Success stories

Success Stories

Community Futures is pleased to showcase some of the many good news stories in rural Alberta. Everyday we help people like you start and grow successful small businesses.

White Rose Construction Services Ltd.

Matthew Ashton
Cochrane, AB


White Rose Construction Services provides management for renovations and new construction - residential and commercial.  Matthew Ashton and his wife Emma moved to Cochrane four years ago with their two week old daughter, Sophie. “The small town atmosphere was just what we wanted,” says Matthew. “We love being close to the mountains, like to ski, hike and camp. And the idea of canoeing on the Bow River was especially appealing.”  With their newborn in tow, the Ashtons were quickly welcomed into the community.

After working for a general contractor for 3 years (6 months of which was spent commuting back and forth to Fort McMurray), Matthew was handed a pink slip. The company was cutting back.

Not one to sit still, he decided to act on a plan he had been mulling over for some time – to start his own construction consulting business. Cochrane was the perfect location. He wanted to stay in town and promote local trade in the area. “There’s enough renovation and new building going on here to keep a guy busy,” he remarks. “I started up in February 2010 with a slightly different concept than most renovation businesses.

One of Mathew’s recent projects was the renovation of the Parent Link Centre on behalf of the Town of Cochrane. “It’s a great facility where parents and kids can socialize, play and develop skill sets. We increased the square footage, upgraded the flooring, and installed specialized equipment - including a new climbing wall. This new space will be enjoyed for a long time.”

What was Matthew’s key to success? “I felt confident with my own technical skill sets, but managing a new business seemed daunting and a bit overwhelming. I looked for help and found Community Futures Centre West. I was blown away with the programs and services available – the Self Employment program taught me the basics of new business start up and I was able to confidently move ahead and open White Rose Construction Services Ltd.

“My advice to anyone moving here or already living in Cochrane who wants to start up or grow a business is to not be afraid to ask for help and guidance – it’s out there.”

The Cake Company

Grant Canning
Banff, Alberta


When is a cake company not a cake company? When it’s the Cake Company Café in Banff. The history of this spot, popular with local residents, goes back to 1988 when the first bakery/coffeehouse opened in Banff. “It pre-dates all the big chains, so when I bought the business in 2010, it made sense to keep the name – it’s a tradition!” says Grant Canning, owner.   No longer just a bakery, this popular spot now offers sandwiches and wraps, some desserts and a full range of coffee and teas. “It’s the kind of place that tourists stumble across, but all the locals know about,” says Grant. “I like being able to greet people by name and sometimes, we have their favorite beverage ready by the time they reach the counter.”  Grant’s journey in entrepreneurship was a natural progression of his solid education, including an MBA and Bachelor of Commerce degree with specialties in Tourism and Marketing. Fueled by his experience in marketing while in the ski industry, he knew business ownership was in his future. When the Cake Company Café became available, he was confident he knew what it would take to run a successful operation. “When the idea of owning a coffeehouse first started to percolate, I had the desire, but lacked two things – experience and capital.” That didn’t go over well with traditional lenders, he recalls. “I understand why they are governed by numbers, but decisions are often made by people you never get to meet.”

“My experience with Community Futures Centre West was much different. I was actually referred to them by a bank who turned me down. Community Futures was remarkably helpful and I was given a very specific outline of what I need to do to move forward. They worked with me to find solutions, so I didn’t hear the word “no” very often. Instead, I heard alternatives and great suggestions, such as how to mitigate the financial risk. They listened to my ideas, understood my vision and most of all, they took into account who I was as a person.”

“The best advice I’ve received about business ownership is that every decision made should add value to my business and if it doesn’t, then I need to rethink it. I tell aspiring entrepreneurs to always believe in yourself. Owning a business comes with lots of stress, but success or failure is always predicated by you. Have confidence that you’ll do well.”

Now in its sixth year under Grant’s ownership, The Cake Company Café is a haven for locals, many of whom either work in the professional building where it’s located, or walk through to and from appointments in the building. “They are my mainstay, what keeps me going. Sure visitors to the area find their way here, but we really try to be a local oriented place and want to stay that way.”

Story by Patricia Alderson

Photography by Bruce Tannas

 

    

 

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Community Futures Centre West
3209, 101 Sunset Drive
Cochrane, AB T4C 0W7

403-464-2572

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Communities Served

Airdrie, 
Balzac, 
Banff, 
Bottrel, 
Bragg Creek, 
Canmore, 
Cochrane, 
Crossfield, 
Dead Mans Flats, 
Exshaw, 
Ghost Lake, 
Harvie Heights, 
Madden, 
Morley, 
Redwood Meadows, 
Seebe, 

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