KirIan – With Greek Oregano – Has Been Launched!

Starting a new business is not easy. So many people try to claim that it is, but every business takes a lot of effort, thought, planning, and often, overcoming unforeseen circumstances.

KirIan, a partnership between Greek resident K. Iordanou and myself has been no different, but we’ve finally got our first product ready for sale and have begun taking orders. Orders will be shipped on Tuesday following the holiday weekend, and we’re both very excited about that!

Some may find the backstory to KirIan interesting – the business was not even in the imagination when Ms Iordanou first met in person back in September of 2017. We had known each other for a very long time before the opportunity for a trip to Greece came up. While there, I was so impressed with the food and especially the oregano, that I brought back a considerable amount of the herb for personal use. My son loves oregano – he adds extra to his spaghetti and other dishes – and when he first sampled the stuff I brought back from Greece, his eyes lit up as he experienced the taste.

On a whim, I gave samples of this to friends, family and associates. The reactions were all the same, along the lines of “Wow! This is amazing oregano! Bring more back if you ever go to Greece again.”

With all the positive reaction, the ideas and then discussion about a possible business opportunity came up and for more than one reason, it was not long before I was back in Greece. The majority of the time spent there the second time was about serious discussions and meetings in regard to importing high quality culinary products from Greece, while focusing on the amazing oregano to start with.

Much oregano sampling was done, driving to meet with producers and herb merchants, and learning as much as possible about oregano in general. This meant also perusing scientific papers in journals, learning about Greek Oregano and the differences between that variety and other varieties of oregano, and learning about the trade of herbs in general. We turned up some really interesting information – did you know for example, that much of the supermarket and brand name stuff sold as oregano is not really oregano? Much of it is actually “Common Marjoram,” an herb that is related but not the same. Not only that, many of the producers in Turkey and India adulterate their oregano products, some by as much as 70%!

With this information in hand, we wanted to make sure that anyone who purchased from us, if we went ahead with the business idea, was going to get the BEST Greek Oregano possible, pure and lab tested.

And that is what we found – finally – some great oregano, lab tested, and that met the smell and taste test of oregano experts – Greeks that regularly consume the stuff on a daily basis. Remember the old “Take the Pepsi Challenge” commercials? Basically, that’s what we did – laying out samples of the oregano we had acquired and having friends and family in Greece smell, taste, and make comments on the appearance.

Next Challenges

We thought 90% of the work had been done but we were wrong. We did have a beautiful logo created that we think represents what our business is about – nothing but the best products, and brought to you with love. That is what the new business is about…. and we also wanted our packaging to reflect that as well. We had some major setbacks with packaging after being told by one packaging company that they would have samples out to us – but it took them over a month to do so. That left us scrambling and the timing was really bad, but we pressed on.

Then there were challenges with labeling of the packaging we had selected and we realized that we needed professional advice to create the right labels.

Finally in the past two weeks, everything started to come together – and it was made even more special by the fact that Ms Iordanou was visiting with me here in Canada! Pretty exciting stuff for everyone concerned and along with the great encouragement from friends and associates who had previously sampled our KirIan oregano, and were excited for the opportunity to have more of it!

So now the site has been launched but the work is still not done – orders did come in on the first day, but we’re hoping to get the word out even further about the amazing Greek Oregano that is now available in North America – 100% pure Greek Oregano, grown in Greece and packaged in Orangeville, Ontario!

Have a look and consider comparing what we have imported to what you buy in the supermarket, yourself: <A HREF=”https://kiriangoods.com”>KirIan Oregano</a>

 

Canada Border Services Agents – You Are Jerks

I’ve done quite a bit of international traveling, having visited Jamaica, The Bahamas, the USA, Puerto Rico, and recently, experienced the Customs and Passport Control of several countries including the UK, Germany & Greece.

This has afforded me the experience of knowing what it is like to pass through the borders of other countries as a traveler on a Canadian passport as well as observing how others are treated while traveling on different passports as well.

Returning to Canada is generally pretty simple, relatively quick and without hassle. However, on January 21st, 2018, I got to experience first hand how someone from a foreign nation is treated by Canada’s Border Services at Pearson’s Terminal 1. And quite frankly, I am astonished at the rudeness, lack of civility, and complete lack of empathy for weary travelers and those who have difficulty with the English language.

At no time while traveling to other countries did I see the same arrogance displayed as that by Canadian Border Services agents. And the way the entire system is done, it was easy to observe that ALL the Border Service Agents display a similar rude demeanor. While there are big signs that say “Welcome To Canada,” the attitude by the Canadians that visitors first meet in this country is nothing short of being very unwelcoming.

I realize it is probably a difficult job at times to be a Canadian Border Services agent. However, just like other law enforcement occupations, it is quite likely that many of the agents make it difficult for themselves because of their haughty arrogant attitudes.

The reason I had this experience is that I was traveling to Canada in the company of my lady friend, who is Greek. I had gone to Greece two weeks earlier and my friend returned with me for a visit to Canada. I could have gone through the lineup for those carrying Canadian passports which probably would have been quicker and easier, but I did not want to leave my friend alone.

Her English is very very good, but nervousness and tiredness can cause issues in understanding when the language is not your first. Did the CBS agent take this into consideration? It did not seem so, when my friend got confused when asked if she “had a return ticket” to Greece. In her mind, a boarding pass was a “ticket” and so the question confused her as obviously you cannot check in to your flight and get a boarding pass until less than 24 hours before your flight. The CBS agent barked at her, “Well, you better have a return flight or I might not let you in,” or something to that effect. Then he asked, “Has permanent residence status been applied for?” to which my friend confused this, in the moment of travel fatigue (we had not slept other than a few moments of shuteye on the flights from time to time, for over 24 hours), with the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) that Canada requires of all non-Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents.

I was pretty disgusted and embarrassed by the lack of courtesy afforded to foreigners at the Border Services area. In addition, the lineup was horrendous compared to my experiences in other countries.

In contrast to how I have been treated by the police and passport control agents in other countries, Canada has a lot of work to do to make foreigners truly feel welcome. I have never encountered such rudeness and the egotistical attitude displayed the Canadian agents, anywhere I’ve traveled. I have always received a smile and the conversation has been friendly. Sure, I’ve been asked questions, but not in the same manner as Canada’s CBS agents ask. In addition, the lineups move much more quickly in the other countries that I’ve been in.

If you’re a Canadian Border Services Agent, stop being a jerk. Just because you can be a jerk doesn’t mean you should be. Perhaps the training is all screwed up – I do know that in my own background, I encountered training in my law enforcement role that I totally disagreed with and my own experience was that I could actually accomplish more by being civil and friendly, instead of aggressive and acting like an a**hole.

If you’re planning on visiting Canada as a foreigner, don’t expect a “welcoming feeling” at the border. And on behalf of other Canadians who would not be happy with this sort of treatment, my apologies to you for what you might have to go through.

Meridian Credit Union – Not Great Service

About two years ago, upon the advice of someone and the fact that the Meridian Credit Union branch in Orangeville was closer to me than the bank I had been dealing with, I moved all my banking to Meridian.

I did have a great relationship with all the staff at Scotia Bank – and never ever had any problems with them in the 15 or so years I did my personal and business banking with them.

I am starting to regret my decision to move to Meridian, however. It is true that their fees are somewhat less than Scotiabank but there is more to a banking relationship than inexpensive fees. To be quite truthful, Meridian’s services to small business is atrocious and their communication has been horrible. I’m saddened by that, as it’s actually one of my neighbours who works at Meridian.

The whole debacle started over two months ago. I have been in the process of starting a second business and wanted to know about the difficulty of adding a partner to a new bank account, but that the person lived in a foreign country. I sent a message off to the Meridian support team through their “secure messaging” via my online account, back on October 15th.

The response was quick – the next day I received a reply that my question had been forwarded on to the person that dealt with business accounts in Orangeville.

A few days went by, and I heard nothing. So I emailed the branch directly and also left voice mail messages. It took about two weeks before I finally had a conversation with the business accounts manager. I had explained what I wanted to do, but as soon as I mentioned that the partner was in Greece, that is when things got really weird. Suddenly, they needed to talk with their “Risk  Management Team” to see if it Meridian could accept a Greek resident as an account holder.

With that in mind, I considered that it might be best to just register the business as a sole-proprietorship to get things moving and off the ground.

It literally took weeks again, with voice mails and email followups before I heard back from Meridian. Did I say things got weird during that first phone call? They got even weirder, if that is possible.

When I finally heard back from Meridian after their Risk Management Team got involved, I was then officially told they could not open an account with a resident of Greece as a signatory on the account, if the business was a partnership. But there were ways to do it as an incorporated business, and of course, the other option was a sole-proprietorship.

I advised the Meridian representative that the plan was to open the second  business as a sole-proprietorship, at least to begin with. Did that stop Meridian from being weird? No. The weirdness just got worse.

I listened to the person tell me in a tone of voice that made me feel not like a 54 year old business man who has operated several different businesses over the course of my life, but like some teenager being spoken “down to” by some sort of authority figure, that even if I wanted to open a second account with them, there were going to be requirements.

Let me point out that I was NOT asking for any financing – just wanted to open an account in a different business name – a business that would be importing some goods from Greece and doing retail/wholesale sales here in North America.

Even if it was a sole-proprietorship, Meridian required I provide a brief business plan about estimated sales. But that was not enough. They also required… get that.. REQUIRED to know who both my customers and suppliers would be. I was even asked that, during the phone conversation – “Who will be buying from you, Ian? Friends? Relatives?” What a bizarre question.

“I’ll be trying to sell to as many people as I can, obviously. It’s a business with the intent of making a profit.”

“Well, we would also need to know who your suppliers are, who you are buying from, in Greece.”

I was astonished! They were not merely asking for a simple business plan, but my business blueprint! They were asking me for proprietary information – information that took me hours, days, and weeks to research. IT is not easy to research the best oregano growers in Greece, from Canada. It is not easy to sample 100% pure extra virgin olive oils direct from the growers, in Canada. Unless you know Greek and can understand the Greek alphabet, even browsing websites is not going to help you. No, I went to Greece, twice and we drove around, sampling products, talking to merchants, suppliers and growers there. Those people don’t even do email. It’s personal conversations, face to face.

I’m not giving that information up to anyone. That’s my time, research and expense and many conversations over the course of some months. Why on earth would Meridian want this?

Well… I was told it was to ensure that I was not involved in the trade of marijuana or illegal arms sales. I was totally taken aback by this. When I questioned the need for this information, or even why there would be such a suspicion, I was told directly, “Ian, I know you. But I’ve only known you in business doing your web development. This is a totally different type of business, and it raises concerns.”

Huh??

What sort of Risk Management Team would be worried about someone starting up a second business that is different from their first or primary business? I told the representative that it was pretty nutty to me – that in fact, over the course of my life, I’ve been involved in a number of different businesses including everything from home security, custom fishing rod building, auto care products, and others, and have never had an issue opening a business bank account when needed.

“Well, we’ve only known you in your present business,” was the strange reply I received. I pointed out that many of the most successful entrepreneurs are involved in many types of different businesses – I know some of them – none have ever had such an issue with opening a new business account at their financial institutions. But then, most of them deal with a major financial institution, and not a credit union.

Two or three weeks went by and I spent my time dealing with other issues and things that needed to be done in order to get this second business off the ground. Now it’s time to revisit the bank account, and I decided to give Meridian a second chance. I emailed the branch manager as well the person I had been speaking with, suggesting that maybe the person in their Risk Management Team was having a bad day, or someone else was and asked they revisit the whole thing. To their credit, the Assistant Manager called me the next day.

She seemed to be quite surprised at what I had been told and even went so far as to say that she did not understand why I was told a foreign resident could not be a signatory on the account; normally they would courier documents to the person and asked that they be signed and returned. She also seemed surprised that I was asked to provide so much information just to open a new account when I was not asking for any financing.

She promised me she would get back to me by Wednesday, December 13th. It is now Saturday the 16th, and not a peep from Meridian. It is also now more than two full calendar months since my original inquiry. Is this acceptable to you?

On Monday morning, I may just begin moving all my banking back to Scotiabank. Something is weird at Meridian Credit Union, and they’ve basically lost all my future business and any personal recommendations to others. I have a sense that someone there is not being honest with me.  Perhaps there is some personal issue that I am not aware of, with one of the Meridian representatives, but two months is far long enough to deal with trying to open up a business account. To be honest, I’d have more success opening one in Greece, and anyone who has tried that, knows how difficult that can be.

And seriously – even if the questions were valid questions for opening a business account, the fact that it took so long – over two weeks – just to have a conversation about opening an account – that in itself is unacceptable, really.

Update: After much thought, I really am serious about moving my accounts back to Scotiabank. While their fees are a bit more, I never ever had an issue with them in anyway. They did make a mistake once, but we all can make mistakes – one day, I got a call from then Business Accounts Manager, Mary Gardner advising me that a cheque drawn on my account was going to put me in overdraft.

“But Mary, that’s impossible. I just deposited over $6,000.00 last week!”

It turned out that oddly, the deposit had been credited to someone else’s account by mistake, and Scotiabank was extremely quick to fix the error. I did have to bring in the deposit slip, but Mary was working on it even before I brought in the proof that I had made a deposit. That’s how great they were.

Mary is sadly missed now – she suddenly passed away some years, but she was a marvelous person to work with. Always solid advice and making sure I had the best deal possible from the bank. It was also her that assisted me back in 2001 in setting up my first merchant account so that I could take credit cards (I’ve never had a single charge-back in all those years, either, and am proud of that record).

A few weeks ago, I had occasion to visit the branch, and it was so nice after the years away, that everyone there recognized and remembered me and expressed their sincere best wishes to me. Several of the tellers and an accounts manager spoke with me. In all the years I did my banking there, they were nothing but helpful towards me – unlike this insane incident with Meridian. Now that I think about it, it was well over 20 years that I did my banking at Scotiabank. And funny enough, they did not express suspicion when, after having a business specializing in custom built fishing rods, then starting a web development business and needing a new account.

They did not say, “Oh Ian – that’s a flag to us, that you are getting into another business substantially different than the one you are in.” In fact, they were quite positive and helpful towards me! Quite the contrast with my experience at Meridian, that’s for sure.

Update – December 18th, 2017

Got in touch with Scotiabank late this morning. About an hour later, was offered a choice of several appointment times over the next few days, including one for tomorrow. I took tomorrow’s appt. time.

Contrast that with the weeks and even into two months wait time at Meridian!

 

Attention Philip Brailsford: You’re Fucked

Philip Brailsford, if you ever google your name, I hope you come across this post. You’re a dick, and “You’re Fucked.” In the head.

I worked almost 20 years in law enforcement – and I knew other people like you – they were fucked in the head too. Fucked in the head people should not be working in that occupation.

Philip Brailsford is a horrible human being. For those that want background on this, see this.

And know that the dickhead, Philip Brailsford had “You’re Fucked” engraved on his AR-15 rifle. That just shows how fucked in the head Brailsford is.

Brailsford is a psychopath.