BDO proudly brings the Top Forty Under 40 to Kelowna for its second year in a joint partnership between the Junior Chamber International - Okanagan, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and the Daily Courier.

In just over a year, JCI has counted 14 winners of this prestigous award, with many more to come. It is an honour for all those that have won this award, but it speaks volumes to JCI and the type of people that JCI fosters. Many credit JCI with much of their success in both their personal and business life.

Click on the winners name to view the article from the Daily Courier

  • Ryan Lancaster - May 25, 2016

    12 challenges in 12 months

    Chapter: Kelowna Jaycees
    This year, Ryan Lancaster is learning to blog, become a better cook, live frugally, meditate, eat vegetarian, swim long distance, have epic weekends, read more, learn computer code, speak a new language and do more charity work.

    Whew!

    "I started my blog, ScaleMyLife.com, because I was feeling unaccomplished and unfulfilled," said Lancaster, 31. "I wanted to document my journey and stay accountable.

    "It's a passion project that has taken over my entire life for the better."

    Now, don't get Lancaster wrong.

    He has a good job managing Andre's Electronic Experts Telus store downtown and helping other employees with sales and training.

    Lancaster and his girlfriend are renovating the house they just bought. And he does community work with the Kelowna Jaycees.

    However, after graduating from Okanagan College in Penticton with a business diploma in 2013, he felt he was drifting.

    Go to work, socialize too much and watch too much TV. Hang out with his girlfriend, renovate the house and go to Jaycees meetings.

    All worthwhile endeavours, but there wasn't a lot of personal development in the offing.

    "I just came to the realization that if I didn't so something, nothing was going to change," said Lancaster. "Most New Year's resolutions are cliche, get in shape or be better with money. I wanted to do something big that kept me accountable."

    Thus, the blog ScaleMyLive.com.

    It's basically a year of following Lancaster pursuing 12 lofty goals, one a month.

    January was the foundation-setting warm-up as he learned some web design and how to build a blog.

    For February he vowed to become a better cook and learned how to prepare duck with an Iron Chef, French cuisine with a Summer-land chef and spent the day in the kitchen at Earl's in Penticton.

    "For March, I set myself a budget of $250 for groceries, entertainment, gas and booze," said Lancaster. "And I made it and it wasn't miserable."

    He started to cycle to and from work to save on gas and got hooked. He cycles most places now. He started to hike and play board games for entertainment instead of going out for dinner or the pub.

    "And I shopped carefully and ate really well," he said. "You can do a lot with pork chops, chicken and lentil soup."

    April was meditation month.

    "I got the app Head Space and it works," said Lancaster. "Just 10 minutes a day has helped me get more focused, not get swept away by emotion and to breath and reset when I get frustrated. It worked so well I continue with my 10 minutes every morning."

    This month has been all about being a vegetarian.

    "The beginning of the month was great because I went on a work trip to Phoenix with Andre's and we ate in restaurants and they really catered to me," Lancaster recalled.

    "It's been a challenge cooking for myself because the tendency is just to eat too much cheese and too many carbs and pasta and cheese pizza. You have to make sure you eat more fruits and vegetables."

    Next month, Lancaster plans to learn how to swim two kilometres so he can complete the Across the Lake challenge in July.

    Also in July, he'll try to experience something new everyday, including epic weekends boating the length of Okanagan Lake or rock climbing.

    Not a big reader usually, Lancaster will read 10 classic novels in August.

    He'll start a business, he doesn't know what yet, in September.

    In October, he'll learn computer coding.

    In November, a new language; he doesn't know which one yet.

    And to wrap up the year, there will be the charity challenge to volunteer or to raise money.

    Original Kelowna Daily Courier Article
  • Graham Moir - May 17, 2016

    Accountant returns to Okanagan roots

    Chapter: Kelowna Jaycees
    "It wasn't an exact plan," said Graham Moir, 33, a chartered accountant with Spence Valuation in Kelowna. "But it's the way it happened. After growing up in Vernon and then stints in the Philippines, Holland and Yellowknife, I wanted to return to the Okanagan because I missed downhill skiing and wanted to be closer to my mom in Vernon because my dad passed away in 2013."

    After graduating from Kalamalka Secondary in 2001 and before deciding to go to the University of Victoria and Okanagan College to take business, Moir worked at Sutherland Global.

    Sutherland was the call centre in Vernon, now long-gone, that provided email and live chat support for online shopping giant eBay. In 2006, when Sutherland operations were transferred to the Philippines from Vernon, Moir went along to train new staff in Asia.

    "I stayed for eight months the first time and then three months the second time," he said. "It was a great experience."

    With that chapter closed, Moir decided to go back to school, first to UVic and then to Okanagan College to get his business degree. For the spring 2009 semester, Moir went to Okanagan College's partner institution of Hogeschool Zeeland in Vlissigen, Holland.

    "I'd never been to Europe, so this was a great way to go," he remembered. "I met a lot of great Canadians from all across the country who were there doing the same thing I was, and I also met a lot of Dutch and other international students."

    Moir also spent time travelling as much as he could between classes on a limited budget.

    "Even without a lot of money, everything in Europe is close and the trains are good, so I was able to visit England, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Morocco," he said.

    Upon graduation in 2010, the recession lingered and he didn't have a lot of options to pursue an articling stint to get his chartered accountant designation. So he headed north, way up north, to Yellowknife for work with Crowe MacKay Accounting, which also has offices in Whitehorse, Kelowna, Surrey, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Regina.

    "Actually, I enjoyed the long, dark, cold winters," Moir said with a laugh. "You could still have fun, mostly in the pub. But there was also every sport imaginable indoors, from basketball, volleyball and flag football to soccer, tennis and swimming.

    "And in the summer, wow, was it ever nice to have 24 hours of daylight."

    Sixteen months ago, Moir put his new chartered accountant certification to good use and found a job at Spence Valuation in Kelowna. The firm values businesses, does mergers and acquisitions and confidentially matches business buyers with sellers and vice versa.

    "With my accounting expertise, I mostly value businesses," said Moir. "But, I also write reports for lawyers for court and will do work on mergers and acquisitions."

    Most valuations are prompted by a decision to buy or sell a business, divorce forcing a pay out or spilt of assets or tax reorganization.

    Moir is also the secretary of the Kelowna Jaycees, the all-male group for young professionals that decided at the beginning of the year to also allow women members.

    "I definitely supported the move to co-ed, and since making the change we've grown our membership," he said.

    Original Kelowna Daily Courier Article
  • Sean Glendinning - Feb 3, 2016

    A juggling web wizard is the latest Top 40 Under 40

    Chapter: Kelowna Jaycees
    Sean Glendinning laughs when asked how many companies he owns. "Well, three or four, depending on how you count them," said the 37-year-old with a chuckle.

    "I own Fitness.com with partners in Germany; StudentScholarships.org with my brother, Ryan; there's Nitesco Media; and I also spend about 30 per cent of my time working for Sissel in Switzerland, the company that makes all those exercise balls."

    The work alone is quite a juggling act.

    But, Glendinning manages to do it from his home office in West Kelowna with his three-year-old son running around.

    "I end up working seven days a week, sometimes 30 hours a week, sometimes 60 hours a week and sometimes until 2 a.m. in the morning if I'm helping European clients," he said.

    "But the schedule is my own. I welcome the distraction of watching my boy grow up and I'm able to pick up my 14-year-old daughter from school two days a week."

    Glendinning credits his dad, Bob, with convincing him self-employment was the way to go.

    "He always taught both me and my brother to be independent," he said.

    "My dad's encouragement and my high-tech skills made it possible."

    This story really starts in Kamloops in 2001 while Glendinning was taking a bachelor of technology and computing science at Thompson Rivers University.

    He landed a work co-op in Kelowna at Wavefire, the now defunct web development firm.

    A co-worker there was working on the Sissel account and needed some help.

    Glendinning did and it led to some contract work with Vancouver-based Theragear, which was a Sissel subsidiary at the time.

    Sissel took notice and he was invited to Europe to meet distributors in 2004 to explore how they could set up online e-commerce shops to sell everything from those exercise balls and pilates equipment to yoga gear and massage tables.

    It turned into the long-standing relationship Glendinning has today with Sissel, designing the e-commerce shops for all of Sissel's distributors in Europe.

    Working in the world of fitness and high technology, Glendinning saw the opportunity to partner with some Germans to start up Fitness.com.

    It's a one-stop online shop for fitness information, healthy recipes and user forums.

    The website is not only offered in English, but nine other languages, including German and Spanish.

    It is accessible free to the public and is supported by advertising.

    Fresh out of business school in Toronto, Glendinning's brother, Ryan, had an idea for matching students with scholarships.

    So StudentScholarships.org was born, a free site for students to find matches for scholarships throughout North America.

    It, too, is supported by advertising.

    Nitesco Media is a web-development-and-hosting and search-engine optimization engine company with a different approach.

    Glendinning picks out domain names (he has thousands), builds a website and gets it to a No. 1 rating using aggressive search engine optimization and hundreds of key words.

    He then finds customers to take over the domain name, he customizes the website further and hosts the website.

    In a brilliant bit of cross-pollination, he often convinces these customers to put up a scholarship of at least $500 for StudentScholarships.org.

    Some of the websites he's developed and driven to No. 1 locally are MissionCreekOrtho.com, WestKelownaOrthodontists.ca and DentistsKelowna.com.

    He's also developed ArcticChiropractic.com for the Yukon, FairbanksChiropractic.com for a practitioner in Alaska and numerous websites for Leavitt Machinery for everything from the brand name to location and equipment-specific sites like ForkliftPartsCalifornia.com.

    Glendinning picked up the volunteering bug while living in Morocco in 2001.

    He went over to help Bayti, an organization fosters abused kids, with its information technology infrastructure.

    He ended up doing that and more, teaching kids basic computer skills and English.

    At home, he coaches in the Central Okanagan Minor Baseball Association, teaches Grade 8-9 students financial literacy through Junior Achievement and was the president of the Kelowna Jaycees, who got the ball rolling on the move to end the club's men's-only status.

    Original Kelowna Daily Courier Article
  • Jen Sencar - Dec 2, 2015

    Top 40: Jen Sencar

    Chapter: JCI Okangan

    Jen Sencar, 39, of Kelowna is leaving Junior Chamber International with a bang.

    On the verge of finishing with the group for under-40s, she's been Junior Chamber International Canadian president and helped Canada land the 2016 Junior Chamber World Congress for Quebec City.

    "I also get to stay on in 2016 to be on the World Congress organizing board and be the chief marketing officer who encourages the world to come to Canada," said Sencar.

    This is the first time in 30 years the congress will be in Canada.

    It will also attract 4,000 young leaders and entrepreneurs from around the world to experience Canada and Quebec City.

    It's too bad as the Kelowna-based national president, Sencar wasn't able to bring the World Congress to the Okanagan.

    However, with 4,000 delegates expected, the congress had to be held in a city with much more convention space and hotel rooms than Kelowna has.

    Plus, Quebec City has the historical and bilingual flair that made Canada's bid stronger.

    As national Junior Chamber International president in 2014, Sencar travelled to seven countries to promote the Canadian bid.

    "I was able to go to Japan, where the last World Congress was held with 8,000 delegates, Colombia, Germany, Mexico, the U.S., Czech Republic and Malta," she said.

    "Everywhere I went, Canadians and Canada are highly-regarded as a people and place that is fun, polite, professional, laid-back and beautiful."

    All of Sencar's involvement with the Okanagan and national Junior Chamber International has been on a volunteer basis.

    And so is the marketing gig for the World Congress.

    "But I'm so happy to do it because I'm super-proud to be Canadian and promote Canada to young, motivated leaders from all over the world to want to make positive change," said Sencar.

    Junior Chamber International encourages those aged 18-39 to excel in their careers, mentor and motivate others, be philanthropic, socially-conscious and community-minded.

    When members turn 40 they can no longer be active in the group.

    Instead, they enter the next phase of their life with all the skills and attitudes fostered in Junior Chamber to be exceptional citizens in the second half of their life as well.

    "I've been offered a senatorship, which is a life-time, but non-active membership," said Sencar.

    "But I can still lend my hand in so many ways, be it training or motivational speaking."

    While all this sounds like a full-time job, Sencar actually has a full-time job as an industrial relations officer with the provincial Ministry of Labour.

    "I'm a non-practicing lawyer, which comes in handy doing the mediation and adjudication I do for the ministry in wage complaint, workplace problem and Employment Standards Act cases," she said.

    Sencar is also a busy wife and mother who has her own business, For Kids Online Enterprises.

    For Kids operates the website Okanagan4Kids.com, which provides parents with all the information and resources they may need in raising a young family.

    It also publishes Bump & Beyond magazine for expecting and new parents and puts on the Pregnant & Fabulous Family Fair in Kelowna and Kamloops annually.

    Original Kelowna Daily Courier Article
  • Rene Bourgault - Sep 16, 2015

    An uplifting man

    Chapter: Kelowna Jaycees

    The second year of Kelowna Top Forty Under 40 launches with a remarkable and poignant profile.

    Rene Bourgault, owner of the Synlawn Okanagan franchise, died Aug. 16 at the age of 29 in a whitewater rafting accident on the Kicking Horse River.

    The Kelowna branch of Junior Chamber International, aka the Jaycees, felt honouring Bourgault posthumously in this forum is another way to remember an exceptional entrepreneur and extraordinary man.

    "Rene is one of the main reasons why the Kelowna Jaycees are the group we are today," said Kelowna Jaycees president Sean Glendenning shortly after Bourgault's death.

    "Rene's constant smiles and infectious laugh made him a pleasure to be around. He was an inspiration to any who met him and encouraged everyone to be better."

    With such a sparkling personality, Bourgault was a natural to be the group's social director, vice-president of membership and golf tournament organizer.

    But it wasn't all fun and games.

    Bourgault and the Jaycees weren't afraid to get their hands dirty cleaning up at Boys and Girls Clubs or fundraising for the Kelowna Womens Shelter.

    "He was always willing to help," said Bourgault's best friend Colin Krieg, a realtor with ReMax Kelowna.

    "And he was just so good with people. He had this genuine way of making you feel like you were the only person or only customer in the world when he was talking to you as a friend, someone he was helping or a Synlawn customer."

    Krieg and Bourgault met in Grade 8 at KLO Middle School and have been close every since.

    They graduated from Kelowna Secondary School together in 2004 and both went on to Okanagan College to earn business degrees as part of the class of 2008.

    Almost immediately, Bourgault started to work at Synlawn.

    After two years he bought the franchise.

    "When he took it over, it wasn't doing very well," said Krieg.

    "Rene turned that business around. He made it a success."

    Bourgault was to marry the love of his life, Chelsea Ray, a yoga instructor, on Sept. 12.

    "Most of the time I can remember Rene and talk about him without crying," she said.

    "But it is like my whole life ahead just disappeared when he died."

    Bourgault didn't have life insurance, so A Go Fund Me page was set up to raise money for Ray and his familty to cope with expenses.

    The goal was $15,000.

    As a testament to Bourgault's popularity and people's reaction to the tragedy, the fund now sits at more than $43,500.

    "What I loved about Rene was his sense of humour, his passion for his life and his work, his lightness and approachability, his abilty to connect with everyone and be such a good freind," said Ray.

    "He was a born businessman and although he stumbled upon Synlawn he made it his own and helped people through the business."

    Original Kelowna Daily Courier Article
  • Meagan Noel - Jun 10, 2015

    Live under your means

    Chapter: JCI Okangan

    We've all heard about living within our means.

    And we also know living beyond your means results in debt and stress.

    Well, Investors Group financial adviser Meagan Noel advocates living under your means.

    "If you live under your means you'll have money left over to invest and meet your financial goals," said Noel, 27.

    "And it's not just about investing, it's about paying off debt, budgeting, cash flow, saving for your kids education and even estate planning."

    Noel helps clients do all this with a detailed, written financial plan that acts as a road map to all your money and life goals.

    "This is what sets us apart from the competition," said Noel.

    "The plan is tailored to each client and is very detailed. It's a document that sets out how you will live and when you can retire with how much. It's separate from the monthly statements to get to keep on top of your investments."

    Getting into a financial planning career at such a young age seemed almost destiny for Noel.

    "My father worked at Investors Group in Sarnia in Ontario for 15 years," she said. "So when I wanted to get into the field, Investors Group was a natural fit."

    Even so, the route to financial planning wasn't a direct one.

    "After I graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a history degree, I made the tour of every little ski town in Western Canada," said Noel.

    "I'm mad about skiing, and mountain biking, so I lived and worked in Revelstoke, Golden, Canmore and the Comox Valley."

    Tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her knee three years ago skiing, gave Noel pause.

    "It gave me time to think about something other than skiing," she said. "I had to start developing other areas of my life. I decided to build a business and a career in a beautiful city, Kelowna, where I can still ski, because I certainly haven't given it up."

    Joining Investors Group also allows Noel to build her own business, brand and influence on the foundation of a well-known and well-respected company name.

    "I've done that with networking, mostly with Okanagan Young Professionals," said Noel. "I position myself as the young professional financial planner for other young professionals. Although I can and have worked with people of all ages."

    Noel has found volunteering and giving back has helped her build her brand and increase her clientele.

    "As a community activater with Okanagan Young Professionals, I connect with so many other young people," she said. "We welcome new young people to Kelowna, connect them with others in the group for mentoring."

    The goal of the group is to attract and keep as many of the new generation in the city for the good of the economy, education, recreation and overall social fabric.

    In the same vein, Noel is also active with the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce's Young People in Business division, the United Way's GenNext, Junior Chamber International and Junior Achievement.

    "With Junior Achievement, I work on financial literacy with Grade 8 students," she said. "It's important for kids to know the fundamentals and concepts at an early age."

    Original Kelowna Daily Courier Article
  • Michael Lavigne - Apr 8, 2015

    Open for change

    Chapter: Kelowna Jaycees
    Depressed and at a career crossroads, Michael Lavigne expected to find nothing but misery and poverty during his 2013 trip through Southeast Asia.

    "I definitely saw the poverty," said the 37-year-old. "But, not the misery. Kids that had nothing were happy playing with sticks and mud. I would be invited into people's homes and I had more money in my pocket than they make in a year, yet they would give me food. It enriched my life. I had to come back to Kelowna and do something to make a difference."

    That something is Open for Change, the for-profit social enterprise Lavigne launched in December 2013.

    Much like Facebook, OpenforChange.com is a social network, but Open's network is all about social change rather than posting selfies and letting friends and relatives know what you're up to this weekend.

    Open sells $5 bronze, $25 silver and $100 gold memberships to raise money, much like crowd funding.

    Members then get to vote on what charities should receive the money from Open's membership fund pool.

    With 230 members, there isn't enough money yet to start doling out cash.

    However, Open is active in the community in the meantime to raise its profile.

    On Valentine's Day, Open helped mobilize 91 volunteers for a Love Inn event to raise awareness of homelessness in Kelowna and raise money for organizations that help the homeless.

    Open did the social media and helped create buzz for today's free workout at Global Fitness in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

    People are encouraged to drop in all day at Global to find out how mental illness impacts way more people than we ever knew and then also take part in a big group fitness class from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

    Soon, volunteers will take to various neighbourhoods with recycled bottles full of sand for Bottles for Change.

    If you put the bottle in your toilet tank, it displaces water and saves one litre per flush.

    "It's a local effort to raise awareness and conserve water," said Lavigne.

    "But it's also a global effort because we encourage everyone in the world to do the same thing."

    Once it has more members, Open will start investing in more charities.

    Besides membership, Open also has several other ideas for raising money that can also be invested in more non-profits.

    Shopping for Change will soon be launched to connect consumers with clean products with Open making a referral fee.

    Open is also creating a certification program for socially-conscience businesses, looking to produce a feature-length documentary, get into crowd-source funding, business- to-business referrals and advertising.

    Lavigne grew up privleged in a family of entrepreneurs who did well with a private Montessori school, wood recycling business, construction firm, real estate and websites.

    He happily worked in the family business until a series of losses and challenges threw him into grief, depression and soul searching.

    "My brother has been in a coma for two-and-a-half years and my sister, mother, grandfather and dog all died close together," he said.

    "I walked away from my career to find purpose in my life. I found it's not about me. It's about helping others. Once I realized that, my life turned around. I'm in such a better place."

    Original Kelowna Daily Courier Article
  • Jason Ranchoux - Mar 25, 2015

    Top 40 nominee makes it just under the wire

    Chapter: Kelowna Jaycees
    Jason Ranchoux was nominated for Top Forty Under 40 by his wife.

    "She's my biggest fan," said Ranchoux with a laugh.

    "She too knows the importance of students of all ages connecting with business people in the classroom.

    Ranchoux's wife, Jody, is a Grade 2 teacher at Heritage Christian School.

    Ranchoux is the Interior B.C. manager for Junior Achievement, the non-profit organization that places business people in classrooms to share work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy tips.

    The programs are for Grades 5 through 12, so Jody Ranchoux's Grade 2 students don't see Junior Achievement mentors, but she still appreciates the merits of the program.

    Ranchoux is the first Top Forty Under 40 nominee who's technically not under age 40.

    He turned the big 4-0 on March 12, but was nominated before his birthday.

    "Schools are great at teaching the basics of math, science, English and social studies," said Ranchoux.

    "But some of the tools to succeed in life are best taught by a business person who can share hindsight and examples from the real world."

    As well, many of the skills Junior Achievement advocates, such as financial literacy, how to handle credit cards, fill out a job application, write a resume and understand a mortgage, aren't part of regular school curriculum.

    "Basically, we just want to plant a seed in students to think about their goals for education, career and life," said Ranchoux.

    Ranchoux loves working in the non-profit sector, helping kids and the community and having a flexible work schedule and arrangement.

    "I work from home," said Rancoux.

    "And now that I do, I don't think I could ever go back to working 9 to 5 in an office."

    After working at Source Office Furniture and Bridge Youth & Family Services, Ranchoux was offered the job at Junior Achievement three years ago.

    "It was an easy jump," he said.

    "I love it. And you know what they say: If you do what you love, you'll never work another day in your life."

    Ranchoux has been a member of Junior Chamber International for eight years.

    His ties to that group and Junior Achievement are generational.

    His late grandfather, Ken Wood, was also a member of Junior Chamber and was one of the first Junior Achievement mentors to go into classrooms in Vancouver in the late-1950s.

    "He worked for Canadian Pacific Air and right throught the 1980 he'd hear from former students about their successes," said Ranchoux.

    Ranchoux also helped find mentors for Rutland Secondary School's team that entered the Dragons' Den-style entrepreneurship competition.

    Original Kelowna Daily Courier Article
  • Evan Dizak - Mar 18, 2015

    Helping young entrepreneurs

    Chapter: Kelowna Jaycees
    Evan Dizak will be out of a job at the end of the month.

    But all is good.

    He always knew his position as youth entrepreneurship co-ordinator with Central Okanagan Community Futures was a limited-time gig because he was hired on a one-year contract.

    "It's been a great year and I've been able to accomplish a lot," said Dizak, 23.

    "From working with a non-profit, helping youth and helping build the community, I now also know I want my next job to be working in the community, too."

    Dizak is the first permanent co-ordinator for the Youth Mean Business program operated by Central Okanagan Community Futures.

    "We help people aged 18 to 29 start their own business," said Dizak.

    "We help them with the business plan, mentorship and a support network along the way and after they've started up their business, too."

    Youth entrepreneurship is at an all-time high.

    The youth unemployment rate is high, prompting many young people to look at starting their own company as a viable option.

    Also, the Millennial Generation has grown up with the Internet, smartphones and rapidly-changing technology, so they are comfortable with thinking like an entrepreneur.

    "We encourage young people to create jobs for themselves," said Dizak.

    "Do something you love and work for yourself. When you are young is the perfect time to start your own business. What do you have to lose?"

    Fear of failure is what holds most people, not just youth, back from starting their own business.

    But the Youth Mean Business program is designed to keep failure at bay with its stringent business plan, mentorship and follow-up requirements.

    Dizak, his brother and a friend did start their own business and failed.

    "It was online ticket sales using Facebook and social media marketing," he explained.

    "It didn't work out. There are already too many established businesses out there selling tickets."

    Two youth-owned-and-operated businesses Dizak is particularly proud to see start and succeed during his tenure are Float Space and ED-ucation Publishing.

    Float Space, owned by Alan Healey and Dustin Erickson, is a deprivation float tank spa.

    ED-ucation is a niche publisher of books with a message for kids.

    Dizak is also pleased with the monthly Okanagan Aspiring Entrepreneur networking events he launched.

    "Initially it was going to be a seminar format," he said.

    "But I thought it would work better as an informal pizza and beer networking and socializing event where young entrepreneurs could support each other and hear a short presentation from a guest speaker, who is also likely a young entrepreneur."

    Even though he won't be working with Community Futures any longer, Dizak expects to continue attending the Aspiring networking because it's so valuable.

    Dizak graduated with a business degree from Okanagan College, where he was also heavily involved in the Enactus program fostering entrepreneurship.

    It was one of his professors who told Dizak about the job at Community Futures and told him he'd be perfect for it.

    Dizak continues to volunteer with Enactus, most recently mentoring the college team that travelled to Calgary for a competiton and placed first in entrepreneurship.

    Original Kelowna Daily Courier Article
  • David Brown - Mar 4, 2015

    The bilingual lawyer

    Chapter: Kelowna Jaycees
    There's not much call for legal services in French in Kelowna.

    But if there is, David Brown is your man.

    "With a last name like Brown, and being originally from Edmonton, you wouldn't think I'm a linguistic Francophone, but I am," said the 31-year-old employment and immigration lawyer.

    "I also went to the only university in Canada where you can study common law in French, the University of Moncton."

    As such, Brown has the best of both worlds.

    He's fluently bilingual in French and English and speaks both without an accent.

    And since English is predominant in Kelowna, he's easily made the transitioning to practising at Pushor Mitchell Lawyers in English.

    "I articled and practised for two-and-a-half years in St. John, N.B., where the work was probably about 70 per cent English and 30 per cent French," said Brown.

    "But both my wife and I knew we wanted to move back West, and Edmonton was out of the question, so we started to look elsewhere and Kelowna won because of its weather and quality of life."

    Initially, Brown and his wife, dietician Marie Goyet, thought they would give booming Calgary a try.

    But the cold and big-city traffic quickly turned them off.

    "We decided we liked the quality of life of a medium-sized city so in the summer of 2012 we visited and considered them all, from Kamloops, Kelowna and Victoria to Lethbridge, Red Deer and Regina," said Brown.

    "Obviously, we fell in love with Kelowna."

    Brown landed a job at Pushor Mitchell, which was looking to expand its employment and immmigration law presence, and his wife started work with Interior Health.

    The couple is expecting their first child in July.

    The baby will be brought up speaking both English and French.

    Brown's wife is also completely bilingual, and originally from Quebec, so having a child who speaks both languages is important to both of them.

    As a lawyer, Brown's first priority is always acting in the best interest of his clients.

    "Usually mediating out of court and early dispute resolution is in everyone's best interest," said Brown.

    "But if you have to go to court, you have to go to court."

    Brown's employment law practice is wide-ranging, from wrongful dismissals, company downsizing and discrimination in the workplace to Workers' Compensation Board cases, contracts and employment standards.

    His immigration law activity is also broad.

    Such law is usually complicated because the federal government recently made the rules stricter.

    Brown can help individuals and companies with Provincial Nominee Program applications, permanent residency, foreign temporary workers applications, breaking down barriers for immigrants and international students and helping Canadians bring a foreign spouse here.

    Both Pushor Mitchell, as a firm, and Brown, as an individual, put a high priority on community service.

    Brown is on the Kelowna Community Reources board.

    The non-profit deals with a lot of employment and adoption issues, areas where Brown can help out as a lawyer specializing in employment law.

    Brown is type-1 diabetic, which is known as juvenile diabetes when a sufferer is younger.

    "It's a cause that is close to my heart, so I'm on the Juvenile Diabetes Association fundraising committee," he said.

    He's also active with Junior Chamber International, Okanagan Young Professionals and GenNext.

    Original Kelowna Daily Courier Article
  • Jason Blucke - Feb 25, 2015

    Zero to hero

    Chapter: Kelowna Jaycees
    Jason Blucke had no clients when he started work at Investors Group in Kelowna seven years ago.

    "That's the way it is," said the 29-year-old.

    "I was 22 and had just walked in the door with a business administration diploma from Okanagan College. It's your own business under Investors Group, so you build up your own clientele."

    And grow the business he did.

    Today, Blucke has many clients and he's looking at hiring an associate to help him out.

    "Because I was young when I started this job, I gravitated to helping younger investors, my peer group," said Blucke.

    "It's great because young people are building wealth too. But the more seasoned I became, the more older clients I got. Now, I'm helping many of the parents of the young investors I started with. I must have come highly recommended."

    While Investors Group didn't require a business degree for employment, it was important to Blucke.

    For the first three years he was with Investors Group, he worked 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the office and then attended night school to earn his degree at Okanagan College.

    He's retained those close ties to the college and is a regular guest speaker at business classes.

    He's also attained the certified financial planner designation.

    "Investors Group likes to develop fully-integrated financial plans for our clients," said Blucke.

    "It's not just selling investments or products to people."

    Typically, financial advisers are older and come to the industry after working elsewhere.

    While Blucke has never experienced discrimination because of his age, he nevertheless is happy with his seven-year progression in the office, the industry and the community.

    "When you start as a young guy, you have to earn respect and I'm glad I did that," he said.

    "And it's also important to give other young people a chance, both as advisers and investors. That's why I mentor young advisers and put on seminars for investors."

    Before going to college, Blucke, a six-foot, 185-pound defenceman, played four years of junior hockey with the Penticton Panthers, Vernon Vipers, Quesnel Millionaires and Selkirk Steelers.

    "I love the hockey community and want to start coaching," he said.

    "I've come to the point in my career where I have some flexibility to commit to coaching a minor hockey team."

    Blucke also supports the annual Alzheimer's Walk in Kelowna because he lost his grandfather to the disease.

    Bluke's Financial Matters column runs every other week in this newspaper's regional sister publication, The Okanagan Saturday.

    Original Kelowna Daily Courier Article
  • Kevin Lavigne - Jan 14, 2015

    Running for bacon a popular event

    Chapter: Kelowna Jaycees

    Kevin Lavigne, 37, likes to half-joke he's from an award-winning household.

    When The Daily Courier called to congratulate him on being a Top Forty Under 40 nominee, he reveals he's just won Junior Chamber International (Kelowna branch) member of the year honours and his wife was recently named employee of the year at Quails' Gate Winery.

    "It feels good to work hard and play hard," he said.

    "I always get compliments from clients, associates and friends about my work-life balance. If it's important, you can always make time for it. And my clients matter, my family matters and community service matters."

    Lavigne is an adviser at Reid & Associates, a Kelowna financial planning firm, the father of two daughters, aged four and 18 months, and an active volunteer.

    One of those volunteer efforts took off more than he ever envisioned.

    "The Great Canadian Bacon Chase started as a joke," said Lavigne.

    "It was supposed to be a small fundraiser to benefit Inn from the Cold."

    However, the cachet of doing a five-kilometre run or half-kilometre walk while eating an unlimited amount of bacon captured the community's attention.

    More than 300 participants showed up for the inaugural event in September and the B.C. Pork Association came on board as a sponsor, providing 350 pounds of bacon.

    Being such a success, Great Canadian Bacon Chase has become an annual foray.

    This year, Lavigne is vice-president of the Kelowna branch of Junior Chamber International, a group for businesspeople under the age of 40 who want to mix community service with networking and personal and professional development.

    Besides looking after his insurance, tax, investments and estate-planning clients, Lavigne also teaches a continuing studies course at Okanagan College on financial strategies for successful retirement and leads seminars on cutting your working years in half.

    He also helps the Futurpreneur program by mentoring young people starting businesses.

    Lavigne and his wife were the first couple in their group of friends to have kids.

    One of Lavigne's favourite
    ways to spend time with his kids is hiking, even if the kids are in a stroller.

    "When some of our friends also starting having kids, I'd text them to see if they wanted to join us on our Saturday morning hikes," said Lavigne.

    "By the time it got to seven to 10 texts, I thought, I'll just start a Family Hiking Facebook Group."

    The group now has 100 members and the most that have ever come out on a hike at any one time is 43.

    The group does various one-and-a-half hour routes, with the only stipulation that the trail be accessible for strollers with rubber tires.

    Original Kelowna Daily Courier Article
  • Drew Vincent - Oct 1, 2014

    Connect directly with your food and wine

    Chapter: Kelowna Jaycees
    Drew Vincent, 28, has taken the circuitous route.

    "Originally, I was studying criminology and that just wasn't the path for me," he said.

    "I worked in the oil patch for awhile and then in the restaurant industry managing the kitchens at Salty's and Earls in Penticton."

    Vincent liked the food industry, but wanted to get into the business, marketing and promotions side of it so he enrolled in Okanagan College's business degree program.

    He graduated in the spring with specializes in accounting and marketing.

    "I wanted to get my degree because I wanted to be well-rounded and entrepreneurial."

    With such experience, education and attitude, Vincent landed a job shortly after graduation with soilmate.com, the Kelowna-based consumer website founded by foodie businessman Matt Gomez.

    "Soilmate.com is where you go to connect more directly with your food and wine," said Vincent, who is director of marketing and operations with the company.

    "We have listings for 8,500 farms, markets, wineries, grocery stores and restaurants."

    The information on the website is free for consumers and the businesses listed don't have to pay, either.

    "It's a free model," said Vincent.

    "The company makes money from the advertising on the website. Right now, it's mostly credit unions and banks, but there could also soon be restaurants and grocery stores that want to highlight what they have that's local and what farms they've sourced from."

    Of course, there are listings for the obvious farmers' markets and fruit and vegetable farmers in the Okanagan.

    But Vincent said there are also listings for things you might not initally think of, such as honey wine, duck eggs, ostrich or boar meat and exotic cheeses.

    "These are all passionate producers who want consumers to know they can eat local and healthy by purchasing directly from the farmer, at a farmers' market or at a grocery store or restaurant that's buying local, too."

    Devin Rubadeau, a business professor at Okanagan College, nominated Vincent for Top Forty Under 40.

    "Drew was an outstanding student when he was at Okanagan College," said Rubadeau.

    "And he is also a significant volunteer who inspired other students to step up and and do more and do better."

    Vincent joined Enactus, the college group for business students to get real-life experiences through volunteering and helping businesses.

    "As the president of Enactus, he helped make several programs successful and increased the number of business students who joined," said Rubadeau.

    "He made such an impact that when Okanagan College celebrated its 50th anniversary and compiled a 50 top influencers in 50 years list, Drew was on it."

    Some of the Enactus projects included a MOMentum initiative to help single moms with financial literacy, job search and healthy living; a Farm Bag Fundraiser to help farmers get their produce to local market; and Rewind, a partnership with local wineries to make sure recycled wine bottles make it back to local wineries for reuse.

    Original Kelowna Daily Courier Article
  • James Kay - Sep 17, 2014

    An engineering pioneer

    Chapter: Kelowna Jaycees
    James Kay is happy to be a civil engineering hillside development innovator.

    "Absolutely, the firm I'm with (WSP Focus) is a pioneer in doing it different and better," said Kay, 35.

    "It's all about doing as much as possible design upfront using site evaluation and auto CAD (computer- assisted design). That way you can determine where homes and services can go to have as little impact on the environment as possible."

    Such an approach means more trees are saved on construction sites and the use of huge retaining walls is limited.

    "It's also about esthetic appeal," said Kay, a civil engineer.

    "The more trees you can keep, the nicer a street and subdivision looks. We also like to use existing rock bluffs as natural retaining walls rather than building retaining walls."

    Such planning and construction is important in Kelowna where there are alot of hillside development as builders put homes where owners can have Okanagan Lake and Valley views.

    One of the latest subdivisions WSP Focus has helped designed with all of this in mind is the Rocky Point neighbourhood at Wilden, the master planned community in the Glenmore Highlands.

    Kay and WSP are also working with the City of Kelowna on progressive storm-water management.

    Rainwater that gathers gunk and oil from parking lots and rooftops at commercial buildings is collected and treated to trap sediment and filter oil before it is returned to the ground clean, so it doesn't harm creeks and soil.

    WSP Focus also worked on the utility replacement and revitalization of Bernard Avenue over the past three years.

    "It was the best choreographed project I've ever worked on," said Kay.

    "It had the support of the merchants and the public and everyone was kept informed of the progress. Plus, it looks great now that it's all done."

    Kay likes to pass along his expertise teaching a civil engineering course a week at each Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan.

    He's also an active volunteer, serving on the boards of the Okanagan branch of the Urban Development Institute, the Central Okanagan branch of the Canadian Home Builders' Association and Consulting Engineers of B.C.

    Original Kelowna Daily Courier Article