The twists and turns of entrepreneurship in a small town

Above, Local entrepreneur and multi-business owner Lisa Lalonde-Boucher shows off the inside of one of her new Voyago transfer trucks. Smith photo, Nation Valley News

Kelsey Smith
Nation Valley News

WINCHESTER — Local multi-business woman and firefighter Lisa Lalonde-Boucher is no stranger to the hardships of owning a business. In fact she owns two, runs another new one and runs them all out of her office at the North Dundas Business Centre in Winchester.

Owning your own business allows you to make your own hours, do what you love, and help your local economy. But what happens when the things you’ve worked so hard on for years is ripped out right from under you beyond your control?

That is precisely what happened to Boucher just months before her new Equine Management Program was set to launch, Feb. 10 and had already accepted six students.

In late October the Ford government dissolved the Ontario College of Trades. This program trained people in hands-on skills from brick laying to plumbing and in this case horse handling.

This Bill — Bill 47 — was the same one that froze minimum wage.

As a Conservative follower herself Boucher was shocked when the Ford government passed the Bill.

“It was absolutely heartbreaking! After all the years I spent developing this program, researching funding, planning guest speakers, getting the support of several vets, feed mills, farriers, animal care and equine professionals, they were all canceled, just like that!” Lalonde-Boucher said.

“All those years of work suddenly meant nothing and went right down the toilet,” she explained.

Not only was her Equine Management Program shut down before it even started but so was her government-funded Animal Care Program in Akwesasne.

The course was to start Jan. 7.

Lalonde-Boucher has had quite the ups and downs this past year.

She launched her first business Train “Now” Ontario on Queen St., in Chesterville last April. Then in June her second business Premier Medics hit the road for medical coverage at events. In October she reached out to Nation Valley News to help her promote the new equine program through a social media video. Despite amazing feedback and signing up six students for the class, the good news was short-lived.

Lalonde-Boucher got the horrific news that her program was being canceled just 4-days after the video went live on Facebook.

The news sent her into the ‘depths of despair’ as she put it.

For the first time in a long time she didn’t know what her next move was.

“How did I get here?” she wondered.

The entrepreneur was forced to start sending out resumes.

Upon sending out resumes she got a call about an interview for a paramedic job out of Tweed. After an amazing first interview she was immediately called in for a second and then was told she would be contacted by the general manager for Voyago.

He made the trip to Winchester and was thrilled with her setup and immediately offered her a partnership as a Voyago Broker.

Lalonde-Boucher was beyond excited and happily agreed to the new opportunity.

Above, A very enthusiastic Lisa Lalonde-Boucher shows off the interior of her new Voyago transfer truck. Smith photo, Nation Valley News

“I couldn’t have gotten through this past year without the support of the business community and my family,” she said.

She found inner-strength she never knew she had.

“I’m proud of myself for taking a chance even though I felt like a failure,” she admitted. “But the main thing is I wasn’t too afraid to try.”

Lalonde-Boucher wanted to share her story in hopes that it would open everyone’s eyes as to just how hard it is to run a small business now-a-days and to tell others that things aren’t always as they seem.

“Although we small business owners might look like we have it all together, there is always more than meets the eye,” she confessed.

Her journey may not have been the smoothest but in the end she managed to come out with the usual smile on her face.

Lalonde-Boucher’s latest business venture as a Voyago Broker officially launched last Tuesday, February 19.

Voyago offers hospital transfers both commercially and privately. It is a perfect option for persons with disabilities and immobilities that make attending appointments difficult.

Voyago has also recently received the exclusive contract to the Winchester District Memorial Hospital (WDMH).

It currently runs two trucks, employs 10 and is currently looking for four additional team members.

Above, Lisa shows off one of her new Voyago transfer trucks. Smith photo, Nation Valley News

Their longest run so far was picking up a patient in Peterborough transferring them to Ottawa and then returning them back to Peterborough.

Lalonde-Boucher joked that their shortest transfers — which they get quite often — are from the Dundas Manor to WDMH.

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