Things I Can’t Live Without: Mally Roncal

Mally Roncal, founder of Mally Beauty, reveals her absolute must-haves to survive start-up life.

Things I Can't Live Without - Mally Roncal

For 10 years, Mally Roncal traveled the world as a makeup artist for celebrities, including Beyoncé Knowles. In 2005, she launched Mally Beauty, a line of makeup and cosmetic tools targeted at everyday women. Her Baltimore-based company now has 20 employees and $75 million in annual sales, much of which is generated on the QVC channel. Roncal travels to QVC’s headquarters in West Chester, Pennsylvania, several times a week and to its London studios six times a year to tape shows. Here are three items she brings along.

Brookstone “My Life” digital picture frame

As a working mom who travels, I’m not always around my husband, my three baby girls, or my dog G-Love (pictured here). When I hit the road, I take this frame, which I loaded with more than 2,500 images that remind me of home or provide inspiration for my cosmetics line. The frame is durable and slim enough to slip right into a carry-on bag.

Cost: $99.95

Kind bars

I’m not the best when it comes to sitting down to have a meal. And because I’m on a gluten-free diet, I have trouble finding good snack-bar options. I discovered Kind bars about a year ago and got hooked. I buy the bars in bulk from QVC and keep as many as seven in my bag at a time, even though I eat only one a day. They’re great for traveling. Unlike cereal bars, they stay intact no matter how much I toss them around.

Cost: $1.99

Smythson travel wallet

My husband bought this wallet for me during my stint as a makeup artist. Because I was constantly hopping from country to country, I needed something that could keep me organized. The wallet has separate dividers for my identification, trip information, credit cards, and pens to fill out landing documents and customs forms. I even stuff a spare lip gloss and a set of contacts in one compartment.

Cost: $620

Travel tip: When I fly to London to tape shows at the QVC studio, I take the redeye so I can spend my waking hours working or with my children. To make sure I get a good night’s sleep on the plane, I stick to the same routine. When I get to the airport, I brush my teeth, remove my makeup, and change into comfortable clothes in the bathroom. Once I’m on the plane (I always sit in a window seat), I break out my cashmere travel blanket from Calypso ($225) and my Tempur-Pedic Transit Pillow ($79). Finally, I slide on an eye mask and drift off to sleep.

Why This VC Is Betting on the U.S.

Bruce Gibney, a partner at Founders Fund, explains why the next great technological revolution will come from the United States, not China.

Statue of Liberty 2

Flickr/TristanReville

Bruce Gibney, partner at Founders Fund.

Bruce Gibney, partner at Founders Fund.

Bruce Gibney, a partner at Founders Fund, the San Francisco-based venture capital firm that’s made investments in companies such as Facebook and SpaceX, just returned from what he called an Odyssey-like trip around the world, visiting, among many places, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Beijing. Back in America, he traveled to New York (Troy, Albany, and New York City), North Carolina, (Raleigh and Durham), and Boston. “I feel like I will never see Penelope again,” he says.

The trip began in Lunai, Hawaii, where Founders Fund held the F50 conference–an all-expenses paid unstructured-conference trip for brilliant entrepreneurial engineers. There, Gibney met the founders of Ecovative Designs, a company in Troy, New York, which is experimenting with agricultural byproducts to create the a futuristic plastic.  While some venture firms are looking at Chinese start-ups for the next great idea, Gibney is looking at Troy. Why? For one, it’s a matter of macro-economics. He believes that developing countries, like China, are better suited to import innovation, rather than create it. He also believes the next great technical revolution will not necessarily come out of Silicon Valley. Here’s his pitch, as told to Eric Markowitz:

As a venture firm, we’re particularly focused on large technological breakthroughs. That’s not to say that all of our companies are like SpaceX, which recently docked with the International Space Station–not every company is quite that exciting. But as a general matter, we look for massive technology and innovation. The reason for that is that they provide tremendous barriers to entry as well as social good.

It’s very difficult for U.S. venture capitalists to operate in China unless they have a local team and are willing to back more clonal models. The Chinese entrepreneurs are straightforward about this—quite a bit of businesses there are modeled on U.S. innovations with localized features.

It makes sense. As a general matter for younger companies, it’s just macro-economically sensible to transfer technology in to a developing country, and somewhat less sensible than developing that technology in-house. I’m aware there’s something a bit awkward about saying anything about this at all. Maybe it’s the West Coaster in me, but it sort of comes off as extremely anti-China. I’m not. Full-disclosure: I’m actually half-Chinese.

For smaller entrepreneurs in China, there’s not a great reason to innovate when they can simply transfer in. For the developed world, however, we actually have no choice. We have to innovate. It’s the only sort of real driver of economic growth. I think the lesson of the last 10 to 12 years is that we’ve reached the limit of financial engineering and we need to return to real engineering.

Aside from gaming, there haven’t been a huge number of innovations that have been exported to the West. The transfer has been pretty much one-way. I’d rush to point out there’s nothing abnormal about this.

In fact, the U.S. did this in the 18th century when we sent industrial spies to Arkwright’s Mill to support the New England textile industry. We transfer technology.

A lot of these colleges founded in the 19th century, like Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute [based in Troy], have utility as part of their mission. That’s quite useful. There does seem to be more activity in Troy.

One of the companies I met through F50 aims to be the plastics of the 21st century. It’s based in Troy. The idea that you can simply sit down one day that you are going to displace the entire plastics industry is really exciting. Plastics may sound banal, but banal things are actually quite important.

I’m not anxious to do the Beijing to Troy trip again. But there are pockets where certain industries tend to congregate. It’s important that if you’re in those industries to be in those pockets. There are gigantic network effects. It’s quite important to be in a geography where the relevant engineering talent is dense.

But there’s a whole series of companies that are operating out of the Internet space, outside of San Francisco. I never would have found a new-age plastics company in Troy, New York, if we hadn’t done the F50. There’s a lot of innovation that might be operating below the radar, especially the unfashionable type.

There is still something a little bit odd about how dependent the United States is on simply one tiny region. If we had a magnitude nine earthquake on the peninsula, in San Francisco, it would be actually extraordinary damaging for the U.S.’s competitive position. One has to wonder why there haven’t been more vibrant [start-up] communities outside of Silicon Valley.

How We Built a Barbecue Empire

Few things are more grueling than delivering an elevator pitch to a group of skeptical investors. Pork Barrel BBQ did it in front of 4 million TV viewers on Shark Tank. Nothing has been the same since.

 REALITY BITES:  Brett Thompson (left) and Heath Hall were barbecue hobbyist-until an appearance on ABC's  Shark Tank.

Chris Crisman

REALITY BITES: Brett Thompson (left) and Heath Hall were barbecue hobbyist-until an appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank.


ABC Shark Tank/Courtesy Pork Barrel BBQ

THIS LITTLE PIGGY: Thompson and Hall make their pitch. Barbara Corcoran thought Hall would make an adorable pig. He proved her right.

Did she just say I look like a pig? I think she just said I look like a pig! On national TV!

There are certain things for which even the most fastidious entrepreneur cannot prepare–a lesson that Heath Hall learned when he and his business partner, Brett Thompson, appeared on ABC’s reality TV show Shark Tank to raise funds for Pork Barrel BBQ, their sauce and spice-rub business. The two entrepreneurs had just completed their pitch before the show’s panel of investors. In just six months, they explained, they had developed and branded a line of barbecue products and now had 10,000 units going into production. “What if the 10,000 units doesn’t sell?” shot back investor Kevin Harrington. “You guys are starting out with a pretty good product,” observed software entrepreneur Kevin O’Leary. “It tastes great. But it is completely unknown as far as I can tell.”

And then it was New York City real estate maven Barbara Corcoran’s turn. “Heath,” she said to Hall, “I have to tell you, I can’t look at you without picturing you in a pig costume. You would look adorable as a real-life mascot.” The other panelists burst out in laughter. Heath was stunned–she just likened me to swine! He paused. “I guess I’ll take that as a compliment,” he said.

Corcoran was impressed enough with the co-founders’ ability to roll with the punches that she invested $50,000 in Pork Barrel. “I was sizing up how well these guys would bounce back when they were knocked down,” Corcoran says. “I don’t even like barbecue sauce–I couldn’t have been less likely to invest in this. But I saw two superstar salespeople.”

As it happens, a month later, in October 2009, when Shark Tank invited the entrepreneurs back for a follow-up segment, Hall made a big entrance–in a pink pig suit.

Shark Tank debuted in August 2009. The show lets entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to a roster of seasoned executives and investors. Since its debut, the “sharks” have heard 152 pitches from entrepreneurs, about half of whom have walked away with an average of roughly $180,000. The questioning by the panel can get brutal–Shark Tank‘s producers keep a psychologist on hand to speak with entrepreneurs if necessary. But the high stakes and drama have drawn a fan base: Season Three was the highest rated so far, drawing more than six million viewers for the premiere in January.

Hall and Thompson appeared on Shark Tank‘s sixth episode and remain one of the show’s biggest success stories. At the time of the taping, Pork Barrel’s products were in just four stores and had generated sales of about $5,000. Now, it’s one of the fastest-growing brands in the crowded and hypercompetitive barbecue-product niche, with sales of $3 million, a presence in 5,000 stores nationwide, and a Pork Barrel restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia. “Almost nobody makes it in this business,” says Dave Raymond, founder of Sweet Baby Ray’s, one of the top-selling retail barbecue brands. “But Hall and Thompson had the cojones to move this business forward.”

The brand was born one wintry night in 2006. Hall and Thompson, then legislative aides to Senator Jim Talent of Missouri, were working late on Capitol Hill amid budget negotiations. As one member of Congress after another took the floor to put forth one amendment after another, Hall remarked, “Man, what I wouldn’t give for some great barbecue right now.” The two began reminiscing about their favorite barbecue joints back home in Missouri. “It just kind of hit us,” Hall says. “Pork barrel spending projects, barbecue. Pork barrel barbecue. That would be a pretty cool name.”

That’s all it was until mid-2008. Talent had lost his reelection bid, and both Hall and Thompson had moved on to jobs in the private sector–Hall at the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation and Thompson at the public affairs firm Mercury. In his spare time, Hall crafted six spice rubs. He and Thompson invited some friends from the Hill to try them out. Their friends were impressed. So the two men found a small manufacturer to make a rub. A few months later, they began working on a sauce.

Thompson landed Pork Barrel’s first retail customer by making a cold call on a local butcher. But attempts to break into big grocery chains were a bust. Though Thompson and Hall still had their day jobs and weren’t relying on the business for income, they were dismayed that they had little to show after sinking close to $100,000 into the venture. “Our desire was to build a real business,” says Hall.

But the two men kept at it, handing out free samples to anyone who expressed the slightest interest and even anyone who didn’t. One of those samples ended up in the hands of someone on the production team at Shark Tank, who e-mailed Thompson inviting the two to audition. Neither had heard of the show. But both had heard of its producer–Mark Burnett, who produced Survivor and The Apprentice–and decided to go for it.

Rather than play it safe and follow the producer’s instructions to submit a straightforward QA video, they gathered some political friends and put together a 60 Minutes-style profile of the company. Among the participants was Hall’s buddy the pundit Tucker Carlson, who tells the camera, “Pork Barrel BBQ–that’s the phrase on the lips of every Washingtonian in the know. And nothing brings this city together like pork.”

Six weeks later, the pair flew to Los Angeles for the taping. They had prepped exhaustively–creating dossiers on each of the five investors and spending more than 100 hours drafting answers to potential questions. The hard work paid off. “They had it all,” says Burnett. “Energy, a great idea, and an interesting story.” Thompson and Hall returned to D.C. under strict orders not to discuss the show before it aired. But they nonetheless soon learned about the power of national exposure. A hint that they were going to appear on an unnamed television program helped seal a deal with the Harris Teeter chain of grocery stores. And after a food blogger wrote that Hall and Thompson were about to appear “on a supersecret reality show,” the pair was approached by some Alexandria restaurateurs about opening a Pork Barrel BBQ-themed outlet.

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What It Takes to Stay ‘Made In America’

Innovation, a commitment to quality, and a hint of luck, are just a few factors enabling these companies to continue manufacturing in America.

 Born in the USA : Less than 1% of shoes sold in the United States are manufactured here. The Okabashi factory in Buford, Georgia, is bucking that trend.

Courtesy Company

Born in the USA: Less than 1% of shoes sold in the United States are manufactured here. The Okabashi factory in Buford, Georgia, is bucking that trend.

Mark Kent is a fifth generation yarn man.

His great, great, grandfather, Thomas Kent, founded Kent Manufacturing in Greenville, South Carolina in 1843. Today, the company has about 100 employees, many of whom who have been there more than 50 years.

And while pretty much all of the company’s competitors have gone international–moving plants overseas to India, China, and elsewhere–Kentwool continues to manufacture socks in Pickens, South Carolina, population: 3,126.

“We’re definitely iconoclastic,” says Mark Kent, the compay’s CEO and president.

In the late 80s and early 1990s, the Kent family “dabbled” in overseas manufacturing, but in 1992, Kent made a firm decision to stay local.

Virtually all his competitors were going overseas; was he anxious when bucking the trend?

 “I wish I could tell you the answer was no,” he says. “There were many nights when I toyed with the idea that ‘Man, did we make the wrong decision?'”

But Kent is more than pleased these days.

“Especially now, more than ever, there is an enormous amount of pride in our company,” he says. “At a time when the economy was doing poorly and jobs were moving offshore, there’s a feeling that we’ve done things that other companies haven’t been able to do.”


Taking Care of Customers by Staying Home

In 1960, about 26% of the American employees were engaged in some sort of manufacturing work. By the mid 2000s, that number shrank to about 7%. The reality was obvious: Labor costs were much, much cheaper overseas. In 2002, for instance, the average hourly rate for a Chinese manufacturing employees was $0.57. In the United States, it was $21.40. By 1998, outsourcing had become a $100 billion industry; by 2003, it had exploded to nearly $300 billion.

So as outsourcing became the norm, many American companies went offshore to manufacture products. But for the companies that decided to stay local, the road has not always been easy–whether it was retooling factories to make custom products, taking smaller margins, or even reducing the size of the workforce.

Dick Resch, the CEO of Krueger International, a Fortune 500 furniture manufacturer, took over the company in 1980. While most, if not all, of the company’s competitors have moved their manufacturing facilities abroad–mostly to India and China–Resch saw a future for the company in Wisconsin.

“I saw a niche for us in taking care of customers and not manufacturing in mass needs,” he says. “We retooled our factories to be flexible. That takes a lot of time and capital but we felt our goal was to be efficient and to have flexible manufacturing.”

Today, the company provides custom office furniture for companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, and Box.net.

“Living on the Knife’s Edge.”

The decision to manufacture locally can often be a sore subject between the company’s founder and the company’s accountant or CFO.

Consider Okabashi, a shoe- and sandal-maker that was founded in 1984 in Buford, Georgia, about 40 miles north of Atlanta. Today, less than 1% of shoes sold in the United are manufactured domestically, but Okabashi has decided to stay local.

Kerry Cunningham, the company’s executive vice president and CFO, says that when he joined the company seven years ago, the idea of manufacturing abroad–cheaply–certainly was a subject of conversation.

“When I came here, I looked at it like any accountant or CFO would,” he says. “There is no question that if you were to roll out the numbers you would make the assumption that you would need to manufacture this overseas. No question.”

But eventually, Cunningham came to see eye-to-eye with the company’s founder.

“We wanted to make sure it was a safe product,” he says. “Also, that it’s safe for the environment. We felt that if we outsourced, we may have risked one or more of those values. It definitely means that we don’t get the margins that we want, but we stuck to our values.”

Cunningham says the company has sacrificed profit by staying in the United States, but that moving abroad would have been detrimental long-term.

“Trust me, it was tempting to move. But that would have been a really bad short-term decision. In hindsight, it’s been a bad decision for this country,” he said. “When manufacturing began to get outsourced, we gave up the golden eggs, but we also gave away the goose.”

Slimmer margins in American-made brands are common. Steven Elliot, president of Oren Elliott Products, an Ohio-based manufacturer of capacitors says staying local since 1983 has saved his employees’ jobs, but it’s also forced the company to take smaller margins than its competitors.

“Markup is so low,” he says. “We make a 20 percent margin when we’re successful. We’re living on the knife’s edge.”

The Value of a Label

Kevin Parker, the owner of Powis, a book-binding company based in Berkley, Calironia, says that even though his competition will charge less than half the amount for their product–about $1,200 versus $4,000–he’s remained happy with his decision to manufacture locally, especially for environmental reasons.

“The pollution [in China]–it’s amazing how bad the air is,” he says. “It’s unconsciounable. It was very discouraging from that point of view.”

Interestingly, Parker also notes that his European distributors have pressured him to continue to manufacture locally.

“Europeans are really very negative about taking the product to Asia,” he says. “They make something of the fact that it’s U.S.-built.”

That “Made in America” label can pay off. Sean Bandawat, president of Jacob Bromwell, a kitchenware company that was founded in 1819, says customers are willing to pay between a 20% and 30% premium for items made in the United States.

Bandawat and his partner, Eric Stanton, acquired Jacob Bromwell in 2010. He says the decision to keep the company local, wasn’t all that hard. Besides, he says, “China isn’t any cheaper any more.”

In fact, he’s right. Chinese labor costs have been on the rise in the last decade. Bloomberg noted recently that an April poll of about 300 U.S. contract manufacturers showed that 40 percent “benefited this year from work previously done abroad.”

Perhaps these companies were on the right side of the trend.

“Insourcing is a trend I think we’ll continue,” says Dick Resch. “Done right here, I think we can be competitive on the world market.”

7 Companies Older Than America

Towle Silversmiths was founded in Newbury, Massachusetts, in 1690 by William Moulton II, the first silversmith in the region. For the next six generations, the Moultons continued making silverware, and in 1882, the family incorporated the company as the Towle Manufacturing Co. In 1990, the company was acquired by Syratech, a holding company, which was then acquired by Lifetime Brands, a bigger holding company, in 2006. However, Towle silverware can still be purchased directly on TowleSilver.com.

People have average of 15 years left on mortgage, says BMO

Canadians have, on average, 15 years left on their mortgages, according to a survey released Wednesday by BMO Bank of Montreal.

“This average mortgage repayment timeline will likely decrease as a result of the new mortgage regulations,” Laura Parsons, a mortgage specialist with BMO, said in a release.

New federal mortgage rules take effect Monday and are meant to curb demand and dampen prices.

The changes lower the refinancing limit to 80 per cent of home equity and limit the availability of government insurance to mortgages of a million or less and with amortizations of 25 years or less.


MORTGAGE CHANGES
Infographic on how these changes affect homeowners

“By our estimate, to neutralize the impact on mortgage payments of the amortization rule change, average home prices would need to fall about three per cent. By helping to cool the market now, the rule changes should increase the odds of a soft —rather than hard — landing,” Sal Guatieri, BMO’s senior economist, said.

Other findings from the survey suggest two in five of those sampled prefer to increase their payments over time and one in five opt to make a lump sum payment. The majority of those — 58 per cent – made a lump sum payment or 10 per cent or less.

Twenty-four per cent did not make any additional payments other than their basic mortgage payments.

The Leger Marketing survey sampled 1.000 Canadian homeowners from March 19 – 22 and had a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.

New military helicopters may not be ready for 5 years

Canada’s long-promised fleet of new Sikorsky naval helicopters, already four years late and $300 million over budget, likely won’t be delivered and ready for combat for up to another five years, informed industry sources tell CBC News.

Last month, Connecticut-based Sikorsky missed its latest contract deadline to finish delivering 28 sleek, state-of-the-art Cyclone maritime helicopters to replace Canada’s aged fleet of increasingly unreliable Sea Kings, now nearing 50 years old.

In fact, delivery of the new choppers hasn’t even started.

Chris Alexander, parliamentary secretary for defence, said Tuesday on CBC’s Power and Politics that the helicopters would start to arrive “soon.”

“We very much hope that it’s months. But there’s a discussion underway here with a contractor, and there are air-worthiness issues, certification issues, that will have to be gone through before the aircraft can come into service.”

But industry insiders familiar with the Sikorsky project say the Cyclone helicopters being built for Canada are a new design with a lot of sophisticated electronics and military mission systems that aren’t yet even installed, all of which will take years to integrate and become combat-ready.

Repeated calls to Sikorsky were not returned.

The Sikorsky Cyclone, full of modern systems, is considered vital to Canadian naval operations. The Sikorsky Cyclone, full of modern systems, is considered vital to Canadian naval operations. (Sikorsky/Reuters)

The helicopters, crammed with modern systems, are considered vital to naval operations, flying off the decks of Canada’s naval frigates to scan the seas for enemy threats.

The Department of National Defence says in a briefing note that critical work needs to be done before Canada will accept delivery of the first Cyclone helicopter, and officials apparently don’t think that will be anytime soon.

Two frigates the Canadian navy had retrofitted at an undisclosed expense so the Sikorskys could land on their decks are now being reconfigured right back to the way they were, to handle the old Sea Kings.

‘They haven’t given us a date’

Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose, whose department is responsible for enforcing deadlines in the contract with Sikorsky, tells CBC she wouldn’t even guess when the company might deliver the entire fleet.

“They haven’t given us a date,” Ambrose says, suggesting that even if the company did commit to a new deadline, it might not amount to much.

“As we know, their dates — the promises they have made to us — have shifted numerous times.”

The original 2004 contract with Sikorsky stipulated the company had to deliver the helicopters by 2008.

When that deadline passed with no helicopters in sight, the Harper government could have hit Sikorsky with $36 million in contract penalties.

Instead, it was Canadian taxpayers who reached into their pockets.

The government agreed to let Sikorsky extend the deadline another four years to June this year — and increase the original contract price by about $300 million.

So far, Sikorsky has paid zero in penalties.

‘We do expect that when we sign a contract with a company, that they fulfil their obligations.’—Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose

As of last month, Sikorsky had only provided a couple of prototypes that have no military mission systems, and aren’t certified to fly over water or at night.

The two helicopters apparently spend most of their time on the tarmac at Shearwater Heliport at CFB Halifax as “training aids” for ground mechanics.

The machines are so incomplete the Canadian government refuses to accept them as an official delivery of anything in the contract.

Public Works Minister Ambrose says Sikorsky missing the latest deadline officially puts the company on the hook for $94 million in contract penalties.

But she sounds anything but certain Canadian taxpayers will see much compensation.

“We do expect that when we sign a contract with a company, that they fulfill their obligations. And so we are in discussions with them right now; we’ve had ongoing, high-level discussions with them for the last number of months.

“They do have some challenges, and we understand that.”

None of which is likely to surprise anyone familiar with the naval helicopter saga, surely one of the longest-running gong shows in Canadian procurement history.

Decades-long procurement process

Thirty-five years ago, the Trudeau government first set out to buy replacements for the 1960s-era Sea Kings, even then considered close to their best-before dates.

A Canadian Forces Sea King helicopter with Prince William on board takes part in a rescue demonstration in P.E.I. last year.A Canadian Forces Sea King helicopter with Prince William on board takes part in a rescue demonstration in P.E.I. last year. (Patrick Morrell)

In 1992, Brian Mulroney’s government ordered 50 Cormorant helicopters for both naval surveillance and maritime search-and-rescue, at a total cost of $4.8 billion.

The following year, Jean Chretien fulfilled an election promise to kill the deal to buy Cormorants he called unnecessary “Cadillacs,” a move that cost taxpayers $478 million in cancellation penalties.

Five years later, after a long and carefully controlled bidding process for 15 new search-and-rescue helicopters, an embarrassed Chretien government (and an enraged prime minister) wound up having to buy the same Cormorants.

In 2004, Paul Martin’s government chose Sikorsky to supply the remaining 28 naval helicopters after the Cormorant was mysteriously disqualified from the bidding.

Twenty years after Chretien pulled the plug on the original $4.8 billion Cormorant purchase, supposedly to save public money, the auditor general has estimated taxpayers will now pay about $6.2 billion for roughly half as many Sikorskys.

Tornadoes touch down in Saskatchewan

Three twisters touched down in Saskatchewan and some farmers were hammered by hail in another day of wild weather on the Prairies.

One of the tornadoes left a trail of damage at a local farm near Davidson, located about 100 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon.

Lawrence Beckie said he was relieved when the 30 minutes of rain, wind and hail had finally stopped.


Inside a tornado
Understanding updrafts, vortexes and funnel clouds

When it finally passed, Beckie went out to evaluate the damage — 50-year-old trees were snapped in half, a grain bin worth $15,000 was turned on its side and windows were shattered.

The farm was also hit hard during last week’s storms, said his wife Marg Beckie.

“We just finished cleaning up from last week,” she said. “My husband actually finished this morning. And we were without power for a couple of days. But it’s part of Saskatchewan.”

The tornado has left them without power again, and there is no word on when it will be back on.

The Beckies have called on family members to help clean up the recent mess and said they remain optimistic, despite the damage.

The Storm Chaser

Environment Canada also confirmed two other tornadoes touched down southwest of Wynyard and southwest of Watrous. No one was hurt and there was no serious damage.

Intense thunderstorm activity was also reported about 25 kilometres south of Outlook, Sask., on Tuesday afternoon.

The storm was moving quickly in a northeasterly direction at a speed of about 80 km/h.

The storms had the potential to produce a tornado, along with hail, damaging winds and torrential rain.

Greg Johnston is a storm chaser who said he saw a couple of tornadoes near Lake Diefenbaker at about 4:45 p.m.

“We caught on video two tornadoes that touched down,” said Johnston.

“As well as a few different funnels. We were at real close range. Probably about a hundred yards away when the tornado actually touched down. So, it was a little bit of a tense situation.”

Several towns around the province were reporting hail, including Bienfait, Rosthern, Kelvington and Perigord.

[View the story “More twisters on Tuesday” on Storify]

‘God particle’ likely discovered

Scientists working at the world’s biggest atom smasher in Switzerland say they have discovered what could be the long-sought Higgs boson, a subatomic particle dubbed the “God particle” because it is believed to have originated during the Big Bang and helped shape the subatomic particles that make up all matter in the universe.

Rolf Heuer, director of the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Meyrin, Switzerland, near the border with France, made the announcement early Wednesday, saying that researchers “have now found the missing cornerstone of particle physics.”

He described the discovery as a boson, a wider class of subatomic particle, but stopped short of confirming that it’s a Higgs boson — an extremely fine distinction.

“As a layman, I think we did it,” he said. “We have observed a new particle that is consistent with a Higgs boson.”

The Higgs boson has been labelled the “God particle” in the mainstream media because of the fundamental questions it could answer about matter and the creation of the universe, and although most physicists avoid using the term, they do agree that the Higgs boson plays a key role in what is known as the Standard Model of physics, which describes the particles from which everything in the universe is made and how they interact.

Theory 1st proposed in 1960s

The Standard Model includes common subatomic particles like electrons and protons along with less familiar ones like muons.

The Higgs boson is the only one that remains undetected in experiments because it lives for only a fraction of a second before decaying into other subatomic particles, such as photons, muons or leptons. The only way to measure it, the CERN scientists said, is to measure the products of its decay.

The reason physicists have been so determined to find the Higgs boson is because it is believed to impart mass to all the other particles.

A graphic showing the decay of a possible Higgs boson into four muons in a 2012 particle collision conducted inside the Large Hadron Collider by the ATLAS team of CERN scientists.A graphic showing the decay of a possible Higgs boson into four muons in a 2012 particle collision conducted inside the Large Hadron Collider by the ATLAS team of CERN scientists. (ATLAS/CERN)

The existence of a Higgs boson was first proposed by British physicist Peter Higgs and his colleagues at Edinburgh University in 1964 as a way of explaining how particles gained mass, a property that at first did not seem to fit into the Standard Model of how electrons and protons interact.

Higgs proposed that particles gain mass by interacting with a medium that exists everywhere in space and is made up of unseen particles called bosons.

Higgs’s theory does not assign a specific mass to the boson itself but gives a range of values for the potential masses it could have. Based on these values, physicists can determine the amounts of secondary particles that the boson decays into that they should expect to find when observing high-speed particle collisions.

This is the “footprint” of the Higgs boson that scientists said they found when analysing trillions of high-speed proton-proton collisions within CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.

The CERN physicists conducted two separate but parallel experiments over 2011 and 2012 using two particle-collision detectors, called ATLAS and CMS, respectively, that are part of the collider.

The scientists said data from both detectors gave “strong indications for the presence of a new particle, which could be the Higgs boson, in the mass region around 126 gigaelectronvolts.”

TRIUMF physicists involved in hunt

Wednesday’s announcement follows decades of work and billions of dollars spent on a project that has involved scientists in dozens of countries.

To mark the occasion in Canada, a few dozen physicists and other experts at TRIUMF, a particle physics lab in Vancouver that has been involved with the hunt for the Higgs boson, gathered overnight to celebrate.

“It’s a big day for CERN, a big day for international science, and a big day for science in Canada,” said Oliver Stelzer-Chilton, a physicist at the TRIUMF lab.

“But now, we have to come to the bottom of it,” he said. “What is nature telling us that this new particle is?”

“At this point, we can say it’s consistent with the properties that we expect from a Higgs boson, but we basically have to measure those properties to be sure.”

Hints of Higgs seen previously

Physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider had already found what they believe were hints pointing to the existence of the Higgs boson, but until now, it has remained a theoretical particle.

The ATLAS and CMS teams were tasked with running separate experiments that would each aim to spot traces of the boson independently.

British physicist Peter Higgs, left, for whom the boson is named, talks to Fabiola Gianotti, head of one of two teams that have been hunting for the elusive subatomic particle. Rolf Heuer, director of the European Centre for Nuclear Research, is seen in the background. British physicist Peter Higgs, left, for whom the boson is named, talks to Fabiola Gianotti, head of one of two teams that have been hunting for the elusive subatomic particle. Rolf Heuer, director of the European Centre for Nuclear Research, is seen in the background. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

The ATLAS collaboration includes researchers from around the world, including Canada, who have been working to analyze the vast amounts of collision data generated at CERN.

One-tenth of the data generated by the ATLAS experiment is sent to the TRIUMF supercomputer in Vancouver, where it is then analyzed by experts at a few Canadian universities.

On Wednesday, the leaders of the two CERN teams — Joe Incandela, head of CMS, with 2,100 scientists, and Fabiola Gianotti, head of ATLAS, with 3,000 scientists — each presented what was essentially extremely strong evidence of a new particle.

The announcement was timed to coincide with the first day of the International Conference on High Energy Physics in Melbourne.

The researchers stressed that the results are preliminary and that a full analysis of the data they gathered over 2011 and 2012 won’t be published until the end of July.

“Positive identification of the new particle’s characteristics will take considerable time and data,” the CERN statement said. “But whatever form the Higgs particle takes, our knowledge of the fundamental structure of matter is about to take a major step forward.”

CERN described the particle as a possible “bridge to understanding the 96 per cent of our universe that remains obscure,” a reference to the fact that the matter that we can see represents only about four per cent of all matter in the universe.

With files from Associated Press

Elliot Lake mall victim remembered as ‘neighbourhood mom’

More than a hundred people attended today’s funeral for one of the two women who died in the collapse of a mall roof in Elliot Lake, Ont.

Doloris Perizzolo, a 74-year-old widow, was to be buried at Woodlands Cemetery, not far from the lake that gives the town its name.

Hours after the service ended, the Ontario Provincial Police, who announced the evening before that they are conducting a criminal investigation into the June 23 disaster, pledged to “pour in as much resources as we need” to determine exactly what happened and why.

Perizzolo’s casket was brought into Our Lady of Fatima church with her family walking behind. During the service, mourners heard that she was known as a “neighbourhood mom” in the northern Ontario community.

Attendees included friends, family and residents of the town who didn’t know her, but said they came to pay their respects. Gary Gendron, the fiancé of Lucie Aylwin, the other woman who died in the disaster, was also there. He hugged Perizzolo’s family as he went in.

Doloris Perizzolo, 74, died after a section of the roof of the Elliot Lake Algo Centre Mall caved in. Doloris Perizzolo, 74, died after a section of the roof of the Elliot Lake Algo Centre Mall caved in. (Elliot Lake Funeral Chapel)

Perizzolo is survived by three daughters and two grandsons. One of her daughters lives in Elliot Lake, while the other two are from Guelph, Ont., and Hamilton.

She was buying a lottery ticket from Aylwin, 37, at a kiosk in the Algo Centre Mall on June 23, when the building’s roof caved in and fell two storeys.

Perizzolo went to the mall weekly to buy a ticket, and was well-known in Elliot Lake, population 11,000, as the “lottery-ticket lady.”

There will be a celebration of Aylwin’s life on Monday.

Both victims were honoured in a moment of silence Tuesday night at an Elliot Lake town council meeting.

Criminal investigation

Ontario Provincial Police announced Tuesday they are now conducting a criminal investigation into the collapse. Spokesperson Sgt. Pierre Chamberland told reporters a couple hours after Perizzolo’s funeral that information came to light while officers were assisting the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario in its probe of the roof collapse, and that “our investigators assessed the information that was available and decided it was prudent to conduct a criminal investigation.”

He wouldn’t give details of what exactly those officers learned.

The criminal probe is taking priority over the investigations by the coroner’s office and Ontario’s Labour Ministry, Chamberland said.

“We’ll be looking at the state of the building, it’s current state. We’ll be looking at reports and information that we get from the public in regards to any potential previous state. We’ll be looking at anything that’s been filed and investigations or any inquiries or any reports that have been completed in regards to that particular building,” he said.

“We’ll be looking at all aspects – we’re not going to exclude anything.”

Chamberland said the provincial force would “pour in as much resources as we need… in order to get to the bottom of what happened.” Multiple people could face a range of charges, he said.

The mall had a history of roof problems dating back years, largely due to leaks. In 2007, a segment of drain pipe fell from part of the roof and struck a mall employee, causing a concussion. As recently as eight months before the cave-in, a plumber working on the roof said he noted obvious signs of water damage. But an engineering study done just over a month ago turned up no major issues.

Police will be looking into that study and various other structural assessments to make sure no one cut corners or was criminally negligent, CBC’s Natalie Kalata reported from Elliot Lake on Wednesday.

Premier Dalton McGuinty announced on Friday that a public inquiry will be held and the provincial Labour Ministry is conducting its own investigation.

The mall remains closed, and business owners and workers have been told that due to safety reasons they won’t be allowed back into the building to retrieve personal items.

With files from The Canadian Press