Entrepreneurial Success Stories

A panel discussion at the upcoming Southwest Business & Entrepreneur EXPO

Three local speakers – an artist, auctioneer and butcher - will share rural entrepreneurial success stories at the 2nd Annual Southwest Business and Entrepreneur Expo on Feb. 6 at the RES Centre in Reston. Kathleen Lagasse, Brock Taylor and Darcy Neufeld are business people who will be a part of the panel discussion groups.

It is not enough to have a good idea, the right product and the market to sell it to in order to sustain a company. There are several components of starting a small business that make an entrepreneur successful and the many challenges that may cause their business to fail. The panel hopes to share their secrets to success and identify potential ways on how other entrepreneurs may overcome similar challenges in growing their business.

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Kathleen Lagasse: Lagasse’s Studio of Fine Arts

Kathleen Lagasse developed a passion for art at a very young age. As a young artist, she always struggled to find a shop to display her art. Most places shied away from consignment and often bought wholesale from overseas. Now as an adult, everything came into place.

Lagasse established and built her reputation as an art teacher in her basement. Later on, it made sense to get a space uptown. In 2015, along with her husband, Robert, they decided to open a gallery in Souris. The first location was a small space that she rented for a year and a half. Word spread like wildfire and soon enough, the space got small. Lagasse had around 15-20 artists and 50-100 students by the next spring.

In 2016, Lagasse was nominated for the YWCA Women of Distinction Award in Brandon. A few months later, Robert and Kathleen decided it was time to purchase a much larger space across the street. It was the best thing they ever did because the gallery took on a life of its own.

The studio has close to 70 members. Lagasse teaches various art classes, with over 500 students coming from different areas. She also travels to communities to teach and has taught in Cypress River, Hartney, Deloraine, Killarney, Cartwright, Wawanesa, Boissevain and Brandon.

Gallery members come from across Manitoba: Gillam, Flin Flon, Minnedosa, Swan Lake, Swan River, Brandon, Winnipeg, Selkirk, Portage, Elgin, Souris, to name a few. Items for sale include: pottery, sculptures, jewelry, wood carvings, furniture, weaves, and original paintings.

Lagasse makes it a rule to meet with all her artists often as they are eager to bring in something they recently created.  

These newly added art pieces make the gallery look fresh and exciting every time a customer comes in.

Brock Taylor: Pipestone Livestock Sales   

Brock Taylor was born and raised in Reston, Manitoba. Coming from a family with a passion for the agriculture industry, he has always been a part of that in the communities he is involved in. From the small feedlot business and the auction service, to the livestock marketing and export business. The Taylor name has been around the surrounding communities for many years.

In 1995, Brock graduated from Reston Collegiate. He then completed the first two levels of carpentry in Brandon. Afterwards, he moved back home and lived on the family’s small feedlot property where he custom fed cattle and started into the auction business with his parents.

An opportunity to purchase a livestock market came available in Melita. Brock, his wife Kelly and his parents, Ross and Pat joined together to purchase and operate what is now called Taylor Auctions. In 2013, a worker shortage caused Taylor’s to suspend cattle sales but continue to export from the Melita location. 

In 2015, a fire destroyed the entire property. There was never a question about what would take place. It would be rebuilt, and it was. After this, Ross Taylor Auction Service merged with Taylor Auctions to become one business providing a farm sale business alongside the cattle export and order buying services.

In the fall of 2017, Brock, Kelly, and their three boys entered a partnership with the Parks family, to re-open Pipestone Livestock Sales in Pipestone, Manitoba. This new venture provided a local sale barn in the area.

With Brock’s parents stepping back into semi retirement, Brock, Kelly, and their boys are taking on a few different avenues to provide the same services. This includes farm sales, cattle sales, order buying, and a cattle background operation just south of Reston.

Darcy Neufeld: Bar Y Meats   

Darcy, Sharlotte, and their three kids moved to the Turtle Mountain Area, Southeast of Deloraine in January 2017. They came from Southwest Saskatchewan where they managed a 27,000-acre community pasture for the federal government. Upon closure of the community pasture program they were in search of a new home and new employment opportunities. 

The place they found in southwest Manitoba suited their family. It also came with an unexpected business opportunity. They purchased a fully functional meat producing facility that had previously been used for recreational cutting and wrapping. With a few minor changes, the place was approved as a Provincial Government Inspected meat cutting facility.

 In June 2017, Bar Y Meats started producing their signature product, smoked farmer sausage knowing it was a very unique product that could not be found on most grocery store shelves. Their commitment in applying foundational methods is what sets them apart from most other meat producers. They use a smoking method handed down to over three known generations, giving Bar Y Meat products that signature taste. Since then, their product list has greatly expanded. Bar Y also offers custom cutting and wrapping for wild game, beef and pork as well as wholesale and retail sales.

Bar Y Meats welcomes the public to their shop in the Turtle Mountains. The Neufelds’ focus on quality and service where customers’ needs are met and a relationship is built with their meat provider and are always looking to expand their business and create new relationships with potential customers.

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