Business success stories
Information for businesses regarding COVID-19
Strathcona County recognizes COVID 19 could have a significant impact on our business community. Economic Development and Tourism is providing information on business and economic response recovery tools.
Wow! Factor Desserts
1. What makes Wow! Factor Desserts different from other dessert manufacturers?Permanent link to What makes Wow! Factor Desserts different from other dessert manufacturers?
We don’t compromise on quality - we produce our products with ‘real’ ingredients: real cream cheese, real dairy cream, real butter, and premium Belgian chocolate. We consider ourselves a ‘scratch bakery’. An example of this is our home-made caramel and cream cheese icing that gives our desserts that WOW Factor. We are home-made recipes and hand-made desserts.
2. What are some other interesting facts about Wow! Factor Desserts?Permanent link to What are some other interesting facts about Wow! Factor Desserts?
Wow! Factor Desserts has been producing decadent desserts for over 38 years and yet most people are unaware that our products are made right here in Sherwood Park, Strathcona County, Canada! We employ over 80 people, and distribute nationally (with a retail location in Sherwood Park). We are all about sustainability, natural ingredients, and supporting our community.
3. What do you think the advantages are to opening and doing business in Strathcona County?Permanent link to What do you think the advantages are to opening and doing business in Strathcona County?
A unique area of difference is that Strathcona County has no business licencing fees – for a business, that is very attractive. And as we grew, we discovered a close-knit business community that is very supportive of one another. It’s home.
4. Give an example on how Wow! Factor Desserts gives back to the Strathcona County community?Permanent link to Give an example on how Wow! Factor Desserts gives back to the Strathcona County community?
There is a part of our company that we cherish, rather, a practice that we’ve continued for over 28 years that we can’t seem to give up. We employ people from the Robin Hood Association, a local organization that provides assistance and job opportunities for people with disabilities. They hand-fold each and every box our desserts are packaged in. While this could easily become an automated and cost-effective process, we feel we make a difference in our community and that is something that matters.
1. For over 20 years, Inter Pipeline has partnering with Strathcona County, and is now building a polypropylene facility in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland. Tell us more about what these means for Alberta and for Canada.Permanent link to For over 20 years, Inter Pipeline has partnering with Strathcona County, and is now building a polypropylene facility in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland. Tell us more about what these means for Alberta and for Canada.
On average close to $1 billion of polypropylene is imported into Canada each year. Inter Pipeline is about to introduce a home-grown alternative – Inter Pipeline’s new Heartland Petrochemical Complex will be the first of its kind in North America when it goes into service in late 2021.
Basically, the Complex will utilize Alberta’s abundant supply of low value propane as the fundamental feedstock to produce one of the most widely used polymers in the world, a durable plastic resin that can be recycled. It’s known as polypropylene, which is the recyclable symbol 5. Over 70 percent of the $3.5 billion investment to build the plant is being incurred right here in Alberta creating over 10,000 jobs during the four-year build and more than 200 quality, full-time jobs for the long-term.
2. As a major petroleum, transportation, storage and natural gas processing business, what have been the biggest benefits for Inter Pipeline doing business in Strathcona County?Permanent link to As a major petroleum, transportation, storage and natural gas processing business, what have been the biggest benefits for Inter Pipeline doing business in Strathcona County?
Inter Pipeline has been operating in Strathcona County for more than 20 years. It’s a home to hundreds of our employees, and positions our business in convenient proximity to many of Alberta’s most skilled oil and gas experts and service providers, not to mention the amenities that make it a great place for our people to live and raise their families, and provides a relatively convenient hub for employees to live and work in relation to many of our offices and assets.
3. Existing infrastructure has played an important part for moving large equipment in and around this region. How has Strathcona County assisted Inter Pipeline in making things happen?Permanent link to Existing infrastructure has played an important part for moving large equipment in and around this region. How has Strathcona County assisted Inter Pipeline in making things happen?
Strathcona is clearly proud to be a partner to the energy industry and the County has endeavoured to make it an attractive space to do business. Whether enhancing road infrastructure to support the transport of large vessels, logistics planning for employee bus programs and collaborating to make the permitting process as efficient and effective as possible, Strathcona has been an ideal place to do business. Not to mention, it’s proximity to the Alberta Industrial Heartland and our facilities. All in all, it was the ideal location for us to build the Heartland Petrochemical Complex.
4. Safety is an important aspect to industry and the community. How does Inter Pipeline manage the aspects of safety?Permanent link to Safety is an important aspect to industry and the community. How does Inter Pipeline manage the aspects of safety?
Safety is the top priority at Inter Pipeline. We want and expect all of our people and those working with us to go home safely each and every shift. We have an outstanding safety record as of the time this interview was conducted with more than five million hours worked without an employee lost time accident. But the reason we have achieved that milestone is because at Inter Pipeline, safety is more than a number – it’s a culture. Our people care about each other and look out for each other; we hold each other accountable, and the family like atmosphere at Inter Pipeline plays a big role in that culture.
Mud Sweat and Gears
1. Tell us more about Mud Sweat and Gears.Permanent link to Tell us more about Mud Sweat and Gears.
Established for over 13 years in Strathcona County, there are four stores in the Alberta region. Mud Sweat and Gears has become known as the industry leader with the products we offer, whatever the season – bikes, skateboards, skis, snowboards, accessories and more.
2. What is it about the Strathcona County community that attracts you to do business here?Permanent link to What is it about the Strathcona County community that attracts you to do business here?
The great thing about Strathcona County is that it is very community involved, and that’s been a very good thing for our business. The big thing with any small business, is to connect with your community and customers - it becomes really important to do what the internet can’t do. Strathcona County has proven itself to be a leader in business development and by promoting a certain lifestyle. So many parks, paths and trails for the community and visitors to enjoy.
What is Mud Sweat and Gears mission?
Our mission at Mud Sweat and Gears is to provide the best environment and service level we can, to meet your needs. We are here because or you, our community.
4. How does Mud Sweat and Gears support, or give back to the community?Permanent link to How does Mud Sweat and Gears support, or give back to the community?
We’re a locally owned and operated business. We love our community and we owe our success, in large part, to this community. We provide support to these charities and work together on their separate initiatives - The Glenrose Ride for Rehab, The Northern Alberta Make a Wish Foundation and the Edmonton Mountain Bike Association.
1. Tell us more about Pasta Pantry and its offerings.Permanent link to Tell us more about Pasta Pantry and its offerings.
Pasta Pantry is a second-generation family business in its twenty-seventh year of business in Strathcona County, with a second location now open in Edmonton. We serve hot, delicious comfort food made right in our kitchens – crisp salads, savoury soups, fresh-made pastas. Finish it all off with a mouth-watering dessert!
2. What are the benefits of being an entrepreneur in Strathcona County?Permanent link to What are the benefits of being an entrepreneur in Strathcona County?
Strathcona County is an amazing place to work in. There is a huge community of entrepreneurs and business leaders, with an endless amount of support and resources.
3. What does the future hold for Pasta Pantry?Permanent link to What does the future hold for Pasta Pantry?
The future of Pasta Pantry is very exciting! As mentioned earlier, we just opened our second location and we have plans to open many more in the coming years.
4. What makes Pasta Pantry different or unique?Permanent link to What makes Pasta Pantry different or unique?
It comes down to people just love our food. Pasta Pantry is a place where you can slow down and just enjoy a meal with your family and friends. We are a place that brings families together.
1. Being in Strathcona County and close proximity to the Edmonton metropolitan region - how has this been a benefit Troika Foods?Permanent link to Being in Strathcona County and close proximity to the Edmonton metropolitan region - how has this been a benefit Troika Foods?
The Edmonton metropolitan region and Strathcona County are the hub for Northern Alberta. We have found that many of our clients love the fact that we are local company and use local products. By being in Strathcona County, we have access to the best ingredients. Alberta has some of the best producers of farm-fresh vegetables as well as cheeses, eggs, and flour. The proximity to various hubs has made reaching vendors and clients very easy for us and has allowed us to grow our business. Further to this, our products can reach all parts of the province because we are so centrally located.
2. Tell us about Troika Foods. You have a unique product produced right here in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region of Strathcona County.Permanent link to Tell us about Troika Foods. You have a unique product produced right here in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region of Strathcona County.
Troika Foods is a family owned and operated business that has been in business for the past 15 years. We are a HACCP approved facility that is inspected and audited by the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency). We specialize in the production of Ukrainian cabbage rolls, as well as many different types of pastas (tortellini, ravioli, spaghetti, and lasagnas) and sauces. We have been able to make high quality products using fresh locally sourced ingredients since our inception. We work closely with our customers to develop products and flavours that are timeless as well as delicious.
3. Troika Foods supports other suppliers in the making of their products. How important is it to use local ingredients?Permanent link to Troika Foods supports other suppliers in the making of their products. How important is it to use local ingredients?
Local ingredients are the freshest source. We strive to help our fellow Albertans anyway we possibly can. By using local ingredients, not only does this help our business stay competitive, but it ensures our customers are receiving the freshest ingredients in our products. Our purchase of Durum Semolina for example, comes from Southern Alberta; considered to be one of the best sources of Durum Semolina in the world. When shops in Italy are importing Alberta products, you know that we are doing something right!
4. Troika has experienced growth and diversified over the years, please provide more details.Permanent link to Troika has experienced growth and diversified over the years, please provide more details.
When we first acquired Troika, things were done the hard way. Our cabbage rolls were supplied to retail customers in and around the Edmonton region. Fifteen years later, we have over 50 products that we supply across Canada. When we acquired Pasta Time eight years ago, we incorporated state of the art technology and cooking techniques to specialize in manufacturing different types of pastas as well as gourmet custom sauces. Over the fifteen years of being in business, our product mix has adapted and responded to changes in the market. As our customer’s tastes and requirements have changed, we have modified our products to keep up with the changing consumer demands, whilst still staying true to our roots of providing traditional food that people enjoy.
1. How is Imperial diversifying/expanding for future energy needs?Permanent link to How is Imperial diversifying/expanding for future energy needs?
We know we provide a valuable commodity and that people need the products we produce, but we’re also conscious to make sure we continue to improve and enhance our operations to be more safe, reliable and environmentally responsible. Planning for the future is also important, and we continue to look for ways to grow our business. A good example is asphalt. We started with a small pilot project in 1975, which has now grown into a profitable part of our business with high future potential. Imperial is the asphalt market leader in Canada, and our customers are as close as right across the street from the refinery and as far away as New York and Texas. A little known fact is that one in every three kilometres of Canadian highway is made with Imperial asphalt produced at the Strathcona Refinery.
2. Imperial has been working in Strathcona County for over 70 years. What milestones have been achieved over this period of time?Permanent link to Imperial has been working in Strathcona County for over 70 years. What milestones have been achieved over this period of time?
From the discovery of oil at Leduc No. 1 in 1947 to “oil-in” day at the refinery on July 17, 1948, Imperial has a long, rich history in Strathcona County. We’ve come a long way from the early days of a small 6,000 barrels/day operation to become the main refining hub in Western Canada and one of the safest, most reliable refineries in North America. We’ve continued to make strategic investments to grow our business in a competitive market. Our partnership in the Edmonton Rail Terminal to help move crude, our significant investment in a cogeneration unit to make our operations greener, and our ongoing investment to upgrade facilities and equipment are a few examples of our vision for our long-term future in Strathcona County.
3. In what ways is Imperial involved in the community?Permanent link to In what ways is Imperial involved in the community?
Being a good neighbour and investing in the communities where we operate is important to us. We are proud of our 22-year relationship with the Strathcona Library and the summer reading program as well as our support of National Volunteer Week with the Information and Volunteer Centre and programs like Linking Generations. For us, it’s more than just providing funding, it’s about working alongside organizations we support to truly make a difference in the community. This extends beyond a corporate philosophy as our employees are just as passionate about community involvement as the company. In 2017, we launched a monthly “Day of Caring” program where employees and family members, contractors and retirees supported different community programs on their days off throughout the year. From sorting coats, to packing school supplies and serving lunch and snacks to those in need, to building food hampers, we’ve had hundreds of volunteers making a difference in the community.
4. Strathcona County is western Canada’s largest petrochemical refining cluster. How does this benefit a major energy provider such as Imperial?Permanent link to Strathcona County is western Canada’s largest petrochemical refining cluster. How does this benefit a major energy provider such as Imperial?
Having access to high-quality infrastructure, a strong-post secondary system and a skilled work force definitely benefits our operation. We have the resources we need to effectively run our business and have established a great working relationship with Strathcona County and our industry peers over our 70-year history in the area.
1. How has being a member of the local Chamber of Commerce made a difference for the business?Permanent link to How has being a member of the local Chamber of Commerce made a difference for the business?
Since joining in 2012, Bluetrain has engaged with the local Chamber in a variety of ways, such as speaking to the membership about digital marketing, offering training on Google advertising, hosting a Mayor business visitation, and participating in social events for team building, such as the annual golf tournament and curling bonspiel. Additionally, I was honoured in 2015 to be presented with the Don Neil Young Entrepreneurial award at the Sherwood Park Chamber Business awards. All of this has allowed us to meet some wonderful people over the years, with a couple relationships now being some of our most beloved and valued long-term clients. So overall, not only has our Chamber involvement had an impact on our ability to offer staff some wonderful experiences, it has had made a difference economically as well.
2. How has Strathcona County enabled the success of your business?Permanent link to How has Strathcona County enabled the success of your business?
Yes, I can definitely say that Strathcona County has had a positive impact on our business, mainly due to presenting us with opportunities to expand our network, which has resulted in wonderful new clients and partner relationships. Most importantly, it has allowed us to have a rewarding culture that feels part of a true community, which I feel is a lot harder to accomplish as a small company in a larger city.
3. What are the three main benefits of having Bluetrain located in Strathcona County?Permanent link to What are the three main benefits of having Bluetrain located in Strathcona County?
One - One of our core values is balance, so having multiple staff with families living in Strathcona County enables us to offer a professional and challenging work opportunity close to home. It’s a joy to avoid the frustration of rush hour with a short 5-10 minute commute for our local-based staff. Two - The transportation access of our location is excellent, as we have clients and partners located across the greater Edmonton region. We find we can often efficiently get to any meeting within 15-25 minutes due to easy access to main arteries like Anthony Henday, Yellowhead, Baseline Road, Sherwood Park Freeway, and Whitemud. Three - The close-knit and engaged business community in Strathcona County is very refreshing as you can quickly get involved and feel very connected. Bluetrain moved to Sherwood Park only six years ago and we can honestly say we have numerous relationships with individuals at Strathcona County, Sherwood Park Chamber, and multiple local businesses, many we now call friends.
4. You have a digital marketing company located in Strathcona County, tell us about Bluetrain?Permanent link to You have a digital marketing company located in Strathcona County, tell us about Bluetrain?
Bluetrain provides data-driven digital marketing services to clients across Canada and the United States. It offers management of online advertising, SEO, content marketing, social media, and web analytics.
Bluetrain acts as a long-term trusted digital management partner with its clients. This business model was derived from a decision to move away from the “build it and forget it” attitude that has become prevalent in the world of marketing. Instead, Bluetrain has chosen to work with clients on an ongoing basis so that digital strategies can continually be adjusted to reflect data insights and new client goals, all while adapting to the Internet’s ever-evolving environment.
1. How would you describe the support received from Strathcona County?Permanent link to How would you describe the support received from Strathcona County?
Strathcona County excels at having an open door that allows for two-way dialogue. We are kept in the loop on what’s new in the County and we’re given the opportunity to provide updates on our operations. The County has been a good partner in developing roads and infrastructure needed to accommodate the thousands of workers that access our site and neighbouring industrial facilities.
2. Shell is an international energy company with operations located in Strathcona County. Tell us more about what is going on in the County.Permanent link to Shell is an international energy company with operations located in Strathcona County. Tell us more about what is going on in the County.
Shell has a number of operations in the County, including: an expansive manufacturing facility (Shell Scotford), a marketing terminal (near Anthony Henday Drive), and Retail locations. Shell Scotford is comprised of an upgrader, a refinery, two chemical plants, and a carbon capture and storage facility. In terms of jobs, there are over 1,300 employees, 500 long-term contractors, and thousands of short-term contractors. Last year, approximately $150M was spent on local contracts and $50M in municipal taxes (approximately 24% of the Strathcona County consolidated budget).
3. Tell us about how Shell is diversifying for the future.Permanent link to Tell us about how Shell is diversifying for the future.
Shell Scotford is already the site of diverse operations – with upgrading, refining, chemical production and carbon capture. Shell is always evaluating future opportunities to grow its businesses – including exciting opportunities in our New Energies business.
4. What is it about the transportation infrastructure in Strathcona County that benefits a petrochemical company such as Shell?Permanent link to What is it about the transportation infrastructure in Strathcona County that benefits a petrochemical company such as Shell?
Having access to effective road, rail, and air transport is key in moving our people and products. These pieces (as well as interconnectivity via pipelines) enable our business to easily get thousands of people to our site and to send products to our customers.
Jacek Chocolate Couture
1. How would you describe the support received from Strathcona County – from when you were a home-based business to now?Permanent link to How would you describe the support received from Strathcona County – from when you were a home-based business to now?
Strathcona County has been extremely supportive since I first started my business. When I started out in my basement, the Mayor, Councillors and Economic Development came for a visit to learn my new business and my vision for the future. The support has continued over the years, including being a part of the County’s mentorship program.
2. Tell us about Jacek Chocolate Couture. You have a unique product produced right here in the Edmonton Metropolian Region of Strathcona County.Permanent link to Tell us about Jacek Chocolate Couture. You have a unique product produced right here in the Edmonton Metropolian Region of Strathcona County.
People don’t disagree with me when I say that I have one of the best jobs in the world as a ‘Cocoanista’- a chocolate designer. The concept was created when I couldn’t decide whether to become a fashion designer or a chocolatier, so I combined the two to create my dream job. Like fashion, Jacek launches seasonal collections that are a treat to the eyes and the taste buds, and have recently launched the inaugural bean-to-bar Fabric Collection. Jacek Chocolate Couture was started in 2009 in my home basement in Sherwood Park, Strathcona County, and now includes a production facility, three retail boutiques (Sherwood Park, Edmonton and Canmore), and an online store. We are committed to innovation, artistry and the best ingredients, with a quest of spreading joy through fine, fashionable chocolate. Each chocolate is hand-crafted, and are essentially pieces of edible art.
What is next for Jacek Chocolates?
We are very excited for the future- our goal is to bring joy to a million people by July 2024. One of the leaps we are making to accelerate the achievement of this goal is by expanding our production and retail location in Sherwood Park (tripled the space!), and working on a strategy to bring joy online across Canada.
4. You are just expanding into a larger manufacturing facility here in Strathcona County. What is your reason for staying in the region?Permanent link to You are just expanding into a larger manufacturing facility here in Strathcona County. What is your reason for staying in the region?
We are proud to be in Sherwood Park, and did not consider leaving Strathcona County when we were looking to expand. The Sherwood Park community and the Sherwood Park & District Chamber of Commerce have been a huge support to the business, and we want to continue serving here. For me personally, the short commute, being close to our son, and having access to other great businesses and amenities make Sherwood Park an awesome place to live, work and play!
Watch this space for other local entrepreneurs sharing their business success stories in Strathcona County.
In Strathcona County, you can.