2019 AARFP Conference  Red Deer

Conference Speakers

Mark Ambler
GM - Western Canada
Mark Ambler is the GM of Swish Alberta and a third-generation member of the Swish Group’s founding family.  He works with organizations across western Canada teaching best practices for cleaning and safety, with a particular focus on infection prevention
Pete Archdekin
Pete the Plumber Ltd.
Pete Archdekin was born in Brampton, ON. He started in Ontario, working for “four of the best journeymen ever to hold a wrench” – four guys who taught him the right way to do the job. He got his ticket in 1986 at George Brown College in Toronto, and worked in Ontario for a number of years before eventually moving out west. It was in Calgary that Pete bumped into Andrew on the job. They decided to work together and started Pete the Plumber in 1999, which now has over 30 trucks on the road, a sizeable showroom, and a staff of more than 40. Asked to explain the best part of owning Pete the Plumber Ltd., Pete says there are two things he enjoys: 1) Being able to help people by providing a great job and a fair wage; and 2) Being able to train young people for the future. His best bit of advice to young people? “Try everything and find out what you like the best. You need to find a trade you have a passion for, and then always keep improving.”
Steve Ashworth
Pinnacle Aquatic Group
Steve has been in the swimming pool and spa industry for the past 30 years. He has been involved in all aspects of the industry from chemical distribution, chemical manufacturing, new construction, renovations, commissioning, consulting on new construction and pool renovations. He strives to improve the industry through his knowledge, and experience in filtration and water quality. He has been an RFP instructor, an RFP train the trainer, and worked on and consulted to the USA Model Aquatic Health Code filtration section for the (CDC) Center for Disease Control and Prevention. He travels extensively in Canada, USA, mainland Europe, and UK attending and speaking at various conferences each year. He continues to work with global partners on finding unique solutions to the increasing demands of the commercial pool operators. He enjoys spending time with his wife and two children in the mountains and foothills in the Calgary, AB Canada area.
Nic Besseling
The AME Consulting Group Ltd.
Since graduating from the University of Victoria’s Mechanical Engineering program in 2005, Nic has accumulated a diverse range of project experience working across Canada. Nic joined AME Vancouver in 2015, then recently relocated to take on the role of Managing Principal of AME’s Calgary office. Nic brings in-depth knowledge of mechanical systems design thanks to his project experience across a wide range of sectors, including recreation, post-secondary, and civic/cultural facilities. He brings extensive experience with the detailed design of pool filtration systems, and has kept up-to-date with advancing pool filtration technologies. Nic has a strong interest in seeing projects through design into construction, and takes a hands on role in ensuring that projects are commissioned thoroughly and turned over to the owner.
Chris Biensch
Facility Manager, Aquatic Strategiies
City of Edmonton
Chris has been in aquatics for four decades, operating swimming pools across Saskatchewan & Alberta. He holds trainer certifications from the Lifesaving Society for National Lifeguard and Standard First Aid awards, maintains a Water Safety Instructor Award, as well as being a senior instructor for the AARFP in the Aquatics Stream. His day job is in the Aquatic Strategies area of the City of Edmonton, recently completing a Privacy Impact Assessment for the FOIP office for the Drowning Prevention Technology system of cameras piloted at the Peter Hemingway Fitness and Leisure Centre. His current projects include a content overhaul of the Pool Op II Course for AARFP, creating a system to check and report on lighting levels in Edmonton aquatic facilities, the development of trade-specific operations training for the Mechanical Staff in the City of Edmonton, and chairing a committee to re-write the Standards Journal for the Life Saving Society in 2019. He is a member of the Writer's Guild of Alberta.
Peter Brown
MC | Host | Media Personality
Peter is a much-sought-after Master of Ceremonies. His humour, his wit, and his sense of timing are perfect for any occasion. For two decades Peter hosted CBC Edmonton’s afternoon radio show, Radio Active. He’s also been heard on the national airwaves, hosting That Saturday Show and The Circuit: Your Summer Festival Pass, and as a correspondent for Q, Sounds Like Canada, the Roundup and Morningside. Peter may be the only person in Canada to appear on both The Debaters and Ideas. Peter also produced CBC Radio’s national sketch comedy program The Irrelevant Show, which won a medal at the prestigious New York Festivals and two Canadian Comedy Awards. Educated at the University of Saskatchewan and Cambridge, Peter began working with CBC Saskatchewan as a reporter, host, and resident comedy writer. He then worked as a producer on The Arts Tonight, before moving to Edmonton in the mid-nineties. Peter has a background in comedy writing and performance. He’s performed at the Edmonton and Edinburgh Fringes (and was featured on BBC radio’s Best-of-the-Fringe showcase); he’s also a regular performer with the improvised soap opera “Die Nasty”. Peter can be seen as a regular Master of Ceremonies of prominent events in Alberta. His self-deprecating humour, his ability to roll with surprises, and his producer skills all ensure your event is entertaining, professional and runs smoothly. “Certainement”, Peter can even speak limited French when needed. Other hobbies include writing bios about himself in the third person. He enjoys that quite a lot.
Tab Buckner
Township of Langley
Tab has been in the turf industry since 1981 and brings extensive knowledge and experience and is an avid supporter of sports turf professional training and development. He contributes actual "tried and tested" maintenance practices to his presentations to share with attendees. His connections and resources are generously shared with others. Tab has been involved with both the Western Canad Turfgrass Association and Sports Turf Canada on their Board of Directors.
Mitch Carter
RFP Sr. Aquatics Instructor
Gerald Curran
District Manager
Cimco Refrigeration
Gerald Curran started his career with CIMCO Refrigeration in 1981 and developed a wide range of experience in practical and theoretical aspect of the refrigeration field. Gerald’s refrigeration education started on the East Cost of Canada at the New Brunswick Community College in St Andrews, New Brunswick with continuing further studies in western Canada at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. Gerald’s field experience includes 11 years of on site troubleshooting and analysis through out Western Canada, Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories as well as in the high Arctic working with Permafrost Retention Systems. His focus was redirected to administrative duties over the next 23 years which included 1993 – 1995 as Service Operations Manager, 1995 – 1999 Sales Manager and 1999 – Present as District Manager Edmonton Operations. Gerald’s Management duties also included conceptual design and implementation of Ammonia and halocarbon refrigeration systems for the Food & Beverage and Petro-Chemical industry as well as the recreation industry. Gerald is a Senior Instructor and has held a position on the board of directors for Alberta Association of Recreation Facilities Personnel as the Education Representative, an organization that provides in-depth refrigeration training for Artificial Ice Plant Operators. In the United States Gerald was a frequent facilitator for the Ice Arena Institute of Management (iAIM) and the International Association of Assembly Managers (IAAM) .
Chris Fish
Account Manager
Industrial Machine Inc
Over 30 years in Recreation, started off as a part time arena attendant and progressed through the years to reach Manager of Community Services. Now having left the field I am working for Industrial Machine Inc as head of sales for Zamboni Alberta.
Justin Flunder
President/Workshop Leader
The Flundonian Group Leadership & Development Company
Justin Flunder is a premiere High Performance Leadership development specialist serving both business and organizational leaders. He is known for developing successful leaders at all levels of the organization and business community using his differentiated teaching & coaching methodology. Justin's background in education (B.Ed. & M.Ed.) has prepared him for his unique style of getting people to both understand and implement their learning. As a workshop leader, certified coach and keynote speaker Justin infuses his love for growth and development using his vast array of modalities, ranging from in-house delivery to on-line training and coaching programs. Justin's has been mentored by his friend, teacher and the # 1 leadership expert in the world, John C. Maxwell. Justin is privileged to be infusing change and growth into others by adding proven leadership principles and methods from his educational and leadership experience.
Scott Gailfus
Wholesale Skate Sharpening
Scott is the owner of Wholesale Skate Sharpening and Dangle Show Hockey. Scott is an expert professional skate sharpener with over 20 years experience sharpening skates. He is a Certified Engineering Technologist in both the Civil and Petroleum engineering disciplines. His company Wholesale Skate Sharpening is a supplier of skate sharpening consumables that works with high performance hockey teams, pro shops, and retail sports stores.
John Greer
W E Greer Ltd .
John, president of W.E. Greer started with the company as a sales consultant in 1983. In John’s 30 plus years of experience has conducted custodial training seminars across Alberta to over 6000 custodians. John has CIMS certification and shares his knowledge on all aspects of cleaning procedures and cleaning products through training seminars and hands-on demonstrations.
Joanne Leskow
Joanne Leskow Consulting
Joanne Leskow is an award-winning speaker and teacher in corporate culture, change, and leadership. She honed her skills instructing police officers, as a successful entrepreneur, leading Culture at WestJet Airlines and speaking, teaching, and consulting with national and international clients across all industries. Joanne provides dynamic and memorable keynote speeches and breakout sessions of relevance to all levels of leadership. She is a subject matter expert and sought-after speaker and business partner. Comfortable delivering skills-based training to frontline employees or inspiring executive leaders with fresh approaches to leadership challenges, Joanne is in her element and makes a positive impact. A life-long learner who never shies away from a challenge, Joanne is currently enrolled in an MBA and brings cutting-edge research and practices to her audiences and clients. A fan of every-level leadership, Joanne started her journey working as a swim instructor and lifeguard and has the greatest respect for everyone who works up front or behind the scenes to make recreation possible and engaging for all.
Karen Mann
Emergency Management Coordinator, Protective Servics Admin
City of Red Deer
Karen Mann is a Certified Emergency Manager and Business Continuity Planner who has worked at all levels of government. She holds an honours degree in Disaster and Emergency Studies from Brandon University and has been involved in responses to some of Canada’s largest emergency events. She has been with The City of Red Deer since 2010 and her areas of responsibility include for Emergency Management, Business Continuity, & Corporate Security.
Jason Pick
Olds College
Jason Pick My theoretical training includes Diploma in Agriculture, Diploma in Business (Golf & Resort MGMT), Applied Science degree in Horticulture, and Master of Science in turfgrass management from Pennsylvania State. I am Past President of the Western Canada Turfgrass association, routinely consulting for Golf Courses, Parks and Recreation centers, and athletic fields. I am adviser to the Prairie Turfgrass Research Center, developer/Instructor of the Turf Science Certificate, and full time Instructor of Golf Course management diploma and degree programs at Olds College
Les Quinton
Parks & Recreation Manager
Town of Black Diamond
Stuart Ray
Executive Director
Stuart has worked with the Parks and Recreation Departments in the City of Calgary, Town of Hinton and with the Town of Olds. He has been a park & facility operator, planner, manager and a Director of Community Services. He attended Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, Olds College and the University of Alberta along with numerous short courses he has taken over the course of his working life. He is also a journeyman Landscape Gardener. After 35 years in the industry Stuart retired from the recreation world to start his own Outdoor Adventure company. This only lasted a few years before the opportunity to become the Executive Director with the Alberta Association of Recreation Facility Personnel came available. He has been a Senior Instructor with RFP since the late 1980’s in the areas of Arenas, Parks & Sportsfields, Building Maintenance, Life Cycle Planning and Risk Management. The Alberta Association of Recreation Facility Personnel is a not for profit organization that exists to provide training and support to individuals who operate and maintain recreation facilities and parks. And when he’s not busy being the Executive Director with RFP you can find him gardening or creating stone sculptures in his home studio.
Brenda Robinson
Speaker, Trainer, Writer
The Robcan Group
Brenda is a speaker, trainer, writer and consultant. She is the founder and president of The Robcan Group. Her Bachelor of Arts was earned at Brandon University and her Masters of Education at Simon Fraser University. She has been addressing groups for over thirty years about communications, humour, laughter, positive working skills and wellness in general. Her workshops and presentations are in high demand. She has authored four books and created an Audio CD set to help people to develop these skills. Brenda grew up on a farm close to Minnedosa, Manitoba and continues to stay connected to her family there. She now lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta where she and her husband, Len have their training and development business. Brenda and Len have five children and nine grandchildren. Brenda believes that we are on a life-long learning journey. It should be enriching, exciting, interesting and above all, it should be fun!
Daniel Robinson
Pinnacle Aquatic Group
Daniel has always been a pool junkie. Starting from age one when his mother was a lifeguard, Daniel
spent days and nights at the pool. Daniel has been a swim coach, lifeguard, swim instructor and pool
operator for over a decade and continues to love going swimming with his three young kids. Daniel has a
Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Lethbridge where he was a varsity swimmer. Since
2016 Daniel has been working for Pinnacle Aquatic Group Inc. travelling to work with all the pools in
southern Alberta to provide the best air and water quality possible for their unique facilities. Daniel has
been teaching the AARFP Pool Operators course for over two years and loves working with pool
operators to improve their knowledge on pools.
Art Sutherland
Art Sutherland is the founder and president of Accent Refrigeration Systems of Victoria, BC. Accent Refrigeration Systems have been designing and manufacturing high efficient refrigeration systems and energy recovery systems for three decades with installations around the world. Art has won numerous design and safety awards including being the recipient of the ASHRAE International First Place Award for the Design of High Efficient Mechanical Systems for Public Facilities.
John Tarantino
Vice President of Sales
John Tarantino is Vice President of Sales for Marmak. In 1983 John graduated from DeVry Institute of Technology and on June 27th 2002, was sworn in as an O.L.S., O.L.I.P. John has been the driving force in the creation of “The Municipal Partnership” which comprises of Canadian municipalities who have partnered to collaborate in the development and deployment of municipal solutions. In the past John has presented numerous papers at a number of provincial conferences including OGRA, ORFA, NSFRA, MISA, and URISA.. In partnership with both OGRA John is assisting numerous municipalities defining a successful road map to Municipal Asset Management.
James Teppan
James has 33 years of operational, marketing, and executive level experience as a professional engineer in the manufacturing and construction industries. He has been fortunate to experience everything from being responsible for the construction of a large petrochemical facility to running 3 multi-faceted manufacturing, construction, and services businesses. He is now President of Western Noise Control which is part of the Engineered Controls Group of Companies. James' commitment to value engineering and root-cause analysis has helped his teams minimize costs while maximizing value.
Paula Thulin
Water Safety Ambassador
Canadian Red Cross
Paula Thulin has been passionate about swimming since she was a child and passed her older sister in swim lessons at a rural lake in beautiful British Columbia. She honed her leadership skills working for the past 25 years in Aquatics. Paula has been an Aquatic Centre Supervisor for the City of Delta, Red Cross Master Instructor Trainer and a Red Cross Water Safety Ambassador. Her passion has enabled her participate in many Red Cross initiatives around the world from China to the many Provinces in Canada. When Paula is not at a swimming pool, she is often found laughing with her friends (they may be laughing with her or at her).
Mag Turple
Mag Turple has been a budding arborist since she could hold a pair of pruners while living in Poland and helping with the family landscaping business. Post-secondary, she attended the Horticultural University in Bielsko but her studies were interrupted by her family immigrating to Canada. After establishing herself here, she opened her own landscaping business and a flower shop affiliated with her mother’s garden center in Oliver, Bc. From orchards and cacti to the prairies of Alberta was the next move. It was in the late 1990s that Mag enrolled in the Horticulture Diploma Program at Olds College….finally a full circle. She graduated with honors with a major in Arboriculture. Not far behind came her dream job as an Arborist for the City of Red Deer. Currently she is the Arborist 2/Lead of tree operations for the Parks department and loves every minute of it. She continues to grow, learn and spread her passion for trees anywhere she can.
Trish Tutton
Speaker, Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher
Trish is a Registered Yoga & Meditation teacher, a graduate of theatre school and a life long student. She is curious about how we can continue to be conscious and aware amidst the distractions we constantly face. Her passion for sharing mindfulness and stress management comes from her own experience of having worked in the corporate and non-profit sector. During this time, she experienced the incredible benefits of having a mindfulness practice.She was more energized, happy and focused and felt better equipped to manage the stresses of her work. She has taught hundreds of professionals how to transition from overwhelmed and ineffective to focused and efficient.
Taio Waldhaus
The AME Consulting Group Ltd.
Taio Waldhaus has over 10 years of experience in the field of engineering, including 4 years as part of the research and development team for a building controls company. During that time, he helped design control systems for emerging HVAC technologies such as solar thermal and heat pump systems. In addition, Taio has built custom energy modeling applications and contributed to the performance analysis of varied HVAC equipment and systems, with a focus on the effect that control has on equipment and system efficiency. With extensive experience in HVAC controls and a strong commitment to energy efficiency, Taio joined AME Group in 2012 as a member of the design team with a focus on contributing to energy saving design practices. As an Associate at AME Group, he has a wide range of recreation experience, from building condition assessments and small upgrade projects to design of complex energy-efficient buildings and construction of large multi-use facilities. Highlights of his experience includes the Fort Chipewyan Recreation Centre (Fort Chipewyan, AB), the Medicine Hat Leisure Centre (Medicine Hat, AB), the Iqaluit Aquatic Centre (Iqaluit, NV), and the Crystal Pool & Wellness Centre (Victoria, BC).
Jacques Zara
Vice President
GTRTurf / Team Rochon Inc. / Shaw
Jacques started his career at the age of seventeen in the Royal Canadian Navy. He travelled from Halifax
to Victoria and ended up in the headquarters situated in Quebec where he was assigned to change and
improve intern rules and laws. He appreciated his stay in the Navy and left with Honor at the age of
thirty full of wonderful experience and a lot of discipline. When he left he was excited to find new
challenges and Air Canada was offering him the chance to start a new career. Being in the Canadian
armed forces for 13 years, remaining a sea master wasn’t on the cards for Jacques Zara. So he made his
way to Air Canada as a Lead Station Attendant. Meanwhile, he remained in the Canadian armed forces
in the naval reserve. Fifteen years at Air Canada gave Jacques the opportunity to develop outstanding
business skills and expand his network of contacts. One of them, an individual named Luc Rochon,
turned out to be a fanatic and passionate synthetic turf pioneer.
In 1998, Jacques met Luc through some friends. Luc invited Jacques to come and work part time with
him and help to install synthetic sports turf fields. This was a new adventure for Jacques and his learning
curve was huge. However, using the leadership, discipline, business acumen and skills accumulated in
his past experiences, Jacques learned to install the field lines, to sew the turf panels and quickly
mastered the art of creating an artificial grass sports field. His first installation was in Chicago, that same
year. Jacques' love for synthetic turf hit the maximum level when he was given the opportunity to be in
charge of the installation of the Greenbay Packers synthetic turf training facility. He later installed
numerous prestige sports fields for the NFL, CFL, MLS, MLB and FIFA. On October 25th, 2006, Frank Clair
Stadium received the first FIFA 2-star recommendation in the CONCACAF; A field built by Jacques.
In 2010, the challenges overcome during his involvement creating synthetic sports fields brought him to
the next level. He became an associate at GTR Turf and started a new era for the company. He
supported his old friend Luc Rochon in selling artificial turf, not merely installing it for a manufacturer.
During his first year, Jacques closed deals on 12 fields. The following year, he increased to 22 fields
across the breadth of Canada. Jacques has been involved in most of his company's installations. He
believes that the upper management and business owners need to get involved in all aspects of the
operational projects, to ensure the quality of the installation. When asked about his top 3 installations,
Jacques is unable to answer.
For him, every project is a top priority; every project is top of his list. In the future, Jacques wants to
manage a North American sales team and offer turnkey solutions for the market to include the
excavation and installation of synthetic sports fields worldwide. Jacques Zara’s key to success is to be
humble, and to always remain besides the client and support him/her from the beginning to the end of a
Pat Zelenak
Design & Sales Manager
PlayWorks & ParkWorks Inc
Pat Zelenak got his start in playgrounds in 1992 when he joined the community playground committee in Castle Downs, Edmonton AB. Pat quickly discovered that he had a talent and passion for designing and building playgrounds that kids love. He has been in the industry ever since and has worked in a variety of roles from design and sales to installation. He has extensive experience working with parent and community groups as well as municipal departments. Pat is proficient at helping groups secure funding in an effort to maximize the play value in their playgrounds. He has been volunteering in his community and internationally for the past 30 years. Pat regularly travels to Third World countries aiming to provide new play opportunities to children and families by volunteering to install refurbished playgrounds from the Alberta area. Pat was involved with the first CSA course offered in 1996 and has maintained his certification to this day. He has also become a certified Surface Impact Tester using the Triax system.