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COVID-19 INFORMATION

Community Futures West Yellowhead staff are working and able to assist you. However, our office is closed to the public. We are not facilitating in-person meetings, training and/or workshops until further notice.

If you would like to speak to a staff member about our programs and services, please contact our office at (780) 865-1224, or use the ‘Book A Virtual Appointment’ link above to make an appointment.

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.

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

 

    

 

Seriously Smokin'!

Jamie Ayles & Marie-Lyne Richard
Canmore, Alberta


What happens when you have talent and passion, but no idea how to start or operate a business? If you’re like many aspiring entrepreneurs, you dive in and hope your dream somehow turns into success.  Chances are all you’ll earn is a membership in the Failed Business Club. Not as exclusive as you might think, over 30% of all new ventures in Canada join within their first two years of operation.

It can be done, though.  Jamie Ayles and his fiancée, Marie-Lyne Richard started Bow Valley BBQ Inc. three years ago and their business is smokin’ hot and saucy!

A mutual interest in food production led this Canmore-raised executive chef and his food and retail management fiancée to the idea of selling an exclusive line of sauces and condiments.  Jamie’s ability to blend the right ingredients had already led to menu development consulting for several restaurants. While both were enjoying secure management positions at a northern Alberta resort, they worked on their dream of returning to Canmore to turn the growing demand for his culinary creations into a business of their own.

Jamie attributes his training as a chef as why he recognized all the right ingredients were also needed to make their business idea a success. The couple understood early on that without strong business skills, no matter how much talent they had, their idea would fall flat. “The food industry is difficult.  I knew how to create delicious gourmet sauces and condiments,” he says. “We both had management experience, but needed to learn more about the best business practices.”

Jamie contacted Community Futures Centre West in Cochrane for help and with their guidance, learned the basics of business planning, financing, marketing and other core skills. Marie-Lyne concentrated on expanding her web design, social media and bookkeeping skills through independent studies.

The pair secured an initial youth loan through Community Futures, and through a recommended food production grant program, soon began producing their line at Alberta’s Food Development and Processing Centre in Leduc. They recently received additional financing to purchase Boccalino Grotto Fine Foods, an established condiment line available in major grocery stores across western Canada. “We started off with mason jars, homemade labels and five base products,” Jamie recalls. “Now we just bought the business, complete with a production plant, that was an initial inspiration to us when we started in 2012 - family run and based in Canmore. Although Bow Valley BBQ is already a high growth brand, buying Boccalino’s has opened up even more opportunities as we move forward. “

“The support we’ve received from Community Futures has been great. From our initial meeting in a Canmore coffee shop to funding a second loan so we could expand, we’ve been treated with respect and understanding.  They believe in us.”

Jamie’s chef secret for new entrepreneurs? “You’ll hear a hundred reasons not to start a business. But if you’re willing to mix hard work (the secret ingredient) with time and more effort than you thought possible, like us, you’ll wish you had made the move to self-employment earlier!”

Visit Bow Valley BBQ Inc's website at http://www.bowvalleybbq.com/

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

403-389-8272

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Communities Served

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

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