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Fusebox connects entrepreneurs across the Valley

Peter Collins wants to light a spark amidst the creative community.
Fusebox owner Peter Collins and business development manager Martine Grenon Lafontaine are adapting to the way employees see work.

Peter Collins wants to light a spark amidst the creative community.

Clean, bright, airy and open for everyone from studious climbers to contractors, the spacious Fusebox, the newest co-working studio in the heart of Canmore, wants to change the way you work.

“I first thought about this 15 years ago, living in the B.C. interior, of creating a hub where people could work together,” Collins said. “I wanted a place I could go that had a creative vibe to it. I wanted to feel a part of something.”

The 3000-square foot space at 201B-1205 Bow Valley Trail, above a French bakery and next to an English pub, the entrepreneur created a beautiful work space. Meeting rooms overlooking mountain scapes, Italian coffee machine percolating with free lattes, and stylish decor greet clients interested in hosting large meetings, or working independently 24/7.

“We have three key elements. We have our main workroom. It’s designed for people to get stuff done. It’s a nice environment. We have our octagon-shaped multi-purpose room. It can be used from everything from a yoga studios and fitness classes to a photo studio or meeting room. We can have up to 30 in that room. Our boardroom can accommodate eight, and we have our individual offices. We also have our casual, relaxed area with the kitchen and lounge. I see it as a work/play/meet space,” Collins said.

He’s seen many small businesses on the hunt for space, and hopes this arrangement will help fill a community need.

“There are a lot of people who work from home in Canmore, and there is a lack of small office space,” Collins said. “A lot of people work in isolation, or are commuting to Calgary. We felt there was a need.”

The response has been quite positive thus far, as construction companies, guiding associations, photographers, and athletic organizations have found a home at Fusebox. They’ve even formed a partnership with Fast & Female, allowing their staff to work in Canmore. Thus far, it’s a hit with young professionals.

“For the millennial generation, the work environment has changed. That’s something co-working spaces are tapping into,” Collins said.

His route to Fusebox has been circuitous. Collins began his career in the British military as an aircraft engineer, where he served with commando forces. That work took him above the Arctic Circle, where he thrived, and developed a deep appreciation of the landscape.

“I thrived in the mountains. I learned to ski. I learned to climb. I became a biathlete and a cross-country skier,” Collins said.

He left the military to study recreational management, and picked up photography skills before his first dream job came along – running a ski centre.

“I was running the Nordic Centre in Northeast Scotland,” Collins said. “We built a junior development program with a long-term vision.”

He married a Canadian, took up adventure racing, and bounced around the globe hunting adventure. While racing the eco-challenge in Patagonia, circa 1999, someone handed him a Buff.

“I was trying to get a job in Canada in cross-country skiing. There was nothing at that time. I contacted the manufacturers of Buff in Spain and asked if they needed a distributer. They said yes. I borrowed money, bought 300 Buffs and started knocking on doors,” Collins said. “I built it, kept reinvesting and learning and built it into a multi-million dollar brand.”

He has also introduced a camera equipment rental arm of the business, as the space lends itself well for commercial photography.

Similar to his beginnings with Buff, he’s uncertain where the venture will lead, however he’s in it for the long haul.

“I’d like it to be a vibrant place with lots of energy. I think I want to make a difference, whether that’s in town or in the business community. I think I have a lot to offer … I’d love to see it as a place that brings people together,” Collins said. “It’s a long-term venture. I’d like to see it grow.”

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