Tourism boss stepping down
Nicholas Johansen - Jun 23 - Biz Releases

Photo: Facebook
Nancy Cameron, Tourism Kelowna’s CEO, is stepping down.

Tourism Kelowna is looking for a new CEO.

Nancy Cameron, CEO of the tourism marketing association for the past 17 years, has resigned, and will be moving to Vancouver Island.

Under Cameron’s direction at Tourism Kelowna, the Central Okanagan has seen a 60 per cent increase in the number of annual visitors.

The association also lauds Cameron’s work in getting City Council to relocate the future visitor centre to a “more pedestrian friendly, prominent location,” a location that has seen its fair share of controversy.

“I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to the Tourism Kelowna Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, and tourism businesses for their support and enthusiasm for Tourism Kelowna and this vibrant and growing tourism economy,” said Cameron. “My time with this organization has been filled with rewarding opportunities and I’ve had the good fortune to work with many very special people who are committed to this industry’s success.”

Tourism Kelowna says they will be looking for Cameron’s replacement in the coming weeks

Local wins innovation award
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 21 - Biz Releases

Chris Pasin, a pharmacist and owner of several Okanagan Valley pharmacies, has been awarded the 2017 Ben Gant Innovative Practice Award by the BC Pharmacy Association.

The award recognizes a pharmacist who’s demonstrated “significant innovation” in their practice, and has gone above and beyond in their profession. Pasin received it for his diligent work to “prevent and reverse the devastating effects” of the province’s opioid crisis.

Over the last couple of years Pasin has dedicated hundreds of volunteer hours towards educating physicians on how to best use and prescribe chronic pain medication. He’s also helped develop communications and care strategies for chronic pain patients with other front-line responders like the RCMP and mental health workers.

Most recently, he was invited by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC to present and participate in the latest Methadone 101 course, B.C.’s only recognized course for physicians to gain their methadone prescription license.

Partnering with his local family physician Dr. Peter Entwistle, Pasin provides regular in-clinic medication consultations and reviews, offering patients a comprehensive and collaborative approach to their health care.

Entwistle says the model Pasin has helped develop “has helped develop promises to provide a sustainable and patient-focused practical and equitable model of care to patients,” says Entwistle.

Pasin, who owns pharmacies based in Oliver, Penticton and West Kelowna, has been pushing to expand the pharmacist’s patient care role since entering the field in the early 1990s, and says the model is a “huge move forward for the profession.”

New dean of business at OC
Trevor Nichols - Jun 20 - Biz Releases

Image: Contributed

William Gillett is the new Dean of the Okanagan School of Business, at Okanagan College.

Gillet comes to Okanagan College from New Hampshire, where he formerly held the Christos and Mary Papoutsy Distinguished Chair in Ethics and Social Responsibility at Southern New Hampshire University.

Prior to that, he was the Dean of Business at SNHU, where he lead 58 full-time faculty, 125 adjunct faculty and supported more than 1,600 students in undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs.

Gillet earned a Bachelor of Science degree in foreign service from Georgetown University, and holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School.

“We’ve found a superb dean for the School of Business in Bill Gillett,” says Dr. Andrew Hay, the vice president of education at Okanagan College. “His international experience in both the private sector and post-secondary education very much aligns with the values of our college and the goals of our business school. He will be well positioned to build on the great work of Dr. Heather Banham and everyone within the school.”

Gillett, who worked as both a lawyer and in the insurance industry prior to his time in the post-secondary world, says he decided to come to Okanagan College because he was “extremely impressed” by the reputation of the business school.

“Every interaction I’ve had with the college and students has only reinforced [the school’s reputation] for me,” he said. “There is a clear focus within the institution to provide an education that prepares students for a globalized economy and I’m looking forward to building on that focus.”

Gillett will replace Dr. Heather Banham, who will retire from her role as Dean of the Okanagan School of Business this summer, after a 24-year career at the college.

Getting his feet wet
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 12 - Biz Releases

Image: Contributed

Earlier this month, Travel Penticton’s board, along with executive director Thom Tischik, welcomed to the team the organization’s new marketing manager.

Austin Weaver, who has more than nine years of experience in the tourism industry, takes over the position previously held by Raquel Meriam.

Weaver’s previous experience was primarily in other British Columbia communities, and he says he’s “excited” to get to work in Penticton.

“I have been a visitor to Penticton for many years and I’m eager to start making a difference in the local tourism community,” he says.

Weaver is stepping into his role as a somewhat beleaguered Penticton tries, in the face of flooding, to convince tourists it is still open for business.

Travel Penticton’s “We’re Still Happening” campaign hopes to accomplish just that, and Weaver will spent his first days on the job pushing the campaign and its message.

Chelsea Perretta
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 07 - Got the Edge

Name: Chelsea Perretta

Employer: Barreroom

City: Kelowna

Occupation: Studio owner and manager of operations

Tell us about your job: Our studio offers a fast-growing workout called Barre. My roles here at Barreroom, on top of being the owner, are running the efay-to-day operations of the studio and working as the program director. My job is a lot of fun: I train instructors and take care of the ins and outs of the studio from payroll and inventory control to recruitment and marketing.

Tell us about yourself: I am a fitness obsessed, coffee-loving Kelowna Girl. I was actually in banking for more than 10 years before opening Barreroom.

What do you do for fun? Barre and spin definitely top my hobby list, but I can also be found cooking in the kitchen, enjoying sushi and wine dates or just relaxing at home with my family.

What Winnie the Pooh character do you most relate to? dDefinitely Kanga. I’m calm and motherly by nature and quite protective. I tend to keep people organized and I write massive to-do lists. I’m a major planner. I also have a unexpected sense of humour ( I may have Googled the characters and this unknown trait about Kanga is what confirmed it for me). I love to make people laugh and feel at ease.

Latest movie or book: One thing I am always embarrassed about is my lack of reading. As a business owner and mom I just can’t find the time. I’m a TV person and I like a quick hour-long show that I can get into and watch on a regular basis. I’m a bit of a reality TV junkie. I have a hard time with really dramatic heavy stuff at night so crazy reality drama does the trick.

What’s your go-to happy place? Home for sure. The second I walk in the door at the end of the day, whether it’s 2 p.m. or 9p.m., if I’m home for the night I’ll get straight into my pajamas and just cook or hang with the fam. It’s the best.

SILT hires executive director
Trevor Nichols - Jun 02 - Biz Releases

Image: Contributed

Biologist Al Peatt has been named the new executive director of the Southern Interior Land Trust.

Peatt, one of the founding directors of the society, previously worked as a senior wildlife biologist for the Okanagan Nation Alliance, and before that with the B.C. Ministry of Environment in the Southern Interior.

Peatt stepping into the newly created executive director position represents a new direction for the volunteer-run organization; his goal will be to “rejuvenate and raise the profile of” SILT.

The organization is nearly three decades old, and currently owns four conservation properties: Ginty’s Pond in Cawston, Cold Creek near Keremeos, and Edwards Pond and Wards Lake at Grand Forks.

It has also helped others acquire conservation properties (like Rose Valley Regional Park and vital bighorn sheep habitat on the east side of Skaha Lake) and collaborates with other conservation groups to administer projects such as the Okanagan River and Mission Creek restorations.

SILT’s primary emphasis is to “acquire local gems of productive wildlife and fish habitat that provide valuable linkages to other larger-scale habitats and conservation areas.”

Peatt was a key participant in several of the organization’s original acquisitions, and says he’s excited to bring his many years of experience in land securement and wildlife habitat management to the organization’s new role.

“With this step forward, SILT will renew its purpose to protect sensitive fish and wildlife habitat for all living things in the B.C. southern interior, including people” said SILT president Ross Everatt. “We are excited to continue and expand SILT’s long history of habitat securement.”

Pleading for parents’ release
The Canadian Press - Jun 01 - BC Biz

Photo: The Canadian Press

The daughter of two Canadian winery owners being held by Chinese authorities over an alleged customs valuation dispute says the case should serve as a warning for other Canadians hoping to do business in China.

Amy Chang is in Ottawa this week pleading with federal politicians for help in getting her parents released from custody in Shanghai, where the two were arrested in March 2016 while visiting their business suppliers and agents.

John Chang and Lan-Fed (Allison) Lu, who own two wineries in British Columbia and one in Ontario, were put on trial behind closed doors last Friday at the Shanghai High People’s Court on charges of smuggling.

They are accused of under-reporting the value of the wine they export to China.

For their 23-year-old daughter, it’s been a nightmare that she hopes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can bring to an end.

“This should never have happened,” Chang said Wednesday as she prepared to meet separately in Ottawa with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair to press her case.

“There should not have been a trial; there shouldn’t even be a conviction.”

Chang, who was in a different Chinese province and immediately fled to Taiwan when she heard of her parents being arrested, said she had yet to hear about the outcome of their trial.

But she said there is no justifiable reason why the Chinese government has criminalized a commercial dispute, and she’s hoping the prime minister can sway Chinese authorities to drop the case against them.

“If this is an issue regarding undervaluation, then they can let me know and we can deal with this diplomatically,” said Chang, who along with more than 60 employees is now operating her family’s business, the Lulu Island Winery based in Richmond, B.C.

“There’s no need to have Canadian citizens detained overseas and imprisoned.”

Trudeau, who has been pushing for closer trading ties with China, was unavailable to meet Wednesday with Chang, having just returned from Europe. Still, Chang said she hoped for a meeting with him later in the week.

A Global Affairs spokeswoman said the department is closely following the case.

“We have raised our concerns at a high level with Chinese authorities,” Jocelyn Sweet said in an email. “Canadian officials are in contact with the relevant Chinese authorities, and are providing consular assistance to Mr. Chang, Ms. Lu, and their family.”

Chang said that assistance has amounted to one visit every three months from Canadian consular officials in China.

The department also offered Chang a meeting with Omar Alghabra, the parliamentary secretary to Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Lulu Island Winery has appealed to the government, arguing that the detention is a violation of China’s international trade obligations under the World Trade Organization’s valuation agreement, and therefore a matter of Canadian national interest.

The winery has also called on Canada’s international trade and justice ministers to demand their Chinese counterparts secure permission for Chang and his wife to return to Canada while the customs dispute is resolved.

Chang said she has only been able to communicate with her father through a lawyer in Shanghai. He has been incarcerated with no direct access to his family, and both his physical and mental health have been deteriorating since his arrest, she said.

Her mother, Lu, was also initially held in custody but was released in January on the condition she not leave China. Lu’s Canadian passport was confiscated and she must report regularly to Chinese authorities.

In an emailed response to questions, the Chinese embassy in Ottawa said it had learned through the media that the case was “undergoing judicial process” and that “the Chinese court will fairly handle the case in accordance with the law.”

Business built by Sticks + Stones
Trevor Nichols - May 26 - Biz Profiles

Photo: Trevor Nichols
Carla Bond-Fisher and the team from her Kelowna office.

As a child, Carla Bond-Fisher would map out her bedroom on pieces of graph paper.

By Grade 4, she had already researched and selected the program she intended to study when she finished high school.

For whatever reason, she says, she always felt like design was her calling, so the fact that she ended up running a design studio isn’t that surprising.

Although maybe it’s a little surprising.

Architecture, after all, is still a fairly male-dominated field—and back when Bond-Fisher got into it, that was even more true.

When she graduated from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in 1986, with a diploma in Architectural Technology, she says she was one of just three women in her graduating class of 100.

Entering a male-dominated field as a women is never easy, but she worked hard, and in 1995 took the plunge and started her own small business, drawing on her architectural experience to create attractive spaces for her clients.

But even though Bond-Fisher would eventually grow Stick + Stones Design Group to the design studio powerhouse it is today, at the time she was just looking to get by.

“It was never my intention to have a business with this, so it took a lot of the pressure off,” she said with a laugh. “I think my few goals were to just make some money for myself—I was newly married, I was young and living in Canmore—and I was in the right place at the right time.”

Whatever her humble goals were initially, over the past two decades Bond-Fisher has built Sticks + Stones into a thriving brand, with offices in Canmore, Calgary and Kelowna.

“I now have 16 employees, a lot of them are women, and we’re rocking it,” she says.

Last august, Sticks and Stones  was named one of the top 11 best-designed offices in Canada. Along with the Tommie awards the office has accrued over the years, in April Bond-Fisher was given the prestigious Top in Technology Award by the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC.

Those accolades were well earned. As well as running three offices, as she was building her Bond-Fisher was also raising three kids. She says that, on the day she gave birth to her youngest, she worked right up until 5 p.m.

“I would say as a woman, having to raise three kids at home and then grow a business, you have to be a little bit crazy,” she says.

These days, Bond-Fisher spends most of her time growing her business and mentoring her young employees.

While she doesn’t take on a lot of hands-on projects anymore, she says she gets her “creative fulfilment in the expansion and the idea of staying cutting edge, and what’s next.”

“What I’m seeing now in trends are things that I either did at the very beginning of my career, or I spent part of my career removing them from homes,” she says. “I feel like I’ve gone full circle, and had a full life cycle of design, and feel quite satisfied.”

Naborly partners with Equifax
Trevor Nichols - May 24 - Biz Releases

Photo: Facebook
Kelowna’s Dylan Lenz started Naborly after an experience with a bad tenant cost him thousands of dollars.

A Kelowna entrepreneur’s startup announced a major partnership with Equifax Canada today that will see it act as the primary service provider for small-scale landlords and tenants using the credit rating service.

Naborly, a company started by Kelowna native Dylan Lenz, uses sophisticated software to analyze information about potential tenants for landlords, and rates potential renters with a “chance of success.”

Today’s announcement is for an “exclusive web referral arrangement” with Equifax, which will see credit enquiries made through Equifax relating to small-scale landlords and property management firms go through Nabourly.

A partnership with the world’s largest credit rating agency is huge news for the fast-growing Naborly, promising to significantly increase its exposure, as well as expand its access to credit data internationally.

Partnering with Naborly allows Equifax to profitably serve the smaller market segments, which has proven difficult for large credit providers because of privacy and security regulations.

“A lot of small landlords and property managers have never been able to access tenant screening and reporting services because the credit bureaus were not designed to service rental businesses under 25 units under management,” Lenz, Naborly’s CEO, explains.

Naborly’s novel approach to those problems transforms that process from several weeks of paperwork and operational implementation to only a few minutes through its web application. It does that by building the required security and compliance infrastructure on their own computer servers and then providing it to their clients through a cloud application; and, to their distribution partners via API.

“We look at Naborly as a mix between Equifax and LinkedIn for the rental industry; landlords and tenants can use Naborly through many other RentTech software products and services, or we can be utilized as a stand alone solution,” Lenz says.

“We recognize the value of working closely with disruptive technology companies like Naborly, where there is clear value for both sides, “ explains Chris Briggs, the chief marketing officer at Equifax Canada.

“However, the specific reason we partnered with Naborly is because they are the clear leaders in the field. Their technology has created a new standard for tenant screening providers, and we haven’t see another company come close to the depth, accuracy, or the user-friendly nature of the Naborly product.”

For a company that started after a bad tenant cost Lenz thousands of dollars, the new partnership only helps it fulfil its mission of solving the problems tenants experience around finding a place to live and proving that they are reliable renters.

Not a dreamer
Trevor Nichols - May 11 - Biz Profiles

Stuart Lang sits atop the quadricycle that will form the backbone of Smile Cycle Tours.

Stuart Lang sits atop the quadricycle that will form the backbone of Smile Cycle Tours.
Photo: Trevor Nichols

The last thing Stuart Lang wants is to be thought of as a dreamer.

“People that have dreams, and often don’t take action towards realizing those dreams, are perceived as dreamers,” he said recently, over a plate of chicken tenders at Central Kitchen + Bar. “It’s good to dream, but you have to have an action plan. Dates and implementation will always drive results.”

So when the young entrepreneur bought an 800-kilogram, 15-person quadracycle from Holland to start running his own pedal-powered craft beer tours in Kelowna, he made sure he had done his research first.

Lang might not like the dreamer label, but his budding business, Smile Cycle Tours, is evidence that he is one, even if he is very driven about the whole thing.

He still remembers the exact day – Nov. 29 –  he decided to leave his job and start his journey as a business owner.

Lang has a double major in biology in science, but after he graduated he had trouble finding work in his field. So not long after he got his degree he “pivoted” and took an MBA.

But, even as he worked for a big telecommunications company, he knew he wanted to be a part of the tourism industry. That desire lead him back to his hometown of Kelowna, where he worked for a time with a wine tour.

It was during a slow period, early in the winter, when he decided to take the plunge.

“I was trying to just get by and pay my bills, and that’s when I started to think … I need something that I can take more ownership in,” he said.

He thought about the whimsical, giant cycles he had seen crawling through the streets in Germany, and realized he could do something similar in Kelowna.

“I realized this is the chance for me to start something in Kelowna that I had an interest in,” he recalled. “I had no reason to not do it, and on Dec. 20 I was wiring money over to the Netherlands, just prior to Christmas, really kind of swallowing my gut and going ‘this is happening.’”

Now, as tourist season approaches, Lang’s dream is really starting to come together.

Because of different circumstances and different laws, Smile Cycle Tours doesn’t look exactly like its predecessors in Europe, but Lang said he believes he can use “the hand [he’s] been dealt in Kelowna” to his advantage.


Photo: Facebook

His quadracycle is a massive, four wheeled vehicle that runs entirely on pedal power. Guests sit facing one another on two sides of a long table, and their pedalling drives the vehicle.

Lang sits in a raised driver’s seat steering the cycle and acting as tour guide. While European tours often have a tapped keg right on the bike itself, laws are different in Canada, so Lang’s tour is more of a pub crawl.

Each tour meets outside Central Kitchen + Bar, and Lang takes them on traditional beer tours where guests can visit several of Kelowna’s craft breweries, or others where they can visit their choice of craft spirit and wine creators.

“Kelowna can offer something that I think many other communities can’t, and that’s four products right in the downtown core: craft breweries, distilleries, cideries and wineries,” he explained.

Ultimately, he said, Smile Cycle Tours is a great “slow fun” experience for anyone looking to get a taste of Kelowna’s craft alcohol scene, and his tour will also help promote local businesses.

He’s just getting off the ground now, but with all his planning, Stuart the dreamer seems poised to become Stuart the successful business owner.

“I’m ready to take that next step. I’m ready to own something, and take it from zero to at least wherever I’ll take it. And that’s when I intend to do,” he said.

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