Mann now in charge
Okanagan Edge Staff - Mar 20, 2023 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

Chelsea Mann is the new Association of Interior Realtors president.

The Kamloops resident takes over from Penticton’s Lyndi Cruickshank in the role that oversees a 10-member board of directors.

“I am committed to serving all of our members and advocating for their interests,” Mann said in a press release. “As our association now covers a wider area across British Columbia, we are poised to provide even stronger support for Realtors in their communities, and I look forward to working with our members to advance our shared goals.

“I am very excited to help lead the Association of Interior Realtors board of directors in the year ahead. Working alongside this talented group of individuals is an honour, and I am eager to contribute to our shared mission. Let’s make moves and lead our members to success in the year ahead.”

AIR serves approximately 2,600 Realtors who live and work in communities across the Interior, including the Okanagan, Kootenay, Kamloops and South Peace River regions.

Mann formerly served as president of the Kamloops and District Real Estate Association, which became part of AIR when the latter was formed more than two years ago. She boasts 16 years of real estate experience. She had been serving as Cruickshank’s vice-president.

Cranbrook’s Kaytee Sharun will serve as the new vice-president, and the returning directors are Kelowna’s Stephanie Braun and Ryan Malcolm, and Cranbrook’s Bruce Seitz.

New directors include Kelowna’s Jaime Briggs, Don Gagnon and Steve Jamieson, Vernon’s Maria Besso and Kamloops’ Kadin Rainville.

New financial boss at Doseology
Okanagan Edge Staff - Mar 17, 2023 - People in Business

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A Kelowna mental health and wellness company earlier this month hired a new chief financial officer.

Doseology Sciences Inc. has appointed Pratik (Tiki) Patel as its new CFO, replacing Peter Geh in the position.

Patel is a chartered professional accountant with more than 15 years of experience in senior accounting and finance roles. He has served as head of finance at Bardel Entertainment and as a senior corporate accountant at WildBrain Studios.

“We are excited to welcome Pratik Patel as our new CFO,” Doseology CEO Ralph Olson said in a press release. “His extensive financial and operational experience will be a significant asset to our organization.”

New chefs at Poplar Grove
Okanagan Edge Staff - Mar 13, 2023 - People in Business

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Minette Lotz, left, and Stacy Johnston

One of the Naramata Bench’s prestigious wineries is welcoming a new pair of chefs to guide its food menu.

The Restaurant at Poplar Grove is excited to welcome Stacy Johnston as executive chef and Minette Lotz as chef de cuisine.

The two met working in a kitchen and share a love of deep-rooted, locally farmed or foraged ingredients that are true to the local growing season.

Both join the Poplar Grove team from the Naramata Inn, which recently underwent a shakeup.

They each have extensive resumes before their time in Naramata, cooking across Canada and earning such accolades as being named two of Canada’s “next star chefs” by the Globe and Mail and being resident chefs at the National Art Center in Ottawa.

Their menu will be offered at Poplar Grove starting Wednesday (March 15).

KSO boss bidding farewell
Kristen Holliday - Mar 10, 2023 - People in Business

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Kamloops Symphony Orchestra will be saying farewell to its executive director later this spring.

Daniel Mills took the job with the KSO in June 2019 and led the society through the COVID-19 pandemic, a particularly challenging time for arts organizations.

In a news release, KSO said Mills will be leaving in mid-May, moving back to his hometown of Calgary to take on the role of director of development at Arts Commons, Western Canada’s largest performing arts centre.

John McDonald, chair of the KSO board, said in a statement he shared this news with “bittersweet feelings.”

“Daniel and KSO music director Dina Gilbert continually pushed the artistic envelope of our local symphony by presenting innovative and vibrant programming,” he said.

According to KSO, Mills had a passion for making orchestral music accessible to a wider audience.

The society said KSO was among the first orchestras in Canada to provide all-digital performances during a time of COVID-19 restrictions, streaming eleven full-length online concerts.

“During the challenging years of the pandemic, Daniel led the way in bringing music to the people when the people couldn’t bring themselves to the music,” the society wrote in its statement.

Mills embarked on a special solo fundraiser in 2020, running every street in the city to raise more than $25,000 for the KSO. He covered nearly 900 kilometres over 72 days.

“Daniel delivered three consecutive balanced budgets during a time when many arts organizations were struggling,” the society said.

“He forged strong relationships with other arts organizations, including Western Canada Theatre, Kamloops Art Gallery and Kamloops Film Society, setting the stage for future collaborative ventures.”

KSO said Mills also played a critical role in transitioning the KSO and music school to its new home at Kelson Hall.

Mills said he will miss much about the Kamloops community.

“I will truly cherish the countless individuals I have met and will be forever grateful for the generosity and vibrancy demonstrated by those in the region,” he said in a statement.

New COO at Pushor Mitchell
Okanagan Edge Staff - Mar 09, 2023 - People in Business

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Kelowna’s Pushor Mitchell has hired an experienced accountant to be its new chief operating officer.

Kara James is the new COO at the Interior’s largest law firm. She has more than 24 years of experience in budgeting and forecasting, internal controls, cash flow analysis and key performance indicator development.

“I believe that success happens when you help others become their best selves,” James said in a press release. “Pushor Mitchell already has a stellar reputation for serving its clients and community, and I am pleased to step in this role to grow with the firm during today’s ever-changing business climate.”

James graduated from UBCO, owns chartered professional accountant status and has worked for KPMG and Sysco Canada, where she spent 17 years and ultimately became its chief financial officer for Western Canada. She recently worked for Pubco Reporting Solutions in Vancouver and founded a startup called JB CFO, a consulting practice that offers CFO services to startups, small and mid-sized businesses and non-profits.

“We are pleased to welcome Kara to our management team,” Pushor Mitchell managing partner Joni Metherell said in a press release. “She brings a strong track record and will help ensure that our firm is focused on profitability, operational efficiency and strategic growth for many years to come.”

Tonit founder ready for final
Accelerate Okanagan - Mar 08, 2023 - People in Business

Photo: LinkedIn

The 2023 OKGN Angel Summit began on Jan. 10, with a group of more than 45 applicants hoping to take home the $225,000 investment fund.

Over the past two months, this year’s angel investors narrowed it down to the final six companies. These courageous founders have demonstrated their commitment to learning the capital raising process and building valuable connections along the way.

One of those founders is Jason Lotoski, the founder of Tonit and the lone Okanagan finalist. Tonit is a social platform that connects motorcycle riders and enthusiasts to a community of like minded people.

The OKGN Angel Summit will be held on March 16 at Kelowna’s Innovation Centre.

Accelerate Okanagan sat down with Lotoski to learn more about his journey to the OKGN Angel Summit final.

What makes you and your team the best ones to build this business?

I come from a family of successful entrepreneurs, so ambition has always been a driving force in my life. As a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast and rider, I am thrilled to have found a way to merge my passion with my goal of building a business that will have a positive impact. With the guidance of my incredible team of advisors I feel confident in my ability to bring this vision to fruition.

Why should investors be interested in your company?

Tonit has the ability to create positive change in the world by connecting people to other real people and a very passionate motorcycle community. Secondly, as Tonit is a fully built social platform, it has the ability to rapidly scale across geographically, as well as expand into other similar industries like cars, off-road vehicles and more. 

If you win the $225,000 investment fund, how do you plan to use the money?

If we win the Angel Summit, we plan to use the fund to take our business to the next level by rapidly expanding and hiring engineers to further improve our product. Our goal is to have Tonit available worldwide by mid-2024, with an emphasis on creating meaningful hubs in major cities. We feel that by investing in these areas we can create a more fulfilling experience for riders everywhere and bring the global motorcycle community closer than ever before. 

What do you feel has contributed most to you reaching the top six?

Meeting face to face with the investors has given me the incredible opportunity to showcase my unwavering passion and dedication to the business. It has also given me the chance to share my excitement about our unique competitive edge and secret sauce. I look forward to leveraging this opportunity to share my vision for the future of Tonit and how we plan to revolutionize the motorcycle community. 

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in participating in the summit? 

If you are an entrepreneur that is looking to make meaningful connections with angel investors then the OKGN Angel Summit is the place for you. The investors come from many different backgrounds and have a wide range of experience. Participating in the summit is a way for early stage entrepreneurs to connect with people who could become some of their first investors or advisors.

URBA unveils 2023 board
Contributed - Mar 06, 2023 - People in Business

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Nancy Wells is back as URBA president

Uptown Rutland Business Association named its 2023 board of directors during its annual general meeting last week.

Nancy Wells is back as president, and she will lead a board that consists of five returnees and four newcomers. The group of ex officio directors include Kelowna Mayor Tom Dyas.

“Rutland’s business community is full of heart and determination,” Wells said in a press release. “This year’s board of directors are leaders that are driven to see Rutland businesses thrive and be sustainable for many years to come.

“We are incredibly honoured to have Mayor Dyas join the URBA board this year as he sees the potential and the many valuable opportunities in Rutland, just like we do.”

URBA’s 2023 board of directors is as follows:

*Nancy Wells, Kelowna Hospital Foundation-Rutland Thrift Store

*Justin Bullock, OK Tire + Top Grade Tire
*Courtney Fedevich, Venture Commercial
*Laura Fitzsimmons, Haus+Home OKGN Interior Design
Terra George, Superior Paint Co + Okanagan Soap
*Navjit Khun Khun, Benson Law
Brad McNaughton, Lux Quality Homes
*Domenic Rampone, Mara Lumber Home Building Centre
Parmjeet Sehgal, Canco Petroleum
Devin Welsh, Scotiabank

Mayor Tom Dyas, City of Kelowna
Ellen Boelcke, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce
Amanda McFarlane, BrainTrust Canada
Birte Decloux, Urban Options Planning Corp.


Naramata Inn chef returns home
Okanagan Edge Staff - Feb 27, 2023 - People in Business

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A Naramata chef is proving you can go home again.

Jacob Deacon-Evans, who started his culinary career in his hometown at the age of 16, has been named head chef at the prestigious Naramata Inn by Columbia Hospitality.

“Naramata is a magical place, and I’m just buzzing to be part of the Naramata Inn,” Deacon-Evans said in a press release. “I’m thrilled to help build upon its exceptional culinary reputation and to continue to share the best of the Okanagan with guests from all over Canada and the world.”

Deacon-Evans started working in the kitchen of Robinson Road Bistro when he was 16, and he turned that into a career that took him all over the world. He has worked at Vancouver’s West, Bishop’s, Cioppino’s, Wildebeest and Supermarine, and at London’s Michelin starred L’Autre Pied. Most recently he has been at Row Fourteen at Klippers in Cawston.

The Naramata Inn is a 115-year-old heritage property, but nationally renowned chef Ned Bell and others renovated and opened a reimagined space three years ago. Bell and Kate Colley will remain shareholders in Naramata Inn as they step away from their day-to-day roles in April.

Faces of #OKGNtech
Accelerate Okanagan - Feb 16, 2023 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable, and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.

Our community is strong and growing with record speed, and maintaining connections through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic. We’ve got a plan.

This is “The Faces of #OKGNtech,” a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram at @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.

Meet Crystal Henrickson, the principal leadership coach and people operations advisor at Talent Collective. When she’s not developing the leaders of tomorrow, you can find her tending to her vegetable garden and greenhouse in the South Okanagan or making a mess in the kitchen while cooking something delicious.

Why did you choose the Okanagan to call home? 

Growing up, Penticton was my family’s vacation destination. Every childhood beach memory involves the Okanagan. As I got older and acquired a taste for wine, weekend getaways were spent on the Naramata Bench. Penticton might have stayed a vacation destination, but my husband and I realized that our personal interests, like gardening and homesteading, didn’t match our Vancouver condo life. So we decided to move to Penticton to pursue our interests, and we got a built-in vacation in the process. 

Where do you work in the Okanagan? 

I am the principal leadership coach and people operations advisor at Talent Collective, a company I co-founded in 2015 with my business partner, Annika Reinhardt. Talent Collective is a people operations company that focuses on leadership coaching, performance and career development practices, and compensation strategy for fast growth companies. In my role, I coach leaders at all levels and small leadership teams to accelerate their leadership effectiveness in their pursuit of building and maintaining healthy workplaces. 

What do you enjoy most about your role? 

I love working one-on-one with clients, especially new managers as they grow in their own careers as leaders. Walking alongside them as they move from challenges and struggles to adopting healthy and genuine approaches to their leadership style never ceases to leave me awe-struck. 

What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours? 

If you feel pressured—internally or externally—know that you don’t have to go “all in” like quitting your job without a sense of security or scaling a business to meet someone else’s vision, it’s important to remember small and sustainable can be beautiful. When building a business, test and iterate everything, from your coaching style to the clients you want to work with and the operating model you want to have. 

Who inspires you?

I am inspired by people who are doing the deep, uncomfortable and often overlooked inner work that is necessary to become an effective, long-term, authentic, people-first leader who leads with purpose and develops healthy relationships with others, personally and professionally. These leaders rarely get the recognition they deserve.

What is the best piece of advice you can share?

The best advice I have received and shared are one and the same—the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. If you are overly unkind, harsh, and judgemental of yourself, over time that will dominate the relationship. Instead, if you can learn to treat yourself kindly, empathetically and objectively, you’ll give yourself the gift of the best kind of friend you could possibly have. 

What is one word that describes you and why?

Bespoke. It was the first value that we wrote down when we were forming Talent Collective, and it resonates even more deeply for me now than it did then. Every relationship I engage with is as nuanced as each individual. There is a time and a place for templates and cookie cutters, but not when it comes to people.

Is there something you want to be remembered for? 

I’d like to be remembered as someone who lived an intentional and purposeful life. I hope that a part of that purpose will be seen as helping people uncover and unpack meaning within themselves that might lead to a meaningful shift for them.

New managing partner at Pushor
Okanagan Edge Staff - Feb 09, 2023 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

Pushor Mitchell LLP has a new managing partner.

Joni Metherell, who started with the Kelowna law firm as an articling student in 1994, has agreed to a three-year term as managing partner. Her role will be to work closely with the other partners and associates to guide the firm’s strategic direction.

Metherell is taking over the role from Andrew Brunton.

“I am proud to be part of such an upstanding firm with a team of dedicated lawyers and staff that not only provide excellent service to our clients but also care deeply about our community,” Metherell said in a press release.

“I want to acknowledge and thank our previous managing partner, Andrew Brunton, for his years in the role, especially with the challenges of the pandemic. And I am particularly excited to take on this role in the start of Pushor Mitchell’s 50th anniversary year.”

Metherell, who is has given back to her community throughout her legal career, is currently on the Central Okanagan Hospice Association board. As a lawyer she specializes in wills, trusts and estate litigation as well as property and easement disputes.

Pushor Mitchell is B.C.’s largest law firm outside of the Lower Mainland, with 36 lawyers in more than 25 areas of practice.

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