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The Lessons in Business of Pivoting and Delegation - Michael's Coffee Shop and Bakery

  • Sunrise Success Stories

Michaels article

There are situations in life and in business that challenge every entrepreneur. One situation we’ve seen lately is the effects of a global pandemic. Another game changer is when you’re faced with an opportunity to expand your business to other locations. The lessons of rising to the challenge, pivoting your business, and delegating to outstanding staff members are ones that Michael Ellis is currently learning to master.

Michael’s Coffee Shop and Bakery is famous for its delicious cinnamon buns and specialty beverages. The well-known Carlyle business has now located in other southeast communities, including a permanent location in Estevan and a mobile trailer in Weyburn. 

Michael explained how he was able to open his Estevan restaurant in the middle of Covid-19. “We had this project on the go before the (Covid-19) state of emergency was declared,” he said, but it was then put on hold.  He recalled the feelings of uncertainty around the impact of Covid-19 and decided to lay off his entire staff.  After bringing his daughter home from university overseas and a few difficult days coming to terms with the current state of the world, Michael decided to go back to work and continue the Estevan development. And before he knew it, the project was finished.

In June, Michael was given the go-ahead from the health department and was able to begin operations in Estevan. He explained how Covid-19 and social distancing actually benefited his business, because the “limitations gave me time to figure out how to be in business in Estevan”. He was able to bring back his Carlyle staff and had them train the new staff in Estevan, which created an “infusion of knowledge” into his new business.  “I was able to get our staff trained by the people who knew what they were doing, and it was the restrictions that enabled that to happen.”

As for the mobile trailer in Weyburn, Michael discussed how he took a lost opportunity and chose to rise above it.  “That was a pivot,” he began. “The other key to succeeding in this is being willing to change your mindset.  We use the trailer for events, and this year there are no events. But that doesn’t mean we need to sit and wallow in it.” After contacting the City of Weyburn, he was told the trailer needed to be on private property.  Michael reached out to Tim McKinnon, pastor at the Calvary Baptist Church in Weyburn, and he was then able to the park the trailer on the highly visible corner of Highway 13 and 16th Street in Weyburn. 

“I had a resource that wasn’t being used along with a young person who needed of a job. Put it together with the momentum of the expanding in Estevan and the way my company’s reputation is blossoming, it just seemed like a great opportunity to go to another significant population center and make it happen there.” Michael added that the walk-up coffee shop fit in perfectly with the social distancing guidelines and current health regulations. It was a great addition to the Weyburn market for the summer months!

Michael expressed gratitude to CF Sunrise for the loan that helped to “get this business in Estevan off the ground”. He also attended CF Sunrise hosted seminars such as Nail the Numbers and 13 Ways to Kill Your Community. “Those kinds of things have been really valuable,” he said.

Going back to the lesson of learning to delegate, Michael explained how he felt about his business expansion. “A big part of my success is having the right people. There’s only so much that I can just do on my own.  But if I learn this lesson, the sky’s the limit!”