What was meant to be a short-term dive into business so she could work from home and be with her young children turned into a career change for Stettler’s Lorisa Bower, one which has not only recently brought her a nomination in the Woman Entrepreneur Award field at the Alberta Business Awards of Distinction, but also a great deal of satisfaction and happiness.
A physiotherapist by trade and education, Bower joined her husband at his business, Metalex Metal Buildings Inc., which at the time was run from their farm just outside of Stettler. Helping out on the business side, despite her lack of business training, allowed her to continue to work but be with the couple’s young children during their younger years.
The goal was always to return to physiotherapy as they grew older, but as time went on, Bower became more and more involved with Metalex, learning the ropes not just of the business end but of the fabrication end as well.
Don Parsons, who joined Metalex seven years ago, nominated Bower for the award, and was “beyond thrilled” when he found out that she’d made it through to the final round.
“You won’t find any shortage of people who support her,” he said. “She is very humble and she doesn’t get a lot of recognition, and she does a lot of these things, a bottomless pit of giving-ness.”
Parsons, who, over the years, has run his own businesses, never meant Stettler to be a permanent stop in his life, but something about Metalex — particularly, working with Bower — snagged him and he’s been here since.
“If you would have told me I would have settled down in Stettler, I wouldn’t have believed you,” he said. “Rural Alberta? I’m from cities.”
Parsons said that Bower’s upbeat personality, fair treatment of employees and natural gift for business has made her the ideal boss.
“People want to work with her,” he said. “We’ve had people who’ve quit come back, come back at lower wages, just to work here.”
For her part, hearing the praise heaped on her by Parsons makes Bower squirm and insist she isn’t anything special — it’s the team at Metalex that makes the business a success — unlike many businesses during the economic uncertainty, Metalex still has bookings for months in advance.
Parsons doesn’t buy it though.
“I’ve been a business person, a business owner, myself,” he said. “She’s helped take this company from nothing but a small home-based operation that had a few hundred units a year, that never had any real intention to be much more than that, to a company that builds thousands.”
Without any actual business training, the process for Bower has been a learning one, and she confessed that early on, she made her fair share of mistakes, things she learned from. It’s just experience, she insisted — but Parsons said Bower had a natural understanding of business, something that can’t always be learned in school.
“She’s always up when things are crashing and burning,” Parsons noted. “She’s magical that way. Gifted. She needs to recognize the scope of what she does.”
“For her, it’s just everyday. For the rest of us, it makes this the best place to work. Metal buildings aren’t sexy, but working here is so satisfying.”