Client Accomplishments

Secrets of Success, Innovation and Opportunity

We love bragging about our client’s success. They have a dream and, using innovative thinking, they came to Community Futures for funding to take advantage of an opportunity that would move them towards their dream.  Their journey towards success have also been our journey. We feel client recognition matters. It is purposeful for our clients to see how far they have come…and how easy it will be to get to the next step. Celebrate with us.

Catalyst Home Staging and Design

Jean Geldert

Jean Geldert opened Catalyst Home Staging and Design, in Parksville, in the fall of 2014. A certified home staging and design company, they provide “affordable style” so that home owners can sell their property much more quickly.

In the beginning, like most small businesses, Geldert found it difficult to get the business rolling but with a start-up loan and some sound business advice, she was able to make things happen.

Because Geldert enjoyed watching the transformation, for years she provided home staging and design services at no charge. One day her husband suggested maybe it was time to start her own small business. So she went back to school to complete her International Design and Decorating Professional, and International Staging and Re-design Professional designations. Then she developed her business plan.
With a business plan in hand, Geldert went to a local bank and opened a business account, thinking it would be easy to get a start-up loan.  It wasn’t.  When recounting her disappointment to her accountant, he recommended a visit to Community Futures Central Island, a non profit organization that provides small business loans, expert advice, tools and resources.

“I am so appreciative of Community Futures for their faith and help to allow me to fulfill my ambition of opening my company. I am so fortunate that I get to do what I love, and the support of Community Futures really helped me achieve that,” says Geldert.

Diversifying her service offerings has provided substantially more revenue opportunities, which has helped build the business. With more design options, many clients who are happy with one service will often hire Geldert for more services. That model has recently resulted in making December 2016 her busiest month yet, and strong momentum to exponentially increase her results in 2017.

Sockeye Technologies Inc

Charles Hamer

Written by Danielle Cunningham

Launched in March 2014, Sockeye Technologies (SockTech) is a company that provides enterprises around the globe with a software program that assists with maintenance and labour supply. Since the business’ inception, Chief Executive Officer, Charles Hamer and Founder, Stephen Bisanz and their team of 8 professionals have extended their services to 12 multi-national organizations with numerous sites, including the New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Charles Hamer has developed an expertise in the software industry for over 25 years. His experience in the field and relationships with industry leaders across North America such as Frito-Lay and Georgia-Pacific has helped Charles to embark on this second business endeavor with confidence and integrity. Though Sockeye Technologies Inc. caters to an international community, their locations are concentrated in Vancouver, Victoria, and Nanaimo.

“Community Futures acted as a launch pad for the project,” Charles says. “Their loan helped to inject capital into the business during its early stages.”

SockTech buyers are typically large enterprises with resources or “assets that degrade over time and use,” Charles says. These sectors include: heavy industry, public infrastructure, hospitals, power & utilities, transportation, and defense, among others.  As a program that organizes materials and resources into a database, SockTech also saves companies time and money by coordinating crew scheduling and human capital. The program also includes a feature which calculates the estimated hours of project completion by craft.

When asked where Charles would invest additional funding if it were available, Charles says “I would concentrate on marketing and product development.” Currently, SockTech uses the ‘land and expand’ model of marketing, where a single user tries the product, enjoys its benefits, then works with Sockeye to “champion it across the enterprise.” In addition, the Marketing team makes it a priority to communicate with followers on social media platforms to foster awareness and customer loyalty.

A 30-day free trial period incentivizes customers to experience the program’s proven results before purchasing and implementing it permanently.

One of the greatest challenges about managing a business is “maintaining optimism during times of economic uncertainty,” Charles says. A challenge specific to the software industry is building a company evaluation recognizable by industry leaders. Despite this difficulty, SockTech has seen tremendous growth during its first year of operation, and forecasts a customer base of 200 and a team of 25 by the end of 2017.

Painted Turtle

Angie and Bruce Barnard

Written by Danielle Cunningham

In 2003, Angie and Bruce Barnard purchased the Painted Turtle Guesthouse, a European-style accommodation located in the heart of downtown Nanaimo. The couple devoted 11 years to the hotel/hostel, committing hard work and innovation to grow and develop the award-winning business that now serves local and international community members.

Seeking a place to settle and run a business that would accommodate their lifestyles, the Barnards discovered Nanaimo, a city that prides itself on the exciting prospects of “work and play” – a place the two felt was deserving of a closer look.

The heritage property began as a large undertaking – but, as Angie says, “we liked the bones and we put in an offer.” Major internal and external renovations were completed to earn the hostel its national recognition as best in-class for its accommodation style. Situated among several other vibrant local businesses, the Guesthouse currently hosts world travelers, sports teams, tourists, and local/travelling business representatives. The latest addition has been a conference room, to provide an appropriate venue for professionals to meet.

Community support turned ideas into opportunities for the two entrepreneurs. Since start-up loans for small tourism business are unavailable from traditional banks, the two sought and received funding from Community Futures of Central Island to get the operation up and running. 15 locals also invested in the business, making it a true community effort in its initial onset.

Painted Turtle Guesthouse is now a 24-7 operation with three full-time and two part-time permanent staff who manage reception, groups/events, housekeeping, and business development. PTGH also hosts work-for-stay positions in shoulder/low seasons and offers an international internship program as a way of staying in connected to the global community.

Today, the Barnards have sold their business and turned ownership over to Patrick Blanch in pursuit of new and emerging opportunities.

Great Performances Business Consulting

Clemens Rettich

Written by Danielle Cunningham

For the last 10 years, Clemens Rettich and his team of qualified business advisors have delivered coaching and advising services to business owners and communities, island and province-wide. Clemens’ practice at Great Performances Group involves the investment of time towards the growth and development of other businesses; in 2012, however, Clemens devoted resources into his own expansion through the publication of his 2012 book, Great Performances: The Small Business Script for the 21st century, a project funded through the support of Community Futures Central Island.

Clemens and his 5-person team operate in Ladysmith and serve an average of 25-30 businesses simultaneously in consulting services. 60% of business comes from the Vancouver Island region and less than 20% of these clients are based immediately in the Cowichan Valley; the remaining business comes from the mainland and in Canadian regions further afield.

25-40% of clients utilize the services of Great Performances Group long-term, spending 4, 5, and 6 years with the organization to receive assistance developing expansion plans. “Every business is like a novel, and the speed in which they unfold is unique to each business,” Clemens says.

Two key programs that Clemens offers clients are in consulting/advising and training. Coaching and advising can be offered over the telephone and on skype with team members whose specialized skills correspond with business needs and inquiries; training models are delivered online.

Clemens has long-term plans of implementing a train-the-trainer program at the Great Performances Group, which will involve the creation of customized online content and education resources to be available for purchase. The project will cost an estimated $25,000, and will require more staffing to accommodate its establishment and maintenance, Clemens says.

“The most challenging part of running a business is leveraging resources,” Clemens says. Determining where to allocate these resources to optimize operating efficiency is difficult, especially when the growth and development of other businesses is at the forefront of my practice, Clemens adds.

Clemens enjoys operating on Vancouver Island for the lifestyle, and the access to larger markets such as Victoria and Nanaimo. Similar services are not currently offered in these regions, therefore the climate is far less competitive than in larger cities such as Vancouver.

“If you do it intelligently, there are ways of leveraging resources to create business opportunities. Sometimes raising the capital to do those things is the hardest part, and that’s where Community Futures comes in.” 

Fast Time Grand Prix

Doug McLean and Norm Spann

Written by Danielle Cunningham

Fast Time Grand Prix outdoor NASkart experience celebrates its 2nd season of operation this spring. Doug McLean and Norm Spann’s dream race track took 7 years to plan, and 75 days to build, with persistence and the support of Community Futures Central Island. The two former Saratoga racers’ dreams materialized last June when a scale model took shape as a 35-turn road course with 1,600 feet of outdoor track to accommodate 21 carts.

Doug and Norm met in 2008 at Saratoga Speedway in Black Creek, BC. Norm was at the track supporting his son’s race, while Doug was a racer himself and lived nearby with a shop to perform mechanical repairs. When an issue with Norm’s son’s vehicle arose before a race, Doug offered his assistance and repaired the vehicle in time for his race. Doug’s hospitality and their mutual passion for the sport sparked a friendship and a vision for a joint business venture. “We saw what we wanted and felt strongly that the people around us would come and play.”

Doug has extensive personal and professional experience in mechanics and the automotive industry, while Norm has professional expertise in sales – a combination that positions the company at a competitive advantage.   

Being a functioning outdoor track means that operation is seasonal, therefore the track is closed during the winter months, and reopened for the spring and summer months. During the track’s peak season, 12 employees, a combination of part and full-time, are hired to serve the heavy traffic. Additional income-earning amenities on the track are in advertising (business displays around the track) and from concession sales.

Fast Time attracts corporate groups, individuals and large parties, and offers reservations up to 2 months in advance or drop-ins. A guest’s experience is typically 60-75 minutes and begins with a short safety video, then ends in a review of the winning drivers with their accompanying times. Everything in between is geared towards providing participants a fun, authentic experience. “Age and gender are not important on the track.”

The racing vehicles are engineered for safety; imported from France, where Grand Prix originated, the vehicles are designed to perform well and withstand “day-to-day abuse.” They travel at speeds of up to 46 km/hr on the track and feature adjustable seats and pedals. “At 2 inches off the ground, 46 km/hr is pretty exhilarating,” Doug says.

The duo’s wish is to increase accessibility on the track, by offering individuals with physical disabilities the opportunity to race. This initiative will require the manipulation of existing carts to include features such as hand controls for acceleration.

“Community Futures has been an instrumental part of the business.” When resources were tapped, the duo reached out to Community Futures Central Island for financial assistance, where Keith Orieux acted as a coach and a mentor in the early stages of the business and its proposal. “Their team saw the vision we saw for the business.”

The most challenging parts of entering into a new business are its political constraints and the demands of the administrative process, Norm says. “Buy locally wherever possible. Supporting local business pays off and enriches the community.”

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Communities Served

Ladysmith, Nanaimo, Gabriola Island, Lantzville, Nanoose, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Bowser, French Creek, Lasquiti Island


Community Futures Central Island
#14 - 327 Prideaux Street
Nanaimo, BC
V9R 2N4

T: 250.591.7499
T: 888.303.2232
T: 877.585.5385
F: 250.591.7498