Brockville – Leeds Grenville Small Business Centre’s Entrepreneur of the Year is Karen Quigley, Saltastic Halotheraphy Lounge, Kemptville.
Driven to create a solution for her own health issues, Karen Quigley wanted to share the benefits of what she had discovered for herself, with others. Suffering from sinusitis for most of her life, she grew tired of the side effects from pharmaceutical drugs and she wanted to find something natural to relieve her symptoms. After years of research she found Salt Therapy.
In December of 2016 she was laid off from her kitchen designer position. A big believer in when a door closes a window opens she went to Florida to learn all that she could about Salt Therapy, which has been popular in the States for years. Then and there she decided that she was bringing this home with her. She had some investment money set aside and she used it – talk about risk taking!
Using her expertise as a designer she created the design for her Salt Lounge. From January to March 2017 she searched for a location, working with the municipality to gain all of the necessary permits. She selected a prime location in the same plaza as a women’s clothing store and Shoppers Drug Mart on Highway 43 in Kemptville. A chance meeting with Rod Wallace, Investment Manager at the Grenville Community Futures Development Corporation led to a grant for the renovations.
She already had a business plan, but someone strongly suggested she consider participating in the Starter Company Plus program offered by the Leeds Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre, she applied and was accepted. She worked diligently improving her plan and realized there were lots of the things she hadn’t thought about. She successfully worked her way through the program
receiving the $5000.00 grant.
She recalls thinking on July 4, 2017 when the Salt Lounge opened “This better work!” It has. Clients come from all over Eastern Ontario to experience the salt rooms. They are relaxing, luxurious and healing; it is exactly what she envisioned in late 2016.
One of her secrets to success is she spends each Monday planning out her week to ensure the rooms are filled to generate the revenue she needs. When asked about the Starter Company Plus program she has nothing but great things to say about the training and coaching she has received from Karen McDonald Hurley, Kevin Savoy and the Leeds Grenville Small Business Enterpise Centre.
Paul D. Boivin Memorial Award – William Thomson, TechTutors, Brockville.
The Paul D. Boivin Memorial Award is named in memory of one of our long-standing business coaches, Paul Boivin. Paul passed away suddenly in June 2017. Paul had a passion for working with entrepreneurs of all ages, but he had a gift for helping young people. He had a tremendous impact on many underprivileged youth through his teachings at St. Lawrence College.
Paul was a mentor and coach in the Summer Company Program as well as the Starter Company Program. Paul volunteered his time to help the LGSBEC with various aspects of its program delivery. Many clients benefited from his wisdom and ability to get to the root of issues and gently point businesses in the right direction. William Thomson started his business in 2014 from his home providing clients with computer maintenance, technical support and computer training. What was, and still is, unique about the company is that it provides technical service “To Your Door.” Over the next two years he worked very hard to build the business to the point where it was profitable enough to have its own location.
The target market started out to be seniors and was driven by a passion to help others navigate ever changing technology that can be very frustrating for those that are not technical. Soon calls began to come as his reputation grew for his excellent service, his patience and knowledge.
He reached out to the Leeds Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre for coaching and advice and participated in the Starter Company Program in the winter of 2015 where he built his business plan and received a $5000 grant. He participated in any training that he could get his hands on that would help him make his vision a reality.
In 2016 he moved into his location on Central Ave. This new space had room for a classroom to teach courses and a room in the back where computers can be fixed. There have been trials and errors for sure – finding the balance in how many staff to employ has been a bit of a science. Keeping everyone busy with billable hours is always a challenge for any small business and when you are as kind as he is it is easy to give your time away. The business now offers classes about 2 times a year this way the classes are filled. Two full time technicians are kept busy doing repairs in the office and he will make house calls for those who can’t get to the shop.
Thomson is an ideal candidate for the Paul D. Boivin award for his passion for learning, his ability to work with others and his giving spirit.
The Leeds Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre is funded by the Government of Ontario.