Explore Economics East 2017
The second annual Explore Economics East conference held by the Eastern PEI Chamber of Commerce brought together entrepreneurs, business leaders and thinkers from eastern PEI.
The keynote speaker this year was Nicole Verkindt, founder and CEO of OMX, an online marketplace that helps foreign companies manage their contractual obligation to invest in local businesses.
Nicole, who was named Startup Canada’s 2017 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, is a ‘Dragon’ on Next Gen Dragon’s Den.
Nicole described how she made it into business, the changing trends in the market place, and the increasing pace of technological advancement, and says that jobs will be created to help advance technology.
She talked about the next big trend, a change in how we earn income and how we expect to work: the gig economy. “The gig economy, which uses the Internet as a sales and promotion tool, will allow niche products to be much more marketable. This market is creating employment for people.”
Nicole believes the way forward for entrepreneurs is optimism, having the attitude to succeed, being open to new ideas, and being willing to collaborate with their peers.
The following businesses participated in panels:
Eastern Kings Rustic Timber
The company is owned by Frances and Tommy Sands, who started their custom furniture business in 2014.
“We wanted to start our own business to draw on our natural talents.” says Frances Sands. “Tommy has 20-plus years of experience in home construction and finish carpentry. My past experience is in property management and customer relations.”
The business started when they built a rustic coffee table, and accepted an offer to buy it. They decided to build two more, which also sold quickly. Advertising and word of mouth brought more attention. “It didn’t take long for someone to ask us to make a harvest table,” says Frances. “That is how it began.”
Starting out, the pair both worked full time, and worked on their business in the evenings and on weekends. On the first anniversary of their business, they came to a decision.
“We could not properly keep up with the orders, so Tommy decided to leave his day job and build furniture full time. I still work full time and work for our business nights and weekends. We have been in business for three years now.”
“Every piece of furniture that we make is a custom order – we don’t keep any furniture in stock. We build exactly what our customer wants.”
Their market extends from East Point to Tignish, and they also sell their furniture in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. In the future, they hope to expand the business with a larger work area, a store front, and staff.
“We are very pleased with our business. It has its ups and downs, but there is satisfaction at the end of the day knowing we have created a product and our customer is happy.”
Frances’ advice to new entrepreneurs is to start small, and to take it step by step.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ekrustictimber/.
Shiny Paint Art Co.
The company is owned by husband and wife team Ryan and Starla Wilson. In 2013, they sold everything and moved to PEI from Kitchener, Ontario in search of a new career direction.
In the years since, they have found excellent business opportunities on PEI. They hope to someday expand Shiny Paint to better serve the artistic needs of PEI.
Both Ryan and Starla paint window murals and traditional signs. Most demand is for advertising signs, but they also paint home murals and decorative signs.
They have also tried their hand at painting designs on boats and other vehicles.
In just a few years, their art has become popular across the Island. Their murals grace the Clark’s Building and the Garden of the Gulf Museum in Montague, and many more across PEI.
Shiny Paint uses traditional methods to create their signs. “We love painted signs, and we think they still have a place in our digitally saturated world. We don’t need any special machinery – just our own hands, basic tools, some squirrel-hair brushes (yes, really!) and some awesome paint.”
Ryan and Starla believe in customer collaboration.
“We’re the type of business who talk to you and figure out what you want, and then paint it for you. So you get that handmade artistic touch.”
For more information, visit www.shinypaint.ca.
M4G (My Four Girls) Alternative Housing
M4G is owned by Sherri Spatuk and Mark Mahar, and is operated out of their home in Marshfield, PEI. They started in 2017 and have already gained renown across the Island.
“Our alternative houses allow all sorts of people in different income brackets to experience the joy of actually being a home owner,” says Sherri.
They wanted their house design to be portable without incurring major additional costs for their clients, so they collaborated with Coles Associates, an engineering firm.
“We sat down with Coles Associates and came up with something that combined their expertise and our vision.”
Going through the process of building a prototype taught Sherri and Mark a great deal, which has allowed them to educate their customers on the same issue.
For new entrepreneurs, Sherri stresses the importance of networking. “Be aware that starting out, every relationship could be beneficial down the road. It is important to manage those relationships.”
For more information, search M4G Alternative Housing on Facebook.
Main Street Pharmasave
This pharmacy in Souris PEI opened in 1991 and has been owned and operated by Karen Creighan since 1998.
In 2002, renovations expanded the store to 10,000 square feet, which allowed the business to expand their products and services into what they call “the one stop shop in Souris.”
Karen considers the pharmacy as both a prescription business and a store front business. “We are in the process of reinventing ourselves and looking at the product lines we carry.”
Karen stresses the importance of having staff who are familiar and have a good rapport with those living in the community. “People are very loyal to their pharmacist.”
At Main Street Pharmasave, about 20 staff work year round, and two or three more are hired for the summer. Karen tries to keep the same staff on, because of their familiarity with the community. “It can be hard to fill the position of a pharmacist.”
When looking for a new hire, Karen looks for someone who has excellent customer service skills, a positive attitude, and the ability to work flexible hours.
At Mainstreet Pharmsave they like to say, “This is the place where you’re known by name, and always greeted with a smile.”
For more information, visit www.mainstreetpharmasave.com.
The Chuckwagon Farm Market
The company owned and operated by Rose Viaene, has been in operation since 2005.
“Business success is about having room for improvement, and a willingness to learn new things or teach someone else new things.
“You need to keep on top of what is new. There are always new products coming to market, and you need the staff and the ability to recognize that.”
Rose also stressed how important it is to listen to and trust the staff, which creates a better experience for everyone involved, from acquisition to selling a product.
For Rose, a product represents the seller. The seller needs to stay relevant by recognizing new products and providing them to the customers.
For more information, visit www.thechuckwagonfarmmarket.com/market.
AM Auto Parts
This family-owned automotive business in Souris is run by Brodie Rice. In 2008, Brodie and his parents bought the carwash from his grandfather, and in 2009 Brodie purchased AM Auto Parts.
AM specializes in hydraulic hoses, custom accessories, and parts for cars, lawn mowers, and farming implements.
Brodie has four year-round staff, and in the spring he hires on some seasonal positions. “Over the counter sales takes some training and experience. As long as you are computer savvy and somewhat competent with motor vehicles, you will probably catch on fairly quickly.
“When hiring, over the years I’ve learned to go with my gut instinct. I don’t go by word of mouth. During the interview, I ask a few automotive questions to see if they have a broad idea of what we do.” Brodie also looks for punctuality, proper attire, and a fondness for the job.
When asked about the outlook for the auto parts business on the Island, Brodie says that technology is key. “Under car (chassis and brakes) sales have been consistent over the years, and people will always need to wash their car and mow their lawn. As the only store of this kind east of Montague or Morell, I try to keep a good variety of stock so people in the community can find what they need here.”
The most rewarding part of the job for Brodie is when a customer comes in looking for a part, or is having an issue with their vehicle, and he is able to help them solve the problem. “There are a lot of requests throughout the run of a day, and you’ve got to think outside the box.”
For more information, search AM Auto Parts Souris on Facebook.
Beck’s Home Furniture
This family-owned business is located on the Montague waterfront. Currently, it is managed by Jeff Beck.
Jeff is a third-generation retailer. His grandfather was Cecil Beck of Stewart and Beck. In 2002, the furniture division of Stewart and Beck was separated to give room for expansion and created a new company called Beck’s Furniture. Jeff has worked the furniture side of the business since he was 16.
“It’s an ever-changing business,” says Jeff. “For many years, we tried to be everything to everyone, but quickly found out that we couldn’t do that.
“In the mid 2000s, we realized that because we are a bit off the beaten path, we had to become a destination for potential customers. We made a decision to focus on a select number of well-known suppliers like La-Z-Boy, Sealy, Broyhill and Whirlpool, which was the best thing that we ever did. Our business has grown ever since.”
In the last few years, with changes in the marketplace, they have focused on expanding the appliance side of the business. “We saw a hole in the market and hired people so that we are able to fill customer needs.”
Beck’s has nine full time sales, delivery & warehouse, and accounting staff, and two part-time sales staff. Jeff hires a few more employees for the summer, which is the busiest time of the year.
When hiring, sales experience with furniture is an asset. “At Beck’s Home Furniture, every position is moderately difficult to fill. We rarely receive applications from someone with experience in the furniture business.
“Whether it’s for sales or the warehouse, we look for someone with a wide range of skillsets who can adapt quickly to any situation. The furniture sales business requires a diverse range of product knowledge and is always changing. When we hire an employee, they become one of the many faces of our business.”
In hopes of staying relevant in a shifting market, Jeff says they are continually adapting to recent changes in the furniture industry.
“We expect our business to continue to grow, and we are making the necessary changes to meet the needs of our customers.
“Because we are always looking for the right person to come through the door, we prefer people to come in person to drop off a resumé to management, so we get a chance to speak to the applicant and assess their fit for our company.”
For more information, search www.beckshomefurniture.com.
Recently, at the 12th annual Biz2Biz Expo in Charlottetown, more than 125 exhibitors had the opportunity to network and promote their products and services. The Employment Journey on PEI asked some of the businesses about their staff and their hiring needs.
St. John Ambulance
St. John Ambulance instructors offer training in emergency and standard first aid, mental health first aid, and advanced courses. Proceeds from the training programs support services for seniors, youth, and communities.
“In Nova Scotia, we train about 50,000 people per year, and we are in the process of moving to PEI,” says Diana Parks. “Currently, a handful of Instructors on PEI do business development and teach courses once a month in the Charlottetown and Summerside areas.
“We are always looking for more Instructors and volunteers for our community service programs. We offer a five-day Instructor Development program about four times a year.
Candidates must hold a valid St. John Ambulance standard First Aid/CPR level “C” Certification issued within the last 12 months.
“Being an Instructor could be a great part-time or full-time job for retirees or students.”
Town of Stratford
The Town of Stratford is a fast-growing community with more than 10,000 residents. “The town has grown more than 35 percent in the last 10 years,” says Robert Hughes.
There are about 27 permanent employees and a number of seasonal employees as well. The Recreation, Culture, and Events department has a Recreation Coordinator and a Program Coordinator.
The Infrastructure Department looks after water and sewer utilities, public works, buildings, grounds, sidewalks and trails. The department has an Infrastructure Manager, Infrastructure Coordinator, and Utility Operators.
The Finance and Administration Department has Accounting Clerks, and the Planning, Development, and Heritage Department has a Town Planner, Development Officer, and Building Inspector.
“For some speciality jobs such as Town Planner, there are fewer people in the talent pool to choose from, so we don’t get as many applications. But in general, we have not had much difficulty filling positions.”
For more information, visit www.townofstratford.ca.
Leading Edge Homes, Johnstons River
This custom home construction company, which has been in business for a year, offers conventional construction and an alternative framing method where the roof is built directly on the foundation, and then taken off to add prefabricated wall panels.
“The panels are built at Atlas Structural Systems in Richibucto, NB, and trucked to the build site, where they are assembled and installed,” says Scott Gosson.
Six employees work full-time, year-round, 45 to 50 hours a week. A crew does the framing and assembles the panels. A Lead Foreman and a second in command work with the Labourers. There is also a crew that installs trim, flooring, doors, and does other interior work.
“We have enough Labourers, but we are looking for an experienced Foreman who could run another crew,” says Mark Jennings. “This year, we took on three Holland College students as Apprentices, but we need experienced Red Seal people for the students to learn from.”
To apply, visit www.leadingedgehomes.ca. Search Leading Edge Homes PEI on Facebook.
Foley’s Transfer Inc., Charlottetown
Foley’s Transfer Inc. is a moving and storage company that employs up to 30 people on and off throughout the year. It has been in operation on PEI since 1946 and has been part of the Atlas Van Lines family for nearly 40 years.
“We ship household goods around the world,” says Donald Perry. “We can haul anything from furniture, to medical and office equipment, boats, trailers, and vehicles.
“We hire short and long-haul drivers, and we have a pack team and a moving crew. We try to make sure everyone is cross-trained as much as possible.
“Moving household furniture is hard work and it’s not for everyone. The job is very labour intensive with long hours, and we work in every kind of weather. It takes time to load properly because you have to fit everything in tight without damaging anything.
“Background checks and driver’s abstracts are needed for all employees. If you stop in with a resumé, please remember to bring a current driver’s abstract and a criminal record check.”
For more information about Foley’s Transfer, visit www.foleystransfer.com.
Reliable Motors, Charlottetown
Reliable Motors recently moved from Allen Street to John Yeo Drive beside Kent Building Supplies.
Operating since 1980, Reliable Motors employs about 35 people in the Sales, Service and Parts departments.
Some job titles:
- Licensed Auto Technician
- Vehicle Detailer
- Parts Advisor
- Service Advisor
- Sales Consultant
“It can be an interesting place to work, with plenty of rewarding opportunities, from introducing a client to their brand new vehicle, to ensuring that your service clients’ safety is top priority when completing seasonal car maintenance and other service repairs,” says Ryan Gillis, Marketing Manager.
“I expect to see an increase in sales and service at our new location, so there will be jobs to fill as Licensed Auto Mechanics, Detailers, Salesmen and more in the near future,” he says.
For more information on Reliable Motors, visit www.reliablemotors.ca.
2017 Entrepreneurship Forum: Create Opportunity in Your Community
The 4th annual Entrepreneurship Forum was recently held at Mill River Experience.
The event was coordinated by Sean Doyle and sponsored by CBDC West Prince Ventures.
“The mandate of the organization is to help small businesses start or expand by offering financial support and training,” says Maxine Rennie, Executive Director, CBDC West Prince Ventures.
Speakers share their experiences with self-employment:
Kara Angus, Owner/Operator of Go-Go Group Inc., New Brunswick
This company offers a mobile gymnastics facility and after-school programs and activities in state-of-the-art pre-school centres.
“Entrepreneurs are doers, not dreamers,” says Kara Angus. Her story began when she was studying for her MBA at UNB, and had to create a business plan.
Go-Go has grown to 500 kids in 13 day care centres, and Kara is always looking to continue to grow. “Learn from your failures and successes, and go to CBDC for support. Also, do what your customers are asking for.”
Alex MacLean, CEO of East Coast Lifestyle, Nova Scotia
Alex MacLean created a clothing line in 2013. In his first year at Acadia University, he realized that sciences were not his forte. He quickly transferred into business studies.
A class project required him to start a temporary business. He borrowed $800 from his father to make 30 hoodies. “I sold my first 30 hoodies to people I knew on campus. With that money, I was able to make 60 more, and I started to sell them on Facebook.”
Social media exploded with sales. “Once I asked a few celebrities such as Sydney Crosby to post photos wearing the clothing, business soared.” The company is now worth $15 million with sales worldwide.
“Be proud of where you come from,” says Alex. “Use your skills and be sure to pay extra to brand and protect your products from competitors.”
Pete Luckett, Luckett Vineyards, Nova Scotia
Pete Luckett was very successful operating Pete’s Frootique in NS. He sold that business and is now concentrating on Luckett Vineyards, located in Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia.
“You have to run your business by connecting emotionally with customers. People will spend money for passionate experiences. The core values of business are service, quality, presentation, and price. Bring some humour in the equation, because if you make your customers smile, you’ve got it made.”
Melody Dover, President & Creative Director, Fresh Media, Charlottetown
Fresh Media was launched in 2003, and now has six employees.
The company created Burger Love in 2011 to promote Island beef and Island restaurants. Since then, using social media helped grow this annual event to $2.6 million in sales for the 2017 event. They also work with other local Island products with promotions for potatoes, pork, oysters, and more.
“As a business owner using social media, it is important to be committed to making the time to keep social platforms maintained and up-to-date,” says Melody Dover. “Social media is an excellent tool for promoting, answering inquiries, and creating connections with your clients. If you are not using social media, select a platform that your target market uses and get started with building your online presence.”
Carol Rybinski, Owner, Tyne Valley Tea & Company
When Carol Rybinski started her business, CBDC helped with her business plan. She had the perfect location and renovated it with lots of help from family and friends. Then she began to market the company through local newspapers, North Cape Coastal Drive, and blogs focused on the world of tea.
“Our cute little Tea House serves healthy light meals and desserts using local organic produce,” says Carol. “We can also give you a marvelous afternoon tea experience, with 24 hour notice.”
“Be sure to love what you are doing. Being an entrepreneur can mean working 70 plus hours a week.”
Terry Hockley, Owner, Red Seal Advantage, Mill River East
Terry Hockley attended the Entrepreneurship Forum last year and was motivated to become self-employed and start up his dream business.
He is a Red Seal tradesman with 50-plus years of experience and knowledge. He took what he knew best and turned it into a business to assist others obtain their Red Seal through assistance with studying and preparing for exams. He meets with clients in person or on Skype, and has clients from across Canada.
His main form of marketing is word of mouth, which is working very well for him, as the service is in demand. “Be there when you say you will be and honor your commitments,” says Terry.
Kevin Porter, Executive Director of Community Inclusions & Wayne Oulton, Program Participant & Bakery-Cafe Employee, O’Leary
Last year, Maple House Bakery moved and expanded to include a café. “This venture addressed two issues: there was no café in the town, and we needed to grow,” says Kevin Porter.
“And grow we did, offering a wide variety of home cooked meals and fresh baked goods daily.”
Wayne Oulton says he loves the new facility and enjoys his work. “It is much better now as we don’t have to climb a number of stairs during the course of the day,” says Wayne. “The new facility is on ground level.”
Kevin advises new entrepreneurs not to be afraid of making mistakes. “They are only mistakes if you don’t learn from them.
We access the free marketing tool Facebook, and it works.”
West Prince youth learn self employment can be a career option
A youth forum organized by CBDC West Prince Ventures Ltd. was recently held at the Mill River Experience. The day-long forum called Strength in Youth provided the youth of West Prince with insight into entrepreneurship and self employment as a career option.
Sean Doyle, forum coordinator, was very pleased with the large turnout of participants, including students from Westisle Composite High School and the West Prince Campus of Holland College.
The day’s activities started with a welcome from Maxine Rennie, Executive Director, CBDC. “The mandate of CBDC is to help small businesses start and expand,” says Maxine. “We want to give students the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship as a career option. Rural Action Centre is a point of entry for those considering starting their own business.”
For more information, visit www.ruralactioncentres.ca.
Robert Morrissey, M.P. for Egmont, was on hand to represent the federal government and ACOA, which funds CBDC. He said West Prince CBDC is a very active centre which is successful in assisting present and new entrepreneurs.
“Entrepreneurs and small businesses are a big part of Canada and Prince Edward Island. On PEI, many of our businesses are owned and operated in the fishing, farming, and tourism sectors.”
He pointed out that being self employed can be both challenging and rewarding. He encouraged the youth attending to take advantage of the services offered by their local CBDC staff, who can help them navigate the federal and provincial government programs available.
Youth Forum highlights:
Gordon McNeilly, Motivational Speaker & Owner of UFIT Inc. got everyone up and moving to energize the room. He told the audience he once worked for the federal government, but it was not his passion. He started a staff workout program, and it became a hit. He realized this was his dream, began his own business, and never looked back.
“Don’t settle,” says Gordon. “You have to risk something to become successful. Get yourself out there, and see what service you can offer to help others or help your community. Think about what do you want to do, do your research, and consult with others in the field.”
For more information, visit www.ufit.ca.
Tranquility Cove Adventures
Perry Gotell was a fisherman from Georgetown who fished lobster and crab. About nine years ago, he realized he needed more income to be able to send his daughters to university. His wife encouraged her husband to apply for a second job working night shift. But Perry said to himself, “if I have to work I might as well work for myself.”
He researched the idea of running a tourism operation on his fishing vessel. He noticed that no one else was offering bar clam digging adventures. He thought the hands-on experience of digging your own bar clams was a great idea, and added clam cooking to offer a food experience as well.
He retired from fishing five years ago and now offers a wide variety of experiences such as private charters, weddings, pearl & starfish hunt, Georgetown walking tour, deep sea fishing, bar clam hunt, and a beach suite rental.
The company has been very successful in marketing, and has been featured on the Rick Mercer Report. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” tells Perry. “When something doesn’t work, find other options to fall back on. Be diverse, do what you do best, and hire professionals to help. Chart your future and change your life!”
For more information, visit www.tcapei.com.
Panel discussion with local business owners who accessed CBDC services:
Cascumpec Bay Oyster Company
“When I went to work for the family business, it was a relatively new oyster farm,” says Martin O’ Brien. “I worked for them for a year and decided to get my own oyster growing gear to farm oysters as well.
“In 2012, the opportunity came up to buy an existing oyster processing business that would allow me to export the oysters we grow, and that’s the point where I went to CBDC for financing. I started Cascumpec Bay Oyster Co. when I bought the processing business.”
Sara Lee Studio & Gallery
Sara Lee Perry always had a passion for painting. She graduated with an education degree and became employed in the school system. She entered some of her paintings in competitions and won several awards. While on maternity leave, Sara Lee began to consider opening her own business. She visited the Alberton CBDC Centre to get help with a business plan.
“I had a lot of questions and concerns, and I visited the centre up to three times a week,” says Sara Lee. “They were always happy to help, and provided excellent support and guidance.”
She decided to leave her teaching position of six years and went after her dream career. “It was a big step, and at times it was scary.” But today she is in charge of her own career and is very proud to be able to help other artists by providing a space to show the work of up to 24 artists at her studio.
She highly recommends the services offered by CBDC and credits them for helping her become an entrepreneur.
For more information, search Sara Lee Studio & Gallery on Facebook.
Brian Myers began his career as a seasonal fisherman, which at times led him to leave home for long periods of time, and he found it difficult to leave his family. “In the fishing industry things break down a lot,” says Brian. “It seemed like it was always me who fixed things.”
He decided to try fixing things for a living, and began to do welding in a small shop at his home. This work provided an income during the off season. Within a few years, Brian found himself becoming busier and in more demand.
“There came a day I was working on two fishing vessels and I did not have the room to accommodate both,” says Brian. “I knew it was time to grow the business, so I called Maxine Rennie from CBDC to ask what expansions I needed and what services could assist me.
“The staff at the Alberton CBDC walked me through a business plan, and offered financial assistance, help with human resources, and finding new markets. I have participated in their training programs and the staff is there to assist you through good times and in bad.
“Love your work and you will never work a day in your life. When you are the owner/operator you have to love what you do, because you may need to work long hours, seven days a week.”
After 22 years of seasonal fishing, Brian is now a full-time entrepreneur who employs a number of staff and is always looking to grow the company and manufacture new items that are in demand.
Award for businesses supporting women's workplace advancement
The Adventure Group is working with women and employers to identify practices that support PEI women to advance their careers and reach their economic potential.
This three-year project is funded by Status of Women Canada.
One of the employers identified as a leader in championing women employees on PEI is Value Village in Charlottetown.
Before graduating from The Adventure Group’s Life Management Program and joining the team at Value Village, Kara McIntyre struggled to find employment that met her family’s needs. She felt she was being judged by potential employers because she was a single mom with visible tattoos.
“I found that potential employers questioned my reliability,” says Kara. “They seemed to think I couldn’t comply with their scheduling or have good attendance because I am a single mom. During interviews, I felt like I was being judged on my appearance. It felt degrading and unfair to be judged on how I choose to express myself.”
Everything changed when Kara secured work with Value Village after graduation. After her first year with the company, she was promoted to a Production Supervisor role. “Value Village supports individuality and promotes equality on all levels,” says Kara. “The company recognizes my efforts, and my managers continue to support me to work towards higher management levels and coach me on the things I need to do in order to get there.”
One of the keys to her success is feeling supported by her employer to balance responsibility at work with responsibility at home. “Being a mother of a young child, I know that Value Village will support me with any issues I may have in the future. If there is ever a personal or physical thing that would take me away from my job duties, I know Value Village will support me and give me what I need to come back and continue to be successful.”
Irma Hughes, Production Manager at Value Village in Charlottetown, recognizes the importance of supporting and valuing employees.
“We cross-train often, and when people show an interest in growing with the company, we prefer to promote from within,” she says. “We move people in and out of positions as needed. It helps us meet the needs of the business and also helps staff feel needed and recognized. When employees know they are valued and supported, it’s a win for everyone.”
“The support from Value Village has had a completely positive impact on me and my family,” says Kara. “I’m a hard working individual, and I know the more effort I put towards the company, the more it will pay off, and the better it will be for me in financially supporting my family and setting a positive example for my daughter to have a strong work ethic, and to always strive for the things I want. It will pay off.”
For more information about the project, contact Roxanne Carter-Thompson at 902-393-1337.
2017 Eastern PEI Entrepreneurial Forum
The Eastern PEI Entrepreneurial Forum provided business information for people considering starting or expanding a business. About 200 people attended.
The event was hosted by the Montague and Souris Rural Action Centres at the Kings Playhouse in Georgetown.
“It was a day full of information, inspiration, networking opportunities and making connections to help overcome any obstacles that may be in the path to starting your own business,” says Martina MacDonald, General Manager of the Rural Action Centre, Montague.
“You can do business anywhere you want in rural PEI because of the supports and resources that are readily available,” says Heath MacDonald, Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. “Eastern PEI is home to some of the most hard working, unique, and imaginative entrepreneurs on the Island.”
For more information about the Rural Action Centre, visit www.ruralactioncentres.ca or call 1-855-297-9898.
John Rowe, Founder and President of Island Abbey Foods Ltd., inspired the audience by sharing his entrepreneurial journey. He is also the founder of the Timeless Group Of Companies which includes Timeless Technologies, Timeless Medical Systems, and Timeless Veterinary Systems. The two companies employ a total of 110 staff.
Island Abbey Foods is a 20-year success story that started in John’s basement. He tapped into PEI resources that helped him turn a concept into an award-winning product.
“Research is the most important thing you can do when you are thinking about a new business idea or expanding a business,” says John. “There is no excuse to not do the research because the tools are free. It’s very important to research before spending piles of money.”
Panelists provide a snapshot of their self employment story.
PEI Seaglass Shanty, PEI Seaglass Store, and Relic’s Ice Cream House, Souris
Patricia McLean Ettinger has collected sea glass most of her life. With a house full of sea glass collected over the years, she rented a space on Main Street, Souris and began making and selling sea glass jewelry. She now has three stores in the area and sells online as well.
“You can grow your business very quickly and be successful. Don’t market the product, market yourself. You are selling a product you have passion for. People are buying because of you. They want to know it’s coming from a genuine person.
“When running a business, you want it to represent you. You want your employee to be everything you are, and appreciate what your business means to you.”
For more information, contact Patricia at 902-940-9171. Visit www.wildfiregifts.weebly.com.
Along the Edge, Seal River
Jim Conohan attended the Eastern PEI Entrepreneurial Forum last year by chance, which led to starting his own business by connecting with service providers located at the Rural Action Centre in Montague.
“While I was at the forum, I talked about my business idea with people from Active Communities and SkillsPEI. I showed people my pot holders and other products I had made from juniper trees harvested on my property.
“Rural Action Centres and SkillsPEI is where to begin if you are thinking about starting a business.”
For more information contact Jim Conohan at 902-969-0799.
East Coast Paddle Adventures, Souris
“For 15-plus years, I worked in kitchens across Canada,” says Matthew Doiron. “In my last job in Alberta, I worked in camps as a Head Chef. It was a stressful job working 14 hours a day for weeks at a time.
“While I was home in the summer of 2015, I started thinking about what makes me happy. I was hooked on paddleboarding the first time I tried it that summer, and I realized that being out in nature is what makes me truly happy. I decided I wanted to do this for a living.
“No one was renting paddle boards in my home town of Souris. It was an opportunity to start a business doing what I had a passion for.
“I still work in kitchens during the winter, and now I have something to look forward to in spring and summer. Being your own boss is amazing. If you have a dream job, pursue it, because life is so short and you might as well be happy.”
For more information, contact Matthew Doiron at 902-316-1641. Visit www.eastcoastpaddle.ca.
Arbonne Independent Consultant, Georgetown
Kerri O’Brien is a married, stay-at-home mother to four children. She is passionate about being an independent Arbonne Consultant and helping others in the industry become self employed.
“I am an absolute advocate for marketing through networking. It’s one of the fastest growing industries in the world. I help people create an income opportunity in the health and wellness industry through networking and Internet-based business.
“This company has given me the opportunity to be more present with my family, which is invaluable to me. It has allowed me to travel and has also helped me grow as a person. It’s a type of business where you can work around a busy lifestyle or as a second job, and work as little or as much as you like.”
For more information, contact Kerri O’Brien at 902-969-2758. Visit www.kerrijenkinsobrien.arbonne.ca.
“We established Experience PEI, a home-based company, to create unique, personal hands-on experiences designed to provide you with lifelong memories,” says Bill Kendrick.
Some experiences offered:
- Comb a beach in search of tasty treasures
- Join a ship’s crew and try your hand at sailing on the open water
- Create your own candle out of Island sand.
“We do what we do best and partner with other people who do what they do best. We look for experience providers to enhance what we provide for tourists. We are always looking for partners to create interesting experiences.”
For more information, contact Bill and Mary Kendrick at 1-844-368-1670. Visit www.experiencepei.ca.
Business people talk about their products and their hiring needs
The 11th annual Biz2Biz Expo brought together 125 PEI businesses and organizations that help businesses succeed. The event was presented by the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, and sponsored by Corkum Arsenault Crozier and Stewart McKelvey.
For more information, visit www.charlottetownchamber.com.
Nina Hu arrived on PEI in November 2015, and opened her business at the Kirkwood Mews in Charlottetown in May 2016. She travels to South Korea and Japan to purchase the clothing, accessories, and skincare products sold in the store.
“These products are very popular across Asia,” says Nina. “I researched the market before opening the store, and didn’t find similar products in Charlottetown.”
So far, three UPEI students have been hired to work part-time. “I like the girls I hired very much, and they all have different strengths. One is very good at writing descriptions of the products that we put on social media. One is very good at serving customers, and the other is very friendly too.”
“I am often away traveling, and I need to be able to rely on the staff to take care of the store. I value people who are loyal, enjoy the work, and are familiar with the products so that they share that knowledge with customers. They should also be good at photographing our products and adding new content to our facebook, instagram, and WeChat accounts to let people know about our products.”
Nina advertised the open positions through WeChat, an Ap popular with the Asian community. “Lucky for me, many young women were interested in the position. In one day, I received over 20 resumés, and I only needed three people.
“If I advertise any new positions, I will only use WeChat because the word gets out very quickly. I have no trouble finding new staff.
For more information, search BeStylish PEI on facebook. [email protected].
Dynamic Fitness & Freshii, Charlottetown
Dynamic Fitness and Freshii are owned by Dave Eli MacEachern. Dynamic Fitness recently relocated to 99 Pownal Street at the old Charlottetown Legion, and Freshii is a block away at 133 Queen Street. Dynamic Fitness also has locations in Fredericton and Moncton.
Dynamic Fitness includes a boutique which sells athletic gear, as well as space for fitness classes. “We have created a cooperative space for self employed people to offer classes in nutrition, self defence, dance, massage therapy, sports psychology, counselling, yoga, and hot yoga,” says Neally Currie. “We are always looking for certified people to teach these classes.” “We are always looking for certified people to teach these classes.”
Freshii offers casual, healthy fast food, such as full meals, juices, smoothies, and breakfast, and partners with local businesses such as Receiver Coffee. Freshii has expanded its offerings to elementary school lunch programs and catering for local businesses.
“We employ a foundation staff that runs the boutique and the businesses, and the instructors are self employed. At Dynamic, three people work at the boutique, and check people in to classes. Freshii has about 20 full-time and part-time staff, and is busier in the summer months. Front-line staff duties include making the food, doing dishes, prep work, work cash, and washing tables.
“To apply, it is always better to drop off a resumé in person, so that I can gauge your personality right away,” says Neally.
“When we hire, we look for the right personality, and attention to a healthy lifestyle. It is terrifying for anyone who goes into a fitness facility for the first time. We need staff who are welcoming and put our clients at ease, and can engage them in conversation and tell them how our services can fit their lifestyle.”
Hillside Motors Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac, Charlottetown
Hillside Motors, PEI’s only full-line General Motors Dealership, has been a family-owned operation since 1973. They recently launched a service where they will do an oil change and tire rotation for all makes and models with no appointment necessary.
They currently employ just over 50 full-time employees. Job titles include Sales, Red Seal Service Technicians, and administration. They are willing to take on people going through the apprenticeship process.
Automotive Technicians: continuous learning is important
“The technican role was harder to fill when the oil boom out west was at its height,” says Neal Noseworthy. “Many tradespeople were going out west to make a lot more money than at home. Since the boom has started to scale back, there seem to be more people going into the technician trade, and it is easier now to find the right people.
“The job has become a lot more complex. The technology is now so advanced, you can’t bring a vehicle to an after-market garage to get most repairs done. Vehicles need to be plugged in and diagnosed with world-class multi-scan computers.”
Sales people need a lot of skills
“Good salespeople are always hard to find. It is a changing industry and typically 100 percent commission based. It’s harder to attract the millennial generation, which values a good life balance, combined with a good compensation plan.
“Sales is one of the hardest high-paying jobs, and one of the easiest low-paying jobs. If you are enthusiastic and know how to treat people like you would like to be treated, it can be a very rewarding career, with lots of room for advancement. In 2009, I started out in the car business in sales, became a sales manager, and now I’m the general manager for the dealership.”
“To be a good sales person, you need to be educated on the product you are selling,” says Pierce MacLean. “You are selling yourself too. You need to be approachable, talk to people like they are your friend, and listen to them about what they are looking for.”
“When we hire Sales people, we give them extensive training in product knowledge and salesmanship, and it is ongoing throughout their career,” says Neal. “The best salespeople are continuously learning and trying to make themselves better.”
For more information, visit www.hillsidechevrolet.com.
In September, Don Ramsay opened a homegrown service new to PEI. Don and his team of developers created an Ap and website you can use to order things, pay for them, and have them delivered in Charlottetown in a very short period of time.
Customers call the toll-free number or go to the website to place their orders, and drives can be dispatched within five minutes to do anything from taking a hockey bag to a rink, picking up laundry, or shopping for and delivering groceries. The service is also offered to businesses that need deliveries made.
“We have done our research, and it has been confirmed by a lot of people that there is a huge demand for the service,” says Don. “The service is growing very rapidly.”
“We have a dispatch system that shows us where our drivers are and who is available, so that we can get things picked up and delivered very efficiently.
“We hired more than 20 drivers in October. They are paid by the trip. They make quite a bit more than a regular job, because they get more deliveries, our service is faster, and they tell us they get better tips. As we add more businesses, we will be even busier.
“This is a phenomenal part-time job for anyone from students to seniors. You can drive for us full-time or part-time, and pick the hours you are available.”
“We look for drivers with a good driving record, who are enthusiastic, well presented, care about the customers and about the delivery, have their own vehicle, and have a smart phone.”
Driving jobs are advertised on Kijijji and at www.jobbank.gc.ca. They are considering expanding, and hope to soon be serving businesses in Moncton, Fredericton, and Summerside.
Norton Arts, Island-wide
This company teaches conflict management, including prevention, escalation, and resolution.
Robert Norton started the business in 2010 in Ontario and began operations on PEI in March 2016.
For over 25 years, he’s continuously evolved Shoto-Chi, a martial art he developed, to be more about psychology and conflict resolution than fighting.
“I cover all aspects of conflict, from verbal to physical. Individuals can take my community-based workshops, such as the women’s self defence workshops.
“My company is mobile. I can do the training in your own home, or in schools, colleges, universities, or workplaces.
“My goal is to get what I do into the schools, because teaching personal safety is a vital life skill. In the future, I hope I will be in a position to hire and train people to teach my program.”
For more information, call 902-978-1738. Visit www.nortonarts.org.
Provincial Realty, Island-Wide
This real estate agency has been in operation on PEI since January 2016.
“We are a one-stop shop which helps to arrange mortgages and helps people find houses or businesses,” says Cheryl Burns.
“Most of our staff are Sales Associates. We also have a Mortgage Specialist, Broker, Marketing Coordinator, Marketing Specialist, and an Administrator.
“The market is really strong on PEI right now, so we may be looking for more Sales Associates. As we grow, we may need more administrative and mortgage staff as well.
“Working in the PEI market is less stressful than in Toronto. Volume here is much less, yet the service is much more personal. You get to know people here better.”
A person interested in a career as a real estate agent would first contact the PEI Real Estate Association. It offers two training courses a year. Once the person passes the exam, they can work for a broker.
“To apply for work at Provincial, contact Sharon Laybolt, our Administrator, who does the initial interview. She passes applicants’ names to company President Jeff Murphy or Vice President Greg MacDougall.”
Pure Spa Inc./Moksha Yoga, Charlottetown
This full-service aesthetics salon, yoga studio and boutique is located near the Charlottetown waterfront.
About 10 Aestheticians and seven Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs) work at Pure Spa. About 15 Yoga Instructors are at Moksha Yoga.
“There is a demand for massage therapy, so we are currently seeking full-time RMTs,” says Amber Bambrick.
“We accept resumés in person or through email. We like to see people with outgoing personalities and a strong work ethic and those who truly care about offering an excellent service to every client.”
For more information, call 902-894-YOGA (9642).
Total Green East, Stratford
NATURAMA® is a line of chemical free, biodegradable, hypo-allergenic cleaning products derived from plant-based ingredients.
The products, which are new to Canada, were developed in Israel 20 years ago for industrial and household use.
Naturama is a natural disinfectant and sanitizer and is safe for people, pets and the environment. It is also certified by the Environmental Protection Agency for direct release into waterways. Total Green East is the only eastern Canadian distributor.
“We are new to PEI and it’s a family-owned business, with me, my mom and dad,” says Venessa Backman.
“We are targeting businesses and government agencies as our main user and we are looking at retail sales as well.”
“We hope to hire a few salespeople soon. When we hire, we will be looking for someone who is excited about our products, has the confidence to cold-call businesses and tell them what we have to offer, and has connections within the community, perhaps from a past employer.”
Event showcased world-class businesses operating in Eastern PEI
The Eastern PEI Chamber of Commerce (EPEICC) kicked off Small Business Week by hosting an Explore Economics East conference in Georgetown. More than a 100 participants attended the event.
“People are always surprised at how many world-class businesses operate out of Eastern PEI, and most do it very quietly,” says Keir White, President of the EPEICC. “We decided it’s time to celebrate, bring our success stories out of the shadows, and share them with the world.
“We plan to make this a yearly event, with our local businesses sharing their success and providing a forum to pass their knowledge and experience to the next generation.”
The keynote speaker, John Ellis, is a Partner with Global Investment, based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). He works with businesses and governments to facilitate investments and partnerships in the UAE.
“The population is set to double in cities like Dubai, and as a result all types of companies can excel in this market,” says John.
“Industries of particular interest are food, fish, beverage, bioscience, manufacturing, cosmetics, aviation, and marine. Many other areas would do equally well.
“Manufacturing in Middle Eastern countries does not meet demand, so products are imported from all over the world. There is a lot of interest in Canadian companies. Products and services from Canada are considered to be high quality.
“The culture of face-to-face meetings is very prominent in the Middle East, and the use of emails less so. We find serious potential investors, partners and clients, and carry out initial meetings on the behalf of PEI companies. We also follow up with clients to ensure maximum success.”
Panelists talk about their businesses
Colville Bay Oyster Company
This family-run oyster farm grows and sells oysters in the global marketplace. Their oysters are known world-wide for their flavour. They also fish and sell lobsters and other shellfish at a retail outlet, The Lobster Shack, on the Souris boardwalk.
“We started growing oysters 25 years ago after the closure of the cod fishery in the early 90s,” says Johnny Flynn. “We did our homework to see what works best on PEI and decided to grow oysters because they are native to the area.
“When we started out, it took six years before we actually sold oysters and received a cheque in the mail. We started out selling our product to Island restaurants. A few years later, our name became known, and we began to sell off-Island and around the globe.”
For more information, visit www.colvillebayoysterco.com.
Navigate Food Safety Solutions
This business has been in operation for three years. Navigate Food Safety Solutions is currently located in the Launch Pad building on Main Street in Montague.
“Food Safety is more complicated than ever before,” says Maureen Hanley. “Our expertise makes food safety simpler in a very complicated world. Our customers present us with a food safety issue, and then we work with them to find a solution that makes sense.”
For many years, Co-founder Alex Hanley audited hundreds of food plants throughout North America and abroad. He noticed that many processing facilities were dealing with a lot of the same food safety issues, which, more often than not, resulted in food recalls.
“We developed a training process with tools and templates that allow processing facilities to create a simplified, yet highly effective food safety management system that makes sense to everyone in the plant. Clients buy a license through the company and we deliver the customization for that plant through coaching.
“Currently, we are focusing on the 200,000 food plants in North America and working with 30 of them at the moment. We are experiencing rapid growth with a team of four Island-based staff.
“Today you can live anywhere you want and work anywhere in the world. We chose to do business on PEI because we want to work and live here.”
For more information, visit www.navigatefoodsafety.com.
Duke Ferguson is a certified professional dog trainer who started a business out of the back of his truck in Montague. Unleashed Potential, now based in Stratford, is a registered private dog training school.
Dog trainers from around the globe travel to the school to learn training techniques. As well, Duke provides obedience training for companion pets, trains service dogs, and trains sniffer dogs to detect anything from bombs to drugs to bedbugs. He travels the globe giving seminars, and he’s worked with many animal trainers, including those who have worked for Universal Studios, Sea World, and other production companies.
“I always knew I wanted to work with dogs,” says Duke. “It’s having a passion for what I do that has made the business so successful. You can work from anywhere and be successful, if you have a passion for the job.”
For more information visit www.unleashedpotential.ca.