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achievement Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame

Congratulations to the 2019 Inductees! Tonight your work ethic, expertise and stand out performance in business are being recognized by your community. Your inspiring stories are the highlight of the JA Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame Dinner. Thank you for mentoring this year’s Junior Achievers. Your vision, leadership and experiences are invaluable to them as they begin their entrepreneurial journeys. At The Berkeley, we believe in the strength of our community and we are inspired by the success stories of local businesses. We also believe that Nova Scotia’s future is in the hands of our youth. Let’s help them make it a place they can stay, love where they live and flourish!

Love Where You Live


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WELCOME MESSAGE Celebrating Nova Scotia’s current and future business builders and thought leaders



10 EMCEE PROFILES Students Amy Hoadley, Maddy Spriet, and Eric Zhang host the evening’s festivities 12 VOLUNTEERS Family ties: sharing the power of Junior Achievement 14 BUILDING FROM THE GROUND UP How Jack Flemming went from five cents to the successful succession of his diversified operation

25 DO THE RIGHT THING Joe Ramia believes everything will work out if you’re doing things for the right reasons 28 PAST LAUREATES The roster of the Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame tells the story of our province’s economic transformation 31 THE LEGACY PROJECT Engaging and inspiring Nova Scotians with the stories of the province’s business trailblazers 33 VERSCHUREN DELIVERS A SIMPLE MESSAGE Top Canadian business leader believes being brazen is good, being perfect is stupid

21 THINKING OUTSIDE THE MENU Bertossis career elevated by eschewing the safe, easy path

New Hall of Fame Members from

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Stewart McKelvey is proud to sponsor the 2019 Junior Achievement Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame Gala. Each year, the Business Hall of Fame honours business leaders who are inspiring their communities and future generations through a lifetime of achievements in business. These Laureates exemplify leadership, growth, and determination—all qualities young business people aspire to. This year’s honourees are Jack Flemming, Joe Ramia, and Stephanie and Maurizio Bertossi. Congratulations, and thank you for encouraging the leaders of tomorrow to think forward. stewartmckelvey.com

Congratulations Jack, Joe, Stephanie & Maurizio for your inspiring, innovative and remarkable accomplishments! Rogers believes in connecting people, businesses and communities with each other and to the things that matter most to them. Our founder Ted Rogers built our company from the ground up, as an entrepreneur with a vision, a dream and hard work ‌ to turn us into a 26,000-strong leader in technology and innovation. Your leadership is an inspiration to us all. As a long time member of the Halifax business community, Rogers is a proud supporter of the 2019 Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame, and Junior Achievement of Nova Scotia.

Visit rogers.com/enterprise to learn more

Š 2019 Rogers Communications.

2018–2019 Board of Directors Junior Achievement of Nova Scotia EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Jennifer Chiasson Government of Canada, Chair Bruce Young RBC, 1st Vice Chair Karn Nichols Sobey School of Business, Secretary Mark Sidebottom Nova Scotia Power, Treasurer Mark Parkhill KPMG, Past Chair Kristin Williams JA Nova Scotia, President & CEO DIRECTORS Michelle Bussey NSCC Foundation Charl Du Plooy Emera Stephanie Fitzner Student/JA Alumni Michelle Fitzgerald KBRS Karen Gardiner McInnes Cooper Troy Harnish Rogers Communications Lynn Hogan Gillespie Province of Nova Scotia Paul Janes Deloitte Lori-Anne Jones Shift Strategies Roger King Supplement King Andrew MacKinnon SBW Kevin McCann National PR Jodi Posavad Grassroots HR David A Reid Cox & Palmer

Dear friends This year we celebrate the induction of four incredible individuals into the Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame: Joe Ramia, Jack Flemming, and Stephanie and Maurizio Bertossi. We are honoured to recognize their life-time achievements and inspiring contributions to business and entrepreneurship. The Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame was established to recognize exceptional business leadership here in Nova Scotia and provide an example to aspiring entrepreneurs. The program honours business builders and thought-leaders who are contributing to economic growth and development here and beyond. Our Laureates demonstrate: perseverance, innovation, risk-taking, vision and community leadership. They are titans of industry, sector architects and business legends. This event also honours and supports the work of JA Nova Scotia. JA’s mandate is to equip the workforce of the future with the entrepreneurial, job-ready skills they need to secure our future prosperity. Achievers are the business leaders and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. For 100 years, JA around the world helps 10 million students annually in over 100 countries. Here at home, JA Nova Scotia is Canada’s most innovative and fastest growing charter with a suite of home-grown, world-class programs serving youth ages 3 to 25. Together, we are on a mission to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in the global economy and tonight, we have the opportunity to recognize the incredible and inspiring success of Joe, Jack, Stephanie and Maurizio. Thank you for being a part of the Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame program and for supporting JA Nova Scotia.

Jean-Paul Deveau Louis Deveau Co-Chair, Board of Governors Co-Chair, Board of Governors 2015 Laureate, Chairman Circle 2015 Laureate, Chairman Circle

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Board of Governors

Accomplice Kristen Allison

Cluett Insurance Brokers Inc. Roy Cluett

FMAV Keith Bugdell

Advocate Jill & Sean Murray

Cox & Palmer Daniel Gallivan

Grant Thornton LLP Wade Taylor

Laureate Stephanie and Maurizio Bertossi

Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation Bob MacKinnon

NSCC Don Bureaux Lindsay Construction Cory Bell

Ambassatours Dennis Campbell

CUA Marie Mullally

Halifax Convention Centre Carrie Cussons

Office Interiors Jim Mills Maritime Travel Rob Dexter

Barrington Consulting Group Andrew Creaser

Deloitte Paul Janes

PwC Maxime Lessard

Heritage Gas John Hawkins McInnes Cooper Cheryl Hodder

Bank of Montreal Gary Anderson

DHX Michael Donovan

HXA Dawna Candelora

QEII Foundation Bill Bean Michelin Jeff MacLean

Boyne Clarke Lawyers Jamie MacNeil

East Coast Credit Union Ken Shea

Innovacorp Malcom Fraser

RBC Rodger Howard Municipal Group of Companies David Wood

Business Development Bank of Canada Gina Gale

Chorus Joe Randell

East Coast Credit Union Provincial Gov Employees Ingrid Foshay Murphy

Knightsbridge Robertson Surrette Jeff Forbes

RBC Dominion Securities Philip Jenkins National Bank Financial Wealth Management Greg Glynn

East Coast Credit Union iNova Mauro Ricordi

RCS Construction Doug Doucet Laureate Jack Flemming Nova Scotia Business Inc. Laurel Broten Revolve Phil Otto

CIBC Mike Bagnall



East Coast Credit Union Teachers Plus Steve Richard

Laureate Joe Ramia

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Event Agenda Royal LePage Atlantic Carolyn Davis Stewart

Stantec Hal Lewis


Scotia Investments Limited George Bishop

Stewart McKelvey Lydia Bugden

WELCOME JP & Louis Deveau, 2015 Laureates JA IN ACTION

Scotiabank Jim Rodgers

Scotiabank, Commercial Banking Bethany Moffatt

Seaboard Transport Group Mark Shannon

Sobey School of Business Harjeet Bhabra

TD Canada Trust Scott Belton

INTRODUCTION OF THE JA EMCEES Maddy Spriet | Eric Zhang | Amy Hoadley A FATHER DAUGHTER STORY Melina & Ken Markotjohn

The Shaw Group Dean Robertson

Westwood Properties Danny Chedrawe


Sobey School of Business, Master of Finance Colin Dodds

RAFFLE DRAW Win two tickets anywhere Air Canada flies in North Americaand the Caribbean, plus $2500 spending money. *Some restrictions may apply

Tickets are $50 each or 3 for $100 Generously provided by Air Canada Southwest Properties Jim Spatz

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CLOSING REMARKS Jennifer Chiasson, JA Nova Scotia Board


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FINANCIAL LITERACY | WORKPLACE READINESS | ENTREPRENEURSHIP For every $1 invested in Junior Achievement programming, $45 is created in economic prosperity.

Donate or Volunteer today - janovascotia.ca

JA Nova Scotia A Member of JA Canada

Emcee Profiles


Amy Hoadley

Maddy Spriet

Eric Zhang

The image is all pervasive. It starts for most with movies, but advertising and television reinforce it. Yet it can be summed up in just a few words: Business is wearing a suit and working in an office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. “I have no interest in that,” says Amy Hoadley, a Grade 11 student at Citadel High School and one of three student MCs at this year’s Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame event. She isn’t alone in her view. Her fellow student MCs, Maddy Spriet and Eric Zhang, both agree that’s not what they’re looking for in their future careers. Luckily, they say their JA experience has provided a few surprises that have changed their idea of what business is all about. “I was surprised by the idea of social enterprise,” says Zhang, a Grade 12 student at Citadel High School. “I thought business was just about making money, but there are businesses out there that strive toward other goals.” Those other goals are what interest Hoadley too. She currently does some

work with her dad on a venture called We Can Strive for Change, which seeks to assist the less fortunate in the many mountainous communities of Peru. As a Grade 11 student at Citadel, she isn’t sure yet where her future lies, but she is sure she wants to pursue something similar. Spriet, another Grade 11 student at Citadel, admits she changes her mind regularly about where she wants to go in the future, but she is sure about two things. “Business feels natural to me. All the other careers I’ve thought about didn’t. Business just feels like it’s part of my life and it surprised me how much I liked it.” The second thing is what type of business she wants to explore. “I’m interested in technology and social media,” Spriet says. “We’ve become so dependent on them, but yet they can also be used to really help society. So, I want to do something in that general space.” Ironically Zhang may be the least decided on where he wants to go, even though both his parents are entrepreneurs and he knew far more about JA than his

fellow MCs when they started. “It was a question for me of whether I really wanted to be in business or if I wanted to follow something else, maybe science, which I’m really good at,” he says. “But JA helped me consolidate my path. It showed me what I really liked.” Zhang is in his final year at Citadel High and says although he still isn’t sure what type of business he wants to start, he is enrolling in the Bachelor of Commerce program at either Western or University of Toronto next year. Wherever their eventual careers take them, all three students say there’s a good chance Nova Scotia will be their home base. Hoadley is already making plans for her post-secondary education in Halifax, and while Spriet and Zhang are both heading elsewhere for university, they agree there’s a lot of potential here at home they want to explore. “I can’t say how the experience of being away for school might change me, but I would say coming back is a real possibility,” Zhang says.

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Following in her dad’s footsteps TWO GENERATIONS OF THE MARKOTJOHN FAMILY REFLECT ON THEIR IMPACT ON STUDENTS VIA JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT BY AMANDA JESS When Melina Markotjohn was in grade four, she began learning about the cost of living. That’s because her father Ken was a volunteer with Junior Achievement, teaching grade nine students the same thing and bringing the lessons home to her. “It was way beyond my scope at the time, but Dad kind of took it down to a level I could understand and just to really, from a young age, get me to understand the importance of staying in school and obtaining an education,” Melina says about her experience with Junior Achievement. Ken was a power engineer at Nova Scotia Power in Cape Breton in 2007 when he remembers a recruiter from Junior Achievement coming to his workplace. “I was looking at it and I said, you know that might be something to get into because my daughter is coming up in school.” He taught half-day workshops to students at schools in the Sydney, Glace Bay, and New Waterford area for six years with a co-worker, where they would talk about their jobs and teach students about things like salaries for different careers, taxes and other deductions, the price of rent, and how to budget. Each year, Ken would go over the Economics For Success program with Melina, adding more components as Melina’s understanding of the concepts grew. “It’s nice because we’d kind of save what I did the year prior to and compare it to the next year and see how my understanding has developed over the last year and what more could I take away from it each time we did it,” Melina says. Ken says the core message was about encouraging students to stay in school. The teenagers, he says, would often walk away from the lesson having more of an idea of what career path they wanted to pursue. He can remember at least two occasions when students approached him years later, recognizing him and letting him know what kind of work they were doing. One of those students even followed the same path as him, Ken says. “I would recommend having it going forever. It’s phenomenal,” he says about Junior Achievement programming. It was through watching her father and doing the Economics For Success program that made Melina want to bring similar lessons to elementary-school-age children and teenagers later in life.


Ken Markotjohn (left) was a volunteer with Junior Achievement Nova Scotia from 2007 until 2014 when he retired. His involvement in the organization inspired his daughter, Melina (right), to start teaching the programming earlier this year.

“In terms of him taking that home and allowing me to really grasp what was being applied in the classroom… and what could be taken away from the programming, I understood from such a young age how important it was to stay in school and how what Junior Achievement really offers is so beneficial because it’s really not stressed enough in our curriculum.” By the time the program was presented to her in school when she was in grade nine, she already knew it “inside out and upside down.” “Having that prior exposure to the programming myself made the world of a difference because I understand the importance of what the program stresses and how crucial the program is to have within our school system.” By seeing her father’s confidence with presenting to classrooms, she felt she could do it, too. Melina, now 21, started volunteering with the organization in Halifax this year, teaching the same program she learned growing up and the I Have Skills program for students who are eight to 10-years-old.

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The elementary school program Melina teaches is focused on helping children figure out how their skills and interests can apply to a future career. As an example, she suggested a child interested in video games and drawing could look into a career of graphic design. “For some of us, we might look at that and think it’s a little unrealistic, but if anybody really wants a career and if you’re driven enough and ambitious enough to do it, you will succeed. It’s nice to get them to realize, oh, this is a viable option for me as well.” Melina says the programming uses the proper approaches for particular age groups to get kids thinking about their future without stressing them out. Melina, who is entering her fourth year at Dalhousie University where she is studying medical sciences, says she tells the students about what she wants to do – either become a family doctor or work in pediatrics – as well as other possible professions she could do with her degree. Melina and Ken both note the program doesn’t point students in just one particular direction. “That’s really the nice thing about Junior Achievement, that it doesn’t really cut you off and say you have to go in this path with your life,” Melina says. While salary is part of the discussion, so is passion and enjoyment.

Melina has found she’s also able to bring what she’s learned through Junior Achievement into her work as a dance instructor and get her students thinking about their own skills and how to implement them. She says she has seen students start the day unsure of their skills and end the workshop with a potential career option they think they might pursue. Outside of the program delivered to the students in the classroom, Melina says students are also able to walk away with booklets in which they can continue reflecting. She says she encourages teachers to have a discussion with the class afterwards to go over what they learned. The volunteers and staff reflect as well, she says. Blair Duhamel, who trained Melina, made her feel comfortable and often checks in about how the day went. “You basically feel part of a family when you’re with Junior Achievement and… she’s so great to follow up and just see how everything’s going, the pros and the cons, can we do anything better. It’s always just so smooth.” Melina says she finds having a volunteer, a fresh face to that group of students, deliver the program makes a difference as well. “The children are more inclined to be on their best behaviour and to really take part in the activities.”

Helping to grow the exporters of tomorrow.

Congratulations to the Scotia Surprise Team!

At Nova Scotia Business Inc. we are proud to partner with Junior Achievement of Nova Scotia to help the next generation of entrepreneurs discover a world of possibility. Congratulations to our Scotia Surprise Team of students from the Junior Achievement Company Program who worked with us throughout the year. novascotiabusiness.com


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Ocean Contractors salutes Junior Achievement of Nova Scotia for the leadership and programs they provide to inspire today’s youth to succeed in the future. We are honoured and proud to support the induction of our founder Jack Flemming into the Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame. Congratulations to all of the inductees!

Laureate Profile


No one can ever accuse Jack Flemming of being afraid of risk. After he graduated from the Nova Scotia Technical College in 1962 where he studied mechanical engineering, he joined Municipal Spraying and Contracting. He loved the work there and figured he’d spend the rest of his life working for the company, but it didn’t turn out that way. After working for the company for 11 years and developing a close, almost father-son like relationship with company founder F. Carl Hudson, things soured when Hudson looked to sell the company. Flemming wanted to buy it, but Hudson felt Flemming, who was in his mid 30s at the time, was too young. “I was kind of upset, so I quit,” Flemming says. “My wife was pregnant with our third child. We were building a new house. I had no car. I had about five cents.” Flemming didn’t give his wife advance notice of the decision. She learned when he came home from work that day at about 11 a.m. She immediately knew something was wrong because Flemming never came home at that hour. The memory is a vivid one as Flemming recalls when he entered the home, his wife was doing the dishes.

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While Flemming may have been lacking in assets, he wasn’t lacking in confidence. “All I said was, ‘I’m home. Don’t worry, I’m gonna take care of things,’” Flemming says. Adding to the complications was Flemming’s lack of a car. He reached a deal with a local dealership that while he didn’t have the funds to pay for the vehicle, he would pay them back by the fall, which he did. It was all a gutsy move, but that was Flemming’s nature. “My thing is you should do what you think you can do, just keep moving ahead,” he says. “Don’t look back. There’s lots of bumps along the road. You’re going to make mistakes, but there’s nothing [better] than achieving what you plan to do.” Out of that decision, Ocean Contractors was born, a company that now employs about 300 people. While the company’s roots began with an asphalt plant, two concrete plants followed, as well as a concrete foundation division and then the company acquired two different moving and storage companies and launched transport and logistics companies. Flemming diversified from the company’s asphalt/paving roots because

JOHN G. (JACK) FLEMMING, P. ENG. Jack began his career in 1962 after graduating from Nova Scotia Technical College (subsequently Dal-Tech) with a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Mechanical Engineering. After working in the roadbuilding industry for eleven years he incorporated his own firm, Ocean Contractors Limited, which specializes in asphalt and ready mix concrete. In 2004, he purchased Thompson’s Moving Group, which includes Maritime Moving and Storage and Briar Transport. After running his successful businesses for over thirty-five years, he initiated a succession plan which has resulted in his two sons assuming control of the operation of the businesses. Over the years, he has kept active in association work. He has served as president of the Association of Professional Engineers of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Roadbuilders Association. He was also chairman of the Construction Association of Nova Scotia and the national Canadian Construction Association. He has served on many boards including Mount St. Vincent University, IWK, Maritime Heart Centre and Maritime Medical Care Inc. He is past chairman of the Dal-Tech board has served as a member of the Board of Governors of Dalhousie University. Also, he served as a continued on page 17


Laureate Profile

he realized that having all your eggs in one basket could put the company at risk, such as if it was having a hard time obtaining the raw materials needed for the job. In the early 2000s, after more than 40 years of working, Flemming knew it was time to start handing the reins of the company over to his two sons, Scott and John. (He has two girls and they run the family’s Flemming Charitable Foundation.) Flemming has become an outspoken advocate for succession planning and not because the effort in his case didn’t go smoothly or anything like that. Rather, it was the opposite and he has some advice on how to get it done. One is to work with lawyers, bankers, and accountants. “In my case, I’m a professional engineer not an accountant,” Flemming says. “My background and experience are in construction. I’m a contractor.” But before discussions proceed to that place, Flemming says it’s key to groom

whomever is taking over the company and ensuring it’s the right fit. “You want to pass your passion along and you do that through action, not words,” Flemming says. “You have to show the passion you have and that’s how you deal with the people you have and how you deal with your customers and your community. Without the passion, it doesn’t work.” As part of that education, Flemming says it’s necessary to educate about money matters, such as stressing that financial gains should be reinvested, not spent on buying fancy toys. “Sometimes second-generation families, the children don’t have the same background and the same understanding of money,” he says. After good years, he’d buy property. This message of having money for rainy days was something instilled in Flemming from his father, a stockbroker who lived through the Great Depression and the Second World War.

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Laureate Profile member of the Board of Directors of Bonny Lea Farm and, for over thirty years, chaired the very successful Annual Bonny Lea Benefit Golf Tournament. Jack has been very active with a number of organizations including the Halifax YMCA, Hope Cottage, Sisters of Charity and the Catholic Cemeteries Commission. He chaired the Building Committee for St. Benedict Church in Halifax. Jack is a great supporter of many charitable organizations, personally, corporately and though the Flemming Charitable Foundation. The Foundation, which is actively managed by Jack, Marion and all four of their children, has been helping local charities support women, men and families since 1999.

Flemming says a key component of succession planning is not taking too much money out of the company. “In most businesses, what happens is the owner leaves and doesn’t just leave the experience, they draw the money out… a company like ours has to have a huge, huge backup,” he says. In Flemming’s case, part of ensuring the succession planning succeeded was to give his sons space. Working out of the same location, staff would sometimes look to him for answers rather than his sons. He’d also overhear conversations and would think to himself about how he would handle those situations. It was these circumstances that led him to a realization. “I just said I have to get away from the boys,” Flemming says. He now maintains an office in Burnside that’s just across Lake Charles from Ocean’s headquarters in Montague Gold Mines. While he’s still the chairman of Ocean Contractors, a lot of Flemming’s energy is devoted to MagicLamp Software, a Halifax-based company that does software development and consulting services.

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Flemming has helped mentor the company to grow from a handful of employees to about 15. Software may seem like an unusual pursuit for Flemming, but much like when he got into moving and storage, transport and logistics, he says it’s important to look for opportunities outside of one’s comfort zone. “I wanted to get something totally separate because it’s so easy for me to go buy another trucking business, so I want to get away from it,” Flemming says. For Flemming, being inducted into Junior Achievement of Nova Scotia’s Business Hall of Fame has special meaning. His children went through the program and he’s a passionate supporter of how it educates young people about business and gives them a shot at starting one of their own. “I think it’s absolutely wonderful,” he says.

Over the years, he has received numerous awards and accolades for his corporate, association and charitable work, including Honorary Doctorates from St. Mary’s University and Dalhousie University. In 2003, he was appointed a Member of The Order of Canada. Recently, he served as Chair of the Capital Campaign for Hospice Halifax to build the first hospice in the city, which opened this spring.

“Thank you so much for nominating me for induction into this year’s Junior Achievement Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame. A wonderful organization supporting the future business leaders of Nova Scotia.” —JACK FLEMMING




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Congratulations to Junior Achievement of Nova Scotia from the Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre

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Laureate Profile


On paper, it sounds like the script for a romantic comedy, but the locale doesn’t fit your typical Hollywood film. Stephanie Eaton was 21, living in Calgary and working at an Italian restaurant when she met the restaurant’s chef, an immigrant from Northern Italy named Maurizio Bertossi. The Bertossi’s story isn’t just a love story, it’s about how an opportune meeting in Calgary in 1981 forever changed Nova Scotia’s dining landscape. A plot twist is the chef wasn’t a chef by trade. While Maurizio is the son of a chef and worked in kitchens in France and Switzerland, he’s an electronic engineer by trade. While the couple met while working for someone else, their aspirations were always to be their own bosses. “You have the freedom to do what you really want,” Maurizio says. Today, the name Bertossi is synonymous with food made from scratch, great restaurants, and fantastic dining experiences in Nova Scotia. Restaurants such as Il Mercato, The Bicycle Thief, Ristorante a Mano and La Frasca, were all conceived by the pair. The yin to each other’s yang, Stephanie

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handles the front of house operations while Maurizio works the kitchen. This proximity to the operation means the pair can quickly make changes and communicate directly with customers. That interaction is pivotal, even if the words aren’t always glowing. “Clients told us how to be better all the time,” Maurizio says. “A complaint is not a complaint. It’s actually how to get better.” The roots of the Bertossi Restaurant Group lie in a tiny space the Bertossis rented above a Dartmouth café. It was 1984 and using some money borrowed from Stephanie’s father, the Bertossis opened their first restaurant, La Perla. The restaurant had eight tables and was capable of seating 24 diners, so they did two seatings a night. San Remo, an Italian restaurant that served seafood in the adjoining space, was the next restaurant for the couple. The pair sold these restaurants in January 1988 with the intention of opening a restaurant in Italy. They moved there, but the idea fizzled because of bureaucracy. By the end of the year, the couple was back in Nova Scotia and opened Da Maurizio’s in Halifax’s Brewery Market.

STEPHANIE & MAURIZIO BERTOSSI Stephanie & Maurizio Bertossi opened their first Italian restaurant in Dartmouth in 1984. Together, they’ve been a business power-couple who’ve owned & operated more than 10 award-winning restaurants, shaping the landscape of dining in Halifax and beyond for the past 30 years. Stephanie and Maurizio poured a lifetime of passion into their restaurants, constantly reinventing their businesses and investing in the community around them. The Bertossi’s have mentored multiple generations of young professionals and have supported numerous charitable initiatives throughout the years, including Feed Nova Scotia, the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the QEII Foundation and the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia.

continued on page 23


Laureate Profile

The restaurant opened quietly, but word quickly got out. “We didn’t have advertising,” Stephanie says. “We’ve never advertised in our lives, nothing. The budget for advertising was zero. Word of mouth is the best advertising money can buy.” More restaurants followed: Il Mercato on Spring Garden Road (which became La Frasca in 2013), Bish, a Bedford location of Il Mercato, a Mano, and Bish became the Bicycle Thief in 2011. Along the way, the couple sold Da Maurizio’s. It’s been four years since the pair sold the Bertossi Restaurant Group, which has about 300 employees, but you’d be hard pressed to know if you visited one


of the restaurants – the amazing food and fantastic service haven’t changed. In the years since the sale, the Bertossis have continued to assist owner Hakan Uluer in a consulting capacity, assisting on matters such as design and project management. The Bertossis induction into Junior Achievement of Nova Scotia’s Business Hall of Fame is a fitting cap to a career filled with big risks and not resting on their laurels. “I remember Maurizio saying to me one day, ‘It’s way easier to be second best,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, but it’s way more fun to be the best’ because you have to constantly keep pushing and raise the bar,” Stephanie says. One way this was evident was how

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Laureate Profile

“We are very honoured to be inducted into the JA Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame. We strongly believe in supporting young entrepreneurs & future business leaders, and have tried to be an example of what is possible with hard work and determination. We could not have had the success we did twice in their career, the couple took thriving restaurants and closed them only to resurrect new restaurants in their spaces. The first time was with Bish and then when the Spring Garden Road location of Il Mercato became La Frasca. “Here’s my favourite line: Do the same, get the same. And in business, you have to change or die,” Stephanie says. The Bertossis adapted in part because they were voracious readers who learned what dining trends were emerging elsewhere and would implement them here. Sometimes they were ahead of the curve, as evidenced by their decision to include a wine bar at Da Maurizio’s. Because of the popularity of the restaurant, the wine bar space was turned into restaurant seating. It was an idea that came about 20 years before it would have succeeded, Stephanie says. To get the food quality they desired, the Bertossis brought seeds back from Europe and provided them to local farmers to grow ingredients for them. They did this for foods such as radicchio and arugula, things which are no longer hard to find in grocery stores. One of the things the Bertossis credit for their success is their staff. They say business owners should never ask an

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employee to do something they would never do themselves. It’s all part of getting buy-in from the staff. As well, they should tap into staffers’ passions. Stephanie says one of the first things she does in training seminars is ask people what they love to do when they’re not at work. “One of the best things about our core staff is they always said something interesting that we in turn could use… the thing is making your staff feel valued and special,” she says. For example, one employee was a great artist, so the Bertossis had her design a logo for a placemat and coaster. Other staffers were naturals with social media, so they helped manage the accounts. Stephanie says receiving the induction into Junior Achievement of Nova Scotia’s Business Hall of Fame is an honour. “It’s almost like a validation that the food and beverage industry, a multi-billion dollar industry, is an industry and not just a fun thing,” she says, noting the pair have turned down more awards than they’ve accepted. The hall of fame induction is different though. “It’s a beautiful way to finish off our career in the restaurant industry in Nova Scotia,” Stephanie says. “For us, it’s very emotional.”

without the help of our incredible team and our loyal clients and business partners throughout the years, whose support has meant so much to us.” —STEPHANIE & MAURIZIO BERTOSSI


Laureate Profile


Before the Nova Centre was constructed, businessman Joe Ramia was having lunch with a New York businessman in the restaurant perched high above the World Trade and Convention Centre in downtown Halifax. Looking out, something stood out – the lack of cranes in the sky. If that lunch had been held today in downtown Halifax, that wouldn’t be the case. Ramia says in recent years, there have been as many as 20 cranes dotting the downtown skyline. “Look what it [the Nova Centre] has generated and where the city is today, not that the convention centre did it all, but it was one of the main pieces that brought the city to a much different level that it is today,” he says. The $500 million project is a 1,000,000-square foot mixed-use development best known for housing the new convention centre, as well as office and retail space. When the green light was given for the project, it helped signal confidence in a downtown that had been lacking that. Since then, a building boom has erupted. Building the Nova Centre wasn’t an easy feat and led to a lot of sleepless nights for Ramia as he worked on the project that came with an “unbelievable” amount of risk. “We underestimated how much risk and how much work it is and how many challenges there are,” he says. Asked whether he would do it again

knowing what he now knows, Ramia has two answers. While he’s quick to say no, that’s not how he really feels. “When it’s finished and you see the impact it had, it makes you feel that it was worth it,” says Ramia, who has also received many glowing calls from people who have attended conventions in Halifax and say it was unlike any other they’ve been to. For Ramia, he’s long been a believer if you do projects for the right reasons, it will work out. A prime example of this is space his company, Rank Incorporated, rents out to Capital Health at the space that formerly housed the Bayers Road Shopping Centre. In the early 2000s, Capital Health was looking to move mental health outpatient services out of the hospital and into the community, along with other services. There were a few reasons for this, including the better accessibility it would offer and the fact hospitals were running low on space. But there was a problem. Most landlords weren’t interested in renting space to a mental health clinic over misguided concerns about the clientele it would attract and the problems that would create. For Ramia, he wasn’t concerned. By improving the overall health of the community, all of society would benefit from having the Capital Health services housed at the Village at Bayers Road. Today, the site houses a community mental health clinic and a blood collection clinic.

JOE RAMIA Mr. Ramia is the CEO of Rank Incorporated, a real estate development company with a portfolio of over three million square feet of space in Nova Scotia. From humble beginnings working in his family’s restaurant, Joe Ramia moved on to a career in the furniture business in the mid-seventies and has since become a major player in Atlantic Canada’s furniture industry. Mr. Ramia has served as chair of the Canadian Furniture Council, and in 2010, was honored as the Canadian Furniture “Retailer of the Year”. While working in the furniture business, Mr. Ramia’s business interests expanded to real estate development. His most recent development is Nova Centre – a one million square foot complex that houses the Halifax Convention Centre, office towers, a hotel, retail and public spaces. In addition to his business interests, Joe Ramia is very much involved with a number of charities in the Halifax area, including the Mental Health Foundation and the QEII Health Foundation, where he has created a chair in Cancer Research.

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Laureate Profile

“I am humbled to be inducted into the JA Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame and to be included in such an illustrious group of laureates. It is my honor to have the opportunity to join them in encouraging and supporting the future leaders of this beautiful Province.” —JOE RAMIA


Since then, it’s become easier for Capital Health to rent space from private landlords as this move helped break down stigmas. Improving people’s health is something close to Ramia’s heart. When his parents died, Ramia made a donation to establish the Gibran and Jamile Ramia Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre Chair in Surgical Oncology. This branch of medicine deals with the surgical treatment of cancer. With an endowed chair, the money is put into safe investments and the interest pays for the chair’s salary. As well, the research the position entails helps improve clinical care. The reason why Ramia wanted to establish an endowed chair rather than buy a piece of equipment is reflective of his focus on long-term thinking. “That gives for life,” he says. “That’s always giving. It’s not something that gets spent.” Whether it’s the endowed chair or the charitable foundation he started, Ramia says successful people have an obligation to give back to the community. “My father always said the more you give, the more you get,” he says. Ramia’s career as an entrepreneur isn’t surprising. He immigrated to Canada with his family when he was in his pre-teen years. His family had a restaurant called The Green Parrot, a breakfast and lunch counter on Young Street, where he would peel carrots and potatoes after school. The experience was a valuable one for Ramia. “It taught us that nothing comes easy and it taught us that whatever you get, you have to work for it, so it was a very important lesson, and money doesn’t grow on trees,” he says.

A part-time job at a furniture store in high school played a pivotal role in Ramia becoming a developer. When he later opened World Wide Furniture with his brother Tony, one of five brothers, they decided to build the building, thus marking the foray into the construction and development business. The Ramias continued to operate more furniture stores and took on bigger commercial real estate projects. Fast forward to 2009 and Rank Incorporated was announced as the developer for the new convention centre. The project had many challenges, including construction delays and opposition from concerned residents, as well as complaints from neighbouring businesses who said the construction delays were harming their bottom lines. The Nova Centre officially opened in December 2017. “It has made us stronger, better and proud,” Ramia says. For Ramia, being inducted into Junior Achievement of Nova Scotia’s Business Hall of Fame is important because of the organization’s work with young people who will be the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. He has some advice for them. “People think you have to be the smartest person,” Ramia says. He says that’s not true. While people can hire others who have the appropriate skills for certain positions, the entrepreneur must love what they do, have a passion for it and possess perseverance. “If you have the ability to connect and influence, have empathy and can motivate people, and have social skills, it’s more than smarts,” Ramia says. Another reason the induction means so much to him is because of the business titans who have been inducted before him. “This is special,” Ramia says.

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Chairmans’ Circle

Acadian Seaplants JP & Louis Deveau

EY Pamela Achenbach

Steele Auto Group Rob Steele

Bell Canada Glen LeBlanc

KPMG Douglas Reid

Supplement King Roger King

Charm Diamond Centers Richard Calder

MacPhee Ford Al MacPhee

The Berkeley Diane Campbell

Clearwater Fine Foods Inc. Colin MacDonald

Micco Companies Limited Mickey MacDonald

Wilsons Fuel Co. Limited Ian Wilson

Crombie Reit Frank Sobey

NS Power Mark Sidebottom

WM Fares Wadih Fares

Dalhousie University Peter MacKinnon

Rogers Communications Troy Harnish

Eastlink John Bragg

Saint Mary’s University Robert Summerby-Murray

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Past Laureate Portraits 1993 Frank Sobey

1993 Harvey Webber

1993 John Bragg

1993 Susan Oland

1994 Harvey Doane

1994 Irene D’Entremont

1994 John Jodrey

1994 L.E. Shaw

1995 Donald McInnes

1995 Ernest & Delia Edwards

1995 James MacConnell

1995 Norman Newman

1995 William Henry Dennis

1996 Izaak Walton Killam

1996 Ron Joyce

1996 Sir Graham Day

1997 Joseph P. Shannon

1997 Purdy Crawford

1997 Sir Samuel Cunard

1998 Cyrus Eaton

1998 Harry Steele

1998 Kenneth C. Rowe

1999 Fred Manning

1999 Alfred Smithers

1999 John Risley

2000 Colonel Sidney C. Oland

2000 John Craig

2000 William, Donald & David Sobey

2001 Frank Manning Covert

2001 Hector Jacques

2001 Laurie Stevens

2002 Allan C. Shaw

2002 John Scrymgeour

2002 Roy A. Jodrey

2003 Alexander Keith

2003 Hugh Erskine


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2003 Irving Schwartz

2004 Charles V. Keating 2004 F. Thomas Stanfield 2004 John W. Lindsay Sr. 2005 Graham W. Dennis 2005 J. William E. Mingo

2005 R.B. Cameron

2006 D. Andrew Eisenhauer

2006 Enos Collins

2006 Rob Dexter

2007 Honourable William A. Black

2007 Jim & Simon Spatz

2007 Steve B. Parker

2008 Bernardin Comeau

2008 David & G. Peter Wilson

2008 Wadih Fares

2009 Al MacPhee

2009 Joseph Zatzman

2009 Ralph Medjuck

2010 Annette Verschuren

2010 Bruce Murray

2010 J. William (Bill) Ritchie

2011 Richard & Sharon Calder

2011 Robert (Bob) Kelly

2011 Rose Schwartz

2012 Armour (Ben) McCrea

2013 Joe Randall

2013 Stephen Smith

2013 Willett J. & Hugh O. Mills

2014 Henry Demone

2014 Robert Risley

2015 JP and Louis Deveau

2015 Michael Duck

2016 David Read

2016 George Caines, QC

2016 Pete Luckett

2017 Chris Huskilson

2017 Jim Eisenhauer

2017 Michael Donovan

2018 Stu Rath

2018 Diane Campbell

2018 Rob Steele

2019 Jack Flemming

2019 Joe Ramia

2019 Stephanie & Maurizio

2012 2012 Chief Terrance Paul C.J. & W.O. (Bill) Morrow

2014 Stephen & Paul O’Regan

2015 Colin MacDonald


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THE LEGACY PROJECT is an initiative being led by the Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame Laureates and stewarded by Junior Achievement of Nova Scotia. The plans involve both a digital strategy and a permanent gallery to host the portraits and history of the Laureates.

VISION AND OBJECTIVE: Engage and inspire Nova Scotians and the world with the stories and history of Nova Scotian business leaders through the Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame Laureates – titans of industry, business and entrepreneurship. OUR INVESTORS: Bill Black George Caines Richard Calder Sharon Calder Diane Campbell Irene D’Entremont Jim Eisenhauer

Josephine Eisenhauer Wadih Fares Fred Fountain Sir Graham Day Chris Huskilson Pete Luckett Colin MacDonald

Al MacPhee Mary O’Regan Stephen O’Regan Steve Parker Joe Randell Bill Ritchie Joe Shannon

Steve Smith David Sobey Donald Sobey Frank Sobey Jim Spatz Rob Steele Annette Verschuren

PHASE 1 – DIGITAL WALL The digital strategy is comprised of an interactive audio/visual wall, fully integrated into the architecture of the atrium space at the Halifax Convention Centre. The content is dynamic and accessible via touch navigation. In addition to showcasing the portraits and biographical information of the Laureates, the wall houses individual media galleries for each Laureate. These galleries can be expanded annually and feature the respective history of the Laureate as well as that of their associated business(es).

PHASE 2 – PERMANENT GALLERY The portraits are culturally significant content. The gallery promotes the business leaders and the business history of Nova Scotia. Inductees represent our economic heritage and their stories inspire the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs. The gallery encourages learning and engagement with the living past. The result will be a museumquality, curated space with new narrative content on display to enhance the educative experience. The gallery will be hosted by Dalhousie University.

The Legacy Project is governed by an advisory committee, chaired by Wadih Fares and including: Irene D’Entremont, Steve Smith, Frank Sobey, Chris Huskilson and Kristin Williams. Platinum Sponsor Presenting Sponsor


Celebrate what matters On behalf of our team at Deloitte, congratulations to this year’s Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame Laureates: Jack Flemming, Joe Ramia, and Stephanie & Maurizio Bertossi. We thank you for your continued support and development of our community.

www.deloitte.com © Deloitte LLP and affiliated entities.

Past Laureate Interview

Verschuren delivers a simple message TOP CANADIAN BUSINESS LEADER BELIEVES BEING BRAZEN IS GOOD, BEING PERFECT IS STUPID BY KEN PARTRIDGE Keep pushing. Distill Annette Verschuren’s message down and that’s what she’s saying. Keep pushing. She doesn’t hide the fact she’s speaking mainly to women, especially young women. She admits things have changed for women in business, but she’s especially clear there’s still a long way to go. “There were only three women in my graduating class out of 75 students. Now it’s more like 50 per cent,” Verschuren says. Verschuren received a Bachelor of Business Administration from St. Francis Xavier University. She also points out that many corporate boards in Canada are made up of 30 per cent women. “So, it’s changing, but among the top 100 companies in Canada there are still only two led by women.” Why is this the case? Verschuren says there’s still a lot of unconscious bias against women. She also points out child bearing and rearing is still largely left to women and it “slows down progress.” However, she says women need to accept some of the blame too. “If women pushed harder, the change would go faster.” That’s why she sets aside time to speak with young people and women entrepreneurs to deliver her message and the benefits of her experience face-to-face. Plus, she serves as Chancellor of Cape Breton University, which helps young entrepreneurs through its Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment (VCSEE). “That’s also why I wrote the book,” Verschuren says. She’s referring to her best seller “Bet on Me”, a finalist for the National Business Book Award. “I wrote the book to say that being brazen is good. Being perfect is stupid.” Taking action is what’s important to Verschuren. Waiting for the perfect strategy or opportunity is just another way to put off taking action. Verschuren’s message is built on years of personal experience. She was born in North Sydney, Cape Breton, where her parents moved after Word War II. She credits growing up on her family’s farm for her early introduction to business, but holds a special place for the teachings of Junior Achievement. It was after she left the farm and went to work at the Cape Breton Development Corporation, working under Dr. Rein Peterson, executive vice president of corporate planning, that she first encountered JA. It was Peterson who introduced her to it and together they were signatories to the creation of the first Junior Achievement charter in Cape Breton. She was just 25-year-old.

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“There are a lot of young people out there that don’t get to learn they’re natural entrepreneurs,” Verschuren says. “School curriculums don’t have enough practical experience or introduce students to business.” She says having a JA introduction under their belt is the best education kids can get. “It’s the best program. Get your kids into JA.” Following her time with the Cape Breton Development Corporation, Verschuren moved on to the Canada Development Investment Corporation and then Imasco Ltd. She really made her mark when she persuaded arts and crafts giant Michaels to enter the Canadian market. As president and co-owner of Michaels of Canada, she opened 17 stores in 26 months. That attracted the attention of The Home Depot, which tapped her to become president of The Home Depot Canada and The Home Depot Asia. In this position she oversaw the expansion of Canadian operations from 19 to 179 stores between 1996 and 2011, and the company’s entry into China. And she’s still pushing. After a decades long career that saw her rise to the top of the Canadian business world, be inducted into


THE CANADIAN BUSINESS HALL OF FAME HALL OF COMPANIONS Junior Achievement of Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame laureates who have also been named to the Canadian Business Hall of Fame (alphabetically by last name):


three halls of fame (Cape Breton Business Hall of Fame, Junior Achievement of Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame, and Canadian Business Hall of Fame), and be awarded the Order of Canada, Verschuren is not ready to step aside just yet. She sees water and energy as two of the biggest challenges currently facing the world and she’s decided to put her efforts into the energy sector. She has created NRStor Inc. to scale up energy storage and battery technologies. “We need more renewable energy and ways to store it so we can really make things happen,” she says. Verschuren says she’s having too much fun to think about retirement just yet. “There’s nothing more fun than making money. I remember the first money I earned. It was when I helped out my uncle and aunt by cleaning out their chicken coop. It took me a week to clean out the coop and though I wasn’t expecting anything for it, I got 10 new $1 bills.” Verschuren say business is fun because of the sense of independence it creates, the flexibility it provides, the thrill of growth. She says business isn’t restrictive. It’s all about finding the better path up the mountain. “That’s what I sell people on. I love to fix problems, work with people, and search for solutions. I hope I demonstrate the fun in making things happen, in opening stores across the country, in helping people become great leaders.”



ANNETTE VERSCHUREN* JANS BHoF 2010, CBHoF 2019 * Annette Verschuren will be inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame on June 19th, 2019





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Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame 2019  

Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame 2019  

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