Welcome to the final installment our four part series interviewing the top entrepreneurs in Squamish. Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting with some amazing local business owners to talk about what brought them to town and the biggest rewards and challenges of running their own business. Modern day Squamish is built on the passion and vision of local entrepreneurs and small business owners. In a small, but rapidly growing community without major industry, it is up to these creative and driven people to initiate opportunity and stimulate the local economy.
Throughout this four part series we will introduce you to some of the amazing people behind your favourite local businesses. One consistent theme that surfaced repeatedly in these interviews was the attraction to the lifestyle and outdoor nature that unites our town. We have already introduced you to The Freshies , The Take Offs and The Rooted which are classified as being open for up to ten years in Squamish. Without further ado,
Please meet The Masters
In last part of our series on local entrepreneurs, we will be featuring business owners who have been in business for over ten years. We refer to these folks as “The Masters”. As a community we are lucky to have an incredible mix of intelligent, focused and generally awesome entrepreneurs. Show your love, share this article and help support these local businesses
Squamish Integrated Health | Susan
“Our team focuses on evidence based research because the thorough understanding of anatomy and physiology is magic enough.”
On her way back from a climbing trip to the “Cirque of the Unclimbables” in the North West Territories, Susan decided to stop in Squamish and climb at the Chief. She instantly fell in love. In 1999, she moved to the corridor in a VW van and has been enjoying the outdoor lifestyle here ever since.
Practicing massage since 1995, Susan was the only massage therapist in town when she moved to Squamish. At the time the health care business model was to spend as little time with patients as possible, like an assembly line. However, Susan strongly believed in spending more one on one time and having an integrated system where other practitioners can aid in care. She brought this vision of personal one on one care to care and recovery, when she opened Squamish Integrated Health.
With an insatiable appetite for learning and personal growth, Susan wanted to know the science behind why and how massage helps people to feel better. During her research, she found that there was no science or publications at the time that supported the benefits of Massage Therapy. So she applied for a grant to study the benefits of massage the benefits of manual therapy for surgical recovery, which has led to 6 publications in journals on the subject.
Today, Susan successfully bridges science with natural healing techniques while encouraging her fellow practitioners at Squamish Integrated Health. Susan expects great things to come as she continues to fuel her own growth and education with the continued goal of bringing the benefits of science-based research to our local community.
Vocari Financial Solutions| Peter
“When it comes to realizing your dreams, I believe life’s what you make it.”
Peter first moved to Vancouver from Saskatchewan in 1992, following a career opportunity presented to his wife, Nicole. It was there that he began the journey toward becoming a member of the Million Dollar Round Table – an independent, international association representing the top five percent of financial services professionals.. Since then, for over 20 years, Peter has been helping individuals, families and business owners achieve their financial goals.
Recognizing the opportunity in a smaller town for more community connection both personally and professionally, Peter opened his practice here in Squamish in 1999, where he reverse commuted from Vancouver for four years before making the move in 2003. When Peter and his wife started their family, the benefits of raising a family in a small town like Squamish really came to light. Now, as husband and father of four, Peter enjoys coaching minor hockey and supporting the local biking community
Through professionalism, hard work and determination, Peter has built his business based on a client-centered approach. With word-of-mouth as your strongest marketing tool, it’s crucial to have a product that works for your clients. Peter and his team at Vocari Financial Solutions can help you build you a dependable wealth strategy. Contact them today to learn more.
Valhalla Pure | Murray
Murray came to Squamish for the first time to visit his sister 19 years ago. He had been working at a Valhalla Pure in the interior of BC, but was considering opening up his own store. For some reason the West Coast had not occurred to him as a potential location. After spending the day rock climbing here in town, Murray was surprised to learn that there wasn’t a local gear shop. It was as if his future was hovering over him in the form of the massive granite wall he could see from Cleveland Avenue. He began looking into local lease options and franchise opportunities. Within a year, Valhalla Pure had opened in Squamish.
As you can imagine, there are many challenges to face when keeping a business running for over 18 years. Although the Squamish is blessed with the natural environment conducive to outdoor adventures and sports, the demographics of our community were very different at that time. Persistence, support and many long hours dedicated to his business are the keys to Valhalla Pure’s longevity and success. As Squamish enters a new phase of growth, it attracts people who want to live here, who want to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle.
Valhalla Pure is the most experienced local shop to help serve those who love the great outdoors. Murray is always keen to support the community by sponsoring numerous initiatives and organizations including Squamish Search and Rescue, Squamish Paddling Club, Climbers’ Access Society, Squamish Community Foundation and more.
Howe Sound Brewing Company | Leslie
“With challenge comes change and opportunities.”
Leslie is an owner of Howe Sound Brewing Co The Howe Sound Inn and Brewpub, which started in 1996. An early initiate to the brewing industry in British Columbia, there were innumerable obstacles to overcome at both the consumer and government levels But with these challenges came opportunities for growth.
Located in downtown Squamish, the Howe Sound Brewing Company is blessed with fabulous glacial water as well as a diverse community focused on a love of the outdoors and recreation. This in itself was a perfect setting and natural fit for microbrewing and a gathering place for microbrewing lovers and aficionados. One of Leslie’s passions in the brewing industry involves pairing local ingredients or flavours with cultural and environmental interests, in order to inspire new brews.
Brewing is a catalyst for community. Since ales are a cultivator of the social moment, Howe Sound Brewing is in a constant state of creation. Through marketing and idea generation, the brewery has created some uniquely inspired ales such as “Bailout Bitter”: a bitter ale for bitter times with recession fighting properties and “Three Beavers”: in celebration of the largest rodent in Canada and winners of the 2010 “hinterland” games.
Over the past few years, Howe Sound Brewing has developed a corporate social responsibility program called Ales for Change. They offer 36 ales, which range from seasonal ales, lagers, fruit ales, wheat, stouts, IPA’s, pumpkin and winter spiced ales to big imperial bodied ales. The Howe Sound Inn & Brewery has won over 60 local, national and international awards for our beers since 2009.
But don’t take our word for it. Stop by and taste the passion and ingenuity that is brewed in each batch of beer.
Pepe & Gringos | Ingo
“Listening to your customer is the key to success, especially in the restaurant industry.”
A family man with a big heart, Ingo moved to Squamish 15 years ago from Whistler. He was drawn by the small town charm and bought a home in Brackendale where there was room to grow his family. At the time, he didn’t have any intention to open up a restaurant. However, after living here for a year, he saw a need to bring a new level of restaurant to Squamish. His past experience managing some of the top restaurants in the industry set him up for success.
Pepe & Gringos opened 13 years ago, bringing a new level of service and food quality to the community. Ingo admits that Pepes was a bit ahead of the times in the beginning, but they quickly adjusted by removing the white table clothes and providing a more casual atmosphere. Soon everyone felt welcome and at home at the restaurant.
Over the past 13 years Squamish has gone through economic booms and busts, making it a challenging environment for many businesses. So how did Pepes & Gringos manage to overcome this to become one of the five longest-standing restaurants in town? Ingo attributes this success to adaptability and to listening to the desires of the community. Your customers will tell you what they want, you simply need to be able to listen and adapt to their needs.
As Squamish continues to grow, attracting a newer demographic, Ingo and his team are still listening. Finding out what this new community wants as it develops. As always, combining great food and great service makes Pepe’s stand out from the expanding restaurant scene in Squamish. Stop by for dinner this week, you will feel at home at Pepe & Gringos.
Stylezone Fashions | Trish
Photo: Nicolas Hesson Photograph
41 years ago, Trish came to Squamish to visit her brother and never left. She was immediately drawn to the natural landscape and the small community feel. Throughout the years, Trish has witnessed many changes to the community and has used this energy to keep her business fresh and vibrant year after year. She believes these changes are necessary for the growth and prosperity of the people and the community as a whole. Being able to adapt and change with these external influences, while maintaining genuine relationships with her clients is what sets her business apart.
With no previous experience as an entrepreneur, Trish jumped into the fashion industry with both feet, an open mind and focused drive. Since opening the doors 28 years ago, Trish has proven that she has what it takes to be an entrepreneur in a transitioning community. Her adaptability, vision as well as her warm energy are what keep her loyal customers coming back, and what invites her newcomers to return.
Two year ago, Trish decided to go one step further and design her own fashion line, “Modern Revival.” Having a fashion line that sets Stylezone apart from any other retailer. Designing a brand new line that caters to the Squamish woman was a risk Trish was willing to take and it turns out, it was worth it. Collaborating with her community of customers in this way is the most rewarding pay off yet. There is an unparalleled feeling of pride and satisfaction felt when her customers walk out of her store happy.
Be sure to come in to Stylezone downtown on Pemberton Ave and check out the new Spring Collection from Modern Revival.
Thank you for taking the time to check out this series. It was a pleasure and an honour to be able to speak with this community of business owners in Squamish. Stay tuned for more individual articles coming soon, as our town is full of incredibly talented and driven people with amazing stories to share.
If you missed any of the earlier articles in this series check them out here:
[PREVIOUS] Meet the Trailblazers: Stories from the Entrepreneurs in Squamish – Pt 3: The Rooted
[PREVIOUS] Meet the Trailblazers: Stories from the Entrepreneurs in Squamish – Pt 2: The Take Offs
[PREVIOUS] Meet the Trailblazers: Stories from the Entrepreneurs in Squamish – Pt 1: The Freshies