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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.

www.eagleyoung@shaw.ca

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:

TOTAL OFFICE
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:  http://www.totalofficebc.ca/

Chamber Announces New Board of Directors for 2012/2013

Total Office is proud to announce that our own Carmen Sparg will sit on this year’s 2012 Board of Directors for the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.

Carmen being sworn in by Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray.

February 27, 2012 – Kelowna, BC – The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce today announces the new members to the Board of Directors after the election results.

“We are thrilled with the high interest of candidates for our Board this year” said Chamber President Karen Hawes.

“All the candidates bring a multitude of experience to the Chamber Board and we look forward to working with this talented group.”

Congratulations to the following:

  • Curtis Darmohray of Pushor Mitchell
  • Carmen Sparg of Total Office
  • Rob Siddon of Coast Wholesale Appliances
  • Sally Ginter of the Canadian Cancer Society
  • Gladys Fraser of Scotiabank
  • Ben Pidskalny of SW Audio Visual

The Chamber would like to welcome our new Board Members. Their first official event with the Kelowna Chamber will be our Annual AGM/Economic Outlook Luncheon on March 8th.

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce acts as a single powerful voice for their 1200 members and their 25,000 plus employees to promote local business interests.

The Chamber provides a cohesive business network for its members to expand their business contacts, value-added benefits, programs, and services aimed at improving the bottom line of Chamber members.

Their mission is to foster a positive business environment by providing members with leadership, advocacy and services of value.

For more information call:
Caroline Grover – Kelowna Chamber CEO
(250) 469-7356

Recipient of the 2011 Business Excellence Award! Thank You Kelowna!

Wow.  It’s tough to describe how honored we are to be the recipients of the 2011 Business Excellence award for Small Business!! 
First and foremost we’d like to thank you, our community, our clients, the Chamber of Commerce and so many others that we’re connected within the Regional District of the Central Okanagan.  We’d also like to extend congratulations to the other finalists in the Small Business category; X10sion 207 Clothing Company/Surf Culture Clothing Co./X10sion 207 Premium OUTLET and All Occasions Party Rentals Inc.
It wasn’t without effort getting here, but with an amazing staff in place that is willing to go above and beyond our expectations, to deliver on our promises, it’s been worth every step of the way!   We’ve seen each member of our team grow and the dedication of everyone in really raising the bar of service excellence – far above our slogan and right in line with our mission statement, it means so much more than words when you actually see your staff live it every day!
In line with our commitment to excellence, we want to take this opportunity again to share our heartfelt thanks to you.  We hope if there’s anything we can do to get involved with your business, you’d give us a call so we can show-off our award winning team! 
Of course as all small business owners know, with every ‘calm will come a storm.  We appreciate and respect this award, yet are inspired to blow the business community away next year and reef our sails through whatever challenges ahead.  Total Office will lead the office furniture and service industry to higher levels, we will do our best to encourage the business leaders around us to continue and do the same!
Let’s take on 2012 together, Kelowna!

For more information Contact: TOTAL OFFICE 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.ca W:  http://www.totalofficebc.ca/

2011 Business Excellence Finalist – Thank you Kelowna!

Total Office has been nominated for the ‘Small Business Award (1-10 employees), aside All Occasions Party Rentals and X.10.SION 207 Clothing/Surf Culture.  We will like to extend a sincere ‘Thank You!’ to the businesses and individuals of Kelowna for their commitment and patronship.
“Kelowna, BC – Sixteen finalists will be honored at the 24th Annual Business Excellence Awards on October 17th at the Delta Grand Okanagan Lakefront Resort and Conference Centre where five category recipients will be announced, along with the Business Leader of the Year recipient.  Presented by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and Platinum Sponsors the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Farris, Vaughan, Willis & Murphy LLP, the popular Kelowna event is part of the annual Small Business Week (r) activities (October 16 – 22, 2011).
…The Business Excellence Awards program celebrates achievement in our business community with finalists in each category selected from a wide group of nominations.  The panel of judges visits all of the finalists and will judge them on the growth and development of their business, customer service, employee relations and community service.”
– Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, to see full article please visit: http://www.kelownachamber.org/CWT/External/WCPages/WCWebContent/WebContentPage.aspx?ContentID=1381
For more information Contact: TOTAL OFFICE 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.ca W:  http://www.totalofficebc.ca/