Purchasing a business, expanding one or implementing other major changes often requires financial support. Like other traditional lenders, the Trust welcomes smart investment opportunities.
Here are three of the Basin businesses it has invested in.
Out with the old
While visiting Nelson in summer 2015, Mei Mei Kwan and Panda Xiong fell in love with the personality of the city and the beauty of the surrounding area. By October of that year they had left Richmond and were the proud owners of Kokanee Glacier Resort, a 19-suite motel overlooking Kootenay Lake, 10 kilometres northeast of Nelson.
The former owner of the motel had secured financing with the Trust, and Kwan and Xiong followed suit.
“I would say it’s a win-win situation,” says Kwan. “We like the idea that the Trust uses the profits from investments to support other businesses and local non-profit groups, so we’re helping with that in a way.” Here she refers to one of the many ways the Trust generates revenues, which are then used to fund support programs and services for residents, communities and organizations of all types.
Understanding the importance of tourism to Nelson’s economy, and wishing to be a positive part of the city’s image, the couple wasted no time starting to make improvements to their new business. With financial support from the Trust in place, Kwan and Xiong have been able to put their savings and profits into increasing the facility’s appeal to Nelson visitors. This includes new windows for the motel, a new children’s playground, a spruced-up exterior and new landscaping.
Inside, all linens and mattresses were replaced. One suite has been completely transformed, and Kwan says they plan to upgrade all the suites to a deluxe level, at the rate of three to four per year. This year, though, their focus is on adding a 45-seat restaurant, which they hope to have completed by spring 2019.
Life for Kwan and Xiong is busy and exciting and full, and they have no regrets about leaving the big city.
“We’re lucky to have found this beautiful location,” Kwan says. “We have spectacular views over the lake and the city and the mountains. In all seasons, this is a happy, peaceful place.”
For work and for play
Rough Country Marine has been serving outdoor enthusiasts in Revelstoke for more than 35 years. In 2015, when the business was listed for sale, former Alberta residents Kristie and Kevin Raduenz decided to make an offer.
“We had been coming to Revelstoke almost every weekend since 2006 for snowmobiling and dirt biking, and loved everything about the community,” says Kristie. “We actually had a rental here for our weekend visits, and started looking for a business opportunity so that we could move here. We had been customers at the store and we knew it was a viable business, so we thought it would be a perfect fit for us.”
The couple’s plan to buy the store came to a standstill, though, when they had difficulty securing bank financing. Their accountant recommended that they discuss their needs with the Trust.
The Investments staff at the Trust “were super excited for us,” Kristie says. “Things started moving again and we had our loan approval within just a few weeks. We took ownership in February 2016.”
Rough Country’s diverse merchandise makes it a treasure in the small community with limited retail options. It caters to just about all of the outdoor pursuits available in the area, including the forestry and construction industries. It also stocks fireplaces, wood stoves and lawn and garden equipment for homeowners. To support the active lifestyle that Revelstoke is famous for, Rough Country carries supplies for camping, fishing, dirt biking and snowmobiling, along with club memberships, trail passes and guiding contacts.
“Everything that we sell, we also service,” Kristie adds. “Kevin is a millwright by trade and he’s very handy.”
As business owners, taxpayers and supporters of tourism, Kristie and Kevin are welcome additions to the Revelstoke community. “We’re seeing lots of growth in Revelstoke,” says Kristie, “and we need to grow our business to keep up. The Trust is super supportive with an offer of resources and services if we need support for our growth.”
Time well invested
Dave Bergeron, a licensed auto mechanic, has a passion for skiing—while living in Calgary, he spent pretty much every winter weekend in Fernie. His auto repair business in the city was successful, but, “I was kind of complacent in the automotive business,” he says, “and I was looking for something new and exciting—a challenge that I could take on.”
That challenge turned out to be in the Basin. In 2014, Bergeron sold his shop in Calgary and made Fernie his full-time home, with an eye to buying a business.
Alpine Spa & Leisure caught his interest, and he came to an agreement to purchase with the former owner. While he was in the process of arranging financing—a process he was finding frustrating—Bergeron noticed some posters advertising an upcoming presentation by the Trust. Knowing almost nothing about the work of the Trust, he attended the presentation on impulse. It was time well invested.
Bergeron was impressed with what he learned about the programs and opportunities the Trust offers to individuals, businesses and other organizations in the Basin. He appreciates that the organization focuses on the success of people and communities.
“I approached the Trust for a business loan,” Bergeron says, “and they supported me by providing the funds so that I could complete the purchase of the existing business in Fernie.”
Bergeron purchased Alpine Spa & Leisure, changing its name to Snow Valley Spa and Leisure Inc. Now in its 22nd year, the business employs six people—four of them full-timers—and Bergeron prides himself on his customer service.
“Our focus is mostly on residential clients,” he says. “They have my undivided attention—we have time to listen to their wants and needs. I think I brought new energy and a new vision to the business, and the Trust has proved to be a very good business partner.”