Success Stories

Kate Marcil At Your Service

Kate Marcil had always known she wanted to be an entrepreneur. Skills such as hard work, the will to succeed, and an entrepreneurial spirit all helped Kate Marcil and her business become successful. 

After finding herself in the position of being unemployed, Kate decided it was time to try self-employment. Kate participated in the Ontario Self-Employment Benefit program that is a Government funded program offered through the Business Success & Loan Centre Fort Erie. Kate received income support, counselling, mentoring, seminars and workshops that she says really helped her and her business. “The BSL has been very helpful. The service has always been ‘How can we help you with your business’. There has always been a very consistent high standard of service.”

Through her market research, Kate discovered that one characteristic many people lack is organizational skills. With people living faster paced lives, they seem to always have something on the go. Organizing your life to fit your daily routine has become essential in order to live a happier, healthier, and more productive life. Kate Marcil At Your Service offers a wide variety of services to meet these needs.

Kate is an organizing consultant that helps residential and commercial customers to de-clutter, manage their space and obtain assistance in organizing their home or office. Kate’s business is targeted to meet the individual needs of all her customers, whether it is transitioning through different stages of their life, reorganizing their current situation, or organizing them with a plan for specialized events.

Kate started her business in March of 2004 and has tailored services for all different customer needs. Aside from consulting customers on organizing options and providing solutions that help customers in their everyday lives, she sometimes offers spring clean-up, yard work, and lawn care in the spring and summer months.

Some of the biggest challenges that Kate has faced in her business is defining and marketing all the different types of individual services she offers. Kate says the success of her business is based on her personalized and unique services that are suited to each customer’s needs. It is her professional and trustworthy personality that her clients say is why they enjoy dealing with her. She is a very hard worker who goes above and beyond to meet her customers’ needs.

Kate’s advice to new entrepreneurs is to do your research and homework before jumping right in to a new business. You need to understand your skills and abilities and also understand what your customers want. Being open to advice and feedback from advisors and customers will only make you and your business stronger.

Contact Kate Marcil at (905) 894-2695 or and see how organizing your home or business can better prepare you or your business for today and tomorrow.

The Ontario Self-Employed Benefit program, offered by Employment Ontario and funded in part by the government of Canada, provides successful applicants with income support, business plan development, and mentoring. The Business Success & Loan Centre Fort Erie delivers this program to residents living in the Greater Fort Erie area. To find out more information, contact the BSL at 905-871-7331 to attend an Orientation Session.

Goodness Grapes

Ed McCooey has always enjoyed wine. His passion for wine motivated him to start making his own. After finding himself in the position of being unemployed, Ed decided to try self-employment.  He turned his hobby of wine making into a career and opened up a wine making store called Goodness Grapes.

Ed sought out the assistance of the Business Success & Loan Centre Fort Erie to help him launch his new venture. Ed took advantage of the Ontario Self-Employment Benefit (OSEB) program. This program allowed Ed to receive financial support which aided him while he grew his business. Not only was the funding very beneficial but the business plan development, mentoring and seminars he received from the BSL helped the growth of his business.

Goodness Grapes is located on a quiet street in a clean, friendly, boutique like setting. The success of Goodness Grapes is due to their high quality products, guaranteed satisfaction, strong customer service and going above and beyond customer expectations. Goodness Grapes is an authorized retailer for the industry leader Winexpert. With Winexpert on their side, Goodness Grapes can offer a wide variety of high quality products and services.

Wine making at Goodness Grapes is very quick and simple. The first step is coming in and selecting your wine from the 120 different wines they provide from around the world. Ed then ferments, filters and stores your wine with precise expertise to ensure the utmost quality and your complete satisfaction. Your wine will then be ready to bottle in the next four to six weeks. Goodness Grapes has an automated bottling system that allows customers to bottle 23 litres or 30 bottles in fifteen minutes.

Over the past four years, Ed has derived a lot of satisfaction from growing Goodness Grapes and developing friendly relationships with his customers. He loves his work and would not trade it for anything in the world. Ed’s wife, Debbie, recently joined the team and has been a great fit for the company, helping bring the business to a new level. To go along with all the success, Goodness Grapes has won numerous awards including the 2007 and 2008 “Diamond Winner” from Niagara This Week and Fort Erie Times “Fort Erie’s Finest”. Goodness Grapes is a proud member of the Fermenters Guild and the Fort Erie Chamber of Commerce.

If you are interested in making your own wine or would like to try something new, give Goodness Grapes a call at 905-994-(WINE) 9463, where “Great Wine Is Yours For The Making”.  Ed and Debbie are listed with where you can take a virtual tour of Goodness Grapes and view the monthly special. 

Ed and Debbie attribute a lot of their business success to past work experience, understanding the importance of providing good customer service, hard work, and the assistance they received from the BSL.

The Ontario Self-Employed Benefit program, offered by Employment Ontario and funded in part by the government of Canada, provides successful applicants with income support, business plan development, and mentoring. The Business Success & Loan Centre Fort Erie delivers this program to residents living in the Greater Fort Erie area. To find out more information, contact the BSL at 905-871-7331 to attend and Orientation Session.


Richard and Mary Overholt are the proud owners of Putney's Sales & Rentals. However, four years ago the picture didn't look quite as bright as today. In the spring of 1996 Rich Overholt found himself in the unfortunate position of being unemployed.

He immediately began investigating the possibilities, one being self-employment. He learned about the Self-Employment Benefit (SEB) program from a former SEB client. The federally-funded (HRDC) program is delivered in Fort Erie by the BSL. It is a tool to assist individuals to create jobs for themselves through self-employment. This program allows successful applicants to start their own business while receiving E.I. benefits or financial assistance. It also provides ongoing mentoring and training by the BSL for up to 52 weeks.

Having a keen interest in self-employment, Rich decided on a mobile golf car repair business. Previous work and education in this field provided him with the required training and skills.

The next step was to contact the BSL about the SEB program. BSL staff advised him about eligibility and other requirements and he was assisted with the preparation of a business plan. On June 13, 1996 he was approved to participate in the Self-Employment Benefit program and subsequently signed the necessary contract. Throughout the term of the contract Rich received the support and mentoring from the BSL vital to get his small business off to a good start. The financial aspect of the program allowed him to reinvest profits into the business for the time when he would be on his own. The business continued until November 1998.

The experience gained in his golf car repair business gave Rich the confidence necessary to make the next move; the purchase of Putney's Sales & Rentals. Having a working relationship with owner Gord Putney, as well as a friendship, Rich was the first to learn Gord wanted to sell the business and retire. In October 1998 Rich made an application for the necessary financing through the BSL. With the assistance of Colin Pett, General Manager of the BSL, owner Gord Putney and corporate accountant Ken Lenchyshyn of Crawford Smith & Swallow the loan application was completed and approved. On January 29, 1999 the transaction was finalized.

Rich, Mary and family began giving the business their personal touches while maintaining the high level of customer service Putney's has always been known for.
After a complete year in business, Rich's tips to those who wish to own their own business are:
" go into something you like"
" do not try to do it on your own, ask for help" and
" treat your customers with respect".

Focus On You Photography

The hardest part about being an entrepreneur is taking something that you are passionate about and turning it into a successful business. That is exactly what Kim Cartmell has done with Focus On You Photography. Since the age of 12, Kim has always had a camera in her hands. After graduating from college, Kim found a job in an office but continued to pursue a career in photography by working part time taking pictures for family and friends at weddings and special events.

After working in an office for 12 years, Kim found herself in the unfortunate position of being unemployed. Shortly after Kim was laid off, she learned about a new program that was being offered in Fort Erie to individuals who were unemployed and looking to start their own business. Kim thought it would be a great opportunity to turn her part-time photography business into a full time job. The Ontario Self-Employment Benefit (OSEB) Program changed Kim’s life forever. Kim says she would not have started her business if it was not for the assistance provided by the Business Success & Loan Centre and the OSEB program.

Kim had always known she wanted to be a professional photographer but was hesitant to start her own business due to lack of business knowledge. Upon being accepted to the Ontario Self-Employment Benefit program, Kim received the counselling and business advice needed to make her business successful. She also received financial support that assisted with the initial start up costs. Kim was not too sure if the business was going to be successful at first but with the constant help and support of the BSL, her business flourished and has been in business for the last 16 years. The monthly meetings helped Kim make sure her business was on track. The BSL was there to assist her with any problems or issues that may have arisen with her business.

Kim has found challenges with hiring new employees. Finding employees that are the right fit for the company and who share the same view as Kim are hard to come by. Luckily she currently has three employees working with her now that have been very helpful editing photos, ordering supplies, and assisting with photography.

Kim knows how important customer satisfaction is to her business. A lot of her business is through word of mouth, so Kim has to make sure her clients are completely satisfied. Focus On You Photography offers a wide variety of themes for their photographs. Whether you are looking for pictures for your wedding, elopement, baby, kids and family, or personal portraits, you can find it all at Focus On You Photography. Focus On You Photography offers an indoor and outdoor studio to their customers. The outdoor studio is beautifully set beside Black Creek, with natural rock, forest, and water that make every photo so captivating no matter what season it is.

Kim’s advice to new entrepreneurs is to have en extremely open mind. There is so much information available you have to make sure to listen, learn, and asking questions from other successful people can be very beneficial.

If you are interested in having family, personal, wedding, or photos for any special occasion, call Focus On You Photography and speak with Kim at 905-382-1490. Visit them online at for rates, packages, and to view photo galleries.

The Ontario Self-Employed Benefit program, offered by Employment Ontario and funded in part by the Government of Canada, provides successful applicants with income support, business plan development, and mentoring. The Business Success & Loan Centre Fort Erie delivers this program to residents living in the Greater Fort Erie area. To find out more information, contact the BSL at 905-871-7331 to attend and Orientation Session.

A Healthier You

Having entrepreneurial experience is definitely an asset when deciding to start-up a business of your own. That is what the sisters Cheryl Urbanski and Linda Urban had before they decided to purchase A Healthier You in 2004. Cheryl and Linda had worked in their family run restaurant for many years and gained the right amount of business knowledge and experience to successfully run and operate their new business venture.

In early 2004, Cheryl and Linda were looking to open up a health and nutrition store in the Fort Erie area. When Linda went in to A Healthier You to buy some products, the lady behind the counter mentioned the owner was looking to sell the business. Linda notified Cheryl and immediately the two contemplated the idea of purchasing the business. The only real issue standing in their way was money. Being able to finance the take-over was going to be their biggest obstacle. Luckily for them, The BSL was there to lend a helping hand. Linda, Cheryl, and the BSL all acted fast and A Healthier You was purchased one month later.

Some of the hardest obstacles that Cheryl and Linda face each day include trying to keep up with inventory, constantly keeping track and making sure they have the right amount of each product is a daily routine. There are so many companies and so many products to choose from, that it makes very challenging to pick the right suppliers. Many health and nutrition suppliers keep developing new products and merchandise that add something new and different to healthy living. This is an area that requires a lot of attention by Linda and Cheryl in order to keep up with trends, customer tastes and preferences.

What makes A Healthier You a success is the hard work, commitment of quality, and customer service that Linda and Cheryl provide each day. This biggest service they provide is educating their customers so that they are able to receive the products that are best suited for each of their individual needs. Linda and Cheryl face not only keeping up with current industry tastes but also being knowledgeable of each product they sell so that every customer knows exactly what they are receiving.

Linda and Cheryl have put a lot of effort and time into their business. Advice they would give to new entrepreneurs is that”you get out of your business what you put into it. A lot of thought and care can make your business successful.”

A Healthier You is located on Garrison Road, in a central location in Fort Erie. With a growing demand for health products and people living healthier lives, Cheryl and Linda believe this business will be in high demand for many years to come. They offer products such as vitamins, supplements, natural health and beauty products, sports nutrition, herbs, organic meats, and gluten free products, just to name a few. What ever you are looking for in healthy or nutritious products you can find at A Healthier You.

Give them a call at 905-991-9575 if you have any questions or visit them in person at A Healthier You located at 1237 Garrison Road, Fort Erie.

The Business Success & Loan Centre Fort Erie offers a wide variety of services including loans at competitive rates with personalized service. Whether you are looking to start-up your own business, purchase and existing business, or wish to expand or stabilize your current business, the BSL can help you. If you are interested in a loan, you can download a Credit Application from our website under the loans section or give the BSL a call at 905-871-7331 or come by our office at 45 Jarvis Street.



45 Jarvis Street Fort Erie ON L2A 2S3
Phone: 905-871-7331
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