Posts Tagged "business"


Back-to-school is big business for B.C.’s lice busters

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Busy schedules, resistant bugs and, of course, the ‘ick’ factor.

B.C.’s lice busters say there are several reasons more parents are seeking professional help to deal with lice infestations — and as kids head back to school on Tuesday, they’re bracing for a busy month.

“By the end of September, we’ll likely see a few outbreaks,” said Rochelle Ivany, a Chilliwack nit picker who runs The Lice House with friend Ashley Wall. “Over the summer, kids have been off at camp, sleepovers and grandparents’ houses. When they come back to school, lice can come with them.”

Ivany entered the business when one of her kids came home with lice.

“I had no idea what to do,” she said. “Lice can be a taboo subject. No one wants to be the kid with it. Parents dread the letter coming home from school saying that there’s an outbreak in their kid’s class.”

After research and practice, Ivany set up shop in her home last year, offering people in the Fraser Valley an alternative to over-the-counter pesticides and hours of combing.

The key is to be “meticulous” while manually removing all lice and eggs with a special comb, she said.

Confidential sessions at The Lice House take between one-and-a-half to three hours depending on the severity of the infestation and the length of the client’s hair. Ivany charges $50 an hour — a lower rate than many of the services closer to Vancouver — and does comb-outs every three days until the client gets three clean comb-outs. She also provides treatment at cost for people who are referred to her through a social worker or community support worker.

“I get calls from a lot of panicked parents,” she said. “The message is that it’s OK, it’s going to be OK. We can help you.”

While it’s unclear if lice outbreaks are increasing — the B.C. Centre for Disease Control does not keep data on cases — more people are turning to professional lice removal services for help.

In Maple Ridge, Lice911 owner Barbara Pattison has been nit picking for 18 years.

“We’re the original,” she said. “When I started, there were four companies in North America.”

In the last decade, she’s expanded to provide mobile service in communities across Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island. In addition to Lice911, there are almost a dozen other companies offering treatment in B.C.

Pattison said lice seem to be more resistant to chemicals, which have become weaker in the last 10 years, while people may be too busy, or unwilling, to spend hours combing out bugs. In the last few years, she’s also seen a shift toward more teens and young adults arranging treatment for themselves, which she attributes to selfies and people putting their heads together to look at phones.

“All it takes is three seconds of hair-to-hair contact,” she said.

The lice expert advises parents to check their kids’ hair regularly for lice, looking for sticky black, brown or grey eggs half the size of a sesame seed attached to strands of hair. Some kids may have an itchy head or a rash at the nape of their neck.

“If you can catch it early, when there are 30 or 40 eggs, it’s much easier to deal with,” she said. “An average infestation is about 500 eggs.”


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Turning disability to diverse-ability is a win for business

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Lisa and Patrick Beecroft employ a crack team of specialists at their Port Moody bakery, each seemingly faster and more skilled than the last.

Aaron can perfectly fold dozens of pie boxes in less than two hours, and when they have enough, he is outta there.

“We sell huge, heavy pies, so we need these heavy boxes built fast and properly, and Aaron flies through it,” said sales manager Sarah Breitenbach.

Part-timers Ryan, Chris and Alex come in to scoop and weigh cookie dough, which they do by the hundreds with speed and accuracy.

The key is ultra-short, ultra-intense shifts, that require a special kind of worker.

What is special about the workers at Gabi & Jules Handmade Pies is that these hired guns are people with autism, some of whom are non-verbal.

Seven of their 15 staff have some form of autism. If you think you have an inclusive workplace, just think about that number.

Sales manager Sarah Breitenbach at Gabi & Jules Handmade Pies.

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“We also have dishwashers, and you might not think that’s challenging, but we create a huge volume of dishes and they all have to be dealt with in a certain way,” said Breitenbach. “So we get the tunes going and hammer through dishes like you wouldn’t believe.”

Rather than being a drag on productivity, workers who have autism at Gabi & Jules are matched with jobs they can knock out of the park.

“If you are a small business owner in B.C., you know that it’s incredibly challenging to find quality, engaged, loyal staff,” said owner Lisa Beecroft. “We’re very lucky that we’ve found some amazing people over the years that have worked for us, and that is something that’s hard to find.”

Beecroft’s daughter Juliana has autism, so creating opportunity for people like her was the inspiration for the bakery. But Gabi & Jules is also a key cog in a larger empire, supplying baked goods to the Beecrofts’ three Caffe Divano locations.

Lisa is a member of the Presidents Group, made up of about two dozen B.C. business executives committed to creating inclusive workplaces.

It’s a group that also includes heavy hitters such as Vancouver Airport Authority CEO Craig Richmond, B.C. Hydro president Chris O’Riley, and Ledcor president of construction Peter Hrdlitschka, among others.

The Presidents Group held a roundtable last week to share their innovations and successes and to prepare for federal accessibility legislation already working its way through the House of Commons. Their website, accessibleemployers.ca, is a one-stop shop for employers who want to know how it’s done.

YVR knows how it’s done.

Steven Woo is a communications assistant at the Vancouver Airport Authority, but maybe not for long. He has already started an MBA.

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Steven Woo was hired full-time as a communications assistant at the airport after a student co-op stint as a community ambassador.

“If you had asked me when I was working on my (undergraduate degree) where I saw myself working, never in a million years would I have said the airport,” he laughed.

But YVR was combing universities for candidates with disabilities, and a chance meeting between Woo and a former instructor who was in the loop opened a door.

Woo is visually impaired and works with an assistance dog, Horatio. To help him do his job, Woo acquired a large-screen monitor and video magnifier from the Neil Squire Society.

He is often the first point of contact for people who reach out to the airport.

“I provide support for our community investment program … our employee giving program and our employee volunteering program,” he said. “I’m the first point of contact for a lot of community members, so a lot of emails come to me first and I handle the community relations phone line as well.”

As a member of the airport’s diversity and employment equity committee, Woo is able to promote his employer’s culture of inclusivity.

But even bigger things are on the horizon. Woo is completing a Masters in Business Administration and has every intention of climbing the career ladder.

The dividends of inclusion extend far beyond good karma.

The Presidents Group maintains there is a strong business case for diversity. Not to mention, there are tens of thousands of people with diverse-abilities ready to solve your skilled labour shortage.

Labour market studies show that diverse workplaces are more likely to meet their financial goals and consumers prefer to engage with companies that show some heart.

Companies that figure out how to help employees with disabilities thrive are six times as likely to innovate and to anticipate change. Your diverse-abled employees also tend to stay longer and have better attendance.

Add it up and the business case is pretty clear.

“This may be one of the last conscious biases that employers have,” said airport CEO Richmond. “When a young person comes through the door and has an obvious disability, you initially will say, ‘This is going to be hard.’ I’m here to say it’s not.”

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‘Silver Economy’ offers business opportunities, SFU aging expert says

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SFU gerontology professor Andrew Sixsmith is scientific director of AGE-WELL.


Scientists using digital games to help seniors stay socially connected were happy to see immediate results when they organized a Wii bowling tournament at 14 senior centres across Canada.

Not only were the participants connecting with each other for the weekly virtual games broadcast but “massive numbers of people would come out every week to cheer them on,” said SFU gerontology Prof. David Kaufman.

“It helps bring people together,” he said.

Using technology to help improve the lives of Canada’s aging population is the theme of the AGE-WELL2018 conference in Vancouver on Tuesday through Thursday.

AGE-WELL is a national network of centres of excellence researching how technology can increase the physical, cognitive and emotional well-being of seniors.

“There are two priorities: Great science and real-world impact,” said SFU gerontology Prof. Andrew Sixsmith, scientific director of AGE-WELL. “We want to create things that will have social benefits.”

Some of the products and services being showcased at the three-day conference include self-driving wheelchairs and a Geek Squad-style IT network to help seniors develop computer skills so they can access services and information online.

Canada’s aging baby boomers are generally more tech-savvy and have more money than their parents did, which is setting the stage for business opportunities in the “silver economy,” said Sixsmith.

“There are lots of opportunities for Canadian businesses to tap into that market,” especially in the areas of health and wellness and financial management and services.

But he said there is a “digital divide” among seniors between those with online accessibility and those without, especially those in rural areas or with low incomes.

“The federal government should be doing more to ensure equal access,” he said.

Kaufman’s research around digital games for seniors shows that compared to the individualistic shooting games popular with younger people, seniors prefer slow-paced action based on board games they are familiar with that is also tied to gaining knowledge.

For instance, a digital tic-tac-toe game requires players to answer a question based on a theme such as nutrition or making a will before they can put down an X, he said.

He said that helps provide cognitive benefits for the seniors.

Digital storytelling has also proved popular.

Workshops are held in seniors homes to train seniors how to put together their life stories on video using photos, audio and text, and then invite their families and friends to a showing.

“They’re leaving a legacy that’s more than just money or a house,” said Kaufman.

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