Success stories

Each year we help thousands of rural BC entrepreneurs just like you turn their dreams into reality. Here are some of their stories. We hope they inspire you to get in touch.

Amber Cachelin- Greensleeves Electric Ltd. - Kamloops, BC

Amber Cachelin is the owner/operator of Greensleeves Electric Ltd; her company offers residential and commercial electrical services in Kamloops, with a focus on solar energy systems and other renewables. Amber obtained her Red Seal Journeyman Qualification as an Electrician in March of 2016, and has her FSR Class B, and St. John’s Ambulance First Aid certification. After spending 6 years working in various aspects of electrical installations in BC and Alberta, and with a keen interest in renewable energy, she decided to pursue self-employment so accessed CFTC’s Self-Employment services through WorkBC referral.  Amber participated in workshops which supported the creation of her business plan, as well as topics around marketing, bookkeeping, Human Resource management, and business administration.  In the fall of 2017 Greensleeves Electric opened for business.

Included in Amber’s first year goals was to expand operations into an office/warehouse space, and to become a certified installer of solar panels. In the spring of this year, she achieved both.  After participating in Solar Installer Canada’s training for solar energy systems she attended Kamloops’ Green Living Expo and the Kamloops Home show as an Exhibitor. Shortly thereafter she worked on Kamloops’ first net zero four-plex, applying her newly acquired expertise.    Amber has seen a moderate but steady increase in revenues this year, and with her continued marketing efforts and partnerships with like-minded “green energy” contractors, is confident this trend will continue.


April's Tack Boutique - Ladysmith, BC

With incredible support from my husband, family, friends, and Community Futures, I was able to make my dream a reality." April Johnson
I have been passionate/obsessed with horses for as long as I can remember.  Growing up my sister and I went door to door on Jinglepot road looking for horses to ride.  We were lucky to find two kind families whose daughters had left home and left their horses behind.  We spent all day at the barn for years and I read every horse book that I could get my hands on.

In 2002 I started working in the tack and feed business.  My passion and knowledge of horses helped me immensely, and working in the equine retail industry solidified my desire to one day have a tack store of my own. My good friend Renate Burns encouraged/pressured me daily to make my dream come true.  Her persuasive German ways finally got to me.

With incredible support from my husband, family, friends, and Community Futures Central Island, I was able to make my dream a reality.  From the moment I committed to opening my own store, everything fell into place.  I found the perfect location, (after which, signing the lease I discovered my husband, mom, and grandmother had previously resided in this building!) 
This incredible opportunity has allowed me to share my passion and love of quality Equestrian products, and allowed my dream to come true. 


Avalon Gardens Flowers and Fashion Boutique - Grand Forks, BC

When Lorna MacDougall started her nursery business in 2008, she never imagined that, eight years later, she’d end up opening a retail shop in downtown Grand Forks.

A former pharmacy technician, Lorna started Avalon Gardens as a home-based business so that she could stay home and look after her children. As her business grew, she approached Community Futures Boundary for a micro loan to purchase additional greenhouses. She paid off the first loan and returned a couple of years later when she needed to purchase more inventory, and then again as she expanded into pottery and garden décor, paying off each loan.

Last fall, Lorna teamed up with the owner of a successful women’s clothing boutique to open a retail shop in downtown Grand Forks.  The storefront gives Avalon Gardens a presence downtown, and allows her to carry more items, such as home décor and gifts.

BDC/Community Futures Collaboration




A client that provides heating, ventilation and air conditioning services wanted to purchase a business in the same industry as they saw in it great potential. So in October, 2017 a Community Futures office and BDC partnered under a Pari-passu agreement in order to make this change of ownership possible. The transaction consisted of the following:

Subsequent to the original purchase and financing, in March 2018 the client approached BDC to purchase real estate as they were outgrowing their current leased location. BDC and the Community Futures office agreed to supersede their existing loans and provide the financing needed for the real estate with another Pari-passu agreement. In addition, the client saw an opportunity to better market their business, so they accepted a BDC Sales & Marketing consulting mandate, also financing under this new loan. To summarize, this second transaction was as follows:

Bell First Aid Services - Salmon Arm, BC

First aid and safety in do-or-die work environments.

Big Canyon Rafting - Quesnel & Williams Lake, BC

Big Canyon Rafting, based in Quesnel and Williams Lake, attracts both residents and tourists with a range of whitewater rafting activities, expeditions and day trips designed for every skill level.

Big Canyon Rafting ensures safety is always the number one priority, while also providing customers the best possible experience on the Quesnel, Chilcotin, Taseko, and Cariboo Rivers.

Owners Julie and Tyler Dinsdale note that, “we have applied for and successfully expanded our tenure over the past few years to provide more options to our clients, many of whom return year after year.” With the goal of further expanding and diversifying their business by purchasing a new bus, Julie and Tyler obtained a loan through the Community Futures North Cariboo office.

The new bus enabled Big Canyon Rafting to better serve a wider range of clients, by providing transportation that feels fresh, and current. Heavily dependent on tourism, the 2017 summer season in the Cariboo region adversely affected the business, but Julie notes that the Community Futures has continued to be nothing but supportive during this challenging time.

Booster Juice - Mission, BC
The Mission Booster Juice started strong when it first opened in 2008, but declining revenue was probably a key reason the original owners decided to sell. In 2012 Kim Gibson bought the Mission Booster Juice and while she knew there would be some challenges to build the business back to where it would be profitable, there were a few surprises. Some of the equipment was worn and there were other repairs she didn't budget for. She had invested all her money in the purchase of the business and found she didn't have the cash flow to meet all the unanticipated expenses. Meeting with Community Futures Kim found a partner that understands the challenges of small business and could provide her with the financial support she needed to turn the business around.
"I would have had to close the doors without Community Futures," said Kim, "with the unexpected costs and the time to reorganize I had exhausted all my resources," said Kim.
Cimtex - Mission, BC
From day one when Darren Fulkco began working at Cimtex he and the owner discussed the potential of Darren buying the company. A year later he became a shareholder and in 2015, with the support of Community Futures North Fraser and two other Community Futures offices, Darren finally bought 100% of the company. Darren is a BCIT certified machinist with 30 years' experience. He was part owner of the company he worked at before starting at Cimtex and had long seen his career path as leading to owning his own company. The company works in industries that require high
quality, tight tolerance parts such as aerospace and clean technology and these sectors are growing in the Fraser Valley. "We had 10 years of strong revenue and I didn't think I would be turned down by the banks , so when I met with Community Futures , they definitely helped out . " The value of the company buy out was above the typical maximum $150,000 of a Community Futures loan, but through a partners hip with two other CF offices we were able to put together a loan offer that work ed.
Clover Fields Apiaries, Vanderhoof, BC
Right from the first meeting with Community Futures Stuart Nechako, Claudia and Ezekial Pavon had the feeling that financial help was not the first priority.
Community Futures provided clarification regarding their financial plans, allowing the Pavon’s to better visualize future projections. Permitting them to create a plan for reaching their goals using tools and advice provided by Community Futures. 
The Pavon’s assert that “If you are service supplier or an intrepid producer and your desire is to grow your business with a firm planning structure, we encourage you to visit and talk to your local Community Futures office, you'll be surprised how many good points also must be considered to run your business successfully.”
Community Futures - A Canadian Success Story

Community Futures is a community based economic renewal initiative established by the federal government in 1985. Helping rural Canadians to start or expand a business and improve local economies. There are 269 Community Futures Offices located through rural Canada.

Hear from many of our clients on how Community Futures has helped them realize their dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.

Community Futures - Means Business

Community Futures is a community based economic renewal initiative established by the federal government in 1985. Helping rural Canadians to start or expand a business and improve local economies. There are 269 Community Futures Offices located through rural Canada.



D.R. Systems Inc. - Nanaimo, BC

Custom-designed software which protects the environment with high-tech land management techniques.

Decode Escape Rooms - Mission, BC
Brendan Hoffman and his partner were walking through the downtown core of a neighboring community when he discovered his first escape room. He didn't quite know what it was, but he was curious and with just one try he was hooked. Now he has escaped from dozens of rooms throughout the Fraser Valley and Greater Vancouver, but it wasn't until he visited an escape room that was poorly done that he thought 'I can do a better job than this'. With a taste for math, science and a love of puzzles it was an opportunity to be an entrepreneur and start a business based on an activity he
is passionate about. The idea of starting his own business took hold when he was in downtown Mission and saw the vacant building that would become the future home of Decode Escape Rooms. Brendan contacted the realtor with the listing and started to put together his business plan.
The building leased by Decode has multiple rooms so each escape is a labyrinth of doors that need to be solved. They opened with three escape experiences and have just completed a fourth - Grandma's Attic. "Community Futures was a great help in improving the business plan. We took the plan to our Credit Union and they were willing to do part of the financing for the business if Community Futures would do the rest," said Brendan .
Eagle Talon Adventures - Haida Gwaii, BC

North end paddlers can now fuel their sense of adventure with the launch of the island’s newest kayaking outfitter, Eagle Talon Adventures (ETA). 


ETA is a Haida owned and operated kayaking outfitter located in Old Masset. With hassle-free kayak rentals available out of her home-based business, Cynthia Samuels, Owner/Operator, offers tourists, visitors and residents access to single and tandem kayaks, with options to pick up or transport to nearby north-end sites. 


Realizing the lack of fun and friendly water activities in northern Haida Gwaii, Cynthia quickly saw a need for her business. She credits the Haida Owned & Operated self-employment program for giving her the skills to turn her dreams into a real business plan, and Community Futures for loan financing to launch her business. 


“From concept, Community Futures was right there, encouraging and doing whatever they could to make sure I had all the tools, and provided resources when needed,” says Samuels. 


Launching in July 2018, kayak rentals will be available year-round and housed in a newly constructed shed on her property on Eagle Avenue. While there, customers can peruse ETA’s retail store, Eagle Talon

House, with a collection of ETA branded merchandise - t-shirts, jackets, travel mugs - or enjoy snacks, ice cream, coffee or a local selection of take-home Haida Wild seafood. 


When asked what lessons she’s learned as a new entrepreneur, Cynthia shares, “It’s a long process [to start-up], things change, ideas change, and that’s okay. It’s good to go through that time to ensure the resources needed were available, from finances to contractors.” 


Greenwood City Auto Ltd. - Greenwood, BC

Community Futures Boundary first assisted the Shaw’s in August 2000 with their initial purchase of Greenwood Auto Centre Ltd located on the Highway 3 in BC’s smallest City “Greenwood.”

Since then, Community Futures has been working with them through the many changes they have experienced. Originally operating as a Petrocan station, in 2007 they switched to Race Trac Gas. Community Futures has supported them from start-up through all their growth and changes over the years. Seventeen years later they are still a Community Futures client considering their next innovation.

Greenwood City Auto Ltd is your one stop shop providing gasoline, propane, convenience items, mechanical repairs, towing service, a large menu of hot food, frozen meals and groceries. They even recycle metal and order in parts for customers.

The Shaw’s are committed to their small community and have provided employment to many people over the years, their children have grown up in the business and now work there part-time. Community Futures is proud to be assisting this dedicated couple providing an essential service to the community.

Hardy Buoys - Port Hardy, BC

Employing up to 60 people and distributing their product to most of the major Canadian grocery chains.

Harrison Hot Springs Preschool - Harrison Hot Springs, BC
Six years ago, Melissa Weed was running a small daycare out of her home, today she is planning to expand of her business and increase the number of children she can have in her care to 64. Melissa is the owner of the Harrison Hot Springs Daycare, and she has been able to fund most of the expansion of her business through a Provincial grant program to create more daycare spaces and a loan from Community Futures.

In 2014 Melissa wanted to refinance her business and apply for the Provincial grant. The grant required matching funds and a detailed application proposal so working with Community Futures was a great fit. We were able to assist Melissa with both a loan to provide the needed funding, and we helped her with the application as a small business advisor.

"Working with Community Futures has been great. There is probably a lot more of your services I should be using, but the planning and the financing has been awesome." Said Melissa.

Now Melissa is expanding again and for this next expansion Melissa applied for a second Provincial grant and is expecting her new building this fall. For this most recent expansion Melissa didn't need the financial support of Community Futures. Success for the Community Futures often means your clients outgrow you.


Hello Nature Adventure Tours - Ucluelet, BC

Last year Frank Witter, Phill Padgham and Kevin Bradshaw started to look into creating their own kayak and hiking business in Ucluelet, BC.

Able to raise most of the required startup capital themselves, they approached banks for the remaining amount.  Unable to secure the remaining $20,000 that was needed, they contacted Community Futures Alberni-Clayoquot to see if they could help.

Cheryl Hamilton and the Community Futures team did everything that they could to help.  Not only did Community Futures provide the required funding but the funding was made available in time for the kayak order to be placed ensuring the kayaks would be ready for summer 2017.  One of the first steps that allowed Hello Nature Adventure Tours to have such a successful first season and doubling the kayaking tour projections.

Hylee Training - Mission, BC
Alicia Harper first came to Community Futures in 2012 for a loan to build a covered riding area on property she was turning into an Equestrian Centre. As a young entrepreneur getting a loan through a conventional lender wasn't possible, but youth is a sector Community Futures supports.
In 2015 Alicia was again making changes to her business and came back to Community Futures for another loan, our support helped her grow her business and increase the value of the property. Within the year she could refinance through a bank and payout Community Futures.
Supporting small businesses in the early stages to help thembecome 'bankable' is what Community Futures does. " Our bus iness is doing better than originally projected, " said Alicia. "Working with Community Futures was daunting at first with all the business information I had to provide, but they set me up with the tools I needed for my business to be a success , " added Alicia.
Jake Birkland- Strength Camp - Kamloops, BC

Jake is a male youth who entered self employment services in order to compile a solid viable business plan for his fitness facility.  During that time Jake worked diligently through the process.  This process allowed him to take his business plan to several lenders who approved Jake for funding his start-up.  Since then Jake has consistently accessed business coaching services through our offices and attended various entrepreneurial workshops to assist him in growing his business. 

Jake has now been in business for 8 months and has created a great community connection.  He has held and been part of many charity events, including Heart and Stroke Foundation and presenting to local sports teams and the school district on the importance of health and fitness.  Jake has recently expanded his business, moving to a larger location and offering more classes.  He is a truly successful CF client. 


Khutzeymateen Wilderness Lodge Ltd. - Skeena-Queen Charlotte, BC
Community Futures 16/37 helped clients re-structure long term debt by assisting with loans.
Founded by two individuals in 2015, Khutzeymateen Wilderness Lodge has developed into a world-class tour operator and wildlife viewing guide, gaining recognition from Air Canada Enroute magazine, British Columbia Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, among others.
Sheltered by the Coast Mountains, just south of the Alaska panhandle on British Columbia’s wild north coast, lies the K'tzim-a-deen (Khutzeymateen) Inlet. Here, within the traditional territory of the Tsimshian Nation, lives a healthy and indomitable population of coastal grizzly bears. Located within this unique conservancy and grizzly bear sanctuary, the Khutzeymateen Wilderness Lodge is your home and gateway to view these magnificent animals in a natural and unspoiled wilderness area. Khutzeymateen Wilderness Lodge is the only permitted lodge within the Khutzeymateen Protected Area. The floating lodge offers an opportunity to enjoy all the comforts of home with plenty of room to stretch out and take in the awe-inspiring wilderness.
Long Table Grocery - Quesnel, BC

Established in April 2017 as a community food hub, Long Table Grocery specializes in offering fresh, locally-grown and organic products, including a range of seasonal fruits and vegetables, meats, eggs, cheeses, locally-roasted coffee, preserves and baked goods from more than 40 farmers and food producers around the region.
“One of our main goals is to support local growers and small-scale food processors by providing them with access to the consumer market on a year-round basis,” says Amy Quarry, Long Table owner and co-founder.

Last July, thanks to support from Community Futures North Cariboo, Long Table Grocery acquired the Marsh Drive facility, a larger, stand-alone building that doubled their size and included much-needed warehouse space.

The move to a larger facility also allowed them to turn part of the building into a commercial kitchen and café. Long Table employs two Red Seal-certified chefs who prepare meals for the café, and also turn any leftover produce into preserves or frozen “ready-meals” that are sold under the Long Table Grocery brand.

“We approached Community Futures because I’d worked with them before and found them easy to work with,” said Amy. “They were willing to take a chance on me, plus they were able to see the potential of what we are trying to do. Working in the local food sector, we don’t have the same efficiencies as the larger grocery chains. Even though our revenues are stable, we’re still considered a high-risk venture, and traditional banks don’t want to take that risk. Community Futures did.”


Mission Meat Shop - Mission, BC
Mission Meats is one of our favorite clients to visit - every time we go there we bring beef jerky back to the office and pick-up a few steaks and a roast for home.
When Ron Brown moved to his rural property just outside of Mission he built a shop where he could cut meat on weekends and evenings. With the growth in demand he saw the opportunity to make the business full-time. "I built the shop where I could cut the meat, but I was just using 7
or 8 chest freezers to store the cut meat and they were not all in the same building, which wasn't very efficient." said Ron
Ron needed a commercial type freezer and a larger building for his cutting work, so he came to Community Futures for a loan. With 30 years experience as a butcher and a number of years working to build his home based 'farm gate' butchering business, Ron was a good fit for the Community Futures loan program. "With the new building, we not only have the space to handle more work , but we also made changes to how we handle the product so we are able to save a lot of labour." said Ron. "Community Futures has really helped us bring our plans to life."
MotoMotion Canada - Penticton, BC

Community Futures Okanagan Similkameen’s Business Planning Development Workshop is a 60-hour workshop that supports an entrepreneur in taking their business concept from a “great idea” to “open for business.” Robert Trottier participated in the program and has since started MotoMotion Canada. Community Futures provided start-up capital and Robert provided tools and equipment. He successfully solved the regional seasonality issues and is now hiring a mechanic and expanding his services to include tire changes and repairs to motorcycles at the new Area 27 racetrack in Oliver.  “MotoMotion is where your Adventure begins.”

Natures Formulae Health Products Ltd. - Kelowna, BC

A business that started in a kitchen to become a global manufacturer.

Nicholas Alexander Landscaping - Vernon, BC

Vernon’s Nick Moffat comes by his profession honestly. Having grown up in his parents’ garden centre, it was a natural progression for him to work his way up in the industry, first as a landscaper and now as the owner of Nicholas Alexander Home & Garden.

“I worked at the garden centre my whole childhood,” explains Moffat, who leases the same property along the Swan Lake Auto Mile where his parents, Scott and Juanita, operated Art Knapp Plantland for nearly 30 years. “I started selling hot dogs in front of the store when I was 10 because I wanted to buy a snowboard. I did it for three seasons, and then I started in the garden centre in customer service.”
Moffat, now 31, went from sweeping floors and helping customers carry their purchases, to eventually managing the store for four years until his parents closed it in 2013. He says he would have loved to take over the family business then, but adds: “It just wasn’t in the cards at that moment in time to take it on.”
Instead, Moffat and his wife, Jamee, started Nicholas Alexander Landscaping in 2015. To get it started, though, they needed some capital. That’s when the Community Futures Loans Program entered the picture.
“I knew Rob Short (loans coordinator) from previous endeavours and came to him with my business proposal,” says Moffat. “I supplied the numbers and he helped me through it and got me started with a business start-up loan.”
That loan helped the Moffats purchase the landscaping tools, trailers and truck he needed to begin operating. They haven’t looked back since.
“It got us off the ground,” says Moffat. “It was just a really big help because we were growing at such a rapid pace. Even after the first season, we doubled our crew. We needed more tools, more equipment…more of everything. That loan helped us achieve that.”
Rob Short, loans coordinator at Community Futures North Okanagan, says Nick’s passion for his business is exemplary.
“His professional approach to providing solutions to his clients’ needs is paramount to Nick and his team, which, in turn, has resulted in the business receiving award-winning recognition in the market place. Commu
Nonuttin Foods - Duncan, BC

The owner set out to create safe alternatives for a daughter who has life-threatening allergies.

Odyssey Ventures - Oliver, BC

When Greg and Julie Thorp, owners of Sage Greenhouses, lost their main customer to a national supplier and needed to diversify their operation, they came to Community Futures Okanagan Similkameen to participate in the Economic Gardening program where they received market intelligence on the organic greenhouse industry. Given the opportunity that was identified, and the connections to distribution companies, Greg and Julie made plans to expand their operation and switch over to organic cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. It took 3 years of planning and perfecting the growing model and with a $900,000 loan from a Community Futures Syndication they will soon be shipping thousands of cases of cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, year round, from their greenhouses in Oliver, B.C. to destinations across Canada and the U.S. In order to get their cost of goods down they were in negotiations with Fortis to install a gas line; Community Futures was able to supply Fortis with maps showing alternate routes with businesses along the routes that could potentially hook up to the gas line. Fortis agreed to install the line at no cost to Sage Greenhouse and already provides gas to 3 commercial properties. The results of this Economic Gardening service and the Community Futures loan syndication are new revenues, a new import replacement/export product coming out of a small agricultural town, up to 10 new jobs being created, and new infrastructure in the rural area.

Ogopogo Tours - Summerland, BC

After sampling around 120+ jobs and creating 18 businesses on his own, self-admitted ‘serial entrepreneur’ Darren Sweet has found the perfect fit with ‘Ogopogo Tours.’ Known for their sustainable model, the tour company was first born from Darren’s desire to reduce emissions when idling a traditional diesel tour bus.

Having experience from driving for another wine tour company, Darren, with the help of his partner Adonica, started the business as a ‘man with a van’ in July of 2015. Nowadays, Ogopogo Tours operates six vehicles, including a wheelchair friendly transportation option and offers 40 different products from multi-day wine tours out of Vancouver to a motorcycle tour in their two-person sidecar (their most popular private tour).

With sustainability as a core value, Ogopogo Tours became the first certified carbon neutral wine tour company in Canada.  The business continues to receive accolades including a Gold Award for ‘Environmental Management and Corporate Social Responsibility’ from Sustainable Tourism, ‘Canadian Sustainable Tour Operator of the Year’ in 2017 and 2018 by Luxury Travel Guide, and after winning an award in 2018 for ‘Sustainable Resource Industry Excellence’ from the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Awards, Ogopogo Tours is  nominated for both ‘Tourism Excellence’ and ‘Growth & Development’ and Darren and Adonica are nominated for ‘Business Leader of the Year’ in the upcoming 2019 Business Excellence Awards.

With the support of EDP, Darren has been able to begin working ‘on his business' instead of ‘in his business’.  Ogopogo Tours worked with a local consultant to review all aspects of the brand and collaboratively create a branding document and marketing plan. Already familiar with the company, the working relationship was an effective match resulting in successful recruitment of a talented team of six, excited to work together for another season.

Darren continued learning through participation in CF business planning workshops featuring the Business Model Canvas. After the Sweets decided to make a further investment in their business, Darren enrolled in a program called ‘7-Figure Tour Business’ featuring industry specific knowledge sharing from a group of tour operators around the world. The program reminded Darren to keep what he calls a ‘beginner’s mind’ - always open to learning.

Darren keeps his beginner’s mind sharp and is committed to learning more ways to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all. He has recently completed ‘LGBTQ+ Inclusion Training from Canada's LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce and the entire Ogopogo Tours team hold training from Transport Canada to best handle disabilities including vision or language barriers.

Darren identified that his own disabilities also come with talents. His extreme focus on large problems and the ability to visualize vast amounts of code and tasks has been useful while he works independently to create a custom booking software for his business. 

The booking software is expected to be ready for market in the coming months positioning the brand closer to connecting with the growing millennial market while continuing to attract a variety of customers whose values align with the sustainable model of this business and love of the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys.

Open Air Adventure and Wine Tours - Penticton, BC

Community Futures Okanagan Similkameen’s Business Planning Development Workshop is a 60-hour workshop that supports an entrepreneur in taking their business concept from a “great idea” to “open for business.” Community Futures provided loan financing for a Jeep purchase and other startup costs to Open Air Adventures and Wine Tours. With an invitation to experience the Okanagan like never before.  OpenAir Adventure and Wine Tours provide a unique experience into the heart of wine country aboard a Jeep Safari.

Organized with Kimberly - Vernon, BC

“I will forever be thankful to Community Futures for setting me on the path to starting my own business,” says Kimberly Mason.  After discovering an aptitude for organizing when visiting her sister in Prince George, Kimberly returned to Vernon and started the Community Futures North Okanagan’s Self Employment Program.  Returning to Vernon, Kimberly began the Self Employment program with a goal of creating a business where she would have enough work and the work be something that she loved.  Due to a stroke that had left her right side paralyzed, Kimberly’s energy levels best suited part-time work, and had given up on finding work that would both support her financially and be something she enjoyed.  Now with the skills obtained from the Self Employment Program and assistance from Community Futures to access funding for technology to help her succeed, Organized with Kimberly is a viable, operating business that helps seniors downsize or busy families declutter. Read more

Outdoor Living Manufacturing Ltd. - Penticton, BC

A company with over 30 employees sells ready-made home enhancements as DIY wood projects.

Pemberton Distillery - Pemberton, BC

Created an opportunity by starting B.C.'s only vodka distillery and the first certified-organic potato vodka distillery in the world.

Port Alberni Marine Fuels and Services - Port Alberni, BC

The physical planning of a marine fuel business, the negotiation of location, and the ensuring of regulatory compliance to build and open a marine service station is not without its challenges, but was something that Doug and Sandi Smith were able to accomplish largely on their own. Securing the necessary financing for the project was something entirely different; without ownership of any land from which the business was to be operated, traditional lending institutions would not help. 

Community Futures Alberni-Clayoquot was not only willing to look at the venture based on the business plan and past proven ability to operate a marine service station, but also understood that the proposed business was a much-needed service currently lacking within the community.  Community Futures worked with other non-traditional lenders to secure the total amount of financing required.  “It is without question that we could not have built our business, in both the physical construction and financial growth senses, without the support of Community Futures” Doug and Sandi Smith.

PR Glass Shop - Powell River, BC

For 24 years, Richard Nordentoft was an employee at Dave’s Glass, providing services to residential, commercial and industrial installations and repairs.  When the time was right, Richard and Victoria Maslin, made the move to purchase the business and were excited to revitalize it with fresh ideas and enthusiasm. starting with a name change to PR Glass. The two agree that “Community Futures was there for us.” PR Glass on Facebook.

RFind Systems - Kelowna, BC

With a global client base, it offers a solution that solves real-world logistics challenges and can reduce business costs.

Road Warrior Welding Inc. - Powell River, BC

Pat Haist, a Red Seal Level A Journeyman Welder/Fabricator, and heavy-duty mechanic with 35 years’ experience, started down the road of entrepreneurship with Road Warrior Welding Inc. With financial help from Community Futures Powell River, Pat was able to boost his buying power of materials and equipment allowing him to serve his customers better and to take on bigger jobs. 

Within a few months’ Pat expanded his business services adding a removable 20ft x 81/2ft fir deck to his Freightliner truck with a Hiab 160-3 mounted crane with a reach of 35ft and lifting capacity of 6000kg. In his full-service shop, he added the only local prop repair business. Road Warrior provides mobile services to Sunshine Coast, Vancouver Island and beyond. Pat is an insightful, progressive/problem solving entrepreneur and an experienced skilled fabricator who can customize your design project idea. He recognizes Community Futures for their “prompt and excellent service. “

Shae Doiron Painting & Decorating - Port Alberni, BC

Standing in front of her peers and being presented the award for Best Youth-Owned Business was a great boost for Shae Doiron, and proof positive she’s on the right path.  Doiron, who turned 33 the day we caught up with her, is a proud member of the Tseshaht First Nation who had to overcome a number of hurdles to get to where she is. “I’ve been painting for about five years,” she explained, adding that three years ago she was granted a loan that got Shae Doiron Painting & Decorating off the ground. “I didn’t really know it but in those first two years I was building my reputation. I had no idea people were talking about me in such a good way… at the time when I went to Nuu-chah-nulth Economic Development Corporation (NEDC) I had everything I needed to paint the interior of a house; they helped me with all the exterior stuff.” 


And since 75-80 percent her spring and summer jobs are exterior work, “it’s a big part of what I do. I wouldn’t be where I’m at without their help.” 


Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council had a hand in the early going as well, and were the first people to give her a chance. She also credits her parents for their help. 


Doiron was in Ucluelet the day before her birthday, up to her neck in a Reno and in the middle of a misunderstanding between the bylaw officer and her client regarding the work ordered. All part and parcel for her trade. “There’s always something — you have to learn to give and take… do what needs to be done,” she said easily, pointing out that when the going gets tough she reminds herself how far she’s come. I was in a pretty dark place for a while there,” she concedes, adding “I found myself with pretty heavy addictions to drugs and alcohol.” “I was 25 years old going in and out of the hospital,” she said when asked about the crossroad in her life. 


Her son Kayden, the centre of her universe, was five when she decided she was “sick and tired of all the lies I had to keep telling my child.” 


Fast forward to today, and Shae is working on seven-and-a-half years clean and sober. “I’m in a much healthier place now. ”So committed to the good life, she goes around the community sharing her story and is now part of a program called Transformations. In the meantime, the journey continues. 


“It’s all good. I don’t pretend do be better then anybody else,” she said. “I just strive to be better then who I was yesterday.” 


Sue's Clothlines - Creston, BC

In 2003 Sue Thomas wasn’t quite ready to retire, and she saw a need in the community of Creston for a retail store. Sue took a leap of faith, entered the Self Employment program at Community Futures Central Kootenay, and the dream of Sue’s Clotheslines became a reality.

For the next year Sue drove an hour and a half each way over one of the most treacherous mountain passes to attend classes in Nelson at least once a month.

Now in its 16th year, Sue’s Clothesline has many loyal customers, mostly because their customers are like family. Sue makes sure that everyone is having fun in the store, and customers are happy because Sue treats others the way she would like to be treated.

They work with various charitable events throughout the year, but their charity of choice is the Ministerial Christmas Hamper Fundraisers. In the past 5 or so years, they have raised almost $20,000 to the charity through silent auctions, draws and raffles.

Sue believes it’s all about paying it forward. She’s proud that her customers think so highly of her that they nominated her and voted for her for this Small Business Award. The community of Creston is proud of her and with her every step of the way.  

Sweet Tree Ventures - Quesnel, BC

Diamond E Ranch, started by Jerry and Laura Entzminger in 1979, is a 2000-acre spread. For many years the couple raised Simmental/Angus cattle and produced alfalfa grass hay. In 2008, Jerry and Laura diversified their operations to include the tapping of 500 Birch trees to produce Birch Syrup.  Now producing an array of high quality birch syrup products that draw both local residents and tourists. The range of items available include birch syrup, birch toffee candy, and even spicy birch barbecue sauce. With plans to expand the Sweet Tree Ventures operation of their business by purchasing two integral pieces of machinery, Laura Entzminger contacted Community Futures North Cariboo for a loan to help finance the additional equipment. The reverse osmosis device, and specialized cooker played a key role in the expansion plan for the business, and allowed the Entzmingers to cater to more customers. Laura notes that, “without the loan from Community Futures, we wouldn’t have been able to grow and serve customers with a higher quality syrup.”

To learn more about Sweet Tree Ventures and Diamond E Ranch Ltd or to browse the array of products available, visit

Terella Energy Systems - Mission, BC

John Kenna first met with Community Futures North Fraser in 2013 when he was looking for early stage financing for a new technology business he started in Mission. In 2013 the company, Terrella Energy, had demonstrated the viability of their technology and had just received their first purchase order. The loan, which closed in 2014, was to buy new equipment needed to complete that first sale. 


The company manufactures graphite plates primarily for use in hydrogen fuel cells and most Terrella customers are in the automotive or transport sector. The move to alternate fuels for cars, buses and trucks has been a slow and evolving process, and while Terrella has continued to land new POs they have all been small orders for research and pilot projects.  


These POs kept the ‘doors open’ and helped Terrella establish an impressive list of clients, but it took until 2017 for the first larger breakthrough. And for the company to need another round of funding. 


Fuel cells have always used graphite or metal plates, and in small volume the cost of these plates has not been a critical issue. The value of the Terrella technology is in how the fuel cell plates are manufactured, and the potential for high volume production at a very low price. Terrella’s technology is the forming of graphite using roller embossing. Instead of stamping or engraving single units at a time the roller embossed production line provides high volume continuous output, and as John notes “Nobody has a process that can match this level of production at the cost of Terrella.” 


Terrella is now starting to get their first volume orders and the change according to John is because “The fuel cell industry is finally looking at technologies that are scalable and cost effective.” In China fuel cell busses are in regular commercial use and in California, and number of other places around the world, you can buy a fuel cell car from a dealer’s lot. While the market has a long way to go, manufactures are no longer working to prove the technology, now they are working to make fuel cell vehicles that are competitively priced 




The Community Futures loan in 2017 helped Terrella finally get to larger contracts. “The second loan is how I was able to get the large contract for the bus plates. With Community Futures it’s more personal, you got me through a few months when I was unable to make payments, I’ve used your boardroom and you helped me with contacts in the local business community, and now I finally feel like I’ve ‘crossed the chasm’.” said John. To fill the increasing demand for fuel call plates Terrella is hiring additional staff and the improved cash flow at Terrella has allowed the company to pay out the most recent Community Futures Loan within a year.  


The Blackberry Kitchen - Mission, BC
Kerry Martin moved from chef to business owner in 2011 when he and Laurel Exner opened the Blackberry Kitchen in Heritage Park. "We started small, but the restaurant grew in popularity very quickly," said Kerry. The location was originally designed to be a tea house, but as a popular full-service restaurant the kitchen was too small and there was not enough storage. The association that managed the park could see the challenges and made plans to expand the building. "The association that ran the park started renovations in our 2nd year of operation, but they were funding the renovations as they were able to raise money," said Kerry, "and at one point we were only able to operate with a lunch menu because the vent hood did not meet fire code." So, in 2014 Kerry and Laurel opened a second restaurant in Mission, Martin's Downtown, where they could continue to operate as a fullservice restaurant. Both restaurants continued to be popular and noted for the quality of food and service. Once the renovations at the Blackberry location were complete they were operating two full-service restaurants and having both locations became overwhelming. "We
are very good on the operational side of our business," said Kerry, "but we were so involved in the daily operation that it was easy to get behind on the finance end of the business." Kerry and Laurel needed to make some major decisions about how they were operating, and Community Futures helped them look at the financial performance of their business. Community Futures was also able to provide a loan to the business, so Kerry and Laurel had the funds they needed to complete their business transition. "I would recommend any body starting a business should talk to Community Futures ," said Laurel.
Tompkins Post and Rail - Building the Future - Houston, BC

Unlike many, James Tompkins can see the forest for the trees- and what he saw led him to a business opportunity that is more than just about making money.

While running a processor at his job in Beaverdell, he noticed that the treetops were just being burned. Seeing an opportunity, Tompkins began taking the tops to process himself, using them to make posts. Because the trees usually top off at three to four inches he can process and peel them to get good pine to make two to three inch, and three to four inch posts and railings, fencing, etc, some up to 16 feet long.

When his employer felt he was taking too much of his time/energy for his side business, Tompkins made the move to Houston, British Columbia and started processing and peeling while still working in the bush. He talked to forestry service and local logging companies about using the pine tops, and he borrowed a processor to use.

Tompkins admits he met some resistance from forestry service and local companies that weren’t too keen on giving anything away,  but James preserved. He says people are coming around, especially in Houston area, and others are helpful and on-board with making the most of resources, something Tompkins is proud he does.  “It really helps the environment”, he says. “I almost cry when I go by a logging site and see the waste – wasted lumber and wasted money”.

Tompkins approached Community Futures to borrow money for his own peeler, and the staff in the Houston office helped him work out his business plan.

“It was a real learning experience”, says Tompkins, who learned the risks and rewards of his own business.

He has since borrowed money for a truck and a processor, and he still talks to Community Futures staff regularly about the business.

Tompkins Post and Rail is in its fifth year of operation and Tompkins says he is currently building an inventory of posts so that when he gets calls for his product – and he has, from companies wanting it immediately – he can provide it. He’s taking baby steps, with one full time day shift  that employs 5 full time workers. Tompkins knows it takes time and money to build up inventory, and in the next couple of years he would like to be working a second shift employing, possibly three or four more people.

Although he is currently leasing land and a shop, his goal is to purchase his own, and one day he would like to get a pellet plant to make use of the sawdust that he currently takes to a plant in Houston and perhaps even get a contractor on board to expand the operation.

The most important think for Tompkins is that he loves his work, “It’s a lot less stressful than logging”, he laughs.

Whistler Cooks - Whistler, BC

Whistler Cooks began 20 years ago when Grant and Hilarie Cousar (Cow-Zer) decided to build a catering company that harnessed their zest for life in the mountains and their love of Whistler’s character to become the spirit behind their delicious food. Once their decision was made, one of the first things they did was to approach Community Futures-Howe Sound for assistance to help make it all happen.

Over the years Whistler Cooks has added a management and consulting division, opened a popular 200-seat restaurant in Whistler village, initiated an apprentice program, become a minority partner in another highly successful Whistler-based hospitality venture, and they also found time to serve over 750,000 meals during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Fast forward to today and Whistler Cooks now employs over 28 full time employees and seasonally reaches up to 49 employees as the preeminent catering business in the entire Sea to Sky region. 

But growing their business to unknown heights isn’t even the best part of this story.  Grant and his wife Hilarie have continued to give back to their community every step along the way.  In fact, 8 years ago Grant came back to Community Futures to sit on the Board and in 2015 he was elected Chairperson for the organization marking the first time ever a Community Futures client had risen to become a Community Futures Chair.  It is this kind of commitment to community that has made Whistler Cooks the gold standard for small business. 

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About Community Futures

For over 30 years, we’ve been fostering entrepreneurship in rural BC. We offer small business loans, business counseling and specialized programs to help you start or grow a business, and to help communities become more resilient and dynamic. Find out more…

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