Biz 1-on-1: Trent Fequet
Visland Media - 9:35 am - Columnists

Produced by Kelowna’s Visland Media, Biz 1 on 1 is an interview series that explores the lives of some of the most interesting business people in North America.

Host Randy Lennon sits down with CEOs and founders of a diverse selection of businesses, talking with them about their vision, passion, and experiences building and running their company.

The show covers a wide array of stories and although Lennon interviews business leaders from across the continent he puts a particular focus on people from the Okanagan Valley.

Originally broadcast on national television, Biz 1on1 has found a new home on Okanagan Edge, adapted for an online audience.

This week, Lennon sits down for the second of a three-part segment with Trent Fequet, the president and CEO of Steel River Group.

B.C. has few head offices
Kirk Penton - Mar 11, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: Google Maps

By Jock Finlayson and Kristine St.-Laurent

Statistics Canada’s latest survey of corporate headquarters provides updated counts of direct head office jobs for each province and the biggest metropolitan areas across the country. The data shows B.C., and Vancouver in particular, are falling behind.

The survey covers publicly traded and privately owned companies as of 2017. A head office is defined as an “establishment … primarily engaged in providing general management and/or administrative support services” to affiliated operations and lines of business owned by the company in question. In most cases, a head office oversees facilities/operations located in more than a single community.

The definition used by Statistics Canada captures large and mid-sized companies from every sector of the economy. Among large companies, some examples of locally based firms with significant operations in B.C. include Tolko Industries, Polygon Homes, London Drugs, Teck, Stemcell Technologies, Coast Capital Savings, and Ledcor Industries. The survey also counts firms that are headquartered in B.C. but whose activities are dispersed broadly across multiple jurisdictions (e.g., Methanex, Silver Wheaton, Lululemon).

Table 1 below shows the number of head offices, as well as direct head office employment, nationally and in the five biggest provinces for 2013 and 2017. Table 2 does the same for the leading Canadian metropolitan areas.

Image: Contributed

A few points are worth noting:

• From 2013 to 2017, head office employment in Canada rose by 1.4 per cent, but the number of head offices dipped slightly.

• B.C. ranks fourth among the provinces in both head offices and head office jobs. However, B.C. trails far behind third-place Alberta in head office employment, with less than half as many corporate jobs. This reflects the comparative paucity of large companies based in B.C.

• The number of B.C. corporate head offices dropped by 11 between 2013 and 2017, while metro Vancouver lost three headquarters over the same period.

• Somewhat surprisingly given the economic vibrancy of the greater Toronto area, metro Toronto also lost head offices over 2013 to 2017. However, the Toronto region gained head office jobs in the period.

• Within Canada, employment at head offices remains concentrated in Ontario (42.8 per cent), Quebec (23.4 per cent) and Alberta (16.4 per cent).

• The majority of head office employees work in census metropolitan areas (CMAs). Among CMAs, Toronto has the largest number of head office jobs (77,167 in 2017), followed by Montréal (42,619), Calgary (29,068) and Vancouver (15,783).

• Toronto also hosts the largest number of corporate headquarters, 696 as of 2017, followed by Montréal (385), Vancouver (239) and Calgary (213).

• While it’s home to slightly more corporate headquarters, metro Vancouver has barely half as many head office jobs as Calgary.

B.C. as a whole and Vancouver as a metropolitan region continue to struggle to develop a strong cluster of major corporate head offices. That’s worrisome, since the presence of locally headquartered enterprises of significant size is a powerful economic driver and a key factor in creating and sustaining high-wage employment.

Consultants at McKinsey describe metro Vancouver as a “minnow” in the North American context, judged by the modest number of large firms based there. When juxtaposed to sky-high housing prices, the weakness of metro Vancouver as a host community for corporate headquarters is even more striking.

Provincial and many municipal politicians in the Lower Mainland are obsessed with the issue of affordability. One way to improve overall affordability is to boost the incomes of employees and households.

Unfortunately, making progress on this goal will be very difficult without a thriving and expanding corporate head office sector.

Jock Finlayson is executive vice-president of the Business Council of British Columbia. Kristine St.-Laurent is a senior policy analyst at the Business Council of B.C.

Market hits balanced level
Bill Hubbard - Mar 05, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: The Canadian Press

After a dramatic turn down in January, the Okanagan Shuswap has bounced back to even things out.

The stats for January were terrible in the Central Okanagan and the Shuswap. Sales and absorption were way down. The North Okanagan, on the other hand, remained steady. It was obvious in January that the market would bounce back in February and March to show a balanced market, and that is exactly what happened.

Sales and absorption for the Central Okanagan and the Shuswap are up dramatically for February compared to January. Basically, they have normalized and will continue to do so for the rest of the year.

However, make no mistake: The market in all three zones is definitely softening. Buyers have more inventory to look at, and sellers are going to have to get more aggressive with their pricing to get a sale.

We are now at a balanced market with prices creeping down slowly.

Bill Hubbard is a real estate broker and the owner and broker of a four-office real estate firm in the Okanagan-Shuswap. He has been in real estate for 28 years and has been an owner and broker in Vernon for 20 years. At almost 60 years old he is just as passionate about real estate as the day he started.

USMCA’s impact on wine
Contributed - Feb 27, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

By Nikita Gush and Dennis Ryan

On Nov. 30, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico signed a new North American free trade agreement called the United States Mexico and Canada Agreement (USMCA). This agreement claims to have modernized its 25-year-old predecessor, NAFTA, which, among other things, will affect Canada’s wine industry.

In B.C., the wine industry makes up an important portion of Canada’s agricultural sector. There are approximately 271 licensed grape wineries, which contribute about $2.8 billion to the B.C. economy each year.

Since the signing of the USMCA, concern is being raised by political commentators on whether the free trade negotiations led to a fair outcome for the Canadian agricultural sector, including B.C. wineries.

Is the USMCA already in effect?

Implementation of the USMCA is an ongoing process. Over the next several months, each of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico must bring the tri-lateral treaty home and create domestic legislation to implement its terms with an objective that the agreement will take effect on or about Jan. 1, 2020.

How is the USMCA going to affect BC wineries?

Once the USMCA is implemented, the same provisions of NAFTA will continue to govern the wine industry in B.C.

While many critics of the USMCA point to a negotiated settlement of a dispute initiated by the U.S. at the World Trade Organization (WTO) relating to unfair trade practices of the licensing of 29 of B.C.’s grocery stores to sell exclusively B.C. wines, this is not a new provision of the USMCA. Rather, the U.S. lodged two complaints against Canada through the WTO regarding B.C.’s exclusive sale of wine in its grocery stores. The complaint was based on the accusation that Canada was contradicting the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) rules on non-discrimination. The GATT is a legal agreement that has been ratified by a number of countries around the world to promote international trade and reduce trade barriers. The U.S.’s complaints were supported by 13 third parties, which notably included Mexico.

Canada concluded that it would likely lose this challenge by our U.S. neighbours. It further appreciated that this dispute was an impediment in advancing its negotiations on the USMCA. To move negotiations forward for the new USMCA, Canada agreed to end this dispute. Canada rightfully responded by entering into a series of ‘side letters’ with the U.S. in which Canada agreed to allow U.S. wine sales in its B.C. grocery stores in exchange for the U.S. to drop its proceedings in the WTO. For Canada, this means reducing trade barriers and compliance with international law. However, for B.C. wineries, this will invariably result in increased competition for grocery store shelf space in previously B.C.-exclusive wine sections. We can expect to see U.S. wine in the 29 licensed grocery store shelves after Nov. 1. In effect, these former B.C.-exclusive wine outlets will be on the same footing as the stand-alone public and private liquor stores that sell B.C. wines in addition to imported wines.

What does this mean for BC wineries in the future?

Given the large number of B.C. liquor stores that are unaffected by these changes and the vast majority of B.C. grocery stores that do not sell wine at all, the addition of U.S. wine in the 29 licensed grocery stores may not make a huge difference to most B.C. wine sales. In a Vancouver Sun article by Kevin Griffin on Oct. 1, 2018, B.C. Trade Minister Bruce Ralston notably recognized that people who love B.C. wine are going to keep choosing it.

“People are aware of the variety and quality of B.C. wine,” Ralston told the Sun. “B.C. wine has come of age, (and) it’s a product that people want to buy and will choose.”

Invariably, as one channel of access to B.C. wine is becoming more limited, B.C. wineries will want to seek out opportunities to provide expanded access to their wines.

Free trade opportunities

With the USMCA’s implementation slated for Jan. 1, 2020, B.C. wineries will be motivated to expand their presence not only in the U.S. market but also in Mexico. Mexico only imported 3,108 litres of Canadian wine in 2017, which is very low in comparison to the U.S., which imported 422,542 litres that same year. As well, it is important not to forget Canada’s largest wine importer— China—imported 1.3 million litres of Canadian wine in 2017.

A reflection on the advantages of free trade may also cause wineries to reconsider how they purchase their processing, labelling, packaging and shipping supplies. With slightly lower duties and taxes for Canadians on cross-border purchases under the USMCA, it may be more cost-effective to import some of the materials and supplies that wineries depend upon to produce their wine.

The lawyers at Doak Shirreff’s Natural Resources Group can work with B.C. wineries at all stages of their formation, expansion, development, marketing, sales and cross-border challenges to help them grow their business.

Nikita Gush is an articled student and Dennis Ryan is a partner and head of the natural resources group at Doak Shirreff Lawyers LLP in Kelowna

Time to list is now
Bill Hubbard - Feb 26, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

Realtors this time of year hear the same phrase over and over: “I want to wait till spring.”

However, it is actually a mistake to wait for the market to heat up in the spring. Why? Because that is what everyone does.

The buyers come out in January, especially when we had a relatively warm January like this year. Every year the inventory of houses for sale increases dramatically from April to July. When a seller puts their house on in February or March, the inventory has not started to rise yet.

Less inventory means less competition. Less competition means a higher chance of selling at a higher price.

Call your Century 21 professional today for a free market evaluation. You may be surprised what your home is worth.

Bill Hubbard is a real estate broker and the owner and broker of a four-office real estate firm in the Okanagan-Shuswap. He has been in real estate for 28 years and has been an owner and broker in Vernon for 20 years. At almost 60 years old he is just as passionate about real estate as the day he started.

 

Top 40: Heather Sharpe
Kirk Penton - Feb 22, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

Okanagan Edge and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce are partnering to showcase some of the region’s most exciting entrepreneurs through the “Top 40 Over 40” program.

Sponsored by BDO, the “Top 40 Over 40” recognizes high-achieving professionals in our community and showcases their accomplishments. This marks the fifth year the chamber has conducted a “Top 40” showcase.

Honourees will be featured weekly on Okanagan Edge, and nominations will be accepted on the chamber’s website until March 31.

This week we recognize the first honouree of the season, Heather Sharpe, the owner of Sherpa Group Events Inc.

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Heather Sharpe started in theatre and then dabbled in the marketing and financial industries.

Little did she know she was setting herself up for a successful run in a career that essentially wasn’t an option three decades ago.

Sharpe is an event planner extraordinaire who runs her own business, plans massive public events and is the first honouree of this year’s Top 40 Over 40 list, presented by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and BDO Canada.

Many know exactly where they’re going and where they want to end up when they get out of high school, but Sharpe’s career path evolved as it went along.

“I had the skills for all that kind of logistical and strategic aspects of managing spreadsheets and budgets and timelines and things like that,” Sharpe says. “When I put that together with my creative and theatrical side, I kind of created a job that didn’t exist 30 years ago when I started. Event planning was something that was done off the side of people’s desks, and they considered it party planning. Like, anybody could do it.”

Sharpe now owns and operates Sherpa Group Events Inc., a Central Okanagan-based event planning firm that does projects all over B.C., parts of Canada and even in other countries. She twice produced the Honda Celebration of Light, which is the largest public event in B.C., as well as Canada’s largest New Year’s Eve event in Vancouver in 2015.

“There isn’t much I haven’t done in the events world, from the smallest to the largest,” Sharpe says. “Festivals for hundreds of thousands of people to intimate dinners for a hundred and everything in between.

Sharpe was born in Vancouver, raised in Penticton and started her career in the Lower Mainland before moving back to the Okanagan two years ago.

“The aspect of events as a profession and as a real legitimate skill set grew as I grew in experience,” she says. “So it’s been an amazing journey and a lot of it very hard work, but I love what I do. I have a passion for it. I’m happy to be sharing that passion now more than ever.”

Sharpe gives back to hopeful event planners by teaching two or three classes each term at Kelowna’s Centre for Arts and Technology. She is especially passionate about female entrepreneurs and volunteers her spare time with the Okanagan Chapter of eWomenNetwork, of which she is the founding director, Kelowna Women in Business, Vernon Women in Business and the West K Women of Influence. She is also a member of the Kelowna chamber.

It’s all part of making a connection, Sharpe says, which will remain important for people even as technology makes life easier to accomplish from your couch.

“People still crave and need to connect either on a social level or on a business level,” she says. “As the saying goes, meetings mean business. It’s relationships, and a lot of that is still difficult over technology.”

Biz 1-on-1: Paul Blaha
Visland Media - Feb 19, 2019 - Columnists

Produced by Kelowna’s Visland Media, Biz 1-on-1 is an interview series that explores the lives of some of the most interesting business people in North America.

Host Randy Lennon sits down with CEOs and founders of a diverse selection of businesses, talking with them about their vision, passion, and experiences building and running their company.

The show covers a wide array of stories and although Lennon interviews business leaders from across the continent he puts a particular focus on people from the Okanagan Valley.

Originally broadcast on national television, Biz 1-on-1 has found a new home on Okanagan Edge, adapted for an online audience.

This week, Lennon sits down for a segment with Paul Blaha, CEO of startup company Archer Cleantech.

Biz 1-on-1: Randy Karren
Visland Media - Feb 12, 2019 - Columnists

Produced by Kelowna’s Visland Media, Biz 1-on-1 is an interview series that explores the lives of some of the most interesting business people in North America.
Host Randy Lennon sits down with CEOs and founders of a diverse selection of businesses, talking with them about their vision, passion, and experiences building and running their company.
The show covers a wide array of stories and although Lennon interviews business leaders from across the continent he puts a particular focus on people from the Okanagan Valley.
Originally broadcast on national television, Biz 1-on-1 has found a new home on Okanagan Edge, adapted for an online audience.
This week, Lennon sits down for a segment with Randy Karren of Joi Botanicals.

Don’t buy your assessment
Bill Hubbard - Feb 11, 2019 - Columnists

Photo: The Canadian Press

Tax assessments should really not be used for an assessment of true value on your property.

Why?

First, you have to remember that the person—or machine—that is putting the value on your property has never seen it. They have no idea of its condition, floor plan, renovations or lack of renovations. Also, the assessment can be as much as a year behind.

Lastly, your assessment is based on average price in the area. That is likely the least reliable way to assess a property’s value. For instance, average price in the Okanagan Shuswap is up from 2017 to 2018. However, some of the higher priced property values actually came down. Property assessment is even less reliable for commercial properties. Many may dispute this opinion one way or the other. However, the proof is simple.

When we compare thousands of assessed values with actual sale prices it becomes obvious. The best way to find the value of your property is to get a free market evaluation done by a professional Realtor. Give us a call.

Bill Hubbard is a real estate broker and the owner and broker of a four-office real estate firm in the Okanagan-Shuswap. He has been in real estate for 28 years and has been an owner and broker in Vernon for 20 years. At almost 60 years old he is just as passionate about real estate as the day he started.

 

Biz 1-on-1: Ron Loudoun
Visland Media - Jan 29, 2019 - Columnists

Produced by Kelowna’s Visland Media, Biz 1-on-1 is an interview series that explores the lives of some of the most interesting business people in North America.
Host Randy Lennon sits down with CEOs and founders of a diverse selection of businesses, talking with them about their vision, passion, and experiences building and running their company.
The show covers a wide array of stories and although Lennon interviews business leaders from across the continent he puts a particular focus on people from the Okanagan Valley.
Originally broadcast on national television, Biz 1-on-1 has found a new home on Okanagan Edge, adapted for an online audience.
This week, Lennon sits down for a segment with Ron Loudoun, the founder of Green Hygienics.

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