Public practitioner and entrepreneur

CPAs can be found in every industry, being experts at more than numbers – and they’re great with those, too.

Every month, CPA Manitoba spotlights the diverse and dedicated professionals that prove CPA is more than a designation. 

I wouldn’t be the well-rounded entrepreneur I am today if I didn’t obtain my accounting designation.

The walls and ceiling shine with a freshly painted glow. The space, already half-complete with modern stylings, is brightly lit with the aid of natural light streaming in from Portage Avenue.

“And that’s where the Cranked Energy logo is going to go,” Cheryl Zealand, CPA, CA, says excitedly as she gestures toward a vibrant recess in the wall that will end up being one of the first things you see when renovations for her first store are complete in about a month’s time.

To fully understand her excitement—and appreciate the years of hard work it took to get to this point—it’s best to start at the beginning of her story.

“I’m a Garden City girl. I grew up in the North End, but graduated from Kelvin High School in 1991,” she explains.

From there, Zealand attended St. Boniface College, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree thinking she was going to be a pharmacist. After some reflection and to the delight of her father who was an accountant himself, she enrolled at the University of Manitoba and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1999 before going on to complete her accounting designation.

“I articled at KPMG and loved working there. I ended up transferring with the company to Calgary in 2002 and went on to gain experience as a senior accountant for the firm.”

In 2004, Zealand went on maternity leave. “I was pregnant with my first child, a boy, and I never went back,” she laughs.

Staying connected to her career was important to Zealand, and she did so by teaching accounting, tax and finance to CA School of Business program candidates.

By 2009, she and her husband had moved back to Winnipeg and welcomed twin boys. Looking back, the birth of her children turned out to be a catalyst for Cranked Energy.

“After the twins were born life got busier and I was searching for grab-and-go healthy food and I couldn’t find it. Everything on the shelf tasted terrible or had so many chemicals in it, so I decided I was going to make this for my family, in my own kitchen,” explained Zealand, who has always had a passion for health, wellness and physical fitness.

Over the next three years she refined her energy bar recipe and process.

“Protein and health bars can taste pretty chalky and we had a lot of bad trays of bars,” Zealand recalls. “Then one day after again tinkering with the recipe and changing the ingredients, I made a tray of bars that my husband and kids really liked.”

After more friends and family weighed in, she decided to see if others liked them too.

“I did one Facebook post to see what would happen and I sold 700 bars in one month,” she says. “My bars are fresh and found in the fridge, not on the shelf. My goal was to make them taste like a guilt-free dessert, which really resonated with people.”

From there, she decided to turn her energy bars into a business.

“Over the last two years I moved into different rental kitchens to scale, and it came to a point where even that wasn’t enough. It was time to look for a place to lease and this one came up.”

 

 

“This one” is the soon-to-be fully renovated storefront at 1853 Portage Avenue. The new space is equipped with a fully functional commercial kitchen that is already making an impact.

“Locally, we’ve gone from 700 bars a month to almost 10,000 a month. I used to worry about ordering one 10-kilogram pail of peanut butter and I recently ordered 2000 kilograms. We just launched a brand new website last week [crankedenergy.com]. All of our growth has come from word of mouth… who knows what this new marketing will do.”

Although her background is in accounting, Zealand’s role at Cranked Energy is far more diverse.

“I wouldn’t be the well-rounded entrepreneur I am today If I didn’t obtain my accounting designation. I do all of the actual bar making, signing distributors, managing sales, purchasing, negotiating contracts, visiting retailers, deliveries, events, and am the face of the company. The only thing I don’t do is my accounting,” jokes Zealand.

Like many entrepreneurs, she is at the point where she can’t keep up with every aspect of her business.

“I know the accounting side is important and so I knew I needed help when I became unable to devote enough time to it.”

A CPA now helps Zealand with the everyday accounting needs of her business, although she still regularly reviews and keeps up with the numbers.

“I am so lucky that I’m able to blend my biggest passions together: the accounting side of me along with the health, wellness and creative side of me. I truly do live every day doing the things I’m most passionate about.”

I’m lucky to blend my biggest passions together: the accounting side of me along with the health, wellness and creative side of me.

Zealand adds, “I’m always at sporting or health and wellness events, and then I get to go into business meetings and do cash flow statements. I feel really lucky.”

She credits her accounting designation with helping her get to where she is today. “It prepared me to go into a board room and negotiate a deal or price, to understanding my financial statements and everything in between.

It allows me to navigate change without having to worry because I know there’s a solution to every problem.”

As renovations wind down and preparations for her grand opening ramp up, one gets the sense that things are only beginning for Zealand.

“I’ve got many more ideas and I’m excited for what’s to come. There’s just so much more I can’t wait to get started on,” Zealand says with a smile.

Cranked Energy bars are free of preservatives and made with all fresh foods and New Zealand grass-fed protein without any fillers.