Top 40 Under 40 June 18th – Geoff White

Penticton Top 40 Under 40“Penticton Top 40 under 40 is presented by Prospera Credit Union in partnership with the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and JCI Penticton, with support from White Kennedy LLP Chartered Accountants

When you first meet Geoff White, you can’t help but notice a quiet confidence that permeates from him as the owner of the biotech startup, ProgenyBio Agricultural Services Inc. (“ProgenyBio”) which operates from a brand new 3,200 square foot lab in a converted warehouse in Penticton since November 2013.

ProgenyBio’s niche is in developing new technologies in the organic agricultural sector such as molecular sequencing and growing tissue cultures.  Geoff’s scientific background, he walked away from completion of his PHD studies, a very difficult decision Geoff made when he finally decided “I overcame this by realizing that I was the only person standing in my way and that my success was defined by me not by letters after my name.” and his bold decision to start his new company has put ProgenyBio on the cutting edge of a quickly expanding industry.geoff

ProgenyBio was one of the top five companies in the 2012 Jumpstart Challenge investor pitch put on by Accelerate Okanagan, a technological incubator operating from the Okanagan.  It also received “funding through NRC IRAP and Agri Innovation Foundation for developing a new technology for the agriculture sector.”

Having worked with many wineries in the region on a consulting basis including providing advice on molecular virus testing for the multi-billion dollar wine industry in the province, ProgenyBio’s business is growing quickly and Geoff has had to hire lab assistants to keep up with the growing demand for services.

Geoff is also in the process of developing a new business, CanGenX Bio Tech which will provide research and development services to the newly regulated medical marijuana industry.  An industry which is in its infancy due to the recent change in Heath Canada regulations.  With Geoff at the helm, CanGenX Bio Tech seems well positioned to compete very well in this newly developing sector.

On top of his successful business career and new business endeavor, Geoff is the proud father of two young children, who are his inspiration.  “The curiosity and wonder that my children display as they learn new things about the world they live in inspires me on a day to day basis.”

Top 40 Under 40 June 11th – Ryan Sirianni

Penticton Top 40 Under 40“Penticton Top 40 under 40 is presented by Prospera Credit Union in partnership with the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and JCI Penticton, with support from White Kennedy LLP Chartered Accountants

Ryan Sirianni strives for excellence in whatever he does. “It comes in many forms, whether it’s being a high performer in my career, volunteering countless hours for JCI to better our community, or just doing something knowing that I’m creating a community rich in support and opportunities.”

In his professional career with the Royal Bank of Canada (“RBC”), Ryan worked as a senior commercial lender for 9 years and is currently the Branch Manager in Oliver for the last two years.  During which time he received recognition from RBC for awards for team collaboration, for top growth, for top commercial account manager and for leading the commercial team for top survey results.ryan

In addition to his successful career in banking, Ryan is the loving husband to his wife and proud father of two young children, who provide him with the inspiration to continually strive for success.  “My inspiration is my family.  I want to provide them the best I possibly can whether it be financially, morally, in support or opportunities for them.”

Working in commercial lending, Ryan has come across many aspiring entrepreneurs and takes pride that he has had the opportunity of helping others succeed in their businesses.  “An entrepreneur is someone who is a risk taker and willing to put it all on the line for the betterment of themselves, family and community… the greatest piece of advice I can give any entrepreneur is to do your research thoroughly, and if still convinced that is what you want to do, then build a strategic network or support group that will help you succeed.”

Ryan is also a long standing member of Junior Chamber International (“JCI”) where he has chaired numerous committees and events dedicated to giving back to the community and raising funds for various charitable causes.  For his hard work and dedication, he has received numerous awards and recognition within JCI, culminating with the honour of a JCI senatorship, the highest honour JCI bestows.

Ryan’s involvement in JCI and in other community groups stems from his commitment to giving back to the community.  “Community is where I live, work, and play.  It is who we are, how we support our friends, family and neighbours.  It is everything I do in any given day.  Through chairing JCI events to raise money for the JCI kids camp, working for RBC and providing advice needed to help entrepreneurs be successful in achieving their dreams, supporting not for profits in their fundraising efforts, to attending community events with my family.”

Top 40 Under 40 June 4th – Jennifer Kole

Penticton Top 40 Under 40“Penticton Top 40 under 40 is presented by Prospera Credit Union in partnership with the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and JCI Penticton, with support from White Kennedy LLP Chartered Accountants

Back in 2001, the Suburban Princess Boutique started as a modest home based business of Jennifer Kole’s.  Inspired by her love of fashion, Jennifer started selling overstock women’s clothing and accessories from major US retail stores.

Taking a cautious approach and slowly building her clientele and business online.  “Social media has played a big part in our success; our Facebook page has over 3400 fans and is growing daily.”

Jennifer has words of advice for new business owners. “I encourage new entrepreneurs to start off small, and grow their business. I have seen too many businesses fail by jumping in over their head, and then not being able to sustain it.”

Jennifer KoleIn 2007, the business grew to the point where Jennifer felt the need to expand to a physical retail location.  From that point onward Jennifer never looked back.   “We have been able to adapt to the market while maintaining a quality and a value that our customers seek.”

The Suburban Princess Boutique now employs four employees in addition to Jennifer and was awarded the Summerland Chamber’s Retail Excellence Award in 2012 and was voted the best fashion store and best accessories store in the South Okanagan in The Best of the Okanagan Awards from Okanagan Life Magazine, and were finalists in both categories in 2013.

Being self-employed, Jennifer is enjoying the freedom of spending more time with her husband Kevin and their two children Dylan and Sydney, but she still finds time to give back to the community.  She has participated in the Kinnetes Club of Penticton annual fashion show, the Summerland Blossom Tea & Fashion Show, and upcoming events benefitting The Dragonfly Pond Society and the South Okanagan Women’s Shelter.

To Jennifer, community means “a sense of belonging to an area, and group of people.  It’s about working together for the greater good for all.”  Greatly thankful of her business’ continuing success, the Suburban Princess Boutique proudly participates in the high school work experience program and makes numerous donations to worthy charitable causes including supporting minor hockey, Dry Grad, SOWINS and raising epilepsy awareness.

Top 40 Under 40 May 28th – Graham Lyle

Penticton Top 40 Under 40“Penticton Top 40 under 40 is presented by Prospera Credit Union in partnership with the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and JCI Penticton, with support from White Kennedy LLP Chartered Accountants

In an industry full of financial planners in their 40’s and 50’s, 31 year old Graham Lyle really stands out.  As the branch manager and division director of Investors Group in Penticton Graham took a big risk in 2009 in leaving his successful career as a golf course turf expert in Kelowna to pursue a career in finance.

“Making the leap from a secure, safe, solid paying job to an entrepreneurial type career that had no salary and no guaranteed income.  That was a difficult decision and obstacle as the bills don’t stop coming in when you start a business.  I had a very strong mentor at that time, in Stephen Judd, and he helped me generate the foundation of a solid business and with hard work, it really paid off.”

Graham moved back to Summerland with his partner and young daughter and is currently enjoying the ability to set his own schedule and work flexible hours to spend more time with his family.  “Now that I work the structure I do, I could never go back to a 9-5 type job.  I need the ability to control my schedule and my level of success.”

grahamDespite the risk of his career change, Graham is strongly encouraging of young entrepreneurs pursuing there goals “If you are truly passionate about what you do, you will be successful.  Find something you love and put your heart and soul into it.  People can see that in your business and it will change the way they look at you and your business.  You have to love what you do.”

This dedication and passion in what he does has led to Graham’s success in a highly competitive industry.  Early in his career Graham decided to focus on building relationships to “show people that you are willing to work hard for them and you’re open and honest, people love that.”   “I love my job and am passionate about helping people.  I love the fact that my success or failure is completely up to me and my team and I can control my level of success by how hard I work.”

Graham also draws inspiration from the community around him.  “The area I have the luxury to live in inspires me to work hard to be fortunate enough to stay here and build a business here and my daughter inspires me every day.” “To me, community means the area we live that we all work together to make a better place.  The community I live in is a privilege and I want to do whatever I can to make it a positive and vibrant place.”

In addition to the large demands of his fast paced finance career and spending time with his family, Graham gives back to his community by volunteering and participating in community events such as the Giant’s Head Grind, the Swing for Kids Golf tournament and serves as a board director of the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen.

Top 40 Under 40 May 21st – Briana Jacques

Penticton Top 40 Under 40“Penticton Top 40 under 40 is presented by Prospera Credit Union in partnership with the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and JCI Penticton, with support from White Kennedy LLP Chartered Accountants

As the recent winner of the Chamber Of Commerce Home Based Business Excellence Award, Briana Jacques, owner of Hair of the Dog Grooming Salon is “thankful that the community recognizes businesses of all shapes and sizes.”

Back in 2008, Briana and a friend were discussing future careers which led her to the realization that “she wanted to work for herself and that she wanted to work with animals (primarily dogs).”  Briana took a grooming course and took a large leap of faith and started her own grooming salon out of her home.


“I feel my experience in business demonstrates how a regular person with the drive to make a positive change in their life can do it, and effect change in the lives of people around them on the way.  If you have an idea for a service or a product that you see a need for, I say go for it, but do your homework.  You need to know how much time; energy and financing you’ll need to pull it off.” community support for her business and that she has the opportunity doing what she loves.  “It’s not very often that one can do what they love and be successful at the same time. I feel very blessed that my leap of faith landed me on solid ground.”



Hair of the Dog Grooming Salon’s mission is “to provide a safe and comfortable
grooming experience for each pet. I believe that every pet is an individual with his or her own special needs and who deserves our attention, respect, and commitment.”

This commitment to personal service excellence has led to steady growth to an 800+ clientèle of regular clients which in turn has necessitated hiring of a new groomer to keep up with the demand to ensure that their customers continue to receive the same level of service.

On top of the busy schedule, Briana finds time to volunteer and give back to the community which has shown her so much support, including volunteering her time to Boston Terrier Rescue Canada, Habitat for Humanity, and Hug a Bull.  “In addition we have attended and donated prizes to several dog related events such as SPCA Paws for a Cause, Critteraid Mutt Strut, See Ya Later Ranch Dog Days, and last summer we participated in our first annual Peach Fest Parade!”

For more information about her business Briana invites you to check out her website at or to find her business on facebook.

Top 40 Under 40 May 14th- Travis Kruger

Penticton Top 40 Under 40“Penticton Top 40 under 40 is presented by Prospera Credit Union in partnership with the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and JCI Penticton, with support from White Kennedy LLP Chartered Accountants

“My inspiration comes from the hard work, leadership and mentorship roles that I have the fortune of being in. Helping people is the main focus of what I do. I want to empower everyone I meet to reach their own fullest potential,” says Travis Kruger, this week’s Top 40 Recipient.

Travis was born and raised in and grew up on the Penticton Indian Band Reserve, learning from the many teachers and elders at his disposal. Family, friends and the community of Penticton have always been and continue to be significant priorities in his life. Travis attended the University of Saskatchewan and has a diploma in Indigenous Peoples Resource Management and has earned his Certified Lands Manager status through the National Aboriginal Land Managers Association.

Travis was elected to Penticton Indian Band Council in July of 2010, holding first the Taxation and Financial Portfolio and after being re-elected in 2012, the Natural Resources Portfolio. He is regularly active in the Penticton Indian Band community outreaches including cleaning up roadsides to beautify the Reserve, volunteering, and chaperoning. Through his role as a band council member, he has been involved in creating the Apex Protocol Agreement between the PIB, Apex Mountain Resort, the Lower Similkameen Indian Band and the Upper Similkameen Indian Band. He has also participated in the Gap Analysis study for the Summerland Golf Resort and took part in the National Parks Feasibility Study.

“Community is about belonging. It is a constant reminder that we are not alone in this world. Being a part of a community makes it easier to work towards a common goal for the greater good,” Travis states, “My overall goal is for Penticton to flourish and bring back the tourism we used to enjoy long ago. There has been some bumps in the road and I believe that if we learn from our mistakes and move forward together that we can achieve those numbers again in a safe and positive fashion.”

Active in the community, Travis has been involved in several community programs. He is a positive role model for the Kwu sukwna’qinx Canoe Family which have been on several Pulling Together Journeys (First Nation Youth, RCMP, DFO, VPD) around the province,  as well as on a trip to Scotland to canoe in the Orkney Islands. He attends Okanagan Nation Hunting and Gathering camps to aid in providing for elders, single mothers, and families in need that cannot hunt or gather for themselves, as well as passing on traditions to the next generation. In November of 2011, I travelled to New Orleans, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, to build houses for the Hurricane Katrina victims.

“The most significant obstacle I have overcome is believing in my ideas and myself. When my family set out to find a new tenant for the former Happy Hour Campground we had many proponents pitch ideas and let us know that their idea was the best and would make us the most money,” says Travis.  “My idea was simple: I wanted to make the south entrance of Penticton beautiful and I wanted an establishment that complimented the professionalism of Wright’s Beach Camp. It took many years and in the end it came together in the form of Barefoot Beach Resort.” Travis feels it beautified the southern entrance, created buzz about Penticton, was a unique experience for patrons, was all about being green and the carbon footprint on one’s holiday experience.

What advice does Travis have for other young entrepreneurs? “Trust in yourself, set goals, be accountable and don’t be afraid to fail. Far too many people believe it when they hear ‘that will never happen’ or ‘you can’t do that’. These are limitations that others put on you because they are afraid to take risks and put themselves out there. Push beyond their limitations and prove to yourself that you can do what you put your mind to.”

Lastly, Travis leaves us with the following advice, “Always surround yourself with positive and uplifting people. They make the hard times easier to get through and make the good times even better.”

Top 40 Under 40 May 7th – Becky Kay

Penticton Top 40 Under 40

“Penticton Top 40 under 40 is presented by Prospera Credit Union in partnership with the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and JCI Penticton, with support from White Kennedy LLP Chartered Accountants

Eleven years ago Becky Kay jumped into business, with no prior management or administrative experience, and never looked back. Becky, through her business, Par-T-Perfect Okanagan, brings the party to you; whether it is a child’s birthday or a corporate occasion, they can create the perfect event. Becky will tell you she is lucky to be in business for herself, but not by herself. Through her business and during her personal time, Becky is inspired on a daily basis, by surrounding herself with positive energy.

becky“I am an active member of JCI Penticton and am proud to be part of such an amazing organization. I love to volunteer and do random acts of kindness throughout my community,” says Becky of her community involvement. “I am very active in the community and enjoy helping out wherever and whenever I can.” Becky has volunteered her time for numerous events in the past several years including Children’s Fest, Youth Week, Relay for Life, Heart and Stroke Mother Daughter Walk, Kelowna Wish Maker Walk, Have A Heart, SPCA Paws For A Cause and City of Penticton Volunteer Appreciation event, to name a few.

“I am lucky to be able to be a positive role model to young kids and teens in the community,” said Becky, last year Par-T-Perfect Okanagan employed 32 people between the ages of 14-30. “These amazing young leaders I get to work with help Part-T-Perfect participate in as many charity events as we can. Without them I would not be able to do these amazing things.” Thus far in 2014 they have been able to hold three “free” parties for young children with a life threatening sickness. Part-T-Perfect provided the equipment and their Par-T-Leaders donated their time.

“Creativity and positive change is what I live for!” says Becky. She is always brainstorming ideas to grow her business and create new themes to keep kids happy and engaged. Becky’s hard work has been recognized with numerous achievements including Top Sales Growth and Most Creative Franchise Owner, within Par-T-Perfect, and was nominated for a Penticton Business Excellence Award two years ago. Recently Par-T-Perfect won the Bronze medal for the Canadian Franchise Association (CFA) of Excellence. “The CFA Awards are the pinnacle of franchise achievement in Canada and are the highest recognition a franchise system can receive from the CFA,” says Becky, “We also received the ‘Designation of Franchisee Choice Award’.”

Becky strives for positivity and loves to create happiness. She doesn’t do it for the recognition, but because it feels good. Par-T-Perfect sponsors a young girl in Guatemala through Plan Canada. It has been a wonderful way for Becky to teach her children how lucky they are. “It’s sweet to hear them talk about their ‘other sister’,” says Becky. Her oldest daughter, who is almost eight, seems to have the same desire to help others. Together they create positive change around Penticton by doing random acts of kindness such as raking leaves and helping people carry groceries. They have also volunteered at charities cleaning up or helping with stations.

What words of advice does Becky have for up and coming entrepreneurs? “Do your research, jump in with both feet, stay positive and work hard!”

Top 40 Under 40 April 30th – Tim Robishaw

Penticton Top 40 Under 40

“Penticton Top 40 under 40 is presented by Prospera Credit Union in partnership with the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and JCI Penticton, with support from White Kennedy LLP Chartered Accountants

“It’s not too tough to be inspired when you wake up and realize your job is to solve the mysteries of the universe! There aren’t that many astrophysicists in the world, yet there are a seemingly infinite number of questions about how the universe works,” replied Doctor Tim Robishaw, Astrophysicist for the National Research Council at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO), located near White Lake when asked what inspires him.  Tim is the world’s expert in the study of what is known as “the Zeeman Effect” using radio waves from space, and he lives, right here, in the Okanagan.

Tim uses large telescopes (including the world’s largest telescope) to collect radio waves coming from interstellar space.  In particular, if there are magnetic fields between the stars, a special fingerprint is left on the radio waves that he and his colleagues can detect with their telescopes.  This allows them to understand how magnetic fields influence, or are influenced by, the birth and death of stars and the formation of galaxies.

Tim graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, Honourstim (1)  in Physics and Astrophysics from the University of California at Berkeley, and has Masters of Arts as well as a Ph.D. in Astrophysics, also from Berkeley. Tim was a post-doctoral fellow and a “Super Science Fellow” at the University of Sydney in Australia before moving to Canada in 2011 to become the Covington Fellow at DRAO. He has just accepted a staff position at the observatory and couldn’t be more thrilled to call the Okanagan home.

After receiving his Ph.D., Tim, like many other graduate students experienced an affliction known as “impostor syndrome”, in which, despite external evidence of their competence, they feel they are not as intelligent as those around them seem to believe and do not deserve the success they have achieved. “Becoming a world expert in a topic is not something that happens overnight, and there is no eureka moment.  You start your training knowing that everyone above you knows an awful lot more than you do.  Then you finish your studies and it’s hard to shake that feeling that you don’t really know what you’re doing, even if you happen to know more about a certain topic than perhaps anyone in the world,” says Tim, with time, he gained confidence and overcame this feeling, because just like in business, people need experience to gain confidence.


tim (2)

Tim feels science gets really exciting when trying to confirm an expectation or hypothesis and finding that the universe doesn’t operate in the way we expected.  “We don’t tend to think of science as entrepreneurship, but in reality, almost every experiment that is conducted in a scientific endeavour is a massive gamble of time and money,” Tim responded when asked about his advice for up and coming entrepreneurs. “One might think that business is different, that a failed venture will teach you nothing, but that’s not so: there is much to be learned from an unsuccessful business endeavour that will guide you to a possibly more productive path. I’d like to echo the words of the great late twentieth century philosopher, Mr. T, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.””

If he weren’t an astrophysicist Tim thinks he would be doing something exciting, like studying great white sharks or touring the world as a guitarist in a massively successful rock band (note: Brian May, the guitarist in Queen, has a Ph.D. in astrophysics). Time believes that an essential component of being an entrepreneur is that, “your heart has to be in it, and to be willing to take a risk to have any hope of success”.

Top 40 Under 40 April 23rd – Corinne Inman

Penticton Top 40 Under 40“Penticton Top 40 under 40 is presented by Prospera Credit Union in partnership with the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and JCI Penticton, with support from White Kennedy LLP Chartered Accountants

Corinne Inman’s experience starting her own business is the epitome of entrepreneurial spirit.  Starting with $300 in her bank account, enough to cover her first month’s rent and working from a 100 sq. ft. office space 9 years ago.  Corinne recounts the obstacles she faced when she first launched Morpheus Graphics and Printing Solutions. (“Morpheus Graphics”) “As a new business starting up I was unable to obtain financing and was declined everywhere I went and was told I would never make it a year in such a highly competitive market.”

Corinne2 Corinne persevered, and despite daunting odds including weathering a tough economic downturn, has proven her detractors wrong as she comes up to Morpheus Graphics ninth anniversary in business.  Over the years, Morpheus Graphics has evolved into “a convenient and affordable one-stop business solutions headquarters for any business’s promotional needs, large or small.”

Adapting her business to the needs of the changing business community and expanding the types of services offered to include “design, digital printing, photocopying, promotional apparel, advertising specialities, signs, business accessories and most recently digital sublimation” has allowed Morpheus Graphics to carve out a successful niche in the marketplace.

Corinne has built strong relationships with her clients and her community and believes it’s this client and community centric focus has been a large reason to her businesses’ success. “A lot of my clients are like family.  We are there for each other during the ups and downs sometimes in our personal loves, some of the time in our business lives.  Many of my clients have been with me since the start.”


Unsurprisingly, Corinne is a strong believer in giving back to the community.  She volunteers her time in countless community events and through Morpheus Graphics has sponsored local events and organizations such as the Okanagan International Children’s Festival, BC SPCA, Pentastic Jazz Festival, Freestyle World Cup, Miss Penticton, United Way of the South Okanagan, Downtown Penticton Ironman Streetdance, Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Business Excellence Awards, Penticton Summer Classic, Penticton Oktoberfest, Penticton Firefighters Rooftop Campout, Survivorship Dragon Boat Golf Tournament, Peach Classic Triathlon and Challenge Penticton.

Community involvement was also a large part of Corinne’s new business venture, “South Okanagan Shop & Save” “a coupon book fundraising project for local businesses, individuals, charities and non-profits.  Given her track record, there will undoubtedly be fewer sceptics to her new businesses’ success.

For more information on the Penticton Top 40 Under 40, including how to nominate someone click here.

Top 40 Under 40 April 16th – Amberlee Erdmann

Penticton Top 40 Under 40“Penticton Top 40 under 40 is presented by Prospera Credit Union in partnership with the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and JCI Penticton, with support from Community Futures Okanagan Similkameen

Amberlee Erdmann feels “very fortunate to be connected to the wonderful community of Penticton”.  To her, “Community is the heartbeat of a town; is not static, but a living, breathing, constantly evolving and adapting relationship; is a sense of activism, a sense of belonging; is inclusive, is history and culture, and is a collective action which ties us all together.”

amberlee1 Amberlee feels “passionate about helping people and giving back.”  She has a unique position with the South Okanagan Victim Association Society (SOVAS), a non-profit organization that supports victims of sexual assault and relationship violence.  In addition to working as a social worker for SOVAS, Amberlee is “responsible for public relations and spreading awareness of victim’s issues, including running awareness campaigns, recruiting and training volunteers, applying for financial grants and organizing fundraisers.”

She currently sits on the Board of Directors at the Okanagan College Women’s Resource Centre and volunteers for other non-profit organizations and organizes and participates in as many fundraisers as she can fit into her busy schedule, including: International Women’s Day, World Day for Social Justice, Multi-Cultural Day, Take Back the Night and National Victim of Crime Awareness Week. an early age for Amberlee.  “Ever since I can remember I have been involved with some sort of philanthropy.”  She has volunteered at a Mexican orphanage and helped raise money for the Stollery Children’s Hospital, international orphanages and helped build ten houses in Mexico.

Amberlee has accomplished all this despite growing up as a shy and awkward girl in her teenage years.  She credits her fifteen years in Girl Guides, eight years studying martial arts and her modelling career with teaching her discipline and instilling self confidence.  These varied experiences all helped shape this self identified “country girl” from small town, Sturgeon Valley, Alberta to become the “strong confident, understanding person” that she is now.



When asked for words of encouragement in dealing with life’s obstacles, Amberlee has the following to offer:  “It’s figuring out a way to do what you love. It’s never giving up. It’s about making choices that aren’t easy.  It’s never accepting defeat. It’s about getting up when you fall down, over and over again.  Oh and don’t forget to stop and smell the roses – life is too short.”

For more information on the Penticton Top 40 Under 40, including how to nominate someone click here.