Friday, May 24, 2013

The People I Meet: Rory Allen, Elvis Impersonator, Singer, Humanitarian, Entrepreneur, Artist

Photo Source:  Rory Allen Facebook Page 
Wow. That's all I can say. I am star struck. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Rory and Lorie Allen at the gym.

You know Rory Allen as Saskatchewan's own Elvis Impersonator.  I walked over and introduced myself and he introduced himself, as if he had to.

I have seen Rory Allen perform many times and he does have a knack for bringing audiences back to the time and place when Elvis was the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

As I chatted with Rory and Lorie, I couldn't help but be interested in their story as Saskatchewan music entrepreneurs.  Theirs is a great story of how music can transcend a person to a different place, spark memories of another time and place or heal a trembling soul.

We often think of entrepreneurs as those people who innovate and create to deliver products and services that feed our physical lives and our businesses.

Musicians, artists, designers and others in the creative industry feed our soul and our culture.  They remind us that we are all connected through a song and a feeling. They are also business people who contribute to our economy, creating employment and opportunity.

Where would we be without their entrepreneurial spirit set to music, told through colour, and or expressed through fashion? I think our land under the sun would be a little less brighter.

Follow Rory Allen Music on Twitter and  Facebook to find out where they are playing.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Saskatchewan Fashion Week: Catwalk Photos - Amaranth Designs

Amaranth Designs owner and creator Rea Harbus is SKY Magazine's first Designer Profile featured in the Spring SKY.  Her story was shared with 32,000 high income homes in the Regina and Saskatoon area and on our blog.  

We promoted her at What Women Want, and we followed her at Saskatchewan Fashion Week.  We are pleased to share our iPhone photos taken that day.  

Amaranth Designs are available now at The Polka Dot Door Designer Collections on 1843 Hamilton Street. Regina, Saskatchewan.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

#confessionsofhashtagvirgin @skfashionweek #skfwk

#lauriebrown #saskatoon #unbelievable #alwayschanging
@skfashionweek #skfwk 

From the moment it began it never really stopped.In fact, it is still happening.  Everyone is talking about the second annual Saskatchewan Fashion Week that took place from May 9 - 11, 2013. 

Sitting from my front row seat at SFW with my peers in the media business, we were poised and ready, with two smart phones, a notepad and a pen. From the first moment, the cell phones came out and the story of Saskatchewan Fashion Week began to be told in a language of imagery, @s (at) and #s (hash tag), being uploaded to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The show this year was described by many people as having reached a whole new level, which is quite amazing considering last year set a very high bar.

Last year I was there to see Saskatchewan take its first steps into the fashion show industry.  In fact, our entire family attended to watch our daughter present her line.  Admittedly I was blown away as would be any mother  watching my daughter's creativity and vision manifest itself on the runway. For mother's, first steps are the best steps.

This year, I am bursting at the seams with excitement as I see the beginning of a this new future unfold and the optimism that it embodies. I could not help but be impressed beyond measure as I watched each creation grace the runway, telling their own stories of vision, creativity and determination to be seen in the fashion industry.

It's exciting. A high fashion social media extravaganza is on fire,inspired by our passion and enthusiasm. We are excited about creating a new industry that will not only engage writers, designers, photographers, models, event planners, set builders, accountants, marketers, and retailers but will also create a place to be seen in the industry beyond Saskatchewan.

As this story is being told in hash tags on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, I have become mesmerized by the imagery and the hash tag language that spreads this story like a prairie wild fire on a hot summer day.

I am still absorbing the myriad of images that continue to be shared across social media channels, each time seeing a different aspect of the stories.

In the summer SKY, we will tell the story of this experience, which will be distributed to 32,000 households in Regina and Saskatoon. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, please feel free to visit the SKY Magazine Instagram page.


Hashtags are mostly used as unmoderated ad-hoc discussion forums; any combination of characters led by a hash sign is a hashtag, and any hashtag, if promoted by enough individuals, can "trend" and attract more individual users to discussion using the hashtag.

On Twitter, when a hashtag becomes extremely popular, it will appear in the "Trending Topics" area of a user's homepage. The trending topics can be organized by geographic area or by all of Twitter.

Hashtags are neither registered nor controlled by any one user or group of users, and neither can they be "retired" from public usage, meaning that hashtags can be used in theoretical perpetuity depending upon the longevity of the word or set of characters in a written language. They also do not contain any set definitions, meaning that a single hashtag can be used for any number of purposes as espoused by those who make use of them.

Because of their loose nature, hashtags often become more recognized as associated with particular topics of discussion based upon a more specific spelling of the hashtag (e.g., "#cake" as opposed to "#thecakeisalie") that will be differentiated from a more general spelling. However, this can also make it difficult for topics to become "trending topics" because people often use different spelling or words to refer to the same topic. In order for topics to trend, there has to be a consensus, whether silent or stated, that the hashtag refers to that specific topic.

Hashtags also function as beacons in order for users to find and "follow" (subscribe) or "list" (organize into public contact lists) other users of similar interest.
 Hashtags can be used on the social network Instagram, by posting pictures and hashtagging it with its subject. As an example, a photo of you and a friend posted to the social network can be hashtagged #bffl or #friends.

Hashtags are also used informally to express context around a given message, with no intent to actually categorize the message for later searching, sharing, or other reasons. This can help express humor, excitement, sadness or other contextual cues, for example, "Just found out my mom is my health teacher. #awkward" or "It's Monday!! #excited #sarcasm". 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I'm Too Sexy.

Some years ago, I walked the catwalk for a fundraiser modelling workout wear in the era of the neon tights and thong body suits. I looked pretty hot. And this was my song. 

We've come a long way in the business of fashion shows here in the land under the sun.  Our fashion industry is growing and we are taking our place on the industry's catwalk.

Saskatchewan's 2nd annual Fashion Week kicked off this week with Katwalk experiences across the city.

Tonight the first fashion show will kick off at 7:30PM downtown Regina.

The tent is up and ready to go in Regina City Square.  As we read this, everyone from designers and make up artists to lighting technicians are cuing up for the big event. This is a very exciting time for many reasons.

Not only is fashion something we love to explore, but we are creating a new industry and a new economic opportunity for designers, retailers, make up artists, set designers, website developers, marketers, writers, videographers . . . the list is growing. Saskatchewan Fashion Week truly is another example of collaboration and entrepreneurship, Saskatchewan style.

SKY Magazine is making its debut in Saskatchewan Fashion Week as a media partner. Our summer issue will include a 2 page spread on the event, which will be distributed to 32,000 homes in the Regina and Saskatoon area.

I would like to extend my congratulations to the Saskatchewan Fashion Week organizing committee who has not only brought the dream of living well in Saskatchewan to life yet again but has created an opportunity for Saskatchewan to be seen in fashion.

Check out the event schedule and plan to join us. The only question I have is, what should I wear?

I've got to get busy.  See you tonight on the catwalk.

Lynn Armstrong, Publisher  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Inside the Heart and MInd of a CEO

Walker Group of Companies

Inside the Heart and Mind of a CEO

By Lynn M. Armstrong

L-R Greg Hazel, Katelyn Frecon, Jennifer Soos, Milt Walker, Allan Reich, Daryl Andrew, Ginny Scott

Good leaders create good teams, bring out the best in people and create sustainable futures. Milt Walker is such a CEO.  He is a people’s CEO who is creating a legacy organization that will be sustainable and responsive to the market as it evolves.

Milt Walker is the founder, President and CEO of the Walker Group of Companies, which includes Walker Projects Inc. and Century West Construction Group. This uniquely organized company includes two engineering divisions, a commercial construction division, a residential construction division and a renovation division. 

The Walker Group brings together more than 100 professionals, technologists, engineers, accountants, trades people, administrators, and sales professionals. Many are under the age of 30. 

His staff describes him as an engineer with a heart.

Milt’s vision is the result of 40 years of learning through economically challenging times of double digit interest rates and job scarcity, large scale projects such as Hill Tower 2, Crown Life, Regina Centre Crossing, and the proposed Winnipeg Arena to name a few.

“I began to see that there was more to construction than grade beams, piles and roofs and that a broader perspective was needed. Being the best structural engineer was not enough. Having the ability to lead people in the decision making process and manage the political and business environment wins at the end of the day. I knew that if we could do that well, the work would come. We combined project management and structural engineering to help us look at the job from the customer’s perspective.”

"Creating the right mix of people and personalities and establishing a culture of working together is what I set out to do." - Milt Walker 

“Engineers and the trades do not typically work under the same roof.  Creating the right mix of people and personalities and establishing a culture of working together is what I set out to do.” 

The quality of the project manager is the key, says Milt. “Sometimes the owner is tugging at the wheel of the project. The project manager must have the ability to keep the project on track. The people who can lead and manage change are the people who win in the end because that’s where we are going as an industry.”

“It is critical to manage multiple people in the process.  Seeing the issues before they become barriers and dealing with them in a timely and efficient manner keep projects on track. We see this in projects of all size and type.

If someone was not properly consulted and included in the process, inevitably the outcome will be unsatisfactory. If what the client wanted was a pancake house, and the result is a pizza stand, nobody is happy.”

“People make all the difference.  Having the right people at all levels of the company is the most important thing. Each person who works here is exactly the person we want. We are a young company.  Many of our staff is hired directly out of university and SIAST. 

Our management team is built to lead, mentor and teach. We have created a culture of working together as engineers, construction experts, and trades, with a strong professional and administrative team. We are very proud of that and I am very proud of each and every one of them.”

"Being a leader is the best job in the world to me.  There is nothing more satisfying than seeing someone grow both personally and professionally.  I am inspired every day by the bright lights of our team." - Milt Walker 

“Our ‘why’ is to build the future with innovation, passion and a superior customer experience.  Our ‘how’ is to be the best place to work, do the best projects, have the best people and be reasonably profitable.  Our bottom line is to be the best place to work.”

Meet the Management Team

Bruce Kaytor, Century West Renovations; Paul Gregory, Century West Construction; Amanda Martin, Century West Homes; and Jordan Walker, Century West Construction 

The Renovator’s Renovator

Century West Renovations: Bruce Kaytor

Bruce Kaytor
"I know what’s cooking. I know the subcontractors.  And because we have such a fully diversified team of construction professionals here, I can come back to the office and talk to anyone else here.  I have more support than I have ever had in my life.  There is no other place that can do this." - Bruce Kaytor 

Bruce had just left the home of a family whose roof just caved in. He was noticeably shaken by the ordeal, feeling empathy for this mother whose world literally came down on her.  The family was forced to move out of the house immediately.

“This is something that I never get used to.  Seeing someone devastated.  I do my best to give them the information they need to move ahead. I was able to say I can have an engineer at her home tomorrow morning.  Milt himself came to the house with Jenn to assess the situation.  The insurance forms are being filled out now."

Bruce is a landscape contractor with over 25 years experience as a renovator.  He leads the Century West Renovation division, which handles all types of jobs including insurance claims.

"Renovation customers love their homes, their neighborhoods and their back yards but they want change. I advise them to get a designer involved, get drawings and make choices about materials. Once I have a plan in place, we go to town, and we get it done."

"We take care of business here. Construction is full of follies, despite what you might see on HGTV.  The main thing is taking care of it.  There is never any hesitation to deal with a situation, no matter how unpleasant it can be.”

"Our commitment is to deliver. Once we start, we are going to finish.  We make it as easy as possible for the owner, and we get it done."

A Mandate to be the Very Best 

Century West Construction: Paul Gregory, Jordan Walker

Paul Gregory 
“We are realistic, honest and organized.   Our number one priority is understanding and delivering the construction process from the perspective of our client. We want to give them their dream".   - Paul Gregory   
Paul Gregory is a seasoned construction professional.  Jordon Walker is a former hockey player with a head for business.  Together, Paul and Jordan lead the Century West Construction division with a mandate to build the very best. 

Paul has been with Milt since the beginning after he "swam upstream" from Alberta in the mid 1990's where he was working. 

“Construction is a competitive business. It can be adversarial if the engineers and construction trades do not get along, or if the client wants and needs is not part of the planning process.  Especially if in the bidding process, the lowest price gets the deal and important things are left out.”  

Jordan Walker 
 “We believe in team approach to the construction process, which is giving the client value added engineering and construction and offering expertise versus taking what an architect or engineer designed and try to build it for a lower price.

"We work as a team here managing the process and the outcome from end to end, including the sale, creating the drawings, getting permits, building the project or renovating it and managing the issues and the budget to be sure we manage the customer, the time and money and the trades toward a successful and rewarding outcome", adds Jordan. 

“Milt’s mandate is to be the very best. And that’s why we come to work every day”. - Jordan Walker 

A Family that Builds Homes for Families

Century West Homes: Amanda Martin 

Amanda Martin 
“The key to owner happiness keeping the homeowner involved and informed and we have a youthful enthusiasm. Part of the magic is we are young, experienced, skilled and passionate about what we do.  We have had zero turnover in the last eight years.” - Amanda Martin 

Amanda has a dream job for home decorating enthusiasts.  Her office is filled with decorator magazines and family photos. Her job is making the dream of a home come true. 

"We’ve come a long way from the small house on Smith Street", remembers Amanda. 

Amanda leads a team of design technologists, a sales team, liaises with suppliers and works directly with designers to develop floor plans, research products and manage home projects.

“Our team works together. Our design technologists will do the plans and they are part of the project team.  Our sales people don’t just sell the house. They actively get involved.  That way, we never lose sight of the owner’s vision.”
The average age of the Century West Residential Construction division is under 30.  “People relate to us, trust us and feel at home here. That’s important to us.”

“Our homeowners value unique design and we want them to be ecstatic about their new home. They have a vision for a home that might be functional, whimsical or traditional. They tell us they will need a special spot for their piano or family pet.  They let us into their lives; our families connect. 

We are a family company who builds homes for families, and we feel proud to say, ‘we built that house’”.

From Burgers to Billboards and Beyond: The CDN Story

 The story of how a burger baron’s son is changing the sky.  

James McDonnell, President and CEO, Canadian Digital Network 

James McDonnell began with an idea to sell burgers and fries at his family-owned restaurant, the Burger Baron in Regina. He installed a digital billboard to improve marketing for the restaurant and create an additional revenue stream.

The idea mushroomed as four more sign owners came to the table.  Todd Mintz, Reg Howard, Rob Thomson, Jason Degelman and James McDonnell now share a common vision to develop a digital billboard network.

James is the President and CEO of Canadian Digital Network, a Saskatchewan based digital placement company with a unique networked approach to digital advertising wherever the network exists.

“We strive to revolutionize the way the billboard industry works. Our goal is to be Saskatchewan’s dominant player in digital media”.  The CDN approach is a game changer in the digital signage business.  Individual sign owners come together to share their assets, create a strategically connected advertising system and generate returns based on the performance of the system.

“We invited people who model our principles of integrity, commitment and transparency to join the network. In December 2012, we acquired Digital Skies, becoming the largest digital billboard company in the province, with over 60 locations in Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, Estevan, Weyburn, Yorkton and other rural markets."

Owning a sign is a business unto itself.  First there is the cost of buying the sign, which can be up to $250,000, then there is set up and maintenance. Once the sign is up and running, it needs content, so the owner then must become adept at selling advertising on their sign, managing relationships and contracts, and tracking performance. The CDN approach goes beyond creating the network. They also serve the network.

“When the sign is fully running with paid advertising, it is a revenue stream". 

Meet the team. 

Once a sign owner joins the network, the CDN Team goes to work for clients taking care of sales, production, graphics, diagnostics and logistics on behalf of the network.  

"We are proud to welcome Bev Dubois to our team. She is helping us to develop a stronger presence in the Saskatoon market place." 

James McDonnell, Lorne Piett, Kelly Forsberg, Drew Renwick, Chris Pagan, Gabe Rosescu

"With the Grey Cup later this year, we are anticipating the skies will be lit up.  Give us a call to get your name up in lights." 

Publisher's Recommendation:  

SKY Magazine is proud to "Be Seen" on the Canadian Digital Network, on Saskatchewan Drive and Cameron Street.  Thank you CDN team for your professionalism and attention to detail. I love my sign. 

Canadian Digital Network
206 – 1402 Rose Street, Regina
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Kitchen Gear is hosting a Katwalk event from May 4 - 9 on Hill Avenue.  Kirk Leier is featured in the Spring SKY Gotta Have It pages.  His selection of knives, cookware and gadgets turns heads.

See you on the Katwalk!!!