Parker: Financial services veteran puts expertise into growing Alberta business through Rockmount Capital

Oilpatch and financial services veteran Russ Kalmacoff is helping develop Alberta’s capital markets through Rockmount Capital

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We are fortunate that so many successful businesspeople who are able to retire and take things easy, decide instead to carry on sharing their experiences and ideas for the benefit of our province.

Russell Kalmacoff has long been an advocate of developing Alberta’s capital markets, now dividing his time among various business and management duties with Rockmount Financial Corp., and volunteer work in academia and public policy development. He recently closed the initial public offering of a new Capital Pool Co., Rockmount Capital Corp., under the TSX Venture Exchange’s CPC program.

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The concept is to create a new public company that is available for successful and growing private businesses to merge with, referred to as the qualifying transaction, creating an opportunity for the principals of the private company to avoid the red tape in “going public.”

Kalmacoff believes that Alberta’s financial industry needs to be regarded as a strategic sector and integrated system. It is a source of employment in itself, as well as facilitating the emergence of new businesses evolving in Alberta and the attraction of new businesses to the province.

Passionate about the future of this province, he moved here from Saskatchewan in the late 1950s after his father had taken the opportunity to open a business here. His grandfather was one of the fortunate recipients of the generosity of author Leo Tolstoy, who funded the voyage of Doukhobors — who were persecuted in Russia for their religious beliefs — to Canada in 1899 at the time the government was looking for farmers to settle the prairies.

The family settled in Kamsack, Sask., and prospered with agricultural machines, and by 1935 Russ’s grandfather, Jake, had built an oil refinery that grew to 100 employees, and Russ grew up immersed in the business. During a visit to Winnipeg his father saw his first car wash — and hearing of one in Calgary for sale, was on a plane the next day and bought it.

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That was in 1958; as one of only two washes here, City Centre Car Wash became very popular. It ran as a good business until the building was sold to make way for the construction of Sun Life Plaza — now Ampersand — in 1981.

Meanwhile, the family was back in the refinery business here with Hub Oil, collecting used oil, refining it and selling it.

Russ studied engineering for a while at University of Calgary but didn’t enjoy it. Wanting to learn about business, he transferred to the University of Manitoba for his BCom in accounting. He subsequently earned his MBA at the University of California, Berkeley, and pursued other doctoral studies at New York University, thanks to a fellowship by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. There he had the good fortune to add to his business education at a day job with Salomon Brothers. Moving to Toronto in 1967, that experience was key in being accepted at A. E. LePage.

Back in Calgary, Kalmacoff joined Nu-West as manager of land development, but on the advice of Rob Peters he furthered his career by going back to Toronto with Nesbitt Thomson. Property financial became his magnum opus but when his father became ill and eventually passed away, he returned to Calgary to help administer the family business of Kalmacoff Holdings, Hub Oil and Rockmount Financial.

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Today, Kalmacoff sits on the advisory boards of the Clausen Center for International Business and Policy, the Canadian Studies program at UC Berkeley, the Real Estate MBA program and international committee at University of Calgary, and is executive-in-residence at Athabasca University.

With a strong understanding of the needs for diversifying the provincial economy, he has recruited a strong board with a wealth of experience and knowledge to form Rockmount Capital.

The intention is to promote the emergence of new stand-alone, Alberta-based publicly traded companies producing new products or services, having all of the tools of the capital markets at their disposal.

Notes:

Bow Valley College and partner Region Immigrant Employment Council have received a $9.4-million grant from the federal government to help internationally educated nurses gain employment here. “In recognizing the skills they have and developing those they need, these nurses will be job-ready faster,” says Nora Maclachlan, special adviser for health at the college.

David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read his columns online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622 or by email at [email protected]

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