Member Spotlight – May


Laurie McLean

Handy Granddaughter

Laurie always knew she wanted to have her own business; it took the passage of time and varied career experiences—from health care, to construction, to adult education—to refine the vision of what her business would look like. Her passion for helping others and the profound satisfaction she experienced from helping her grandmother to maintain her independence for as long as possible through handling the handy-man jobs inspired Laurie to start Handy Granddaughter.

Laurie provides care in an unconventional way to senior citizens—primarily widows—by providing handy-man services such as installations, repairs and maintenance work that help seniors to maintain both their independence and a sense of pride in their home. She finds both the work and the relationships she develops with her clients gratifying.

Laurie’s greatest achievements in life include playing varsity field hockey, building a diverse set of skills over several career paths, and building her business from scratch with limited funds. She has had to overcome a reluctance to ask for help, “toot her own horn”, and network with others. The best piece of business advice Laurie was given was “Don’t make promises you can’t keep”.  Laurie’s advice to new entrepreneurs is that you must love what you’re doing, learn to listen and absorb everything then apply what works for you, have a clear one year plan, and try not to get into too much debt when starting out.

Laurie maintains balance through building in lots of play time: hiking, cycling, going on road trips and surrounding herself with good friends. Along with learning how to convey her message and learning good networking skills, Laurie has made many new friends through SWAN.

You can contact Laurie at


Interviewed by Susan Chambers

Kathy Suffel

Sutton Group - West Coast Realty


Kathy Suffel is a realtor® who loves to help people in the buying and selling of residential properties.  She earned a Senior Real Estate Specialist® Designation, and her ideal client is 50+ and downsizing to a condo or townhouse. Kathy is trustworthy, skilled, diligent, fair and fun to be with.

Kathy has a full and varied background.  Initially a legal secretary doing conveyance, she went back to school when her sons were teenagers, and completed a BA and LLB from Queen’s University, Ontario. She worked for the Federal Government on First Nations Land Claim Issues, becoming a mediator in the field when she moved to BC.

At this stage, Kathy took time to figure out the right direction for her future. Paperwork, research and people skills stood out.  Voila!  Realtor extraordinaire.  Kathy enjoys and really focuses on her Real Estate career. She has progressed in skills and confidence, from selling condos to selling single family homes. She loves drawing on her background of skills to help people.

Some business advice from Kathy:  Overspending is all too easy at first, so financial backing is important. Stay focused; don’t get distracted by all that comes at you.  An annual  business plan will help by setting goals.  The best advice Kathy was given was to schedule and block the day. Attending SWAN offers networking and some excellent presentations which she values.

After work, Kathy likes bike riding, Toastmasters and digging her community garden plot.  She has a passion for Emergency Preparedness – and is working towards sponsoring workshops.  Her other passion is her 3 year old grand-daughter.

Kathy Suffel,  778-989-5570

Sutton Group - West Coast Realty

#100-889 Harbourside Dr., North Vancouver, BC  V7P 3S1


Interviewed by Kathy Brett

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