Business Profiles

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

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Spa Rivier - Keeping Ahead of the Curve

"I could never have expanded my business without Community Futures," says Donna Jacobsen. "They were instrumental in helping me take it to the next level."

(This is the fourth in a series of articles featuring award-winning businesses that Community Futures North Cariboo has been proud to support.)

Community Futures does more than help start new businesses. They also work with existing businesses to take advantage of new opportunities; businesses like Spa Rivier.

Donna Jacobsen, owner of Spa Rivier, has grown her business from a small hair salon to a full-service spa and boutique employing 10 people in downtown Quesnel. In October 2018, she was named Business Person of the Year at the annual Quesnel and District Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards in recognition of her business achievements. She is also the president of the Quesnel Downtown Association.

“It was a great honour to be recognized,” she says. “We’ve been helping women celebrate their beauty for close to 35 years.”

Growing and running a small business is no easy feat, particularly in today’s tough retail environment. Donna realized early on that to be successful, she needed to continuously adapt her products and services to meet the changing demands of her customers. Over the years she has expanded her business to include a range of health and wellness programs, including massage therapy, skin care, day spa and now boutique. 

She first approached Community Futures North Cariboo in 2011 for financing to modernize her business and take it to the next level. She had started her hair salon, Quesnel Hair Plus, in 1985, and wanted to keep up with the latest trends in the beauty industry.

“Community Futures was instrumental in helping me with that,” she says.

She approached them again a few years later to take advantage of an opportunity to move her business to its current location on Reid Street. The new space allowed her to consolidate her hair salon and spa into one large main floor in the heart of Quesnel’s busiest shopping district. “Without Community Futures help I wouldn’t have been able to do that,” says Donna.

So when she was thinking of branching out into retail, she turned to Community Futures North Cariboo for some advice. Space next door to the spa had become available during the summer of the 2017 wildfires, and it was an opportunity too good to pass up. “It was quite large,” says Donna. “At first, I thought it was more than I could manage, but I sat down with Community Futures and they helped me work out a plan.”

Donna discovered that she qualified for a training subsidy through the Wildfire Business Transition Project, a Community Futures program that had been established to assist businesses impacted by the 2017 wildfires. The funding allowed her to hire an experienced retail consultant and business coach to work with her on expanding her boutique.

“Running a store is very different from being a hair stylist,” she says. “I didn’t know anything about retailing when I started.”

The retail business coach was able to guide her through the various stages of setting up the boutique from store layout and choosing the right type of products to merchandising and marketing.

“It’s a learning curve,” says Donna. “Once I started seeing all the possibilities, that was a turning point. And I have to tell you, there’s not a day that goes by when people don’t come into the store and thank me for opening it. Because we don’t have a lot of women’s specialty stores in Quesnel.”

And the business has grown. Donna brought her daughter, Donna McCulloch, on board as co-owner to help run the business, and she has hired another person who will be responsible for the company’s website and social media accounts. And she still consults with the retail business coach. “How can you go wrong? Everybody that you bring on your team has access to that expert. She helped with all the sales training. I could never have done that,” says Donna. “Retail sales is a different concept, so it’s been awesome having that support.”

Hours and location for Spa Rivier
Spa Rivier is located at 353 Reid Street in downtown Quesnel, BC. It’s open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 12 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Closed Sundays and Wednesdays. Tel. (259) 992-8084. Website: http://sparivier.ca/

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Barkerville Brewing well-positioned for the future

"Community Futures is a tremendous resource," says Justine Pelletier, General Manager, Barkerville Brewing Co. "Anyone thinking about going into business should take advantage of them."

(This is the third in a series of articles featuring award-winning businesses that Community Futures North Cariboo has been proud to support.)

When I first moved back to Quesnel, I didn’t know anything about Community Futures,” says Justine Pelletier. “I had never heard of them before. Now I mention Community Futures to everyone I meet. They are a tremendous resource that anyone thinking about going into business should take advantage of.”

“When I first moved back to Quesnel, I didn’t know anything about Community Futures,” says Justine Pelletier. “I had never heard of them before. Now I mention Community Futures to everyone I meet. They are a tremendous resource that anyone thinking about going into business should take advantage of.”

Justine is the general manager of Barkerville Brewing Company, recipient of the Quesnel & District Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year (10+ employees) Award in 2018 as well as winner of an impressive list of provincial and national awards for their beer, including a silver at the 2018 BC Beer Awards last October and, more recently, two bronze medals at the 2019 Canadian Brewing Awards on May 6th.

She credits the business advice and support she received from Community Futures North Cariboo with helping her get the business off to a solid start. “In the first couple of years, it was really overwhelming to put all the systems in place,” she says. “Just having someone knowledgeable to talk it through with was a huge relief. And they would refer me to different experts for specific advice on things like inventory management and setting up a proper production schedule.”

Barkerville Brewing Company was founded in 2013 by Victoria investor Russ Ovans, a computer scientist and former owner of a successful software company. After selling his software company for $6 million in 2010, he decided to take some of the profits and open his own brewery, something he’d always wanted to do. Quickly recognizing that the craft beer market in Victoria and the Lower Mainland was becoming over-saturated, he turned his attention to northern B.C. where the competition was less fierce.

“Barkerville Brewing Company is one of the pioneers in northern B.C.,” says Justine. “There were three that opened at the same time – Barkerville in Quesnel, Wheelhouse in Prince Rupert and Three Ranges in Valemount. We all opened within a month of each other.”

Justine grew up in the North Cariboo before moving to Victoria to complete her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at Camosun College. After a stint in Vancouver, she returned to Quesnel where she landed a job as Bookkeeper/Loans Administrator with Community Futures North Cariboo. “They were really great to work for,” she said. It was her first introduction to Community Futures and the range of services it offers to business owners – knowledge that served her well later as she tackled the challenges of starting a new business.

While Justine enjoyed working for Community Futures, she had always dreamed of running a company. So when the position of general manager for the start-up brewery came up about a year after she started with Community Futures, she seized the opportunity.

“This was my dream job,” said Justine. She was one of Barkerville Brewing’s first three employees, along with brew master Troy Rudolph and sales representative Nolan Foster.

Since start-up in February 2014, sales at Barkerville Brewing have steadily increased and the company has expanded, installing a canning line in addition t the bottling line to keep up with production which has more than doubled, up from a 68,215 litres in 2014 to 156,291 litres a year in 2018. Its line of products are available in selected liquor stores, restaurants and bars in Quesnel and Williams Lake, as well as across northern BC, Kelowna, Kamloops, Vancouver and Victoria. It has also grown from three employees to 13, including a full-time sales manager. By chance, the company is made up entirely of women, making it one of only a handful of companies run by an all-female staff.

Justine continues to draw on the business expertise available through Community Futures to ensure that Barkerville Brewing is well positioned for the future. As part of that process, she is working with the Venture Connect program to conduct a professional assessment of the business that will help her to guide the company to the next stage.

Hours and location for Barkerville Brewing Company

Barkerville Brewing is located at 185 Davie Street in downtown Quesnel, BC. It’s open daily, 12 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 12 to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Tel. (778) 414-2793, or visit them at: https://barkervillebeer.com

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Long Table Grocery wins provincial award for community impact

"I’d worked with Community Futures before and found them easy to work with,” said Amy Quarry, owner and co-founder of Long Table Grocery. “They were willing to take a chance on me, plus they were able to see the potential of what we are trying to do."

(This story first appeared in the Quesnel Cariboo Observer on February 19, 2019 announcing the shortlist)

February 21, 2019 – Congratulations to Long Table Grocery on winning the 2019 Small Business BC award for Best Community Impact. The provincial award recognizes socially responsible organizations that are making a positive difference in their communities. The winners were announced at a gala awards ceremony in Vancouver on February 21, 2019.

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. “Our mission is to grow communities through food. We want to provide better food, local food, more community-based food.”

Long Table Grocery offers a subscription-based food box program with bi-weekly deliveries to homes and businesses in the Quesnel area. Customers can also arrange to pick up their orders from Long Table’s Marsh Drive location where it also operates a retail market and café three days a week, and hosts cooking classes and food events throughout the year.

And the business is growing.

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.

“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.”

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. The café grew out of the Farmer’s Market days and has become a social hub, popular for its light meals such as soups, salads and sandwiches, and casual atmosphere.

Greg Lawrence, General Manager of Community Futures North Cariboo, said that Community Futures was particularly excited to support Long Table because of the potential impact on the agriculture sector. “Agriculture is an important sector in our local economy,” he said. “So when a successful entrepreneur like Amy comes along with an idea for a business that helps local farmers and producers while providing consumers with greater access to local food, it was an easy decision.”

Long Table Grocery has 10 employees and offers a range of products from around the region. “We contribute about $450,000 to the local economy each year,” said Amy. “Our market attracts anywhere from 50 to more than a hundred people a day. And we’re just scratching the surface. People want more local food, and they want to support our local producers.”

The Small Business BC Award is not the first time Amy has been recognized for her achievements. This past October, Long Table Grocery received the Quesnel & District Chamber of Commerce 2018 Business of the Year Award for businesses under 10 employees.

Long Table Grocery is located at 141 Marsh Drive in Quesnel. The retail market and café is open every week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 12 noon to 6 p.m. To subscribe to the food box program and order online, visit: https://www.longtablegrocery.com/sign-up/ For more information, please call Amy Quarry, tel. (250) 983-5675.

About Community Futures North Cariboo

Established in 1987, Community Futures North Cariboo is a grassroots, volunteer-driven economic development program and business resource centre that offers a variety of business advisory services, training, and access to financing designed to help entrepreneurs and small business owners start and grow successful businesses.

 

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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! 

https://www.facebook.com/Squatch.Central/

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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.

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Western Economic Diversification Canada
Societe de developpement economique
Pour obtenir le service en français appeler 1-877-732-3534
 
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Quesnel BC V2J 2T1
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