Written by Jan Davies
Roz Mugford, Creative Director and CEO of Double Barrel Studios, started her video production company in 2011 in Hamilton. Her husband, Dale Mugford, joined her 2 years ago as Digital Director and COO. Now they’ve expanded into Eastern Ontario, with Double Barrel East, after making the move to Prince Edward County. “Our main client base is in the GTHA,” says Roz, “and now we service Kingston, Ottawa, Belleville, Trenton, Oshawa and of course, Prince Edward County.”
Double Barrel’s clients include universities, municipalities, broadcasters, healthcare organizations, multinational corporations and small businesses. Their team is accustomed to working remotely, (they have an animation partner in South America) and have built an award-winning, vast portfolio of over 300 videos made over 8 years for more than 100 clients. They established themselves fast in The County in their first year and have worked with Career Edge and the Municipality producing Workforce Attraction videos.
They also made a series of short Tourism Ambassador training videos for The County. The HEAT program is using their videos for training and HR departments are including them in orientation programs for employees.
Some people meeting Roz for the first time wonder why she seems so familiar. “They say ‘Do I KNOW you?!?’, because I’ve done narration on so many videos they’ve seen and they know my voice” she laughs. “Double Barrel can completely manage your video project from script to screen, if that’s what you need,” says Roz.“Some clients want to be involved at every stage, others might have a tighter budget, so they’ll come to us just for a cameraman.” Or camera- woman . Roz is comfortable in front of and behind cameras, having written, produced, directed and hosted her own magazine as well as radio and TV content since 2002. Heads up to any local camera operators: Double Barrel are currently hiring.
WHY PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY
Dale’s father lives in Brighton so he was familiar with the area, but Roz is from B.C. When they first got together and wanted an Ontario getaway Dale suggested Muskoka. Roz wanted to see The County. “I had heard about it because of the publicity around The Drake Devonshire,” Roz recalls. They compromised with one week in Muskoka and one in The County, but left cottage country early, “for various reasons,” laughs Dale, “including a million mosquitoes!” Upon arrival in Wellington, Roz was pretty much hooked on The County. She loved the biking opportunities everywhere, visiting wineries and beaches and beautiful places. “We got lost one day on the Millennium Trail,” she says shaking her head. “I don’t know how but we ended up God knows where, deep in gravel on our city bikes. It felt very remote like we were out in the wilderness and it was getting dark.” They laugh about it now. “I’m glad they’re putting better signage up on the trail now,” she says.
While still building the business in Hamilton they began spending every minute they could in Prince Edward County a few years back— not easy with a teenaged son and busy work weeks. “We looked here without much luck, then when an offer fell through on a home, we decided to buy a small temporary place in Picton, which turned out to be the right decision,” Roz says cheerfully. “It meant we could turn up exhausted from work and just relax and spend time getting to know the area.” Being crazy entrepreneurs (their words) they went ahead and fully renovated the small condo flat while still looking for the right house. “We had a long wish list, a house and a barn, a nice piece of land, space to run the business and maybe make income from the property,” Dale laughs. “We have friends who are building new places instead to get what they want.” It took Roz and Dale five years, but they found their house on five acres severed from a 100-acre property. The original property never appeared on their radar because it was over budget— but once severed they could afford it. “Just,” says Dale. “We stretched ourselves to get it and we’re very glad we did.”
LIVING AND WORKING IN THE COUNTY
They are particularly in love with their 100 year-old, hip-roof hemlock barn, along with a small guesthouse they’re renovating soon dubbed “Cottontail Ridge”. Both buildings enjoy bucolic views, serenity and nature. “Barns are spiritual, a sort of rural church.” says Dale. “All the history that they’ve seen, the animal life, the people who have been there before you, it just makes you feel reverie. It feels like that in many places throughout The County, whether you’ve been here forever or just arrived, you’re invited to become new stewards of the culture, land & community.”
Roz adds “I’m glad we didn’t rush it and held out for what we wanted because we’re here for the long haul. We are all-in. When you’re taking risks, you have to be resilient, it takes a certain kind of person.” the kind of person who has a lot in common with long-time County residents. Historically, people here have had to reinvent themselves to make a living and keep their communities alive. Through the barley days, the rise and fall of canning, cheese factories, economic depression, and now revitalization with wine and tourism, food and small farmers. Roz and Dale are familiar with the vagaries of local economies. “Hamilton is a steel town that slumped in the late 90’s,” says Roz. “But it’s been turning around and we were privileged to be part of that revitalization. Younger people are moving in or moving back, starting businesses, breathing new life, much like what’s happening here, as well.”
Double Barrel works with organizations that promote this kind of growth and change, so they know how important it is to have a plan. Dale has a nice analogy. “If you have a garden that needs revitalizing, you can go in gung ho, turn over the earth, make it ready for something good to happen but if you don’t have a plan and neglect it seeds can blow in from everywhere. Some are great, but some can threaten the very things you want to grow and protect. You have to be careful and not allow your crop to be choked out. In a community, you do that best by people working together.” Roz agrees. “Things always change. You can’t stop that. But you can get involved and help to shape the change, whether you’re new or lived somewhere forever.”
Roz is a born storyteller. “I love telling people’s stories. Expanding outward to Eastern Ontario opens the company to new areas and new stories. “From Hamilton we service the GTHA. While from The County we service as far as
Ottawa. So it’s really the best of both worlds.” The partners they work with in Hamilton include camera operators and editors. In The County, they’ve worked with local partners, and their animation partner in South America. “It’s taken eight years to build the company to where it is today,” says Roz. “So it’s really exciting to expand out here and take on new work.”
Double Barrel has worked with businesses and organizations of all shapes and sizes – from multinational companies to Mom & Pop shops. Having worked within large organizations, they knew there were similar institutions here, but they also saw the potential in wineries and new businesses with stories to tell.
Dale says, “If you’re not a brick and mortar business you can work from anywhere. I co-founded a software and web-development business in 2008 with a team of six who worked all over the place, from L.A. to Toronto and that is even more common now. We are part of that new way of working, and we choose to live in a beautiful place instead of a concrete central location. But we know there are trade-offs, like travel. Roz is off this week to Burlington to meet with clients, it’s just what you have to do. We’re resourceful. If money gets tight, you just have to go out and find work wherever it is.”
Having the luxury of an established company behind them that allows them to take the chance and move to a new area, they’re excited to build new networks. Dale says, “I know Build a New Life is a marketing approach, but it works because it’s kind of true. When we’ve suffered some setback after moving here, I’ve actually said “Well…Build a New Life, right? Whether it’s home renovation or community relationships or business relationships, there is a lot of building involved.”
Dale candidly admits it took a few months to get an Internet connection that worked for them. “We wanted to slow down, but not that much!” he laughs. With his experience in software and networking, Dale set up a two-internet environment with a dual-WAN router. “If you have two services that, individually, are not sufficient alone you can combine them and effectively double your bandwidth” he explains. “It’s not cheap, but it’s more affordable than having fibre optic run to your house when you live in the countryside.” Xplornet will be going to a 100 megabit service soon which will make life easier. Until then, Dale is an organizing member of County Coworking opening soon in Picton which provides access to first class Internet connection when needed.
ADVICE FOR OTHERS
Dale laughs, “Don’t settle for a lousy Internet connection! Have the technicians come back, get them to tinker with it, because just one more bar of connection could make a big difference for you.” Roz says, “My advice is if you’re thinking of moving here, if you keep visiting and don’t want to go home each time, make that leap. Just do it. The sooner you get here, the sooner you can start building that new life. We couldn’t find a property, got discouraged, and weren’t in the financial position to do everything we wanted— but we got here as soon as we could.” They also advise to be prepared for money to stop for a bit. As entrepreneurs they were used to that and created time and space for the transition.
“Make sure you are ready for adjustment in income and also make time to get out into the community and meet people,” says Dale. “Because the different pace of life is a big adjustment, especially in November when it gets dark early and 7 o’clock feels like midnight! You do have to get out and find activities, keep engaging and connecting with people. There are a lot of like-minded people here and it’s not difficult to find them.” They say it’s important to make sure your expectations are in line with reality. “Don’t come here expecting to make a million bucks!” laughs Dale. “We chose to live here because we wanted to flip it around, and put the things we work for first.” County life is not for everyone. Some people find it lonely if they don’t connect with others, some just miss the city too much.
Roz says “In the city a lot of people are busy building a business, building a family and focused on getting by— so spending time with each other and friends often takes a backseat. Here we find it’s the opposite. It’s refreshing that people here want to connect, meet for dinner, and help each other through dark winters!” Dale calls it “the farm table” thing. “It’s part of that ineffable quality of The County,” says Dale. “Everyday interactions that are positive, but simple. It feels good. Maybe it’s something that has gone missing in other places, but it’s still here. You do feel welcome. When we joined the PEC Community Facebook page, it was “Hey everybody! Say hi to Dale and Roz!
We’d never been actually welcomed to a Facebook group before” he laughs.
For startups or businesses looking to expand or re-locate to The County, you can fill out this Business Inquiry Questionnaire, and the Community Development Department will respond in 48 hours.