Success stories

Success Stories

Community Futures is pleased to showcase some of the many good news stories in rural Alberta. Everyday we help people like you start and grow successful small businesses.

Obies General Mercantile

Peggy Dingreville and Bill Ullman
Lundbreck, Alberta

The force of his own merit makes his way – Shakespeare

What Willie is saying in the above quote is - You have to be good at what you do!

Owners, Peggy Dingreville and Bill Ullman, of Obies General Mercantile Ltd. in Lundbreck, have been good at providing great products, pricing and service to the local people since taking the reins of the business in 2008.

They provide gas, grocery and general items, prepared foods and an ice cream station, as well as being the local Post Office.

Obies employs a staff of eight for most of the year but in the busy summer months, as the local camp grounds get busy, two seasonal employees are added. Anne Molnar serves as the manager and keeps the staff and store working smoothly year round.

Sometimes sudden opportunities emerge in the business world, and if you are good at what you do, you seize those opportunities.

Bill and Peggy saw the paving crews and the fleet of trucks supplying the crews working on the regional roads, and realized that Obies General Mercantile could provide fuel and food for those crews. Such an increase in business requires capital and that is where Community Futures Alberta Southwest was able to help.

Peggy and Bill put together a good business plan that modeled increases in inventory and sales for the duration of the road paving crew’s work assignment. The crews were fueled and fed, and were able to pick up the items that make being away from home less of a burden.

Sometimes opportunity knocks, other times it just drives up and down the roads and you have to pay attention to notice. If you are good at what you do as an entrepreneur, you listen for the knock by paying attention to regional activity.

When you perceive the opportunity, as Obies General Mercantile did, and come up with a plan, Community Futures is ready to help


Top Hand Western Shop

Duane Warren and Katherine Balbar
Claresholm, AB

One of the goals of the entrepreneur is to earn your living doing the things you love. Duane Warren and Katherine Balbar started the Top Hand Western Shop in Claresholm to do just that.

“Top Hand” is a saddlery and western wear business and much more. The business provides for all of the needs of participants and fans of the various horse and rodeo events taking place at the Claresholm Agriplex and in Nanton. Duane is well known having 43 years within the industry and has superior knowledge of quality, style and fit in tack and saddles. People will come to Top Hand just to watch him work customizing saddles and harnesses. Top Hand’s customers come from all over Alberta as well as British Columbia, Saskatchewan and the USA.

Top Hand Western Shop opened in the Spring of 2010 with the help of Community Futures to serve as the source for everything equestrian having a large and unique selection of horse tack, including saddles for roping, reining, cutting, barrel racing or ranching; bridles, bits, pads, stirrups and more. You can find the best cowboy gear, shirts, jeans and outerwear along with belts, hats and boots that can be customized on site. They also carry a great selection of horse supplies such as supplements and grooming supplies.

Duane and Katherine’s entrepreneurship supports the jobs of two more employees that make sure that the customers enjoy their shopping experience.

It is the lucky few that get to earn their living doing the things they love to do. It still requires a strong plan and the marshalling of resources.

And for that, Community Futures is ready to help.

Lost Art Jewelry

Daniel Sommerfeld
Waterton, Alberta

Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it. – Maya Angelou

Daniel and Lori Summerfeld opened Lost Art Jewelry by Daniel Sommerfeld in Waterton Lakes National Park in 1999. Daniel is a Master Goldsmith with 30 years of experience, who designs and creates by hand one-of-a-kind jewelry for the public, exclusively using time-honored direct metal working techniques. Daniel selects all of the inventory, consults with patrons about their jewelry selections, and designs and creates all the jewelry personally using direct metal working techniques.

The art of hand working a piece of metal to be light yet resilient, or even to design and construct a piece from scratch to a client’s exact specifications, is a lost art on the brink of extinction. Daniel takes great pride in exquisitely performing this lost art, creating sublime jewelry for the discerning clients who appreciate its unmatched look and feel.

Clients may select from a variety of existing items on display made from platinum, high karat golds, silver, palladium, Canadian diamonds, Alberta ammolite and other fine and very rare gems. They may also have the exceptional experience of meeting with the person who makes the jewelry, and even watch it being made for them.

Entrepreneurs are similar to artists because they both possess a vision for something new. In Daniels case, the artist is the entrepreneur. He is willing to do what no one else is, to create his masterpiece business. Daniel and Lori have built their business around their passion and values.

The true masterpieces are lives that are built around your passion and values so that every day you can wake up doing what you love and generate a profit doing it. It takes planning and sufficient resources to make the entrepreneur’s dreams come true. Community Futures is ready to help with advisory services, training, and financing for entrepreneurs and their businesses.

“This year I am returning to my roots and am creating jewelry mainly for pure inspiration.”

“My new line will mainly consist of the most beautiful diamonds set in Platinum and Gold to the highest standard of craftsmanship and coupled with some very beautiful and rare colored precious gemstones.”

“The process will be slow but be sure to check in frequently to check on my progress.”

Visit Lost Art Jewelry at:

301A Windflower Avenue
PO Box 157
Waterton Lake National Park, AB
Canada T0K 2M0
E-mail: info [at]
Tel: 403-859-2481
Toll Free: 1-866-820-2232


Paula & Paul Watson
Cowley Alberta

No profit grows where is no pleasure taken-Shakespeare

What the Bard of Avon is really saying is that there is nothing to be gained from things we take no pleasure in. So if you are the former North of England dirt bike endurance racing champion, having raced all over Europe, B.C. and Alberta, how better to earn your living than starting your own business with your wife, selling and repairing off road and on road vehicles.


Paul and Paula Watson are the entrepreneurs behind Enduortek, in Cowley, AB, just off Highway #3. Endurotek, which opened in May of 2010, is a retail and maintenance business supplying dirt bikes as well as spare parts. They also do repairs for dirt bikes, road bikes, snowmobiles and ATVs plus a range of specialized clothing for those activities. Attached to the retail shop is the work shop equipped to service and maintain most motor vehicles. Paul and Paula developed a business plan to expand their business and Community Futures was there to help them make building modifications and grow Endurotek's inventory. 


Besides being a champion racer, Paul has been a mechanic for over 20 years holding the red seal for auto mechanics and morotorcycle mechanics. Paul's better half, Paula, runs the retail and administrative side of the business. Paul still finds time to race on occassion and enjoys helping the growing number of individuals and families derive the most pleasure from the different off road activities available in the Foothills and mountians of Alberta. Entrepreneurs, like Paul and Paula Watson take pleasure in raising their family in Southwest Alberta and in growing their business.


Community Futures is ready to help entrepreneurs start, purchase or grow their business with finiancing, advisory services and training.


Providence Salon & Spa

Rosanna Higginbotham
Pincher Creek, AB

All of the wonderful goods and services that we enjoy are due to the efforts of entrepreneurs such as Rosanna Higginbotham.

Rosanna purchased the Providence Salon & Spa in the Spring of 2009 with the emotional support of her family and the help of Community Futures. Providence Salon & Spa is a full service salon that has been in business since 2007, offering advanced hairstyling and coloring, pedicures, manicures, massages, waxing, body wraps and facials as well as makeup applications and a vertical tanning booth. The majority of the salon clients are female, while the massage therapy clientele are evenly split between men and women.

Rosanna had started working at Providence Salon & Spa during the previous winter. When informed by the then current owner that the business was for sale, discussions were soon underway. A hard worker and someone who is not afraid of risks, Rosanna was looking for a new career as a business owner.  Rosanna had gained her business knowledge through her College education and her previous involvement in managing family owned businesses.

Rosanna’s entrepreneurship supports the jobs of an esthetician and massage therapist as well as three stylists and a part-time receptionist.

Rosanna works in a management capacity, doing the bookkeeping, scheduling and payroll, dealing with suppliers and making sure that the clients enjoy their experience at Providence Salon & Spa.

As long as there is a market available, entrepreneurs like Rosanna find a way. They see opportunities others don't. They take carefully calculated financial risks.

Community Futures is ready to help.

Van Dan's General Store

Jolane Shipley
Glenwood, AB

Van Dan's has been part of the Glenwood Community for many years. In 1938, brothers Van and Dan Lybbert opened up a butcher shop and operated as Lybbert Brothers.

Several months later, in early 1939, they bought a restaurant and small grocery store and added the butcher shop to the back of it.  It was a family business with other brothers and their families helping in different ways.

There are always challenges in running a business. Van Dan’s building eventually developed problems.  The flat roof had to be repaired many times. The floor also needed repairs. By 2004, problems from a leaky roof left Van Dan’s faced with shutting down, building a new building or replacing the roof.  They really didn't want to shut down and leave Glenwood without services. The cost of building a new building was too high for the amount of business being done, so replacing the roof looked like the best option. 

Community Futures Alberta Southwest provided Van Dan’s with the ability to put a cottage style roof put on the store and Van Dan’s continue to do other repairs each winter to make it a better building.

Van Dan’s services now include basic groceries and meats, basic hardware, convenience and snack foods. The meat business has now moved to a separate business known as The Chopping Block and operated by Doral Lybbert with help from his family.

Many of the meat products sold at the store come from The Chopping Block. The day to day operations of Van and Dan's is taken care of Jolane Shipley and Cheryle Lybbert along with local employees. Their husbands Dwain Shipley and Doral Lybbert are great supporters and do much of the renovation work. Their mother Grace Lybbert is still with them in Glenwood but is not able to be as actively involved as she once was.

After 74 years, Van Dan’s still enjoy being part of the Glenwood Community and providing service to their customers. The spirit of entrepreneurship is going strong in all of our communities and Community Futures is there, ready to help.

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Get in Touch

Community Futures Alberta Southwest
436 – 24th Street (Macleod Blvd)
Box 1270
Fort Macleod, AB T0L 0Z0

403-553-0264 ext. 222
800-565-4418 ext. 222

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Communities Served

Beaver Mines, 
Chief Mountain, 
Fort Macleod, 
Hill Spring, 
Mountain View, 
Pincher Creek, 
Pincher Station, 
Twin Butte, 


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