2010 Winners

Thunder Bay | Young Entrepreneur

Lindsey Beaulne

Lindsey Beaulne

Nobody can deny Lindsey Beaulne’s determination and passion.

When Moravia, the company she used to work for, required a demonstration pilot, Beaulne decided to take flight lessons and become a pilot. When it couldn’t find a welder, she became a certified welder. When Afortek, the company she opened with partner Emil David, started selling solar water heaters, she took the installer course, and to improve her company’s administration, she enrolled in an online university for a bachelor of commerce degree.

Beaulne, the northwest Young Entrepreneur Award recipient, leads by example and always has. She has goals and they are to contribute to society and establish an alternative source of green energy and to demonstrate the results.

In 2009, Afortek Renewable Energy opened on Waterloo Street on the Fort William side of Thunder Bay.

“We had a lot of learning to do at first. A lot of the technologies are new,” she says.

For example, solar hot water systems regulations are still being developed, so there are still barriers to overcome. Electric bikes had a three-year pilot program, so people were wondering if they were buying a fleeting fad, but they are here to stay, she says.

Beaulne finished high school and decided to work and travel before going back into the thick of academia. It turned out to be 10 years before she set foot in a classroom again. She became vice-president of Moravia, a distributor of aircraft engines and parts for experimental and home-built aircraft that had clients in the United States and the Czech Republic.

“That was where I got my hands-on in business,” she says, not mentioning she helped bring the company into its first year of profitability.

During this time she did a lot of travelling and met many people. After the manufacturer stopped making the engines, Beaulne set sights on a new business venture after visiting and buying property in a little village in the Czech Republic. The people there are self-sufficient, growing their own vegetables and developing their own heat source, she says.

She could see how Ontario’s northwest could benefit from the same development, and thus began the process of opening a store that caters specifically to renewable energy and eco-friendly forms, whether it is an electric bike, installing a solar hot water system, manufacturing pellets for heat, or her latest venture; installing a five-kilowatt solar array that can sell energy back to the grid.

“This was always my dream to be independent and self-sufficient but to use the latest technology in doing so,” she says.

Her 50-acre farm south of Thunder Bay is usually where the pilot projects take place. Beaulne and David installed the first solar water heater at the house, the pellet stove to heat the greenhouse, and also grew organic wheat, barley and rye for local consumption.

“I just have a drive to do these things,” she says.

The best way to sell the product to a customer is to demonstrate its capabilities, and “that is how I like to sell.”

From her home office on the property, she and David, a retired forestry professor, think of ways to reduce not only their carbon footprint, but that of the communities.

Having her own business has provided the flexibility and freedom Beaulne needs. Outside of business, she is an active participant in the Hope Classic curling bonspiel to raise funds to fight breast cancer.