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Young Professionals Enjoy Working in the Kawarthas

The Kawartha Chamber hosted a Business Owners Sharing Solutions (BOSS) session in March with a panel of local business owners, who also happen to be recipients of the Chamber’s Young Professional Award of Excellence.

Erin McLean, Lisa Besseling, and Matt Logan, made up the panel and Julia Wood of Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development moderated the discussion.

Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development offers a number of opportunities that allow you to network and promote your business, seminars and workshops to help you stay on top of the latest trends and information, support services to answer your questions and resources to help you start and grow. Julia is the Economic Development Officer for Rural and Agricultural sectors at PKED.

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Young Professionals at Work

Matt Logan is the owner of Logan Tree Experts, and 7 years ago he started an Advisory Board within his business. Matt said, as the business owner, it is sometimes tough to know who you are accountable to. This Advisory Board brings in other professionals with knowledge of different sectors, and different perspectives. This allows Matt to look at things differently and consider other options.

Matt also noted that when starting the business with his wife Tracy, they met with the owners of Clearview Cottage Resort, another husband and wife duo, who gave advice on running the business as a family unit.

Lisa Besseling is the owner of Stony Lake Furniture Co., a retail store and interior design business. Lisa’s background is interior design, and when she purchased Stony Lake Furniture Co. she had little to no retail experience. Managing a retail store in cottage country can be a challenge with only a few months of “on season.” Lisa has found a balance in this sector by focusing on her design work in the winter, which includes renovations and new builds.

Lisa describes her marketing technique as “a little frugal.” She chooses marketing opportunities that are sure to be seen, and that is why she uses social media. Lisa says Instagram is the most effective for her visual business because it is a platform that is primarily made up of photos.

Looking at the analytics of her Instagram business account allows her to see the most popular times of day to post, and where her followers are.  She also notes that Instagram is more than just adding photos, it is important to engage by following other relevant accounts, liking posts and commenting. This keeps the name out there and helps the business.

Erin McLean has lived on her family farm, McLean Berry Farm, since she was 5 years old. Erin says there are many benefits to running a family business. Erin notes, when working with family, you know you can count on them – whether it’s babysitting or filling in when another staff person calls in sick. Erin knows she can trust her family to make the best decisions for the business and the family, because they want to business to do well, but at the end of the day, they want to family to be happy and healthy.

However, working with family can have its challenges as well. Sometimes it can be difficult to balance work and family life. To achieve this, Erin and her brother will schedule lunch where they are not allowed to talk about work – sometimes easier said than done. Erin notes it is important to stop working and stop talking about work, to just have sibling time.

Doing Business in the Kawarthas

Each member of the panel was from a different sector and had different experiences to share, but in addition to being Young Professional recipients, they all had one thing in common – they love doing business in the Kawarthas.

Lisa shared that she lives a few minutes from her store, so her commute each morning is a short walk. She also says her customers are often very happy. “They’re driving to the cottage, and they stop into the store, so they’re in a good mood.”

Lisa also noted the peaceful nature of driving to visit a client at a lakefront home or cottage.

Matt agreed that living in an area surrounded by lakes and nature is a unique benefit. He told a story of when he and his staff were headed to a job on an island early one morning. They were on the lake, and the sun was coming up. Matt told his employees, “take a picture and send to all your buddies in traffic right now.” Matt also noted he likes that he “gets to work where other people play.”

Erin added that there is a great amount of support when doing business in this area, including other entrepreneurs to use as a resource and look up to. “There is so much wisdom and so much we can learn from each other,” Erin said, “You can never put a price on connections.”

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Greatest Achievements

When asked about their greatest achievements, Lisa referenced her work featured in “Style at Home,” a national magazine. She hopes to have more of her design work featured in the future.

Matt said his greatest achievement is being respected in the industry. “Insured, Certified, Professional” is on the side of their work trucks, and he strives to maintain the tagline.

Erin says her motivation is also her greatest achievement, seeing other families making memories and enjoying the farm. They have two festivals on the farm each year, and hearing kids tell their parents how much they love the farm makes it all worthwhile.

The Chamber’s B.O.S.S. series continues May 9th focusing on Mental Health in the Workplace. Learn more.

Thank you to our Professional Development Sponsor: Lynn Woodcroft, Sales Representative, Royal LePage Frank Real Estate, for supporting these sessions, and to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #77 in Lakefield for providing the space.