John Thomson  

John Thomson's I Didn't Know That!

I am going to try to answer some of the e-mails I have received over the last couple of weeks regarding SOPA Square, the new high rise commercial and residential property on South Pandosy. Yes there are some snags in the development at the moment. Ed and Stacey Fenwick, the developers, are in the marketplace for some new money to finish the project with their partners. This project has been ten years in the making, planning and building. There were no people that spoke out about the development - everyone at the public meeting was for the project from the beginning.

Stacey is a very sharp young lady and has been a boon to her father from the start. The project when finished will be a 40,000 sq. ft. of retail space and 140,000 sq. ft. of residential. So, the tenants can live upstairs and come down stairs for lunch and dinner.

Like all developers of these major ventures, things change along the way and from the crash in the 2008-2010 period things have changed dramatically for builders and developers and what was a plan earlier may not be anymore.

The developers are certainly talking to money people about finishing the square as they had planned from the start. It is a tough market out there and things take a little longer to gel today. The Fenwick’s need a little time to work out all the details and they will. That building is so important to the south end of the city and we know it.

This is an $80 million game changing development for South Kelowna. It is the first mixed use development of its kind in Kelowna. The developers started when they broke ground for the 73,000 sq. ft. underground parking garage in 2010.

Stacey is the team leader of marketing for SOPA Square and the team has successfully leased the commercial space to local businesses including Bliss Bakery, Mission Meats, Codfather's Seafood Market and the Twisted Roots Market. 

It will be a great place to shop and live.


We wanted to have our carpets cleaned before Christmas. We had heard the radio ads for Stutters Disaster Cleanup announcing a new division that would come out to the house and do all the carpets. Who better than a company that does and has done disaster cleanup since 1982. We called and made an appointment and the reason that I am telling you this is because their reputation precedes them. Mike Otto was the man in charge of the cleaning. He was on the job immediately and told my wife it would take about four hours to dry. He worked quickly with no mess and the carpets were looking good again. He asked if there was anything else we wanted done and proceeded to leave me his card. We were pleased with the work and because of this winter dirt will need him again soon. I know how difficult it is to get people to work on jobs around the house and it seems everyone we call today to do simple jobs wants $100 up front. You never know if it works out and we have been very lucky. With Mike Otto and Stutters doing your carpeting you have a good guarantee. 


The MLS system shows 6 residential properties sold in January over $1 Million. These were: 2 Acreages, 1 Townhome, 1 Lakeshore Strata and 2 Single Family Dwellings sold with one selling for $3.1 Million.

This is the January report for real estate in Kelowna: compiled for me by Colin Krieg from the Krieg Family at ReMax.

Sales in the Single Family Dwellings reached 107 in January which is 5% above 2012 and just below our 21 year average, of 116 sales.

Listings show a slight increase to a total of 1,196 which is 5% lower than last year’s January.

Percentage of Listings vs. Sales - We are still clearly in a buyer’s market at only 9% of the listing inventory selling, but improved over Jan 2012 at 8.1% and Jan 2011 with only 7.7% of the inventory selling. 9% of listings selling equals to 11 months of inventory, where a balanced market starts at about 15% of inventory selling in one month or a 6 month inventory supply.

Average Price Holding Steady - The average price here in Kelowna was $465,292 last month which is above last year's January by 12%, but just about identical to the 2012 average at $465,914.

Conclusion - 2013 looks like it is starting out pretty good, nevertheless with only 9% of the inventory sold, it is nothing really to get excited about. There are still lots of room for improvement, but we are also finding that people are getting more optimistic now and spring is just around the corner.


I interviewed Don Turri, FCA, a partner at MacKay LLP in Kelowna who has recently become the first person in the Okanagan to earn the FEA (Family Enterprise Advisor) designation offered by the Institute of Family Enterprise Advisors (“IFEA”).

This is a long and very important interview for the family businesses in the valley so I have divided it up into two parts.

Part 1:

Q.  What exactly is the FEA designation all about?

A.  The FEA designation was the end result of UBC’s Sauder School of Business starting the Business Families Centre in 2001. The BFC was created to provide business families and their professional advisors with the resources necessary to allow the business to become or remain a multi generational business. In 2008 a formal training program, the Family Enterprise Advisor Program, was established to allow professionals to enhance their ability to assist business families with issues such as governance, relationships, strategy, wealth preservation and succession from one generation to the next. The FEA designation in turn was created to allow those who completed the Family Enterprise Advisor Program and completed the exam and credential process required by IFEA to be certified as experts in advising to family enterprise. So essentially, those looking for help with their family enterprise issues will know that anyone with an FEA designation has met all of the training and standards required.

Q.  So are all FEA’s trained to help business families with the same sort of things?

A.  Well, FEA’s come from a wide range of disciplines. Some of us deal with clients as accountants/tax advisors, others are wealth managers, lawyers, mediators, family therapists, insurance specialists, private bankers or corporate coaches. Having all come through the same program we have a lot of common knowledge but we all have our own area of specialty. Depending on a particular client’s circumstances it may mean that it will take more than one or several advisors to meet the client’s needs. I think the key is having the expertise to assess the client’s real issues and knowing who to call on for help.

Q.  You’ve been advising business families for a long time. Why did you decide to work towards the FEA designation now?

A.  As my clients started thinking about succession and making their family enterprise multi generational I started spending more and more time helping them transition their business, either to family, management or an outright sale. I also ended up asked to help with issues that arise in family businesses between generations and within generations. And, while I had the technical accounting and tax skills to help them, I began to realize that there was a lot more going on in the meeting rooms than was apparent on the surface. And I knew that I needed to know more if I was really going to be able to help families find solutions to their problems. The program really expanded my skill set to allow me to identify key issues and problems that had gone un-addressed and help clients with communication and facilitation matters.

Q.  What  is it that make family businesses so different from non family controlled businesses ?

A.  One factor would be survival. Only 30% of family enterprises survive to the second generation and less than 13% make it to the third generation. And a key reason for that is that you need to have a successful family to have a successful family business in the long run. Ultimately it is the family values and needs that will direct the focus of the business. As subsequent generations become involved matters like proper communication and governance of the family and the business become more important. If a family ignores this their chances of the business continuing in the family drop dramatically. Successful multi generational business families have figured this out, either intuitively or with the help of advisors.

This has been the first part of the interview Don Turri.  The second part will be in next week’s column.

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