Award-winning business promotes healthy, family lifestyles.
Ever since Brian Ross opened the POOL•SPA•SAUNA SHOWROOM in Orillia in 1994, the Orillia Area CDC has been there through each stage of their growth.
Brian began as a pool builder and saw an opportunity for expansion and growth. The business outgrew their first 750 square foot showroom. So they relocated opposite Orillia Square Mall in a new 14,000 square foot facility complete with an indoor pool.
Brian attributes his success to dedication, careful planning and excellent front-line and behind-the-scenes staff including daughter Erin Pollard, now president of the retail operation.
The company has won numerous industry awards and currently has retail locations in Orillia and Huntsville that employ 25 people year-round, serving Orillia, Muskoka, Barrie, Midland and Central Ontario.
A great network of trails and routes in our region attract cyclists, triathletes and multisport devotees from all over to the Orillia area.
So no wonder Velocity Cycle and Ski in Orillia took off soon after Dawn Hamel and Ron Spencer, both avid cyclists themselves, opened up shop in 2004 to serve like-minded enthusiasts in Orillia and Barrie.
The shop offers premium bikes, accessories and gear plus a wide range of equipment for nordic skiing and snowshoeing. Staff are certified bike-fitters (F.I.S.T. and BG FIT, industry standard for triathletes). They also offer bike repair services, group rides, fix-it clinics, and consignment space for recycled bike gear.
When Dawn and Ron were ready to do more, says Ron, the Orillia Area CDC “steered us in the right direction and helped us work smarter.”
The CDC helped them consolidate their debts and link up with local contacts and resources to keep on course.
“The CDC has expertise in business development and resources at their finger tips,” says Dawn. “They helped us access business resources in the community and recommended an accountant who now works with us.”
Velocity Cycle and Ski is for everyone: beginner cyclists, veteran racers and those looking to increase their fitness.
When Elkay Canada Ltd. announced it would close its Coldwater plant, a major employer in this community since 1955, plant manager Frank Brazda and two partners made them an offer.
They succeeded in purchasing the plant in 2008, renamed Novanni Stainless Inc., preserving employment for over 100 people in the area. The Coldwater plant continues to manufacture the same line of premium stainless steel sinks and faucets—for commercial, industrial, hospital and laboratory uses—and water cooler products.
"The CDC gave us the opportunity to grow our plant,”says Frank, vice president and general manager. “With additional space, we are able to attract new staff members to our business, including specialized engineers."
Furthermore, adds Frank, "the CDC helped us make a capital purchase that allowed us to improve our product and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace."
Today, Novanni marries style, quality and competitiveness with environmental conscience in this long-time local industry.
Novanni focuses on using sustainable and ecologically friendly materials. It recycles any metal waste from production, uses recycled content in packaging, and recycles corrugate, polyethylene films and stretch wrap used in the factory. It has also reduced its consumption of natural gas and electricity by 20% since 2006, and purchases energy through a provider that ensures part of the electricity used is generated from renewable sources.
The company’s commitment to energy efficiency recently earned Novanni recognition as a leader in the Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation (CIPEC), part of the federal government's ecoENERGY Efficiency Initiative.
That belief helped three steadfast employees turn this 60-year-old electrical repair and parts company around from bankruptcy in 1994. Today, it’s a going concern with $1 million in ongoing contracts.
When the 1990’s recession forced the company’s owner to close up shop, putting people out of work, the Orillia Area CDC provided compassion, empathy, office space and a solid system that helped the employees step up to the plate.
“The CDC helped us re-structure financially and resurrect the company,” says Orser Technical president Tony Telford.
That support helped them maintain 23 jobs in the Orillia area providing motor repair, technical vibration analysis, panel fabrication for specialized industrial needs, and residential, commercial and industrial electrical contracting.
Success rarely comes without challenges.
Barely ten years later, another economic downturn forced Orser out of its building. The CDC stepped in again providing a re-structuring package, loan and third-party loan guarantee.
“The CDC looks at more than the bottom line; they take into consideration your personal situation and integrity. It’s like having a board of advisors,” adds Tony.
Orser Technical is now Ontario’s largest, 24 hour on-call service, electrical motor repair facility between Newmarket and North Bay.
The CDC has continued to help Hillcrest Lodge bridge the gap for low-income seniors in Orillia, many with physical or cognitive disabilities, and often a history of homelessness.
“I’m not sure where these people would be without Hillcrest,” says Hillcrest director Jim Saunders.
Hillcrest Lodge is a non-profit rent-geared-to-income apartment complex that helps vulnerable seniors to live independently safely. It provides 31 bachelor units with full kitchens and a cafeteria that serves three home-cooked meals daily. In addition, community partner Helping Hands provides 24-hour support on-site for those who need help with personal care, such as taking medications, bathing, or eating.
In 2008, the community pulled together to transform this former nursing home, updating it to current safety and care standards to help men and women 60 and older with annual incomes between $6,000 and $18,000.
The Council of the United Church of Canada leased the property to the Hillcrest Lodge Corporation for a token fee. A joint federal/provincial affordable housing program helped finance a $2.4 million renovation supported by the Orillia Area CDC, the City of Orillia, Simcoe County, and numerous community groups and service clubs.
Since then, the CDC has funded roof repairs and, among other partners, helped restore the gardens around Hillcrest, instilling pride in the residents and neighbours.
“For people with a difficult background, it’s taken a while, but that sense of community is taking root,” says Jim.
“Our problem was we grew too fast,” say TMS owners Dan Burke and Ron Trindorfer.
“A bank recommended the CDC because there was no way they could do what we needed.”—Dan Burke
TMS Promotional Wear and Products is a marketing company in Ramara Township, near Atherley celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2010. First known as The Monogram Shop, then TMS Embroidery, TMS Promotions helps large and small companies, athletic teams and community organizations promote their activities with specialty embroidery and screen printing on uniforms, caps or other apparel plus a wide range of promotional products like mugs, pens, stickers, golf balls, and much more.
“We’ve done work for individuals and all kinds of businesses, including LA Designs, A-Channel News, Girl Guides of Canada, TRW Automotive, and many more,” says Ron.
In 2005, they needed help to improve their shop and computers and hire more staff to handle growing orders from the US and Canada. .
“I dumped all the money back into the business for new equipment and computers,” says Dan. “Turns out that’s worth nothing to a bank when it comes to getting a loan.”
The CDC was different. Being self-employed, not owning the building weren’t barriers. TMS invested in state-of-the-art computer-controlled embroidery equipment, paid off the first loan, expanded their showroom, and developed a new niche men’s product line, Bearwear.
In 2010, the CDC was there for them again to help them launch an e-commerce site for the new line: BearwearInternational.com.