The growth of local businesses makes it possible to make “the dreams of others” come true

Design By Bobbi has grown twice recently, with help from the CDC; “Their understanding and expertise was exactly what we needed,” said the co-owner.

The following “success story” was submitted to OrilliaMatters by the Orillia Area Community Development Corporation.

“Growing your business isn’t stress-free,” admits Bobbi Leppington, but it’s something the co-owner of Design By Bobbi, an Orillia-based custom architectural design firm, has done twice in the past decade. – all with the aim of reducing stress.

Leppington started his business with a passion for custom architectural design and a commitment to superior customer service. But trying to run the start-up while having a full-time job proved unsustainable and put Leppington’s health in crisis.

“I needed to rethink how to make a stress-free living,” Leppington said.

She made the difficult decision to leave the security of her full-time job in order to be her own boss and grow her small business. Leppington had spent over 15 years as a municipal building officer, most recently as the chief building officer for the Township of Oro-Medonte.

With extensive competence in construction processes, along with her training and design experience, she is committed to making Design by Bobbi a success.

And success came quickly through word of mouth. Steve Rossiter saw the potential and joined as a co-owner and customer service specialist.

Projects ranged from new homes, townhouses, and many residential additions and renovations to small-scale commercial interior design.

“Bobbi was overwhelmed, sometimes working 20 hours a day, seven days a week. I knew we had to expand and hire more staff, ”Rossiter said.

“We didn’t know what we were getting into,” said Rossiter and Leppington. “But luckily, we’ve heard about the Orillia Area Community Development Corp. (CDC) and its services.”

“We were able to secure a loan from CDC that helped us purchase the technology we needed for additional staff, as well as hire a business coach to guide us in our expansion,” Leppington explained.

The CDC loan application process required a comprehensive business plan, which helped business owners focus on what was most important to the business and the best ways to grow.

“I’m a really good designer,” Leppington said, “but I don’t know as much about growing a business. The advice from CDC has been invaluable. They specialize in small business loans, so their understanding and expertise was exactly what we needed.

“It was another stressful time of growth,” Leppington added, “but look at where we are today – with a staff of seven and another hiring slated for the fall!”

The CDC loan enabled the company to grow its workforce from two co-owners to a team of seven. The team includes a business leader as well as interior design and architectural technology specialists.

“We originally planned to have our team work part-time from home, as well as from an office in downtown Orillia that we had established just before the pandemic,” said Rossiter. “With the lockdown, our plans changed and we are now all working from home offices full time.”

“We wanted to create a fun and friendly corporate environment for our staff,” said Leppington. “CDC’s loan and our ability to purchase the computer technology necessary for our design work allowed us to do this. “

“We have a good flow now,” said Rossiter, who added that they were busier than ever.

With calls coming in every day, usually by word of mouth and referrals, the company books up to four months in advance. And like many others in the home improvement industry, COVID-19 has contributed to the workload.

“People are realizing that they can work from home or just spend more time at home and are looking for renovations or additions,” Leppington said.

As for the future, the company hopes to expand by providing HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) services, as well as adding interior decoration to its design capabilities. They are also in the process of implementing a new “Compassionate Design Program” to support seniors who wish to stay in their homes.

“The possibilities are endless,” said Leppington. “Right now, we are happy that we can continue to work with our clients in a way that supports our mission: to provide custom design services in an efficient and user-friendly manner, making it a joyful process for the client. “

“Design By Bobbi is our dream,” Rossiter added, “but we are really making other people’s dreams come true. We love it!

For more information on Design By Bobbi, visit or contact 705-321-8916.

For more information on Orillia Area Community Development Corp. (CDC), visit or contact 705-325-4903 x 101.

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