FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Dave Kalinchuk
December 1, 2015
“I like to tell people that I love my job because promoting Alberta is like “falling off a log” – we have so much going for us here. It’s the people, the projects and the prospects that make economic development so enjoyable”
The David (Dave) Kalinchuk story … started selling vegetables. Well, that was his first taste of the economy. Small town boy makes good. Good story, but really? Virden, Manitoba may be the ‘oil capital’ of Manitoba – but what makes a farm boy right for economic development leader of the country that rings Calgary – or as I like to think of it, Calgary’s expansion joint. Seriously, Rocky View is much more than the land of future annexations and I thought meeting a guy who looks at Calgary from the outside, but not from very far, would be a good idea. Dave and I have three things in common - love of cooking, writing and singing. Alright, to those who've heard me - I fail on the singing. Otherwise, we share cooking, wriring and hairstyles ...
Virden, pop. 3,500, #3 kid of five. Mom is a nurse, dad a school teacher – they lived on a small farm. He admits to being a high achieving student, track-lete, music-guy, singer. I’m not musical so I probably asked all the wrong questions – but I found out he’s a tenor with a very good ear, he’s been singing for a very long time. His group the Brandon University Chorale toured Europe, even sang at the Vatican for Pope John Paul II. University of Brandon offered teacher’s training, and he acquired a B.Ed. but by then wanted to do something else – and teaching didn’t take. And, there were no teaching jobs! He then did a business program at the University of Oklahoma. Employment-wise, he hustled interviews, sold advertising and wrote the news for the WestMan Gazette for two years, then got a job as an Economic Development Officer in Virden. Job hunting, he applied across Canada, and got three offers – he took the offer from Prince Rupert where he spend two years as Economic Development Manager. He says the push/pull of wet coast vs. being nearer family made Calgary look pretty good. He’s been Economic Development Manager at Rocky View County since 2001.
He’s adventured around politics since university days – describe himself as a big-C conservative. He got involved in politics in Manitoba, but found more interest on the economic development front than seeking elected office [but, hey, he’s still pretty young], getting involved in CEDA work in Europe. I came away realizing that’s a mix of ambition and following his bride to her home country … but seriously, he’s done some serious work there and it seems to be more than just resume building.
Why are you successful? “confidence, cultivation of political connections, entrepreneurial drive from my farm background – but mostly my work on the Premier’s Economic Development Advisory Committee when I was twenty-two which got me excited about economic development.”
What has held you back? “Family time commitments.”
What’s next? “Calgary is where I’ve wanted to be. I’ve reached a good place – comfortable financial stability, family thriving and working on another book. We travel to eastern Europe often to spend time with my wife’s family. I have interests in economic development work there …”
I asked Dave how he sees his businesses – running Rocky View’s economic development office; what’s in store for Alberta over the next 90 days, current quarter, and for this coming year?
… with low commodity prices currently impacting Alberta, individuals, companies and communities will continue to tighten belts, look for ways to be more resilient. Out of necessity will come great innovation and positive change for future generations and diversification of the Alberta economy. Boom and bust cycles are not new - we’ve been to this rodeo before. We aren’t into smoke-stack chasing. Taking care of our business drivers, keeping things going and open, is as much a part of our role as recruiting new developments.
And over the next five years?
… Rocky View is in the process of developing a new Economic Development Strategy. This will build on the strengths of the County and paint of picture of where our success will be over the next five years. The role of CN’s Calgary Logistics Center in Conrich will be a big part of this. Rocky View is the envy of many communities …
What qualities distinguish your preferred colleagues, collaborators and suppliers?
… I value relationships and admire people who have become experts in their field. I believe in cross-pollination of ideas and innovation that comes from collaboration and partnership. I am big on quality and performance but also appreciate repeat business through previous success with quality people with a proven track record (and their teams) that make success happen, time-after-time.
What causes people to choose Dave Kalinchuk and Rocky View County, why do they do business with you?
… out-of-the-box approach. I am a non-conformist. I like to zig when everyone else is zagging. I win more often than I lose…
How would you describe your leadership or management style?
.. efficient, sincere, progressive - believe in hiring the best people for specific projects. I want to empower people to perform and will remove whatever barriers may stand in their way. I am a firm believer in leverage and tapping into the energy of people that are truly the best in their business.
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
.. rarely. I occasionally lie awake thinking … I make notes, lots and lots of notes…
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… my dad – Ron Kalinchuk; my pastor and friend Rev. Doug Johnston; my first boss in Manitoba – Wayne Rudneski; a former Prince Rupert EDC Board Chair – Clayton Williams; and my first boss at the M.D. of Rocky View – Peter Kivisto
Work life balance, do you have it?
.. I do not struggle. Amazing wife, Olga and two beautiful children, aged 7 and 3.. So, honestly, my work never really feels like a chore. [Dave met Olga in an airport in Toronto – giving hope to all of us who chat up strangers when we travel].
… I tell people that the root meaning of the word “recreation” is to recreate the time in your life when you didn’t work. On holidays, I am most often ‘off the continent’ in Europe, spending time with family and friends. I am a culinary horticulturalist/avid gardener. Written and published Rich for the Right Reasons, working on a second book. I love to cook and host friends for lavish dinners. I also love art, music and all things beautiful in life.
What do you read?
… daily-reader of commodity and investment articles and blogs.
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