Tag Archives: Hamilton

Innovative REfficient first in Hamilton to be certified B Corp

Through its company policy of recycling telecom and audiovisual equipment, Hamilton’s REfficient is the first in the city to be labeled as B Corporation certified.

Stephanie McLarty, CEO of REffiecient.

Stephanie McLarty, CEO of REffiecient.

In its third year of operation, REfficient is one of 50 companies in Canada to become B Corp certified, said CEO Stephanie McLarty.

Along with an assessment of practices towards employees, environmental initiatives and governance, McLarty explained a company has to reach a minimum score to become certified.

“You also have to include a statement in your articles of incorporation that you will not only take the interests of your shareholders into account, but also the interests of the employees, community and environment,” she said.

To become B Corp certified, a company has to earn 80 out of 200 points in four areas, said Joyce Sou of the Toronto Mars Centre for Impact Investing, the Canadian coordinator for B Corps.

“A lot of companies that are certified are already leaders and innovators in their own area,” said Sou. “By signing onto this movement, it shows that businesses are fundamentally shifting the way businesses operate by showing that they are doing what they say they are doing.”

A B Corps certification verifies that a business is completing the standards of social and environmental performance, and is also making a positive impact to the society, Sou added.

McLarty noted her company’s goal is to help organizations be efficient and effective with their resources.

“Our online marketplace allows organizations to go shopping in other companies’ surplus inventory for telecom and AV product, of which over 50 per cent is new never-used surplus,” she explained. “Ultimately this helps companies save money, keep product in use, and increase waste diversion.”

With customers across North American and seven other countries, REfficient aims to provide sustainable solutions for companies from Hamilton, she said.

The number of companies using her platform to source telecom and audiovisual equipment will continue to grow, McLarty added.

“As we’ve seen with large cable companies like Cogeco, REfficient serves both a fiscally responsible role, as well as an environmentally responsible one,” McLarty explained. “This innovative new green model benefits everyone by reducing waste and increasing resource efficiency, lessening the $20 billion of goods that go to landfill each year, of which anywhere from 25-60 per cent could be reused.”

Sou noted REfficient is one of many companies in Hamilton that are working to make a difference in the city.

“We had a chance to visit Hamilton and we were inspired with all the small and medium enterprises coming out of Hamilton,” said Sou. “The companies we saw and spoke too were not only trying to make a name for themselves but also wanted to make a difference in the city. You can tell there’s a love of the city from the entrepreneurs that are working and living in Hamilton.”

There will be many more companies in Hamilton signing up to become B Corp certified, she added.

B Labs, the non-profit organization behind B Corps certification, began in 2006. It began certifying companies in Canada three years ago.

There are currently 690 companies certified globally.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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Small businesses nickeled and dimes with transaction fees

Next time you are at your favourite small business you may notice a sign asking you to pay cash or use your debit card.

Some stores are putting up signs asking customers to pay via cash or debit, rather than credit.

Some stores are putting up signs asking customers to pay via cash or debit, rather than credit.

You’ll find one of those signs at Cake & Loaf bakery on Dundurn Street South.

Bakery co-owner Josie Rudderham said that as a consumer she didn’t realize the impact credit card use had on a small business.

“It’s about $300 in an average month for us to pay for transaction fees,” she said. “That’s $300 that could have gone to employees, training, equipment, and it’s a big deal for small businesses.”

Canadian Federation of Independent Business president Dan Kelly says a consumer alert campaign aims to help consumers understand how significant the new fees are to small business owners.

Using a credit card may be convenient, but the fees for each transaction end up costing a lot to small business owners, he said.

“We have little signs that many merchants are starting to put up in their businesses that say, ‘Would you consider paying with cash or debit?’” Kelly said. “It’s encouraging consumers and giving them a little narrative that you may not know. Anything that can be done to help consumers understand that if they pull out their credit card, especially a premium credit card, they’re imposing higher costs to the system.”

Depending on the credit card used, the base rate is around two per cent, Rudderham explained.

“If anyone is using a premium card, let’s say a PC card that you get points on or a travel Visa, or RBC points, businesses actually have to pay for the points,” she said. “We get a percentage added onto our costs to pay for those points, which can be another two to three per cent on top of the two per cent we already pay (for the initial transaction).”

An example Rudderham used was the purchase of a coffee.

A $2 cup of coffee would incur an additional 10 cents for the transaction fee, she pointed out.

“It’s a cost that we have to pass on to the consumers because we really don’t have a choice,” said Rudderham. “It’s an illusion for many that they’re getting all these points when they use their credit cards and it’s not costing them anything – but it has to be passed down to the consumer at some point. That’s something we really struggle with because I’m not going to add it to your bill just because you used a credit card.”

Kelly said fees like this are crippling for small businesses because merchants have limited options.

An increase in Visa and MasterCard fees is another reason for the campaign, he added.

“Larger merchants have bigger bargaining power so they can negotiate lower rates for all sorts of supplies,” said Kelly. “A small merchant has a narrower margin even if the fees are largely in the same category, whether you are from a large or small business.”

Though there are benefits to using a credit card, Kelly noted interact debit cards offer the same amount of security but at a much lower cost.

“There are benefits to using credit cards and merchants don’t have a problem accepting them, but the fees are driving merchants crazy right now,” he said.

Visa Canada Corporation announced last fall it would implement a pricing adjustment to take effect April 2013 for banks used by business owners in Canada.

The fee is an increase of two cents for every $100, or 0.02 per cent, which is the first increase in five years.

However, Visa Canada noted it is up to the bank to decide how much of the increase to pass on to its customers.

If a merchant currently pays a merchant discount rate (MDR) of two per cent, it would see a rate increase to 2.02 per cent. “The MDR rate is negotiated directly between acquirers (banks) and merchants,” Visa Canada said.

MasterCard International Incorporated also announced a smaller fee hike would go into effect next year.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz. 

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A 15-foot salad bar opens on James Street North

Shane McCartney has something no one else in Hamilton has: a 15-foot salad bar.

Shane McCartney and his 15-foot salad bar.

Shane McCartney and his 15-foot salad bar.

The four-and-a-half metre salad bar offers more than 70 items, including organic and local foods.

McCartney & Son Salad Emporium at 282 James Street North opened on Tuesday and McCartney, the chef, has been rocking ever since.

“In my eyes there isn’t a proper salad bar here because it’s always a secondary thing and isn’t featured (in a restaurant),” he said when asked about opening the restaurant in Hamilton.“I think there w as a huge void in Hamilton for something fresh, quick, easy and from scratch.”

The salad bar features organic and local produce, and a lot of healthy options such as quinoa, edamame and kale, he said.

Dressings for salads and the soups are also made from scratch. The bread comes fresh from the Dundurn Street bakery Cake and Loaf, McCartney added.

McCartney’s restaurant is on James North just south of Barton in an area where he has lived for the past eight years.

“I’ve been doing this for about 10 years and it’s something I learned on the job – I didn’t have any schooling,” he explained. “I sort of fell into it and found that I had a passion and palate for it.”

Over the years, McCartney has worked in various cities such as Halifax and Toronto, where he fed many high profile stars. He was the head chef for Jack & Lois, a restaurant on James North, for the past year, and continues to act as their food consultant.

In addition to the bricks and mortar restaurant, he offers full service catering from fine dining weddings and deli platters, to a mobile salad bar.

The salad bar is open Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. It will be closed on Sunday’s.

There will be a grand opening in a couple of weeks.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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11 new restaurants open in downtown Hamilton

Downtown and want something Peruvian for lunch? Maybe some Pollo a La Brasa and Aji Sauce? How about some Empanadas?

Culantro Peruvian Cookery on King William, a block west of the Lister Block, is just one of a growing number of independent restaurants popping up in the core. Last year, the city says 11 restaurants operated by independent owners opened downtown, not including the growing Ontario-established Burrito Boyz chain.

Kathy Drewitt, executive director for Hamilton’s Downtown BIA, explained they are all independent mom and pop shops rather than the typical restaurant chains.

“There are a lot of new restaurants coming in offering very eclectic palates that will appeal to anyone who likes different flavours of food,” she said. “We just had a new Peruvian restaurant open up and who would’ve thought a Peruvian-themed restaurant would appeal to those in Hamilton?”

Culantro Peruvian Cookery opened up on Dec. 1 and Drewitt has been told the restaurant keeps running out of food because they have become quite popular.

Another popular restaurant is Jack & Lois on James Street North, which was voted best new restaurant by Hamilton Magazine last year.

Named after his grandparents, owner Eric Bowden opened his retro-styled restaurant in February and has seen a steady increase in clientele.

“I wanted to open on James Street North particularly because of what was going on down there,” he explained. “I was working in downtown Hamilton at the time and decided to look up some properties on Craigslist. I looked at the neighbourhood and I decided I wanted to make this happen because Hamilton is far more interesting right now in terms of rejuvenation.”

He said it is easier to operate in Hamilton than Toronto because costs, such as rent, are lower.

“There is a lot of undiscovered gems in Hamilton,” Bowden said. “It’s a great place to shoot films, the arts is developing, there is a music scene; it’s burgeoning. The city is setting itself for success right now and councillors are changing antiquated laws for new business owners. They’re not perfect but they’re listening and making changes.”

Drewitt pointed out the usual corporate models, such as Kelsey’s or Jack Astors, don’t fit well in downtown storefront units.

“They usually want bigger spaces and lots of parking,” she said.

The proximity to entertainment facilities, including Copps Coliseum and Hamilton Place, is also a plus, she added.

There are more than 180 restaurants in the Downtown BIA, which is the area within MacNab, Rebecca, Mary and Hunter streets, as well as James Street North and South.

“You can see all the different flavours of restaurants that we have and you don’t have to go far to find a good restaurant downtown,” Drewitt said. “There’s a lot of variety, which is great for everyone.”

New restaurants that opened in 2012:
Culantro Peruvian Cookery, 47 King William Street, 905-777-0060
Baltimore House, 43 King William Street, 905-526-3408
U Shao BBQ, 27 John Street S., 905-521-8880
Corner Tea House & Asian Bistro, 29 John Street N., 905-527-0739
8090 Tea House, 149 King Street E., 905-525-8788
It’s a Food Thing, 49 King William Street, 289-808-2155
Jack & Lois, 301 James Street N., 289-389-5647
Ben & Thanh Thai & Vietnamese Restaurant, 113 James Street N., 905-528-6888
Appleberry Café, 312 King Street E., 905-962-8488
Radius, 151 James Street S, 905-393-1658

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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