Small City, Big Opportunity
Born and raised in Salmon Arm, Rosy Mounce never had grand dreams of a career in insurance while growing up. But what started off as a plan to get practical experience in an office setting after graduating high school, quickly turned into a realization that her dream job was right in front of her.
Since becoming an insurance broker in 2003 Rosy has worked with various agencies, finally landing at CapriCMW in 2018 and serving the commercial and business community. With an office based out of the Innovation Centre and a parent company whose work culture aligns with her own values, Rosy has found the work/life balance that so many people strive for. In a world where women are expected to work like they don’t have kids, and parent like they don’t have careers, it can be overwhelming and incredibly hard to find that harmony. The business insurance industry has allowed her to set her own hours, find solutions for small business, spend time with her family, and continually give back to the community.
Not only was she designated a member of the Chairman’s Circle for success in sales by the Canadian Broker Network, but Rosy also gives back her community. Rosy has been an active volunteer with Okanagan Boys and Girls Club, Golf for Kids, Variety Show of Hearts, Shuswap Trail Alliance, Coldest Night of the Year, and the Tsusts’weye Women’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Network. All of these opportunities allow Rosy to give back to the city she loves and share with others what her experience has taught her.
For Rosy, the best part of this career is seeing the impact she can make for local business owners. When she can take care of their insurance needs, it allows business owners to focus on running and growing their own business. “When I see businesses that I insure listed as sponsors of community events or volunteering with kids sports, it makes me feel so proud, and I just want to find more ways to help them be successful” says Rosy. The insurance industry has provided ample opportunity for personal and professional growth, with no end in sight. And she gets to do it all right here, in her hometown.
Rosy is not just a leader in her industry, but a leader in the community as a whole . Her desire and willingness to share knowledge about everything from business insurance to the best place to camp makes her a local treasure, and so well deserving of the Top 20 under 40 distinction.
Small City, Big Innovation
In an unassuming office in the heart of Salmon Arm, you can find the next recipient of the Top 20 under 40 award. Thomas Briginshaw is the president of the Shuswap Family Resource Centre and executive director of the Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society (LASS). Since assuming these roles in the past 18 months he has proven to be an innovator and leader during some of the most trying and uncertain times for a non-profit organization.
Thomas had initially moved to Salmon Arm in 2018 from London, Ontario to help launch the Salmon Arm Innovation Centre and be closer to his family, but when the pandemic hit, he was forced to look at new employment opportunities. Since taking on his new role with LASS in June 2020, he has effectively led the organization through challenging times. LASS was forced to move their entire One-to-One reading program online and re-imagined the popular Unplug and Play program when in person support was halted due to the pandemic. This adaptation was enormous and not without struggle, but with Thomas at the helm, LASS became a leader in BC and delivered more than 725 hours of online tutoring. “Willing to let go of good ideas for the ability of great ideas to take place was a critical mindset to achieve, and I am proud of everyone who overcame the many obstacles we faced along the way”, notes Briginshaw.
With 8 of his last 10 years being dedicated to serving the non-profit sector, Thomas has been able to utilize his fund development strengths to expand funding, and in turn, services for this area. In addition to providing reading skill development and online literacy training, LASS has worked with community partner organizations and various levels of government to help people in rural areas of the Shuswap connect to the internet.
Relocating to the Shuswap has allowed Thomas to not only be closer to family, but to have a rewarding career without the hustle of a big city. From health services, to soccer, to swing dance classes, the area provides him every opportunity for a full and balanced life. While innovation may drive his professional success, it is only enriched by his genuine kindness and desire to create a collaborative work culture that works for all, in a community that is easy to call home. This past year has been laborious, yet Thomas managed to finish writing his first novel and compiled his poetry into a standalone book, two further ways in which he will share his passion for reading and the written word with the community and beyond.
Congratulations Thomas on your achievements and thank you for your dedication to our community!
Small City, Big Growth
Cannabis. It’s a word that evokes feelings for nearly anyone who hears it. For some, it’s medicine; for others, it still holds a stigma. But for visionaries like our next Top 20 Under 40 recipient, it’s been a vehicle for success and innovation.
Kaitlyn Fraser, founder of Prism Equipment, and Head of Partnerships for the Pantheon Cannabis Group grew up in small-town Manitoba living the farming life. As the oldest of four children, she learned the value of a strong work ethic early on. After attending post-secondary school in Lethbridge, Alberta, and working in the struggling oil and gas industry, Kaitlyn was ready for adventure and took a job on a whim in a small town with a funny name, Salmon Arm. She moved to the area, with only a car full of stuff and her horse, and was instantly hooked on the lifestyle and community. It was the first place that felt like home since leaving where she grew up, so she planted roots and has been blooming ever since.
Kaitlyn’s entrepreneurial road map hasn’t been an easy one. When her father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when she was only 17, Kaitlyn began investigating the medicinal use of cannabis in an attempt to help her father. Her passion for the plant grew the more she learned and with federal legalization on the horizon, Kaitlyn jumped into this booming yet uncertain industry. Losing her father at such a young age sparked a fire in her that led to creating Prism Equipment, and provided her the drive and perspective to push forward.
“Starting a new business in any industry can be tough, but when you do it with a community around you that is as supportive as Salmon Arm is, it makes the whole experience a lot easier,” says Kaitlyn. That support has been a key to her success. By partnering with top-tier manufacturing firms, and having both investors and staff with roots right in this community, they have been able to navigate the uncharted waters of legalization. There is no playbook, and no established routes to market, so being able to draw on your network is essential for a business to succeed. Thankfully, Kaitlyn is a networking maven and in her role as Head of Partnerships, she is perfectly suited to traverse this rapidly growing and ever-changing industry. Standing out and making waves in a male-dominated industry can be difficult, but by genuinely appreciating those who work beside her, and holding an authentic passion for what she does, Kaitlyn has proved to be a natural leader and others are eager to support her, and her businesses.
Congratulation Kaitlyn. We are excited to watch you grow!
Small City – Big Perks
Life on the Shuswap is a draw for nearly anyone, but for Blake Lawson, building a business and raising a family in Salmon Arm truly is living the dream.
When Blake was 12, his family relocated to the Shuswap for the lifestyle it provided. As a kid, he spent time in the lake and on the ball field. And as he grew up, it was clear he wanted to stay in the area. Fast forward to today, and you will find Blake hard at work as the owner of Lawson Engineering Ltd, a civil engineering firm in Salmon Arm specializing in residential and commercial land development, for communities, municipalities and provincial organizations. His work/life balance is a priority and is clear from the moment you walk in his office – one computer screen filled with engineering plans, and another with photos of his beautiful family.
Blake, along with his brother, had an early love for development and engineering. When their careers were beginning they ventured into business together, combining their passions until growth made sense for the businesses to split into separate divisions. Fortunately, the two businesses can still work alongside each other while continuing to expand.
Like all successful business owners, Blake understands that a positive work culture comes from everyone working towards the same goal. When employees, clients, and mentors alike, the team mentality is a recipe for success. It’s true that teamwork really does make the dream work! And with 16 amazing team members, growing his business in the Shuswap made sense. The ability to attract quality, qualified employees, access to the amenities and opportunity of larger centres, combined with the community feeling that comes with small-town living has been a winning combination.
“It was a huge surprise to be nominated when there are so many deserving people in this community,” says Lawson, but he is appreciative of the recognition. Blake is thankful that he can also give back to the community that gives so much to him. Whether it be in lending his professional knowledge to the Active Transportation Task Force and the Trail Alliance, or helping kids develop their skills at the rink or on the ball field, Blake is dedicated to helping the community at large by sharing the information and knowledge he has.
Congratulations Blake on being one of the areas Top 20 under 40!
We can help!
It may sound like just a catchy tagline, but for social media maverick Jenna Robins, it’s an entire business philosophy. Robins is the founder and owner of Trilogy Solutions and is our next entrepreneur of note in the Top 20 Under 40 program.
While the last 18 months have been a challenging time for many businesses, it has been the source of exponential growth for Trilogy Solutions. With ample service offerings including both graphic and web design, search engine optimization, e-commerce solutions, and much more, the multi-media studio was perfectly positioned to help businesses expand their online presence. And when our world temporarily closed its brick and mortar doors, Jenna and her team made the daunting task of getting businesses online quickly and effectively, a breeze to customers.
No matter how big or small a problem is, her firm stands behind the idea that they can help and create custom solutions for real-life problems propelled their growth. But with a growing customer base comes other challenges. Like so many other industries, staffing shortages have been taxing, in particular when filling the more technical roles like web design. But with an eye on problem-solving and an attitude that keeps staff needs as a priority, Trilogy Solutions has been able to hire and train many talented and passionate locals. Of the 26 member team, many are stay-at-home moms who can work in an exciting, creative industry, but can also design their work schedule to fit their life and family needs.
Jenna is thankful to have a new perspective on balancing her workload as well as being a wife and mother. It’s clear to Jenna that the 9-5 J.O.B. isn’t ideal for her and her family, so she positioned herself to work around her life, rather than live around her work.
After moving to the region from the Lower Mainland four years ago, Jenna and her family welcome a slower pace of life and the community feeling that comes with living in a small town. Raising a family where there is ample opportunity for recreation, continued education, job security, and giving back to her community is the ideal balance. Her business tagline is seen in the various ways she supports her community, through programs that provide free web services for businesses in need, to delivering treats to front-line workers. “We can help” is a motto for life.
Whether Jenna and her family are snowmobiling in the winter or playing soccer in the spring, her family lives life to the fullest in the Shuswap, and we are so fortunate that she chose this area to call home and make a lasting impact.
If you have lived in the Shuswap for any period of time you have likely crossed paths with our next Top 20 under 40 recipient. Tori Jewell is an educator, entrepreneur, and cultural ambassador for the region, and her contributions are felt wherever she goes.
Tori wears many hats, all of which miraculously meld together. Each of her jobs comes with perks and challenges, yet there is a surprising ebb and flow of energy which continues to replenish her. Her contributions to the arts are highlighted in her volunteer time with the Carlin Hall board and work with Roots and Blues. Ever since grade 8, Tori has been active with the music festival and over the past two decades has continually had increased roles and responsibilities. During the most recent years of in-person concerts, Tori has worked as the Talent Coordinator, acting as the face of the Shuswap and ensuring that each performers experience is incredible.
When the provincial restrictions on gathering forced Roots and Blues to temporarily change their in-person format and it allowed Tori to look for other opportunities to safely connect with her community. With her mother as her partner, they decided to grow their small bannock booth into a 4 market venture this year and even developed a line of bannock crisp snacks. Traveling to various markets has been a much needed way to be present and involved, and is interwoven with her passion for education. This summer, Tori and her mother redesigned their booth in orange, and have been actively collecting donations for the Indian Residential School Survivor Society.
As an Indigenous woman, and also working as an Indigenous Education worker within the school district, Tori has found a way to hold space for those struggling with truth and reconciliation, while also raising money to help those affected. As an Indigenous educator she provides emotional, social and cultural support to students, and advocates for important curriculum changes. Her most important work comes from helping students succeed all while dealing with racism, microaggressions, and intergenerational trauma. Tori is thankful to be recognized as a safe space where people can reach out and feel supported but also notes how heavy that work can be. Thankfully, she can embrace her passion for music to help fill her cup. The balance of giving and self-care is important, and Tori makes sure to make time to replenish herself too with music and company.
When Tori is not volunteering, teaching, or building her bannock empire, you can find her jamming in coffee houses with her trip “Making Do” or just out spreading joy with her infectious energy.
Congratulations Tori on being one of the Top 20 Under 40!
Chad Cameron, owner of Cameron Exteriors Ltd., is the 7th recipient of the Top 20 Under 40 Award!
Chad initially moved to Salmon Arm in 1997 where he completed junior high and high school, and it was clear right from the beginning that he wanted to build a life in the area.
After graduating from high school, Chad worked in various trade jobs, getting a feel for the industry and an appreciation for the labour involved. He spent several years in northern Alberta gaining leadership experience, but he knew what the Shuswap had to offer and came back to Salmon Arm after a few years away.
In 2014 Chad took a leap into the entrepreneurial life himself, purchased a gutter machine, and started his own business specializing in gutters, soffits, siding, and cultured stone. It quickly proved to be all the things self employment often entails – hard work, long hours, and great success. Growth for Cameron Exteriors came not just due to the hot market demands, but also a strong team and a business dedication to customer service. “Just calling people back and customer service is a big thing. Word travels fast!” noted Chad when asked about his business achievements. He also knows that his team has been critical to his success, and he appreciates the talented and hard working group of guys that help keep things moving smoothly.
A successful business often allows owners to give back to the community that supports them, and this is true for Chad as well. He regularly contributes to important causes in the in the area, including the Trail Alliance, Rotary, Fish and Game, Bollywood Bang and the Women Who Wine. His most notable contribution may be his 16 years of service as a volunteer firefighter with Hall 2 of the Salmon Arm Fire Department, which he is still active with today.
Another perk of living in a small, tight knit community is being able to be involved in family life. The balance isn’t easy when growing a business in a booming industry, but Chad makes time to coach hockey and soccer and enjoys spending time adventuring and exploring with his wife and three young kids.
Thanks Chad for your dedication!
The next Top 20 Under 40 honouree is Kailee Amlin, founder of the Shuswap’s very own Women Who Wine society and co-owner of the freshly pressed Shuswap Cider Co.
In 2016, Kailee moved from Calgary to be closer to her partner’s family and the tight-knit, welcoming community of Salmon Arm had her feeling at home right away. Kind people were found at every turn, and she was excited to expand both her social and professional networks. As a CFP, Kailee‘s work is built entirely on developing connections and pushed her to meet new people.
Kailee quickly met friends, and with their support, she founded the Shuswap Women Who Wine Society, where she currently sits as president. This heartfelt organization provides members with opportunities to volunteer and support local organizations, allows for supportive professional networking, and is a welcoming social group to boot. And by working together, they have now raised over $96,000 for local causes. The quarterly Community Giving events have been a huge success, and the work being done has been recognized throughout the region.
If running a successful charity and being a professional financial planner wasn’t enough, Kailee also decided to expand her efforts this past year in two very significant ways. First, she became the co-owner of the Shuswap Cider Co. with fellow Women Who Wine partners, and her and her husband celebrated the birth of baby Knox in April.
There is no doubt that Kailee’s days are busy. But with the help of a supportive team and embracing the momentum of new ventures, she is thriving. Kailee has never been afraid of a challenge, and throughout her life, she has tackled and overcome many personal and professional obstacles, but with each one teaching a valuable lesson – she can do hard things. And she does them all incredibly well.
Her unstoppable attitude, commitment to community, and remarkable relationship-building skills make Kailee a gem of the Shuswap, and deserving of this recognition. Be sure to stop by the Shuswap Cider Company and offer your cheers in person!
It was nearly 10 years ago when Kristine found herself a resident of Salmon Arm. After growing up in New Brunswick, Kristine graduated and began a country-wide adventure of post-secondary education and exciting career opportunities. When her previous work position required her to permanently move out west, she selected Salmon Arm on the advice of a friend. Her east coast roots felt right at home in this tight-knit community, and she has been impacting the area ever since.
For the past five years Kristine has worked with Okanagan College in recruitment and marketing. A dynamic leader, Kristine promotes the area to neighbouring high school graduates and those looking to upgrade and explains the benefits of continuing education right here in Salmon Arm before moving. Kristine understands the value of cultivating relationships and encourages students to genuinely appreciate what Salmon Arm has to offer.
As impactful as her career is, it doesn’t hold Kristine back from advocacy in a myriad of other ways within the community. As president of the Shuswap NDP, the electoral district association representing local residents to the provincial NDP party, her role facilitates engagement with members to put forward a policy that matters. She has held this role for several years and currently sits on the NDP federal council as well.
Kristine’s passion for politics comes from a deeply held belief in the need for climate and social justice. She wants a better world not just for her own two children, but for all. Our climate crisis and growing wealth inequalities need to be addressed now. There is no infinite timeline to right the ship, so she works tirelessly to lobby the government for change.
Balancing the responsibility of motherhood and a career is different for everyone, and for Kristine that has come from letting go of the wildly unrealistic expectation that she needs to do it all without help. With partner and family support and prioritizing those tasks which contribute vitality, connection and contribution, she has found a way to balance needs, ask for and receive help, and have the energy to give so much to others.
When looking to the future, Kristine won’t be stepping away from helping others anytime soon. She has recently been diagnosed with ADHD and will be starting a support group for fellow moms with neurodivergency in the near future. She hopes to provide a safe space for other moms to learn and get support. And next fall, watch for her name on the ballot as she makes a run for Salmon Arm city council.
It’s difficult for a person to imagine moving from Australia to BC, especially in the winter, but that is exactly what our next Top 20 Under 40 recipient, Jayne Buitinga did. Seven years ago, Jayne traveled to Canada for a winter ski holiday and never left.
With a degree in registered nursing and an engineer husband by her side, the couple eventually settled on Canoe as their new home. Jayne took a position with the North Okanagan Brain Injury Society two years ago and has made huge impacts within the community ever since.
It was 11 years prior when Jayne’s father was in a serious accident, leaving him with a brain injury. The family dynamic shifted instantly under the weight of his injury, and the experience in navigating support for both her father and her family has guided her in her career. The first-hand understanding combined with her genuine desire to help others has made her an ideal advocate for families facing a similar fate. In her current role as a Rehabilitation Services Coordinator, Jayne assists people with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) who are struggling to rediscover themselves. She and her team are the helping hands many need to reconnect to the community and live a full life again. By shedding light on ABI and the struggles that go along with it, she provides desperately needed support for survivors and their families.
Recently, NOBIS was absorbed by March of Dimes Canada, a national charity providing service and support for over 70 years. Throughout the past several decades, March of Dimes has transitioned from a fundraising effort to help find a cure for polio to being Canada’s leading service provider, resource and advocate, for empowering people with disabilities. The change has been a positive step forward for our area, as it allows for stabilized funding and has enabled Jayne and her team to expand services so residents can live and thrive.
Like all non-profits, the past 18 months have been challenging. Continuing to offer services throughout a pandemic has required a new approach, but Jayne and her team managed to pivot and expand program offerings to the community. The small team has been able to navigate a transition to online services through Zoom, to enable greater food security through food hamper deliveries and coordinate vaccinations appointments. Building relationships with other community service groups has been the key to success, and Jayne is thankful for other groups who are dedicated to work together for the best interests of their clients.
The work Jayne does can be emotionally exhausting, and she understands that both mental health and selfcare is so important. With the lake out their front door and the trails out the back, Jayne takes every opportunity to reconnect in nature, but also in person within the amazing community she has found here in the Shuswap.
Thank you, Jayne, for the fantastic work you do!
To learn more about the March of Dimes organization, visit www.marchofdimes.ca.
Pie, so it seems, is something that people simply can’t get enough of.
And for Tovah Shantz, our next Top 20 Under 40 award recipient, that is excellent news.
Born and raised in Salmon Arm, Tovah always knew she wanted to live her adult life in the region. And after graduating high school and touring Australia for a year, she moved back to town and took a job at a newly established pie company. Before long Tovah‘s role at the Pie Co. changed from an employee to a management role, and in 2014 she purchased the business from Mary Jo Biernes. Just a short time later, the restaurant was featured on the hit TV show “You Gotta Eat Here.”
It’s no doubt that the Pie Co. is so well-loved. The busy little restaurant is much more than a place to grab a coffee and a slice of pie; it’s an experience. It’s alive and happy, and it smells divine. Nearly all of the food served is made from scratch in-house or by local suppliers like the Little Red Hen. And at the center of it all is a great leader, surrounded by a fantastic team.
Depending on the season, the Shuswap Pie Co. employees anywhere from 20-40 employees, and many of the staff are students. Thanks to the flexible hours, fun environment, and free food, it’s a great first job for many. It’s so great, in fact, that each year students who have left for school will come back and work on holidays or in the summer. The work culture that Tovah has built makes it feel like family. You can sense it when you walk through the restaurant doors, and you can taste it in each bite. This business has been built with love and an extremely generous sprinkling of hard work.
Running a successful business can be difficult at the best of times, and once you throw a pandemic into the mix, it’s even more of a challenge. Tovah managed staffing shortages by reducing open hours and giving her current employees two consecutive days off per week. She understands that her staff need rest too, and they are making the best of it for now.
Not only does Tovah treat her staff well, but she also has been working diligently to reduce waste. Leftover food is donated weekly to the Food with Friends program, and Shuswap Pie Co. uses compostable, recyclable, or reusable dishes and utensils at any time possible.
Tovah clearly has found the recipe for success. The next time you are downtown, be sure to stop in for the Shuswap Pie Co. experience!
Ed is an entrepreneur, a husband, a father, a firefighter and, most recently, joint winner of this week’s Top 20 Under 40 award. He was born and raised in Salmon Arm, and unlike some, he has never had the desire to leave our small town for the big city. With instant access to the lake and mountains, the small-town community feel, and close proximity to larger centers, the area has provided everything Ed wanted to build a rewarding and fun-filled life.
Don’t let the permanent grin on his face or his joyful, laughing demeanour fool you, though; Ed has sharp business acumen. As the co-owner of three separate businesses, he is an entrepreneur worth watching. Nothing can hold him back when he is passionate about a business, whether it be tree farming, drywall, or his newest venture, Shuswap Spray Coatings and Waterproofing. When Ed first learned of Naturaseal, he was excited about the opportunity. The product is a water-based asphalt emulsion, which uses recycled asphalt waste to create a sustainable solution to waterproofing and an ideal service offering to the booming construction industry. Ed found a partner, and just like that, another business was soon born.
For the past 18 years, Ed has also been an active member of the Salmon Arm Fire Department, the past 15 years acting as a training officer. Although giving back to his community is Ed’s primary motivation, the skills and friendships that come along with the role are invaluable.
Ed maintains a work-life balance by putting family first. He puts in long work hours from time to time, but not every day or every weekend. The entrepreneur’s life allows him to make sure there is space for family, friends, sports, and self-care.
When Ed needs time to recharge, he will often hit the mountains. An avid hunter, he enjoys the peace and solitude of nature and is happy to spend time exploring the hills. This fall was of particular note as his son harvested his first deer, marking a very proud moment for Dad!
Ed attributes his success to the people who have continued to support him over the years. His family have been life-long mentors, his wife cheers him on through all his wild ideas, and the community supports his ventures.
The big question is, what will Ed do next?
If you know Robyn, you know she is a woman who wears many hats. It should come as no surprise that she was nominated and subsequently selected as a winner in Salmon Arm’s Top 20 under 40.
She is a wife and mom to four amazing boys, a volunteer Director with the Shuswap Children’s Association, and a business owner and professional in her field. Her life is busy and happy, and she wouldn’t want it any other way.
For nearly 20 years, Robyn has called Salmon Arm home. For her, it has been the perfect place to build a life and a family and continue to pursue her professional goals.
In her professional role, Robyn is a human resources consultant with her company MOXY HR and the founder of a workforce development project called the Work-Hub, a workforce initiative that helps connect the local workforce with employers and work-related resources. It’s also a recruitment hub offering tiered recruitment services to employers. Hiring is hard – the Work-Hub’s model is designed to make things easier by offering customized services and support based on unique needs of the business.
Her two businesses require a massive amount of time and dedication. Still, Robyn makes sure that doesn’t come at a cost to her family. To meet all the needs of being a professional and a parent, Robyn has become a master of prioritizing and reprioritizing. By separating her business hours from her family life, she can be dedicated to each when she needs to be. Essentially, she can choose the hat she needs to wear, right when she needs to wear it.
The balance she maintains is also due to the teams she has supporting her. Her family, husband and business associates all form a network of support. And when it comes time to recharging, Robyn finds calm by spending time in the outdoors with her ducks or simply enjoying time in nature with her joyful and fun-loving children. For more information about the Work Hub, visit: www.work-hub.ca.