Charging Ahead: New Business Owner Overcomes the Odds

Before arriving in BC in 2008, Darcy Lacombe did not have a fixed address. He had been incarcerated for a time and spent more than a decade homeless, living on the streets in Calgary.

“When I was released from prison, I managed to use the acquired skills that I learned there, such as carpentry, to find the odd job. I basically bounced from job to job,” said Darcy.

In 2009, Darcy moved to Cherryville, a small community 60 kilometres east of Vernon. It was around then he was introduced to the programs Community Futures North Okanagan provides through Employment Services.

The Future is Now

Darcy is proof that the past is not what defines your future. With a strong ambition and willingness to put in hard work, he has overcome a troubled past to become an accomplished business owner.

After finding out he was eligible for Community Futures North Okanagan (CFNO)’s Self Employment Services, Darcy attended business workshops and received one-to-one coaching. Darcy worked hard to create a solid concept and business plan, and applied for financial support through CFNO’s Business Loans program to get everything rolling.

Darcy is now the proud owner of Big Bear Landscaping, which provides a number of home and business services within a 200-kilometre radius from its headquarters in Cherryville, BC.

A Big Bear of a Business Idea

Big Bear’s clientele has also broadened from Cherryville and Lumby to Vernon and other parts of the Okanagan, and includes both residential and commercial jobs.

“I found there were lots of opportunities for creating my own work,” says Darcy.

“Since we started, our work has snowballed to include everything from building retaining walls, excavating, backfilling, irrigation, aeration and planting to home improvement jobs such as drywalling, painting, and tiling. We’re even thinking of offering snow removal and are looking to start up a small wood mill as well.”

When he’s not attending to the labour side of operations, Darcy also manages every aspect of his business from marketing —Google and Facebook are the best way to find Big Bear— to preparing the books.

“I learned a lot from the Community Futures North Okanagan’s Self-Employment Services. I was told by my tax preparator that they trained me well there,” Darcy shared.

“I’ve come a long way and hopefully I can help turn the next guy’s life around.”

Giving Back as a Way Forward

Although Darcy has moved on from his past, he hasn’t forgotten it. He often provides a hand where he can by putting those less fortunate to work.

“I’ve worked with homeless people and have helped out at Howard House. I try to offer jobs to some of those guys as I know how hard it can be for anyone wanting to hire you when you’re down on your luck,” says Darcy.

“I’ve come a long way and hopefully I can help turn the next guy’s life around.”

Community Futures Business Services is available to those who want to start a new business or take an existing business to the next level. CFNO also offers business loans for most business-related purposes, including start-ups, seasonal requirements, working capital, and expansions. To learn more, contact our Lumby office at 250-547-6483 or in Vernon, call 250-545-2215.

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