A loyal customer base and a successful farming year in the area in 2014 caused a trickle down effect for local small businesses, with many reporting that it was a great year to do business.
“For the most part, farming did well last year and that trickles down to local business. The crops were lower quality, but the yields were higher,” said Lorne Buis, of Buis Holdings in Foremost. “I think as long as the prices hold, it will be another good year. It will all depend if things are wet going into spring or if things dry up.”
Island Mexican Store had a very successful year as well, having expanded to a new, larger facility and earning a local business award. Proprietor, Dave Peters said he was grateful for the support from his customers over the past year.
“It was a very good year and in 2015, I hope for more of the same customer support that we received last year,” said Penner.
Reg Robey of Robey’s Welding said 2014 was a busy year for his agriculture equipment repair business.
“We are always steady, always busy and it pretty much stays that way year in and year out. We have a good customer base who are always very supportive. If they wreck it, we fix it. So, we are hoping for another great year in the Ag repair business.”
Frank Wiebe from Bow Island Farm Centre said 2014 was one of their best years on record and was hopeful for more of the same in the coming year.
“2014 was great for us. It was one of the best years we ever had. I am really thankful for all the support and look forward to 2015,” said Wiebe.
Ken Thompson of Thompson Foods in Foremost reflected the comments of the other business people and said local customer support made all the difference in 2014.
“I really appreciate all of our loyal customers,” he said.
What the weather brings early in the new year will have a great influence in the start of the growing season and local small businesses will take the trickle down effect, whether it is good or bad.
Many small and medium-sized businesses, particular those that are spin-off operations for the oil and gas industry have been closely watching the plunging oil prices as OPEC remains adamant on flooding the market while demand is low. Most companies are shelving upcoming projects, cutting spending, and only going forward with current projects.
Municipalities, such as Bow Island are also expecting to see less funding for projects and are making necessary adjustments to soften the blow.
“We all know the provincial treasury is taking a big hit on the revenue side. This will affect the flow of some of the grants that the Town and local organizations apply for every year,” said Bow Island mayor Gordon Reynolds in his Mayor’s Notes to the community.
While the Town will continue with some of its projects and upgrades, no large projects are being planned at this time. Nor will the Town be borrowing money or depleting their reserve money.
Reynolds also commented on how the downturn in the oil industry is impacting some local businesses.
“Some of these operations are supplying the oil patch with products and services and will likely see a slowdown which will create a ripple through our local economy,” said Reynolds.
Some local businesses, Reynolds noted, are diversifying their operations to get through the downturn in the oil industry.
What lies ahead for the next 12 months for local business will certainly depend on whether the taps are turned on from above or when OPEC decides to tighten the taps on the oil production (although they indicated at a meeting in November, they were not planning on doing so in the next few months).
Good or bad, small business in southeast Alberta is ready to take on 2015.