Growing a Business, One Employee at a Time

Urban Roots
Urban Roots

“Exciting” is the word that hair stylists Lisa Millar and Deidra Cathcart use when describing their profession.

“There’s always something to learn and it’s always growing as an industry. You can expand into so many different areas and it can be financially rewarding,” says Lisa, owner of Urban Roots.

“I love all our clients,” says Deidra. “There are so many different personalities. We never know who’s going to walk through the door. A lot of our clients pop in to say hello or bring us home-baked goodies.”

Lisa opened her business over three years ago, after spending some time as a stay-at-home mom.

“I was thinking of going back to hairdressing and wondering where I’d like to work.”

She remembers wishing there were more businesses south of town, so she wouldn’t have to drive as far.

“I saw that this building was empty, and pulled in on a whim to see if it was for rent. It all snowballed from there.”

Deidra came on board in 2011. A graduate of the Hairdressing Program at Vancouver Island University in Powell River, she had done her practicum at Urban Roots, and hoped to find long-term employment there.

“Deidra phoned me while I was at a hair show in Nanaimo, and asked if I were hiring,”

Owner Lisa Millar [standing] and Diedra Cathcart take a short break in their busy day
Owner Lisa Millar [standing] and Diedra Cathcart take a short break in their busy day
Lisa remembers. “I replied, ‘I do need somebody. Let me talk to you when I get back.’”

The next step was to talk to Mark Lemna, coordinator of Wage Subsidy Services at Career Link. The Employment Program of BC pays a wage subsidy to employers who hire and provide on-the-job training to an eligible job seeker. A maternity leave several years before had given Deidra an attachment to Employment Insurance (EI), a necessary requirement for eligibility.

As a new business owner, Lisa appreciated this opportunity to cut down on her hiring costs. “The wage subsidy allowed me to slowly work into having to pay someone.”

Deidra agrees. “It provided her with the incentive to hire, and gave me the opportunity to get into the field.”

One of the service’s requirements is to provide the new employee with training. At first, Lisa was concerned how that would affect her business.

“I was worried that it might affect my time management, but it was fine. The training mostly consisted of job shadowing and answering questions, so it wasn’t like I had to physically stop working. If I was colouring someone’s hair and Deidra had a question, I could just keep working and answer her. Most clients have no problem with someone watching.”

“We went over cutting, styling, colours, chemicals—the things I had learned in school. Lisa knew I had confidence in what I was doing,” adds Deidra.

Nor did the service’s paperwork pose a problem.

“The paperwork was fairly easy,” says Lisa. “If I did have any questions, I’d just phone Mark and he was happy to help.”

“Every so often he’d pop by and ask how it was working for us,” says Deidra. “He would joke about how hard my boss was on me.”

Deidra admires Lisa’s management and supervisory skills. “We chat as really good friends…but I know when the boss kicks in. Not all employers have that skill.”

For her part, Lisa appreciates Deidra’s work ethic. “She’s self-motivated. I don’t have to always be the one finding jobs for her: she’ll find something to do.”

Each woman has her own long-term goals. “I’d really like to finish my apprenticeship here, and stay for as long as I can,” says Deidra. “Because I came in to her business when it was so new, I’ve been able to grow with her and grow with the business. I kind of feel that it’s my little baby as well.”

Lisa’s goals are to build up her clientele and offer even more services for her clients. Already, there is a massage and steam bath service, and Lisa foresees the day when there will be a nail technician on site.

And as for the Wage Subsidy Service?

“I’d use it again,” says Lisa.

New Employee Rises to the Challenge

Coranne and Stacy
Co-owner Coranne Anderson [left] and Stacy Mogan are proud of the wide range of products at Aaron Service and Supply
Coranne Anderson, one of the owners of Aaron Service and Supply, is an enthusiastic supporter of the Wage Subsidy Service [WSS] delivered by Career Link. To date, she has hired three full-time employees through the service.

Her newest staff member, Stacy Mogan, celebrated her first anniversary with the company in November.

What kind of person were they looking for, at the time they brought Stacy on board?

“The person she is,” says Coranne, “someone who can work with a family business.  We have a lot of different jobs to do in a day, so it had to be someone who can take on multiple tasks and be flexible.”

Aaron Service and Supply celebrates 35 years in business this month. Over the years, the company has evolved, to better serve the unique needs of Powell River. Services include water filtration systems and analysis, coffee and tea service, food products, ice in summer, roto brush  air-duct cleaning, janitorial and cleaning supplies, paper products, cleaning products, and more. 

“By doing all the things we do, we’ve managed to keep our employees working full time, rather than lay off seasonally,” explains Coranne. “I feel so sorry for people and families who are carrying three or four jobs and trying to shuffle them. It’s very hard on their stress levels. We do everything we can to not have that. We try to be creative instead of having people take fewer hours.”

While that creativity is good for business, the sheer diversity of goods and services is challenging for new employees. There are 70 varieties and blends of coffee alone.

“This business is not easy for people coming in,” says Coranne. “It’s stressful, and we certainly realize that. As Stacy can see now, it takes at least three months to start feeling like you have a bit of a handle on it. But Stacy is a really bright person and she hung in there.”

 “I did not quit,” laughs Stacy. “There’s a huge knowledge base to absorb.  First of all, there’s the product, but then there’s learning all about the systems and the suppliers, as well as the various customers and their needs.”

 “We have 10 different brands of paper towel,” says Coranne. “Customers will call and say, ‘You know which one we use.’”

Both women credit the Wage Subsidy Service with providing Stacy the time in which to learn these new skills.

“As someone who used to hire people, I know what a benefit it is to have the training costs offset,” says Stacy. “It takes a lot of pressure off the employer and a bit of pressure off the employee too, because you don’t have to know everything all at once. It gives you time to train and learn.

“Anyone with a good work ethic wants to do a 100% job right away,” she adds, “but it’s just not possible when you’re learning so many new things.”

“The Wage Subsidy Service works well for business, by helping to reach out and find the right people,” says Coranne. A major benefits, she adds, is that the business does not have to bear the full cost. “It takes a lot of time and money to train.”

Coranne is especially appreciative of the efforts of WSS coordinator, Mark Lemna. “He has been very helpful.  He would always meet with us separately so we could express any issues.”

The training period may be over, but the learning goes on. 

“We all have lots to learn yet,” says Coranne. “As the world changes, the business has to change rapidly.”

Now, for example, there’s a new range of biodegradable containers. There’s also the challenge of establishing an online presence.

“Stacy has taken on some of that, Facebooking and letting people know what’s new,” says Coranne. “We know that’s an area in which we have to move forward, and creativity is one of Stacy’s strengths.” 

 “We are working with Facebook to get more coverage,” says Stacy.  “Some days when we post, it’s seen by 1200 people, just through being shared and liked. I think it’s a really good way to get new product information out to people.”

Coranne and Stacy are happy with the results of the Wage Subsidy Service. “It’s exciting to join a business that has existed for 35 years and has a long history of being successful,” says Stacy.  “This job has a lot of variety: there’s always something to do and learn. We’re multi-tasking all day long: it’s never boring.”

 “I hope your program continues,” says Coranne. “I really believe that small business is the backbone of our province, our country.”

For Aaron Service and Supply, the Wage Subsidy Service is just one of many ways that allows the company to carry on its tradition of service to the people of Powell River.



Prawnfisher reflects on industry changes

Prawnfisher Darren Bolton is easily recognizable in Powell River

“When I got into it, prawns were sold on the corner. There was no trap limitation: some guys fished 1000 traps. Others were fishing part-time, or supplementing with salmon fishing in winter.”

At that time, he says, there were approximately 100 holders of prawn-fishing licenses. In the meantime, however, salmon fishing was taking a hit, with the result that more and more people were clamouring for a prawn license.

“Fishers who had never fished prawns opened a big can of worms. DFO [Department of Fisheries and Oceans] ended up creating 150 to 160 more licenses. That’s how it ended up crunched into a 50 to 60 day fishery, when it had originally been nine months.”

In Darren’s opinion, there are “way too many licenses and traps.”

Another challenge arose in 2009—ironically, a banner year for prawns according to Darren. 

“No one saw it coming. Halfway through, we had caught as many prawns as in the regular season.”

While the stunning catch represented a windfall for fishers and buyers alike, there were unfortunate repercussions.  “That year [2009] was so incredible and healthy that DFO extended the season. However, if you have an extension and only one market [Japan], it becomes glutted, resulting in a market loss.”

This, unfortunately, resulted in a lowball price in 2010, which also happened to be a low-production year. By the time Darren paid his deckhands and bills, there wasn’t a lot of profit left.  The following year, 2011, was the year of the tsunami. With Japan buying 90 to 95% of the production, this was devastating.

And still production continued to drop.

“Last year [2012] was the shortest season in history. In the past, prawns were so abundant. But the ground could not sustain that amount of fishers, so consequently people had to find other places to fish. It hasn’t bounced back since 2009.”  

Part of the problem, as he reiterates, is the sheer number of licenses. “Those licenses have remained in the same hands for a lot of years and have become a valuable piece of property. Since not everyone can afford to buy one, they’re leased out.”

Darren would like to see a buy-back program similar to that done in the past with salmon licenses. “What they’re doing now is buying them back then re-awarding them. I believe they should be turned in.”

While he laments the number of licenses, Darren applauds other changes, such as the increase in the nets’ mesh size. “Prior to that, there was zero escapement and we were bringing up juveniles. The prawns came back ten-fold as a result of that change.”

A maximum volume size for traps was another positive change.  “It gives everyone an equal amount of fishing power.

DFO scientists were also able to identify the times when prawns were egg-bearing. Now, no fishing is permitted during those periods.

Electronics also ushered in a new era. “When I started,  we used our own landmarks. Today we’re using the best electronics, traps and bait,” he says, recalling the days when fishers had to catch their own bait, mainly dogfish. Today’s bait is a combination of pellets and fish oils.

“In all, he says, we’re very good at what we do, very efficient.”

Darren sees the industry as an important contributor to the economy of Powell River.  “We’re able to employ a number of people. Each boat has a captain and two deck hands who receive a percentage of the catch.”

He admits to being perplexed by the industry’s reliance on a single buyer. “The Japanese are just turning around and selling it to the rest of the world.” It begs the question, why can’t we do the same?

Despite the drawbacks in recent years, Darren is hopeful that the industry will continue to provide a living for Powell River fishers. “Prawns are so resilient,” he says, “The same ground, fished hard, will come back after two to three years. You will find them in 50 ft. of water or 1000 ft. of water. A prawn doesn’t have to go up a river to spawn. Depending on food conditions, they do very well. If left alone, the prawns will bounce back.”


Summer Jobs 2013


It’s that time of the year again, when the summer jobs start popping like cherry blossoms. Traditionally, apart from holiday relief work in retail (tip: Walmart and Safeway are hiring for multiple positions) and some manufacturing sectors (tip: Catalyst Paper is hiring students), the sectors that heat up with the temperatures include:

  • Tourism/Food services (tourism guides, camp workers, hotel staff, caretakers of all sorts, work in resorts, retreats, B&B’s… ) Including self-employment in seasonal activities like ice cream or other food trucks, busking, etc.
  • Sports and Recreational guides and support (lifeguards, fishing guides, kayaking and hiking guides, etc.)
  • Seasonal Aquaculture production (with the 8-week prawn season almost upon us)
  • Child-minding (for school-aged children and youth coordinator/ babysitter, workshop/activity coordinators, day camp workers (tip: the City of Powell River is hiring now)
  • Other sorts of seasonal camps and educational facilities (read a recent article on adult camp to improve hi-tech skills)
  • Gardening/Landscaping
  • Roofing (construction/renovation/retrofitting)
  • Power cleaning services (carpets, gutters, etc.) and painting (especially exteriors)
  • Farming (see GoodWorkCanada for opportunities)

According to an April 6, 2013 Vancouver Sun  article titled “For Youth, Scramble for Jobs Begins”,

B.C.’s largest employer of youth – the tourism industry (including  restaurants), 32 per cent of whose employees are between 15 and 24, compared to  16 per cent overall – should see about 100,000 people hired across the province  this summer.

‘In the Lower Mainland, there’s lots of workers for the demand,’ said Arlene  Keis, CEO of go2, the B.C. tourism industry’s human resources association. ‘But  it’s tightening up in the northeast, the Kootenays and the Okanagan. There’s  lots of opportunities there and it’s more competitive among companies and  sectors.’

Thinking about heading to Vancouver for work this summer? Maybe think again:

‘If [youth] have the right skill set, there’s lots of opportunity, and more so if  they look outside the Lower Mainland.
Read the entire article here.

Indeed, the job board here at Career Link is just packed with opportunities; check our Facebook page for the same content, noting that it tends to be easier/faster to browse the actual job board on site (we are open Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:30pm at #103, 4511 Marine Avenue). Youth can easily increase the chances of landing a good summer job that will help not only financially, but to increase work experience related to their field of study or future career aspirations by:

  • Networking — let friends/family know you are looking for summer work (and in which areas/types of work)
  • Brushing up your resume with a detailed ‘skills’ list that includes life skills (visit Career Link for more information, feedback and samples, or visit )
  • Regularly checking online job postings like our own, or to look for work in other areas,  via WorkBC,, or industry-specific sites like (you can find a great list of industry job posting sites and career information at: )
  • Applying early (even if unsolicited). Now is not too early.
  • Adding some targeted training to your portfolio, like FOODSAFE [(in-person course happens Sunday May 5 — apply by May 1 at 604.487.0647; $70) or online here], Serving It Right (for alcohol servers 19+), and First Aid.
  • Looking into programs like Get Youth Working (where eligible youth under 30 years old could increase their chances of getting work with eligible employers; this program was recently beefed up with some additional funding, too).

But even if you are part way through the summer and still have no work, don’t give up! There are lots of opportunities that come up mid-summer as additional staffing may be required. Also, if you are able to, you can look into traveling to the job itself.

Good luck to you all!

Using the new Work BC Labour Market Navigator


Introducing the new Labour Market Navigator!
 On March 21st launched a new online tool that helps users navigate their way through over 500 careers. The tool provides information on employment demand outlook, projected job openings, workforce characteristics, and earnings. Information is presented in an easily accessible infographic format.
navigateThe featured content section of the tool allows users to track industry trends, find the fastest growing regions for job growth, and discover which occupations are going to be in highest demand.

Vancouver Island-Coast Snapshot
Vancouver Island-Coast Snapshot

The Labour Market Snapshot page is updated monthly and provides a graphical representation of information found in this report. The more detailed Labour Market Snapshot can be found here.
 The tool features an easy to use navigational structure and a responsive design which makes it accessible on mobile devices so you can access the latest numbers while on the go! Explore the navigator here:

As you can below, the predictions for sectors with the best chances for employment in are region are:

Sector Councils: Focus on Tourism ‘The world’s largest and fastest-growing sector’

The five sectors of the tourism industry: Accommodation, Food and Beverage Services, Transportation, Recreation and Entertainment and Travel Services.

Tourism is everywhere. And whether you’re looking for short-term income, a flexible job opportunity or a rewarding career, you’ll find an opportunity that’s right for you in one of the fastest growing industries!

While tourism has always been a friendly gateway to the world of work, the industry also offers lifelong career opportunities in challenging, interesting, fast-paced occupations that require employees with a wide variety of skills and capabilities.

There are 1.66 million people employed in tourism-related occupations in Canada, and that number is projected to hit 1.95 million by 2015.

There are five sectors of the tourism industry, including Accommodation, Food and Beverage Services, TransportationRecreation and Entertainment and Travel Services.

The Canadian Tourism  HR Council (CTHRC) is a national organization that facilitates and coordinates human resources development activities which support a competitive and sustainable Canadian tourism sector. The Council conducts labour market research (, offers training and recognition under the emerit tourism training brand (, and promotes the advantages of working in the sector through Discover Tourism ( This program is funded by the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program.

  • The Tourism sector includes accommodation, food and beverage services, transportation, recreation and entertainment, and travel services. Established in 1993, the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council (CTHRC) addresses labour market issues and promotes professionalism in the Canadian tourism sector. The CTHRC website provides numerous resources including:
  • More than 50 job descriptions (National Occupational Standards) and profiles
  • Online and paper-based training tools through at a reasonable cost
  • Professional Recognition and Certification programs (Tourism Certified Professional, Tourism Certified Supervisor/Manager)
  • Link to BC Tourism Job Board:— a tourism job posting site that allows you to set up a profile, search job boards and permit employers to browse your resume.
  • Visit— to learn about tourism myths and facts, training, career paths …and much more!
Click to visit

Types of Powell River Businesses in this Sector:

  • Restaurants
  • Hotels/Motels/B&Bs
  • Lounges/Bars/Taverns
  • Marinas
  • Ferries/Water Taxis
  • Travel Agencies
  • Movie Theatres
  • Regular and Mini-Golf

Helpful Resources

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