Empowering Your Workforce: An Interview with Ron Lovett

Empowering Your Workforce: An Interview with Ron Lovett

This week, we got the opportunity to speak with Ron Lovett, the founder and Chief Alignment Officer of Connolly Owens. Ron is an entrepreneur, founder of Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) Atlantic Canada, five time winner of Atlantic Business magazine’s Top 50 CEO award, founder of VIDA Living, the author of Outrageous Empowerment: The Incredible Story of Giving Employees Their Brains Back, just to name a few. In our interview, we spoke to Ron about his unique and powerful approach to empowering employees and why this is crucial for companies to be truly successful.

Prior to being a business owner, you worked as a bouncer at night clubs. What lessons did you gain from your time working there that has helped you in your current ventures?

Dealing with tough conversations, no matter what the situation is. Dealing with customers here I dealt with some of the worst situations you could ever imagine, and it taught me that you have to totally approach these conversations from a place of understanding, empathy, and treating them like they’re your very best friend.

It also taught me how to read body language VERY well. in loud situations, loud music and noise, you really had to learn to read body language. It’s helped me in meetings, allowed me to listen to tone and body language and learn so much more than from just people’s words.

I had to learn how to separate business and friendships at a young age and make sure I didn’t mix both. Having friends working for me, I was able to hold them accountable and treat them well- work is work and off work if off work.

Back then it was so important to have things locked up in a proper contract vs a handshake deal, especially with night clubs being so notorious for not paying.

What sparked your passion for empowering your work force?

Unfortunately I was at rock bottom, and I had no choice but to do something very creative and innovative that hadn’t been done in our industry. Reading and constantly consuming content and being involved in Entrepreneurs Organization allowed me to get inspired and learn from other entrepreneurs. Companies like Starbucks and Southwest stories inspired me.

What changes did you noticed in your own companies’ once you shifted the focus to empowering your employees?

We threw out the rule book completely and everything changed. Not just from our retention and our customer service- my own time became more strategic and proactive vs reactive… everything changed. We threw out all policy and procedures, and shifted to simple, scaleable systems.  Employees were given a simple three-pronged decision-making process (In short: Is it the right thing for the customer? Is it the right thing for the business? Are you willing to be accountable?) and were able to make decisions on their own. 

This resulted in front line employees making their own decisions then telling us what they did and why they did it.  We now had minimum wage employees acting strategically. I can’t TELL you how much that impacted our company. We grew 60% in a 24-month period.

What are the unexpected changes your clients have reported from implementing your strategies?

No decision-making bottlenecks, less bureaucracy, and better relationships with their staff (to name a few). Really getting in front of their human resources problems that had them pulling their hair out. They are now finally taking back control, enjoying it, and turning it into their company’s competitive advantage.

What is the single most important change you recommend companies make to empower their employees?

Get out of their way! I want to sneak 2 in here…One of the #1 things that happens over and over again is people add complexity and bureaucracy as they scale instead of making things simpler. Those things suck the energy out of not just the company, but the founders too.

What’s next for you?

Staying on my path. I am really enjoying what I’m doing with VIDA and Connolly Owens, and I want to focus on growing and scaling these companies

And trying to remind myself to not be in such a rush 🙂

You can find Ron online on his website, Twitter, and LinkedIn. And you can learn more about VIDA Living, which aims to revolutionize affordable housing, here.

5 Coastal Light Fixtures We’re Loving Right Now

5 Coastal Light Fixtures We’re Loving Right Now

nash hinkley lighting
While we are always on board for new trends (hello, modern boho!), we also love a good timeless style. One of our favourites is the Coastal look, which is a natural fit for us here in Atlantic Canada.

There’s something so fresh and welcoming about Coastal decor, and it brings a piece of seaside living to any home, regardless of its proximity to the ocean.

In today’s post, we’re sharing five of our favourite light fixtures from Hinkley Lighting. Hinkley offers both an interior Coastal collection and an exterior Coastal Elements collection, designed to withstand harsh climates and elements, perfect for our Atlantic Canadian winters and salty ocean winds.

Head to our Where to Buy page and search “Hinkley Lighting” to find these fixtures in a showroom near you.

nash hinkley lighting close up halifax nova scotia

The perfect Coastal pendant, the Nash is somehow both unique and classic at the same time. With hand panted stripes and jute rope, the details of Nash bring organic warmth and texture to any space.

See the Nash family here.

Hinkley Lighting Republic

Available in Satin Nickle and Oil Rubbed Bronze, and a variety of styles including flush mounts, pendants, and posts, the Republic fixtures add the perfect coastal vibe to any space in (or outside of) your home. Their resilient finishes feature a 5-year warranty and are resistant to rust and corrosion.

See the Republic family here.

Nantucket Hinkley

A Hinkley classic, the Nantucket features a timeless New England design for the ultimate in vintage nautical chic. The fixture is available in flush mounts, pendants, and posts, in an Aged Brass finish, clear seedy glass panels and durable solid brass construction.

See the Nantucket family here.

hinkley lighting lightovation

The Crew pendant was one of our favourite new releases at this year’s Lightovation, and it’s easy to see why! Offered in crisp Polished Nickel, Black with Heritage Brass, or Robin’s Egg Blue finishes, the single or linear pendants enhance modern, rustic, industrial or coastal spaces alike. They suit so many spaces, but how cute would the Robin’s Egg Blue single pendant be in a cottage kitchen?? *swooon*

See the Crew family here.


Freeport features a classic New England design constructed from a composite material for timeless, traditional style. The fixtures are available in a variety of styles and finishes, and the finish is resistant to rust and corrosion with a 5-year warranty.

For more stylish light fixtures and designs, make sure you’re following us on Instagram and Facebook!


The Future of Renewables: The Latest Industry Trends from Solar Power International 2019

The Future of Renewables: The Latest Industry Trends from Solar Power International 2019

north america smart energy week solar power international

As you may have seen on our LinkedIn and Instagram, our team was down at Solar Power International’s (SPI) Smart Energy Week in Salt Lake City last week. It was an action-packed week, and we got the opportunity to connect with industry leaders and fellow renewable energy enthusiasts and learn about the latest industry trends, product development, and marketplace shifts. The renewable industry is starting to take off here in Atlantic Canada, and we’re so excited about the new innovations and what they will mean for our distributors, contractors, homeowners, and our region as a whole.

Our renewable lines, Canadian Solar, SolarEdge, Kinetic, and AP Systems were all in attendance as well. You can learn more about our lines here.

Among the many exciting trends and product developments, three really stood out.


First, we identified electric vehicle chargers that will work for both commercial and residential spaces. We believe that this will mark a huge step in helping our customer base make the pivot towards global electrification. Not only can EV chargers offer vehicle charging for both home and work, but with WIFI capabilities and partners like EVMatch, the home and business owner can actually rent out their chargers while they are not in use and get paid directly through on-demand services like EVMatch.

Take a look at some of our favourites:

ev chargers nova scotiaLeft to right: JuiceBox Pro 32, 40,or 75 (must be WiFi-enabled), ClipperCreek HCS-40, JuiceNet Edition, AeroVironment EVSE-RS, JuiceNet Edition


Second, something that is especially exciting in the wake of last month’s Hurricane Dorian, was the emergence of electric generators. These generators will eliminate the need for gas powered generators and will be a huge asset for homeowners and during power outages.

A few of our favourites:

Left to right: Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Portable Power Station, Lion Safari LT Power Generator


Last, and most importantly, was the battery storage, which has significant applications for NS. Currently, with grid tied net metering programs making it cost prohibitive to have battery storage, few companies are offering practical solutions for batteries paired with solar. However, this option offers major benefits, like having back-up power from your batteries when power is out.

Customers can also charge their batteries at night during off peak (low cost power) times and then consume/back feed the power during the day during peak (high cost power) times. Another financial benefit of battery storage, and what we will see most commonly from their implementation in Atlantic Canada, is demand side load management. This allows power companies to buy power from your stored batteries when they need it to match shifts in demand. With a central control system from the utility and a compatible battery system, this is already an emerging trend in some markets.

Two manufacturers who really stood out were SolarEdge and their StorEdge Solutions, and Sonnen Group.

These are just a few of the many new developments in the renewable energy landscape. There has never been a better time to make the switch to solar energy, and we’ve committed ourselves to helping to grow and support the solar energy industry in Atlantic Canada. You can learn more about our solar energy services here.

For homeowners, we’re offering free solar energy assessments for your home. Simply fill out our form, and we’ll get back to you within 48 hours with your full report and connect you to a local contractor in your area.

For distributors, we rep four of the top solar lines on the market. You can learn more about the lines here.

Our week at SPI confirmed what we already knew- the future is solar, and we’re thrilled to be playing a role in supporting this future.

To learn more about the exhibition, you can visit the SPI website, and to learn more about our involvement in solar energy, visit our solar page here.

Extend Your Patio Season with Dimplex’s Outdoor Heaters

Extend Your Patio Season with Dimplex’s Outdoor Heaters

dimplex outdoor heater

We had one of those blink-and-you-miss-it summers here in Atlantic Canada, and we don’t know about you but we are clinging to every last bit of outdoor time we can get! If you didn’t get your fill of warm summer evenings on the deck, we have the solution for you!

Dimplex’s line of indoor/outdoor heaters are the perfect way to extend your outdoor season. Available in 1500W, 1800W, and 2200W, they work in a variety of spaces and go from cold to full power in 8 seconds. They’re ideal for balconies, decks, sunrooms, and any outdoor living space.

The heaters come in three settings and have a remote control, so you just need to sit back, relax, and enjoy. The heaters are water tight and are built to withstand temperatures up to -40 C, so they are the perfect match for our Atlantic Canadian climate!

Learn more about the Dimplex indoor/outdoor heaters in the video below, and to find a location near you that carries Dimplex, head to our Where to Buy page!

Summer may be over, but it doesn’t have to feel like it! Dimplex’s heaters will have you enjoying your outdoor living space well into the fall.

For more stylish light fixtures, heating solutions, and designs, make sure you’re following us on Instagram and Facebook!

Introducing aaline Lighting and Acoustics

Introducing aaline Lighting and Acoustics

Sustainable, minimal, modern, innovative- these are just a few of the words that come to mind when we think of our newest lighting line, aaline. We love not only their beautiful, Canadian-made products but also everything this company stands for, and we’re so excited to be repping them to our Atlantic Canadian market.

This year, we made a commitment to focus our efforts on sustainability (including our expansion into solar energy), and aaline was a natural fit. Their beautiful line of minimal architectural lighting and acoustic systems are made from 100% FSC certified hardwood sourced from Canadian forests and high-grade stainless-steel hardware. The units are natural and recyclable, with ultra-low consumption and high performance replaceable LED tubes and are ideal for LEED certified buildings.

Aaline offers a wide range of lighting and acoustic fixtures, from pendants and floor lamps to acoustic modules and panels. Keep scrolling to learn more about their unique collection!

(As with all of our lines, you can head to our interactive map to find a showroom location near you! Unlike our other lines, aaline fixtures aren’t displayed in stores, but you can order through any of these locations.)

pendants aaline halifax nova scotia

Aaline’s minimal, sustainable pendants bring a soothing feel to any home or space. From a single pendant in a residential room (we love it over a dining room table) to multiple pendants filling a larger commercial space (stunning in a high ceilinged lobby), the pendants make an impact where ever they go.

The pendants are available in a variety of sizes and lighting temperatures and can be customized as well.

See the pendant collection here.

light stand aaline halifax

A modern twist on your typical floor lamp, aaline’s light stands offer a sleek and natural lighting solution for your home.

See the light stands here.


Aaline carries a variety of linears in various materials, finishes, and lighting temperatures. Materials include walnut, ash, white oak, and maple and the fixtures are available in various lengths.

See the linear options here, here, and here.

aaline sustinable lighting halifax nova scotia

The wall sconces and mounts from aaline add a subtle but impactful addition to the room. As with the other fixtures, they’re available in a range of materials, finishes, and sizes.

See the wall sconces and mounts.

aaline acoustics and lighting

Aaline acoustics are made from FSC certified Canadian Hardwood and 100% natural wool felt. With a possible 24 unique combinations, and edge-to-edge magnetism, aaline acoustics opens up an endless amount of personalized configurations with scalable adaptability.

See the acoustics collection here.

You can learn more about aaline’s commitment to sustainability here, and you can browse their entire collection here.

For more stylish light fixtures and designs, make sure you’re following us on Instagram and Facebook!

Why (and How) Anyone Can Excel at Sales: An Interview with Eric Fry

Why (and How) Anyone Can Excel at Sales: An Interview with Eric Fry

Eric Fry Sandler Training

This week we’re kicking off an interview series we ran with some of Atlantic Canada’s top business leaders. We got the opportunity to speak with some of the top business and leadership experts in the region and pick their brains on how to thrive in the modern business world.

In our first interview, we spoke with Eric Fry, President and Owner of Sandler Training – Maritimes. Eric is an expert on all things sales, and he shared some valuable insights into how anyone (yes, that includes you!) can excel at sales.

What do you think is the biggest misconception around sales?
Too often there is a stigma attached to being in sales…slippery, slick, sketchy etc.  Sales is the accidental career.  Very few people go to school to become a salesperson yet most professions require some kind of proficiency in sales or business development.  Even non-selling professionals such as accountants, lawyers, engineers, project managers all need to speak with clients and prospects to build their practices.  Many are completely uncomfortable in doing so, mainly because they don’t have a system for selling.

What is the number one thing that holds people back when it comes to sales?
Too many sales people talk too much.  They focus entirely on themselves and their features and benefits rather than the prospect’s problem they are trying to solve.  Much of sales is about developing good listening and questioning skills.  Our value as a sales professional is not determined by the amount of information we dispense, but rather than amount of information we collect.
Interview with Eric FryDo you believe some people are better suited to sales, or can anyone be a sales person with the right training and motivation?
I believe sales people aren’t born.  They are made.  With the right training, motivation and plan they develop into true sales professionals.  Some assume they are too introverted to be successful in sales.  I would completely disagree with this.  Introverts are often better listeners and can be highly effective sales professionals once they have a system they can comfortably follow.

What’s the number one tip you would give an individual looking to improve their sales skills?
Follow the 30/70 rule.  In a sales meeting, speak 30% of the time and listen 70% of the time.  And ask good compelling questions.  People like to buy but don’t like being sold to.  Focus on the client and their needs, park your features and benefits and have the prospect self-discover they need what you have.

And an organization looking to improve their sales?
Implement a sales system across your organization.  Have your sales team speaking the same language and process.  This aligns an organization and will lead to more sales and higher margins.

Eric Fry

Sandler Training – Maritimes

Your company, Sandler Training, has received numerous accolades, including #1 Sales Training Company by Entrepreneur Magazine. What do you attribute to its success?
Sales people know what to do, but typically struggle with how to do it.  It’s one thing to say “I need to get more qualified leads in my funnel”, or “I need to stop accepting think-it-over’s from prospects” or “I need to manage my time more effectively”.  It’s another to know how to move the needle on any of these without having the tools and processes in place that may not be available.  I believe what sets us apart is our approach and training is very practical utilizing tools and strategies that can be implemented immediately.  Most of our programs are long term, reinforced learning incorporating practice and role playing to have participants master the material and adapt it to what works for them.

Is there anything you’ve learned about sales that has helped you in other areas of life, such as your personal life?
I used to think I was a great listener until my wife told me I was awful.  Much of what is taught in our programs can be used in everyday life.  Adapting to various communication styles, asking good questions, demonstrating a variety of body language and tonality techniques are a few examples of how we can improve our personal and professional relationships.

What’s next for you?
We still have a lot of work to do in Atlantic Canada to help professionals in virtually any industry become better versions of themselves both professionally and personally.  So I don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon!

Interested in learning more? Sandler Training is holding an Intensive 2-Day Sales Bootcamp this Wednesday and Thursday. Check out the event for more information!

For more from Eric, head to the Sandler Training website and LinkedIn.

And to stay up to date on all of the latest industry news, make sure you’re following us on LinkedIn!

Reveal: Our Collab with the QE2 Home Lottery

Reveal: Our Collab with the QE2 Home Lottery

QE2 Home Lottery the adorne collection legrand1

wall plates and outlets from the adorne collection

As you may have seen on Instagram, we got the opportunity to collab on this year’s QE2 Home Lottery! Wadden Electric approached us about outfitting the home with wall plates and outlet’s from Legrand’s adorne and radiant collections, we were so excited to be a part of the project!

Homes by Highgate built the gorgeous lake front home in Indigo Shores, and we worked with their designer, Nancy of Fine Interiors, to choose the perfect plates for the home.

QE2 Home Lottery the adorne collection legrand 4

wall plates and outlets from the adorne collection

We chose fixtures from Legrand’s adorne collection for the entire downstairs and the master bedroom and went with the radiant collection for the upstairs. The adorne collection is Legrand’s designer wall plate line, and the plates are available in a wide range of colours and metals. They are absolutely stunning and a true decor piece.

QE2 Home Lottery the adorne collection legrand

wall plates and outlets from the adorne collection

The radiant collection is Legrand’s screwless wall plate line, and they offer a sleek modern look at a lower price point than the adorne collection.

QE2 Home Lottery the radiant collection legrand 7

wall plates and outlet from the radiant collection

Both collections offer a variety of cool features including USB outlets, wifi lighting, and pop out outlets.

QE2 Home Lottery the adorne collection legrand 9

wall plate and outlet (with USB) from the adorne collection

QE2 Home Lottery the adorne collection

wall plate and outlet (with USB) from the adorne collection

To find a Legrand showroom near you, head to our Where to Buy page. Just search “Legrand” and our interactive map will show you every available location around Atlantic Canada!

If you haven’t already, be sure to stop by the Qe2 Home Lottery and pick up your tickets to be entered to win this gorgeous home! And check out Homes by Highgate, Fine Interiors, Legrand, and Wadden Electric to stay up to date on all their latest projects.

For more gorgeous fixtures, collabs and lighting inspo, make sure you’re following us on
Instagram and Facebook!

Enter to Win Our End of Summer Giveaway with R Studios (worth over $1000!!)

Enter to Win Our End of Summer Giveaway with R Studios (worth over $1000!!)

halifax nova scotia

Our final summer long weekend giveaway is here, and we’ve teamed up with some of our favourite local businesses to bring you our most epic giveaway yet. ✨

One lucky winner will receive:

1. 1 YEAR membership to R Studios
2. A private sip and sweat with you and 20 friends with R Studios owner, Connie McInnes
3. Some @dalslighting bulbs (those awesome colourful lightbulbs you’ve seen us share all over Instagram!)
4. A fancy hair dryer from from Dime Salon (value $250), AND
5. A custom illustration of one or two people, professionally printed by Elena Camille Creates.

All you have to do is:

1. Like our photo on Instagram
2. Follow @rstudiosns @theconniemae @catalystelectrics @dimesalonhfx @elanacamillecreates
3. Tag your friends in the comment section.

Winner will be announced August 29.

Thanks to everyone for participating and good luck!!

Understanding efficiencyPEI’s New Solar Energy Incentive Programs (and Why Now is the Time to Act!)

Understanding efficiencyPEI’s New Solar Energy Incentive Programs (and Why Now is the Time to Act!)

efficiency pei solar energy rebate

photo: Welcome PEI

This month, efficiencyPEI launched its brand new Solar Electric Rebate Program, making solar energy more affordable than ever for homeowners, businesses, and farms on the Island. A solar energy system offers a great financial return and allows homeowners to save money on their electric bills in the long run, but the start up costs can be limiting. Thanks to the new programs available, however, Islanders now have the support they need to get started with solar.

At the moment, there are both rebate and financing programs available, and you can take advantage of both.

First let’s look at the Solar Electric Rebate Program.

Solar Electric Rebate Program

This program offers a rebate on new solar installations for both residential and commercial/farms. Funding for this program is set at $2 million, so it won’t last forever. If you have been considering solar energy, now is the time to act before funding runs out. Nova Scotia has been offering a similar program, and due to the huge demand it received, the rebate return had to be decreased after a few months. We don’t know how things will play out in PEI, but it’s worth noting that the current rebate rates may go down in the future before funding runs out.

solar pv panel efficiencyPEI

photo: efficiencyPEI

The following rebates are currently available:

Incentive Levels (Residential):
$1,000 per installed kilowatt. Or $1.00/W
Not to exceed 40% total of installed costs.
Not to exceed $10,000 for residential installations.
Expansions to existing systems apply.
Minimum system size of 1kW
Off grid systems do not apply.

Incentive Levels (Commercial/Farms):
$350 per installed kilowatt.
Not to exceed 40% total of installed costs.
Not to exceed $10,000 for commercial/farm installations.

Please note that applications and approval must be complete before anything is installed.

Solar Financing Program

In addition to the new rebate program, financing options are also available on solar installations. This is a huge win for both homeowners and businesses because the start-up costs for solar installations are one of the main barriers for adoption. PEI’s solar financing program offers eligible applicants a repayable loan up to $25 000 towards 100% of invoiced costs. The loan has a fixed rate of 5% per year and is repayable over a period of 15 years.

solar energy financing PEI

The financial benefits of going solar

The return on investment of a solar energy system is huge and offers value in a number of different ways, both in the short term and the long term. First of all, your power bill goes down since you are generating most of your own energy via a free source (the sun!).

This is one of the best investments a homeowner can make- the average return is over 10% which beats any historical stock, mututal fund or bond.

Second, you’re protected from power bill hikes for the lifetime of your system (approximately 30 years). Overall, you’re estimated to save over $53 000 during the lifetime of your system.

And finally, a solar system adds value to your home and is estimated to increase the value by a minimum of the cost of the solar system and as much as 20%.

At Catalyst, we’re committed to supporting the adoption of solar energy throughout Atlantic Canada. One way we’re doing this is by offering free solar energy assessments for all residents.

Simply fill out our form, and we’ll get back to you within 48 hours with your customized solar report, which provides a cost estimate for your system.

Get your free solar assessment here!