Going on a virtual tour of Canada’s largest race simulation venue is very impressive in itself let alone when you learn the inspiring story behind this “fast and furious” business that is rich in car culture.
The beautiful lobby is adorned with lots of car memorabilia, and their 3,000sq/ft venue is home to 12 mixed-reality, full-motion cockpits. Whether you prefer Formula, GT3, Touring, or Karts, TracksVR can put you on one of their 50+ world famous tracks in the car of your choice.
In the main venue, there is a spacious lounge where corporations can hold one of a kind, unique, and ever-lasting experiences of team building exercises or planning sessions or board retreats.
TracksVR Virtual Racing Inc. opened its doors in 2018, in Calgary, Alberta, by Howard Trawick, the visionary founder and his wife (co-partner), out of passion for car racing and virtual reality. His deeply ingrained love of car racing started while growing up in Alberta at an era when there were many more car racing activities and events. He was hooked ever since and naturally progressed through a 25-year career in the car industry.
With a dedicated team of tech savvy, VR loving, and car racing enthusiasts, their vision encompasses mashing VR and racing together into a seamless offering for their customers, by fully immersing them into the driver's seat of a racecar with full motion unique experience. An idea that was born out of a trip to the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in 2015.
Explained best by Howard: “I wanted to create a sim racing venue that can bring the racetrack to people, to provide them with the actual feeling of being a racecar driver and feel like an athlete, while we build a community at the same time.”
Technology is one of the most powerful competitive advantages they enjoy. With the addition of VR, they’ve got a lot of wizardry going on in the background to run all this and they can start all of the machines at the same time, and everyone can race on the same track simultaneously. Thus, adding that additional level of immersion for all race drivers. With the VR headsets, everywhere you look, the generated world is there, and especially in racing, that is paramount. With a VR headset, you can turn your head anywhere and you are still fully immersed in the experience. This unique technology enables them to do streaming and eSports.
Excellent customer service is a major factor in their competitive advantage quiver, as they not only say it, they actually live it and breath it, day in and day out.
Described best in Howard’s own words: “I know everybody says it, but you have to live it. You must be passionate about what you are selling. That comes through to your customers when you look after them, they feel it.”
With an abundance of ambitions, this innovative Alberta business has plenty of futuristic visions to wow us. Opening more branches around Alberta, branching out to other provinces, even possibilities of franchising, in addition to some amazing new and innovative ideas of diversification. But we will just keep those under wraps for now.
Howard’s sage advice to fellow Albertan small businesses: “in crisis lies opportunity, and when you need help, ask for help. That’s part of community building.”
As per his goodbye bidding to people when leaving:
“don't drive out there like you did in here.”
Although this melodious small Albertan business officially started in 2019, the foundations of the business have been laying down for the last 16 years, by Daniel Jackson, founder of and lead educator at “Revolution Music International”.
Daniel had the passion for music since he was six years old due to the influence of his father. He became a travelling music educator. It was during that time when he noticed that many of the music lovers, he was teaching, were missing some fundamental aspects of playing instruments. So, he felt compelled to impart this essential knowledge and ability to others. He started writing music instruction books, since most of the books available in the market were lacking in that area.
Some of his former students who excelled, demonstrated the potential to teach as well. But how would they know what or how to teach? He needed to come up with a strategy to help them to not only hone their own musical skills, but also their teaching skills and leadership abilities. Hence, his slogan “making musicians into leaders.”
With the help of God, some experienced business mentors, friends, and his wife, Daniel started developing a whole music school around this concept. Which proved to be the launching pad of his music business career for the last 16 years. That too was the inspiration behind the business’s mission “to help musicians and aspiring musicians to learn, get paid, and to grow.”
Revolution Music International teaches various aspects and instruments of music, to name a few: guitar, bass, piano, drums and voice lessons. Their focus is on four basic elements of musicianship which are emotional quality, music theory, practicality, and mathematics while combining it with leadership and character-building principles, because these are traits that need to intertwine with being a well-rounded musician.
What sets Revolution Music International apart from their competition?
They not only provide music students with excellent teachers, but also provide online videos to accompany the lessons. They have successfully created a hybrid service model that helps students learn in person, then augment their learning with an online video recording of their newly acquired skills, thus, bonding the two together and solidifying the learning experience.
Another distinct competitive advantage they enjoy over their competition is the combination of the leadership development and character building into music lessons so that students, especially children and teenagers, would be able to go out into the world and be effective in whatever they do, even if it had nothing to do with music. They want to see their students become more than just musicians but become well-rounded effective persons in their life.
Dan’s final words to fellow Albertan small businesses is: “Don't give up. Keep persevering. Make sure to take the training necessary to do anything you can do to keep improving yourself, achieving excellence, and keeping your costs low. If there's something that you cannot do, farm it out to others who can. But always, always try to manage yourself well.”
When asked what made her start her business, Kim Hoffman, owner of Kim’s Got You Covered, Insurance Brokerage, declared without hesitation:
“I love helping families. Being able to help families and help people get money when they get hurt or sick, just makes me feel good. I love to say to my customers, you got a cheque coming in the mail.”
A determined mother of two with a powerhouse entrepreneurial spirit, Kim established her small insurance brokerage in Sylvan Lake, Alberta, in the Winter of 2018 after receiving her insurance license from the Alberta Insurance Council.
When both her boys started attending grade school full-time, Kim felt it was time for her to get back out there, communicate with adults again, and earn a second income for her family. After several years of being a stay at home mom, it was just something that she needed to do.
Looking back, would she have done anything differently now than when she started?
“Probably talk to everyone”, Kim responds.
In the beginning, she was shy and nervous. Her biggest hill to climb was being able to say to people, “I'm an insurance agent, but I can help you and not in the way that you think insurance helps people... I actually want to help you.”
Today, she can proudly say that she has successfully surmounted that hill.
What sets Kim apart from the competition?
It’s simple: Her top-notch customer service.
Kim expresses this fact best by saying:
“I love my customers. They're my family. I send out birthday cards all year round to all my customers. I have them as friends on Facebook. I keep them up to date. It's funny how many people would actually post on Facebook that they're in the hospital before they tell their insurance agent. So, a lot of times I would message my customers after I see their posts and go, ‘Okay, what's going on? What do you need from me?"
Kim’s approach is customer service first and luckily, she works with companies that support this idea. Helping people is something near and dear to her heart.
Kim’s Got You Covered, Insurance Brokerage, spans a wide range of coverages to suit every need and every unique situation. From newborn babies and children as young as six months (when they start crawling around the house, insurance can come in handy!), to those in high-risk occupations such as rodeo, boxing, MMA, and any kind of sport or recreational lifestyle, many people can benefit from Kim’s Got You Covered.
When it comes to the current economic condition, Kim’s sage advice to fellow Alberta small businesses is this:
“Don’t give up. We're all in this together. We're going to get through this by supporting each other.”
Author: Imad-Dean Kaddoura
Managing Editor, Alberta Business Review
Isn’t it amazing how many ways we show who we are and what we stand for as a business?
Take Chameleon Wrapping & Lamination for example. Their logo literally stands for environmental adaptation.
Skilled craftsmen are required to operate some of their machines. And although their business model was built locally in the Metro Edmonton area from the ground up, they have enveloped technology that’s existed for decades around the globe.
Amber Gunderson, President and CEO, and her husband Vince, took the time to carefully construct a business based on industry needs, so Alberta now has a locally-made and eco-conscious product alternative for transforming architectural design and building practices that require durability, low maintenance and easy cleaning.
Their recycled polyvinyl chloride (PVC) wall and ceiling panels have films on them with UV protection; heat protection; and resistance to graffiti, salt spray, acid rain and scratches. These panels are impervious to water absorption and bacterial growth making them an economic solution for both health care, hotels and food processing facilities and food retailers.
Want easier installations? Well, they’ve thought of that as well. Listening to others in the industry, Chameleon Wrapping & Lamination developed their patent-pending design that allows for both V-groove and U-channel installation.
“We are a unique business in that our ChamClad products can be used globally in pretty much any environment, but being a local manufacturer gives us the largest edge to make quick decisions and adapt as needed to advance our product lines and services. We can keep our costs lower, manage our own quality and still offer short lead times,” says Amber.
Getting things right has certainly taken time. There have been some bumps along the way, just like every business encounters, but Amber and Vince have persevered because of their approach to whatever economic or other challenges they have faced together with their team.
“We try to be positive at all times in our business, even with the hurdles. We learned that we can get through whatever comes our way by addressing challenges as a team and with a focus on finding solutions. For example, when one industry in Alberta is having a downturn then we get a little creative at times or simply reach out to a new industry. Just as listening to your clients is truly an invaluable skill for a business, so is social networking and staying connected.”
This team approach is what keeps the wheels turning on their machines and for their business. Chameleon Wrapping & Lamination may be an Alberta-based business, but Amber and Vince run it like a family business driven to keep their highly-skilled staff employed and engaged as they continue to reach out to new industries and global markets.
In a world of choice, our local innovators have also made their innovative and LEED-compliant siding, soffit and interior wall products available through their Canadian national distributor, Gentek.
Chameleon Wrapping & Lamination and their iconic ChamClad siding products is a business that would make any builder proud to partner with. We certainly are privileged to feature this wonderful Alberta business and its custom-made products that you too can have and enjoy in your life, in your home or in your business.
Author: C. Tracy Williams
Editor in Chief, Alberta Business Review
If you’ve ever wondered how to bring the elegance and craftsmanship of the Renaissance period into the modern world, then just ask Vince Gunderson, President and CEO of Chameleon TopCoatings Ltd. in Edmonton.
He is a gifted and experienced tradesman who knows how to open doors and embrace windows of opportunity.
Here in Alberta, architectural and aesthetic demands present commercial and residential customers and developers with a myriad of colour, longevity and durability challenges. Enter Chameleon TopCoatings who has offered them custom-coloured door, window and garage door solutions since 2008.
“We work hard to fulfill the architectural visions of our partners who often battle complex jobs and tight timelines. Their feedback is awesome and it inspires us to explore new horizons, looking for entirely new solutions,” says Vince.
But how did this exploratory artists’ palette get its start? Well, when Vince, an autobody mechanic and painter by trade, and his wife Amber, were doing some home renovations they decided to use his expertise with detailed autobody painting on their new doors and windows. The contractor was intrigued himself, and after further discussions with other contractors and developers to find out more of what was needed in the industry, their part-time work slowly framed itself into a full-time business - Chameleon TopCoatings.
An idea on its own is a great first step, but how did they actually build the business itself? With a protean approach of course. They actively listened to others, did their homework in identifying the industry needs, developed a realistic plan, set goals and openly addressed challenges as they arose with their team.
Like their iconic brand, they are highly versatile, provide a range of services and focus forward. Quality, adaptation, integrity, diversity, solution-seeking and long-term relationships are the hallmarks for the success of their business and their team. Whatever the challenges that they’ve been presented with, like addressing how to stay relevant when the local economy takes a hit, their team pursues opportunities and solutions together.
“We don’t wait for the economy to affect us. Our team here, our family, depends on us to keep the wheels turning, so we continually seek out ways to scale up and expand our market. Our seasoned services are now offered to residential and commercial customers, developers, architects, government agencies, oilfield / gas plants and others.”
This expanded client list took time to build and hinged on active listening to others’ needs to be able to provide their clients with exactly what they needed. The team also adapted to changing needs by staying informed on trends, products and leading-edge technology to produce superior durability for their own products and services. Vince nails it on the head when he refers to his team, “We’re go-getters, that’s for sure!”
What picture are they painting for their future? Well, Vince is clear. “We want to expand our client base further and to see more colour out there, especially with commercial projects where durability counts that’s backed by a warranty.”
Wouldn’t you like to partner with Chameleon TopCoatings to bring a splash of colour into your life that you come home to every day or into your business to show your brand to the world?
Author: C. Tracy Williams
Editor in Chief, Alberta Business Review