A recap from the most recent Ambassador meeting...

by Admin 19. December 2014 13:44

A message from your Ambassador co-chair...

 

 

Rob Read, Ambassador co-chair

Hi everyone!


 

With the December meeting now just a fond memory we can look back at this past year and smile knowing we have done a great job in supporting The Chamber membership, and rising to the challenges each day brings.


 

This meeting was another example of how effective our Ambassador program has become. We have created and implemented a structure that will support the different critical areas we want to focus on, and I was impressed with the reports we got from each subcommittee team. As we move into next year we will continue to get the two-minute reports from each subcommittee.


 

I spoke with Dan Furlan this morning and he indicated he already had seven volunteers for the mentorship committee. What an excellent response! We will also need volunteers for both Ribbon Cutting and Milestone, and I thank those of you who have already stepped forward. These are both critical groups: one welcomes new members into The Chamber, and the other recognizes the long-term commitments that members have given. I have spoken many times of mentorship­-both giving and receiving-and all three committees support that.


 

Word on the street is that RaY (Resource Assistance for Youth) is doing a charitable walk on February 21st. They are hosting the Coldest Night of the Year, a 2, 5 & 10 km winter walk hosted in 80+ cities across Canada in support of their work here in Winnipeg with the hungry, homeless, and hurting. Try to get involved if you can.


 

We hosted another series of round table discussions focused on Retail, Procurement, Marketing, Networking, and Non-Profit. There were many good ideas shared in each area, and The Chamber will be reviewing these discussions and ideas to determine if there are some that could become policy moving forward. We can only be heard when we speak up.


 

Overall we had a fantastic meeting to end what has been a very successful year! Take pride in the amount of food collected for our hamper. There are people in our city that will have a much better Christmas because of your generosity. I look forward to seeing you all in 2015. Remember, my inbox is always open. Best wishes through the holiday season!


 

Rob Read

Owner Bison Fire Protection

Co-Chair of The Ambassadors

 


 


 

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Mark Jones Receives Chamber's BOLD Ideas, Initiatives, Leaders Award

by Chamber Staff 18. December 2014 05:49

Mark Jones - BOLD Ideas, Initiatives and Leader Award

At 19, Mark Jones got a job in a warehouse packing boxes for Video One, then Canada’s largest video distribution company. They’d buy movies from studios such as Warner Bros. and sell them to Walmart and Blockbuster. He worked his way up, getting into sales, and was named branch general manager, followed by regional director for Manitoba/Saskatchewan. At night, he took his CGA, and none too soon. He saw the writing on the wall for the industry. Branches were closed and the company sold.

He liked accounting and decided that was the direction to go. But he didn’t want to hang up a shingle on his own. He needed more experience. He chose to work with another CGA, Tanis Olafson. In 2007, he convinced her that they should become partners – it was like selling ice cubes to Eskimos – his best sales job ever. They became partners in Olafson & Jones Certified General Accountants. It’s been a good fit. They share a similar business philosophy and operate like “a village” – sharing clients and balancing each other’s strengths. They focus on small and medium-sized businesses, although their clients run the gamut from independent plumbers to multi-million-dollar construction companies.

Over the past six years, their staff has tripled (to nine), as has their revenue. They do virtually no advertising. Their growth is largely through client referrals.

Mark sees Winnipeg as going through a renaissance, so he was excited to get involved with The Chamber. He has been a guest on several BOLD Radio shows, he followed the city budget and took part in our BOLD Caucus. He will be chairing our new Economic Competitiveness Leadership Table. It was actually the promise that there’d be muffins that convinced him to volunteer. So the next time you get muffins at a Chamber meeting, that’s Mark’s contribution. Besides the muffins, Mark feels he’s gotten a lot out of The Chamber, including the opportunity to meet with all the candidates for mayor, a group he found very inspiring. For him, BOLD has been a way of channeling the “common” person’s passion for forward thinking. And for The Chamber, Mark symbolizes what BOLD is all about - elevating our thinking and seeing community leaders step up to the plate.

People are ready for that kind of thinking – forget the naysaying. With the election of Brian Bowman as mayor, there’s an opportunity to have an actual conversation and to discuss giving municipalities the tools to get the job done. Bowman has already suggested revising the City of Winnipeg Charter. There’s momentum building … and the best advice would be to add your voice because there’s an appetite for change and BOLD thinking. The Chamber’s BOLD initiative has definitely made a difference and we should keep it going.

 

 

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Carl Hutman Named Chamber's Volunteer of the Year

by Chamber Staff 11. December 2014 06:53

Carl Hutman just woke up one day and decided he’d go into business for himself doing auto repairs. He put 50 hand-written flyers on car windshields, got 10 responses and quit his job. He was literally based out of his car, going to people’s homes and working on the street.

He’s been fixing vehicles now for 21 years and has moved four times, from a garage he built in his backyard to the building he owns today at 211 McPhillips. As a licensed technician with his Red Seal, Carl now operates Get About Auto Repairs with his wife and youngest son, although in the past, he also had the help of apprentices he trained. Today, he continues to repair all makes and models of vehicles - from new to old - but specializes in electrical work.

But it’s a tough, always changing industry, and especially tough as a small business. Nine times out of 10, the first question he gets asked is how much will it cost or what are your labour rates. The industry as a whole suffers from a lack of trust. You don’t see a dentist getting asked those sorts of questions. People think repair shops are out to get them, when they go in for an oil change and walk out with a $500 bill because potential problems have been spotted. There’s a big stigma about preventive maintenance.

However, Carl feels Winnipeg is a good place to do business. Most people are genuine, honest and up-front. And for him, it’s home. His sons grew up here and it is where his friends and family are. He’s never considered living and working elsewhere.

From the beginning, his business has been 90 per cent word of mouth. He joined The Chamber primarily to get involved in the community. He finds The Chamber is like one big happy family. It’s fun and easy to get involved. He’s contributed his muscle to The Chamber’s dragon boat team, which raised money for charity. He’s helped out at luncheons and The Chamber Golf Classic. And he put on many miles delivering The Chamber’s membership directory, which was a great way for him to meet a lot of nice people. He’s currently active in the Ambassadors and is part of the Milestone Committee, which will recognize members on their anniversaries and for special accomplishments.

The Chamber has also helped him personally. He’s a quiet sort of guy … and it used to take him a long time to open up with people he didn’t know. That’s all changed. And it’s a good thing because people need to get to know who they’re doing business with before they actually do business.

 

 

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Leadership Winnipeg Through the Eyes of Pat Fortier

by Chamber Staff 10. December 2014 06:00

 

Our “backstage pass” tour of Winnipeg continued with Leadership Winnipeg’s Nov. 28 session held at the Manitoba Museum!

 

Our day began with a presentation by Claudette Leclerc, the museum’s CEO, who spoke very passionately of the important role played by the organization in the community. I definitely appreciated the passion she demonstrated for her work and the fact that all those working at the museum are empowered to ensure guests have the best possible time when visiting. Some of the other key takeaways for me were that the museum is the number one paid tourist attraction in Manitoba and the importance of partnerships in the arts/cultural sector, and this not only for financial reasons, but because it often makes for a better final product.

 

We then heard from Javier Schwersensky, deputy executive director at museum, regarding the need for entrepreneurship in the not-for-profit sector. He made a very compelling case in support of artistic and cultural institutions becoming more entrepreneurial and provided concrete examples of how the museum is going about doing that, such as crowdfunding initiatives, internal “dragon’s den” style competitions and the adoption of artifacts online to name a few. He identified the need to innovate, increased openness/transparency, listening to the community and ensuring passionate teams as key elements for success. While appreciative of the benefits of more entrepreneurial practices, it does raise a few important questions, namely whether, as a society, we should primarily be focussing on artistic or cultural endeavors that are financially profitable. We should also be taking into account other less tangible and harder to account for benefits as well.

 

Following this, we had an opportunity to hear from the following individuals involved in the performing arts sector: 

Cherry Karpyshin, general manager, Prairie Theatre Exchange
Jeff Herd, executive director, Royal Winnipeg Ballet
Trudy Schroeder, executive director, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra

Similar to what had been mentioned by Claudette Leclerc, panelists underlined the importance of partnerships and collaboration in the continued success of their organizations. Another common theme was that Winnipeg is a very culturally rich city, partly due to our relative remoteness and isolation compared to other cultural centres. Also of note were the set of common challenges identified: ongoing efforts to remain relevant; taking into account demographic changes; and balancing the need to provide audiences what they want while still being able push the envelope in terms of using art to foster positive social change.

 

Over the lunch hour, we attended a luncheon hosted by The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce with guest speaker Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Trudeau presented many examples of how a federal government led by his party would differ from the other alternatives. This provided us with an opportunity to discuss some political issues of the day, including the value of income splitting for (certain) types of families, with some being in favour as it is a way to ensure tax fairness between dual and single income families, while others underlined the limited number of Canadian families, mostly led by a male breadwinner, that would benefit. Regardless of your position on certain issues, I think it’s important to ensure the respectful exchange of ideas, which allows for more informed and representative decisions to be taken by those in leadership positions.

 

In the afternoon we had an opportunity to hear from a broad cross section of Manitobans involved in various cultural industries, primarily in film and music, including:

 

Carole Vivier, CEO, Manitoba Film & Music
Phyllis Laing, Buffalo Gal Pictures (producer of The Pinkertons)
Kyle Bornais, Farpoint Films (producer of Illegal Eater)
Todd Jordan, vice-president, Paquin Artists Agency
David Landreth, The Landreth Brothers (local musicians/artist management)
Rob Macklin, ACTRA Manitoba 

I was happy to hear of the many different film and music projects under way right here in Manitoba and the depth of the local talent available to work in film and television productions. Panelists also addressed the many positive economic impacts of the industry, which make up a significant amount of Manitoba’s economy. One of the common themes raised by many panelists was that the film/television and music industry has reached a tipping point in terms of talent and infrastructure, which bodes well for the continued development of the industry in Manitoba!

 

Hearing from the many speakers over the day made me realize just how culturally rich and diverse Winnipeg is as a city and how we really are a creative incubator – we should all pause more often to reflect on this and recognize all that we have right here in our own backyard!

 

 

Pat Fortier is a proud husband, father, Franco-Manitoban and Winnipegger. You can follow him on twitter at @patfortier or visit his LinkedIn page at ca.linkedin.com/in/patrickfortier/.

 

 

 

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Leadership Winnipeg Through the Eyes of Jessica Dumas

by Chamber Staff 5. December 2014 11:06

It was quite an eventful day at Leadership Winnipeg’s Nov. 28 gathering. The Manitoba Museum was gracious to host us and include an afternoon “behind-the-scenes tour,” while we engaged in discussions of how vital arts and culture are to the economy and to our quality of life. Art industries are major contributors to the city’s attractions and revenue, and are continuously growing! We also had the nice treat of joining The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce membership luncheon with a keynote speech from Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Arriving for the 9 a.m. start time, I was greeted by a statue of a pirate in the elevator and at that moment, I knew it was going to be a good day. We had our usual greetings from Wendy and Doneta, Leadership program directors, and said hi to the many faces we are learning to recognize as folks from all areas of the city and different professions, gather together in agreement that Winnipeg is a great place to be. They are a great group of people and it’s been fun to get to know them!

It wasn’t long before I had an opportunity to win my sons some free passes to the museum’s Real Pirates Exhibition. Claudette Leclerc, CEO of the Manitoba Museum, gave us an overview of the role and vision of the Manitoba heritage and science gallery that includes 2.9-million artifacts with only 5% of them on display at a time. That is pretty fascinating. I like to come at least once a year and will be bringing the kids back soon. It was interesting to see where and how the artifacts are cared for and meet the people that preserve these very special items for our future generations to enjoy.

Throughout the day we had several visitors. We met the general manager of Prairie Theatre Exchange,  Cherry Karpyshin; Jeff Herd, executive director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet; Trudy Schroeder, executive director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra; Carole Vivier; CEO, Manitoba Film & Music; Phyllis Laing of Buffalo Gal Pictures; Kyle Bornais of Farpoint Films; Todd Jordan of Paquin Artists Agency; and David Landreth of  the Bros. Landreth. It was interesting to learn how much they work together in partnerships and in support of each other’s work. What stood out for me the most is how they encouraged us to brag more about our creative and artistic skills and not to be so modest all the time. Winnipeg is jam-packed with incredible talent, from artists to entrepreneurs to so much more and we have to step it up and take ownership for this awesomeness and most of all, promote and support each other by putting our money where our words are, keeping it affordable for artists to survive and thrive here.

The facts are that arts and entertainment, visual and musical, bring in large amounts of revenue annually into our local economy and I think we should celebrate our local talent so much more, inviting others from around the world to see them on our stage, instead of taking the chance of losing these incredible souls to other cities. We all have creative talents and we see them executed in multiple avenues and industries, but we really need to take another level of recognizing the arts and entertainment as a vital and valuable industry, right here in our city.

I will continue to support the artists I know, incorporating their talents in the event planning and variety of involvement that I do, promoting their fantastic work. I will continue to support our museums and entertainers of all areas, acknowledging the revenue it brings to our city and I will continue to promote what a great city Winnipeg is and why we should be proud of it. I look forward to more great days with great people, while participating in the Leadership Winnipeg class of 2014-2015.

As Mr. Justin Trudeau closed off his speech, he said: “A government has an important role to play, fostering innovation and finding other ways to boost productivity and new ideas. The high-paying skilled jobs that come with those ideas will be what define our future growth. That’s the kind of resourcefulness that Winnipeg and Canada needs as we settle into this new and uncertain century.”

I’m really hoping that this concept of rewarding individuals of high payment can be adapted to the benefits and earnings of our artists and entertainers. It’s a fabulous industry from my seat. The Winnipeg Arts Council’s research for 2014 says that arts and culture activities bring in about a billion dollars per year and employ 6.4% of our labour force! That’s pretty incredible. Let’s make it grow Winnipeg. Keep up the good work!

Jessica Dumas is a Life Coach at Prime Image Life Coaching and the chair of the Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce.  Follow her on twitter @JDiddy2011.

 

 

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Sue Leclair Named Chamber's Rookie of the Year

by Chamber Staff 5. December 2014 08:55

Sue Leclair (pictured at right)

Sue Leclair wanted a change and was looking to leave behind her job with the federal government. Not the type of person to sit back and wait for something to land in her lap, she hired a business consultant to find an entrepreneurial opportunity for her to pursue. It didn’t take long – the consultant found a business that was just months from going into bankruptcy. She took it over, selling fresh pretzels and mini-doughnuts at sporting events. She renamed and rebranded the business, and basically started from scratch. There have been many people in her circle, who’ve been asked to taste-test her latest recipes, including beer-flavoured pretzels, which have yet to make it on her menu, that currently includes pretzels with salt, garlic salt, cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar, parmesan cheese and cheddar cheese.

Over the past 2 ½ years, The Pretzel Place has seen tremendous growth – 40 per cent annually. Her pretzels have become part of the experience at any Bomber or Goldeyes game. She’s also added a twist – selling wholesale to bars, casinos, hotels, restaurants and private parties.

Sue joined The Chamber because she saw it as a good way to get the name of her business out. She likes people, and the family-like culture at The Chamber appeals to her. Volunteering was an easy next step. She currently co-chairs the Milestone Committee, which recognizes member anniversaries and accomplishments, and is involved as an Ambassador. She enjoys helping others network, being a mentor and creating trusting relationships. She has volunteered at luncheons, Centrallia and The Chamber Golf Classic. She’s made a lot of friends through The Chamber and has had fun along the way. Her business has also benefited. Through her Chamber connections, she secured a catering job at one of the casinos.

 

 

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Leadership Winnipeg Through the Eyes of Shandy Walls

by Chamber Staff 5. December 2014 06:04

I often refer to myself, affectionately, as a hillbilly, since I was born and raised in rural Manitoba. Even though my life and marriage took me to New York for 15 years, I have never gotten to know the city in my backyard, Winnipeg. Which is the reason I joined Leadership Winnipeg. 

My goal by the end of the session is to define, as exampled in the pop culture book Eat, Pray, Love, the single word that defines our city. Rome was "sex," Vatican City was "power" and New York "achieve."

So what is Winnipeg’s? What I can tell you is that the words that have been consistent with all of our meetings/classes so far are grassroots, culture, isolation and collaboration.

By June and I should be able to give you my best guess. But if you think you have that one word, e-mail me at swalls@stars.ca.

 

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Meet One of Our Chamber Members

by Chamber Staff 1. December 2014 06:03

 

We are pleased to introduce one of our Chamber members, Oly Backstrom, president and CEO of SCE LifeWorks

What does your organization do?

We help people labelled with developmental disabilities, as well as autism, to find work in the community.

What company or business person most inspires you?

There’s a person who comes to mind. Her name is Erin Riehle and she is the founder of Project SEARCH. She has been a real groundbreaker when it comes to helping large businesses find a way forward hiring people with developmental disabilities in a manner that makes sense for them.

How did you get the idea for your organization or why did you choose to get involved?

SCE LifeWorks existed for seven years before I was here, and I have been here for 20 years. It was a non-profit organization started by a group of parents, who wanted an avenue for their sons and daughters to find their valued place in the community.

It resonated with me because I shared the same vision. We, as an organization, have been on a journey of discovering more and better ways to support people in finding meaningful employment in the community. At the same time, we are looking to connect with the business community to meet their labour needs, while diversifying their workforce.

What is innovative about your organization?

In Winnipeg, at least, many people with developmental disabilities are not employed and are not supported in inclusive ways. Not only are we trying to support job seekers, but we are trying to be a model or example for other organizations to consider providing more inclusive supports.

What’s the most difficult part of your job?

As the years pass, there seems to be less time to do more work. Everyone, from people in business to people in government and non-profits, seems to be experiencing this. But what keeps me going is knowing that the work we do is great work.

What’s the most important issue facing business today?

I’m keenly aware of labour shortages and the challenge of hiring great employees, who will stick around. That’s what we’re focused on. We would love to show businesses that hiring people with developmental disabilities can be part of their labour solution.

Why did you join The Chamber?

It was an opportunity to connect with progressive businesses, who want to diversify their workforces. I think the environment is ripe to take a great leap forward and hire people with developmental disabilities, who have all sorts of skill and abilities, if people are willing to listen and offer an opportunity, I’d be happy to talk to any Chamber member about hiring a person with a developmental disability.

 

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Meet One of Our Chamber Board Members - Priti Mehta-Shah

by Chamber Staff 24. November 2014 09:26

PRITI MEHTA-SHAH, 49-97 Capital Partners (Incoming Chair) 

Why did you get involved in The Chamber?

A couple of years ago, I got involved with The Chamber to see if we could make a difference and get more capital in the community. The Chamber has always been known for getting results.

What’s the one thing everyone needs to know about The Chamber or would be surprised by?

The size of its membership – I didn’t realize how big an organization The Chamber is. There are more than 2,050 members, employing more than 90,000 people.

What’s the most important issue facing business?

I’m going to repeat myself – it’s capital. There are a lot of innovative ideas, just not enough capital.

What’s the best business/career advice you’ve ever received?

To spend a minimum of 20 per cent of your time retaining relationships with your clients and building those relationships.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Most people think I’m quiet, but I consider myself quietly aggressive in terms of getting things done.

What do you love most about Winnipeg?

It’s the people and the spirit of the people. Winnipeggers want everyone to succeed and they’re willing to help to make that happen. The feeling is you’re local, we’ll trust you. I started my practice two years ago, and everyone chipped in to ensure we had a successful launch. They gave us work.

 

 

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Leadership Winnipeg Through the Eyes of Carley Smith

by Admin 17. November 2014 07:49

Is There a Recipe To Successful Leadership?

Being new to my leadership “career,” I have always wondered if there is a recipe to successful leadership. Is it as simple as one cup of this, tossed with ½ cup of that, combined on low speed? Or is it a style? Is it a personality? A team? Or is the key to successful leadership, that there is no key at all?

As we drove up and towards, then down the looped driveway of Government House, I felt a flood of mixed emotions. I couldn’t believe that I actually had the opportunity to attend a day at Government House in the presence of His Honour Philip Lee, Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba. Or were the emotions due to the realization that I, along with our Leadership Winnipeg 2014-2015 team, would have the additional opportunity to hear directly from five leaders, who themselves have inspiring stories to how they have become viewed a community leader, whether intentionally or not. I thought about my first day at Leadership Winnipeg, when we were asked to reflect and share individually to the group who our heroes were and I replied: “Anyone who can tell their story.” Beyond excited, best describes the most prevalent emotion.

We were divided into teams and moved to our designated area for the day within the historic home.  With no guidelines or agenda for hosting the conversations other than to take this time to listen, ask questions and find out if there was a key to success for Pat Bovey, Damon Johnston, Paul Jordan, Ida Albo and Tyler Gompf.

The day completely flew by with stories one-by-one of their journeys throughout their careers. Words filled with passion, optimism, a strong belief for what they do, coupled with one liner quotes filled my coiled book of notes. We gathered back in the auditorium and I was reading the inspiration within the lines of what I had written. I hadn’t realized at the time the five different conversations were happening, but they spoke a common trend. Five leaders. Five different people. Same recipe?

The expected words like vision, team support and passion were all interlocking common pieces. However, time and time again, the words “remove the silo” were written on my page. Knowing the intention of the use of silo was not likely as a noun, being a tower to typically store grain, I Googled it.   What was the true definition behind this word, used as a verb by all five of our presenting leaders, all with exceedingly different accomplishments and backgrounds, that drove such a passion when speaking about breaking down the silos?

  Definition of Silo              

               Verb:      isolate (one system, process, department etc.) from others

 Which got me thinking, what is the literal definition of leadership, after which I, of course, Googled it.

            Definition of Leadership

                            Noun:   the action of leading a group of people or an organization

It dawned on me. This idea surrounding the benefits to removing the silos really begins within the early stages of our lives, much before the understanding of the word leadership. We teach toddlers to share and be fair, elimination of cliques and bullying within schools and in our latter years, equality within the work force. Even within an article I was reading about the G20 Summit 2014, it made mention of the increased push for our world leaders to recognize and work towards removing current barriers. The verb silo can really relate to so many stages and life experiences.

These five presenters unconsciously became some of Manitoba’s well respected leaders because they had and continue to have the ability to understand that leadership is defined as leading a group of people or an organization and yet as leaders we are quite often expected to lead in an environment flooded with silos. That is why their stories are so moving, they are triumphant. They are raw. They are reality. By working towards removing barriers and silos in their personal and professional lives they have created an environment where accomplishments can flourish with help built from that success.

Think about that for a moment and I challenge you to self-reflect if there’s room for improvement with your leadership recipe.

 

Carley Smith

 

 

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