Small Business Spotlight

Small Business Spotlights are weekly stories from small business owners throughout the region who have share their local successes, challenges and opportunities through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If you wish to share your story, please submit online and we will share through our channels and tag our partner Western Economic Diversification through #mainstreetmondays.


January 2020

January 4, 2021 -  Cruizers Kitchen

Shannon and Kevin Slade are the owners of Cruizers Kitchen in Standard, Alberta. They have been in business for 4.5 years and is owner operated. 
Shannon and Kevin shared their business inspiration, “We met working in the restaurant industry in downtown Calgary many years ago. Kevin is a Red Seal Chef so it was a natural progression to start our own food services business. We opened our first food truck in Strathmore in the spring of 2016 and started the Concession in Standard in the fall of 2016, things have grown and morphed over time from there. We love serving people good, quality food that makes them smile.

“In the summer we have our food trailer providing burgers, smoked brisket and other hot sandwiches and fries for take-out and at various events in the area. In the winter, we run the Concession at the Rosebud Standard Arena and the menu expands to include soups, hot dinner specials, chicken fingers and more. Throughout the year we provide full meal catering for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, meetings and events.” Cruizers Kitchen prides themselves on quality food. “We cut our own fries from local potatoes, we make our own hamburger patties from scratch and we source our ingredients carefully so that our food tastes good!”

They share their biggest business win and risk: “We love being a part of the community and we love our hockey families, watching these kids grow up season after season is a real blessing! The entire restaurant industry is a risk! Starting your own business without the security of a job is a risk but we wouldn’t trade owning our own business for anything, it’s turned out great.”

Shannon shared a piece of advice to someone just starting out, “Be flexible and creative, don’t be afraid to innovate and try something new. Be critical of your processes and your product; if something isn’t working, change it and then change it again if necessary. Margins are tight in the food industry, keep your costs as low as you possibly can!”

Website: www.cruizers.webs.com


December 2020

December 27, 2020 – Bumper to Bumper/Three Hills Motor Products

Michael Lorraine with Bumper to Bumper, formerly Three Hills Motor Products has been in business for 30 years. Bumper to Bumper is located in Three Hills, AB. They provide a variety of automotive services and parts. Michael began his business which was driven through his passion for working on vehicles and his desire for freedom.

Michael explained his organization is known for “Repairing more complex automotive issues and repairing cars and lights trucks quickly”. Michael further explains, “Our biggest business win so far is top quality customer service.” Michael explains his biggest risk to be: “Rebranding as Bumper to Bumper. We switched from an OEM business to an aftermarket repair shop. We now have a more focused business concentrating on our product offerings and becoming more efficient”.

We asked Michael to share how his company helps the local community and he shared, “Employing local talent who are actively involved in the community through the Legion, Elks, Victim Services and the Golf Club. We also sponsor local sports teams”.

Bumper to Bumper was deemed an essential business and were fortunate to remain open during COVID-19. Michael shared, “We realized our importance in the community by helping the Town of Three Hills water plant maintenance truck up and running, reopening several CN Rail work trucks and helping community members get to appointments. Community Futures Wild Rose was also a big support to my business.”

As an entrepreneur, Michael share one piece of advice to new entrepreneurs, “Do lots of research and seek out proper professional help as contacts to utilize their expertise.”

December 21, 2020 – Kirk's Heating and Custom Sheet Metal

“Kirk’s Heating and Custom Sheet Metal is a family-owned business that has operated in the community for over 45 years”, explains Jeannette Austin. “Entrepreneurship runs in the family.  My son and I purchased the business from my father five years. We provide heating, cooling, refrigeration and custom sheet metal work and fabrication.  We have 7 employees and are located in Three Hills, Alberta.”

Jeannette shared what makes Kirk’s Heating known for over their competition, “We custom make our own ductwork for heating projects. It is made with heavier metal so it is quieter than mass manufactured duct and allows us to be more flexible in the design of a heating system. Also, the custom sheet metal work allows us to manufacture items to our customers specifications. Everything from body work, to farm equipment repair, to craft work”.

One of the organization’s biggest win was the expansion of services by adding an AC & Refrigeration Mechanic to their team. Their biggest risk was the purchase of land and building of their new shop. Jeannette explains, “We had no choice, and it was a huge financial commitment. The former location was not suitable for us to use as the building was not insurable and the location was no longer zoned for industrial. We love the new location. The shop is brightly lit compared to the former shop.”

Kirk’s is passionate about supporting the local community and do so by supporting local functions and donations whenever possible to the dance, arts academy, golf course, seniors, etc. Kirk’s also works to assist those struggling financially and are in need of heating repairs, to ensure they are not left without heat. Jeannette also volunteers time and is active as the current President of the Three Hills Chamber of Commerce.

Jeannette shares how COVID has impacted their business and how they adapted. “April and May were very slow. We reduced hours and had the employees work on some shop items that we will need in the future. We are not able to adjust how we do business as it is not something we can sell on-line, however we needed to be prepared to enter homes even if individuals are ill with COVID-19 as heat is an essential service in cold weather. The provincial resources for Personal Protective Equipment was helpful when we were not able to source supplies. The Federal loans and CEWS have helped us through the difficult time”.
Entrepreneurship runs in the family and Jeannette shared one piece of advice to someone just starting out: “Plan for the worst-case scenario. That way when it happens you are ready to deal with it and therefore not stressed.”

December 14, 2020 – Trader's Furniture

Trader’s Furniture located in Three Hills, AB opened in 1939. Karey Pilva and her spouse purchased the business as an opportunity to relocate into a small town and begin a new opportunity outside of the oil and gas industry. Their initial idea was to open a mom and pop diner, however, they quickly came across the opportunity to purchase the furniture store.  The opportunity aligned with their future goals in retirement and have not looked back on their decision.

Trader’s Furniture sells furniture, mattress, decor and home appliances. Karey explains they are well known for their quality and customization.  Their biggest risk was opening the store in Drumheller, and they are grateful for the support they have received from Three Hills, Drumheller and surrounding communities. Trader’s Furniture helps the local community by supporting many local initiatives and businesses as possible.

Covid has impacted their business as the traffic to the store has been reduced which has affected their sales. Despite this, they have adapted with the restrictions and felt it was important to remain open and offer residents a safe environment to shop locally for their essential needs. Trader’s accessed assistance from banks and government which have helped them maintain financial commitments and keep their staff to maintain the quality of services they provide their clients. These supports have also helped to effectively navigate the challenges faced as a result of COVID.

Trader’s provided one piece of advice to entrepreneurs looking to start out “Advertise, advertise and advertise”

If you’re looking for a unique gift idea or refurnishing your home, visit Trader’s Furniture in Three Hills or Drumheller. They have a great selection of products matched with quality service!  Visit: www.tradersltd.ca or on Facebook.

December 7, 2020 - Big N Little Auto Solutions

Charlene Coates with Big N Little Auto Solutions near Lyalta provides towing, auto detailing and mobile car services such as oil changes, tune ups and brake maintenance. Her customer’s appreciate the business for their professional and do it right the first time service.

Charlene shared this has been one of the biggest risks she has taken, particularly in an industry that women don’t typically pursue. She is grateful for the support she has received from her client’s. Charlene pursued entrepreneurship as she wanted to be able to develop her own ideas, reap the benefits of her hard work and have something to pass down to her children.

Throughout COVID, Charlene mentioned it has been challenging to navigate through the resources, particularly as a new business owner. Her client’s were very supportive and she has been able to pivot through the sale of her memberships and the ability to have contactless service has provided tremendous value.

Charlene’s biggest piece of advice those starting out “Save your money which will provide you a cushion for when you need it.”

For more information you can visit: https://www.bignlittleautosolutions.com/ or on Facebook.

 


November 2020

November 30 - Kim's Katering, Strathmore, AB

Kim’s Katering - Kim Lund with Kim's Katering.
Local Strathmore Baker and Katering owner, Kim Lund landed 7th place in the semi-finals for the Greatest Baker Competition worldwide competition. 

Read more about her story here:
https://strathmorenow.com/.../local-baker-placed-in-top...

November 16 – EH Farms, Wheatland County, Alberta 

Community Futures Wild Rose met with Christina Stender with EH Farms in Wheatland County just outside of Strathmore. Christina pursued the opportunity opportunity to be a pioneer in introducing the Red Mangalitsa pig to Canada thus creating a niche market. The Red Mangalitsa is a heritage breed from Hungary and well known for it’s flavorful pork and wooly hair.

Christina shares, “Raising outdoor pasture pigs has always been a dream of mine, and in 2016 that dream became a reality when I imported two Red Mangalitsa pigs from California and EH Farms was born. Along with my husband, Andy and our two boys, we bought a little 14-acre cattle farm
and converted it into an amazing outdoor pig paradise.”

It was important to Christina to properly introduce people to the unique attributes of the Mangalitsa breed and she did by doing to cold calls, providing samples and talking about the farm and how they raise the heritage breed. Today, EH Farms has grown through word of mouth to off farm sales of various cuts, whole and half sides to restaurants in Calgary and Banff, whole muscles like the shoulder and hind legs to avid charcuterie makers, to the individual consumer who wants something different and unique. EH Farms has a great relationship with her butcher and is able to accommodate a wide variety of cuts to meet her customer’s needs. Christina’s most demanded product is the MANGALICIOUS bacon with a dozen of her youngest son Easton’s farm fresh eggs. Eh Farms also renders fresh lard and is increasing in popularity as the health conscious folks are moving away from using butter, margarines and replacing it with our healthy and nutritious lard which is also good for those looking to improve their cardiovascular health.

EH Farms hosts visitors throughout the year at the Mangalitsa Festival and Alberta Open Farm Days.  EH Farms hosts culinary events and farm tours to introduce urban visitors to aspects of the Mangalitsa and farm life. These two events bring over 800 visitors to the farm and have been very successful in allowing her to increase awareness and education to the Mangalitsa. Based on the dedication and care that goes into raising livestock, Christina hopes to share their story about life on the farm and the vital role agriculture plays in their lives. Reconnecting people with their food, where it comes from, especially with the Mangalitsa pigs.

EH Farms is known for their superior high-quality pork. The breed itself is known as the Kobe beef of pork. EH Farms is unique when it comes to farrowing. In traditional swine operations a farrowing crate is used to prevent the sow from laying on her piglets. At EH Farms, two weeks before a sow is ready to have her piglets Christina brings her into the farrowing barn so she can rest and build up her nest before the piglets come. Once the piglets arrive, Christina states she sets up camp, “Yes, I sleep down at the barn! I bring down a futon, pillow, blankets, food and drinks for the first three days of the piglets life. I ensure everyone is healthy, suckling and I’m on watch to rescue any piglets that are not quick enough to get out of the way when mamma goes to lie down. A squished piglet is the number one cause of death at this stage.”

EH Farms helps the local community by attracting out of consumers to the farm and through it’s off farm sales and tours helps support visitation to other businesses in Wheatland County and Strathmore. Christina also sits on the Wheatland County Economic Development Board to bring forward her knowledge and energy to grow the agriculture in the region. We asked Christina how Covid has impacted her business and what piece of advice she would offer an entrepreneur starting out. “Covid has increased the focus on supporting locally produced food which has aided in an increase.” Her advice to those starting out, “Be prepared for lots of hard work and surround yourself with good people.”

November 9, 2020 – Sweetgrass Cafe

Suzanne opened Sweetgrass Café 11 years ago. Since she was young, Suzanne has had a strong passion and desire to feed people! She has never looked back on her decision to open her restaurant and has been one of the best decisions she has made.

Sweetgrass Café is known for their friendly service, fresh food and great value and are open regularly for lunch and supper for eat in or take out and also caters a variety of activities. She is grateful for the support by customers throughout Covid by getting take out which allowed her business to remain strong and thriving.

When Suzanne bought the building, it was in need of improvements and she’s so happy she took the risk and can happily say she is living her dream. Suzanne is feeling blessed for the support by the community and her customers and encourages new entrepreneurs to never give up!
According to Tripadvisor, Sweetgrass Café is the number 1 restaurant in Trochu. They possess a 5 star rating and must be testament to the friendly service, fresh food and value in which she strives for all of her customers. You can visit Sweetgrass Café by visiting them on Facebook or Tripadvisor!


October 2020

Octoboer 5 - Carol's Bar in Standard, Alberta

Carol Allard is the owner/operator of Carol’s Bar. Carol’s Bar opened in January 2020.  Carol seen the need for a restaurant within the small Rural Alberta community and the close proximity with the recreational facilities enables them to capture crowds from the various sporting events and is known for their friendly service!  Carol has had tremendous support for the restaurant by the local and surrounding communities and provides a place for communities, individuals and businesses to gather, host meetings and events.  Carol provided one piece of advice for new entrepreneurs “Keep your expenses low, build on good credit and access only in emergencies”. Like most restaurants during COVID-19, Carol’s Bar was impacted in March 2020 with closures.Carol has since reopened and excited to have patrons return to the restaurant. Carol’s Bar is open Wednesday to Saturday is best to visit ’s Bar for times and location!


September 2020

September 28 - Blinds Design - with Beverley, Three Hills, Alberta

Beverley is the owner/operator of Blinds & Designs and has been in business for 27 years. Beverley grew up working for her mom in her drapery business. She confesses she didn’t enjoy it in her early days with her mom, however she quickly discovered the business was a good fit for her and provided a way for her to get back into the workforce while raising her children.

Blinds & Designs provides mostly window coverings and compliments her offerings with home décor items such as draperies, hardware, upholstery, cushions and bedspreads. She prides her businesses on providing great customer service. Beverley enjoys selling her product, but more than that explains that she enjoys the people she meets and interacts with and feels that many of her clients have become her friends.

We asked small businesses to share how they have helped local community and Beverley explained, “I sponsor various events and projects. Because I appreciate people shopping locally, I do my best to also shop locally and use the services available in this community”.
Beverley doesn’t feel she was impacted much by COVID-19, but generally feels she has been impacted by the turn down in the economy. Despite this, she encourages entrepreneurs through one piece of advice, “Provide the best customer service possible. In terms of product pricing have a variety of price points available but know that there’s always somebody out there will out price you”.

September 21 - Beach Cope and Spa, Three Hills, Alberta

Antonia opened her business one year ago and is the owner and operator of Beach Cope and Spa. Beach Cope and Spa provides a wide variety of healthy and wellness therapeutic treatments including laser treatments, tanning, piercing, massage and facial treatments.
Antonia has a strong desire to create, build companies and share her love for health and wellness. She states, “I thrive on making people feel good about themselves and provide many options on how to achieve this.” She is humbled she has had an opportunity to mentor women in business. Her customers know her for lofty boutique style, while providing a quality service at a fair price.
Her biggest win so far is that she continues to achieve her goals and to have other professionals be a part of a team workplace.  COVID-19 took an emotional toll on her personally and professionally, but she remained strong and knew she was not in this pandemic alone. Her clients and future clients gave her the strength to continue helping others. The community really came together in supporting small businesses in support of maintaining strong health and wellness but also a healthy economy.

You can learn more about Beach Cope and Spa by visiting them on Facebook or Website.

September 14, 2020 - Strathmore & Wheatland Chamber of Commerce Regional Success Stories

Strathmore & District Chamber of Commerce and Wheatland County Infinite WC has compiled a great video to share what rural businesses are doing in light of COVID-19. Special thanks to Rosebud Country Inn, Kith & Kin Artisan Wares, Triple B Tavern & Rockyford Hotel, EH Farms,  Rocking R Guest Ranch and we look forward to sharing Rural Spotlights throughout our region in the coming weeks.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAVGgxZvpHE

 

 

 

 

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Community Futures Wild Rose
101 - 331 3rd Avenue
Box 2159
Strathmore, AB T1P 1K2

403-934-8888

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Communities Served

Acme, 
Ardenode, 
Bassano, 
Beiseker, 
Carbon, 
Carseland, 
Chestermere, 
Cluny, 
Conrich, 
Dalemead, 
Dalum, 
Delacour, 
Gem, 
Gleichen, 
Hussar, 
Huxley, 
Indus, 
Irricanna, 
Kathryn, 
Keoma, 
Langdon, 
Linden, 
Lyalta, 
Norfolk, 
Rockyford, 
Rosebud, 
Standard, 
Strathmore, 
Swalwell, 
Three Hills, 
Torrington, 
Trochu, 
West Carseland, 
Wimborne, 

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