Westside board shakeup
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jan 15 - Biz Releases

Image: Greater Westside Board of Trade

The Greater Westside Board of Trade’s new board of directors features several familiar faces, many returning in new positions.

The 2018 board, which was decided at the organization’s annual general meeting Jan. 11, will be chaired by Bobby Gidda, the president of Volcanic Hills Winery.

Craig Garries, the owner of PostNet, will act as the board’s vice chair; BDO Canada’s Brett Wike was named second vice chair; Aries Accounting owner Sarah Sabo will act as treasurer; and Gord Milsom, a certified financial planner, was named secretary.

Gidda says his tenure will be marked by a push to attract more members to the board, and encourage more trade between members.

“We will continue to build better member connection to encourage members to go to other members first when they are looking for products or services. We also want to communicate the value of being a member of the Board of Trade in more meaningful ways to the membership,” he said.

“We want to be the go-to resource for Westside businesses so they can connect with the right people and make their businesses better in more ways than just improving their bottom line,” adds Garries.

The remaining members of the 2018 board include:

-Calvin Barr, owner of Ever-Clear Window Cleaning;
-Nelson Derickson, chair of the Westbank First Nation Economic Development Commission;
-Alex Draper, director of business operations with the West Kelowna Warriors;
-Debbie Dupasquier, owner of Distinctly Kelowna Tours;
-Amber Hall, senior regional market manager at Telus;
-Ray Kandola, Owner of City Furniture and Appliance;
-Sara Lussier, realtor with Royal LePage;
-Ed Stephens, senior manager of airport development at Kelowna International Airport.

Peller director steps down
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jan 15 - Biz Releases

Image: LinkedIn

The company that bought three Okanagan wineries earlier this summer is searching for new talent, after Dino Bianco resigned from its board of directors.

Andrew Peller Ltd., which owns wine brands across the country, made a big impact in the Okanagan in September when it bought three major wineries for close to $100 million.

The company says Bianco left the board after accepting a position as president and chief executive officer of K.P. Tissue Inc. and Kruger Paper Products L.P.

Bianco joined Andrew Peller’s board of directors in October of 2016, and has a long history in the food industry. He spent six years as president of Kraft Canada, from 2006-2012. Later, he worked as an executive vice president at Kraft Foods Group, Inc., and also served as its president of beverages.

“Dino made a strong and valuable contribution to our board of directors and the company. We want to thank Dino for his service and wish him well with his new opportunity,” said Andrew Peller’s CEO, John Peller.

With Bianco’s departure, the company says it has started a formal search for a new director. In the interim, Richard Hossack, a current director, will assume the position of chair of the company’s audit committee. 

Top 40: Ezra Cipes
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jan 12 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

This year, Okanagan Edge and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce have partnered to showcase some of the Okanagan’s most exciting entrepreneurs, through the Top 40 Under 40 program.

Sponsored by BDO, the Top 40 Under 40 recognizes innovative young professionals in our community, and showcases their accomplishments.

Okanagan Edge will feature a new honouree each week, so check back often.

This week we recognize Ezra Cipes, of Summerhill Pyramid Winery.

Image: Contributed

Ezra Cipes is well-known as the CEO of Summerhill Pyramid Winery, but he’s also held several leadership roles in both the provincial and national wine industries.

Cipes was first elected to the British Columbia Wine Institute board of directors in 2014, and now sits as the vice-chair of the organization. He’s also been the director of the Canadian Vintner’s Association since 2012.

Through both organization Cipes challenged labelling issues, leading a conversation that resulted in industry-wide agreement to to change wine labelling in Canada, and put to rest one of the most divisive issues in the industry.

As the chair of the BC Wine Appellation Group, Cipes also helped author a set of recommendations that helped the industry “join the bigger wine world and put itself on the international map.”

Cipes’ accomplishments at Summerhill are well-known, and on top of them he sits on the board of the Kelowna Waldorf School, the Inner Fish Theatre Society, and the host committee of the 2018 Breakout West Festival.

Cipes also advocates with local, provincial, and federal government on behalf of the David Suzuki Foundation’s “Right to a Healthy Environment” Blue Dot Campaign.

New exec at KCIBA
Trevor Nichols - Jan 11 - Biz Releases

Image: Contributed
Gay Pooler shakes hands with new KCIBA executive director Carl DeSantis.

A former Calgary police officer and travel agency owner will soon take over as the new executive director of the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association.

Carl DeSantis will join the organization later this month, taking over for Gay Pooler, the outgoing general manager, who held the position for the last 14 years.

DeSantis spent the majority of his career with the Calgary Police Service, where during his 30 years of employment he served in roles as diverse as general patrol, hostage negotiations, covert operations, air services, and more.

Following his stint with the force, DeSantis took a job as Justice Studies Program Coordinator at Calgary’s Bow Valley College, where he’s spent the last seven years.

For 10 years, from 2001 to 2011, DeSantis was also a co-owner, vice president and executive team member of international travel agency franchise operations.

In a press release announcing his new position DeSantis says he is “both excited and honoured to have been chosen to lead the KCBIA,” and that he’s “anxious to get to work and have constructive conversations with our stakeholders.”

“We have been working towards a smooth transition for the past year, and are confident that we can maintain our forward momentum. Carl is keen to tackle the challenges of this ultimately rewarding career,” Pooler says.

Pooler says she will now be “embarking upon a new path in my journey through life,” as she rejoins the private sector.

“I am honoured to have been a part of the evolution of Downtown Kamloops and happy and grateful for the journey,” she says.

KCBIA board of directors president Mike O’Reilly says DeSantis will “build on the foundation” the KCIBA has created.

“Carl will be a fantastic addition to the downtown community,” he says, adding that he is confident DeSantis will “lead our strategic direction to fulfill the organization mandate.”

New head of Grand kitchen
Trevor Nichols - Jan 08 - Biz Releases

Image: Contributed

A hole has been filled in the kitchen at Delta Hotels Grand Okanagan Resort, as Chef Daniel Craig takes over as the resort’s new executive chef.

Craig comes to the Grand from Toronto, where he spent the last year working as executive chef at the Ritz Carlton.

Mark Jeanes, the resort’s director of food and beverage services, says the Grand is “excited” to see Craig “take the helm” at the resort.

“His style of honoring classic dishes, while promoting tastes that are fresh, relevant and innovative will be a perfect alignment with the culinary team’s passion to explore the amazing food and beverage ingredients we have in the Okanagan Valley,” Jeanes says.

Craig’s culinary career began at the age of 12, when he landed a job as a dishwasher at his friend’s parents’ cafe. That gig helped Craig fall in love with food, and he decided to pursue a career as a chef.

As a young man he apprenticed at a few resorts before graduating with Red Seal Certification from Vancouver’s Camosun College. From there he spent time competing abroad, where he was the first Canadian chef to ever receive a gold medal in the prestigious Chaine des Rotisseurs Jeane Chef Concours.

Upon his return to Canada, Craig was part of the opening team of the Delta Burnaby in 2008. He then opened the Delta Toronto, before moving to the Ritz Carlton in 2016.

During his tenure as Executive Chef he has won many awards, including the Marriott ACE Award for Best Executive Chef in 2017, and BC Chef of the Year in 2014. He also holds a place with Team Canada in the 2019 Bocuse d’Or international competition.

Jan. 8, Craig started at Delta Hotels Grand Okanagan Resort, stepping into the position formerly held by celebrated chef Iain Rennie, who died Aug. 14, 2017.

Rennie lead the resort’s culinary team for three years, during which the resort said he was “an incredibly talented Chef, dedicated mentor and great friend to all those who knew and worked with him.”

Top 40: Jennifer Thorne
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jan 05 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

This year, Okanagan Edge and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce have partnered to showcase some of the Okanagan’s most exciting entrepreneurs, through the Top 40 Under 40 program.

Sponsored by BDO, the Top 40 Under 40 recognizes innovative young professionals in our community, and showcases their accomplishments.

Okanagan Edge will feature a new honouree each week, so check back often.

This week we recognize Jennifer Thorne, of Odlum Brown Limited.

Image: Contributed

Jennifer Thorne’s career has evolved over the years, but she says “the underlying theme has remained.”

“I act with competence, passion and integrity to champion my family, my clients and my community,” she says.

Thorne began her career as a litigation lawyer, where she says she “advocated fiercely for some of the most vulnerable members of society.”

From there she transitioned to a career as an investment professional, where she says she continued her work as a “champion” for her client’s interests.

“Making a major career transition was not easy: it was a humbling process that came with a steep learning curve. I love my role as an Investment Advisor, but the skills that I gained as a lawyer continue to serve me well every day,” she says.

Thorne also says she “genuinely” loves to support and promote her community.

“Through various projects, I have become a connector of awesome people, and a valuable resource in the business community. I have performed hours of pro-bono legal work, and served on several non-profit Boards over the years,” she says.

Among her current board positions, she is the director of Elevation Outdoors, a local organization that teaches vulnerable youth important life skills through outdoor pursuits. She’s also serves on the board of directors for Aberdeen Hall Preparatory School Society.

“Kelowna is my home, and I love this city,” she says.

Thorne attributes most of her professional success to her “entrepreneurial spirit.” She says she’s “constantly driven” to plan, create and achieve, and is determined to expect at everything she does.

She says her investment advisory clients represent the “future of the Okanagan.” She works with entrepreneurs and established business owners, professionals, and high potential up-and-comers.

“Working with these people to build a prosperous and vibrant future gives me tremendous satisfaction,” she says.

Bringing ‘big technology’ to books
Trevor Nichols - Jan 02 - Biz Profiles

Image: Trevor Nichols

A newly launched Kelowna startup hopes to harness the power of the web to transform the way people in the community buy and sell used books.

Local Reads is the brainchild of book-lover Camille Jensen, who says she started the online service to fix what she saw as “problems” with the book market.

Often, she explains, people buy a book, use it once, and never think about it again. After the first readthrough, those books gather dust on a shelf, or worse, end up in a landfill (because of the glue in them, books generally can’t be recycled).

More industrious readers might schlep their old books to a used book store to offload them, but Jensen argues that can be a time-consuming process.

On the flip side, she says, because most used book stores have little or no online presence, finding a book you want can also be annoying.

Of course, used books abound on the internet, but ordering from a big online retailer can come with its own set of issues for local-minded consumers.

Jensen explains that shipping books in Canada is quite expensive, so almost any used book you buy here will come from quite far away.

“I really started to realize how difficult it is to buy used books in your local community,” Jensen explains.

She believed she could fix that problem, so she brought on co-founder Dan Arbeau to build a platform that would allow local people to quickly and easily sell their used books to other readers in their community.

“In some ways our whole market never went online, so we thought, OK, there’s an opportunity here for a local response using big technology,” Jensen says.

Essentially, Local Reads is a classifieds section for used books. Users list the books they have for sale on the site (descriptions and pictures are automatically generated for users by the site), and other users can browse the selection.

All the payments are handled online, and after buying a book users can pick it up from the nearby seller.

“There’s a lot of books out there, and this is a way to not only help get some value out of them, but also have a little bit of a green aspect as well,” Arbeau says.

“If it was easier to buy used, I think people would,” Jensen added.

With that philosophy in mind, Jensen and Arbeau officially launched Local Reads in September, and now say they have well over 500 books listed on the site.

They’ve also  made an agreement with High Browse 2nd Hand Books, which is the first used book store in Kelowna to use the Local reads, listing several of its titles online.

Arbeau points out that Local Reads has the potential not only to make it easier for individuals to sell books to each other, but help historically technophobic used book stores create a better online presence.

“Books, and people who love books, are a community of their own, and we’re kind of excited about that element with Local Reads, and where that could go,” Jensen says.

For more information, check out Local Reads online.

Top 40: Myles Mattila
Okanagan Edge Staff - Dec 29 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

This year, Okanagan Edge and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce have partnered to showcase some of the Okanagan’s most exciting entrepreneurs, through the Top 40 Under 40 program.

Sponsored by BDO, the Top 40 Under 40 recognizes innovative young professionals in our community, and showcases their accomplishments.

Okanagan Edge will feature a new honouree each week, so check back often.

This week we recognize Kelowna Chiefs’ winger and social entrepreneur Myles Mattila.

Image: Contributed

At a young age, Myles Mattila discovered entrepreneurialism and quickly began to embody the key attributes and characteristics, by taking initiative, risks and generating hope.

In his youth, Mattila worked excessively with mental health advocacy, founding MindRight.info in Prince George and spearheading a mental health summit. The self-developed wellness program aims to educate individuals about their mental health and the health of others, through resources and connections to community services.

Despite facing rejection, Mattila adapts to the rugged terrain he faces in this field of community work and continually pursues reduced stigma associated with mental illness.

Mattila is also involved with Jack.org and Foundry BC/Foundry Kelowna, which both work to transform the way mental health is perceived and to integrate youth into these efforts.

Beyond these primary focus projects, Mattila has also continually participated in fundraising efforts and campaigns associated with mental health advocacy and programs.

These projects and achievements have not only developed Mattila’s community, but have set a standard for growth of awareness and reduced stigma at a national level.

Mattila was even recognized by PrimeMinister Justin Trudeau for his efforts in mental health advocacy, become a finalist for

the Young Male Volunteer of the Year Award in Kelowna, earned the 2017 Chair of the Board Award for being humanitarian of the year from BC Hockey

After graduating from Prince George Secondary School with Honours, Mattila began a Business degree at Okanagan College, which he plan to complete in Europe. Following the completion of his business degree, he intends on continuing his education at UBC to become a lawyer.

Today, Myles continues to retain the entrepreneurial spirit by embracing educational initiatives, supporting mental health advocacy, engaging in non-profit and business ventures and through his role as a player in junior hockey.

City stops suing its mayor
The Canadian Press - Dec 28 - BC Biz

Image: Facebook

A Vancouver Island city has dropped a lawsuit against its own mayor.

The City of Nanaimo says in a statement it has discontinued legal action against Bill McKay, who was accused of leaking confidential information to an employee.

McKay says in an interview he is disappointed he won’t get the chance to defend himself in court, but he hopes the end of the lawsuit means council can get back to the task of running the city.

McKay, who is serving his first term as mayor and has denied any wrongdoing, says he was never served with a notice of civil claim.

Coun. Gordon Fuller says in an interview it was unfair to ask taxpayers to foot the bill for a costly legal battle.

The city says a separate censure hearing will be convened in early 2018.

City council voted unanimously to discontinue the lawsuit and the city issued its statement announcing the decision on Wednesday.

The city filed a notice of discontinuance in the Supreme Court of British Columbia on Dec. 22. The lawsuit was set to expire Thursday, one year after it was filed, the city says.

Huge honour for local business
Contributed - Dec 27 - Biz Releases

Image: Facebook

When the president of the Canadian Gift Association phoned Alison Ludditt to tell her The Room Collection had won its most prestigious retail award, it took Ludditt a minute to understand what she’d just been told.

Shocked by the news, she expressed her thanks and hung up before hollering across the store to her business partner and lifelong friend the only words she could muster: “retailer of the year! Retailer of the year!”

Ludditt’s partner, Karen Miller, thought she was outright lying, or joking at the least. They whooped; they hugged; they cried; and in the warmth of all the surrounding carpet rolls, candles, fabric swatches and pillows, they let the news settle in.

“Day to day, we put our heads down to run the business and give our customers the best experience we can,” says Ludditt. “Then it was like we looked up and realized we have built something here.”

“To have that thing you’ve built receive recognition is amazing,” she added.

Ludditt, along with her husband Russell, and Miller, bought The Room Collection in 2011, four years after it first opened.

The furniture and home décor store offers a curated collection of everything ‘home,’ from Sid Dickens art and locally-made cards to candles inspired by Vancouver settings and custom upholstered furniture.

CanGift judges said they were impressed with the beautiful offerings, and that the decision was unanimous. CanGift is a national not-for-profit association that represents members of Canada’s giftware industry. The organization has been running its Retailer of the Year program since 1977.

In addition to the store layout and appearance, the Retailer of the Year award judges applicants on several factors, including innovation and originality, business achievements and community involvement.  

Image: Facebook

Over the years, The Room Collection has received a handful of awards: a Tommy Award silver finalist for their interior decorating of a showhome; finalist for Small Business of the Year and winner of the Customer Service award at the chamber’s Business Excellence Awards; and Best of the Okanagan winner for best furniture and home décor store in the North Okanagan.

“It’s been seven years of hard work and learning, and we’ve had a few big turning points during those years,” says Miller. “Each of those points gave us chance to reflect on where we’ve been as a business, and where we are going next. One of the things we always reflect on is how much we appreciate the customers, designers and businesses that support our store.”

One of their key milestones was moving from the original Anderson Way location to their current location on the bustling corner of 30th Ave. and 34th St.

“Moving downtown gave us more visibility, more space for stock, and a stronger connection with other businesses,” says Ludditt. “It feels like people are becoming even more passionate about what their home looks like, how it reflects them and how comfortable they feel in it..”

The new location also called for additional staff, so their team grew from three to five, and includes the store’s founding owner, Mary-Ann Zaitsoff, an integral part of the team.

“We all love working with customers,” says Miller, “but also try to work to our strengths and passions. “For example, Mary-Ann creates our striking window displays, and Alison focusses on our social media presence,” says Miller.

Instead of attending a semi-annual buying show in Las Vegas in January, The Room Collection team will head east to the Toronto show, where they will attend a gala, receive their award, and make a speech.

“It’s a bit nerve-wracking to think about, but in that context, it might put the award into perspective.  And it’s such a wonderful way to kick off some of the other exciting things that will be happening at The Room Collection this year,” says Miller.

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