Dynamic Structures’ wild ride from steelmaker to theme park innovator

Crowd in an IMAX-style theatre with moving seats

“This dumps you down. You feel like you’re falling,” Guy Nelson says, pointing to a five-storey-high roller-coaster switch under construction in one of the cavernous sheds at Dynamic Structures’ dusty six-acre yard in Port Coquitlam, B.C. “We stop you, and then we reverse you. You go backwards and roll off down another track. There are 300 features we put you through.”

Once finished, the coaster parts will be disassembled, packed into containers like a set of Ikea drawers and sent to China. The one being assembled in the next building, Nelson says, is bound for Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. In both cases, the actual track—which is less knowledge-intensive to construct—will be made by Dynamic’s joint venture in China.

“It’s high labour content per tonne,” explains Nelson. He’s tall and still brawny at 60, with a deep, gravelly voice. “The switches, all the controls, all the design—that’s what we do in Vancouver.”

  The 15 Most Innovative Canadian Companies of 2015

It takes imagination to conjure up how these towers of naked steel will become some of the world’s leading-edge immersive rides, the kind you find in Orlando theme parks.

Canadian exporters are finally waking up to opportunity in Asia

Canada’s exporters may be figuring it out: the future is in Asia.

Policy makers have been trying to nudge Canadian executives to the Pacific for years. Mark Carney, the former Bank of Canada governor, used a speech in 2012 to counter the excuse that Canadian companies were uncompetitive; Carney presented evidence that showed exporters struggled after the crisis because they were overexposed to slow-growth markets such as the United States and Europe. (More than a dozen Asian countries grew at least 5% that year, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The U.S. economy expanded 2.2% and that of Europe effectively stalled.) Former prime minister Stephen Harper signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade agreement that would bind 12 Pacific Rim nations. The new government of Justin Trudeau hasn’t yet said whether it will stay in the TPP, but it would be a shock if it reneged. Asia is on the mind of Canada’s leader. The only two nations mentioned by name in Trudeau’s mandate letter to Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland are China and India. He referred to them twice. (Neither China nor India are members of the TPP.)

  Services matter—but making stuff is the core of

European business is willing, but not equipped, for low carbon transition

Research from Climate-KIC reveals that most European business leaders have prepared strategies to respond to climate change, but with a lack of focus on innovation, those strategies are likely to be ineffective for a 2°C trajectory.

The study from Climate-KIC, the EU’s principal knowledge and innovation community focused on climate change is entitled, Sparking an Innovation Step Change. It analyses the readiness of C-level European business leaders to deploy radical innovation to turn climate change from a threat into an opportunity.

Most European business leaders, (63%) acknowledge the regulatory and physical risks posed by climate change. 63% also believe responding to climate change would drive growth as demand for environmentally sound products and services increases. To address the identified risk and opportunity, most businesses (59%) said they have a strategy to respond to climate change.

However, despite the positive ambitions of European business, only 3 in 10 (29%) see a large amount of scope to respond to climate change using innovative technologies and ways of working. Even less (14%) believe there is a large amount of scope to evolve their business model to reduce resource consumption and carbon emissions.

An even more concerning insight was that irrespective of climate change, over

Investing in greener office buildings really pays off for landlords

Futuristic spaces where the building is powered using solar panels, windows are programmed to pop open at set times to let in fresh air, and an underground reservoir collects rainwater to be consumed for non-drinking purposes. Such things are nice to dream about, but a poor investment in real estate. Right? Well, in fact, the extra costs of adding environmentally friendly technologies to office buildings may pay for themselves quicker than you think.

 A clean office isn’t necessarily a more innovative one

A recent study from the University of Guelph examined 10 years of data from 148 buildings in Canada and 143 in the United States, and found that environmentally friendly buildings that met energy efficiency and sustainability standards have more satisfied tenants who are more likely to renew their lease. Landlords also enjoy higher revenue generated from higher rents and occupancy rates.

Highlights of the findings from the study include:

  • Rents on average are 3.7% higher
  • Occupancy rates were 18.7% higher in Canada and 9.5% higher in the U.S.
  • Tenant renewal rates were 5.6% higher in Canada
  • Tenant satisfaction scores were 7% higher in Canada
  • Energy consumption per square foot was 14% lower in the U.S.

The data clearly shows that investing with the environment and sustainability in mind

Harley-Davidson’s Anoop Prakash on attracting the next generation of riders

When Harley-Davidson Motor Co. entered India in 2009, it hired Anoop Prakash to spearhead the expansion. Sure, he wasn’t a motorcycle expert, but with a career that spans the U.S. Marine Corps., McKinsey & Co., LexisNexis, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Prakash had the business and management chops. Harley-Davidson now dominates the premium motorcycle market in India. Prakash’s next challenge is to bolster the company’s presence in Canada, where sales are down nearly 4% year-over-year. Harley-Davidson has relied on the strength of its brand for too long and has to engage new customers.

Harley-Davidson hasn’t had a subsidiary in Canada for decades, and the company just set up a Canadian headquarters in August. Why is that?

 BRP’s big bet: selling boomer bikers a three-wheeled motorcycle

We’ve been in Canada for 98 years, but in 1973 we appointed a distributor in Canada, Deeley Harley-Davidson, and it handled the market for 42 years. But there are a couple of things going on now. Globally, we’ve been slowly moving distributors out and our own subsidiaries in. We’ve realized we can do a lot better when we’re in the country. We can think longer term and develop the brand. Distributors have agreements

How Aeryon Labs intends to keep its industrial drone business aloft

Most young companies struggle to get noticed. That has never been a problem for drone manufacturer Aeryon Labs. The media love drone heroics, and Aeryon’s flying robots have starred in a number of high-profile nail-biters: guiding a rescue mission to frozen Alaska; assisting in a drug bust in Central America; helping natural disaster victims in the Philippines and Nepal. Take what happened after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico: “The BP guy who was running the cleanup in Alabama saw a segment about us on Discovery Channel on Monday night, called us on Tuesday, we were there on Wednesday and had a purchase order by Friday,” recalls Dave Kroetsch, Aeryon co-founder and CEO. The TV police drama Flashpoint even wrote an episode around the Scout, an Aeryon drone. It contained the infomercial-ready line, “We don’t need a helicopter—we’ve got the Scout!”

It seems not a day goes by without news of another way drones will make our jobs easier, safer or obsolete. Equipped with computing power, powerful cameras and GPS, drones are emerging as the Swiss Army knives of commercial applications. Drones—or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), in the industry’s preferred parlance—are inspecting smoke stacks and monitoring seal

How the Bank of Canada and the U.S. Fed are parting ways

The Bank of Canada and the U.S. Federal Reserve are about to part ways, a rare separation that will ensure downward pressure on Canada’s currency. Some will cheer that prospect, as Canadian goods and services will have a price advantage in the U.S. market. The tradeoff is that domestic companies will find it more costly to import state-of-the-art equipment to retool, and to invest in growing markets abroad. Exports could thrive, but productivity may suffer.

 The Power 50: Canada’s Most Powerful Business People 2016

All of this crystallized amid a cascade of economic data, monetary policy announcement and speeches over the past few days. Fed chair Janet Yellen on December 2 stated as clearly as central bank lexicon will allow that she will recommend raising America’s benchmark interest rate when she convenes the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee later this month. It would be the first increase in nine years. The day the Fed raises its target lending rate from zero, “is a day that I expect we all are looking forward to,” Yellen told economists in Washington. Key in her remarks was an emphasis on the importance of staying ahead of inflation. The Fed wants to raise borrowing costs, but very

Equity crowdfunding will soon be legal in Canada. Should you jump in?

When Palmer Luckey needed money to develop his virtual reality headset, the Oculus Rift, he turned to crowdfunding. Over a month-long Kickstarter campaign in 2012, 9,000 backers put up US$2.4 million; a year and a half later, Oculus VR was acquired by Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) for US$2 billion. If the US$300 many of those online supporters pledged had bought them equity instead of an early version of the Rift, they would have netted a $43,500 payout, by some estimates. Gold is in meltdown as investors look elsewhere to stash value

Equity crowdfunding, the offering of shares of (typically startup) companies on crowdfunding platforms akin to Kickstarter, has been legal in Europe, Australia and Israel going back as far as 2010, but it’s only now catching on in North America. Saskatchewan was the first province to formally recognize this web-enabled alternative to traditional venture capital or private equity fundraising in 2013. Regulatory changes set to take effect on Jan. 25, 2016, will legitimize equity crowdfunding in Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Accredited investors will be able to invest up to $25,000 per company (up to a $50,000 yearly total), while non-accredited investors will be restricted to $2,500 per investment

Made to measure tailor Indochino focuses on scale with a new CEO

Indochino has a new suit at the top. Eight years after he started the menswear e-tailer with University of Victoria classmate Heikal Gani, CEO Kyle Vucko is stepping down in favour of online veteran Drew Green.

The founding CEO of e-commerce marketplace Shop.ca, Green is tasked with further scaling a company that has expanded from a custom suit website to an omnichannel retailer with a growing network of bricks-and-mortar stores. Along with the CEO swap, the company said that it is on track for annual sales growth of 40%.

 What Your Growing Company Needs from You

The company started searching for a seasoned executive to help scale the company in early 2015, Vucko says. “We as a board—myself included—thought it best to bring in a senior executive to take us to the next level,” the outgoing CEO explains. “It was actually something that I drove, given what was required of the business and the growth and learning curve ahead.”

The company engaged executive search firm Spencer Stuart firm to lead the recruitment effort. Vucko himself will remain as a special advisor to the company, though he’s moving back to hometown Victoria to join wife Amelia Warren, the CEO of healthy food direct sales company Epicure (the two were married in September).

Vancouver-based Indochino was

Clay Riddell is a billionaire no more

Alain Bouchard grew his net worth by 55% in the span of a year, but he’s continued to add to his wealth over the past month. Since the start of November Bouchard’s has grown his net worth by almost $370 million, which is equivalent to $9.7 million a day, thanks largely to gains of his significant holdings in convenience store and gas bar operator Alimentation Couche-Tard.  The company has been on an aggressive acquisition spree for the past several years and that trend continued in early December when Couche-Tard inked a deal Topaz and its network of 464 gas stations in Ireland for an undisclosed price.

Clay Riddell is no longer a billionaire. The Canadian oil tycoon’s net worth has dropped by 30% in a little over a month. That slide, which translates in to roughly $405 million, is on top of the 65% drop in Riddell’s wealth from a year ago. Riddell’s holdings, which are heavily concentrated in Alberta’s oil patch, have been hit particularly hard, but none as much as Paramount Resources. Since the beginning of November shares of the once mighty oil and gas company has lost more than half their value. Paramount’s market cap is dropped to

Here’s how much people love sharing video and photos on their phones

Broadband tool company Sandvine has released its latest internet usage statistics and it looks like video streaming’s dominance continues to grow with no real end in sight.
How to run your whole company from your phone

“Real-time entertainment,” as Sandvine calls it, now accounts for about two-thirds of prime time traffic. The category includes streaming music, but the lion’s share of the stat goes to video, which requires considerably more bandwidth than audio.

The result is nearly double what video accounted for just five years ago. Netflix alone is responsible for 34% of evening traffic, with YouTube coming in second at about 17%. The number is sure to grow as more streaming services come online and as more people ditch cable.

The other interesting numbers centre on social networking usage. The category accounts for only 5% of fixed internet traffic, otherwise known as home connections, versus 22% on mobile. Clearly, people are using their phones for Facebook, Twitter and so on:

Graph showing how people use the internet on fixed access internet devices Graph showing how people use the internet on mobile access internet devices

The difference in upstream traffic is even more noticeable. About a quarter of all uploading on mobile is social media-related,

Small Business Snapshot I Thought Of You

Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Mandy Nagel, founder of I Thought of You, a business founded in 2014 that sells sustainable and Fair Trade jewelry and accessories, explains how this image represents her business.

Nagel explains…

We’re a woman-owned business that sells sustainable and Fair Trade products that have beautiful stories behind them. All of our jewelry is made from upcycled or eco-friendly materials, offering sustainable income opportunities for people in developing countries. This photo shows how we dry orange peels in the sun for seven days, one step in the process we use to create a piece from our ‘Made From Fruit’ jewelry line — this jewelry is made from orange peels, acai berries, coffee beans, cinnamon, cantaloupe seeds and nuts. Artisans collect discarded orange peels from street juice vendors in South America, then roll them into roses, spirals, twists, and other unique shapes. They go through a sun-drying process to harden them to a leather-like texture, but still retain their natural oils to give each piece a citrus scent. Peels are either left as their natural color or colored to one of

How to Start a Pop Up Business

During the holiday season, most major U.S. cities open up temporary public marketplaces for people to purchase gifts, treats and other seasonal items. But pop-up stores aren’t just for the holidays — all year round, both new and established brands set up limited-time retail locations to generate buzz about their products.

Whether you’re an e-commerce merchant testing out your goods in a brick-and-mortar setting or an entrepreneur scouting out a good permanent location, a pop-up store can help you achieve your business goals. Business News Daily spoke with two industry experts about why pop-ups work, and how to open one successfully.

The pop-up model’s temporary nature offers several advantages over a traditional brick-and-mortar storefront.For one,pop-up store owners can afford to be more creative and experimental in the design of their short-term space, said Jeremy Baras, author of “PopUp Republic: How to Start Your Own Successful Pop-Up Space, Shop, or Restaurant” (Wiley, 2015). There are also fewer inherent risks when you don’t have the long-term commitment of a commercial lease.

Melissa Gonzalez, founder of the Lion’esque Group and author of “The Pop Up Paradigm: How Brands Build Human Connections in a Digital Age” (Lioncrest Publishing, 2014), agreed that

Behind the Business Plan Cheeky

Cheeky sells a line of paper products exclusively through Target retailers nationwide, but also aims to put food on the plates of families in need. In its first year, Cheeky helped provide 5 million meals through its partner organization Feeding America. CEO and founder PJ Brice discussed Cheeky’s mission to assist the hungry, as well as Cheeky’s relationship with Target and future plans for expansion, with Business News Daily.

Business News Daily: In a nutshell, what service does your business provide?

PJ Brice: Cheeky is a lifestyle brand helping end hunger with brilliant design. For starters, we make on-trend paper products like plates and napkins exclusively for Target. But that’s just the beginning. The best part is what we’re doing for hunger. When you buy one pack, Cheeky gives one meal. We’re providing people with an easy way to make an impact on a huge problem here in the U.S.

BND: How long have you been in business?

Brice: Cheeky just turned one! We launched in Target in November 2014. In just one year, our business has already hit 5 million meals through our partner Feeding America. Next year we’re on track to double that.

BND: Did you start with a formal business plan? If

Best App Maker for Retail and Shopping

We recommend MobiCart as the best app maker retailers. We chose MobiCart from dozens of app makers. To understand how we chose MobiCart, you can find our methodology and a list of app makers on our best picks page.
Why MobiCart?
Best value

We like MobiCart because it offers the best value for retailers that are looking to create a mobile presence and set up a mobile storefront. Whether you have a brick-and-mortar store, an online store or both, MobiCart offers an affordable, easy-to-use app maker that’s packed with features to help you boost sales, increase customer engagement and grow your small business.

App makers that are designed specifically for retailers typically cost hundreds of dollars per month. This is because they usually work with advanced e-commerce and mobile commerce (m-commerce) systems that small merchants typically don’t use. They also pile on a ton of enterprise features you likely won’t use, either.

MobiCart, on the other hand, caters specifically to small retailers and plans start at just $9 per month. It works with smaller e-commerce and m-commerce providers and also offers different packages based on the features your store’s app needs.

For instance, the $9 per month plan is limited to just 100

Best Do-It-Yourself App Maker for Beginners

We recommend BuildFire as the best app maker for beginners.We chose BuildFire from dozens of app makers. To understand how we chose BuildFire, you can find our methodology and a list of app makers on our best picks page.
Why BuildFire?
Ease of use

The idea behind DIY app makers is that it takes the legwork and tech skills out of building an app — and BuildFire fits the bill.

In many cases, app makers that are very easy to use typically offer very generic, one-size-fits all apps that aren’t aesthetically pleasing or very user-friendly. Although BuildFire isn’t the cheapest app maker around — plans start at $39 per month (more about this below) — we think it offers the best price for creating professional-looking apps in as little time as possible. We like that it doesn’t compromise quality for ease of use, making it the best app maker for beginners.

BuildFire features a fast, easy-to-use app-building tool that simplifies the app-making process. It took us less than 10 minutes to create our first app.

The first step to building an app on BuildFire is selecting your type of business or industry. This convenient feature tells BuildFire what kind of app you need,

Choosing the Right App Maker For You

Looking for an app maker to build a mobile app for your business? Here are three important things you need to figure out:

1. Do you want to build the mobile app yourself?

2. What type of app does your business need?

3. What features does your app require?

In this guide, we will help you answer those questions, but if you already know what you need and just want to see our recommendations for the best app maker, visit our best picks page.

The first step in choosing a mobile app maker is deciding whether you want to build the app yourself or hire a professional developer. The decision essentially boils down to your skill level and how much you’re willing to spend.

The easiest, quickest and most affordable way to build a mobile app yourself is to use a DIY mobile app maker.
What is a DIY mobile app maker?

Small businesses can use a variety of online services to create mobile apps, without the costs associated with hiring a developer. These platforms provide you with the tools you need to create and publish mobile apps on your own — and they don’t require any tech skills.

The best part about DIY mobile app makers

What Gift? Most Leaving Co-Workers Off Holiday Shopping List

Compared to years past, there won’t be as much gift-giving around the office this holiday season, new research finds.

Fewer workers are planning to give holiday gifts to co-workers, bosses, direct reports and other colleagues this year, and those who are, are planning to spend less, according to a study from the staffing firm Spherion.

Specifically, only 31 percent of employees will give gifts to their co-workers at their level this year, down from 38 percent in 2014, while just 28 percent are planning to give gifts to their boss, which is down from 34 percent a year ago. Additionally, 19 percent of the workers surveyed will give gifts to other colleagues, a decline from 24 percent in 2014.

The research also found that only 17 percent of bosses plan to get their direct reports a holiday present this year, down slightly from last year’s 18 percent.

The pressure of having to buy something for everyone can be contributed to this year’s drop, with 41 percent of workers saying it’s just too much. [5 Unique Businesses That Make Gift Giving Easier ]

Even those who are planning to get co-workers and bosses holiday gifts won’t be going all out as they’ve done previously. The

4 Ways to Break Through a Creative Slump

Authors call it “writer’s block,” but regardless of your profession, the problem is the same. You’re trying to get inspired, but you just feel as if you’re hitting a mental brick wall.

When your job requires constant creativity and innovation, a lull in creative thinking can mean lower productivity, work quality and output — a dangerous combination for professionals faced with tight deadlines from their bosses and clients. This external pressure may only worsen the situation, and lead to a vicious cycle of creative roadblocks.

You might not be able to avoid these slumps entirely, but there are things you can do to recharge your brain more quickly. Business leaders shared their tips for breaking through inspirational walls and jumpstarting your creativity. [What’s Your Most Productive Work Time? How to Find Out]
Change your environment

The verdict may still be out on the health effects of sitting at a desk all day, but one thing is certain: Remaining in the same exact spot for 8 or more hours per day can really stifle your creativity. If you’re feeling stuck, try a change of scenery.

“Creatives often need to physically move around, change spaces and divert their minds from the immediate task to help stimulate

Is It Good for Business?

You don’t have to break the bank to get a great 2-in-1 laptop for work. Lenovo’s Yoga 700 is much more affordable than its more premium counterpart, the Yoga 900, although it’s also noticeably thicker and heavier. There’s still a lot to love about the Yoga 700, which starts at just $529 with a nice 14-inch display, fast performance and a sturdy, flexible design that lets you use the machine like an oversize tablet. But are there better options at this price point?

The Yoga 700 is all business, with a black matte plastic lid and a matching keyboard deck made from black plastic. It’s a forgettable design, especially compared to the flashy Yoga 900. At least I like the look of the laptop’s silver hinges, and its gently rounded corner makes it easy for users to hang on to it.

And you’ll have little trouble lugging the Yoga 700 around, thanks to its relatively light weight and thin design. At 0.72 inches thick and weighing 3.5 lbs., it’s noticeably more portable than rival 14 inchers like the Acer Aspire R 14 (0.73 inches and 4 lbs.) and the Toshiba Satellite Radius 14 (0.86 inches and 4.5 lbs.). But while