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.

Vilna True Value

Gisela Klauke
Main Street, Vilna, AB


Running a business in a small village means that you need to provide a number of services to your customers. That is exactly what Gisela Klauke does in the Village of Vilna in Northeast Alberta.

Gisela started her small business in 1997. She owns and operates a hardware store that has hardware, farm goods, paint, household supplies and fishing supplies that meet the wide variety of needs of her rural customers. On top of that she is also runs the local Alberta Registries office from the store. With these services under one roof, she if busy with customers looking for one service or the other. Gisela is also an active member of the Chamber of Commerce and she took the opportunity to renovate a room on the side of the store to rent to the Chamber for their office. This provided the Chamber with a downtown office that was easy for people to access and had all the space necessary for them to hold their meetings, keep their office equipment and supplies.

The Village of Vilna completed a “Boomtown” style renovation of their downtown a few years ago and the Hardware storefront was done to match the theme. It has a historical look and with it’s high profile location on the first corner of the main street, the store adds to the overall theme of the Village. The wooden sidewalks and the old town flavour of Vilna’s main street continue to bring visitors and shoppers to the store.

Today, Gisela keeps busy in her business. She is an active member of the community and can bring a personal touch to her business. She knows most of her customers by name and as a small business, she has the ability to be able to accommodate special requests and services that her customers appreciate.

A step into the Vilna True Value Hardware takes you back in time. It brings back memories of a time when life wasn’t quite so rushed and where a friendly and familiar face meets you behind the counter. Where the question “How are you today” is asked because the owner truly cares and a place where you can relax and take a few minutes to chat about the weather, the crops, or an upcoming event in the community.

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/

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.

Jennie's Diner

Jennie Hamel
Bonnyville, AB


Their incredible story is soon to come!

www.jenniesdiner.ca

 

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

Truly Amish Inc.

Karen & Mark Weber
Lloydminster, AB


A letter from Karen Weber of Truly Amish:

My husband and I bought out business because we have a passion for real wood. We collected antiques for 21 years and I used to do all the refinishing. In today's society it seems all we do is throw away. Thus filling landfills more than ever. To be able to purchase real wood furniture that will last a lifetime and through the generations only makes sense to  me and my husband. When purchasing, with the choices a person has, you can personalize each piece as well as buy one piece at a time in a collection.

When I was offered to purchase the business I went to my husband. At that time he was working in the oil patch and had done so for the last 38 years. He was at he point in his life when change was well overdue. We discussed the money situation and of course, where we were going to come up with that kind of money to open the business. I decided I would try our bank. That was not a very good experience at all. I had done my homework and had all the numbers I needed to prove that this was a sustainable business, especially the fact that we have no nearby competition and the uniqueness of the store. Of course I was turned down and felt that just because you have no money and not a lot of assets I guess no one will give you a chance. After becoming frustrated, I decided to talk to our local Chamber of Commerce and see if they knew of any way, if at all, there was another direction I could go. I was recommended to Community Futures.

I walked in the door and asked if there was anybody I could talk to about want to open a business. I was directed to Janet Green. I told her the amount of money we would be looking at for purchasing the business and let her know a little more about myself. She gave me all of the information I needed to apply for a loan and the steps that I would have to follow to get that loan approved. Since I had most of the information already at hand from being at the bank, it did not take long to put my projections together for her to take to the board. I met Scott Kovatch and he seemed really excited for me that this opportunity came up and they both said they would try their hardest for me. It did not take longer and both of them took my information to the board, and I was approved for the business! I cannot say enough thanks to everyone at Community Futures, for without them there would be no Truly Amish.

During our second year of being open Community Futures were there for us again. We were wanting to borrow money from our line of credit to give to our suppliers in Indiana as a gesture of good faith. Janet Green jumped right up to the plate and got us the money in no time at all. When my husband was down there he received so many thanks, handshakes, and well wishes, it was overwhelming. Thanks again for being there for us.

Within the first year of our business we recieved from the Streetscapes Co. the Downtown Pride Award. This was given to us for best window display. But it did not stop there, in October the same year (2011) we received the Downtown Business of the Year Award. But even better yet, at the 2011 Christmas Trade Show, Truly Amish received the Boothsmanship Award. This award is for Most Unique and eye catching booth display and exceptional customer service.

During our first couple of years we worked closely with the Lloydminster Community in donating auction items to the Lloydminster and Region Health Foundation as well as the 100th Anniversary for Lakeland College at the first Annual Presidents Gala. Donating more than 40,000 dollars od products from out store, the following are just a few more organizations we have donated auction items to: SPCA, Lloydminster Social Club, Paradise Valley Fire Department, and 4-H Alberta.

Truly Amish INC. is exactly what the name means, We have about 78 builders that we work with in and around the Shipshewana Indiana and Ohio areas. Each builder works on their farms in a shop built just for building their products in. The craftsmanship is passed down through the generations. Each shop usually has anywhere from 16 down to one employee.

Everything in our shop is Amish made except for our weathervanes we get out of Michigan and our Wildlife pictures come from Golden Monuments out of Cochrane, Alberta. Within our first year of business we have worked on getting customers Custom Kitchen Cabinets. We have sold seventeen sets so far and are looking to customize kitchens all over Lloydminster. We sell log furniture, Hickory Furniture, Custom Kitchen tables, and chairs, bedroom suites, sofas, loveseats, and chairs. We also sell Primitive Pine and summer Patio Furniture that we get through Berlin Gardens in Ohio. This Patio Furniture will last a lifetime with no maintenance. Whatever you think of, the Amish will build it! Just envision something in your mind and they are more than happy to step up to the plate to please! We are slowly finding more and more suppliers for our gift wear in our store. Each year so far we have incorporated a few new suppliers. Our first year we incorporated Amish Country Popcorn, garden planters, and hand woven rugs. This year is very exciting for us and we have now had two more suppliers from Pennsylvania. We are now working with Edisonville Woodshop out of Strasburg PA, who is supplying us with beautiful Purple Martin houses with copper roofs. And most exciting of all, Christmas this year we will be introducing The Carolers from Buyer's Choice ltd. out of Chalfont, PA.

Our business is run by my husband Mark and Myself. Our two daughters help with the decorating and filling in when needed. It is a family business that we are very proud of. My husband travels down to Shipshewana and area every two months to pick up orders, as nothing is pre-built. All stock has to be ordered in as well. What is really nice about the custom build is that each person can pick their own wood, stain, measurements, and requirements. We do prefer to deliver to our customer’s door so we can make that they are happy with their product and we know it arrives safely.

Every time I see someone looking to open a business I always highly recommend Community Futures Lloydminster and Region. They give you a chance to succeed and help you out whenever and however help is needed. These are great people working very hard to see someone else's success.

http://www.trulyamish.ca

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Success stories

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