Cindy McKenzie is a designer specializing in the creation of kitchens and bathrooms. McKenzie, a long-time Cochrane resident, started her own business in 2010 because she couldn’t imagine doing anything else. “I wanted to work in the industry I love, plus be a mom as well,” says Cindy, a talented designer and certified member of the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA.) “I needed to find a way to run my own show so I could have the best of both worlds.”
“Please make sure you emphasize how important the Airdrie community is to us,” says Wendy Bate-Wiebe, owner of one of the hottest hair salons in Airdrie. “Without their support, my business couldn’t have grown by 40% each year.” This civic-minded Airdrie citizen has nothing but good things to say about her journey from a start-up operation in 2008 to employing 20 people in 2015 at her thriving business, The Hair Lounge. “The business community welcomed me with open arms and since Airdrie itself has an amazing sense of community, I felt at home here from the moment I arrived.”
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.
Canmore , Alberta
When he started KCP Energy in 2007, three factors motivated Geoff Domenico: to be able to tell his children he was part of the answer to climate change, a desire to start his own business, and support from his wife Kendra. “Without her encouragement and understanding of the effort required, it wouldn’t have happened,” says Geoff. “It’s one of two pieces of advice I share with anyone who asks about starting a business: make sure your life partner is on board 100% and knows they are along for an interesting and sometimes bumpy ride. The second thing I share is that although I knew it would be hard to start up and grow a business, it was even harder than I imagined.”
KCP Energy focusses on renewable energy systems and has witnessed increased awareness and need for their products over the last few years. “Back when we first started, we talked about global warming,” says Geoff. “Now, it’s full-fledged climate change. Starting a new business and introducing a new product at the same time was quite an eye opener. I chose a service the market was not quite ready for, but one I believed in. You learn how to adapt. We pivoted to different services that still aligned with our goal of helping customers use less and save more. Residential energy assessments and home heating kept us going, while the idea of renewable solar energy was developing. Now that climate change is more widely acknowledged, the demand is growing for residential and commercial rooftop solar electricity solutions and that’s been our focus over the last 24 months.”
Jamie Ayles & Chris Dean
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.