Name: Victor Laderoute
What business or organization are you involved with? QB Gelato
What is your role with that organization? Owner/Gelato Maestro
What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? Access to the incredible bounty of produce available in the valley. From fruit to organic herbs to milk and cream, there is nothing quite like it in Canada. Top that off with the orchards, farms and wineries … well, you’ve got one of the best places to live!
If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? My dad’s father, my grandfather. I never knew him. He died when my father was very young. I would probably want to invite my own dad to this lunch so we could both get a chance to ask questions and learn more about this man. If he is anything like my own father, I am confident it would be a great lunch!
What’s your go-to happy place? My home. And when I say that I don’t mean a place. It’s where I currently am … right now. So for me, today, it is here in Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley. This place makes me happy. The mountains, the lake … it is my go-to happy place.
What are you most proud of? QB Gelato. They say to pursue your dreams and make them a reality it takes a lot of guts and sacrifices, and I can definitely relate to that. I am so proud of what we accomplished with the shop and our ongoing commitment to bringing people together through the simple enjoyment of great food and creating joyful moments.
What are the top three things on your bucket list? This question is hard to answer, because I’ve been fortunate to get through a lot of items on my list. I want to travel to the Maldives and snorkel the reef. It would be awesome to visit a good friend in Sydney and stay at the hotel he manages, and lastly it would be awesome to one day own a small vineyard and learn the art of winemaking.
Latest movie or book? I grew up with Star Wars. I continue to be amazed by the franchise.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? My engagement ring from my partner, Kevin. I had given him his on Christmas Eve 2012. He asked where mine was. I said he needed to get me mine. It took ten months of guessing when he would finally present me with mine. When I had finally pretty much given up and about to just go out and purchase one, he totally surprised me on my birthday with not only the ring but a surprise engagement party! It was awesome.
If today were your last day, how would you spend it? I would spend it with a huge dinner party! Good food, good friends, good wine … what a way to go out!
Name: Adam Semeniuk.
What business or organization are you involved with? Red Bird Brewing.
What is your role with that organization? Owner/operator.
What’s your favorite thing about living in the Okanagan? I love the tight-knit community we have, the outdoor culture, the amazing weather and the incredible growth we’re seeing in Kelowna. There’s a lot of opportunity here for anybody with a passion. Having grown up in Vernon originally, I can’t imagine myself living somewhere that doesn’t have a lake and mountains.
If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? My grandfather, Frank Williamson. He passed away when I was only six years old so I have the most amazing memories of him. I would have loved to talk to him as an adult and tried to absorb as much knowledge from him as I could. He was one of those guys that was 50 years ahead of his time.
What’s your go-to happy place? There’s a bench in Dilworth Mountain Park that overlooks the city, it has the most amazing view. It’s where I like to go when I just need to calm my thoughts, gain some perspective and recharge. I feel like I could just sit there all day.
What are you most proud of? I have to say I’m really proud of the brewery, Red Bird. It has definitely been the most challenging project I’ve ever taken on in my life. I don’t have any partners in the venture so I had to fund it myself by selling almost everything I own and refinancing my apartment. There have been a lot of good friends that have helped me along the way, some loaned me money, some helped scrape glue off the floor, some stained wood or helped grab wood pallets from around town and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my dad’s help on all the construction labour. It’s been an incredibly long and hard road, but it’s starting to pay off by seeing the community come together and show their support. We’ve only been open about two weeks (as of this writing) and already there are a good number of “regulars.”
What are the top three things on your bucket list? This probably sounds odd, but I don’t think I have a bucket list. I hope to travel more as the brewery becomes more self sufficient, and I just like making things. Every day, all I want to do is hang out with great people and make things, basically anything. Right now those things are beer and wood products.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? I spent a lot of time in the South American jungle, and you definitely come across some different food. My dad and I were working down there and we would often stay in a camp. The camp cook made something different each day and one day it was raw cow stomach. It would have been rude to not finish our meals, so we did our best. I’m not a picky eater at all, there’s almost nothing I won’t eat, but that was the hardest thing to eat while sitting around a bunch of other people and not show your distaste at all.
Latest movie or book: How to Brew by John J. Palmer is very well written and so is The Brewer’s Handbook by Ted Goldammer. I just can’t read fictional novels, my brain wanders endlessly. I haven’t really watched a movie in a long time; I have been tied up for an insane amount of hours everyday working on the brewery. I did manage to go out and see the latest Spider-Man movie, though, which I thought was a lot of fun.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? It’s hard to identify something that really stands out. I’m an incredibly practical person, so any gift that is something I really, actually need is an amazing gift. Recently, a friend of mine gave me his old car because he didn’t need it anymore and I couldn’t afford a car having spent everything on the brewery; that was something that blew my mind.
If today were your last day, how would you spend it? With a bunch of friends floating down a river on a hot sunny day with a beer in hand.
Name: Yoree Grozenok.
What business or organization are you involved with? 1-800-GOT-JUNK?
What is your role with that organization? General manager and owner.
What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? The friendly and positive people who live here; the small town feel in a larger city; the great outdoors; the work/life balance one can have here.
If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? Chris Hadfield. I don’t think I’ll get a chance to experience space travel so maybe he can share his memories with me. Also, I always wanted to know if it’s possible to eat potato chips in space.
What’s your go-to happy place? It’s a tie between Kelowna’s Kasugai Japanese Garden and Mission Greenway. Both make me happy in different ways.
What are you most proud of? Layla, my better half.
What are the top three things on your bucket list?
1. Visit New York City;
2. See polar bears;
3. Fly a jet fighter.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? I’ve tried horse meat when I was in the Middle East but failed to like it in any way.
Latest movie or book? I’m currently re-reading The Godfather by Mario Puzo.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? Every day is a gift.
If today were your last day, how would you spend it? Going for a walk with my wife.
Name: Lori Gordon.
What business or organization are you involved with? BMO Nesbitt Burns, South Okanagan.
What is your role in that organization? Investment Advisor.
What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? The biodiversity of the Okanagan, sharing healthy living objectives with so many of our like-minded residents and, of course, the weather.
If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? My boyfriend’s mom Angela, she seemed like a wonderful mom with an adventurous spirit
What’s your go-to happy place? I have many: as long as it has minimal traffic, trees, water and lots of greenery, my happy meter will be full
What are you most proud of? I’m most proud of those who can find success against all odds.
What are the top three things on your bucket list? I thought long and hard about this. Its hard to narrow down to specific things, however, my top three would be:
1. Hiking the Swiss Alps;
2. An extensive tour of the Amalfi Coast in Italy;
3. Walking the Camino de Santiago.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? My weirdest food choice is less weird and more brave: Scottish black pudding. Although eating my kids’ special mothers day breakfasts was weird.. it was, of course, sweet and sentimental.
Latest movie or book? The first Harry Potter book, and a recent Economist magazine. Latest movie was the Red Sparrow—quite the thriller.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? The gift of common sense and, of course, three beautiful children and three gorgeous granddaughters.
If today were your last day, how would you spend it? Surrounded by my wonderful friends and family, having a champagne picnic by a crystal-clear emerald lake in the Rocky Mountains.
Name: Leslie Denoncourt.
What business or organization are you involved with? MOLT Bin Rentals Ltd.
What is your role with that organization? Owner/operator.
What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? The beauty of all four seasons. We moved here three years ago from Northern Alberta and on one of our first walks through the Gellatly Nut Farm we met up with a nice lady that told us Kelowna is the next
best place to heaven. We have managed to find a home tucked away on the farm loop, our very own little piece of heaven.
If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? My Dad. He passed away before I moved here. He always wanted to live in the Okanagan and would be so happy that I am able to raise my girls here.
What’s your go-to happy place? My backyard, where I can watch my kids swim and play.
What are you most proud of? Being able to break away from the fast pace of oilfield life. We have started living our life closer to nature and with a very different outlook on life. It used to be wishing and waiting for vacation time and days off to run away and travel to better places. I haven’t left the Okanagan since Christmas of 2014, now all my friends and family travel to us.
What are the top three things on your bucket list? Hike the Inca trail to Machu Picchu for a second time when my girls are old enough; go on an African Safari; and visit Angkor Wat.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? Stinky Tofu at a night market in Tiawan.
Latest movie or book: I’ve been watching reruns of Game of Thrones, getting ready for the new season.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? My Husband and children.
If today were your last day, how would you spend it? Well, so far today, we have swam in the pool, smashed some rocks that we were hoping were geodes that we collected on a hike, and planned a BBQ for dinner. I would finish it off with a big cuddle on the couch while watching a movie or show before bed. Pretty perfect day for me.
Name: Brian McClelland
What business or organization are you involved with? West X Business Solutions
What is your role in that organization? General manager of interior operations
What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? I’m a huge mountain biking fanatic; I’ve had the opportunities as a result to meet some really amazing people. If I had to narrow it down to “one” that would be impossible really, but I love getting outside!
If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? I have a huge man-crush on Dave Grohl. He’s a rock legend, parent, husband, and all round nice guy. I love people who bring their energy and personality to everything they touch, he’d be the guy.
What’s your go-to happy place? Between 6-26 kilometers up a trail on my mountain bike, or hanging out with the wife and our two dogs at home.
What are you most proud of? I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with some amazing people. I owe a huge debt to the professors at Okanagan College (specifically Blair Baldwin, and Laura Thurnheer) who really gave me the tools to harness my drive and create a positive career.
I’ve been beyond fortunate that I have an amazing better half who keeps me in check when I need a reality check. I also feel beyond lucky to have worked for Tyler Snitynsky, as he really helped me develop as a person and got me to where I am today.
What am I most proud of? I’m most proud of my ability to keep learning, to keep being a student of the great people I am lucky enough to be surrounded by. I’m proud of myself for putting myself right where I need to be.
What are the top three things on your bucket list?
-Go visit Scottland, and Ireland;
-Ride my bike in New Zealand;
-Learn to juggle.
Latest movie or book? I recently read Boundaries for Leaders by Henry Cloud. As a new leader, I really enjoyed that book.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? I got a Redline BMX bike from my uncle when I was six. I didn’t realize it then but it changed my life forever. There’s no way I’d be where I am without learning so much through sport.
If today were your last day, how would you spend it? With my two dogs, and lovely wife in the backyard drinking some beer from Kind Brewing and having a couple steaks.
Name: Seana Feryn
Employer: Coalesce Creative
Occupation: Business Owner
Tell us about your job: I am the sole proprietor of Coalesce Creative, a small agency that thrives on innovative thinking, production and execution of a wide range of creative services such as graphic design, web design and social media marketing. Although my business is still new I’ve had the opportunity to work with some truly amazing people and organizations and bring their visions to life through design.
Tell us about yourself: Aside from being a small business owner I am a proud puppy parent and am lucky to share my life with an incredible partner. We moved here from Stratford, Ontario to get closer to the mountains and trees and be a part of what, in my opinion, is the most beautiful place in Canada.
What do you do for fun? Daily walks, exploring new parts of the Okanagan, eating great food and we can’t forget about the wine! This place has so much to offer so we try to enjoy as much of it as we can.
What Winnie the Pooh character do you most relate to: Piglet: Small but mighty!
Latest movie or book: I just finished Lauren Graham’s audiobook Talking as Fast as I can. It was fantastic.
What’s your go-to happy place? My partner and I are both homebodies. As much as we love to explore and get out there we also just enjoy relaxing with the company of each other and our pup.
Name: Jolene Grigg
Employer: Craftsman Collision
Tell us about your job: As a body shop manager you have to have great people skills as you not only have to manage and engage a team of employees but help customers navigate the repair process, which is quite often stressful having just been in a car accident.
In this day and age you can no longer get by just knowing how to repair a car to become a manager: you have to have a strong aptitude for financial and operations management and to be able to embrace not only automotive technology but IT systems.
I’m no stranger to autobody repair (or the Okanagan), having managed my family’s collision repair business in Kelowna for 21 years before joining Craftsman. My track record includes both considerable body shop experience in the fastidious art of paint preparation and a 2013 industry award for outstanding customer service as a Manager.
Although women are still a minority in the autobody trades and management positions I feel we can really thrive in the highly detail-oriented technological environment and customer-focused service experience of today’s sophisticated collision repair shops. I absolutely love my job and there is no better feeling than turning a bad experience into a positive one for my customers!
Tell us about yourself: I’ve got an outgoing, Type A personality. I’m definitely a leader and not a follower.
What do you do for fun? Golf, gardening, landscaping, relaxing in the sun in the summer (got to get that vitamin D while you can!)
What Winnie the Pooh character do you most relate to? Tigger (bouncy) and Owl (wise).
Latest movie or book: 50 Shades
What’s your go-to happy place? Sunshine on my face and sand between my toes.
Name: Rebecca Blackhall-Peters
What business or organization are you involved with? Home Hardware Building Centre Penticton
What is your role with that organization? Garden Centre Specialist
What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? Sunshine and wineries.
If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? I’d have great chats with Oprah because I admire her.
What’s your go-to happy place? The Summerland Ornamental Gardens.
What are you most proud of? My children and grandchildren.
What are the top three things on your bucket list?
-Travel to France;
-Travel to Nepal;
-Make really good bread;
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? Ants.
Latest movie or book? The 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? Plants.
If today were your last day, how would you spend it? With my family.
Name: Raghwa Gopal.
What business or organization are you involved with? Accelerate Okanagan.
What is your role with that organization? CEO.
What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? It’s natural beauty: the lakes, the mountains and the golf courses. And, of course, the amazing people.
If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? The Dalai Lama. What a great soul, and such inspiration he is to the world. I would Hope that some of his intellect and wisdom would rub off on me.
What’s your go-to happy place? Outside in nature–a golf course or a nice, quiet walk at the Mission Park Greenway.
What are you most proud of?
A number of things actually:
1. Helping make this community a much better place by doing whatever I can to help;
2. Helping build a great tech community here–which is the fastest growing tech community in the country;
3. And, raising two amazing human beings (my kids)–who are not only smart and humble, but respectful and great contributors to this world.
What are the top three things on your bucket list? This is an interesting one. I have done and seen almost everything I wanted to, but a couple of things that I would still like to do is:
1. Visit to Antarctica;
2. Yangtze River Cruise;
3. Visit Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? A Pig’s stomach at Bazaar Restaurant by Chef Jose’ Andres’ in Las
Vegas. Surprisingly, it was really good.
Latest movie or book? Winners dream – A journey from corner store to corner office by Bill McDermott, the CEO of SAP. It’s a great story, which I can relate to myself as I started my first job at age eleven at a corner store as well.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? My beautiful and amazing wife and two kids, and the chance to live in the
best country in the world.
If today were your last day, how would you spend it? I would just sit at home and chat with my wife and kids.