THE BLOG

26
Jun

Flood Ravaged Alberta

This past week has been a surreal experience. From watching the scary news reports about the flash flooding in Canmore Thursday evening and thinking we’re safe here (we’re close to the river but we’re on high ground), to the feeling of dread as a police officer banged on our door to tell us we had to leave, we were being evacuated.

Grabbing what we thought we would need for “a night or two” out of our home, we fled with the rest of our neighbours. The line of vehicles leaving our street was eerily like a funeral procession that none of us wanted to take part in, all of us in disbelief that our street would flood.

As Friday unfolded, our fears grew. We didn’t see how the water could get to us but this was a situation where everything we thought we knew about flooding in Calgary was changed. I don’t know how many times I heard, “in all the years that I have lived here, I have never seen water here!” When we saw footage of flooded streets in downtown Calgary our hearts sank. If the downtown could flood, we could certainly flood as well.

We have been incredibly fortunate in this province where so many have not. On Saturday, once they had restored our power, they started allowing the people from our neighbourhood back into our homes. There had been no water on our property at all and no sewer backup. Where the river is closest to us it spilled over its other bank, flooding to the west side, which is lower and flatter.

I walked along the river yesterday and the high level mark along our pathway is amazing. It came with great force flattening everything in its way, destroying trees, roads and pathways, fences, and even moving vehicles.

The cleanup in Calgary has begun. Roads and bridges are being repaired, but many people have been left with little more than a roof. The piles of ruined household items lining the streets in the worst-hit neighbourhoods attests to the devastation that has occurred. Random groups of volunteers have been showing up to help flooded residents work through the mess and reclaim their homes. Our city has been damaged but its spirit has not!

18
Apr

Who’s Afraid of GMO’s?

I was sitting here this afternoon, looking over interesting articles I have clipped and filed over the course of this winter, trying to decide what I should write about when I came across an article published in the National Post January 25, entitled “Who’s Afraid of GMO’s? Don’t let the activists scare you: Genetically modified foods are safe to grow and eat,” by Alan McHughen. What struck me as interesting as I reviewed this article were the stats quoted, “in over 30 years of experience, according to authoritative sources such as the U.S. National Academies and the American Medical Association, there is not one documented case of harm to humans, animals or the environment from GM products.” What incredible stats for a technology that garners fear and social outrage around the globe!

According to Mr. McHughen, in a 2010 study of the impact of genetically engineered crops on farm sustainability in the United States it was concluded that genetic engineering technology has produced substantial net environmental and economic benefits compared with the use of non-GMO crops.

Unfortunately, the scare tactics used by some environmental activists and “junk science” advocates overshadows the scientific facts regarding GMO’s. Their skillful use of social media to rally people to fight against the evil forces (aka: big business) trying to kill the planet usually drowns out the efforts of legitimate science researchers and educators.

If you would like to read the original article in its entirety it is found in the Winter 2013 edition of C2C Journal (c2cjournal.ca).

22
Mar

It’s Officially Spring

In the words of my daughter “Mom, I know my teacher says that it’s spring now, but I KNOW its not spring because it is still COLD”. I agree.

This is our family’s first experience with a Calgary winter and I have to say that I am definitely ready for Spring – and not just ‘official’ spring, the spring that has the warmer weather, the flowers blooming and no more snow on the ground.

For the most part, this winter has not been too bad – it has just been long. The only winters I have ever know (until now) included about 3 weeks of cold weather, snow maybe twice or three times if we were lucky, and lots and lots of rain.

This winter has provided me with a few firsts –
I experienced completely numb hands, feet and face after being outside for only 5 minutes, I experienced making the mistake of going outside at minus 21 degrees with wet hair (which froze into icicles), and I experienced ice skating on a lake while the sun was setting.

Overall, I wouldn’t change it even if I could. I love my job, I love my family and I am sure I will grow to love Calgary winters (well, maybe not the last one, but I will survive anyways).

14
Feb

Overcome With Amazing!

I’m sitting on the plane in Seat 12C on AirCanada flight AC8587 from Calgary to Saskatoon. We are rolling down the Tarmac towards the runway as I’m resting my eyes hoping to dose off for a few minutes. I’m not relaxed but I’m not stressed either; just happy to be on my way home after a good work week. 

Then I hear it, a little squeal of delight. In the seat behind me is a mentally challenged adult who may be going on his first flight. He is asking him mom and dad a question about everything he sees and feels and giggles with anticipation as we roll faster and faster down the runway. At this point it strikes me. He is living in the moment and it is so exciting he can’t contain himself. Naturally I feel happy for him and at the same moment a little jealous. I try to recall the last moment I was overcome with such amazement that I was completely lost in that moment. In the busyness of life I forget to look at what is happening right now and be amazed at what is around me. So at 10,000 feet in the air I decided to make a quick list of things that amaze me right now, in this moment.

1 – I have a beautiful wife who loves me unconditionally no matter how bad I fail.
2 – I have an 8 year old daughter who texted me last night to say “I love you daddy”.
3 – I spent a week working with my father in-law who is my dad, my friend, and my boss.
4 – I have a device in my pocket that I can use to see my family in a different province and buy a coffee at Starbucks. 
5 – I am freakin’ 10,000 feet in the air not wondering if I am going to fall and die. 

Right now, in this moment I feel happy, even excited because on AirCanada flight AC8587 from Saskatoon to Calgary I met somebody who reminded me to enjoy the moment because there are amazing things around me that I overlook everyday. 

It’s Valentines Day and I am about to go have dinner with my best friend and love of my life. It’s amazing because we setup dinner over radio waves 800 km apart, are going to drive there in a car that was made on a different continent, and enjoy food that doesn’t grow natively in Calgary.

The next time you are tearing down the runway, look out the window, take a moment to think about what is amazing in your life and enjoy that moment, right then!

I love you Kate, with all my heart, and am amazed that I get to spend the rest of my amazing moments with you. 

Happy Valentines Day!

18
Dec

A Company Grows…

It feels pretty good to be a part of a company that’s growing, in a city that’s growing, in a country that seems to be weathering global financial chaos.

Yes, we’re sheltered from some of the anarchy because of some (relatively) sound fiscal/banking policies from Ottawa, and because of the high demand for Canadian energy and agricultural commodities. But these things only provide a small business with fertile ground on which to grow. In my observation, a company grows when it sets the bar high. A company grows when its people are willing to challenge each other on details because they’re passionate about getting a project right for the client. A company grows when it earns its client’s trust with new business.

And grow we have!

This year alone we added three new full-time staff members and doubled our space by leasing the office adjacent to us. The space includes a new work area for our creative team, lovingly referred to as the Noodle Bar (tell Kate you think it’s a clever name—it will make her happy), as well as a large warehouse area that allows us to spread out when we’re fulfilling print orders. We’re also putting the finishing touches on a new space upstairs, which will become a conference and training room.

Am I saying that we’re growing at a rate that will mean we’ll have our own skyscraper in downtown Calgary next to the IG Saddledome in 10 years? Yes. Whatever the case, being a part of growth up to now has been a lot of fun and I look forward to the fun that lies ahead!

17
Dec

Christmas Anxiety

I find that every year it’s a mad dash to get ready for Christmas. I love the Christmas break and would like nothing better than to begin it on December 1. Unfortunately for me, I am no longer able to spend my time shopping, decorating, shopping, baking, shopping, cooking and most important of all, shopping.

Since we left Domain and our families behind 24 years ago, I have felt the need to create the perfect Christmas experience for our girls. Once in a while we had extended family come to visit but we usually celebrated with just the 5 of us. It’s very hard to fulfill all the expectations of little girls and avoid the tears and sadness of disappointment that come with not fulfilling those expectations! So my goal was to try to avoid the tears with the perfect gift, which meant painful agonizing over what the perfect gift was.

It’s become easier since the marriage of 2 of our daughters. I have placed the burden of their gift expectations firmly in the very capable hands of our son-in-law’s, knowing that they will do just fine.

As we stood around Jenny’s kitchen on Saturday pinching pierogies for Christmas Eve dinner, I realized I now have a lot of help creating the perfect experience. We all have jobs to share the “work” of making Christmas happen.

I think too, that the perfect experience has changed – it’s not about the gifts (even though they are still very important), it’s the time we spend together and the enjoyment that brings.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

17
Dec

Our training programs

Impact Group has been involved in training small businesses for the last 10 years. Based on the experience we have gained by interviewing employees and customers of multiple rural businesses across the Prairies and Ontario, we have developed training programs that help businesses become better at serving their customers and their staff.

Our leadership training teaches how to reduce negative behaviour among employees by establishing a positive work environment of encouragement, accountability, hard work, and initiative. Leadership is a skill and our program is designed to teach leadership skills to people at all levels of an organization. We address behaviour and relationship issues among staff and teach a process that encourages individuals to be accountable for their behaviour. Designed to help people take an introspective look at themselves, this program includes a 360° evaluation.

In our Human Resources sessions we provide the tools to help businesses set their staff up to succeed, both professionally and personally. We developed this program because of the need we identified in rural-based businesses to attract and retain high performing employees, to increase supervision skills and increase understanding in how to engage and motivate staff. In this session we also work through creating a realistic succession plan for retiring owners and/or for the internal movement of key employees to protect the vision and value of the business. This session is great for any company that is growing or looking to put more emphasis on improving the internal message to staff.

Launching Stuff is a fun workshop style session that walks a business through a step-by-step process for creating a plan to launch a new product or service. Being able to properly market your business is based in knowing what you offer that is truly valuable, understanding why customers buy, and making offers that are hard to turn down. This program was developed to help dealers create excitement among staff and create “push” to customers to demonstrate differentiation over competitors. In this session participants will leave with a couple of real-time, actionable launch plans for their own products or services.

We work hard to ensure that our training programs deliver what our clients need, which means we are continually revising and editing our programs for each training session, much to the annoyance of our production staff!

17
Dec

The Family Business

I work with 8 people who have known each other for between 12 and 33 years. I have been working here at Impact Group for 20 months. I have to say that it was quite intimidating coming in as the newbie in the beginning, but I can’t imagine how weird it must have been for the gang when I started here. No one here has known me my whole life, or even half of it for that matter.

But I can tell you that the last 20 months have been fantastic. I have learned so much about agriculture, advertising, and business coaching. But here are some fun things that I have learned about my awesome co-workers:

Craig dislikes high-fives but has a great double air fist pump.
Cheryl’s jokes are always perfectly timed.
Mike and I like to compete with each other, just for fun.
Kate is a coffee activist and colour specialist.
Jenny raises her voice when she feels passionate about something.
Chris is smart and funny.
Heidi is never mean and makes great brownies.
Vicki is the master of lightening the mood.

And now that I am leaving for my maternity leave for a whole year I feel sad that I won’t get to experience these things on a daily basis. I will for sure be visiting often.

17
Dec

The Evolution of Impact Group

So, I was asked to write a bit about the evolution of Impact Group. Here is the problem, evolution implies the slow and steady growth and development of something over time – our story is more of a big bang type of deal.

Things began 10 years ago, it was a bright, warm summer…ya da ya da ya.
Craig (or Dad as I like to call him) asked me to join him in his new business at the outset ,and it was just the two of us for a while, until Cheryl (or mom) noticed the gaping lack of accounting ability and decided that we needed her talents – which we did. We stayed like this, the three of us, for a long time, our office in my basement.

5 years later was our next big change, Mike (he would call me his better half) joined the team. I guess up until this point we had something of an evolution, but this is where the big bang happened.

We hired Jenny (lil’ sis), got an office, hired Amanda the intern, got a bigger office, hired Sheena and Chris, hired Heidi, got an even bigger office, and then hired Vicki (baby sis), and now it’s time to breathe – me, from that ginormous run-on sentence, and our business, from that ginormous growth spurt.

I love where we are now, resting comfortably in our space and getting to know each other in this setting. But at the same time, I am looking forward to where the years will take us, the new clients that we will meet, and getting to know all of or current clients better – man, I love this job!

14
Dec

Surfin’ Can Build Your Credibility

There aren’t a lot of things that can affect a customer’s initial impression of who you are quite like your website, including a lack of one. Your website is often the first interaction you have with a potential customer or employee and it requires a shift in thinking to make a great first impression. Relying on your sales team or customer service reps to provide you with a positive first impression isn’t all that is required anymore. In fact, a person calling you or stopping by to check you out has probably already made a decision to do or not do so based on their impression from seeing you online. At Impact Group, we understand the importance of making a good first impression, which is why building an online portfolio for your company is not something we take lightly. We work hard to understand who you are and what you want to say to customers to make their decision to become a customer easy. We also make sure you are setup for the future by providing solutions that have user-friendly content management systems, interfaces, and mobile browser options.

Here are a few of our websites and key features that we are particularly proud of:

www.northstargenetics.com
Massive Data Management & Map Plotting Interface

www.grow.ca
Interactive Dealer Locator

www.fieldsmart.ca
Single-Page Design, Responsive Functionality

www.blairs.ag
Integrated Market Data & News Feed, Browser Aware Mobile Site

For more information about us visit www.impactgr.com. We look forward to helping you build your brand and credibility online. Until then, surf’s up!