In our final feature of the Top 20 Under 40 program, we recognize the unstoppable Jordyn Konrad.
Born and raised in Salmon Arm, Jordyn grew up with an active lifestyle and an interest in multiple sports, including figure skating, speed skating, and swimming. For years she trained with the Sockeye swim club in Salmon Arm, which eventually led her to attend university as a varsity swimmer and obtain her degree in kinesiology and health science. After completing her studies, Jordyn worked in Uganda on a six-month internship with Global Affairs Canada.
Upon Jordyn’s return, she was approached by Peggy Maerz, owner of Bulldog’s Boxing, about being a coach and boxer. With all the transferable skills from her sports background, she quickly picked up the sport. Fast forward just five years, and Jordyn is now boxing at an international level and has her eye on the 2024 Olympics!
The dedication required to pursue this goal hasn’t just been her own. Time on the bag and in the ring is essential, but so are the people in Jordyn’s corner. Peggy has been instrumental to her growth and has pushed her to pursue her dreams.
When asked about the challenges in her life right now, Jordyn replied, “I feel like I’m living the dream!” But she also notes that there are other obstacles she must face.
It can be challenging to train full time while also working to live. For athletes at this level of competition, sponsorships are essential. On the advice of training partner, two-time Canadian Olympian Mandy Bujold, Jordyn joined the millions.co platform, which sells athlete merchandise. And when Jodyn’s sales number came in on top, it landed her a feature on a New York Times Square billboard. This level of visibility will be critical when looking for sponsors on the way to her Olympic dream.
Coaching has been put on hold for the time being while Jordyn travels between BC and Ontario for training, but it will resume when time allows. Jordyn has directly influenced hundreds of youth in the area. With over a decade of coaching various sports, she notes that the kids inspire her just as much as she inspires them.
The ongoing support that Jordyn receives from the community has been incredible. At times, individual sports can feel lonely, but Jordyn knows she is never alone. Her gratitude for the Bulldog community and her hometown is apparent, and she thanks everyone for their support on this incredible journey!
Our next feature in the Top 20 Under 40 program is the incredible Kayla Butts. Kayla is not only an entrepreneur, but she is also the mother of a child with special needs.
Kayla was born on Vancouver Island and moved to Salmon Arm in her teens when her father relocated to the Shuswap for work. While living in Blind Bay without a licence proved challenging for a teenager, she quickly learned to love the area and can’t imagine ever leaving this beautiful city. “The community is fantastic,” she notes, and she is grateful for the overwhelming support shown for her and her son.
In 2018, Kayla welcomed her baby boy Jaxon to the world but was rushed to BC Children’s Hospital and needed life-saving surgery at just two days old. They spent the next four and a half months in hospital with Jaxon as they worked to diagnose and monitor his multiple ongoing conditions. Kayla has faced this tremendous adversity with humour and gratitude, two things we could all use a bit more of these days.
While spending time at the Children’s hospital, Kayla worked on several committees designing posters and a health app. The work gave her a creative outlet amid focusing on the health care needs of her son.
Her business, Inked Mama Customs, was started in 2020 after her passion for designing and creating went viral on TikTok. Kayla had created a sticker and posted it online, and overnight she went from 3 to 36,000 followers. Opportunity knocked, and Kayla answered. Her company now produces a full line of risque stickers, decals, and t-shirts, as well as graphic design services. Inked Mama Customs is strictly online sales for now, and Kayla has big plans to expand over the next five years. But for the immediate time being, her priority now is caring for her son.
To see more of Kayla’s sassy creations, be sure to check out her Etsy shop, Inked Mama Customs!
As we near the end of the Top 20 Under 40 program, it’s our honour to feature business owner and coach Sean Scott.
Sean grew up in the Kootenays and met his now-wife, Rebecca, while attending college in Nelson. When their studies were complete, they moved to Salmon Arm to work in the golf industry. 18 years and three kids later, they are still here, loving the life they have built in this fantastic community.
Sean and Rebecca are the owners of Gym of Rock, Salmon Arm’s incredible rock climbing gym. They started the business in 2019, and the one-year anniversary also marked the start of closures due to the Covid pandemic. These past two years have been challenging, but the gym adapted and offered new ways to stay open.
Climbing, it seems, isn’t just a sport for the Olympics and elite athletes looking for new ways to train. Because climbing is an individual sport and a mental test, it’s been a hit with all those looking for a safe and fun challenge. Climbers don’t need to be athletes to participate, and many people on the spectrum have developed a love for the sport. Climbing is inclusive, self-regulated and fun for all.
When sean isn’t at the gym or his regular job, you will undoubtedly find him on a local baseball diamond. Sean helps to coach multiple teams with Salmon Arm Minor Baseball and is an invaluable asset to the organization. With three young boys who are as passionate about the game as he is, they often are at the field every day of the week from April to October.
The coaching commitment takes up a lot of Sean’s time. Still, he is passionate about giving back to the community, particularly the kids. The impact that a coach makes on a kid lasts for life, as a great coach teaches far more than game skills. Sean demonstrates the value of hard work and dedication in his everyday life, which translates to the field seamlessly.
Coaching baseball 4-5 days a week is no small feat. For Sean, though, it’s all about giving back while doing something you’re passionate about. Talk about a win-win!
When he’s not working, coaching or climbing, Sean and his family love to hit the slopes at one of the local ski hills or catch a baseball game.
Congratulations, Sean on being one of Salmon Arm’s Top 20 Under 40!
To book your climbing time or register for one of the awesome kids’ camps, check out www.gymofrock.com.
The real estate agent.
The community supporter.
The fella with a face for radio, like his old man used to tell him.
For our next Top 20 Under 40 honouree, we are featuring the one and only Craig Shantz. If you know Craig, this recognition will come as no surprise. And if you don’t, well, you probably should.
Craig was born and raised in Salmon Arm, with his grandfather initially moving to the area in the 1930s. Craig grew up loving all the Shuswap had to offer, but he followed the money to the oil patch after graduation. While in Alberta, he ran grain truck at a family farm, worked in the oil field, and eventually continued his post-secondary education at SAIT, where he studied marketing. He was introduced to the world of real estate by one of his instructors, Rene Blais. Surely it was more than the three-piece suit he wore that impressed Craig, but that swag combined with his knowledge left an impact. Enough, in fact, that it convinced Craig to move to Vancouver and learn about the commercial real estate appraisal world. Craig was hooked on the career and has never looked back.
In 2008 Craig returned to Salmon Arm to work as a licensed real estate agent with Remax. Over the past 14 years, the markets have changed as fast as the technology. Craig has adapted and kept up with current trends while never losing focus of the essential part of business, customer relationships. It’s been key to running a successful business. “Like Ian Grey always says, if you treat people right, word gets around!” notes Craig with a laugh. Of course, there needs to be a balance when it comes to accessibility – technology allows customers to have instant access to you anywhere, any time of day. But it can be managed, especially when you have dedicated assistants as a part of the team.
Craig’s most notable achievements, however, don’t come from his real estate accolades, sales awards, or endless jokes. His real impact comes from the support he continually gives to the community.
With the help of his closest friends and colleagues, Craig makes sure that any community fundraiser is a success. From Bollywood to the Food Bank, SPCA to the Pride Festival, Craig and his cronies show up time and time again. They dedicate their time, talent, and most importantly, their cash to keep the community healthy and causes funded. It is not just the contributions of a single person that leave an impact, but the collective force of many. Craig is quick to praise others who contribute alongside him, like Josh Bickle and Sunny Dhaliwal.
When looking to the future, Craig is focused on business growth and taking more personal time to enjoy all this community has to offer.
Thank Craig for your endless support to the community!
In this week’s Top 20 Under 40 feature, we are spotlighting Shelley Desautels. Shelley is a wife, a mother of two teenagers, a fantastic singer, and someone who never backs away from a challenge.
Shelley was born and raised in Vernon, BC. After graduation, she obtained a degree in geography and her GIS Diploma. Shelley took the entrepreneurial leap and started her own business, Mighty Owl Mapping, focusing on forestry and community mapping projects, and she is also an instructor at Okanagan College for the GIS Certificate program.
It may sound like a great deal of work, but that’s not all Shelley does. In fact, it’s not even close!
Shelley also works as the Service Officer at the Legion. When her husband left the military, she quickly realized how difficult it was to navigate the red tape and paperwork Veterans Affairs required. Shelley’s first-hand experience allows her to assist others in similar situations, and she works diligently to connect veterans with the services and community organizations they need.
But, again, that is still not the end of her to-do list. When looking at the needs of our community, Shelley is always quick to step in and help. That attitude has landed her several other executive roles, including secretary of the BC Community Forest Association, secretary of the Canadian Federation of University Women, treasurer for Boxing for Wellness and director for the Shuswap Cycling Club.
This past fall, you may have also seen Shelley’s infectious smile on campaign signs throughout the region as she was the local Liberal candidate in the federal election. Not coming from a solid political background made for a steep learning curve, but Shelley approached the position like she does so many others, with an honest desire to help and the work ethic to show up for the job. The experience was both eye-opening and rewarding, and don’t be surprised if you see her name on the ballot again!
Like the nominees before her, Shelley also understands the importance of time management. Balance comes from focusing on the task at hand and remembering to take time for herself, too. When she’s not contributing to the community or organizing her calendar, you may find her unwinding with yoga or a great Dr. show on Netflix.
Thank you, Shelley, for all you do!
The next honoree in the Top 20 Under 40 program is the unstoppable Ashlee Kingsbury. A third-generation entrepreneur, Ashlee was born and raised in Salmon Arm. While she currently splits her time between BC and Alberta, the Shuswap is where her roots grow deep.
Her family started the Shuswap Lake Estates Development in the 1970s, and her mother eventually took over the Shuswap Lake estates golf course when Ashlee was in her teens. Like so many other businesses in the tourism sector, Ashlee and her family were looking at improving the business after navigating several challenging years. Last year, their involvement in the Tsust’weye program gave them a pathway to sell the company, and Ashlee supported her family through that transition.
Ashlee is also employed in the oil and gas sector, and this past year Ashlee’s employer sponsored her position in the Avatar Innovations Incubator program. Participants were given eight weeks to develop a business plan and present it to industry leaders. This program allowed her to utilize her oil and gas expertise and form a renewable energy company. With collaboration between the Avatar program and her co-founders, also all women, they developed and launched GeoConnect.
GeoConnect provides her clients with GeoExchange energy. GeoExchange extracts heat from the ground beneath a home and brings it inside. A challenge of broad consumer adoption of GeoExchange has been the significant upfront cost, which Ashlee and her team address by providing a one-stop service. From design, installation, maintenance and providing financing with little to no upfront cost to the users, this innovative approach to renewable energy has sparked massive interest in the energy community. “By owning the system we take the financial burden off of the consumer. With today’s technology, these systems work best in larger buildings or a district system. Our vision is to refine the technology so that it will be more affordable to the average consumer and will be installed in homes all over Canada,” says Ashlee.
Her strong desire to promote tourism while maintaining a balance with environmental stewardship inspired her to join the Shuswap Chamber of Commerce. She became a board member of Economic Development, where the team worked together to develop the Market in the Bay. An event that was inspired by other local communities doing similar events.
Ashlee is a busy woman. Her roles as a mother, wife, employee and business owner are demanding. Still, she maintains balance through self-care, daily meditation, and time with family. When she isn’t changing the face of the energy industry, she is also a mom to a firecracker four-year-old. In non-COVID times the Kingsbury family travels together as often as possible. They love exploring new places, cultures, and the beautiful Shuswap area.
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!
Gratitude is more than a business name for our next Top 20 Under 40 award recipient; it’s a way of living. Cate Currie is a mother to three beautiful humans, a wife, an artist and illustrator, and the co-owner of Gratitude Yoga Inc.
As a child, Cate grew up in southern Alberta with her mom and dad and visited the Shuswap each year to spend time with relatives. She knew this area was where she wanted to build her adult life, and when the universe allowed her to move here, she did. Cate and her husband now work the small farm which has been in her family for four generations. She is rooted here and is grateful for not only the history of the land they live on but for the story her family will continue to write over the years.
Alongside her family life, Cate has also built a multi-faceted and rewarding career in our small city. She connects to the world through her digital art and yoga practice and is inspired by the hearts and minds of those she creates for and collaborates with.
Cate first came to yoga to navigate her mental health needs while dealing with postpartum depression. The impact on her physical and mental health was profound. Before long, she began teaching as a form of community care. She saw how small doable steps every day could have an enormous effect on a person’s life and knew that holding space for yoga would benefit many.
Cate, and co-owner Erin Ferguson, have created a safe and inclusive space for residents to practice self-care. Gratitude Yoga Inc. is accessible to all, and each day Cate works to break the stigma that is so often seen within fitness spaces. Every body is welcome at Gratitude, no matter their age or ability. You don’t need to be any particular type of person to take care of yourself. You only need to show up.
Managing the many challenges of business ownership hasn’t always been easy for Cate. Self-doubt can feel crippling, and being her own cheerleader can be difficult. But rather than hiding those feelings away, Cate brings a refreshing honesty to her work team and her clients. The balancing act of business, family, protocol and mandates, affects us all. Cate lets others know that it’s normal to have bad days, and by being her authentic self, she permits others to feel the same. The relationships she develops and how she shows up truthfully, day after day, impact all those around her. It’s nearly impossible to talk with Cate and not walk away inspired.
Cate remains exceptionally grateful for the support network around her. The community has been incredible, especially while her new businesses navigated the never-ending Covid protocols. But with the struggle came an opportunity; Gratitude soon partnered with other community groups to move classes into the community when the community couldn’t come to the studio. In those challenging times, finding a way to connect, center and process was invaluable.
Thank you, Cate, for your dedication to the health and wellbeing of our community and for being your authentic self!
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.
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?
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.
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.
Our next honouree in the Top 20 Under 40 program is Kristine Wickner, a passionate political activist and community change maker.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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 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!