Category News

The name MNP may be new to Sarnia, but the people behind the Sarnia office have a wealth of history in the area, thanks to the merging of the public accounting practice of Joanne L. Abbott with the Southwestern Ontario offices of MNP LLP in 2018.

“I was looking for future opportunities for my clients, my staff and I,” said Abbott, a lifelong Sarnia resident and Canadian Olympian who competed (with her husband Bill and Brad Boston) in the Three-Person Keelboat sailing category at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Game.

As a proud member of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, MNP is growing in stature as a key part of the business community, says Shirley de Silva, the Chamber’s president and CEO.

“MNP has stepped up, not only as a very active Chamber member but as a sponsor of the Chamber’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards night,” she said.

From Joanne Abbott’s perspective, the move to MNP was “exactly what I needed to grow my practice and provide the service my clients require in these changing times.

“The past year has been amazing and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to join the MNP family.”

As the fifth-largest accounting firm in Canada, MNP has substantial resources to draw upon given its national presence with a local focus.

Abbott says she realized that with both these characteristics in play it would mean her clients would receive the kind of care she expected.

As well as what MNP could offer her clients Abbott liked the fact that MNP is considered one of the Best Employers in Canada so she knew her staff would also be looked after and have opportunities with their careers.

The growth of the Sarnia office has required more space and Abbott and since the merger, MNP has moved into a larger office in the Professional Building at Unit G-1315 Michigan Ave., (next to Goodwill Industries).

Pictured: Joanne Abbott, right, with colleague and fellow CPA Janice Culp, both of the local MNP office.

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As part of an Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab Sarnia-Lambton initiative, members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce are invited to submit their best new tourism idea for a chance to receive mentorships and grants related to helping make the winning idea a reality.

The initiative, which is underway, is open to:

—Individuals 18 or older who live and/or work in Sarnia-Lambton;
—Small businesses based in Sarnia-Lambton (1-10 employees);
—Non-profits based in Sarnia-Lambton (1-10 employees).

Applications, which are due by January 15, 2020, can be found at www.tourisminnovation.ca/sarnialambton.

Selected applicants will receive:

—Three-month tourism industry mentorship;
—$3,000 grant
—Access to a support network of tourism innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders.

Pictured: Owners of Stonepicker Brewery, another Sarnia-Lambton tourism success story.

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As part of a partnership arrangement with Starlight Casino in Point Edward, members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce who gather in groups of five or more are eligible for a complimentary dessert with the purchase of a lunch entree during the month of December.

The offer, which began Dec 1 and runs through Dec 30. requires patrons to quote MATCH HOLIDAY LUNCH PROMOTION at the time of booking.

The MATCH eatery and public house is located in the Starlight Casino Point Edward.

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Bill Norton, trade commissioner in the London regional office of Global Affairs Canada, is advising Chamber members who may be applying for the federal government’s CanExport Small and Medium Business of a new timeframe for processing.

Management officials with the program now say they are taking 40 business days—eight weeks—to process applications.

The previous public timeframe for processing was 25 business days.

Norton also serves as a representative on the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce Global Business Opportunities Community group.

 

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Believe it or not, it’s not too early to begin putting new dates on your 2020 calendar and Wednesday, January 15 is one of the first events on the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce calendar

It’s that evening—from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.—that the owners of Petit a la Carte at 170 Christina St. North will be hosting January’s Business After 5.

Located in one of the busiest areas of downtown Sarnia—adjacent to the Imperial Theatre—Petite a la Carte is the kind of establishment that many in the region have been asking to see more of.

Owners Mike Service and Pat Havlik opened the restaurant in early July with a dream that’s come true—a small-plate, fine-dining wine bar.

With distinctively smaller than customary portions, patrons are encouraged to order other menu items, combining them to create a near-unique meal offering.

“We’ve experienced this concept in larger cities like Toronto,” said Service. “It suits us and we think it will suit a lot of people who find they don’t want that big plate that you just end up taking with you.”

Chamber members will undoubtedly find the experience at January’s Business After 5 a unique one. We hope you’ll join us on Wednesday, January 15 at Petite a La Carte.

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Culture is the most important aspect of a company and is the very foundation of the organization itself. The common values and beliefs that make up this foundation help dictate not only how a company operates, but also how its employees interact with one another. There are several factors that can create cracks in the foundation, but one factor, in particular, can cause lasting damage: unresolved conflict.

According to a comprehensive workplace conflict study by publisher CPP, Inc., 85% of employees experience conflict in some form at work. While conflict may not be avoidable, embracing conflict and working toward resolving it within your company saves the culture in three ways.

Builds Employee Loyalty and Retention

In a tight labour market, employee retention is not only important to remain successful, but it is crucial to maintain a strong culture. If culture is comprised of the shared values of an organization, then your employees are the ones who live out the culture every day.

Without your employees assimilating and maintaining shared values, your culture fades. And turnover can be even more detrimental. This means building employee loyalty and retention should be a company’s main focus. However, unresolved conflict can cause culture-maintaining employees to quit. Author David Cottrell stated, “people quit people before they quit companies.” Resolving conflict builds stronger ties between employees, causing loyalty between team members and higher retention levels.

Improves Productivity

According to the CPP study, employees spend an average of 2.8 hours a week dealing with workplace conflict. Over the course of a month, the average employee wastes a full day of productivity spent in conflict, amounting to 2.5 weeks of lost productivity annually. Moreover, 25% of employees have seen conflict result in workplace absence and 9% say that conflict has caused a project to fail.

With the outlaying tax on time and productivity, conflict can derail your company’s ability to grow. If leaders acknowledge conflict and deal with it accordingly, they can maintain not only a competitive edge in their market but also a cultural edge within their organization.

Deepens Core Values

Not every company has “People” listed as one of their core values, but most leaders would say they want a culture that embraces the value of others. When a company shows it cares about the wellbeing of their employees, it helps engrain and deepen the company’s values within their organization.

Offering training to help team members work together is one way to do this. However, according to CPP, 60% of employees haven’t received basic conflict management training. And of those who have, 95% claim the training helped mitigate workplace conflict and achieve a mutually beneficial resolution. Not only does the training show value to its employees, but it also helps deepen the working relationship between employees.

By avoiding conflict, you could allow cracks in the foundation of your company. However, investing time and energy into corporate conflict resolution techniques can save your culture by building employee loyalty and retention, improving productivity, and deepening core values.

Read more here:

https://shop.themyersbriggs.com/Pdfs/CPP_Global_Human_Capital_Report_Workplace_Conflict.pdf

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/viewpoint-the-art-and-science-of-conflict-management.aspx

https://pollackpeacebuilding.com/workplace-conflict-statistics/

Bruce Hein is the franchise owner/operator of Express Employment Professionals in Sarnia.

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For a membership centred organization like the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, taking the pulse of those who call the organization “home” represents an ongoing opportunity to advance its mission and no one knows that better than President & CEO Shirley de Silva.

“It’s really part of our DNA,” said de Silva, with particular reference to a timely pair of surveys that the organization is currently undertaking.

One is around a specific reference to issues that members see of interest around Advocacy issues relevant to their business.

“The Chamber has earned, over the years, a reputation for being the prime connection that leaders at every level of government turn to first to gauge the interest of those who create policy,” said de Silva. “With that in mind, it makes even more sense for us to turn to our members to make sure we’re covering the issues that affect our members more than any others.”

With Advocacy continuing to represent one of the key responsibilities of the Chamber, the ability to engage with policymakers and others ahead of any changes that may follow is a key Chamber strategy, added de Silva.

“The relationship between government and business is one where there is mutual respect when it comes to the impact on the business when it comes to regulation, and the Chamber plays a leading role in making sure the interests of business are considered, ideally before any changes are made,” she said.

The online Advocacy survey, which can be accessed HERE, will assist Chamber leadership as it maps out policy initiatives designed to stay on top of issues that matter to members.

In addition,  the Chamber has a keen interest in understanding issues of key importance to its members, excluding advocacy, which is why we’ve prepared a second survey—which can be accessed HERE—as a tool to help plan out future events and initiatives. 

 

 

 

 

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With the holiday gift-giving “season” well upon us, options for amazing those on our lists may have become a little easier with an opportunity presented by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

A sponsored gift book project—”Discoveries that Matter: Sarnia Lambton”—published last year became something of a hit with those who saw an opportunity to spread the word about the community that those who have made it their home love to show off to others.

A limited number of those books remains available for purchase through the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce offices, says Shirley de Silva, president and CEO.

“We are very pleased to make these available to those interested in bringing a little piece of Sarnia-Lambton into the homes of friends and family,” said de Silva, who invites those who are interested to contact her directly at (519) 336-2400, extension 1, or email her by clicking HERE.

“We had great joy in preparing this special gift book, especially given the fact that a hometown hero, retired Canadian astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield generously wrote the foreword to the gift book. Plus the ‘timeless’ nature of this book means that it’s a gift that will be cherished for years to come.”

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An organization with its very roots in the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is being recognized as “Member of the Month” for December.

Tourism Sarnia-Lambton, the organization that stretches the length and breadth of Lambton County, serves as the lead advocate for promoting opportunities to visit the place we’ve come to love.

In fact, it was in 1999 that the Chamber created the organization that later became Tourism Sarnia-Lambton, according to a history of the Chamber that was published by the Sarnia Historical Society.

“Tourism Sarnia-Lambton is a proud partner and member of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce,” said Mark Perrin, executive director. “Our relationship has always been a mutually beneficial one and we enjoy working together to create a greater tourism economic impact and growth for Sarnia-Lambton businesses to thrive on. With Tourism Sarnia-Lambton being selected as the ‘Member of the Month’ we are humbled and thrilled to receive this recognition for our efforts and accomplishments this year.”

Shirley de Silva, Chamber CEO and president, echoed Perrin’s sentiments.

“We’re pleased to recognize the very significant and mutually beneficial relationship that continues to exist between the Chamber and Tourism Sarnia-Lambton,” she said. “For years now, and for years to come, we expect to work very closely in helping to fulfill the goals of both organizations for the betterment of our entire community,”

Pictured at the “Member of the Year” presentation are TSL staff members (from left) Shelley Ambroise, Beverley Horodyski, Vicky Praill, Leona Allen, Mark Perrin, and Adam Veen.

 

 

 

 

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In a recent survey by Daysmart Software, 54% of small business owners admitted to being worried about making enough money. Making money is a common concern because not only does it factor in bringing in enough clients or customers but also ensuring your products or services are priced right and negotiating any cash flow problems.

Small business owners have lots of stressors as they follow their dreams. It might surprise you just how much the Chamber can help with these concerns.

According to the study, small business owners report they are most concerned about:

—Making enough money

—Controlling costs

—Finding new customers

—Marketing to prospective an/or current customers

—Managing time

The Chamber and Chamber membership can help address all of these common concerns and challenges.

Put the Chamber to Work for Your Business

If you’re like most small business owners, you can likely identify with these common business concerns but what you may not realize is how effectively a Chamber membership can help you solve these problems. The solutions may take you getting involved and participating but Chamber membership can act like a business “gym” that you need to become stronger and begin making healthier choices for your business.

Making Enough Money

In the beginning of your business, it might not be about becoming a millionaire as much as it is simply making enough money to stay in operation. Making enough money means you’re factoring in what’s coming in and what’s going out. The Chamber can help your efforts in making enough money in the following ways.

Controlling Costs

While a Chamber membership is an initial outlay of money, you can derive a lot of value from it. It can even help you control costs by introducing you to other business people who may be able to provide you with goods and services.

In addition to meeting new business contacts that could save you money, check with your Chamber to find out if they have a Chamber “hot deals” program. These programs offer discounts from Chamber members for Chamber members. They can provide considerable cost savings to members.

The exchange between members may also reveal how other small business owners manage their costs. While you can research that on the internet, sometimes having local advice can be invaluable.

You can also get more for less by attending some of your Chamber’s lunch and learn programs. Maybe you’ve been wondering how to incorporate Instagram into your business but don’t have the money to pay someone to teach you or do it for you. Many learning exchanges are free at the Chamber and it’s likely they have a topic that interests you and can help you learn something new for your business without having to pay for it. Plus, Chamber membership means any of your employees may attend.

Finding New Customers

The Chamber is an excellent source for finding new customers. Through networking, hosting an event, sponsorship, cash mobs, thought leadership seminars or a host of other ways, the Chamber can help you connect more deeply with your community.

Many people think of the Chamber as a group similar to the better business bureau and they put a great amount of trust in a business that is a member of the Chamber.

Chamber membership can also provide greater visibility for your business with opportunities to serve the greater community. While you may not feel like you have time for that as a small business owner, the Chamber has opportunities for all levels of engagement. From serving on the board to volunteering at check-in for an event.

Membership is a great way to meet people and people buy from those they know, like, and trust.

Marketing to Future and Current Customers

Many small business owners lack marketing skills. If you can’t hire it out, you may be happy to know the Chamber likely has creative marketing opportunities that can help you get your name out into the community.

The Chamber also talks about its members on social media, which helps you leverage their large audience. They can host a ribbon-cutting for you if you’re a new business or help you celebrate a key milestone.

They also likely have people on staff who can help you brainstorm ways to reach your ideal audience and make suggestions such as mailers, learning sessions, and social media assistance.

Managing Time

It comes as no surprise that with all these other stresses, small business owners are concerned about not having enough time. The Chamber can help here too. Not only can they help introduce you to the “hidden” job market of people who aren’t actively looking for positions but have strong interests in the community, they also have lunch and learn sessions on a variety of topics that could help you streamline your operations.

Learning is one way the Chamber can help but it also helps as a partial partner in your marketing. The Chamber supports getting the word out about your business and their efforts can save you time in your own marketing.

Chamber membership provides a large amount of value for the small business owner if they know how to use it. Paying dues won’t help allay your fears about your business but getting involved in the Chamber and the community can help you reach more people, elevate your business reputation, and improve your marketing. These ideas will help you grow and improve your revenue stream.

 

 

 

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