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Northern Touch Contracting (NTC) is a burgeoning local company that specializes in renovations. The brainchild of Brian Marfleet, NTC came into being thanks to the Community Futures Self Employment Program.

Brian had come to town in 2012 and worked for various contractors. Eventually, he found himself unemployed, so he headed into Work BC. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do; I was looking for help to see what would be a good fit for me and to try and find employment,” he says. “Talk of a self-employment program came up and it seemed like a great avenue.” Brian was referred to Cindy at Community Futures to see if the program was a good fit.

The program is geared to anyone collecting employment insurance and looking into becoming an entrepreneur. Brian had a skill set and education that could fill a niche in town, so starting his own business was a solid choice.

“I’ve been involved in construction for over 15 years. I started in Ontario as a labourer doing basic construction and moved onto bigger renovation projects,” he says. Brian took a three year full time Building and Renovation program at George Brown College in Toronto. “It offered really in depth training. A lot of people start construction projects from scratch, whereas renovating can be an entirely different set of challenges and skills.”

Before Brian could be accepted in the Community Futures program, he had to write a comprehensive business plan. “There is a lot of leg work up front to get your foot in the door of the program,” he says. “But they are there to help you get it done well.”

Once accepted into the program, Brian attended various workshops aimed at strengthening different skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur. “There were workshops for business planning, advertising and marketing. They were a big help as to understanding the financials of running a small business,” he says. “It was really useful to me because I was coming from a different side of things.”

With both his business plan and financial aid support approved, Brian was in action. “I was required to send in a monthly report,” he explains. “It detailed how I was achieving my 35 hour weekly minimum of work for my company. Those hours can be time spent seeking work, working, or completing tasks that benefit the company.”

Brian doesn’t think he would have started his business without Community Futures. “They allowed it to be a full-time sustainable gig from the beginning for me,” he explains. “The business plan was a massive part of that; I had never written one before.”

In his case, the program was enough; Brian never needed to get a loan. “I had a number of assets; truck trailer, and tools already to put down as collateral, and that was satisfactory to them,” he says.

These days, NTC is thriving. “Heritage homes are interesting, you never know what you’re going to get. It feels like there was no code or inspections for a number of years. Some of the stuff you find in the walls is unbelievable,” Brian says. “Basement suites are a big ticket item for me. Everybody wants one. I’ve done in-lawsuits and legal suites, which are more involved with permits and special inspections to meet code requirements.” Brian is the project manager for all his jobs; subcontracting when needed.

NTC does everything from start to finish, including kitchens and bathrooms. “A lot of people want to update their home by just freshening up a kitchen or bathroom,” he says.

“Community Futures sets you up to succeed with a positive experience,” he says. “The support they provided was so important and you wouldn’t get it anywhere else. In the workshops, you have a chance to connect with other entrepreneurs starting out and getting out there, which creates a sense of community.”

Brian quotes by the job, check out his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/northerntouchcontracting/, where you can view his work, read the reviews, and contact him.