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.

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.

 

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.

Bell First Aid Services

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. www.bigcanyonrafting.com

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.”  http://bit.ly/2xEInzq
 
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.

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

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

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

Harrison Hot Springs Preschool
 
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. http://bit.ly/2xEFkqV

Jake Birkland- Strength Camp

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.
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.
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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.” www.motomotion.ca

Natures Formulae Health Products Ltd.

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

Nicholas Alexander Landscaping

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

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

Odyssey Ventures

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.

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. www.openairadventures.ca

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.

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

Pemberton Distillery

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

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. “

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 www.sweettreeventures.com

Terella Energy Systems

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.  

 

Tompkins Post and Rail - Building the Future

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.

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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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#C230 - 7871 Stave Lake St.
Mission, BC  V2V 0C5

T: 604-289-4222
T: 1-888-303-2232

 

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