As 2016 ends, it’s natural to look back at the eventful year we’ve all had. It’s been a year of big changes across industries, major events in international politics, in sports, technology, pop culture and, as always, in our individual lives.

For me, publishing Insights has been a significant highlight of the year. In January, we looked at The Power of Thank You, and it is with this in mind that I write this final blog of 2016.

Thank you.

Thank you for reading and responding, whether on the blog or in person. I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts with you, and the feedback I have received from manufacturers, retailers and other readers on the articles has been invaluable. Most important, thank you for sharing your own thoughts and opinions.

When I first considered Insights, I was hesitant. Would you – the reader – take value away from it? Would it spark discussion and help each of us to grow and better achieve our goals and objectives?

I decided to move ahead with Insights because the subject matter is extremely important to me. Traveling as extensively as I do, it never ceases to amaze me how local business people are so committed to their communities and the massive contribution they make to our economy.

The feedback I received on two specific blogs, “Hard Work or Talent – What does it take to Succeed” and “Where have All the Tradespeople Gone” stirred a lot of discussion and feedback. These are two topics that are centric to our industry’s continued expansion opportunities. They are crucial to our success in the Lumber and Building Material industry, to business success in general and, in fact, to our success as a country. It’s gratifying to know many of you also care deeply about these issues.

You are probably aware how important education is to me – the role of universities, colleges and trades schools in our individual and national success, and whether we are doing enough to prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs. I was delighted to hear that a reader of Insights printed off my blog article, which led to a lively discussion at the dinner table with his son who is in the process of choosing a career path.

I would like to share with you a story that connects so many of the points I’ve tried to address over the year, from the very first article on the big impact of small businesses to how entrepreneurs contribute to their communities to listening to and connecting with customers on a personal level. It is also an inspiring tale of good will and caring.

Bonnie, a store owner in Atlantic Canada learned that the four-year-old daughter of one of her customers had cerebral palsy. Bonnie mentioned she had seen the little girl on Facebook riding a bike, and asked, “Why isn’t Brooke riding her bike today?” Brooke’s father shared with Bonnie that the bike Brooke had been riding was a special needs bike only available at the hospital in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Bonnie suggested he purchase one like it for Brooke, since it was apparent how happy she was when riding it.

The father told Bonnie that the cost was $3,000 and beyond the family’s means. Without the bike, Brooke’s lack of mobility limited her to activities within the home while she watched her friends playing outside. It was then that Bonnie decided to make a difference. Armed with a $1,000 donation from her store, she started a community fundraiser to buy a bike for Brooke. The campaign started on a Friday, with a poster in the store window, a jar for donations and a posting on Facebook. By Saturday evening, the combined efforts of Bonnie and her connection with the community had raised $5,200 towards the purchase of the bike for Brooke.

About a month later, the customized bike was finished and delivered. “We presented it to the family last week, along with the additional monies left over to be used for Brooke, ” said Bonnie. The family was overwhelmed with the kindness and generosity of Bonnie and the community. It was a real “Christmas moment” for everyone.

community

This heartwarming story is one of countless examples of Canadians and small businesses making a real contribution within their communities. To put this wonderful story in context, Bonnie’s community population is 1,400. I loved hearing about it, and thanks to Insights, I’m able to share stories about average Canadians who make a difference in communities across Canada.

In January, I wrote about the “Coolness of being an Entrepreneur” and that owning one’s destiny in business can deliver more than just monetary success. I am continually humbled by the contributions entrepreneurs make to our society. Whether as a reader, entrepreneur, consumer, or supplier, each of you, through your ongoing support for small business, enriches our communities.

We are fortunate to live in Canada. A country rich in heritage and opportunity. We have the freedom to choose our destiny! Let’s make 2017 a great year full of health, happiness and opportunity.

All the best!