Penticton Herald - - BUSINESS -

In 2012, while Reece Tom­lin­son was ma­jor­ity owner and pres­i­dent of M&L Con­struc­tion in Win­nipeg, two cus­tomers didn’t pay their bills to­talling $13 mil­lion.

“That rep­re­sented 40 per cent of our busi­ness that year,” said Tom­lin­son, who now lives and works in Kelowna.

“It was a hor­ri­ble sit­u­a­tion. There were law­suits and the com­pany went into re­ceiver­ship.”

If there was one good thing to come from the mess, it was that Tom­lin­son learned les­sons.

“As a re­sult, I started to get calls ask­ing what to do and what not to do, to be suc­cess­ful,” he said.

“I re­al­ized this was a real op­por­tu­nity to help oth­ers.”

So, Tom­lin­son used his ini­tials and founded RWT Growth, a con­sult­ing firm that helps busi­nesses and en­trepreneurs get out of sticky sit­u­a­tions.

That gen­er­ally means re­fi­nanc­ing, debt re­struc­tur­ing, op­er­a­tional re­struc­tur­ing, prod­uct and ser­vices re­fin­ing and repric­ing and lead­er­ship coach­ing.

Ba­si­cally, any­thing and ev­ery­thing that has to be done to in­crease cash flow.

Of the 30 com­pa­nies he’s helped out so far, 95 per cent are on their way to suc­cess.

“Yes, you can call me a turn­around spe­cial­ist, be­cause that’s what we do – help busi­nesses turn the tide from fail­ure to suc­cess,” said Tom­lin­son.

As a cer­ti­fied pro­fes­sional ac­coun­tant and MBA, Tom­lin­son’s ex­per­tise is ap­pli­ca­ble to vir­tu­ally any in­dus­try, which is why his cus­tomers so far have run the gamut from those in con­struc­tion and build­ing main­te­nance to med­i­cal and man­u­fac­tur­ing.

The scope isn’t ge­o­graph­i­cally con­fined ei­ther, as he’s had clients from the Okana­gan, Van­cou­ver, Eng­land and Aus­tralia.

In fact, busi­ness has been so brisk in Eng­land that RWT has a Lon­don of­fice with a con­sul­tant who help find cap­i­tal for com­pa­nies.

All of RWT’s clients have been re­fer­rals from com­pa­nies happy with their turn­arounds.

Tom­lin­son is also the chair­man of In­tra­line Med­i­cal Aes­thet­ics, which has its of­fices on the fifth floor of the Okana­gan In­no­va­tion Cen­tre in down­town Kelowna.

RWT’s of­fice is on the same floor.

Liv­ing wage

Although it hasn’t of­fi­cially been cal­cu­lated, it’s es­ti­mated the liv­ing wage in the Okana­gan is $18.21 an hour for a house­hold with two par­ents and two kids.

Yet, the min­i­mum wage is $12.65.

That means there’s a lot of peo­ple who work full-time who can’t make ends meet for their fam­ily.

That’s where the Liv­ing Wage for Fam­i­lies Cam­paign comes in.

The non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion is a coali­tion of busi­nesses and unions that ad­vo­cate a liv­ing wage and prom­ise to pay it or more to all their em­ploy­ees and con­trac­tors.

Unions that have staff and mem­bers in the Okana­gan are mem­bers, such as the Hos­pi­tal Em­ploy­ees Union, B.C. Gov­ern­ment Em­ploy­ees Union, B.C. Teach­ers Fed­er­a­tion, Cana­dian Union of Pub­lic Em­ploy­ees and United Food and Com­mer­cial Work­ers.

So far, 130 B.C. busi­nesses are Liv­ing Wage cer­ti­fied.

How­ever, there’s only two em­ploy­ers in the Okana­gan that have joined – Osoy­oos Credit Union and Modo Car Share.

Modo Car Share only has one em­ployee in Kelowna and a few con­trac­tors.

While the Liv­ing Wage cam­paign still has a long way to go, it has made an im­por­tant start.

Even a liv­ing wage of $18.21 an hour doesn’t go far.

That works out to about $37,000 a year based on full-time, which isn’t a lot when you con­sider the price of house, food and trans­porta­tion, let alone any ex­tras or lit­tle lux­u­ries.

The pro­vin­cial min­i­mum wage of $12.65 trans­lates to about $2,100 a month or $26,000 an­nu­ally based on full-time.

That’s hardly enough for a sin­gle per­son to sur­vive con­sid­er­ing the av­er­age monthly rent on a one-bed­room apart­ment is $1,170, gro­ceries run a min­i­mum of $214 a month per per­son and util­i­ties, trans­porta­tion, clothes, in­sur­ance and taxes have to be paid for too.

The liv­ing wage in Van­cou­ver has been set at $20.91 an hour and in Vic­to­ria, $20.50.

A Kelowna en­tre­pre­neur is bank­ing on cus­tomers want­ing to pay with the new Flash­coin dig­i­tal cur­rency.

Brandi Kneze­vich owns and op­er­ates two busi­nesses.

Eyes on You on Kelowna’s Lawrence Av­enue is a salon spe­cial­iz­ing in eye­lashes, hair ex­ten­sions, per­ma­nent make-up and wax­ing.

As the name in­di­cates, Van Isl Ap­parel is Kneze­vich’s line of ca­sual cloth­ing for men and women flaunt­ing the Van­cou­ver Is­land life­style.

Most sales are made at VanIs­lAp­parel, but items are also for sale at Eyes on You.

With the Flash app, shop­pers can load an on­line wal­let and pay in a flash at stores and web­sites that ac­cept it.

The ben­e­fit for busi­nesses is that there’s no mid­dle­man like In­terac, Visa or Mastercard.

There­fore, re­tail­ers get their money in­stantly with near-zero fees.

“Cus­tomers were ask­ing if they could use dig­i­tal cur­rency, so I de­cided to start ac­cept­ing Flash,” said Kneze­vich.

“It’s good for both them and me.”

Of course, Eyes on You and Van Isl will con­tinue to ac­cept In­terac and credit cards for pay­ment as well.

Steve MacNaull is The Daily Courier’s busi­ness re­porter and colum­nist. Reach him at [email protected]

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