carmen sparg image

Global traveller finds entrepreneurial vision in the Okanagan

Our own Carmen Sparg was recently featured in the Kelowna Capital News.

By Joel Young – Kelowna Capital News Published: May 14, 2012 2:00 PM

“Vision without action is a day dream but action without vision is a nightmare.”

This Japanese proverb is ever so true. I have learned to believe that the single thing that sets apart an entrepreneur from a small business owner is their strength of vision.

True entrepreneurs have a massive vision, which is needed to create the momentum to develop their venture.

Along with vision, as I have written here many times in the past, one of the most fundamental parts of growing an entrepreneurial venture is leading an retaining a team so that you can leverage your time.

Without leadership skills, that important factor becomes quite difficult.

The focus of my column this week is a person who has truly travelled the world for many years, growing as a person in dramatic fashion along the way and never ceasing to learn about herself and what today can be identified as her vision of truth— that all things are possible.

Recently, I met Carmen Sparg, co-partner of Total Office Business Furniture. I learned about her from one of her management staff members who is associated with our Okanagan Valley Entrepreneurs Society.

It didn’t take me long to realize that Carmen Sparg never sits still, and has grown into a dynamic being of great potential.

For my column today, I was particularly interested in the root of Sparg’s journey, which began in the African country of Zimbabwe, which borders on South Africa.

Her father ran a plumbing/construction venture with a surveying consulting practice.

Her brother, who has become a mortage broker, and her were raised by their stay-at-home mom.

After Sparg completed her business economics certification at a Technology College in South Africa, she worked as a controller in several large companies.

That provided her with hands-on experience in business management.

The next few years of her personal journey started with working for various corporate entities in Europe during 1992 and’93. Returning to Johannesburg, South Africa, she worked for a television manufacturing company, then spent a brief sojourn with an electronics firm.

She proceeded to then have her first child while settling in East London, South Africa, where she gained more entrepreneurial skills development while honing her skills also as a home-maker and mother. Spending four years working for a security company, getting married and having her second child didn’t slow down
Sparg one bit as the family decided to move to Ireland for a few years in 2000, an opportunity to accumulate sufficient funds to bring them to their ultimate travel destination—Canada.

At this point, Sparg had me dizzy trying to keep track of her family’s excursions, but I confess it was getting fun trying to keep up. I asked her if she could describe what prompted Canada for her family to settle, and she replied that Canada was one of the English-speaking nations of the world that she and her husband felt would be fruitful as a country to raise their two children.

At the same time, she also cited how Canada offered potential for job and career paths for the couple.

It was while working for the Irish company that Sparg discovered her employer had a business connection to Kelowna, thus the Okanagan became the target destination for their future as immigrants to Canada. After moving to Kelowna in 2003,

Sparg and her husband struggled to find suitable employment. Ironically, she began a position with the company that today she proudly is a partner in the office furnishings industry sector.

She worked for six years as an employee, gaining enough self-confidence believing she could venture out on her own as a bona fide Canadian entrepreneur. Through her own process of reflection and exploring startups, Sparg decided the time was right, for her, to “take the plunge” into entrepreneurship.

She resigned from her employment with some trepidation of what the future might hold. When her resignation notice was served, the opportunity arose quickly for an owner/partner buyout, and Sparg had suddenly arrived at the threshold of Canadian entrepreneurship before she knew what happened.

The rest of the story is an Okanagan history lesson. From the violent racial abolishment of the South African apartheid system that claimed the lives of some of her immediate family members to Canada’s new world of entrepreneurial adventure, Carmen Sparg has responded to the challenge before her.

Through her partnership in Total Office Business Furnishings with business partner Roy Collins, supported by a truly remarkable industry “family” assembled around her, the business domain for Total Office has spread from Kelowna to throughout the B.C Interior for existing and new office products, with Western Canada as the next step for growth.

Sparg cites her key strength as the ability to engage people in all facets of life’s journey. I can vouch for that, as Carmen is truly a professional person who seeks the best in people she has on her staff team, those with whom she cites as customers and those who are her genuine friends.

Before I leave the story of my new friend, let me assert that Total Office is a leading supplier of office systems and related office furniture products, established now for 14 years.

The business has been built on a platform of design, product leadership and responsiveness to customer needs with long relationships the likes I have not witnessed in many industries in this region.

Stay tuned Okanagan for this relatively young company has only just begun, and please remember: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but…by the moments that take our breath away.” J

Joel Young is an entrepreneurial leadership coach, consultant, educator and the founder of the Okanagan Valley Entrepreneurs Society.

The Future Office – V – Mathematics and the Future Office

The Future Office – V

“Mathematics and the Future Office”

What more do we know about numbers than the greatest mathematicians in the world?  David Hilbert for instance knows just about as much of a ‘three’ as anyone of us.  Positive integers are the foundation of counting and arithmetic.  The only difference between great mathematicians and those not as well versed in mathematics is, in essence, the ability to identify a whole bunch of ‘threes’ – three oranges, three cookies, etc. – and perform a bunch of manipulations with ‘three’ such as two plus three is five.  Also, one of the reasons that mathematics is so useful is because we can use the statement “two plus three is five” in many different situations, such as knowing we’ll need $5(or a credit card) when we purchase a muffin for $2 and a Frappuccino for $3. Nonetheless, “three” is a number, it’s constant – we cannot understand it any better or worse, it’s what we do with that understanding of “three” that equates to our mathematic ability.
Math is everywhere in our daily lives!  Dependant on what you do for a living and what your aspirations are, there is more or less of it.  The way we go about in our businesses, our processes, it all stems from a mathematical calculation where the sum is positive to our agendas.  If you’re wondering why your car is never ready when the garage tells you it will be, is a mathematic equation!
“Do not worry about
your difficulties with mathematics; I assure you mine are far greater.” – one of Einstein’s famous quote. 
Every architect works with a mathematic equation when their planning office space.  We like to call it an ‘office space metric.’  This is a calculation, per square foot, that determines where the walls go, what size the workstations are, how wide a corridor is and what the lunchroom ends up in terms of seats – it is based off of the culture of the organisation, and fueled by what the vision of that space will be in terms of productivity and efficiency.  This ‘office space metric’ goes as far back as the architect profession itself!  To this day everyone in our industry uses their own little version of this ‘office space metric’ but we’re computing the same data and trying to come out with the same outcome.
The way we’ve been defining the future, is the best practices today being applied as a general practice.  When we find a better way to do something, we trend – the world, slowly (as a global entity, like wildfires in small groups) follows suit and improves their process.  And why wouldn’t we?  Better practices means a better equation – for business that’s increased profitability!  So when it comes to something so integral, as substantial as mathematics, there’s nothing about ‘three’ that we’d like to change – because that never changes!  What we do change are the equations we use to manipulate that three in order to get to a more favorable result. 
With respect to the ‘office space metric,’ we’ve been looking at this equation the same way, with ever so slightly variations in order to take ownership of it.  The equation itself has changed significantly for organisations that are leading the business world – their external placement in the marketplace is a direct reflection of the efficiency of their employees.  WorkplaceOne is a bold re-calculation of how we define a work environment.  This calculation has already been taken and varied ever so slightly so that other organisations can claim ownership to it, however the sum is the same – it is positive to our agendas.
Until next time – go change the world. P.H.


ources cited:

1. How Math Explains the World – James D. Stein
2. Design Does Matter Vol. 2 – Published by Teknion
3. WorkplaceOne – Published by Teknion
4. Teknion Corporation

For more information Contact: TOTAL OFFICEPlanning Services – Professional Delivery & Installation 420 Banks Road Kelowna, B.C. V1X 6A3 Tel:250.717.1626 / Cell:250.869.5304 Toll Free:1.800.558.DESK (3375) E: info@TotalOfficeBC.caW:

Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Directors 2012

Here is the official picture of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Directors with our own Carmen Sparg.
The programs and committees of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce are overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors consisting of 14 elected Directors and four appointed Directors.
Collectively, Directors and Appointees bring expertise from their respective sectors to the Board and help the Chamber work more effectively on behalf of our members. Our Chamber CEO, Caroline Grover works with the Board and handles the day-to-day operations of the Chamber and it’s team of 7.
For more information Contact:

Planning Services – Professional Delivery & Installation
420 Banks Road Kelowna, B.C. V1X 6A3
Tel:250.717.1626 / Cell:250.869.5304
Toll Free:1.800.558.DESK (3375)
E: info@TotalOfficeBC.caW: