Success stories

Success Stories

Community Futures is pleased to showcase some of the many good news stories in rural Alberta. Everyday we help people like you start and grow successful small businesses.

Bikram Yoga Lethbridge

Liana Suriano
Lethbridge, AB


“You asked for it; we built it” is Liana Suriano’s promotional statement when talking about her beautiful Bikram Hot Yoga studio located on WT Hill Blvd. South Lethbridge.  You can hear the pride in her voice when she explains the in-depth planning and preparation completed to make the space a state of the art facility.   The studio opened in April 2013 and has already had over 1500 patrons come through the door.  The Studio employs three full time instructors and two part-time receptionists.

It took two and half years for Liana to find a landlord who would work within her design parameters and modify the building structure to exactly what she wanted for her patrons. 

“I was told by Community Futures I had an excellent business plan and I had done all my market research to back it up so I knew my vision was attainable,” Liana explains.  It was her clear vision that kept her focused through the continuous search for the right location.

 “Others had tried to open a hot yoga studio in Lethbridge and gave up when met with the studio design challenges, and their stories simply motivated me to continue.  I knew I was going to create exactly what I wanted and what the community asked for,” she ardently explains.   Her passion for her business is captivating.

Liana was introduced to ‘hot yoga’ while attending the University of Alberta completing her teaching degree.  She speaks of the stress of working part-time while being a full time student. “I have experienced my product and I know the lifestyle health benefits that can happen.”

Not only is Liana passionate about the yoga, she also loves teaching.  She came from an entrepreneurial background, “My parents owned a restaurant in Lethbridge and I remember sitting on my mother’s knee as she did the books.” Through her parents, she learned what it takes to run a successful business although being a small business owner was not her initial intent while completing her education.  However, the concept of the studio brought all three of her passions together and she considers herself fortunate.

Her family history taught her about business finances and her introduction to Community Futures Lethbridge Region helped her obtain the financial security to move her business plan forward.    With financing in place, planning, commitment and determination brought the long-awaited vision to fruition.

Her business journey was challenging, but she was never disheartened.  “My goal was to create an environment for all levels of ability, to create exactly what my patrons were asking for,” she states. 

Liana’s commitment to her community comes from her heart.  “I have done all I can possibly do to get the business going.  Now I have to let the business take its course.”

She lives what she teaches; be calm, breathe and be in your own stillness. 

Website: bikramyogalethbridge.com 

Edo Japan

Mike and Chrysline
Lethbridge, AB


Mike Esquivel knows the importance of hard work to get ahead.  He started working for his grandfather at the age of twelve and as soon as he was of legal age to get into the fast food industry, he took the first position he could get as a dishwasher.  He worked hard, taking extra shifts, volunteering to do more and he soon graduated up the ladder until he was working as a waiter in the upper end restaurants in Edmonton while supporting himself through college.

He took no holidays or extra time off and was no stranger to receiving the employee of the month award.  “My focus was to learn and train so I could move up the ladder within the corporation,” says Mike.  He wanted to understand this industry and all aspects of the micro business systems.  His hard work paid off and he was recruited by Planet Hollywood to train to be one of the site managers.  “I watched my managers and learned what not to do and my efforts paid off.  I trained in San Diego then finally got my own restaurant to manage in Vancouver.”

Mike spent four years in Vancouver before returning to Lethbridge to help his parents with a new business venture they started.

“Everything I learned about a responsible work ethic came from my parents”, explains Mike. “I watched my mom and dad work sometimes as many as three jobs so I could have the educational opportunities and a career of my choice.  So when I had an opportunity to help them, I was glad to come back to Alberta.”

However he missed the fast pace of the restaurant business and in 2008 when an opportunity came for his wife Chrysline and he to purchase EDO Japan in Park Place  Mall, they branched out in a new direction. “I had a clear understanding of my capabilities in the restaurant environment so when the opportunity came our way, we didn’t hesitate.”

Mike stated, “I know what customers want and I know how to give it to them.  They want to experience good taste, a clean environment and excellent service.  So that was our intention.”  Soon their success with the first store developed into an opportunity to purchase a second and eventually a third EDO Japan location.  “Our first location had been open about a year when the head corporation offered us the second store.” 

“I had no idea of how to go about the financial implications of purchasing a second store when I learned about Community Futures.  The people there were so easy to work with and taught me the ins and outs of the financial world of growing your business.”    Mike described how the people at Community Futures believed in him and in his business succession plan, offering sound business advice and the financial assistance to reach his future business goals.

The past six years have been a whirl wind for Mike and Chrysline, Not only has their businesses grown by three but so has their family, with a daughter and then a set of twins.  “I am busy in all aspects of my life, but the most important thing I have learned these past few years about owning a business of my own is that life is about balance.  My life has to be balanced between business and family.  I only have so much time, and I want some of that time to be about memories for my children.”   As dedicated as Mike’s work ethic is, he fully understands through experience that time is what a family really needs.

Mike describes himself as a happy man and he believes life is about happiness in his business world; happy family, happy staff and happy customers.  It is a formula that works for him and the high expectations he places on himself.  He is definitely a young entrepreneur who is serious about his work, understands his business, enjoys life and has lots and lots of energy.

Park Place Mall
L04, 501 - 1st Avenue South

Lethbridge, Alberta  T1J 4L9


Coulee Creek
3703 Mayor Magrath Drive South

Lethbridge, Alberta  T1K 8A8


West Lethbridge
#23, 550 University Drive West

Lethbridge, Alberta  T1J 4T3


B & B Bins


Lethbridge, AB


“Retirement is not for everyone” explains Leslie Weisser about her husband Blain, “he just wasn’t as content sitting at home as he was going to work”.  Kim Workman noticed her dad seemed bored most days as he transitioned from the work force.  “I just thought he wasn’t satisfied without something to do all day and Mom and I were trying to keep him busy.”

Meanwhile, her husband Brandon Workman was running his own roofing company (Workman Roofing) and identified a lack of service in the industry when it came to getting waste bins for disposal material.  One night while doing a Kijji search, he found a truck and 17 “roll off waste bins” for sale in Northern Alberta. It was the perfect solution for his roofing business and he thought it just might be the answer to all the fuss and worry about his Father in law’s boredom.

So a family conspiracy to keep Blain busy took roots and the Weissers joined the generation of  “maturepreneurs”, people who launch their first business after reaching 60.

They went to Community Futures to learn about perspectives, business plans and financial assistance for this new adventure.  They found the answers to their questions and the assistance they needed. With complete support from their daughter and son-in-law, B & B Bins became a reality in 2009.

B & B Bins is a disposal system that delivers waste bins to job sites for refuse material and once the bins are full, the service extends to disposing of the waste material at the landfill.

 “Service is our Motto” is boldly printed on their business card and service is the primary focus of the business.  A delay in delivering or picking up waste bins has a domino effect for the entire renovation/ construction industry.  “No bins for waste disposal can stop an entire crew from being able to get a roofing job completed”, explains Kim.  

Word of mouth about B & B and the quality of service they provided soon resulted in an increase in the demand. People started calling for the roll off bins for extensive yard cleanups, renovations, estate cleanups, storm damage, flood damage cleanup, etc.

Leslie states “We are busy all day long”. The need was greater than anticipated and soon there was also a need for another truck and more bins.  Calls for bins started to come from all over Canada and the United States for jobs in the area and soon B & B Bins Inc. was serving throughout Southern Alberta. By 2014 the business has expanded to three trucks, 32 bins, and employs two full time drivers and one part time driver just to keep up.

The small business has turned into a full time family operated business mainly operated by Blain, with Leslie managing the office duties.  Kim and Brandon offer support when needed.  The business doubled within the first year and has kept on growing.  “Blain is loving the business.  He loves being outdoors and has a different adventure every day.” Leslie says with a smile.  “Our challenge now is not keeping Blain busy, it is getting him to slow down.”

Mother and daughter laugh and their voices fill with pride when they speak of the men in their lives who work hard at their businesses and about Blain who is never, ever bored any more.

Isis Geomatics

Steve Myshak and Owen Brown
Lethbridge, AB


Steve Myshak had an idea; he shared the concept with a fellow University of Lethbridge classmate, Owen Brown, who agreed the idea could work.  So with a great deal of tenacity, brainstorming, feedback from associates and encouragement from family, the two young men built a multi-faceted company that focuses on aerial imagery data to employ in various industries.

Isis Geomatics Inc. was founded in 2011, and uses a Quadcopter, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone, to fly into the designated area to gather the specified data using a variety of sensor packages.  The gathered data is compiled to give a detailed visual aid providing a site record at the time of the image capture.

The sensory packages include infrared, thermal, visual, HD video and zoom video.  The process employed captures imagery data traditional survey techniques would not. “It’s like building a mosaic,” explains Owen. “We set the flight plan for the drone, define the area coverage and slowly stitch the pieces of imagery together to create a digital surface model through photogrammetric processing.”

The variety of services offered by Isis has attracted companies from the agricultural, oil and gas and transportation industries, both locally and internationally, so far.  Brown further states, “We have completed vegetation health mapping, livestock head counts, stockpile inventory imagery and even snow dune imagery required for a recent research project at the University of Calgary”.  The businessmen get excited when they discuss the possibilities as endless from accident reconstruction to environmental disaster management.  They see the solutions offered by Isis Geomatics as timely, cost effective and a safer response alternative for company personnel.

The two young entrepreneurs share similar working backgrounds in agriculture, oil and gas, surveying and geographic information systems (GIS) making them a dynamic partnership, who are confident in each others strengths and skills. They both desired a career that would allow them to be independent and to work outdoors. Forming Isis Geometrics Inc. seemed like the next natural step for their career paths after their Master’s degrees. Steve expresses he likes the great feeling you get when you know the business is your own. “With your own business you have the freedom to pursue new ideas and push your learning curve well beyond your knowledge base. ”

“Working with Community Futures Lethbridge was a benefit to help us get started,” the young men explained.  “They believed in us” said Myshak, “and when we told them ‘to trust us’, they did.”  Community Futures was willing to listen to the technical concepts, assist with the ever changing business plan, secure funding opportunities and provide support.

Steve Myshak the Chief Executive Office of ISIS Geomatics acknowledges that he knew at the beginning of his educational pursuits, he wanted to start his own company; he just wasn’t sure what it would be.  While Owen Brown, Vice President of Isis says he is able to fulfill his love of the outdoors.

It all started with an idea, shared with a friend.

LA Chefs Catering & Events

Marcie Stickel
Lethbridge, AB


LA Chefs is the largest catering service in Southern Alberta, centering on larger events, between 150 and 5000 guests at a time.  "But that is not where we started," explains Marci Stickel.  "We began as a mom and pop operation serving beef on a bun out of our garage what seems like a long time ago." laughs Marci.

"I remember a day in May 2006; we had three weddings on the go and one minivan, which we had dubbed "White Lightning", to do the deliveries. It was a long day but we did it," she explains.  It was at that point and after too many 20 - hour days, that sparked the realization the business needed to expand. So Marci and then business partner Loren, started looking for a larger venue. As the business continued to flourish, even further expansion was necessary.  In November 2006, 'LA Chefs Catering & Events' was branded and implemented a strategic business move to partner with the Coast Lethbridge Hotel & Conference Centre in an exclusive catering arrangement.

"It was a hard decision," states Marci, "We wanted to stay loyal to our smaller clients, but knew the expansion was a smart business decision for the company." Now, LA Chefs handles multiple events on most days of the week, and during the summers up to ten weddings on any given weekend.

Community Futures Lethbridge Region was also a big part of the company growth.  "They were open-minded and willing to listen; they validated the ideas and understood the direction we wanted to go.  They saw our passion.  We were able to secure financing and re-invest in our business," explains Stickel." We grew so fast, once the decision was made."

Marci's background was in finance and accounting and she never had dreams of being in the catering business. However, with this new business direction and expansion, she realized she was a businesswoman. "I cared about business and I cared about people." It was the right combination for LA Chefs, who now employs seventy-five energetic people to help Marci the the various business functions in the day.

Her recommendations for business success are simple. "You must be passionate about your business and hire passionate people, then empower them. Do not be afrtaid of divesting control to your staff. The moment we decided to empower our staff and let them run with it was the moment our growth exploded. Instead of one passionate person trying to grow a business, we now had multiple passionate people trying to grow a business."

Talented employees, innovative ideas combined with passion and a sprinkle of risk, establish the vision needed for successful entrepreneurs. It seems to be a tried an true recipe for LA Chefs Catering and Events.

 

Curious Owl Daycare

Alyssa Shaw-Letouneau
Lethbridge, AB


Alyssa Shaw-Letourneau was a teacher about to begin working on her second degree when she ran into a slight glitch; there were no childcare openings available. So what was she to do with her youngest child?  Her improbable response was to open up her own daycare to fulfill the demand for good quality childcare required within the City.

The mother of four has her Bachelor degree in Elementary Education and thought it all made sense.  She became curious about business and started attending the Community Futures Chinook Challenge sessions to learn about business plan development and opportunities for financial support.   The sessions started the ball rolling and it never stopped.  “The Staff at Community Futures were great to work with” Alyssa explains, “They answered my questions, supported me as I worked my way through the learning process.”

And there was a lot to learn about the business side of owning a daycare.  Child care licensing, government regulations, health codes, building inspections and the list continued.  Alyssa thought that operating a daycare would be a lot like teaching, but it felt more like taking on the role of a school superintendent as she wrote policies, developed budgets, retained staff, made projections, generated her marketing strategy plus created a healthy menu of hot lunches with a morning and afternoon snack for the children in her care.

Once a viable location was found the business became a community affair. Parents and staff previewed the location, offered suggestions, and helped with moving and set-up.  Her two teenage children also helped paint, clean and move furniture into the new location.  “We have all made contributions to make this business a success,” Alyssa proudly states.

In May 2013, Curious Owl Daycare opened its doors at 1206 - 3 Avenue South, to provide childcare for 38 children while the parents go to work.  The daycare employs six full time childcare workers and a part-time cook.  The children range in age from 12 months to five years.

Alyssa explains, “I saw the need and it became the focus.  I wanted to create a childcare experience like I would want for my own children. I wanted a clean facility with professional staff.  I wanted to provide age appropriate development opportunities for the children and I wanted to focus on literacy so I incorporated a lot of reading, singing and language skills into the daily program. “

Alyssa is grateful for the opportunity to work with Community Futures Lethbridge Region as she transitioned from teacher to entrepreneur.

“I have no regrets; I enjoy playing with the children and fostering their creativity.  We build block towers; play with flubber, sing, read, and laugh.  It’s a busy place, but when nap time comes around things are calm and peaceful.”

Alyssa smiles with satisfaction as she reflects on the journey she has begun.  The only thing she is sure of at this stage of the game is “it’s never the same day twice.”

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Community Futures Lethbridge Region
2626 South Parkside Drive
Lethbridge, AB T1K 0C4

403-320-6044

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Communities Served

Barons, 
Blood Band Reserve, 
Broxburn, 
Coaldale, 
Coalhurst, 
Del Bonita, 
Diamond City, 
Iron Springs, 
Kipp, 
Lethbridge, 
Magrath, 
Monarch, 
Nobleford, 
Raymond, 
Shaughnessy, 
Spring Coulee, 
Stand Off, 
Stirling, 
Tempest, 
Turin, 
Welling, 

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