October 15, 2018 6:06 pm
Updated: October 15, 2018 6:56 pm

Calgary company having barrels of fun and success despite economic downturn

WATCH: Calgary-based Burgundy Oak is bucking the trend and not only surviving the economic downturn, but thriving during it. Tomasia DaSilva explains how the company has turned a hobby into a booming business, and is getting international attention.

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Calgary’s Burgundy Oak Group Ltd. is proving the downturn wrong  — not only surviving but thriving during these tough times.

“It’s surreal to see from two years ago being in a two-car garage to now,” said Joel Jelinski, co-founder and CEO of the furniture and decor store.

“Having a team of 18 full-time employees and an 8,300-square-foot facility, I could never imagine it would be like this.”


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Imagination has played a big part in the company’s success.

Jelinski and his partners — Zac Hartley, Torin Hofmann and Nick White — have re-imagined old wine and whiskey barrels and turned them into clocks, wall signs, even furniture. They then sell them to customers and major retailers across North America.

It’s not bad for a company that started from such humble beginnings.

“We definitely bootstrapped it,” chief business development officer Nick White said.

“Much like any startup, we really went with the organic growth strategy. We basically reinvested all our profits and we’ve taken very, very minimal salaries to be able to expand the business.”

Those sacrifices have paid off.

“Right now we’re doing $100,000 to $120,000 a month, so we’re doing pretty good,” chief operating officer Zac Hartley said.

Still, it hasn’t all been fun and games. The four young entrepreneurs — all in their mid-20’s — have had some challenges being taken seriously in Calgary’s business world.

Getting major retailers and other companies on board has also taken a lot of time and work. But that work has all paid off now; they’ve signed whiskey giant Jack Daniels.

“The validity behind Jack Daniels is light years ahead of where we thought we could be,” chief marketing officer Torin Hofmann said.

“We’re only a business about three years old. Although we’re in 500 stores across Canada, people haven’t heard of us, but with Jack Daniels they will.”

READ MORE: Alberta entrepreneur parlays poop into profits

They’ve been noticed in Calgary too.

Burgundy Oak is one of the finalists for The BDC Emerging Growth Award at the Small Business Calgary Awards on Oct. 19. The award is presented to the new emerging small business that has shown rapid growth and profitability in its first one to three years of operations.

Burgundy Oak’s advice for success? Build a strong team, learn from other entrepreneurs, tap into government grants but most of all, have fun.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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