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Business Profiles

Here are a few profiles of businesses that have used our services over the years:

Kersley cheese-maker brings unique products to the North Cariboo

“ I couldn't have done it on my own," said Florian Bergoin, owner of La Belle Vallée Fromage and winner of the Quesnel and District Chamber of Commerce's New Business of the Year award for 2018. "Community Futures helped me through the business planning process. ”

(This story first appeared in the Quesnel-Cariboo Observer on November 25, 2018)

When Florian Bergoin moved to Quesnel in 2014, he was impressed by the number of dairy farms in the area, and surprised to learn that there were no local cheese producers.

He had grown up in an alpine village in the Savoie region in southeastern France, an area that’s similar in climate and terrain to the North Cariboo and well known for its dairy cows and variety of cheeses. “Cheese-making is a way of life there,” said Florian, owner of La Belle Vallée Fromagerie and winner of Quesnel’s New Business of the Year award for 2018.

“I grew up watching my grandfather making cheese every day, and it intrigued me. I guess that planted the idea of starting my own cheese business one day.”

During university, he spent the summers as a shepherd on a local farm, taking the dairy herd to graze in the mountains and making cheese from the fresh milk. In 2013, after immigrating to Quebec with his partner, Adeline Dupuis, to finish university – Florian has a Master’s degree in Agroforestry from the University of Laval – he further honed his cheese-making skills at La Fromagerie de Ruban Bleu, an artisan cheese maker just outside of Montreal.

Florian originally moved to Quesnel for a job in the forest industry, but he never lost his passion for dairy farming and cheese making. The growth of the local food industry, combined with ready access to a supply of fresh, high quality milk, inspired him to trade his forestry job for cheese making. “I could see there was going to be a big push for more local dairy farming and a demand for local cheese,” he said.

Knowing how to make cheese is one thing; starting a business is something else entirely, and it can be intimidating, particularly in the highly regulated dairy industry. As the only provincially licensed cheese-making facility in northern British Columbia, La Belle Vallée Fromagerie is one of just a handful of artisan cheese producers outside the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

“The regulations were challenging, and more complex than I expected,” said Florian.

One of the keys to Florian’s success was a well-developed business plan, which was critical in helping him obtain a license from the Milk Marketing Board. He credits Community Futures North Cariboo for helping him through the business planning process and focusing his ideas.

“I couldn’t have done it on my own,” he said. “Even the Milk Marketing Board was impressed. The person I dealt with said they don’t usually see a business plan that thorough.”

Business planning is a key component of the Self-Employment program offered through Community Futures North Cariboo. The program offers support and training to help aspiring entrepreneurs start and run successful small and home-based businesses.

“We’re really proud that one of our graduates has been recognized as an award-winning business,” said Greg Lawrence, General Manager of Community Futures North Cariboo. “It’s very rewarding to know that the work we’re doing is helping to start and grow successful businesses in our region. It’s even more satisfying, given that the food sector is one of the areas we’ve targeted as part of our commitment to developing a more diversified and sustainable economy.”

Opened in early 2018, La Belle Vallée Fromagerie specializes in artisan cheeses made in the French Alpine tradition. The 1,000 square foot facility includes a milk receiving room and separate lab for analyzing the milk, a cheese-processing room and a temperature and humidity controlled aging room. Florian sources all his milk from Fox Dairy, a neighbouring farm that produces milk well suited to Alpine cheeses.

The artisan cheese-maker produces four different kinds of cheese – a Mont Blanc Gruyère; a semi-soft Raclette; a Clerment; and a Farmer’s spreadable cheese – as well as fresh cheese curds. More recently, he has expanded his product line to include a Feta cheese, popular for its longer shelf life and tangy flavour. So far, the reviews have been unanimously positive.

“The best part for me is meeting people who have tried my cheese and hearing how much they enjoy it,” said Florian.

As for the two years it took to navigate the regulatory process and get his business up and running, he said that he was extremely grateful for the help he received from Community Futures, and urges anyone thinking about starting a business to contact them.

“Having knowledgeable, experienced people to tap into was tremendous,” he said. “Every time I got discouraged, they were always there with new ideas and help to get me back on track. In the end, you have to persevere. And it pays off.”

La Belle Vallée Fromagerie cheeses are currently available at Long Table Grocery’s Wednesday market and the Quesnel Farmer’s Market – open seasonally – or by contacting the factory directly. Florian has just opened a retail store on site where customers can browse the full range of La Belle Vallée’s cheeses as well as a variety of other locally produced food products.

Hours and location for La Belle Vallée Fromagerie
La Belle Vallée Fromagerie is located at 2941 Shanley Road, Quesnel, BC near the Fox Dairy Farm. Store hours of operation: Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tel. (250) 316-9595. Call ahead to confirm.

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Bigfoot Disposal

“ "...Community Futures made the business planning a smooth process and provided all the advice needed to get the paperwork done." ”

 Meet Glenn Thompson... Owner and Operator of Bigfoot Disposal.

With the assistance and support of Community Futures, Glenn has been able to accomplish his dream of owning his own business. After being out of work for 4 years, Glenn was happy to learn about the Self Employment (SE) Program.
The SE Program helped Glenn start his business from the ground up, "Siggi and Nadine helped me with my business plan, training, financing, advertising, how to stay competitive, care for my customers and so much more. Starting my own business took longer than I thought, but Community Futures made the business planning a smooth process and provided all the advice needed to get the paperwork done."
Bigfoot Disposal opened its doors in March 2018 providing household garbage pick up Tuesday through Saturday.  They offer senior discounts, door service for customers with mobility issues and a variety of payment options. You can reach Bigfoot Disposal at 250-249-9684 or find them on facebook! 
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Bo Peep Boutique

“ We loved everything about Community Futures! The people are wonderful and they made it so easy for us to achieve our dream of becoming business owners. ”

Bo Peep Boutique first started 23 years ago, with current owners Lisa and Evelyn taking over in 2014. Bo Peep provides Quesnel with clothes and footwear ranging in sizes from newborn to teenagers as well as educational toys and everything else you could possibly need for kids and babies of all ages.

Lisa and Evelyn's path to success with Bo Peep started when they heard that the business was for sale. The two best friends sat down together and had a great conversation about taking over the business and everything grew from there!

They decided to purchase the business because they love Quesnel and wanted shopping local to continue to happen for the people here. People thank them for keeping the store open all the time. They are so proud to call Bo Peep "theirs".

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Zelda Fences & Landscaping

“ The best experience I had with Community Futures was working with the Business Analyst, Siggi, and learning all the different things in order to make my business happen. I am also grateful for the loan program, which helped me to get my business off of the ground. ”

Zelda Fences & Landscaping began in spring 2013. Owner Noel Wernitz named the business after his dog, Zelda, who has become Noel's sidekick and often accompanies him on the job. Noel offers landscaping, fencing, and is now offering snow removal during the winter months. He started the business from the ground up, beginning with only a used lawn mower and weed whacker and working out of his Ford Focus.

The best experience Noel had while working with Community Futures was working with the Business Analyst, Siggi, and learning all of the different things he had to do to make his business happen. He is also grateful for the loan program, which helped him to get his business off the ground.

Noel has also had an unbelievable amount of community support. In the early days of his business, when he was using a push-mower to mow lawns, a customer gave him his first riding lawn mower in exchange for mowing her lawn. That same customer now lives in an apartment building, and convinced her landlord to hire Noel to landscape the apartment site. This later lead to some of Noel's biggest contracts with other local businesses.

The experience of owning a business has greatly impacting Noel's life. He enjoys being his own boss and working for himself, and the amount of freedom that comes with it.

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Bouchie Lake Country Store

“ The loan program at Community Futures was so easy to navigate through, and the staff at Community Futures were genuinely interested in making the Bouchie Lake Country Store a success. Help was always there when we needed it. ”

Open since February 2015, Bouchie Lake Country Store offers animal and pet food, a large variety of local artisan crafts, coffee bar with treats, an English "took" selection, as well as gardening and harvest supplies. They have recently started to host workshops for topics ranging from bee-keeping to cheese making!

What started out as a joke between riding buddies Heloise and Sarah quickly bloomed into a successful business. They pride themselves on providing a store that is close to home and convenient for the Bouchie Lake community that offers competitive prices and excellent service, as well as local products.

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Quesnel Bakery

“ The first idea that comes to mind when we're looking for business help is Community Futures. ”

Quesnel Bakery received a start-up loan from Community Futures in the 1980s, when commercial lending was hard to come by. Since then, the bakery 
has gone back twice to Community Futures to help with the purchase of additional equipment.

Quesnel Bakery is a family owned and operated business, with 22 employees.

Western Economic Diversification Canada
Societe de developpement economique
Pour obtenir le service en français appeler 1-877-732-3534
Community Futures North Cariboo
Growing communities one idea at a time

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Quesnel BC V2J 2T1
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