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You won’t believe what goes on behind closed doors in this city – Surrey Board of Trade Industry Bus Tour 2017



Forget going to Hawaii this year, never mind an evening at the movies, the PNE or Disney land.

For the most fun you can have in a day, you need to join the Surrey Board of Trade’s Industry Bus Tour.

Indra Bhan and Anita Huberman of the Surrey Board of Trade Picture Credit: Surrey Board of Trade


Our Bus Tour Guides from Lee and Associates Picture Credit: Surrey Board of Trade

I know, it sounds like something old people do but trust me, it is the bomb.

Where else can you make new friends, network and promote your business, learn about your neighbours, do a sing-a-long, play trivia, get to go into secret places in City Hall, sit in the drivers seat of large machinery, watch someone crush a car, earn prizes and have great food while listening to an interesting speaker?

I am telling you, this is the deal of the day.  You haven’t lived until you have done a Surrey Board of Trade Industry Tour.

Especially on Bus #1!  Just sayin’

Bus #1 pulls out onto the road with Njeri Kontulahti of Vancity and Saarika Varma of Shay Kelly Caterers  and all our other party people.


So maybe there was a little friendly competition between buses and maybe bus #1 had the best bus spirit and enjoyed their stops the more than the other buses.  It important to get on the right bus with the right hostesses like Heather and Melissa from the Surrey Board of Trade.

Sponsored by Charter Bus Lines, the three buses were filled with enthusiastic but sleepy business people, happy to be playing hooky from their usual day at work.  Coffees in hand we boarded the buses and within minutes it felt like summer camp all over again.

Our tour commentators from Lee and Associates kept us all exclaiming while they told us things we didn’t know about Surrey.

For example, did you know that the Real Estate Investment Network named Surrey the best place to invest?  Did you know that Surrey is extending incentives to companies in the clean energy sector to relocate to Surrey bringing the jobs of the future to our back yard or that 2000 new businesses choose to locate in Surrey annually?

We all know that 10,000 people move into the city every year because they are always in the cars ahead of us at the entrance to the bridge but did you know that we have the largest growing school district in British Columbia or that our arts and culture community has famous artists such as glassblower, Robert Parkes and First Nations Artist, Robert Davidson as well as hundreds of talented local artists, thespians and writers.

Each stop on the tour was to highlight something innovative and interesting that our businesses in Surrey are doing.

One bus went to Finishing Trades Institute of BC, Surrey Organic Biofuel Facility and Mansonville Plastics located in Bridgeview, Port Kells and Cloverdale.  Another bus went to Powertech Labs, the Honeybee Center and Astrographic Industries located in Newton and Cloverdale.


Dave Roberts of the Sheraton Hotel


Heather of the Surrey Board of Trade


The best bus, #1 (Can you tell which bus I was on?  Did I give it away?) covered City Centre, Newton, Fleetwood and Cloverdale.

We made our first stop at City Hall to see the Transportation Management Centre.  Peter Lee gave us useful information about the new rapid transportation coming to Surrey and told us about the City Hall building and it’s special architectural features.

Peter from the Surrey Light Rail office of Surrey City Hall


Buried deep in the basement of the building, we hummed the theme from James Bond as Peter used his special pass to take us to the bowels of the new City Hall building where we discovered that there a guys, working underground that change the patterns on the traffic lights all around the city.  They help move congestion by altering the length of turning lane lights or make your green light longer or shorter.

In the heart of the Traffic Management Centre

I live on a busy corner and all this time I honestly thought the lights were demon-possessed.  Sometimes the light was only 2 minutes long and other times it was 20.  (Well it seemed like 20 minutes).  I actually began to think that light hated me.  Turned out it’s a guy named Taylor who hates me.

How unbelievably cool is that.  I wanted to play with the equipment but they wouldn’t let me.  Apparently you have to go to civil engineering school before you get to make the light at 64th and 152 last for 20 minutes.  Who knew.

From there we went to a small industrial bay in the middle of a hundred other industrial bays.  From the outside it looked unexciting.  Arktos Developments.  I braced myself for a boring tour of machinery that makes holes in metal things to build other bits of metal things that I don’t know anything about…and it will probably smell funny.   I began to regret wearing my white runners and a Mexican sundress (We were supposed to dress for a Cinco de Mayo theme).

Shara Nixon, Surrey604 Online Magazine

We gathered inside and saw the biggest, baddest amphibious, sci-fi, starwars looking, powerful mean machine on the planet.  Check this out:

Check out this video and tell me you wouldn’t want to try this out.

While Darlene Seligman was telling us all about this giant machine, all I could think of was how do I get a ride in one of these in real life.  This baby can go over water, ice, mud, broken buildings, Mars.  Well they didn’t say Mars but I am willing to bet it could do it.  The inventor, Bruce Seligman told of how the Coast Guard needed a machine that could move on both water and ice.  So he built one.

With the shop all decorated for Cinco de Mayo,  and offering coffee and cookies, the staff at Arktos graciously opened their shop up for us to explore.

ARKTOS Amphibious Craft

I climbed down into the pilot’s seat, which was a trick in a long skirt, but well worth the climb.

Getting back up the ladder was even more of a trick.  Good thing I still have some circus skills and the friendly hand of one of my tour companions to help pull me out.  Worth every second of it.  Would do it again in a heartbeat.

Apparently they take this machine out on the mud flats in Delta for testing.  Guess who is going to be hitch hiking at the mud flats from now on.  Before I die, I am riding in that machine.

They dragged me out there kicking and screaming back to the bus where Fortis BC representatives gave us a humorous and educational tour of the construction of the pipeline through Surrey. Some of the installation runs along the hydro right of way and is relatively easy to install.  Other parts run through people’s back yards and is a lot trickier.

Of course running a pipeline under major roads like King George Highway is challenging but the company in charge has drilling under roadways listed on their resume so we are in good hands.

After that we took a rainy tour of Fraser Highway through Cloverdale and on to ABC recycling on the border of Langley and Surrey.  Fitted with hard hats, jackets and safety glasses, I was really regretting my white runners but as soon as I saw the car-crushing machine, I forgot all about my white runners and ran through the mud puddles to get a closer look.

Shara Nixon and Rupinder Malhotra of DIVERSEcity

Did you know there is this giant crane that picks up metal and crushes it into cubes.  He crushed a car right in front of me.  You can’t believe the sound a car makes when it is dying.

I am going to find an old car just to be able to bring it here and watch them crush it.

I want to ride in that machine.  It spins things around so fast.  They could make more money charging for rides than they can in scrap metal.  They should consider doing it on the side.  I will sell tickets.

Beside the giant claw machine is another machine with a magnet that picks up metal and moves it from one pile to the next.  I don’t know why he does that but it looks really cool and it changed the time on my watch.  Just kidding, I don’t wear a watch but I bet guys have to hang on to their hard hats when they walk past that thing.

So…they dragged me out of there kicking and screaming and back on to the bus.


From there we went to Kwantlan Polytechnic University  Tech campus in Cloverdale for a tour of the welding and electrical program rooms.  This is where all the boys and girls learn to weld, plumb houses and do electrical work.  It all starts here.

They offered to let somebody try to weld something but for some reason I wasn’t included in that offer.  They wouldn’t let me play in the electrical room either.  My reputation must have proceeded me.

The coolest place of all was the appliance repair shop.  Now we know where all the appliance repair people come from.  They are born in this room.  You can just go down there and pick one and take him or her home with you.  They do fridges, stoves microwaves, dishwashers, air conditioners, printers…ok, not printers.  Printer repair people don’t exist but every appliance you can imagine was in that room.   You are not actually allowed to take one home with you. I tried.

I think the university should have a take-a-student-home-to-do-home-repair program; they could fund everyone’s education with that one initiative.  I will have to speak to vice president about that.

Speaking of the Vice Presidents,  Marlyn Graziano, VP of External Affairs was there to greet us all and point out the unique architectural features of the building such as the beams built from beetle infested wood or the welded sculpture at the entrance. The building is so architecturally interesting.

Shara Nixon and Marlyn Graziano, VP of External Affairs Photo Credit – Surrey Board of Trade

Metal Sculpture at KPU

KPU was the lunch sponsor and the food was absolutely amazing.  The lunch alone would have been worth the ticket price.

While we went back for seconds and third helpings of herb chicken, orzo salad and baked potato wedges, Rowena Rizzotti of the Lark Group talked to us about the history of Innovation Blvd. and some of the interesting research developments going on in the big red building across from the hospital.  I want to tour that building next.  I have to see what is going on behind those doors.

Inspired by the innovation taking place in the heart of the city, stuffed with good food and surround by new friends, we re-boarded the bus for the return trip.

Forget summer camp, forget laying on the beach – for the best entertainment you can find in Surrey, get your ticket for the next Surrey Board of Trade Industry Bus Tour.

You won’t believe what goes on behind closed doors in this city.

Photo Credit – Surrey Board of Trade

Photo Credit – Surrey Board of Trade


Photo Credit – Surrey Board of Trade


Photo Credit – Surrey Board of Trade


Photo Credit – Surrey Board of Trade


Photo Credit – Surrey Board of Trade


Photo Credit – Surrey Board of Trade

Photo Credit – Surrey Board of Trade


Photo Credit – Surrey Board of Trade


Photo Credit – Surrey Board of Trade


Photo Credit – Surrey Board of Trade


Anita Huberman, Anne Peterson and Indra Bhan of the Surrey Board of Trade. Photo credit – Surrey Board of Trade

Shara Nixon loves to hear and repeat the stories of people’s lives and cultural viewpoints. She enjoys deep conversations and people who hold strong viewpoints. In her day job she is a social worker for business owners, helping them meet their goals. As an insomniac, she writes at night to clear her head. She is punctuationally challenged and uses too many !!!. She also believes in creative spelling as an art form. Her super-power is in connecting like-minded people and communicating with an intent to learn instead of respond. She writes about relationships, business savvy, online dating, finance and general things that piss her off. Shara believes that key to peace is education and connection!!!

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Building An E-Commerce Business In Canada? Here’s What You Need To Know



The consumer market in Canada is changing at a rapid pace. On the west coast, start-ups are becoming increasingly common as entrepreneurs call cities like Vancouver, Victoria, and Surrey their home.

In this changing market, e-commerce is slowly taking the place of traditional brick-and-mortar storefronts in many respects.

As an aspiring e-commerce entrepreneur, there are several significant resources and insights to keep in mind ad you begin to build your business.

Track Your Income & Expenses

Before you can strategize and create lofty long-term goals, you’ll want to ensure you have the financial structure you need to grow your business.

Often, entrepreneurs in Canada struggle with the basics and must look to alternative lenders or online payday loans in Surrey or wherever their business has been established.  To ensure you don’t make the same mistakes, you’ll want to set up a separate account for your professional expenses.

Whether you choose to create monthly spreadsheets or use a budget app, having a money management tool you can refer back to will help ensure you’re never overspending and you’re investing your profits where they’ll best serve you and your company.

Invest In a Web Developer

Many e-commerce brands are as popular as they are today because of the functionality and engagement their site brings to the market.

When you’re in the process of hiring a web developer, look at their resume and past clients — you’ll want to see what kind of sites they’ve created and how consumers have responded.

This hire can make or break your brand before you even launch, which is why it’s vital to do the necessary research.

Email Marketing

There are certain areas of creating an e-commerce brand in Surrey or throughout Canada, and e-mail marketing is one of the most significant.

While social media is becoming increasingly popular as a marketing technique, e-mails remain a tried-and-true method for reaching customers and convincing them to make repeat purchases.

Creating lists for promotions and sales is a skillful way to keep customers engaged, rather than simply e-mailing only when they’ve made a purchase.

You’ll want to continuously test and optimize your emails using A/B testing to ensure you’re maximizing your growth potential.

Prioritize Customer Service

Without customers, your business will be unable to survive, let alone sustainably grow. The e-commerce market is competitive no matter the industry you’re in, which means customers are looking for brands that care about their shopping experience.

If your operation is small, you’ll likely be handling customer inquiries on your own. Remember to prioritize a portion of your day to comb through questions or concerns to keep your potential customers invested. When buyers have a seamless experience online, they’re more likely to recommend that product or service to their network.

If you have the capital to hire a single employee or a small team, you can delegate the customer care tasks and focus on the departments that need your immediate attention. You’ll want to ensure these candidates have strong writing skills and sales backgrounds — because they’ll know how to engage with your customers and ensure their satisfaction.

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Surrey teenage entrepreneur’s food delivery app boasts of 10,000 users, unique dine-in feature



Surrey-based entrepreneur Ekam Panesar’s home delivery app DishPal is giving competition to the big delivery companies in the Lower mainland.

Two years after starting DishPal, the app now has 10,000 users and 100 active drivers. The app has partnered with 75 local restaurants already with many more to come.

The app was started by Ekam Panesar in Grade 12. The Seaquam Secondary School graduate is proud of its success so far. “This is only the beginning”.

“I was 16 at the time, when my father while eating lunch at one of the restaurants shared a concern of restaurants that they make very less profit on their orders from third-party food delivery platforms because of higher commission fees,” Panesar said.

“That’s when I decided to create DishPal, a smart app for ordering food and delivery online that helps local restaurants earn more by offering a lower commission of 10%.”

Panesar worked relentlessly to transform the idea into reality. After research, trials, and surveying the restaurant industry, DishPal was launched with a unique dine-in feature.


It is a mobile reservation, payment, and menu planning app that enables you to make reservations, order online, pay at the table, and tip. This contactless service helps you ditch your wallet.

DishPal also has a subscription plan called “DishPal Plus” which offers cashback/credit on every order, free delivery, and other benefits which helps you save while you shop.

Users may use the online credit or go to one of our partnered locations in person to pick up the order.

Panesar attributes his success and positive work ethic to his family. “My parents always taught me not to compare myself with anyone as everyone is unique in their own way.”

About the Founder-CEO:

Ekam Panesar is a solution-driven young entrepreneur who balanced his academic life with entrepreneurial dream and community work.

Ekam currently attends classes at Simon Fraser University. His drive to expand his business to the next level is fired by his vision. He wants DishPal to be a name brand in Canada and India that stands for trust, transparency, reliability, and quality.

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How Businesses Are Prioritizing Appointments As They Open Their Doors Again



Restaurants and retail stores have finally reopened their doors after months of closure. As they reopened, shoppers have lined up and flocked to stores in record numbers, even amid recent Covid-19 surges.

The reopening has been a welcome occurrence for many, not least because of the 24,000 jobs recovered in Surrey. However, while consumers are eager to support their favourite clothing brands, small businesses, and other non-essential businesses, owners and management have had to strike a fine balance between maximizing customer footfall and prioritizing customer safety in-store.

Getting the balance right between generating income and deciding which clients get the first appointments can be a tricky decision. Thankfully, each business is adopting its own ways of prioritizing appointments and maintaining great customer service at the same time.

Dental And Medical Institutions Turn To AI And Scheduling Software

Based on safety guidelines from the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, dentists are relying on a prioritization scheduling approach for patients. The organization recommends physical spacing between appointments to allow for appropriate sanitization measures between patient visits, along with pre-appointment screenings.

Dental practices are also encouraging patients to practice good dental care at home, and take note of the signs of gum inflammation early on to avoid more severe consequences, such as periodontal disease, which can occur if gingivitis develops and is left untreated.

Patients with urgent dental concerns like a severe dental infection are being referred to emergency dental clinics or earmarked for emergency clinic hours. Dental practice management software like ACE Dental and DentiCon are also being used to schedule and track appointments.

Scheduling software such as these also offers useful scheduling hacks like the ability to group patients as family members – and possibly group their appointments to minimize the spread of infections.

Other dental practices are using AI to prioritize urgent patient appointments, similar to the UK’s NHS approach to working through the patient backlog. Booking and patient interaction software like Dr. Doctor relies on predictive algorithms to help hospitals and dental care surgeries prioritize appointments by urgency instead of seeing patients on a first come first served basis.

Patients are given a patient questionnaire to complete, and graded using a colour-coded charting system. These and other dental booking software systems help to reduce the administrative burden on clinicians, which leaves them with more time to focus on patient care.

Pre-Booked Appointments And Outdoor Dining Feature Heavily For Restaurants

Due to a recent surge in cases across British Columbia, restaurants are closed to indoor dining until April 19, 2021. However, takeaways and outdoor dining are still permitted. Most restaurants have taken their appointment booking and takeaway services online, allowing customers to make reservations based on table availability, or pick up their meals to go.

The use of online appointment scheduling software such as Zoho Bookings and Yocale are popular amongst food establishments to keep track of bookings.

Currently, no more than six people are allowed to sit together when booking a restaurant reservation in order to maintain social distancing, according to reopening guidelines by Work Safe British Columbia. Therefore, larger parties are either being spilt into separate dining reservations (if outdoor space permits) or offered an alternative date.

Retailers Continue To Rely On Crowd Control, Navigation Signs, And Queues

Other retail stores have also implemented crowd control techniques instead of an appointment system. Retail stores in malls are now limiting the number of shoppers in-store at any one time, and have implemented navigation signs for customers to help with the flow of traffic in-store and outdoors.

Doormen and security staff are a common feature, as they maintain the number of shoppers in-store and regulate the flow of traffic in a bid to prioritize social distancing.

Stores are also incorporating an omni-channel approach as a way to stagger in-store traffic. Caposhie in South Granville has continued to keep a focus on online operations to balance demand.

Owner Adelle Reynaud said, “We sort of spent our time kind of building the back end up, and hopefully through this our online sales will grow and we’ll kind of figure out new and improved ways to figure that out.” Other retailers have embraced the use of the click and collect model, and are encouraging customers to use their virtual services where possible.

Jewellers like Tiffany’s in Vancouver now allow consumers to book their virtual appointments online, or book a time slot for in-store consultations. Golden Tree Jewellers in Surrey has done the same, providing a dedicated contact number for appointment bookings.

As business resumes, companies are having to find new and innovative ways to balance their profitability and customer safety. Deciding how to prioritize appointments is a crucial part of that.

The basis of prioritization and appointment models differ greatly according to businesses, but one thing that remains consistent is that businesses in BC are finding ways to rise to the challenge.

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New Device Repair Service On Wheels Launches In Surrey, Bringing Residents Contactless, Convenient And Professional Repairs Right To Their Doorstep



Mobile Klinik goes mobile: Innovative smartphone and tablet repair service on wheels is now available in more than 100 cities and towns across Canada

Mobile Klinik waiving $29.99 convenience fee to support Canadians with safe contactless customer repair support amid Covid-19

Today Mobile Klinik, Canada’s leading chain of professional smartphone and tablet repair stores, launched Onsite Repair Units, the first van service of its kind to offer consumers and businesses nationwide the convenience of professional smartphone and tablet repair at the location of their choice.

With more Canadians working and learning from home and physical distancing protocols in place, it is more important than ever for their devices to be working without issue, and now residents and businesses in more than 100 communities nationwide can conveniently access Mobile Klinik’s Onsite Repair Unit service.

“The launch of Mobile Klinik’s Onsite Repair service is our latest initiative to make smartphone and tablet repair a more accessible, cost effective, and convenient option for Canadian consumers,” said Tim McGuire, CEO of Mobile Klinik.

“Because we are spending so much time learning, working, and seeking entertainment at home, having reliable smartphones and tablets is paramount. We are proud to bring our services right to our customers’ doorsteps – at no extra charge – so they can resume using their device, often in less than an hour.”

As a leader in professional smartphone and tablet repair, Mobile Klinik is committed to providing Canadians with flexible and affordable options to keep their devices for longer, servicing common issues like cracked screens, broken cameras, software updates, and battery replacements using high quality parts and state of the art diagnostics – right from inside the Mobile Klinik service van, outside their homes or place of work.

To further support Canadians throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, for a limited time, Mobile Klinik is waiving the $29.99 Onsite Repair Unit convenience fee.

Customers in the following communities can book today either online or by phone to have a Mobile Klinik technician arrive at the location of their choice and service their repair in 60 minutes or less.

British Columbia

  • Vancouver
  • Surrey
  • Richmond
  • Burnaby
  • Delta
  • North Vancouver
  • West Vancouver
  • Coquitlam
  • Pitt Meadows
  • Maple Ridge
  • Langley
  • White Rock
  • New Westminster


  • Calgary
  • Chestermere
  • Airdrie
  • Edmonton
  • St. Albert
  • Spruce Grove
  • Beaumont
  • Leduc


  • Winnipeg
  • Selkirk


  • Toronto
  • Mississauga
  • Brampton
  • Oakville
  • Milton
  • Caledon
  • Ottawa
  • Nepean


  • Gatineau
  • Montreal
  • Pointe-Claire
  • Kirkland
  • Salaberry-de-Valleyfield
  • Laval
  • Longueuil
  • Quebec City
  • Levis
  • Saint Jean Sur Richelieu

To find out if Mobile Klinik’s new Onsite Repair service is available in your community or for more information, visit us:

About Mobile Klinik

Mobile Klinik is Canada’s leader in professional smartphone and tablet repair, refurbishment and resale with more than 90 convenient locations from coast to coast, Onsite Repair Units in over 100 markets across Canada and an online store.

We are committed to providing Canadian consumers and businesses with flexible and affordable options to repair, buy, sell, protect and connect their wireless devices.

For more information about Mobile Klinik, please visit our website and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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Attention Entrepreneurs: This Could Be The Ideal Time To Start That Business



Every business has been impacted in one way or another by the COVID-19 pandemic. In many cases, this has led to layoffs, reduced hours, and other major changes for workers. While the economy is struggling to bounce back, entrepreneurs have a unique opportunity to push their business dreams forward.

There is more talent accessible on the market than ever before, and you’re not constrained by geographic location. It’s easier to be nimble and succeed with a small team (even just yourself) than it used to be. And if you need a small business loan to get your company up and running, interest rates are expected to remain low for several years.

Many of the world’s most successful companies were started in the midst of a financial crisis. It all comes down to whether or not you can provide consumers with something they need or want. If you decide to start your business in the near future, however, you’ll need to ensure that you manage your capital well so that you can stay in a strong position for long-term success.

Surrey604 is here with some ideas. From conducting a market evaluation to saving up a healthy financial cushion, here are a few key practices for stretching your startup capital in the early stages of your entrepreneurship:

Evaluating the Market

Assuming you already have an idea of what type of product or service you want to offer, you will need to do a thorough market evaluation to ensure there is demand for it.

How big is the market? What are potential competitors offering and how is your product different? What are the price points like?

Writing a Business Plan

Once you’ve assessed the market, you’ll need to create a business plan. Much can be said on this subject, but to keep it short: Your business plan should contain all the information pertinent to the launch and growth of your company over the next five to 10 years.

Some examples of what you need to include are your mission statement, a description of products or services, financial projections, the kind of staff needed, and your marketing strategies.

Outsourcing Time-Consuming Tasks

It might seem counter-intuitive, but hiring people can be a cost-effective method of growing your business. Think about it: If you try to do everything yourself all the time, everything will take longer to get done. And chances are they won’t be done properly and you’ll get burned out in no time.

Consider any tasks or roles that will distract you from your vision as the business owner, and start looking for qualified workers to fill them. For example, you can easily hire professional accounting, legal, and branding services through freelance job platforms.

Using Financial Management Tools

A lot goes into managing finances when you’re a business owner. It’s easy to get overwhelmed keeping track of your taxes, expenses, payments, invoicing, and other factors.

Fortunately, there is a slew of software tools on the market (e.g., Freshbooks, Xero, QuickBooks, etc.) that can simplify this process. Use them.

Saving Up

Just like with personal finances, saving up a contingency fund for your business can provide you with security and peace of mind. You never know what is going to happen tomorrow — or even today! — and having money saved up can help you avoid significant financial hardships or the loss of your business.

Start setting aside money each week, and try to put away at least six months of expenses. If you’ve been thinking about opening a business, why wait?

There are many reasons why now is a great time, and if you prepare beforehand, you can take advantage of the moment and establish a stable foundation for long-lasting success.

Along with considering the tips above, keep researching to see what others steps you can take to build a healthy, thriving business from the ground up!

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