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The Family Business …or the business of family

The family business doesn’t need to be an empire like the Shaws, the Molsons, the Westons or the Southerns. But there is consensus that the family business is a unique dynamic.

The good news is that more than 80 per cent of all businesses in Canada are small to medium-size businesses. A majority are family owned and critical to the Canadian economy.

Unfortunately, only 30 per cent of Canadian family businesses survive into the second generation and 12 per cent are still viable into the third generation.

“It’s all about the family business versus the business of family,” says the focused and personable Jodena Rogers, vice president of corporate services at Emerald Management and Realty and EO Calgary member. “But relationships and communication are the most important aspects to family business success.”

The ‘Emerald family’ consists of Gary (father) who founded the business 40 years ago, Mary (mother), Jodena and her sister Laureta.

“As far as I can remember, I always wanted to work in the family business. It was my dream and something I grew up with. One of the most important parts of a family business is a respectful, professional environment with distinct boundaries. Separate business, family and personal relationships. Most people don’t know we are a family business,” she explains.

The successful family business comes with certain musts, according to Paul Valentine, general manager at Valentine Volvo and EO Calgary member. “Staff and clients must realize that the family has earned the right to work there. If they can’t do the job, the business loses staff and client respect. Family members must be active and involved.”

Valentine Volvo is a third-generation, Calgary family business that prides itself on selling more new and certified, pre-owned Volvos than anyone in Canada.

“Emotions are bound to be an aspect of a family business,” he admits. “But addressing things openly and early can ensure that emotions don’t run wild. The family, as a whole, must always be at the centre of all decisions.

”For Brittney Ramsay, president of the dynamic Britt Land Services, with an exceptional reputation for land asset management and an EO Calgary member, it’s all about trust and communication.

“My father Ray started the business almost 30 years ago. Now my sister Breanne and I are building this company and our team to live and breathe like a family. It’s all based on trust, engaging in constructive conflict, expecting commitment, embracing accountability and driving results – things that are also really important to what makes a family solid.”

She points out the positive that making decisions in a family business is actually easier. “We can have the tough conversations, respectfully, and then make a plan of action and commit to it. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and help or give each other a little push, if needed.”

Human nature will always create a stigma about family members in family businesses. “Family must work harder than other staff and prove themselves every day. I am not entitled to be here,” Rogers emphasizes. “I work hard to earn respect with leadership, collaboration, expertise and knowledge.”

CRE: Calgary’s Barometer of Business

Speculation. Positivity. Negativity. Guesswork. It’s all part of forecasting Calgary’s business climate. But with so many factors and variables, such strategizing is like the weather – it is constantly changing.

Although many business strategists have their own measures and formulas, the trend of commercial real estate (CRE), particularly downtown stats, has always been accepted as a telltale barometer of Calgary’s economy.

“An increase in downtown commercial office leasing usually signifies increasing levels of business confidence, that people are hiring again and moving forward with investment decisions,” explains Warren Phipps, real estate broker, co-founder of Mountain Park Real Estate and an EO Calgary member.

Despite the popular myth the downtown is all about giant corporations, small businesses significantly impact commercial real estate.

“When small business does well it can be seen as a direct reflection on the health of the economy,” says Jodena Rogers, vice president of corporate services at Emerald Management & Realty, and an EO Calgary member. “Businesses occupy space, make upgrades and lease improvements. They pay high rents. The true impact of small businesses shows when small businesses start to struggle. Commercial investors see receivables increase, vacancy is created, businesses fail and in some cases close, and tenants scramble to renegotiate the terms of their leases.”

As most Calgary business leaders agree, it’s ultimately a ripple effect. “Commercial real estate is definitely affected by the ups and downs of the Calgary and Alberta economy,” says Bob Sheddy, broker of record, owner of Century 21 PowerRealty and an EO Calgary member. “Clients often comment about how many ‘for lease’ signs they see. But after a focused search, they are often astonished at how few spaces actually fit their criteria.

“In boom times, this is even more amplified. In years like 2008, the market couldn’t build enough space to keep up to demand. The end result is that leasing rates and sale values rise. In 2013-14, the market was heating up to that same point before the oil price started its downward slide in the last quarter of 2014.”

“The Calgary CRE market has always largely been tied to the highs and lows of the oil and gas industry,” Phipps notes. “High oil prices drive business growth, which results in increased hiring levels and places increased demand for office space to accommodate the increased headcount.

“When oil prices drop, especially so severely, the reverse happens. It’s a function of supply and demand, intertwined with a critical global economic event.”

As Rogers underscores from experience, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. “During ups and downs, commercial landlords must be responsive to market conditions, remain competitive with lease rates and improvements, and stay on top with marketing strategies.”

Positivity laced with realism tracks the last half of 2017 and readies for 2018.

“Many businesses suggest it’s ‘the new normal,’” Sheddy says. “Accountants, doctors, service trades and other businesses are seeing growth.”

“In 2018, diversification is the key for Calgary business. And we look forward to the opportunities that come with a diversified Calgary,” adds Rogers.

Every second counts: Plan 2 ways out!

October 9-14, 2017 is Fire Prevention Week and Calgary Fire Fighters are working hard to remind residents of the importance of smoke detectors and knowing your evacuation route.


House fires kill and injure thousands every year … and many more are impacted by the loss of valued memories and personal possessions in fire related incidents that could have easily been avoided.

Whether you live in a house, townhouse, apartment, condominium, or commercial office – awareness combined with smoke & fire alarms perform the life-saving function of alerting residents and building occupants of a fire.

Every second counts …

Having properly placed and working smoke alarms is a very important safety and potentially life-saving precaution. While many people may think that they will know when a fire starts in their residence, this isn’t always the case. Every second counts, because if there is a fire in your home, smoke spreads fast – really fast, doubling in size every 30 to 60 seconds.

The following 5 Tips from Fire Prevention Canada are essential to making sure your smoke alarm works:

  1. Test your smoke alarm monthly by pressing the test button and clean it every 6 months. Make yourself and reminder and mark it on your calendar so that you don’t forget.
  2. Ensure that power is being transmitted to the alarm and that it will activate in the presence of smoke.
  3. Make it a habit of changing your batteries annually or earlier if they need replacing. Remember that your alarm won’t be able to protect you if it has no power or the batteries are burnt out.
  4. The lifespan of a typical smoke alarm is about 10 years, but some models last as little as 5 years. Learn how to determine your smoke alarm’s age by checking out FEMA’s Infographic:  ‘Don’t Wait Check the Date’
  5. To clean your smoke detector, open the cover and gently vacuum the interior of it. Be mindful that the alarm might sound while the unit is being cleaned.

Plan 2 ways out …

Before your smoke alarm sounds and a real emergency happens, plan an escape route and run fire drills. If possible, figure out two ways to exit every room. Make sure everyone in the household understands and can run through the escape route. The practice should include a safe post-exit meeting place outside.

In the event you are unable to leave your home, or in a life threatening situation, make sure everyone knows to call 9-1-1 for further instruction and assistance.

We’ve heard it again and again: smoke detectors save lives. Smoke detectors that are properly installed and maintained play a vital role in reducing fire deaths and injuries. If there is a fire in your home, you need to know how to get our as experts say you could have less than two minutes to escape a home fire from the time the smoke alarm sounds.

For more information on fire prevention and safety, visit The National Fire Prevention Association

Why every Condominium Owner and Tenant should have insurance …

We often hear that condo owners and tenants don’t feel they need insurance for a variety of reasons. Regardless of the reason, the importance of a condominium owner policy or a tenant policy should not be understated — because just like homeowners, condo owners and tenants face similar risks to their private property.

Most condo owners should already have a policy because it’s a requirement by many mortgage companies as well as a requirement of the condominium corporation bylaws. In the past, requirements for renters have not always been enforced, but this is changing with the growing awareness that the risk of loss and liability is real. No matter how careful residents are, unfortunately, your neighbors may not be as careful as you are.

Like homeowner’s insurance, condo owner and tenant policies  would cover the insured’s personal property and contents, third party liability, and additional living expenses in the event something happens (like a fire or burst water pipe) that prevents them from staying in their home. In addition, condo owner insurance also protects the unit’s improvements and betterments, condo deductible costs, the unit itself or a loss assessment on the building should the condo corporation have no insurance or have inadequate insurance for which that the owners policy would normally cover.

Note: Your Insurance Broker is the expert here. Call them and discuss your concerns to make sure you get the best possible coverage for your protection.

If you are a condo owner, provide your condominium corporation’s insurance policy plus your bylaws to your insurance broker. These documents are provided at the time of purchase and the insurance certificate is also typically mailed out once a year.

Why every Condominium Owner and Tenant should have insurance …|


  1. If my building suffers damage that started in my unit, what amount of coverage is provided in the event I’m charged back a condominium deductible and/or the cost of the damage?
  2. (If I’m a condo owner) Are the upgrades and renovations I did to my home covered?
  3. Are my contents covered for damage to theft, whether or not it’s my fault?
  4. If someone is hurt in my unit or because of damage that started in my unit, what kind of coverage do I have?
  5. If I have a storage locker of items stored in my parking space and they are damaged (or stolen), how am I covered?

Insurance is very important, whether you’re an owner or a renter, so make sure that you’re covered. A couple extra dollars a month can save you time and money in the event of an accident. For more information on insurance, visit the Insurance Bureau of Canada or get a free quote in just minutes from our partner, Nuera Insurance. Condo Owners and Tenants get a discount with Nuera.  Email us if you don’t have your discount code handy.