Okanagan gravel pits sold
Okanagan Edge Staff - Apr 27, 2023 - Biz Profiles

Photo: Facebook

An Armstrong-based company that operates gravel and sand pits in the Okanagan has been sold.

Lafarge Canada on Wednesday announced it has acquired Westridge Quarries, which was incorporated in 2005 and has been a leader in the Okanagan aggregate industry.

“This is an exciting step forward in our 2025 growth strategy,” Lafarge Western Canada president and CEO Brad Kohl said in a press release. “This acquisition will allow us to expand our operating footprint and product offerings for our customers in the Okanagan. We will leverage significant synergies with our existing footprint that will strengthen the combined business.”

Lafarge, which has nearly 7,000 employees across Canada, has been busy acquiring pits, quarries, docks and depots in high-growth markets to expand its business. Lafarge Canada is a member of Holcim Group, which employs more than 60,000 people around the world.

“We are excited to watch our organization joining forces with the Lafarge family, a company with strong values and a clear vision for the future,” Westridge Quarries co-owner and general manager Trevor Isaac said. “This acquisition represents a tremendous opportunity for our staff and partners, and will ensure that Westridge Quarries remains an industry leader in service, quality and sustainability. 

“We look forward to watching them continue building from the foundation that has been established.”

The deal includes the addition of two quarries and one sand and gravel reserve, which Lafarge said will provide long-term reserves in an established market as well as other real estate.

Lafarge will acquire Westridge’s 70 employees as part of the transaction, the terms of which were not disclosed.

Province buys Polson Motel
Jon Manchester - Apr 01, 2022 - Biz Profiles

Photo: Google

The former Polson Park Motel in Vernon has been purchased by the province to house the homeless.

The site will provide 29 permanent homes with supports for people at risk of or experiencing homelessness, the province says in a press release.

BC Housing is investing $2.6 million to purchase and renovate the motel, which was bought below appraised value.

BC Housing will also provide an annual operating subsidy of approximately $1 million.

The site had been leased by BC Housing since April 2020 as temporary housing for vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Current residents will be able to remain in the building, the province says.

“With this purchase, we are continuing to add to the significant efforts underway to ensure vulnerable people in Vernon have access to stable and permanent housing,” MLA Harwinder Sandhu said.

Turning Points Collaborative Society will continue operating the building.

The society will provide residents with support services, including daily meals, life skills training, employment assistance and counselling, physical and mental-health resources, and access to addiction treatment and recovery services.

Full-time staff will provide residents with around-the-clock support.

“As we slowly come out of the pandemic, we recognize that the need for affordable housing services in Vernon is greater than ever,” Turning Points executive director Randene Wejr said.

“Inflation, the lack of affordable housing units, and a growing waitlist have meant more and more families and seniors are on the verge of homelessness.”

Sandhu said government “will continue to work with the City of Vernon and local partners like Turning Points on temporary and permanent housing options to bring people inside—because we know that when vulnerable people have stable housing with supports, including access to health care and skills training, it leads to healthier and safer communities for everyone.”

Bernard patios popping up
Miriam Halpenny - Jun 30, 2020 - Biz Profiles

The two-month closure to vehicle traffic on Bernard Avenue began on Monday with the start of the city’s patio extension program.

Workers have been busy setting up fencing and barriers in order to allow for businesses to expand their patios onto the street. This project will allow businesses to expand customer capacity that otherwise would be limited by COVID-19 guidelines.

“The whole purpose of having a pedestrian walkway on Bernard is more eyeballs on every business downtown,” Downtown Kelowna Association executive director Mark Burley said.

“The patios are really going to take advantage of it because they’re outside, but they create traffic. The more people we have walking up and down Bernard, the better it is for all businesses in downtown Kelowna—even those who aren’t within the closure area.”

The closure impacts the area of Bernard from St. Paul Street to The Sails. This also includes the portion of Mill Street adjacent to Kerry Park and a small area of Abbott Street from Bernard to Lawrence Avenue.

While this initiative is meant to help businesses through COVID-19, it will also allow for more people to enjoy downtown safely and, if successful, may be rolled out in future years.

“You can achieve your physical distancing. If that’s what’s holding you back from coming downtown, don’t worry about it. Theres lots of room,” Burley said.

A map of the first wave of participating businesses can be found below.

Image: Robin Jones

Kamloops’ best biz wanted
Glacier Media - May 26, 2020 - Biz Profiles

Photo: Contributed

The Kamloops Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Excellence Awards are slated for the fall.

Before they happen, though, it needs people to nominate the potential nominees.

The nomination period, which started March 13 just as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the economy, will conclude at the end of this month, on May 31.

“Take a moment to nominate and recognize a truly remarkable community leader that makes Kamloops shine,” the chamber’s website states. “All businesses in Kamloops are eligible for any of the 18 awards.”

To nominate a business, click here.

Innov8 buys Simbatech
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 07, 2020 - Biz Profiles

Photo: Contributed
Kendall Prieb, left, has joined Andre Brosseau at innov8 as part of the acquisition.

A B.C.-based IT firm has expanded its company through the acquisition of Kelowna business.

Innov8, which has offices in Kelowna, Kamloops and six other locations, purchased Simbatech, an IT support and consulting business that is based in the Okanagan.

“Our acquisition of Simbatach will further strengthen innov8’s IT offerings so that we can deliver the best possible digital and print office solutions to businesses,” innov8 president Andre Brosseau said in a press release.

Simbatech president Kendall Prieb will be joining the innov8 team as IT director.

“Kendall will navigate the growth of IT services offered to our clients in the continual digital transformation from the paper-based world to the artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IoT) systems,” Brosseau said.

Innov8 also has offices in Nelson, Victoria, Nanaimo, Courtenay and Campbell River.

Affordable housing sprouts
Colin Dacre - Mar 11, 2020 - Biz Profiles

Image: Contributed

Construction starts this month on a new 115-unit affordable rental development on Westbank First Nation land.

Kelowna-based Traine Construction has partnered with the CMHC affordable housing program to break ground on the project at 3369 Old Okanagan Hwy.

“Traine is responding to the genuine need for attractive new housing options that are attainable for individuals who have been pushed out of the new construction rental market,” the company said.

The development, dubbed “Skygreen,” will consist of studio, one bedroom, one bedroom plus a den and two bedroom configurations. A standalone community-amenity building with a lounge and kitchen for residents will also be included.

“Skygreen is thoughtfully designed to respect the surrounding natural area through improving the existing natural surroundings and retaining many of the original mature trees,” Traine said.

The first building is scheduled to be completed by December 2020 with rents starting at 10% below market value or about $850 a month.

Social media myths debunked
Okanagan Edge Staff - Mar 05, 2020 - Biz Profiles

Photo: Contributed

A renowned social media expert is coming to Kelowna later this month to discuss his new book that tackles myths about the topic as it relates to business.

London native Ian MacRae will be at Okanagan College on March 25, which marks the international debut of his book, Myths of Social Media: Dismiss the Misconceptions and Use Social Media Effectively in Business. He co-authored the book with Michelle Carvill.

“Everyone knows that social media is just for posting pictures of your breakfast, it is full of fake news and it creates filter bubbles, don’t they?” MacRae said in a press release. “This book delves into many of those types of misconceptions.”

The book tackles 28 commonly held falsehoods surrounding social media in business, and MacRae will discuss many of them during the book launch on March 25, which is free to the public.

“We’ve all heard those kinds of messages, but what does the data really tell us?” MacRae said. “And most importantly for business owners and social media professionals, whether you’re novice or advanced, what should be considered when choosing your channels, building and implementing your content strategies?

“These are just some of the types of questions the book explores and that we’ll chat about during the launch.”

Perfecting your business pitch
Anita Sthankiya - Aug 26, 2019 - Biz Profiles

Photo Credit: Valhalla Angels

The monthly Startup Founder Hot Seat event took place in Kelowna this past week with hopeful entrepreneurs vying to catch the attention of angel investors.

The event featured software executive and veteran investor Grant Lawerence, who is also the president of Valhalla Angels Kelowna. Lawerence has seen countless pitches and is an expert in guiding entrepreneurs. To tap into his knowledge and expertise, we sat down with Lawerence to find out what it takes to give an outstanding pitch to investors.

What are some of the best things to do when looking to beginning to formulate a pitch?

The first thing to do is reduce the amount of technical stuff. Reduce text, use big graphics, big letters and think about it as if you are going to pitch to your grandparent. You want big font. A font size of 30 means you have to reduce the amount of text on the screen. You don’t want there to be a lot of text because people will be trying to read it while you are speaking, they will not be paying attention to you anymore.

Don’t pitch a product, you’ll spend too much time on it. The maximum amount of time you should spend on your product is a maximum 45 seconds. At Hot Seat we had two guys pitch and they spend 2 minutes and a half minutes on their product. They didn’t get to the meat of here’s the market, here’s the problem, here’s how we are going to make money, etc, etc. Tell me about the problems you will solve. You don’t want to look at the solution, you want to look at what the problem is and how you fit to solve that problem.

Is this something you often see and hear from first timers?

Yes, very frequently. Especially if they have not had any experience in the sales world, and they can’t relate that they are trying to get somebody to do something. It’s like trying to get your kids to do something, it’s more let’s use the carrot instead of the stick. Human psychology 101, the what’s in it for me idea. If you can answer that question then you are stepping in the shoes of the investor or, in part, in the shoes of the customer.

How does someone get organized for a pitch for the first time?

We have a recommended pitch content book that we send to people who want to get in front of the Valhalla Angel group. It identifies all the things you want to do in your pitch and cut it down based on how much time you have to do your pitch. It’s not a template, it’s a guide as to what the content should be and how to get ready for it. There’s so many companies and volunteers out there who can help with this. Including UBCO, they have their Lean Launchpad for alumni grads, fourth year students, and professors. We have Accelerate Okanagan to help out with this as well. They can help you go validate your market and accelerate and grow.

We have basecamp for startups which allows founders to get inside the shoes of investors for two days, and figure out their capital plan, what does that raise mean, how to go and raise that capital and what is the impact as they raise multiple rounds. Round one maybe friends and family, round two, three, and four may be angel round, then you may get to qualify for banks or for venture capitalists and so on.

What stands out for you when someone pitches to you?

How did you come to this story? We want to know how you came about to solve this problem. We at Valhalla want to understand what is your skin in this. If you are coming to a pitch event and just saying that your idea looks like a cool way to make money, that is not as impactful as saying “I had this huge problem in my life, I had to solve it and this is how I did it.”

Or, this is something that affected five of my friends and this is what I came up with to help. We’re looking for the narrative of a personal story because we know that your journey forward is not going to as smooth as everyone shows on grass. You are going to have big ups and downs, some personal skin is going to be nice to have.

What exactly is an angel investor?

Angel investors started back in the 1800s when there was an attempt to support the arts and theatre, these supporters were called angels. That means an accredited individual in Canada and U.S. It’s a definition from the federal government that means that you have earned $200,000 a year for the past two years or you have a million dollars in equity outside of your home, and there are other definitions when a spouse is included. There are multiple ways to qualify as an angel investor. By definition, an angel has to be accredited in Canada so the government can say you have enough money that if you go and invest in something, it’s your own decision, and if you lose it, don’t come back to us crying that something went wrong.

Angel investors all come to this world for different reasons. For some it’s because they want to give back because someone else helped them along the way. Others want to live vicariously though the founders and help to contribute to technology and changes. And of course returns, some people are just looking for returns on their investments.


Lawerence adds that anyone who is going to pitch a business idea to should consider asking for more than just money. Ask for other stuff that you are missing. That might including asking for an introduction to someone or a business, mentorship, or advisors. Take advantage of the people in the room and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

To learn more about Valhalla Angels and become a member, visit their website.

Local water park biz grows
Nicholas Johansen - Aug 23, 2019 - Biz Profiles

A local waterpark design and manufacturing company has completed a massive expansion, doubling its manufacturing space.

Waterplay solutions purchased an old chopsticks manufacturing plant in Kelowna’s North End several years ago, and much of the company’s manufacturing has taken place in the 10,000 square foot facility since then.

Earlier this year, Waterplay completed construction at the facility, doubling its manufacturing area and adding office space for a total of 38,000 square feet.

“We started our expansion on this facility about three or four years ago, we started the design process, and we broke ground in January of 2018,” said Lisa Neilson, Waterplay’s vice-president of corporate services.

Notable local Waterplay water parks include the recent revitalization at Kelowna’s City Park, along with the water park at Ben Lee Park, but Waterplay has projects around the world, in the United States, Australia, Europe, Dubai and Singapore.

“Wherever people want to go play in the spray park, we’re there,” Neilson said.

Waterplay traces its roots back to the 1980s, but it was bought by Vernon’s Jill White in 2004, who began moving much of the manufacturing in house. That trend continues with the expansion of the facility’s manufacturing space.

On Thursday, Waterplay held their grand opening of the new facility, now that most of the finishing touches have been put in place. Family and friends of the company’s 64 local staff were treated to a barbecue and games, carrying on into the evening.

“It’s been a great success story. Jill’s made the investment right now in this new facility to position us for additional growth,” Neilson said. “We’ve also been filling out some of our team in order to allow us to better service some of the remote markets. We’re looking forward to what’s to come in the next 10 years.”

Kelowna embraces sandwich shop
Anita Sthankiya - Aug 23, 2019 - Biz Profiles

Photo Credit: Chachi’s

If you have been to Orchard Park Shopping Centre you may have noticed a brand new sandwich shop in the food court, but what you may not know is it is a Kelowna man’s franchise.

Chachi’s may have started in 2006 in Calgary, but it has a strong connection to Kelowna as one of the business partners, Jason Cunningham, grew up in the city. Cunningham helped open up the first Starbucks in the Shopping Centre in 1995 and was the assistant manager. He is now back at his old stomping grounds with the Chachi’s sandwich shop, which opened at the beginning of August.

“We were received extremely well and people were happy that there is something local, interesting and exciting in the food court,” said Cunningham.

Cunningham and one of his two business partners were both baristas at the Okanagan’s first Starbucks coffee shop, learning and understanding the business industry.

“We developed a great friendship and from there went into business and today we grow franchise brands across Western Canada and Chachi’s now has 24 locations,” explained Cunningham.

The Kelowna location is the first one in the B.C. Interior. Cunningham is now looking for a franchise partner to take over the Orchard Park location because they feel it’s important that the business is run locally and keeps a local connection.

“Our menu is based on ingredients from local producers, and we believe the best management is when people who own the business also live and work in the community,” said Cunningham. “No one cares like a franchise partner who has a vested interest in the business. Hopefully it blossoms into other locations in the Valley.”

Chachi’s uses ingredients from local supplies in Western Canada and hand picks certain butchers, bakeries, and cheese suppliers. In fact, they are currently looking for someone local to supply cookies for the Kelowna location.

During the Kelowna grand opening of the Chachi’s store, Cunningham says they raised $2,000 for BC Wildfire victims and were blown away by the generosity from the local community for their new business.

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