signs for corporate and industrial. With this technology Image Crafters has been able to secure sign orders from larger commercial companies outside of town.

To date Image Crafters generates over a half million dollars in annual revenue, has seven full time employees and one part time employee and produced over 450,000 signs from billboards, commercial signs, banners and car wraps.

Hayboss Feeders


Sturgeon County Alberta


Hayboss Feeders™ are one of North America’s premiere net-feeder manufacturing companies, with facilities located in both Canada and the United States. Based in Edmonton, Alberta, HayBoss™ is a family-owned business, proudly serving customers throughout North America. Our 2,400 square foot Canadian manufacturing shop has a production capacity of up to 40 feeders per month; our Dalton, Wisconsin-based U.S. facility can produce upwards of 150 feeders per month.

HayBoss Feeders™ is a revolutionary, no-waste, multi-species forage feeding system that is safe and clean for animals of any size. Our fully-adjustable, premium-quality products are made of high-grade galvanized steel, and feature self-locking, retractable nets. The HayBoss™ net feeding solution is sheltered, and keeps your forage raised above the ground, leading to less waste; it helps promote animal health, and allows you to more effectively manage your animals’ food intake.

1-844-HAY-BOSS- Toll Free
www.haybossfeeders.com

The Cake Company

Grant Canning
Canmore , Alberta


When is a cake company not a cake company? When it’s the Cake Company Café in Banff. The history of this spot, popular with local residents, goes back to 1988 when the first bakery/coffeehouse opened in Banff. “It pre-dates all the big chains, so when I bought the business in 2010, it made sense to keep the name – it’s a tradition!” says Grant Canning, owner.   No longer just a bakery, this popular spot now offers sandwiches and wraps, some desserts and a full range of coffee and teas. “It’s the kind of place that tourists stumble across, but all the locals know about,” says Grant. “I like being able to greet people by name and sometimes, we have their favorite beverage ready by the time they reach the counter.”  Grant’s journey in entrepreneurship was a natural progression of his solid education, including an MBA and Bachelor of Commerce degree with specialties in Tourism and Marketing. Fueled by his experience in marketing while in the ski industry, he knew business ownership was in his future. When the Cake Company Café became available, he was confident he knew what it would take to run a successful operation. “When the idea of owning a coffeehouse first started to percolate, I had the desire, but lacked two things – experience and capital.” That didn’t go over well with traditional lenders, he recalls. “I understand why they are governed by numbers, but decisions are often made by people you never get to meet.”

“My experience with Community Futures Centre West was much different. I was actually referred to them by a bank who turned me down. Community Futures was remarkably helpful and I was given a very specific outline of what I need to do to move forward. They worked with me to find solutions, so I didn’t hear the word “no” very often. Instead, I heard alternatives and great suggestions, such as how to mitigate the financial risk. They listened to my ideas, understood my vision and most of all, they took into account who I was as a person.”

“The best advice I’ve received about business ownership is that every decision made should add value to my business and if it doesn’t, then I need to rethink it. I tell aspiring entrepreneurs to always believe in yourself. Owning a business comes with lots of stress, but success or failure is always predicated by you. Have confidence that you’ll do well.”

Now in its sixth year under Grant’s ownership, The Cake Company Café is a haven for locals, many of whom either work in the professional building where it’s located, or walk through to and from appointments in the building. “They are my mainstay, what keeps me going. Sure visitors to the area find their way here, but we really try to be a local oriented place and want to stay that way.”

Story by Patricia Alderson

Photography by Bruce Tannas

 

    

 

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

Kindred Companions

Janet Fitzgerald & Colleen Best
Strathmore, AB


After caring for their own elderly parents, cousins, Janet Fitzgerald and Colleen Best had experienced the ebb and flow of the time constraints of giving their all to ensure that Mom or Dad were content and comfortable, spending quality time with others, etc. "You learn a new appreciation for age and illness and your level of compassion seem to just grow. I guess when it's meaningful like that, it's just something that you keep coming back to, something that you want to do because it feels right, it feels good."

From these experiences, the concept of Kindred Companions was realized. Spending time with another whose family may be far away by offering companionship. Helping clients go grocery shopping, going to appointments with them, maybe cook a meal together, etc.

Their business idea was to offer a non-medical companionship service to seniors and persons with disabilities. The ladies made an appointment with Community Futures Wild Rose to discuss their idea and based on the information received, they decided to venture into this field. A lot has happened over the course of twelve months.

Mention was made of the 'Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge' being an annual program that offers eight weeks of free business training. Kindred Companions were participants in the '9th Annual Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge' who entered their completed business plan into the competition. Submitted entries are scored and the top three finalists are chosen, one being Kindred Companions!

Janet and Colleen were runners-up receiving $2500 cash and in-kind services including business coaching, media assistance and radio advertising, to mention a few.

"We are well on our way to establishing ourselves in the community. You and your staff provide a top-notch service which has been critical to us in moving forward with our business plan. Thank you all so much."

LimeLitez Dance Academy

Jerredi Cowan
Medicine Hat, AB


LimeLitez Dance Academy is the artistic conservatory of youth entrepreneur, Jerredi Cowan.  Lime Litez offers a variety of classes including ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, and creative movement to performers of all ages.  Cowan has differentiated the academy through small and limited class sizes, superbly qualified instructors, and a suspended flooring system, which is designed specially for dancers and athletes.

At the young age of twenty, Cowan completed the Self-Employment Training Program at Entre-Corp in the winter of 2008.  Cowan describes the [training] program as an active foundation for her establishment’s progressive success.  “The training I received through SE is extremely valuable for all present activities, and will benefit future plans of the business.  Even more, the business plan I developed through SE will act as a constant support system, as it has already proven so through areas such as accurate financial forecasting and inventory management”, comments Cowan.  “With numerous expansion plans on the go, I need to constantly re-evaluate the entire business plan.  Without SE, I would not have knowledge of the proper [business plan] components, which need to be taken into consideration.”

Immediately following the Self Employment program, Entre-Corp further assisted Cowan through a $50 000 loan.  Cowan strongly believes that without the loan she received, the facility would not be the same.  Cowan went into detail of how everything from paint and décor, to furniture and inventory, was made possible from the loan.  “Being barely 20 years old with minor credit history, a bank most likely would not have taken me seriously.  I would not have been able to create the physical ambiance I envisioned for Lime Litez without the [Entre-Corp] loan.”

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Community Futures Network of Alberta

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