Western Marble & Tile Ltd.

by Admin 26. February 2015 10:13

SPIRIT OF WINNIPEG FINALIST - MEDIUM BUSINESS CATEGORY 

 

Western Tile was founded in 1977. Within a few short years, we expanded to become Western Marble and Tile Ltd. We are a family-owned and operated business specializing in the fabrication and installation of solid surface countertops (granite, quartz and marble), and are also a tile retailer. Our work ranges from small residential projects to large-scale commercial projects, including hotels, banks, and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

In April 2013, we came under new ownership and have since emerged as a leader in Canada’s flourishing granite industry. In January 2014, our new owners invested nearly $2 million in cutting-edge technologies that transformed the stone fabrication process from manually-intensive to digitally-automated. These innovations have had numerous benefits for our customers, our company and our community.

All of our templating is now done with a laser device, which sends data directly to our stone-cutting machines. This has replaced the use of cardboard and it produces much more accurate results. Additionally, we are able to offer customers the unique opportunity to view and approve their countertops prior to cutting any stone, through designing digital renderings that demonstrate orientation on a slab, grain direction and seams.

Almost all of our stone-cutting and polishing is completed by an automated waterjet and saw. We have a water treatment system that recycles all of the water used in our fabrication shop. Since adopting this technology, our water usage has decreased by over 85%. Our wet-shop is also much safer for workers. It has greatly reduced dust and diminished the need for heavy-duty protective respiratory equipment.  

Since adopting these technologies, our production capacity has increased almost three-fold. We are proud to provide our customers with the most advanced and accurate stone fabrication process in Manitoba, while reducing our environmental footprint and creating a safer, healthier work environment for our employees!

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The Immigrant Centre

by Admin 23. February 2015 10:25

SPIRIT OF WINNIPEG AWARDS FINALIST - CHARITY CATEGORY

   

Did you know, in 2013, our province’s population increased by 14,111 people. An incredible 11,393 of these new Manitobans were international immigrants. By 2016, 100% of Canada's net labour force growth will be attributed to newcomer migration.

 

At the Immigrant Centre, we believe that investment in the early success of newcomers will create lasting value for individuals and families and long-term benefits for the entire receiving community.

 

Every volunteer, staff and board member at the Immigrant Centre knows that “The Better the Start, the Better the Future” for every newcomer who knocks on our door. And we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk. In the last fiscal year, we provided 18,212 services to clients from over 133 countries. We have seen a 200% increase in clients in the past 11 years, accompanied by only a 73% increase in funding in the same period. Thinking outside the box isn’t an aspiration, it’s a necessity.

 

For example, all of our departments benefit from and support incredible volunteers, who have time commitments ranging from three months to over 10 years and from two to over 30 hours per week. The Language Bank alone has more than 400 volunteers in their translator database, covering over 80 languages. The majority of our highly experienced and skilled staff, including our new ED, Jorge Fernandez, and six of our nine managers, started out as clients of the Centre or volunteers, and represent the newcomers Immigrant Centre serves. We come from over 10 countries across five continents and speak over 24 languages.


Our Access English Centre is proud to be recognized by this year’s Spirit of Winnipeg awards for its sheer innovation and creative passion, directed into a working business-model program. The AEC started out as a dream: we wanted to offer English support to everyone, regardless of where they were in the immigration process.


To help those falling through the gaps of the mainstream EAL system, we invented a brand new program. Last year, AEC served more than 1,000 new clients through more than 2,600 volunteer hours from over 150 volunteers.

 

By embracing social innovation (and social media!), we foster partnerships with multiple funders and other EAL organizations to provide more services to more members of the community.

 

Since 2010, we've seen a 270% increase in clients at the AEC, from four to up to 40 groups a week, from basic literacy to advanced levels. Using free technology, such as Survey Monkey, we streamlined our process to ensure the highest levels of online registration, tracking and evaluation.

 

With strong language skills, newcomers can achieve more in the workplace and contribute more to our economy, but they can also thrive in the social, cultural, and political life of Winnipeg. Newcomers who feel included in the community are less likely to leave to work in other provinces, ensuring a brighter future for us all.

 

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An Interview with Kids & Company CEO Victoria Sopik

by Admin 20. February 2015 11:37

   

SPIRIT OF WINNIPEG AWARDS FINALIST - LARGE BUSINESS CATEGORY

Tell us a little about Kids & Company in Winnipeg

 

Our Fort Street location opened in June 2012 and is licensed for 91 children - 25 infants, 56 preschoolers and 10 school-aged children. A parking lot outside our centre makes drop-off and pick-up convenient for families, especially downtown. We also have an on-site chef, who prepares all of the Kidco Kitchen meals, based on a fresh, from-scratch philosophy that promotes healthy bodies and minds for children.

 

We have a great team, led by Rebecca Linton, who has been with Kids & Company for 12 years. She is supported by dedicated staff members, who speak a number of languages, including French, Filipino, Arabic and some African dialects.

 

Kids & Company operates a unique and alternative model to traditional child. How did that come about?

 

Kids & Company was created by working parents for working parents. By partnering with family-oriented companies, we have developed progressive child-care solutions that help address work-life balance and productivity. Businesses can offer child-care assistance as an employee benefit.

 

As a mother of eight myself, together with my co-founder, a mother of three, we saw an opportunity to build a company to alleviate the stress for working parents. We’re proud to have grown from one centre in downtown Toronto in 2002 to more than 65 across the country, with plans to open more. Because we have a network of centres across Canada, parents can use other centres if they are on business travel.

 

What are the biggest draws for families?

 

First, I believe families and companies are drawn to the fact we offer guaranteed full-time care within six months, when other centres can have waiting lists up to 24 months. Families are able to select flexible, part-time care based on their needs. Emergency back-up child care is also a big draw. Secondly, we are told the children enjoy our educational and fun programming, including Alpha-Mania, Mini Masters and Munchkinetics.

 

How is Kids & Company tied to Winnipeg?

 

It’s important for us to be embedded in each of the communities where we have centres. We connect and work with a number of community groups by doing toy collections for the Salvation Army Toy Mountain‎ and food drives for Winnipeg Harvest and Lunches with Love. While some of children are still too young to fully understand this work, it’s important to instill a sense of giving back even at a young age.

 

Are families and companies able to check out the centre for themselves?

 

Absolutely! Contact Rebecca at 204-504-4289 or email her at winnipeg@kidsandcompany.com. She’d love to provide a tour of our facilities.

 

 

 

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Leadership Winnipeg Through the Eyes of Ellen Pruden

by Chamber Staff 9. February 2015 12:32

Building Bridges, Breaking Down Barriers

Today was all about community. The focus of the one-day Leadership Winnipeg tour was learning about Winnipeg’s North End. While change is constant, social change is an invisible force that creates change slowly and from one person, one family, one community at a time. One positive change does have a ripple effect that sends waves out into a community. It’s continually creating the momentum to always move forward. 

If you want to help create positive change, here are some great organizations that are making a difference. 

 

Social Purchasing Portal

The SPP is an online directory and network highlighting businesses, co-ops and social enterprises committed to local Community Economic Development (CED) in Winnipeg. The project’s partners promote business and purchasing, which benefits the community, the local economy and the environment, including hiring people who face barriers to employment.

Some examples of businesses:

Soup Bee - Soup Bee is a non-profit social enterprise supported by West Broadway Community Organization. We aim to offer healthy and convenient meals while providing supportive employment opportunities, investing in local farmers and businesses, and minimizing our carbon footprint as much as possible.

Neechi Commons - The new Neechi Commons offers a neighbourhood supermarket, restaurant, fruit and vegetable courtyard and arts store. 

White Gloves Office and Residential Cleaning Services - White Gloves Cleaning Services provides environmentally friendly residential and commercial cleaning services in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We use only natural eco-friendly cleaning supplies and cleaning techniques. We do this to ensure that your home and workplace are healthy environments free of harmful chemicals and air pollutants.

 

 

Local Investment toward Employment

Or better known as LITE is a foundation that stated in 1993 as a volunteer organization with a focus on Neechi Foods on Dufferin. They focus is directing donations to support jobs but more importantly to help people who want to overcome the challenges they face. If you want to help here are three ways:

·        Go to the Wild Blueberry Pancake Breakfast every November, it’s has delicious food, local crafters, local musicians and performers.  It’s a truly inspiring and community focused event. 

·        Go to the 21st Gala on March 7 this year. All funds raised at the gala go as small grants to local charities.  Last year, funded projects included construction skills for women, automotive repair for street-involved substance abusers, pre-employment training for at-risk youth, and child-minding training for newcomer and low-income women.

·        If you need to get moving to be inspired to help out, the Run for Rights is held on June 7 at Kildonan Park.

 

Youth BUILD and MITT

The model started in East Harlem, New York in 1978. “We’d rebuild the houses. We’d take empty buildings back from the drug dealers and eliminate crime,” said the young people in 1978. Rob Loiselle is doing just that with his program in Winnipeg today. It’s about helping one student at a time, which helps families out, it has a further reaching impact,” says Rob.  He also goes on to share how “we are creating leaders of tomorrow.” You can learn more about Youth BUILD

 

Urban Circle

Urban Circle is an education and training centre for First Nations, Metis and Inuit women and men in Winnipeg. It feels more than that, it’s a community centre that is building on the success of past participants to create change for the future. 

“This is a time of extreme hope,” says Eleanor Thompson, director of Development at Urban Circle. You can hear her emotion in her voice as she shares the history of Selkirk Avenue. Urban Circle is the driving force within the community. It’s the vision of people like Elder Stella Blackbird that is creating change. Today, there is a child care centre called Makoonsag, which means Many Little Bears, which is filling a need. Soon to become a reality will also be the revamping of the Merchant’s hotel. Selkirk Avenue is now “where community life is flourishing again,” Eleanor states.   

 

Ellen Pruden works at the Manitoba Canola Growers.  Loving her time at Leadership Winnipeg.  Inspiring others through her kitchen and love of learning.  Follow Ellen on twitter @ellencanola.

 

 

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Jump on Board!

by Chamber Staff 6. February 2015 10:17

Think about it – in your everyday life, chances are you and your loved ones are touched by the work done by a non-profit organization. From healthcare to homelessness, museums to animal rights and everything in between, these organizations fill many important roles in society. The backbone that allows them to carry out their mission is the board of directors.

Boards require a diversity of talent around the table to truly reflect the community that they serve. Are you passionate about something in particular? As a member of the business community, you have a lot to offer.

What does it mean to serve on a board? You’re there to ensure the long-term sustainability of the organization, which means making decisions about finances and risk. You’re also an ambassador for the organization, representing it in the broader community and championing the cause whenever possible.

But, you say, what’s in it for me? A lot, as it turns out! Being a board member is a leadership position. You can gain valuable experience by serving that you couldn’t always find in your current position. Employers look for voluntary service when making hiring decisions because they know how valuable it is. You can gain new skills such as public speaking, fundraising, communications and strategic planning.

Serving on a board is also great for networking. You get to meet different people at the board table and during committee work. You’ll also meet other people passionate about the cause – staff, donors and volunteers – through special events and other activities.

If you’ve decided this is a good idea, you can start to consider which organizations might be a good fit. It’s as important for you to evaluate the organization as it is for them to evaluate you as a potential board member. You’re not there just to fill a seat – you’re an important part of the governance of the agency. Talk to your friends, family and colleagues and ask if they know of opportunities. Call an organization directly and ask if they have openings on the board. Volunteer Manitoba also has a list of agencies currently seeking board members.

Jump on board – you have lots to give and even more to gain!

 

Laura Mikuska is principal of Mikuska Group Inc.. Along with her twin sister Julie, they help non-profit organizations grow and prosper, including strengthening boards so they can be more effective at delivering their mission.

 

 

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Meet One of Our Chamber Board Members - Gary Brownstone

by Chamber Staff 6. February 2015 06:49

Gary Brownstone, The Eureka Project

Why did you get involved in The Chamber?

Because I’m a real big believer in promoting economic growth and development in Manitoba and saw The Chamber as a strong organization to do that. Plus it was hard to say no to Dave Angus, who I got to know 2 ½ years ago on a trade mission to Israel. We are on the same wavelength because he’s a strong advocate for economic development and growth strategies. Also, he asked me to get involved in BOLD, which brings together many like-minded people.

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

The amount of advocacy work The Chamber does. Everybody knows about the membership luncheons and great speakers, as well as the networking opportunities, but behind-the scenes, The Chamber is working on initiatives like BOLD and annual budget consultations. The Chamber is a powerful voice of business to government.

What’s the most important issue facing business?

We have to do a much better job of thinking beyond Winnipeg – we’re now part of a global economy. A lot of businesses lack the confidence to do business globally from here. It’s an attitude thing, but that needs to change because it’s getting way more competitive … our neighbouring provinces and states are doing more.

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

Failure isn’t necessarily bad. We learn a lot through adversity, difficulty and failure. Anyone who goes into business is taking a big risk.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

That I’m an accidental business person. I ended up in business school on a bet.

What do you love most about Winnipeg?

It can be a two-edged sword, but being a big city with a small-town feel. There’s a sense of community and connectivity – a level of accessibility and one-degree of separation. You keep bumping into people you know, who are interested in you and what you’re doing. It keeps your feet on the ground. Having lived in Los Angeles and Toronto, I can tell you Winnipeg is unlike them.

 

 

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Hillary Clinton shows her support for #Canada2015

by Admin 30. January 2015 08:46

The former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton was in Winnipeg on Wednesday, Jan. 21, speaking to over 2,000 guests at the RBC Convention Centre. While the focus of Clinton’s speech was global affairs, Clinton took the time to share her fondness of Canada and answer a handful of questions about her perspective on everything from the crisis in the Ukraine to the growing problem of economic inequality at home and abroad.


Hillary Clinton even shared a moment with Dave Angus, president and CEO of The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and Winnipeg Venue Advisory Group member for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™, to snap a photo proudly holding a scarf featuring the tournament’s official slogan ‘TO A GREATER GOAL’ in anticipation of the U.S. Women’s National Team kicking off in Winnipeg on June 8, 2015.

Photo credit: Robert Lowdon Photography

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High School Student Inspired by Meeting Hillary Clinton

by Chamber Staff 29. January 2015 10:47

On Jan. 21, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to see Hillary Clinton speak at the RBC Winnipeg Convention Center, in front of an audience of 2,000 people. David Angus, president and CEO of The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, had invited me as his guest, after receiving an email from my Grade 11 Canadian History teacher Mr. Rochon.

After Christmas break, I had returned to school and was talking to my teacher about Mrs. Clinton, and my love for her. We talked about how I respect her courage, her determination and her ambition. I wish I could be like her! Without my knowing, my teacher wrote The Chamber, asking if they would support my attendance, as the ticket price was beyond my means. Imagine my surprise, when the school principal John Muller called me into his office to give me the news that Mr. Angus had invited me to be his guest. I was very excited and surprised. It took a few minutes for me to really understand what was happening, but then I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

On the day of the event, I arrived at the Convention Center because of my father’s generous offer to drive me there, which I am grateful for. The first person I met was Christine Ens, who took me to the VIP reception room, and introduced me to dozens of people. Being surrounded by all these individuals in suits, I suddenly felt important, as I was the youngest person in the room. The most memorable people I met there included Manitoba’s Lt.-Governor Philip S. Lee and his wife, Tracy Bowman (wife of Mayor Brian Bowman), Michael Legary, chairperson of The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, and of course, Mr. Angus.

Suddenly it was time to meet Mrs. Clinton, where I had the amazing opportunity to briefly talk with her and have my photo taken with her. I was so excited and for a moment overwhelmed because I was about to meet a woman whose bravery and compassion had impacted so many people. I’ve since received my photo and I cannot wait to show everyone and brag about my experience.

We proceeded to the main event on the 3rd floor for a delicious luncheon, where our table was near the front. Suddenly, lunch was interrupted by a roar of clapping for Mrs. Clinton as she walked in. Cameras and cell phones came out and everyone started taking pictures.   

As we all took our seats, Mrs. Clinton started her speech. I listened attentively to her talk about extremism and counterterrorism efforts and her suggestion that: "We have to show the world that free people and free markets, human rights and human dignity, respect for our fellow man and woman is our core strength." She also described in great detail the close relationship we have with the United States of America.  “Our two countries have so much in common” said Mrs. Clinton, “no two nations in the world are closer. No border is longer or more peaceful." 

When I think back to her speech, I cannot believe her confidence to speak without notes in front of 2,000 people and the cameras live-streaming the event. She spoke freely and wisely about difficult topics and had interesting opinions about how to improve the situations.  

Meeting Mrs. Clinton has inspired me to overcome my shyness and sparked a dream to become my school’s valedictorian in 2017. I’m sure my speech won’t be as long as hers, nor as well written, but going forward I will attempt to do my very best always.

I would like to thank again Mr. Rochon for his spontaneous request; Mr. Angus for the invitation as his guest; Ms. Ens for welcoming me that day, my father for driving me; as well as all of The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce for allowing me the opportunity of a lifetime!

Anastasia Nwakeze is a Grade 10 student at Murdoch MacKay Collegiate Institute. She is proud to call Hillary Rodham Clinton one of her role models.

 

 

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Leadership Winnipeg Through the Eyes of Justin Phillips

by Chamber Staff 28. January 2015 08:38

 

BaDaBing!

On Jan. 23, our Leadership Winnipeg group was privileged to travel throughout the North End of Winnipeg and visit a variety of businesses and organizations. The stigma surrounding this part of Winnipeg, for me, anyway, was immediately lifted as I learned more about the social enterprises and organizations, which are actively re-building what used to be the HUB of Winnipeg.

We started the day off on the infamous BaDaBing Bus, which picked us up at The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce office. If you haven’t experienced this mode of transportation, I encourage you to give it a try. We travelled in style with the dance music blaring and lights flashing.

Our first stop was the Social Enterprise Centre, where we listened to several speakers including Anne Lindsey from LITE, Erica Young from the Social Purchasing Portal, Annetta Armstrong from BUILD, Rob Loiselle from Youth Build & MITT and Lucas Stewart from MGR. We were then whisked off for a tour of the facility, which included visiting businesses such as Pollock’s Hardware, where we met with Mike Wolchok, These were all organizations which work together to provide educational assistance and job opportunities to Aboriginal youth and offer services and products to the local community. Before leaving for lunch, we listened to Molly McCracken, executive director for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

I really enjoyed learning about the SPP (Social Purchasing Portal), which is an online directory and network highlighting businesses, co-ops and social enterprises committed to local Community Economic Development (CED) in Winnipeg. The project’s partners promote business and purchasing, which benefits the community, the local economy and the environment, including hiring people who face barriers to employment.

After a great lunch at Neechi Commons, we then boarded the bus to the Urban Circle Training Centre. Haven Stumpf, intake co-ordinator/community liaison, gave a very inspirational presentation on her history and her involvement with the UCTC. It was great to hear the complete transition she made from the time she was a student to now being a mentor and inspiration to others involved in the programs.

The day ended with a presentation from the North End Community Renewal Corporation. Our speaker shared his passion for the North End and spoke at length about being committed to the social, economic and cultural renewal of the North End of Winnipeg and working on the Merchant Hotel project, which will transition from being an eye sore and a place where drugs and prostitution were rampant to plans for a centre for living and education. This will be a 50,000-square-foot development that includes the former Merchants Hotel as well as new construction. The program for Merchants Corner includes retail and commercial development on the main floor, academic and community uses on the second floor, and affordable housing units on the third floor.

One of the most important things I learned from this session was that things are not always as they seem. My assumptions of the areas we visited were blinded by local media and all the bad news you always hear. I can say in the 25 years I have lived in Winnipeg, I have never walked down Selkirk Avenue. That really is a shame because it is a community within a city, old buildings, small eateries and access to all the basic necessities. The highlight of the day would have been the visit to Neechi Commons and the lunch that was served, bison bannock tacos. I loved the diversity of the menu options and access to foods I wouldn’t normally eat. 

In summary, this day was a gentle eye opener to areas of Winnipeg which I had a different view of prior to this experience. The North End is full of business opportunity, friendly, innovative and concerned citizens who ARE making a difference. Over the last 10 years, Selkirk Avenue has seen people come together to help rejuvenate what was once the HUB of Winnipeg.

Justin Phillips

 

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Meet One of Our Chamber Board Members - Kevin Zaharia

by Chamber Staff 26. January 2015 05:52

MEET ONE OF OUR BOARD MEMBERS

KEVIN ZAHARIA, Lafarge Canada

Why did you get involved in The Chamber?

I was looking for a closer connection to the business community. There are a lot of benefits interacting with other business people.

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

I’ve been around The Chamber for two years. Everybody thinks it’s all about business and the bottom line, but there’s a lot of charity involved in the background, whether it’s the CEO Sleepout or finding residences for the homeless. The Chamber is very community-oriented – it’s all about making Winnipeg a better place to live.

What’s the most important issue facing business?

It all depends on the type of business – there are different dynamics. But there seems to be a lot of political red tape. If you want to put up a new building or open a new business, we seem to be close-minded … the attitude is we’ve always done it this way. In my personal opinion, the University of Manitoba was the wrong location for the new stadium and the thought process was wrong. It seemed just because we could get the money, we didn’t consider the traffic implications and we forgot about all our efforts to redevelop downtown.

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

Win the lottery … I guess, it’s if you work hard, prove what you can do and try to ignore the naysayers, success will come your way. But it all comes down to hard work.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

That I do a lot of volunteer work and support programming for kids, so they have a place to play, keep busy, develop skills to be better people and stay out of trouble.

What do you love most about Winnipeg?

I’m born and raised here. It’s a fantastic city, very friendly. It is a city on-the-move, good things are happening. People rally together to help each other, unlike other big Canadian cities. Winnipeg is very close – it’s a small city in a big-city environment. Working for a multinational, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say they didn’t want to move here, but now they don’t want to leave.

 

 

 

 

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