Page 1

T H E M A G A Z I N E F O R C A N A D A’ S B U S I N E S S L E A D E R S

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 11

Networking 2.0 Digital pioneer MGImedia helps companies devise a social-media strategy. p.58

r nd

THE SOCIAL MEDIA ISSUE The road to success is paved in tags and tweets. Rypple co-CEO Daniel Debow and heads of two other industry innovators show how. p.50

THE NEW PACK Zebra Paper Converters Inc. > p.48 Advantage5_cov.indd 3

advantage january/february 2011

FRESH FROM THE OVEN Baker Street > p.65


CLEAN WATER GURUS Aquatera Utilities Inc. > p.75 5/10/11 10:06 AM


the rules of networking with the power of convergence.

HP Networking solutions deliver HP Converged Infrastructure for today’s networks. Complicated and expensive are out. Simple and cost-efficient are in. HP unified wired and wireless networking solutions with integrated management and security can help you manage and protect your network while reducing costs up to 66%.* And they give you the agility to expand easily as your business grows. So change the rules to your advantage.

*IDC white paper sponsored by HP ROI of a Complete Networking Portfolio: The Business Case for Open Standards, September 2010 FPO monthly payment disclaimer

© 2011 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. The only warranties for HP products and services are set forth in the express warranty statements accompanying such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. HP shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein.

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 2

5/12/11 4:35 PM

T:8.5” S:7.897”

You deserve You deserve incredible incredible connectivity. connectivity. That means That means extensive extensive peering, reach peering, reach and and available capacity. available capacity. Shaw continuously invests in our fully owned and operated fiber-optic network to give you all the capacity and performance your business could ever need. From exceptional customer service to our team of collab collaborative, dedicated reps, we’ve established ourselves as a secure, reliable partner. After all, running a successful business is your number one priority. AAnd helping you do it is ours.

Together is Together is Amazing. Amazing. ADV5_monday_may9.indd 3


Give us a call at 1.888.606.2307 or visit uus at SHAW.CA/SBS


5/12/11 4:35 PM

Photo: Jordana Huber.


Going Social

p. 50

Daniel Debow and the Rypple team are making the workplace social. Get ready to learn about how Rypple, along with CNW Group Ltd. and ING DIRECT, are taking social media into the corporate sphere. It’s new. It’s cool. It will change business forever.

p. 58



ADV5_monday_may9.indd 4

Networking 2.0 Whether launching a Facebook page or getting tweets flying, firms like MGImedia are the digital pioneers helping companies find a plan that works for them.

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

5/12/11 4:36 PM

contents expertise 17 20 23 25 28

Toronto Cricket Skating & Curling Club TANTUS Solutions Group, Inc. City Insurance & Financial Services FranNet Due North Communications

collaboration 31 33 35 37

Quickservice Inc. GROWMARK, Inc. Harrison Pensa LLP The Municipality of Greenstone

innovation 39 42 44 46 48


Virtual Marine Technology Care Factor Metafore Technologies Inc. Environmental Waste International Inc. Zebra Paper Converters Inc.

products & services

David Rosen, co-founder of Zebra Paper Converters Inc.

63 65 67 69 72 73

Pareto Corporation Baker Street Dophes LeBlanc Brothers Boatbuilders Sage Energy Corp Rex Pak Limited

outreach 75 Aquatera Utilities Inc. 78 St. Joseph’s Villa 80 O’Connor Associates Environmental Inc.

plus 9 The Roundup 82 Last Word: Knovel’s president and CEO, Chris Forbes, discusses what it takes to maintain a successful social-media strategy to keep users interested

75 Aquatera CEO Bernd Manz.

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 5


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:36 PM


the magazine for canada ’ s business leaders






director of editorial research

guerrero howe, llc

director of sales

Pedro Guerrero, President

Titus Dawson

Christopher Howe, CEO & Publisher

sales managers

Christopher Howe

managing editor Kathy Kidwell

features editor Michael Danaher

copy editor Sean Conner

correspondents Matt Alderton Chris Allsop

Zach Baliva

Thalia A-M Bruehl Tom Calarco

Sally Deering

Julie Edwards

Anne Hedin

David Hudnall

Kori Kamradt

Kelly Matlock

George Bozonelos

editorial research managers

Krista Lane Williams

Dawn Collins

Anthony D’Amico

sales representatives

Carolyn Marx

editorial research coordinator

James R. Ainscough

Adam Castillo

editorial researchers Ted Barrett Eric Crabb

Heather Matson Administrative


Ashley Kjos

accounting assistant

Mark Krolikowski

Brian Rose

Natalie Taylor

Lynn Russo Whylly Julie Schaeffer

Mokena Trigueros

hr generalist Greg Waechter

executive assistants Katherine Lazaroff Jen Lopez


creative director Karin Bolliger

Jackie Geweke Justin Joseph

Andrea DeMarte

Preston Lange

Toney Dimos

Michelle Harris

Danielle Federle

Natasha Gambrell

Stacy Kraft

Rebekah Mayer

William Winter Brendan Wittry

senior account manager Cheyenne Eiswald

account managers Lindsay Craig

Megan Hamlin Amy Lara

William Winter Ashley Zorrilla

circulation manager Lee Posey

designer Ryan Duggan

photo editor Sheila Barabad

Subscriptions + Reprints Printed in South Korea. Reprinting of articles is prohibited without permission of Guerrero Howe, LLC. To order reprints visit For a free subscription, please visit Follow us on Twitter @AdvantageCANADA. Offices

production 53 W Jackson Blvd., Suite 315, Chicago, IL 60604 sales & research 28 E Jackson Blvd., Suite 300, Chicago, IL 60604



ADV5_monday_may9.indd 6

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

5/12/11 4:36 PM

editor’s note

A decade ago, social media didn’t exist...

Photo: Samantha Hunter.

It seems strange, doesn’t it? It’s hard to think of a world existing without tweets and tags. There were no friend requests, no comments or posts, no followers. The thought of a Twitter account or a Facebook page was still lurking in the minds of web-savvy entrepreneurs-to-be. And even when social-media websites began to materialize, the notion that they could someday transform the business world’s day-to-day operations seemed ludicrous.

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 7

But it’s not ludicrous—it’s reality. The time of creating and cultivating an online presence for your business has become an essential part of marketing, branding, and customer-service strategies. Social media has increased company feedback, developed a dialogue with customers, and engaged users in ways that weren’t possible before. The world’s newest media is social, and it’s here to stay. But with so many apps, feeds, and techno-jargon circulating on the web, it can be difficult to get a handle on social media and to ensure that your business is getting off on the right foot. But fear not: companies like MGImedia are here to help your business find its footing within the cloud. In “Networking 2.0” (p. 58), take a look at how a sibling duo has successfully built a social-media consulting firm that gives companies smart, savvy strategies for implementing innovative social-media tactics into their business plans. But MGImedia isn’t the only company that recognizes the need to delve into social networks. In our cover story, “Going Social” (p. 50), you’ll get a look at three different companies whose daily operations have transformed significantly, thanks to the ever-rising demand for social media from a broad base of customers and clients. You’ll see how Rypple is implementing social technology to enhance workplace feedback, how ING DIRECT is taking the fundraising world by storm through social-media events, and how CNW’s news releases are now equipped with an assortment of social-media capabilities. In all of their own distinct ways, these three companies have proven they have what it takes to navigate the constantly evolving terrain of social media within the corporate realm. Not sure how to best maintain a successful social-media presence? No worries. Advantage has your back. We’ve enlisted Chris Forbes of Knovel in our “Last Word” for some of the most vital steps in harnessing a successful social-media platform to keep users informed and engaged. And for more info from the socialmedia world, start following us on Twitter (@AdvantageCANADA). But before that, kick back, relax, and enjoy this edition of Advantage, “The Social Media Issue.” Michael Danaher

Features Editor


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:36 PM

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 8

5/12/11 4:36 PM

a collection of products and resources that are shaking up the business frontier

10 11 12 14 15


The Art cart A.M.O.S. DESIGN makes the case for art in the workplace with the Moving Mondrian Library. Inspired by the work of the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, this mobile cart begs the question: how should your workspace make you feel?

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 9


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:37 PM

the list


1. 3.




Keep it Together Get your desk (and job) under control with some of our favourite organizational products

1. Central Charging

3. Venerable Portage

Below this charging dock’s faux-leather tray is a universal charging station that works with more than 3,700 devices. The Sanctuary / $129.95 /

You already trust the notebook. Now check out the bags and pouches. Moleskine Multipurpose Cases / $9.95– 14.94 /

2. Sleek Storage

4. Family Unit

Keeping tabs on the mail gets a whole lot Say hello to your new coworkers. Each snazzier with this organizer. A series of of these concrete organizers is stamped cutouts fold into individual slots, providing with a name, making them the perfect desks a modern flourish. Blu Dot 2D:3D scapegoats for when things go missing. Letter Holder / $25 / The Office / $75–160 / 10


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 10

5. Classy Business Never hand out a creased business card again. This steel case provides ample protection in the guise of sleek style. Gents Business Card Case / $18 /

6. Clean Cords Those cables aren’t getting far with these nifty cable clips. The clips fit most cords, allowing for easy storage and quick transitions between devices. CableDrop / $9.95 /

5/12/11 4:37 PM

inside look

A Green Pioneer

Stephen Carpenter, president of Enermodal Engineering

Photo: Chris Hughes.

During the OPEC crisis in the late 1970s, Stephen Carpenter was wrapping up his undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo. After closely following the environmental discourse that erupted, Carpenter realized he had found his calling. “I wanted to feel good, make a difference,” he says. “Here was an opportunity to make an impact in the world.” Carpenter made good on his mission by founding Enermodal Engineering less than a year out of his master’s program in 1980. The company has been at the forefront of Canada’s green movement ever since and is currently the nation’s largest consulting firm dedicated to sustainable design and construction.

a new initiative: “Enermodal’s mantra used to be, ‘Our work doesn’t end until the LEED plaque is on the building.’ Our new mantra is, ‘We don’t stop until a building is operating at the proper level.’ This means postconstruction building commissioning and an extensive energy monitoring program. When the plaque is on the building, you’re only halfway there.”

the fight for new norms: “You always bump up against the inertia of the industry and the public. For the next step in sustainability, it’s about defining a new goal. Now, people feel guilty when they throw away an aluminum can. We need that same ethic for the next step.”

The Favourites: Movie: An Inconvenient Truth Band: The Beatles Book: South by Sir Ernest Shackleton

Setting a sustainable precedent “Built in 1992, our Waterloo Green Home was green before ‘green’ was used as a term. That was our first real foray into what you would call green buildings—before that, it was all about saving energy. The Waterloo project was a different approach— a more holistic approach to building—including material and water savings.”

business influence: “A University of Waterloo professor, Terry Hollands, was doing research in solar energy and became the advisor for my master’s thesis. His direction gave me good training to be in this business.”

out of the office “My perfect day off is spent being outdoors with my wife. We love hiking, bird watching, and anything out in nature.”

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 11

making it stick: “Getting sustainability to catch on was a lot about branding and optics. It wasn’t strictly an engineering or economics problem, and the world needed a bigger perspective.”

A Steadfast mission:

“At Enermodal, we’ve always wanted to save the world through greener buildings, and, no matter the economic conditions, we’ll sit and wait for the market to be ready for us.” advantage

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:37 PM

snapshot: social Media A quick look at what a new business era brings to Canadians taking their companies social

1. riCh PatterSon vancouver, bc Cofounder of BigCoast Brands

“I’ve learned to not rush into social media just because everyone else is. At the start, everyone created a Facebook page, but I didn’t really see my customers interacting on Facebook in 2009 and 2010. Come 2011, I began seeing my clients on Facebook interacting with my own personal page. Ergo, it was time for me to launch BigCoast’s Facebook page in March 2011. I also learned to manage my time precisely on social media. The update feeds of Facebook and Twitter are overwhelming, and, if I’m honest, much of it is not really of interest to me or my company. I limit time on the platforms to a 45-minute daily set pattern, and break up my time to check in once in the morning and again in the afternoon.”

2. Johwanna alleyne edmonton, ab Head creative of To Be In Pictures

“As a wedding photographer, the two most important things I can do for our business are to show images and generate buzz. The decline of print media left us with a hole in our adverting strategy. With the rise of Facebook, we’ve seen a soaring increase in the use of online media to generate word-ofmouth leads. On just Facebook, we’ve seen a 500 percent increase in clicks, leads, and conversions to our website over the last two years. The most exciting part for our business is that this advertising is free.”

follow uS on twitter! @AdvantageCANADA



3. gina bell regina, SK

3. “‘When it comes to doing business in Canada, Saskatchewan’s a great place to fly over.’ Statements like this used to deflate me, but now, thanks to the Internet and social media, I no longer feel pressured to move away from a smaller city to feel competitive. In fact, I enjoy a global advantage. Social media is a marketing amplifier that gets my marketing message in front of thousands of people every day. Today’s consumers are smart, savvy, and social, looking online before they call or frequent a storefront. I make sure they can find me. The question is: will they find you?”

The Laptop CEO



S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 12

5/12/11 4:37 PM


6. ChriStiane germain Montréal, Qc Copresident of Groupe Germain Hospitality

5. 6. 5. grant hamilton Québec city, Qc President of Anglocom Inc.


4. donna karlin ottawa, on

“As hoteliers, our business is social and global, so the value of social media is weighty for Groupe Germain Boutique-Hotels. Our foray in creating two-way dialogue with guests online started recently with Twitter. We share news and information through this quick and contemporary channel. But mostly, this is a resource for us to hear from our future and current guests about their experiences with our brand. We field questions, keep devoted followers on our radar, and share their experiences with our larger online-community members by retweeting and chatting virtually. Twitter conversations appear on our corporate website as a dynamic element to engage site visitors.” “At Anglocom, a translation agency, we use Twitter to capture editing advice exchanged between individual translators and editors and share it with a broader audience via twice-daily English/French translation tips. This demonstrates competence in our core business, builds client confidence, and offers our entire staff of translators the benefit of insights originally intended for a single person. We have built up a very loyal following of freelance translators as well as clients and other individuals interested in fine distinctions between English and French. Our Twitter feed has also become a great way to recruit translators when special needs arise.”

“I engage people in discussion through social media. When I post, it’s to invite people to use what it is I share with them and then let me know how they’ve used it. Social media becomes my user-built R&D team where I can find out what people are dealing with, how they’re using my ideas, and what the results are. From their input, I know what people and potential clients want more of, want less of, and what I need to do to remain current and relevant in an increasingly competitive world. They love how I connect with them on a personal level, share my findings and perspectives with them, and so, in turn, they continue to share their unique perspectives and ideas with me.”

Certified executive coach, founder of A Better Perspective, and author of Leaders: Their Stories, Their Words

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 13


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:37 PM

well read

Recommended Reading Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why It Matters by Scott Rosenberg Broadway, 416 pages, $15 Whether your company has a full staff dedicated to regularly blogging and tweeting about its latest developments or doesn’t even have a Twitter account, Scott Rosenberg’s Say Everything is a fascinating look at how the medium has evolved and changed the e-landscape. Not so much a how-to guide as much as a historical analysis, Rosenberg crafts a text that stands behind the hype to really ask, “What is this?” Say Everything is worth the read for any businessperson trying to track the evolution and potential trajectory of the blogging and social-media world.

Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead by Charlene Li Jossey-Bass, 336 pages, $27.95

featured blog LEADership There’s plenty of information out there for companies trying to reach a public customer base with social media, let alone about business itself, but few sources do it with the authority of LEADership, a blog by Louis Foong. Although it isn’t updated daily, the advice given is concrete and analytical, with a focus primarily on issues facing the B2B sector. Whether it’s one of the frequent posts concerning B2B social-media strategies or a discussion on the proper way to go about lead generation, LEADership is a blog to keep checking in with.



S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 14

Despite the example of such notable companies as Mozilla and Twitter, an “open” company is still a rather radical idea. Part of the difficulty is that nobody has really defined what being open means. In Open Leadership, Charlene Li attempts to assuage such difficulties, constructing an apt blueprint for how to make it happen at the level of the leadership. One of her most compelling arguments is that an open work environment—one in which information is available and is shared, and participation encouraged for the process at hand—is evolving naturally. Leaders who realize this and act on it will have an advantage.

Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best... and Learn from the Worst by Robert I. Sutton Business Plus, 320 pages, $26.99 It’s likely that the only leaders willing to sit down with Robert Sutton’s Good Boss, Bad Boss are those wanting to become good leaders themselves. For Sutton, the idea of the “good boss” is best characterized by comparing it to tales of the worst. It’s a question of nuance—the best bosses are subtle, their management strategies seemingly effortless. In reality, the job takes extreme care and compassion, and Sutton’s examples of the tyrants really helps make that clear. A mustread for execs looking to spruce up their act, whether needed or not.

5/12/11 4:38 PM

stat wall

Canada’s Facebook Breakdown Ages 13–17









45–54 55+

A Wireless World






Source: Socialbakers.

Canadians send 163 million text messages per day

Who are the Bloggers? 1%

• Hobbyists: 65% The core constituency of the blogging world, hobbyists blog for fun and don’t report any monetary income.


• Self Employed: 21% Of the world’s self-employed bloggers, 57% own a company and have a blog related to the business itself. This demographic is the most likely to blog about business, as it gives them more visibility within their industry.

Half of all phone connections in Canada are now wireless



Wireless networks in Canada are able to provide smartphone and Internet support to 96% of the population

• Part-Timers: 13% A step between hobbyists and corporates, parttimers do make money off their blog, but it’s hardly a full-time gig. Also, there is a clear shift from the “fun” found in blogging among hobbyists, in that most part-timers measure the success of their blog by the number of unique visitors.

With a 41% share on the industry, the wireless sector stakes out the biggest slice of the telecommunication pie

• Corporates: 1% The only “full-time” bloggers, corporates are a bit misleading. Only a quarter of them actually blog 40 hours a week, and most use the blog as a way of supplementing income.

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 15

Source: Technorati.

Source: Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Agency. advantage

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:38 PM

Green Building & Design


A comprehensive look at the structures and concepts of tomorrow, and the masterminds behind them

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 16 gb&d_ad.indd 7

For your FREE subscription visit

5/12/11 1/12/11 4:38 4:10 PM

expertise Leading executives share proven strategies 20 TANTUS Solutions Group, Inc. 17 Toronto Cricket Skating & Curling Club 23 City Insurance & Financial Services 28 Due North Communications 25 FranNet

Six sheets of curling ice provide one of the recreational backbones of the Toronto Cricket Skating & Curling Club.

a sporting endeavour In its history spanning two decades, the Toronto Cricket Skating & Curling Club has remained flexible, adopting a new, family-driven focus as told to thalia a-m bruehl


ince the Toronto Cricket Skating & Curling Club first opened its doors more than 185 years ago, it has served everyone from the local community to Olympic athletes. In the last decade, the club has evolved into a relaxed and inviting space; for many it is a second home, a vacation-home alternative, and a space where families can bond. Ingrid Perry, board president, and Doug Knights, general manager and COO, recently spoke with Advantage about the club’s new

4:10 PM

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 17

family-focused direction and the risks they’ve had to take to find great success.

much wider range of programming than we had a decade ago.

Advantage: What do you think sets the Toronto Cricket Skating & Curling Club apart from its competitors?

Ingrid Perry: I think that people join this club for the culture and the family-oriented atmosphere we’ve created. We also partner with the staff to make it an enlightened, exciting, and energetic space.

Doug Knights: Over the last 10 years, we have very consciously and carefully reinvented the facility to make it more family oriented than it was. The renovations—$25 million in total—have allowed us to offer a

DK: Another thing is that it’s not an elitist club—it’s not a club that people join to make advantage

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:38 PM


toronto cricket skating & curling club



doug knights is hired as general manager and coo

the toronto cricket club opens its doors in what was then known as muddy york


the club merges with the toronto skating club and the toronto curling club, and adopts its current moniker


the club completes an $8 million expansion, driven by the need for a larger fitness centre


ingrid perry is elected board president for 2011


Company timeline 2008

a $5 million indoor pool with a retractable roof is installed to allow for year-round swimming activities

the club reopens its ground floor after large- scale renovations that increased casual-dining options

business contacts or conduct business. People join because they live close to us, because they like the sense of community we provide, and they like the sports. It’s quite evident walking in the front door that this is a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. ADV: What strategies do you think have made the club so successful?

DK: We are fairly organized in our yearly plan. It’s a formal process, but it keeps us moving

in the right direction. The evergreen strategic plan, which is refreshed every year and has input from both the board and management team, helps us ensure the developments that everyone agrees are in our best interest. IP: Last year, we also conducted a comprehensive membership satisfaction survey and held a large consultation with our staff members, so all that information tells us where we should be heading. Over the next year,

we’re doing major capital planning, and we’re renewing some of our governance platforms. We’re constantly evolving in terms of our strategic plan. ADV: What makes you most proud about the club and the work you’ve done there?

IP: Over the last decade, under Doug’s leadership, we’ve seen the culture evolve. Not only have we shifted to more family-friendly activities, but we’re also seeing higher satisfaction rates among club members. DK: Having been in this office for 10 and a half years, I take a lot of pride in the renaissance of the club. It’s become far more successful and attractive, and financially much stronger. We are very solid in our financial footing these days. There’s been a lot of reinvesting in this facility to make it more competitive in the marketplace. ADV: Since it’s a sports club, tell me about some of the club’s athletics.

IP: The club has all levels of athletics—from the children’s level, to the adult level, to recreational levels and elite levels; we even have Olympic athletes training here. The fact that we have a culture that fosters sports excellence while meeting the needs of the broader membership is pretty amazing. Doug Knights, general manager and COO.



S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 18

Ingrid Perry, board president.

ADV: What has been a challenge at the Toronto Cricket Skating & Curling Club, and how did you overcome it?

5/12/11 4:38 PM

DK: Back in 2001, the club borrowed money for the first time in our history for an $8 million expansion. We took a risk, and it paid off. Was it a challenge? Yes. We had to convince the members that it was a risk that could be managed successfully. And, sure enough, we paid it off quite quickly because it made old members proud of their club and also resulted in new members coming in. ADV: What do you see in the club’s future?

DK: We’re not necessarily looking to grow— we simply don’t have the space to double our size, plus we have a model that works. The plan is just to have a facility that meets the needs of our membership. Our goal is to stay relevant in the community and to continue to establish traditions. IP: Years from now, I think you’ll see a vibrant family-oriented club, in a beautiful park-like setting, with members viewing us as their cottage away from home, but in a city. It will always be a destination, a place to relax and enjoy whatever sport or activity members decide to take part in. ADV: What’s the best decision you have made in relation to the club?

IP: That’s easy—we joined! _a

executive insight > “From a board perspective, it’s extremely important that we be relevant and conscious in providing guidance to management, but it’s all definitely a partnership. Any member organization such as ours needs to be a partnership between the board, the members, and the management team.” ingrid perry, board president

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 19

141 Wilson Ave, Toronto, Ontario M5M 3A3 | | Tel. 416.487.4581 ext. 2238 advantage

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:38 PM

TANTUS Solutions group, inc.


system builders In the digital era, TANTUS Solutions Group, Inc. helps its client companies resolve complex technological dilemmas as told to julie schaeffer


eff Young had toyed with the idea of starting his own firm during many of his 15 years in the management-consulting business. In 2001, he finally decided it was time to take a leap of faith. To say that the move worked out well would be an understatement: Young’s company, TANTUS Solutions Group, now has 47 employees and was named one of Profit magazine’s fastest-growing Canadian companies in 2010. Advantage sat down

with Young to talk about how he has achieved so much in just 10 years.

to deliver that project, and manage projects through to completion.

Advantage: Management consulting is a vague concept. What exactly does your company do?

ADV: Can you give me a concrete example of a recent project?

Jeff Young: We work with businesses that are undertaking new initiatives. We establish a business case, help the client secure internal or external funding, develop a mechanism

JY: One of our recent clients had multiple offices, each managed independently, and the CEO wanted to integrate all of the data from those offices. We developed a plan to do that, procured a software application that met the company’s needs, then managed the implementation, training, and rollout. ADV: Was your growth slow and steady, or was there a point at which the business really took off?

JY: I started in 2001 with one employee—myself. The big jump in staffing came approximately two years ago, after we developed a practice specialty in policing and criminal justice, and subsequently won two major contracts with Alberta Solicitor General and Public Security. One involves the merging of information from all provincial policing agencies; another involves establishing a new information system and supporting business infrastructure for the provincial correctional facilities. Those two initiatives required us to up our staff by roughly 25 percent. ADV: What’s next for your business?

JY: We have very aggressive growth plans. Our

executive insight >

From left: Janet Bland, resourcing manager; Jeff Young, president; and Tony Schiebel, director of marketing and business development.



S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 20

“There are always challenges when establishing an organization, but because I had good relationships with an established client base, I had an advantage over other start-ups.” jeff young, president

5/12/11 4:38 PM

Services and Solutions that provide better data and better information for better business. 1985

jeff young graduates with a bachelor’s degree in computing science from the university of alberta and begins his career at lgs group inc.



the company expands staff by 25% on new government contracts

young founds tantus solutions group as a one-person shop



tantus is recognized as one of alberta venture’s 50 fastest- growing companies and profit magazine’s 100 fastest- growing companies in canada

tantus hires its first employee


Company timeline

tantus develops a specialist practice in policing and criminal justice


the company is again recognized as one of alberta venture’s 50 fastest-growing companies

XCURA Systems started in 1993, providing Information Management, Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing services and solutions for private and public sector organizations. • Banking • Telecommunications • Government

growth over the last two years has been tremendous, primarily from a revenue and profit perspective. Consequently, our foothold in the industries we serve is growing significantly, and that is enabling us to expand both locally and nationally. It’s something not a lot of our competitors can say because of the economics of the business world in the past couple of years. ADV: To what do you attribute that success?

JY: There are two ways to approach that question: What makes us successful in the eyes of the client, as in why they want to hire us when they could hire a larger competitive firm? Or what makes us successful in the eyes of the employee, as in why we continue to attract good people and have a very low attrition rate? ADV: Let’s start with the first.

JY: We’re very ethical in the way we do business, and we’re a very hands-on consulting company. Senior managers in the organization are all responsible for working directly with clients. We don’t just manage our business; we manage our projects as well. We’re able to build a significant level of trust among our clients, which in turn enables us to extend our contracts over long periods of time.

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 21

ADV: How about the second—how do you achieve success in the eyes of your employees?

JY: We really work hard to establish and maintain a culture that is unique in our industry. We treat our staff very well, not just from a compensation perspective, but with perks. For example, we have a catalogue of items our employees can choose from when they get rewarded for extra effort, and we take our staff and their spouses on a retreat each year. Because we go the extra mile to treat our people fairly and with respect, we consequently attract good people.

• Information Management Consulting • Large Scale Data Warehousing • Corporate Performance Management • Project Management • Strategic Planning • Data Management and Architecture

ADV: Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?

JY: Starting a business requires the ability to surround yourself with very good people. But bringing good people to an organization doesn’t guarantee success. You have to give those people responsibilities, make them accountable for those responsibilities, and reward them for what they accomplish. I’ve had to learn to let go, trust my people, and enable them—in some cases, to make mistakes—but also to initiate good ideas and drive them through to completion. _a Michael S. Maxfield (780) 903-0140


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:38 PM

Intact Insurance is proud to be associated with the Canadian owned and operated

City Insurance & Financial Services.

Protect Yourself, Your Assets & Your Future City Insurance & Financial Services is a full-service insurance brokerage, car insurance, home insurance, business insurance, tenants insurance, life insurance,investments and wealth management solutions. We have been providing independent advice and personalized service in southwestern Ontario since 1892.

City Insurance employs a staff of highly skilled and knowledgeable professionals with the goal of helping customers build, protect, and manage their financial well being. Through their association with Intact Insurance, they assist customers in achieving their own specific goals, whether it's as simple as insuring a home and automobile, or as complicated as specialized business insurance. Intact Insurance is Canada’s largest home, auto and business insurance company protecting over 3 million customers. Our coast-to-coast presence, along with our strong relationship with insurance brokers, means we can provide the outstanding service, comfort and continuity you deserve.

Samia 519-383-0044 | Petrolia 519-882-1290 24 Hour Claims 800-235-8784 | 800-265-7588 c

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 22

Intact Insurance Design is a trademark of Intact Financial Corporation, used under license. 2011 Intact Insurance Company. All rights reserved.

5/12/11 4:39 PM

city insurance & financial services


staying consistent A dedication to personalized service has allowed City Insurance & Financial Services to remain a competitive player in the insurance industry for 100-plus years as told to anne hedin


ohn Orr manages a family business founded more than 100 years ago by a banker, Thomas Cook. Orr sits at Cook’s original desk, and benefits from the wise counsel of his father, J. Meredith Orr, the firm’s president. Meanwhile, Nancy M’Larkey was hired as a bookkeeper 26 years

ago and now acts as the lead commercial broker. Most staff members have been with City Insurance & Financial Services for more than 10 years. Despite its vast history, the firm remains up-to-date with current trends, and stands as one of the greenest brokerages in southwestern Ontario.

Advantage caught up with Orr and M’Larkey to learn their views on managing dynamic growth in a grounded fashion. Advantage: You offer a variety of both insurance packages and financial services. How do these two sides of your business compare?

John Orr: The bulk of our business is with general insurance—car, home, auto, tenants, boats, travel, disability, and business insurance—while the fastest-growing part of the business is financial services—banking, mortgage referral, life insurance, wealth management for individuals, and employee benefits for businesses. ADV: The general insurance industry is quite mature. How do you compete?

JO: We have a saying, “Your best insurance is an insurance broker.” In a world of 800-numbers and call centres, we remain committed to providing sound independent advice and personalized service in the context of a longterm relationship with our clients.

executive insight > “We are in a people business. We send flowers when a client gets a new car or buys a new home. When a member of the family dies or any other major life event occurs, we send a note or send flowers.” Whether coverage is needed for home or travel, City Insurance & Financial Services has appropriate plans.

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 23

nancy m’larkey, lead commercial broker


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:39 PM

city insurance & financial services


1956 j. meredith orr joins the firm and later assumes ownership in 1963


the company is founded by thomas cook , a former mayor of sarnia

Company timeline

Our back office is completely modern. Our front office retains the old-fashioned human touch. When you call us, a human being takes your call. We know our clients. That high-touch approach differentiates us from the big banks and brokerages. They can outmuscle us on size but not on service. In training our staff, we stress customer service. ADV: Can you give us a specific example of the high-touch approach?

Nancy M’Larkey: We are in a people business. We send flowers when a client gets a new car or buys a new home. When a member of the family dies, or any other major life event occurs, we send a note or send flowers. If we read in the paper that a child has entered university, we put a note in the computer to ask how they are doing next time we speak to the client. ADV: Who are your employees, and how do you treat them?

JO: We have 18 professional brokers on staff. All the people we employ are self-starters. They all have their own book of business and 24


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 24


john orr, j. meredith’s son, enters the business


the company acquires the emile varsava agency


the company purchases and integrates three ontario insurance brokerages

are very conscientious. Everybody knows what they have to do, and they work hard. That makes me proud. The brokers have full authority to make the client happy. My philosophy on managing employees is simple: if it is good enough for me, it is good enough for everybody else. When my kids were young, I attended all their school plays. My staff has the right to do the same. Occasionally, I duck out [of work] early, but I also come in early to make up for it. My employees are free to do the same. Most people respect the privilege. ADV: What is the best business decision you have made?

JO: Computerizing the business. In the 1990s, we purchased The Agency Manager system from Applied Systems. It was significantly more expensive than some of the other options, and I hesitated before signing the contract, but it has paid for itself many times over. One result is that we are not paper chasers. Having a paperless office frees us to spend time with the client and give them more efficient service.


receives the 2004 ing bank advisor award in its first year as a financial services provider


the company introduces financial services and changes its name to city insurance & financial services

ADV: Aren’t computers the opposite of the human touch?

NM: It all depends on how you use them. We use them to collect and store information that’s important to and about our clients. By the time the receptionist forwards an incoming call to our desk, we can pull up a client’s file and see every policy and account they have, and our own notes. We could not represent so many insurance companies and offer so many personalized options to our clients if we didn’t have computers. ADV: How do you grow the business?

JO: Our growth target is six to eight percent a year. On the insurance side, the benchmark is client count, and you do well to get three to four percent growth because that industry is mature. Financial services make up the difference. We have generated the bulk of our growth in that area through advertising in newspapers and on the radio. When we partnered with ING Bank, we advertised heavily to introduce our financial services. We also focus on cross-selling among our clients. _a

5/12/11 4:39 PM


unlocking the golden shackles As FranNet’s 2010 Franchisee of the Year, Gary Prenevost helps people escape corporate life and run their own franchise as told to kori kamradt



wning your own business is a dream for many people, and it’s the mission of FranNet—North America’s most successful network of franchise consultants— to make that dream a reality. As the economy forces more of the corporate population to look for career alternatives, FranNet’s 55 offices across five countries has found steady success in the last couple of years, but no office more than the southern Ontario office. In fact, Gary Prenevost, president of that franchised office, was recently recognized as FranNet’s numberone franchisee in North America for 2010. Advantage spoke with Prenevost about how he maintains this continued growth at a job he loves. Advantage: What are your main responsibilities at FranNet?

Gary Prenevost: I would lump it into three core areas: business generation, operations, and fulfillment of client needs. Operations takes the least amount of time. I have a key person, Mike Martin, who helps me with client service; a virtual assistant for social media and marketing; and a part-time assistant for managing me. For finance, we have a bookkeeper. So the vast majority of my time is spent with clients, helping them develop their business model and coaching them through research. The remainder of my time is invested in networking and building/managing strategic relationships. ADV: How do you describe FranNet to prospective clients?

Gary Prenevost, president of FranNet’s southern Ontario office.

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 25

GP: We are franchise matchmakers. Proven franchisors will come to us and say, “This is what we want in an ideal candidate.” We go to our market and identify people that have expressed a strong desire to be in business for themselves but aren’t sure of where to look or what viable options exist for them. Based on their goals and interests, we introduce them to franchisors that match and subsequently coach our clients through our proven research process. FranNet is a free service paid for by the franchisors. It’s really about helping our network of clients manage timing, risk, and opportunity. Is the timing right? How much net worth is somebody prepared to risk? We have to ask the tough questions. It’s not about buying a business; it’s about helping our advantage

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:39 PM



Gary Prenevost FranNet® of Southern Ontario


frannet’s north american interests are sold, and jania bailey is appointed as president and coo


Gary, when clients

frannet is founded


frannet headquarters relocates to louisville , kentucky

rave about their support at FranNet® of Southern Ontario, we know we

Company timeline

made a smart decision


southern ontario office opens


gary prenevost is named the franchisee of the year

to work with you for all these years. Now clients benefit

clients thoroughly research a business so they can make an educated, informed decision.

ADV: There has not been a year your office has had less than 20 percent growth. What has allowed for this?

ADV: What do you like the most about working at FranNet?

GP: Number one, we’ve always taken really good care of our clients. That’s the reputation we’ve created and instilled in the beginning. People feel safe with us. The trends are also helping. Twenty-three to 24 percent of senior executives are now considering selfemployment as a career executive. What we’re seeing is a doubling and tripling of interest in self-employment. People are losing faith in corporate Canada’s ability for long-term wealth creation.

from superb franchise business input and leading franchise legal advice.

GP: I literally get to help people change their lives. I get to help them unlock the golden shackles of corporate life. The average corporate job lasts for 2.7 years. Then you get let go, downsized, or you get repurposed and you’re out. The current numbers show that every $10,000 of income you earn annually is another month you’ll be out of work until you find your next job. That’s one of things that is driving our business. It’s not just about the goals of creating your own job security; it’s also about removing the income interruptions that are endemic to corporate life today. Our clients love the work we do for them. We help them come to a decision where they don’t have to second-guess themselves.

Keyser Mason Ball, LLP Franchise Law team assists fledgling systems as well as recognized out of Province franchisors establish themselves in Ontario.

executive insight > “I think the number-one mistake is buying a business because you like the product, service, or industry. You have to look at the roles and responsibilities of being an owner and make sure you have the capability and desire to perform the core roles of the owner.”

Terrific Franchise Lawyers

gary prenevost, president of frannet’s southern ontario office

Phone: 905.276.0422 26


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

KMB FrankNet ad.4.indd 1 ADV5_monday_may9.indd 26

11/04/11 11:49 AM

ADV: What are some of the challenges you face in the franchise business?

GP: Most people don’t know about our services. There’s help in buying a business in the same way that there’s help in buying a house. To do this, we work with all the major career-transition firms, harness social media, and network with people between jobs. The other challenge is managing people’s perceptions. A lot of people think franchises include only food and retail, and they don’t want to want be behind a counter and cash register. But there’s much more out there than that. ADV: What are your goals for your office as you move into the future?

GP: Now that I’m number one, I want to continue to earn that position. I want to maintain that trajectory. I want to, as the growth allows, build our team so I have more people to do that with me. It’s a very strategic plan, and we’ll do it cautiously. I’ve never had so much fun. People ask me when I want retire, and I tell them I don’t want to. _a

5/12/11 4:39 PM

Two High Demand Business Models! “A Canadian small business with a global footprint� GREENLANDŽ provides integrated engineering and landscape architecture services. The organization also offers exceptional service in the development of environmental technologies and products, while maintaining its entrepreneurial integrity with clients, customers and the business community.

w w w. g r n l a n d . c o m Unique MatchMaker™ Program Start by Acquiring an Existing Business! Other Benefits Include: s 3IX &IGURE )NCOME 0OTENTIAL n 3INGLE ,OCATION s $IVERSE 0RODUCT #LIENT "ASE s #LEAN (IGH 4ECH 7ORK %NVIRONMENT s (EALTHY 7ORK ,IFE "ALANCE

800.726.9050 • Environmental Services (incl. Software Development and Product Research) • Infrastructure Design and Construction Administration • Land Development Engineering

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 27

5/12/11 4:39 PM

due north communications


the oasis of other Due North Communications is happy to act as an outlier in the world of advertising, attracting clients with quirky, creative approaches cemented by concrete results as told to julie edwards


s president of the independent Toronto-based advertising agency Due North Communications, Jill King leads a team whose approach to clients includes setting the agency up as “the oasis of other.” In a field where King says many professionals can appear as pushy prima donnas, Due North is focused on being a partner and offering long-term strategic solutions with solid results. Advantage spoke with Jill King

about what made her the advertising guru she is today and how Due North is shaking up the industry. Advantage: Can you share an early influence that has shaped your business decisions today?

JK: Perhaps the earliest influence came from being the youngest child in a house of boys. Get in their way and they wouldn’t hesitate

to thump you. Make yourself useful or charm them and they’d do your bidding. Those early experiences taught me to use my wits versus trying to throw around my perceived weight. It’s to my advantage, and Due North’s, to obtain the most out of people versus trying to inflict my will on them. Most people respect a person who is thoughtful and collaborative rather than a “my way or the highway” dictatorial type. ADV: How did your first job in the advertising field shape you professionally?

JK: My first job was at a very small Toronto shop in the mid-80s. I was the account executive on the agency’s largest account, a manufacturer of shock absorbers. At the annual convention, I had the honour of dressing like a life-size shock absorber and battling the competing lifesize absorber in the Shock Absorber Olympics. Later, driving out of the parking lot, I realized it was time to move on and that if I was going to

executive insight > “In a business as rough and tumble as the agency world, it’s important to take much of your strength and reassurance from within the agency and your coworkers rather than expecting that your business and external dealings are always going to be fair. You have to accept that some aspects of success and failure are beyond your control, and find solace and satisfaction in your own team.” President Jill King applies lessons learned in her upbringing to the advertising world.



S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 28

jill king, president

5/12/11 4:39 PM

due north communications



the company receives the media innovation award from the cannes lions international advertising festival


due north is founded in toronto, and the firm lands its first campaign of note: goodyear canada’s “work with me” campaign

Company timeline


ADV: So you landed at Due North. What sets the firm apart?

JK: We insist on all communications being business-results based. Awards are great, but what’s really important is the effect communication has on sales, market share, or whatever the marketer has designated as the goal. Communication is an investment that needs to demonstrate a proven return. ADV: What are the company’s unique business philosophies?

JK: Due North is unique because of our philosophy on handling clients. We like to call ourselves “professionally mature,” meaning we will defend our point of view, but we won’t fight with clients. We understand that the clients bear the responsibility for their communications campaign, and we respect their right to make their own decisions—period. We also believe you should train, train, train staff. Not only does it hone their skills, but it’s also a great retention tool. With this in mind, three years ago we launched “U of Due,” a series of in-house courses taught by senior staff and outside consultants that combine practical basics, such as how to write a great creative brief, along with sessions detailing how to handle a difficult client. ADV: What is the best business decision you have made in your current role?

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 29



the firm is awarded double gold cassies for its dairy farmers of canada campaign

due north is named one of canada’s 50 best privately managed companies by the national post

make it in this business, I’d need to develop a thick skin and find an agency and mentor that could train me with the skills to succeed.




due north opens dial9, a sister company focusing on digital and social media

JK: Recently, we opened dial9, a digital agency and sister company to Due North. Before dial9, we saw a growing stake of our business migrate to digital channels. We’d been partnering with digital agencies in order to offer complete communications plans to our clients, often resulting in a duplication of resources and a less-than-seamless process. Now, dial9 allows us to offer our clients everything and anything they need that’s technology based. It’s all under one roof, ensuring a completely integrated campaign. ADV: Things sound like they’re going well, but what’s a recent challenge Due North has had to overcome?

JK: Some years ago, Due North took on a large cosmetics retail chain whose positioning was all about philanthropy, love, and sunshine; however, we quickly learned that there were to be no briefings, no budgets, and no payments, but a great deal of work, unmet timelines, and abuse. In the end, we fired them, politely but firmly. What did I learn? When you see disaster, cut your losses and move on, even if it feels a bit scary at the time. ADV: At the end of the day, what keeps you excited about the work you do?

JK: Having the ability to help a client build something from the bottom up and being able to do it across many different categories, services, and products. It’s very exciting to tackle something new each day and know that anything’s possible with the right minds on the job and a great client partnership. _a advantage

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:39 PM

Hospitality Advantage Ad_FA2.pdf


1:22:55 PM


Off the beaten track.

Small shop. Big footprints.




Panasonic has a wide range of products to serve the Quickservice Restaurant (QSR) industry. With industry leading technology and superior reliability and performance, Panasonic provides the tools for QSR businesses to be successful.

Proud Quebec partner of Jill King and her advertising agency.

Panasonic is proud to have Quickservice Technologies as a partner. 30


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 130 JulyAug2011_MarchAd_Martel.indd

2/24/11 3:19 PM

5/12/11 4:39 PM

collaboration Forging partnerships for better results 31 Quickservice Inc.


35 Harrison Pensa LLP

37 The Municipality of Greenstone

order up Quickservice Inc.’s intuitive POS systems are evolving the infrastructure of the fast-food industry by david hudnall


hilip Turner, the CEO of Quickservice, isn’t as much of a tech junkie as his company might suggest. “I’m not a technical guy,” he says. “But I hire highly technical people that I listen to, and I ask a lot of questions.” It’s a system that’s worked out well for the Niagara, Ontario-based supplier of point-of-sale (POS) technology. A veteran of the oil-and-gas and ATM industries, Turner bought Quickservice in 2003;

since then, he has helped the company double in size. “I looked at 10 or 11 businesses I was interested in purchasing,” he says, “but [Quickservice] was the one I could really see myself being able to add value to, in terms of operations and financing. I liked its track record, and I felt like I could take it to the next level.” Turner, however, asserts that Quickservice’s success is not the result of one company’s singular vision. In the 1990s,

Quickservice (then operating under a different name) formed a strong collaborative partnership with Panasonic and shifted its focus. Instead of staying within its longtime field of regional cash-register distribution—typically for table-service restaurants in Niagara—the company looked to fast-food operations. In time, Panasonic and Quickservice landed nine restaurants from a Tim Hortons franchisee. “Panasonic was a very reliable brand, which was very appealing to [the franchisee],” Turner says. “[Panasonic’s] products were backed by our customer service, which we’ve proven over time.” The initial partnership between Quickservice and Tim Hortons has since evolved, and today Quickservice is the leading supplier of POS equipment for the entire chain. “We felt that there was more value to us as a company by focusing on fast food specifically,” Turner says. “We wanted to be a niche player.” Steady growth has been a corollary of that niche identification. It’s happened via a variety of avenues. One was the arrival of POS technology, which Quickservice introduced in 2006 after purchasing a company that manufactured POS software. “It was clear that people were trending toward touch-based systems,” Turner says. “There’s a lot of turnover in the restaurant business,

Company Stats location niagara, on founded

1995 employees

95 Philip Turner, CEO, expanded Quickservice’s market in Niagra, ON, and moved to the global stage.

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 31

specialty point-of-sale machinery for fast-food restaurants


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:39 PM


quickservice inc.

the way we work > “We’re very focused on making POS systems highly intuitive so that you don’t have to visit too many screens to ring in orders.” philip turner, ceo

which means a lot of training, and it’s easier to train new employees with POS touchbased systems.” Optimally configured, POS systems can greatly accelerate service times, which is an area Quickservice has been particularly sensitive to. “We’re very focused on making these systems highly intuitive so that you don’t have to visit too many screens to ring in orders,” Turner says. “Especially for the drive-thru: you want it not only to be very easy to ring in a coffee but also to make an unplanned

adjustment to that order at the next window if the customer wants to add a bagel. Small things like that can really speed up drivethru times, which our clients are always very concerned about.” The company has grown with the expansion of Tim Hortons, with Quickservice holding a leading market share in the chain’s 3,500-plus stores throughout Canada and the United States. Such growth has made it increasingly important to provide reliable, adaptable systems that cater to Tim Hortons evolving needs. “We focus a great deal on customer service,” Turner says. “We’ve definitely customized to the Tim Hortons model, but in a way that we can leverage to other chains.” In fact, Quickservice’s footprint extends outside North America to Ireland, Australia, and South Africa, with machines in restaurants like A&W, Wendy’s, Burger King, and Dairy Queen. The company services 92 percent of its customer base directly—the remaining 8 percent is located in hard-to-reach places. Quickservice also operates a help desk that has tripled in size since Turner bought the company. A new branch in Moncton, New Brunswick, opened in 2010 to better serve English/French employees. Within its niche of fast food, Quickservice has positioned itself as a total-solutions provider, offering clients everything from drive-thru headsets to timing signs to security systems and cash registers. “There aren’t too many players in Canada that have our kind of breadth,” Turner says. Nor can there be, with Quickservice maintaining such excellent service among the fast-food market. _a

A message from panasonic:

Sales executive Kevin Rennie consults a client on technology solutions provided by Quickservice.



S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 32

As a leading supplier of POS, drive-thru communications, and video-surveillance systems, Panasonic has a long history of being an innovator and a reliable supplier to the retail, restaurant, and c-store market. Panasonic’s POS hardware is known for its durability and reliability, and our drive-thru communication systems offer superior clarity and reliability. Rounding out the solution is a comprehensive line of video-surveillance solutions. Panasonic is proud to have Quickservice as a partner in supporting the hospitality industry.

5/12/11 4:39 PM

growmark, Inc.


lay of the land Farm co-operative GROWMARK, Inc. expands into Ontario, providing customers with everything they need to succeed in the agriculture industry by tom calarco


arm co-operatives are a tradition that date back to the late 1800s in North America. Founded south of the border, in Bloomington, Illinois, GROWMARK is one such co-operative. The company’s success can be seen in its scope: GROWMARK serves a market bounded by the Rocky Mountains to the west, stretching all the way to the east coast and north, into Ontario. It’s an expansion based on expertise, the company bringing the farm co-operative business model to the cutting edge. “Our core relationship is based on farmers coming together to create local co-operatives and then forming federations,” says Claude Gauthier, GROWMARK’s Ontario region manager. “Our philosophy is guided through a customer perspective and a democratic approach, resulting in a sharing of the profits through cooperation.” GROWMARK’s roots go back to the 1920s, when Farm Bureau members organized local co-operatives in the United States. In 1980, GROWMARK was officially established through the merger of Farm Services, Inc. and the Illinois Grain Corporation. In 1994, GROWMARK acquired the assets of United Co-operatives of Ontario to create the organization as it exists today. In total, GROWMARK is made up of a system-wide network of 230 co-operatives and 250,000 individual members.

Company Stats location kitchener, on headquarters bloomington, il founded

1980 employees

125 in canada, 7,000+ system-wide member co-operatives

40 Claude Gauthier, Ontario region manager, uses a broad network of suppliers to stay competitive.

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 33


5 advantage

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:39 PM


growmark, Inc.

the way we work > “Joint ventures, partnerships—that’s the flavour of GROWMARK. Many farmers are autonomous, and we create a leveraging that enables people to act together. Our development is well planned: we aim for growth, we think to the future, and we have an ability to take advantage of opportunities that become available.” claude gauthier, ontario region manager


SELF PROPELLED & PULL TYPE FERTILIZER/LIME SPREADERS • Patriot-Self-propelled sprayers,Titan-Flotation applicators • Fertilizer, lime and litter spreaders • Poly tanks and fittings • Liquid and NH3 side dress equipment and accessories • WACONIA - Blending and handling equipment • Controllers - liquid, granular • Precision Agriculture - G.P.S. equipment & software

NORWESCO POLY TANKS RR2, Mount Elgin, Ont. N0J 1N0 Phone:(519) 485-6861 Toll-Free: 1-800-661-5019Fax: (519) 485-4694 34E-mail: advantage S E P T E MWebsite: B E R / O T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 34

Membership with GROWMARK grants both value-added services and products, and also monetary rewards in the form of patronage dividends. When GROWMARK profits, its members receive rebates based on the totals they spend annually on GROWMARK’s offerings. Such products and services include the highest-quality seeds, the best plant food and crop protection products, precision farming services, reliable renewable fuels, and the tools to move products to market. Notable in the last category is GROWMARK’s partnership with AGRIS Co-operative Ltd., forming Great Lakes Grain. The partnership yields 18 million bushels of grain-storage capacity throughout central and southwestern Ontario, and markets 30 million bushels annually. GROWMARK’s success is the reflection of a unique business strategy. “It’s a three-legged stool: agronomy, energy, and grain marketing,” Gauthier says. “We provide farmers with the best tools to help them better manage risk, improve their competitiveness, increase their profitability, and ultimately help make their lives easier. We value and see every dollar that GROWMARK handles as a farmer’s dollar.” Among the companies that are part of the GROWMARK family is UPI Energy LP (UPI). Owned jointly by both Growmark and Suncor Energy Products Inc., UPI is a major supplier of energy products and services to rural Ontario. “We’re partnering in the fuel, propane, and lubricants side of the business,” says John Canjar, director of energy marketing, training, and development for UPI. “We were the first to bring ethanol to the province in the early 1990s, and we continue to lead the way in bringing environmentally friendlier products such as DIESEL3000—“Today’s Biofuel”— which is a blend of conventional diesel fuel and methyl esther produced from soybeans.

Products such as UPI’s DIESEL3000 illustrate the cutting-edge focus of GROWMARK and its promotion of environmentally friendly, green technology. “Our customers are asking for the new technology and innovation in farm inputs,” Canjar says. “They consistently demand that we examine new products and programs to suit their needs, keeping us at the cutting edge of serving the fuel needs of the farm.” Gauthier says this focus has helped GROWMARK expand its markets, providing fuels for municipalities, trucking fleets, school-bus companies, and mines, for which it provides biofuels for generators. This environmental consciousness has also spurred UPI to develop state-of-the-art gas bars and EnviroStations to store fuel above ground. EnviroStations are designed to protect land, water, and the environment from exposure to harmful spills and pollutants. “GROWMARK is a very proactive adopter of new technology,” Gauthier says. “For example, we maintain a strong relationship with major North American seed suppliers offering the most advanced seed traits and genetics. We take a strong science-based approach.” Gauthier also stresses that GROWMARK values continued education and provides certification programs for its member co-operatives’ boards of directors and FS crop specialists to keep them up-to-date with the latest in technology and expertise. “As the world population and markets keep growing, we have the mandate to help ensure our farmer-owners are maximizing every acre they have to produce food,” Gauthier says. Such direction is at the heart of GROWMARK, a company leveraging globally on behalf of its membership. It’s not an easy task, but Gauthier’s outlook is optimistic. “We look to the future as one filled with opportunity and promise,” he says. _a

5/12/11 4:39 PM

harrison pensa llp


building the precedent Favouring business acumen over legislative insight, the full-service law firm Harrison Pensa LLP is helmed by a CEO dedicated to staying ahead of the market lynn russo whylly


n April 1998, Geoff Pulford joined Pensa & Associates as CEO. It was a unique and unusual appointment for the firm, because Pulford was not a lawyer. However, managing partner Dave Williams saw the need for a seasoned business manager who could look beyond the day-to-day legal work and help the London, Ontario-based company

build a foundation that would sustain them for the long term. “Most law firms are spearheaded by a management committee made up of lawyers,” explains Jodi Simpson, director of marketing and community relations. “But at the end of the day, a law firm is a business, and it requires someone with business acumen to run

a successful law practice. The firm wanted a visionary, progressive leader who was close to the business community. They found that in Geoff Pulford.” With the firm’s primary strength in litigation, Pulford’s first priority was developing a strategic plan for growing the firm’s business law practice. Help in this area came from an unexpected source. “Before the ink was dry on our strategic plan, we were offered the opportunity to merge with Harrison Elwood, a firm known for its considerable strength in business law,” Pulford says. “On the Pensa side, this was an easy decision. It would advance our strategic plan by 10 or 15 years.” On October 1, 1999, Harrison Elwood and Pensa & Associates became Harrison Pensa LLP. Harrison Elwood had roughly 30 lawyers, while Pensa had 20, bringing the firm’s total to around 50. Today, Harrison Pensa is a full-service law firm with practice groups in 16 areas, including class action, litigation, business, employment, and real estate, among others. “More than any other law firm, we have a very balanced full-service offering,” Pulford says. Company Stats location london, on founded

1999 lawyers

53 students at law

4 practices

16 Geoff Pulford, CEO, has turned the practice of law into a flourishing business.

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 35

global reach

65 countries


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:39 PM



the way we work >

Business doesn’t stay still. It moves forward. Move your business in the right direction: Lower business costs Access to talent Proximity to markets Short commutes

LONDON, CA N A DA Come for Business. Stay for Life.

“A lot of lawyers tend to be risk eliminators rather than risk managers. We are risk managers—we take every opportunity to pull ourselves up to the 50,000-foot level to see what’s going on, because there are some great opportunities in the industry, and we want to be prepared to take advantage of them.” geoff pulford, ceo

Attesting to its class-action acumen, the firm recently won a lawsuit against Great-West Life Assurance Company and London Life Insurance Company, with an Ontario court ruling the companies pay $455.7 million—one of the largest contested class-action payouts to date in Canada. More recently, Harrison Pensa was involved in a copyright infringement class-action lawsuit involving four major record labels. A proposed settlement of $47.5 million was reached under the proposed agreement that the record labels pay about $45 million to resolve all disputed claims related to past music releases in audio and video formats. In these core practices and others, Harrison Pensa must compete against every other law firm in its region. But that’s not exactly what Pulford is worried about. “Competition is an interesting term,” he says. “If I were to ask any of our lawyers who our competition is, they would identify three or four law firms in the city of London that are our size. But that’s the easy competition. The competition we all have to worry about is that which we don’t know exists—some firm looking to expand its business and deciding that they can do something we currently do.” A MESSAGE FROM THE LEDC:

Looking to expand your business? For more information and assistance, contact us at 1-800-327-2428.



S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 36

Is your business expanding or contracting? The LEDC can help. We’re committed to your prosperity. Market information, expansion planning, site selection, and info on government programs. The LEDC connects you to the information you need to prosper. Visit for more information.

To stay competitive, Pulford keeps the firm on the cutting edge. In 2002, for example, the firm developed a software program, Litigation Executive, that digitizes entire case files. Such a system allows clients and partner law firms in other parts of Canada to see everything that has transpired on a case anytime, anywhere. Built out of a necessity to stay at the head of the field, the software has worked so well that Harrison Pensa is spinning it off as a separate, independent company, opening it up to all law firms. Such foresight isn’t the result of luck, but of staying in tune to the needs of clients and consumers. “Today, clients are demanding a different kind of experience, a different kind of service,” Pulford says. “We’ve got early adopters in our firm who are finding opportunities for themselves to test new waters and get [unique] innovations off the ground.” Harrison Pensa also hires and cultivates lawyers out of top Canadian law schools that have a progressive mindset. Articling students rotate through the firm’s practice areas, which allows them to make an informed decision on where they want to practice. Newly hired associates then receive practice management, business, and career-development education through the firm’s own HP University program. From full-service practice areas to strategic planning to risk-taking and the cultivation of employees, it’s easy to see that Harrison Pensa is a well-rounded yet untraditional law firm. The decision to bring a business leader to the practice has positioned the firm for the long haul. _a

5/12/11 4:39 PM

the municipality of greenstone


municipality Stats location greenstone, on incorporated

2001 area

2,780 square kilometres population

4,906 projected population in 2015

15,000 major industries mining, forestry & transportation

Greenstone’s new municipal building stands as a symbol of the community’s new direction.

ring of opportunity A decade after incorporation, the amalgamated communities composing the Municipality of Greenstone are collaborating with each other, with industry, and with First Nation partners to turn the Ring of Fire into Canada’s newest economic hot spot by matt alderton


ome 1,200 kilometres northwest of Toronto, Highway 11’s pavement intersects Canada’s largest municipality: the Municipality of Greenstone in the District of Thunder Bay. It’s a far cry from the traffic and tumult of the province’s capital city, for Greenstone is as expansive as it is remote. The municipality totals 2,780 square kilometres, which means it takes approximately two and a half hours to traverse by car. Comprising the former municipalities of Beardmore, Geraldton, Longlac, and Nakina, as well as the unincorporated settlement areas of Caramat , Macdiarmid, and Jellicoe, Greenstone was one of many amalgamated municipalities

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 37

incorporated in 2001 by the provincial government, which has famously—and controversially—consolidated communities in pursuit of a low-cost, high-efficiency government. Given its loose geography and its contentious origins, one might expect Greenstone to be as divided intellectually as it is physically. But in fact, it isn’t, according to economic development officer Vicki Blanchard. Despite the challenges of amalgamation, she says that the residents of Greenstone have united in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration in order to collectively pursue big plans for their smalltown communities.

“Municipalities being put into a position to amalgamate is never an easy process,” Blanchard says. “Each used to work independently—if not competitively—and now has to work together. As much as it was probably a very difficult transition, however, there’s been a wave here: things are turning and people are now stepping up and working very well together.” Of course, the municipality has a very strong motivation for teamwork: in 2009, mining companies operating north of Nakina, Greenstone’s northernmost ward, happened upon the world’s largest—and North America’s first major—deposit of chromite, a mineral that’s used to make stainless steel. A crescentshaped deposit that’s since been dubbed the Ring of Fire, it promises to fortify Greenstone with billions of dollars that will be spent on new mines, processing facilities, and infrastructure, including a 350-kilometre railway that will annually transport four million tons of ore from the Ring of Fire to Nakina, where it will connect with the Canadian National Railway’s main line. “The municipality, which is still very young and is just now learning to live together, is suddenly poised to go through a major transition to become one of Canada’s busiest up-and-coming municipalities,” Blanchard says. “The mining industry here has an aggressive timeline. They want to open their first mine in 2015, wherein the population has been anticipated by the province as going from 4,900 to possibly 15,000 people. Right now, advantage

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:39 PM


the municipality of greenstone

Greenstone is composed of several municipalities along Highway 11 and near Thunder Bay.

we’re working toward creating strategic plans and partnerships to make sure we’re prepared.” To accommodate so much growth so quickly, Greenstone will have to significantly and rapidly expand its resources and its infrastructure, generating new supplies of energy and labour while creating new sources of housing, healthcare, transportation, technology, and services. Success will require capital, but more importantly it will require cooperation, partnerships, and teamwork. “That’s the approach we’re taking: one of collaboration,” Blanchard says. At the municipal level, the key to collaboration is representation. Although Greenstone’s population is just 4,900, its Municipal Council includes nine councillors that speak for each of its local communities, including outlying rural areas. These councillors have worked with Blanchard to develop a strategic blueprint that identifies key partners, priorities, and plans for moving Greenstone forward. According to the blueprint, the most important partnerships are with industry— since it will be driving all the growth—and with First Nation communities—since their traditional lands will be required for new infrastructure and development. To establish relationships with industry, Greenstone has created working groups and is engaging on a daily basis with the area’s major mining 38


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 38

companies in order to develop near- and midterm solutions to its most significant obstacles. Meanwhile, the municipality is signing memoranda of understanding with First Nation communities to involve them in the planning and site selection for future developments, and committing itself to professional training and education initiatives that will allow First Nation people to share in the Ring of Fire’s economic fruits as part of the new mining workforce. “All of the mineral is on First Nation traditional land,” Blanchard says. “To extract and transport the mineral, however, you’ll have to come through Greenstone. So there’s a lot of opportunity to support and benefit from partnerships.” Once bustling hubs for rail service, gold mining, and forestry, Greenstone’s wards have been depressed for the better part of 10 years. Their newly amalgamated community is therefore counting on its partnerships—and the chromium they’ll produce—for revitalization and resuscitation. “We have a very large job to do, and the whole world is watching,” Blanchard says. “The municipality is going to have to make some very quick decisions, but I think we’re prepared to do that, because everyone’s working together.” _a

5/12/11 4:40 PM

innovation Capitalizing on fresh ideas and cutting-edge technologies 42 Care Factor 44 Metafore Technologies Inc. 39 Virtual Marine Technology 46 Environmental Waste International Inc. 48 Zebra Paper Converters Inc.

taming the seas Virtual Marine Technology’s top-of-the-line lifeboat-training simulators are becoming standard curriculum for maritime crews across a variety of industries as told to kelly matlock


s regulatory changes and technology advancements have created morecomplex operational requirements for the maritime industry, Virtual Marine Technology (VMT) has developed innovative simulation technologies to accelerate and improve personnel training. Headed by a management team with extensive maritime experience, including extended service with the Canadian Coast Guard, VMT entered into a licensing agreement with Memorial University to help bolster the company’s technical capacity. With offices in Newfoundland and British Columbia, VMT serves clients in oil and gas, commercial shipping, and maritime security. Advantage spoke with Captain Anthony Patterson, president and CEO, to find out more about VMT’s unique training simulators, how the company has changed the maritimetraining industry, and what the company has in store for the future. Advantage: What need in the market did the company hope to meet with its training simulators?

Anthony Patterson, president & CEO, found a niche in nautical-prep simulation.

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 39

Anthony Patterson: VMT was initially incorporated to address the challenges associated with lifeboat training. Personnel-safety issues have traditionally limited lifeboat crews from practicing emergency launches in the poor weather and the reduced-visibility conditions that they’re likely to encounter during an evacuation scenario. VMT set out to provide crews with a high-fidelity training environment that would prepare them for virtually any type of emergency. As VMT developed its lifeboat technology, the company identified a natural extension for its simulation capacity in the defence and security industry. Recent advancements in vessel performance and tactical systems have increased the strategic role of small, high-speed boats, and subsequently created a demand for simulation-enhanced training. advantage

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:40 PM


virtual marine technology

2007 2004

vmt is incorporated

vmt is named a finalist for the seatrade safety at sea award


prototype lifeboat simulator is completed

company timeline

ADV: Can you describe a few of your major simulation products and how they are utilized for small-craft training programs?

AP: VMT’s lifeboat simulator, SurvivalQuest, delivers davit- or free-fall-oriented lifeboat training and is available in fixed and portable configurations. It’s capable of introducing personnel to launching systems, abandonment procedures, manoeuvring principals, and recovery operations. MissionQuest is our high-speed small-boat simulator. It can be configured to replicate specific vessel layouts and is also available in fixed and portable configurations. Achievable training objectives include mission planning, crew resource management, and operational procedures related to security and search and rescue.


vmt secures venture capital investment



vmt works with transport canada on lifeboat simulation, survivalquest receives det norske veritas certification as the world’s first class “s” survival craft operation simulator, and the imo ratifies amendments to stcw convention, officially recognizing simulation as a suitable tool for survival craft training

vmt receives the presagis award for most innovative simulation application 2009


missionquest receives det norske veritas certification as class “s” fast-response craft simulator

of the training puzzle. The company draws heavily on its maritime expertise to help clients integrate simulation into a broader training context. If required, we can help clients revise existing curriculum or implement entirely new training programs to leverage the benefits of simulation.

was achieved in June 2010. To offset long sales cycles, VMT leveraged its technical and maritime expertise to act in a professional services capacity and plug into larger maritime-simulation projects.

ADV: What challenges has the company faced?

ADV: What has been the market response, and how do you see the demand changing in the future?

AP: Early on, VMT encountered two significant challenges: regulatory recognition of the SurvivalQuest product line and the long sales cycles of the offshore oil-and-gas and security-and-defence industries. To overcome regulatory hurdles, the VMT worked closely with Transport Canada to have lifeboat simulation recognized by the International Maritime Organization, which

AP: Market response grew modestly from 2004 to 2008 as the company transitioned from an R&D focus to a commercial orientation. A growing familiarity with key markets resulted in steady growth from 2009 to 2010. We anticipate a significant spike in sales in 2011 due to positive regulatory changes, process improvements, and the closure of a number of long-term sales opportunities. _a

ADV: What do your simulators introduce to the market that didn’t previously exist?

AP: VMT introduced a virtual environment designed specifically to simulate small-craft performance in waves. Traditional maritime simulators are designed to simulate large vessels and have difficulty simulating small-craft motion due to the differences in how the vessel types are influenced by waves. VMT’s simulation architecture was designed to allocate computational resources in order to accurately depict small-craft motion. This is particularly important from a training perspective when you’re trying to introduce personnel to high-speed and high-sea-state learning objectives. ADV: How do you stand out from your competitors?

AP: In addition to our technical focus on smallcraft wave environments, VMT is very cognizant of the fact that simulation is just one piece 40


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 40

VMT’s simulators provide apt training capabilities for mariners-to-be.

5/12/11 4:40 PM

An Alberta Company, Proudly Serving Albertans For Over 35 Years Bentley-Northchem Ltd. was formed in 1995 by the amalgamation of Bentley Systems Inc. and Northchem Distributors Ltd., two successful companies in similar lines of business.

CAPTEC AMERICAS INC. With 26+ years experience in the industrial computing market place, Captec provides rugged and reliable computing platforms to the following sectors:

Broadcast & Media Defense Manufacturing Medical Oil & Gas Retail Security Transport Utilities


helps the Integrator/OEM address issues of:

Life Cycle Management Reducing Integration Cost Improving Reliability Reducing Downtime Application Ready Semi Custom (COTS+) Fully Custom Design Please contact our friendly sales team Tel: +1.519.578.3336 Fax: +1.519.576.3992 Toll-free: 866.732.1186

As one of Alberta’s largest independent chemical suppliers to commercial and institutional dishwashing and laundry establishments, we also offer a wide variety of janitorial, automotive and industrial chemicals. A complete line of the most up-to-date dishwashing machines is available through an attractive lease program. To accommodate such a wide variety of applications, we now carry a broad line of over 200 different products. These products are of the highest quality and have proven to be reliable through years of successful use in the Canadian market place, and include:

• Ware Washing Products • Degreasers • Floor Cleaners & Waxes • Carpet Cleaners • Housekeeping Products • Environmental Housekeeping Products • Glass Cleaners • Hand Cleaners • Room Cleaners • Inst. Maintenance Specialty Products

Q- Would you like to have world class selection for your data center and critical facilities from one easy to work with vendor? For over 25 years we have provided infrastructure, assets and education to ensure that Alberta corporations operate and prosper without interruption. Call us now to find out what we can do for you!

commercial institutional industrial 403.216.2150

• Car Wash Products • Laundry Products


Tried, Tested and Trusted

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 41

8412 – 45 Street, Edmonton Alberta T6B 2N6 Phone: (780) 468-3455 | Fax: (780) 468-9132

5/12/11 4:40 PM


care factor

safeguarding the new frontier With more than two decades of experience, Care Factor has emerged as a leading data-centre expert for a business world reliant on digital stability as told to david hudnall


leader in Western Canada’s data-centre and colocation industry, Care Factor serves the health, government, education, and IT markets in three locations—Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver. Its biggest client base, however, is the energy sector. In fact, Care Factor has worked with 21 of the top 25 energy companies in Canada. As an independently owned and privately held company, Care Factor is led by president Ecky Pilz. Advantage spent some time talking with David Lod, vice president of sales and marketing, about the emergence of data centres and how Care Factor intends to excel in that market moving forward. Advantage: Care Factor is known as a data-centre specialist, but the company was founded back in 1989, when data centres were not as common. What was your original specialty?

David Lod: Originally, we did a lot of work on the construction side. We started out doing a lot of maintenance on mainframe systems and data libraries, and we had some experience in data systems as well. Fourteen years ago, we started working on data centres, building small computer-area rooms for client infrastructure. About five years ago, that work really exploded—we were developing a strong niche and expertise designing and managing data centres, and we rebranded ourselves to complement that trend. ADV: And colocation falls into that niche? Can you explain colocation to the uninitiated?

Dave Lod, vice president of sales and marketing, has helped Care Factor renegotiate its niche. Photo: Bob Mckerrell Photography.



S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 42

DL: Instead of a client holding IT infrastructure in their own buildings, they can leverage that infrastructure in our facilities. We take their equipment and ensure it is backed up with Uninterruptible Power Systems (UPS)

5/12/11 4:40 PM

care factor


COMPUTER ENVIRONMENT SOLUTIONS Congratulations to Care Factor Computer Services Inc. on your rapid growth & success over the past year.

capitalizing on a concept > “We were developing a strong niche and expertise, designing and managing data centres, and we rebranded ourselves to complement that trend.” david lod, vice president of sales & marketing DATA AIRE INC.

and generators. It’s a service where clients can move their mission-critical operations into a more secure environment under our supervision. ADV: How much property does Care Factor utilize currently?

DL: We’re now pushing 100,000 square feet on three different sites in Calgary—one in the northeast, one in the Beltline, and one southwest of downtown. The sites are geographically dispersed, so clients can put their production or primary environment in one location and disaster recovery or secondary requirement in another. ADV: Data centres consume huge amounts of power. How does that affect your business model?

DL: It’s an area in which we’re definitely evolving. Our UPSs are significantly more efficient than they were even a few years ago. In 2006, some were running at 60 percent efficiency, and now we are driving toward 90 percent efficiency or better. Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) is a measuring mechanism that the data-centre industry is using. The ideal is a PUE of one—our company is trying to drive efficiency as close to that rating as

possible without compromising the facility’s resiliency. ADV: How many people does Care Factor employ?

DL: We employee roughly 45 individuals, plus a few contract employees. Of those, about 10 are in sales, 8 are in finance/human resources/ administration, and the remainder are in datacentre operations. ADV: The data-centre business is growing rapidly. How do you plan to expand your business to meet the demand?

DL: The goal is to grow locally and across Western Canada simultaneously. We now have sales offices in Edmonton and Vancouver, and we’re in the process of looking into building new facilities in those cities as well. _a

Precision Cooling


Uninterruptible Power Supplies

Flexible Electrical Distribution



PDU’s, RPP’s, STS’s For all of your Server Room needs since 1984; Sales, Service & Installation Support.

A message from ces:

Computer Environment Solutions and Data Aire, Inc. partner with Care Factor to supply climate appropriate, environmentally friendly, cost effective solutions to provide effective cooling of critical data centre equipment whether they be in Care Factor’s own facilities or at their client sites. The payback in lower power bills is outstanding.


Stephen Gibson

CALGARY | Stephen Gibson | (403) 250-5672 EDMONTON | Bob Schubert | (780) 436-6059 Vancouver | Mahbub Rahman | (604) 606-7960

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 43


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:40 PM


metafore technologies inc.

taking on the cloud The IT giant Metafore Technologies Inc. helps industry leaders take on the emerging trends and technologies reshaping business as told to david hudnall


his year, Metafore, a large and growing Canadian IT firm, celebrates its 35th anniversary. The company provides tech solutions to government, health, education, and a variety of other sectors, for which it designs, supplies, installs, and supports IT infrastructure. Vice president and general manager David Toms, who is also a member of Metafore’s office of the president, spoke with Advantage about the company’s strategy and direction.

Advantage: You’re now one of the largest IT solutions companies in Canada, with over 1,000 employees. How does your size influence what kind of new projects and clients you take on?

David Toms: We’re focused on private- and public-sector organizations of every size. We’ve grown very skilled at integrating IT infrastructure solutions, comprised of hardware, software, and services, so we try to play to our strengths.

ADV: What are the main services you provide where you derive that strength?

DT: Basically, there are four key areas in which we operate. The first is data centre and infrastructure. That includes architecture, design, delivery, servicing of data centres, including all the related hardware and software, storage, backup solutions, and lots of work around virtualization. The second is enterprise and desktop optimization (new migrations to announcements from, say, Microsoft). The third practice area is focused on networking and security—routing and switching—for partners like Cisco and HP Networking. And finally, the fourth area is unified communications and collaboration. ADV: How would you describe some of those ideas to someone less fluent in IT keywords?

DT: It varies from client to client, of course. But at the root of it, we’re just helping companies leverage IT infrastructure solutions to improve their productivity, operational efficiency, and overall business performance. So you might need basic technologies set up at your office: desktop and notebook computers, say. We’d select the products and design the architecture of the office’s overall data system and coordinate everything—after, of course, having comprehensive conversations with you about what your business goals are and what you’re expecting the system to provide. ADV: Are there certain products and brands that you tend to recommend?

David Toms, vice president and general manager, helps businesses leverage IT infrastructure solutions.



S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 44

DT: Well, the fact that we’re a solutions-based systems integrator with multiplatform expertise is one of our big advantages—we’re not selling specific products, so we can take an unbiased approach in selecting what’s right for clients, as opposed to focusing exclusively on one vendor. We partner with a number of leading IT companies: IBM, Hewlett Packard, Cisco, and Microsoft. But if we’re working with a client

5/12/11 4:41 PM

metafore technologies inc.

that already has an existing relationship with, say, IBM, we’ll typically take their lead and continue with IBM. If the client has no preference, we’ll put together whatever we think is the best overall solution, which is sometimes comprised of offerings from a mix of vendors. ADV: You also provide staffing services?

DT: Yes. So, for example, if we had a customer rolling out a SharePoint project, we could provide the software and hardware and services, but also provide complementary services for a help desk and outsourcing. We also provide staffing or resourcing services to organizations that require permanent or contractual IT staff, including project managers, developers, etc. ADV: In what other areas are you expanding?

DT: IBM, HP, Cisco, and Microsoft are vendors with whom we’re working very closely around their cloud strategies. We think there’s an important education role for Metafore to play with respect to cloud technology in the marketplace, where we can help educate and assess that current environment, and then design the most appropriate solution to meet the client’s needs. Public, private, or hybrid— we see all cloud technology as very important to our future.


capitalizing on a concept > “Clients appreciate a true solutions-based systems integrator that can take an unbiased approach to vendors.” david toms, vice president & general manager

DEC. 2009

AUG. 2010

metafore merges with microserv, creating one of the largest i.t. solution companies in canada

david toms is named general manager and regional vice president

APRIL 2010

DEC. 2010

metafore is named “people’s choice” winner for distinguished i.t. service provider

metafore ranks fourth in the canadian dealer news top 100 i.t. solution providers

company timeline

MAY 2010

metafore is honoured with hp’s partner in excellence innovation award

APRIL 2011

metaphore earns the hp networking canadian partner of the year award and ranks 2 nd in the crn top 100 awards

ADV: Are there other trends Metafore is tapping into?

DT: We definitely see mobility and “bring your own device” as key trends that will impact how information appliances are deployed in organizations of all types and sizes. I think it’s important that we see how as a company we can integrate these new devices, including tablets and handhelds, which a few years ago were not that prevalent. And we’re seeing a lot of opportunity to help customers integrate those into a more traditional corporate IT environment, which is where we as a company have always thrived. _a

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 45


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:41 PM

Northern Ontario’s Leading Industrial Manufacturer

back to basics Industrial, Civil, Structural & Mechanical Projects

As its machines break down complex organics into their prior forms, Environmental Waste International Inc. is discovering a viable, eco-conscious business model by selling the by-products as told to kori kamradt


tarted in 1993, Environmental Waste International (EWS) was founded to build on the work of the late Dr. Les Emery, a pioneer in the use of microwave technology to treat and break down complex organic products into their simpler components. Emery had found a way to break down a 20-pound tire into 7 pounds of carbon black, 2 pounds of steel, and 1 US gallon of oil. In addition, the off-gasses from which the oil was condensed could be used as fuel to create power for a generator.

EWS saw many opportunities for using this type of technology and has since continued to find more applications for governments and companies around the world, including the development of a wastewater sterilization system for the United States Department of Agriculture and Abbott Labs in Chicago, and a food-waste sterilization system for the Royal Navy. Stephen Simms, president and CEO of EWS, took a moment to talk to Advantage about how the company’s focus has returned to Emery’s original

Design & Repair of Hydraulic Systems, Components & Heavy Equipment Founded in 1993, Superior Industrial Services Inc. (SIS) is a leading industrial contractor in Northern Ontario. Our reputation is a testament to our team’s experience, dedication and delivery of quality industrial services for over 15 years. Consistency in our product quality is ensured by the rewarding, safe, and environmentally sound workplace in all sectors of the company. SIS Group is the company it is today through the unity of its sectors: administration, engineering, trades and management.






1231 Peoples Rd., Sault Ste. Marie, ON P: 705-759-5148 | F: 705-759-4816

Stephen Simms, president and CEO, adjusting a system control panel. 46


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 46

5/12/11 4:41 PM

Environmental Waste International Inc.

LATE 1980s dr. les emery discovers a

way to break apart complex organic compounds into their constituent components using microwave technology


ews picks up emery ’s work and continues his research


STEM Engineering Group Inc. 2009


ews changes management, and stephen simms , a member of the board, is hired on a full-time basis

ews returns its attention back to tire applications and is contracted by ellsin environmental ltd. to build a pilot plant


ews develops a system for the usda to sterilize biologically contaminated wastewater

is proud to have partnered with Environmental Waste International in the development of their Pilot Tire Recycling facility.

company timeline


ews develops a system for the royal navy to sterilize food waste


stephen simms becomes president and ceo

work—the recycling of tires—at a pilot plant with Ellsin Environmental Ltd. in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Advantage: Does the technology you use for breaking down the tires have a name?

Stephen Simms: Reverse Polymerization (RP). The idea is, you take various chemical reactions to make something into a more complex item. Using the RP process, we break that product back to its simplest form. ADV: How does the system work?

SS: The tire is placed into a chamber, filled with nitrogen—an inert gas. You don’t want the presence of oxygen, because you want to eliminate the chance of explosions. If you get rid of oxygen in a vacuum, there’s negative pressure inside, and oxygen wants to come inside. Any leak would cause it to come in. So by replacing air with inert gas, we eliminate the chances of explosions. Microwave energy is used to break the tire down at its molecular level into its simplest forms—carbon black, steel, oil, and hydrocarbon gases. By eliminating the step of melting the tire, we’re able to remove the gas and then separate the oil from the gas. ADV: Other than the fact that you’ll be able to sell the by-products from breaking down the tires, what are some of the application’s other benefits?

SS: There are environmental benefits. By getting the seven pounds of carbon from the tire


attention turns to finding affordable solutions for smaller wastewater systems , using the miniaturization developed for the food waste technology

you’ve eliminated CO2-producing greenhouse gases that would have gone up in the air if you were to burn the tire instead. In addition, by recapturing carbon you remove some of the pressure on the production of virgin carbon black. Also, as oil prices continue to climb, there are all sorts of pressure to find alternatives. Plus, with the off-gases we’re able to produce our own power. ADV: Are you working on any improvements or advancements for the application?

STEM is a multidiscipline consulting firm established in 1994 with extensive experience in a full range of public, private and industrial sector projects. This experience, together with the latest in design tools allow us to bring creative solutions to our clients.

• structural • industrial mechanical • asme/process piping • municipal • site development • project management • computer modeling

SS: We’re completing a new system from what was developed in the mid-1990s, based on all new advancements, designs, and innovations. We’re starting with a TR-900—this means it processes 900 tires a day, or 300,000 tires a year. The next step is to create a commercial system—TR-1500—that would be a halfmillion-tires-per-year system. Again, with this new pilot plant, we’re working on the value of by-products and trying to maximize those. Eventually we’re looking at a TR-6000 model. ADV: Do you hope to expand its use to other markets in the future?

SS: Our goal is to use the tire technology as a stepping-stone to continue its growth in the development of other applications. It represents a positive economic model for producing by-products that can be sold. Other areas we’ve looked at are removing oil from shale rock and cleaning coal. These are in the development stages only. _a

875 Queen St. East | Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 2B3 Phone: 705.942.6628 | Fax: 705.942.7515 |

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 47


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:41 PM

products & services

Zebra Paper Converters Inc.

breaking away from the pack Fresh branding and sustainable solutions help the young entrepreneurs behind Zebra Paper Converters Inc. battle a traditionally “old boys” market as told to zach baliva


n 2003, three entrepreneurs came together to launch Zebra Paper Converters. The move raised some eyebrows: the partners—each in their 20s—had no experience in the paper industry. What they had was vast finance, sales, and marketing backgrounds combined with passion and creativity. Those qualities have helped David Rosen and his two partners breathe life into an often stale and stagnant industry. While most competitors serve only the largest clients, Zebra focuses on the “forgotten” smallto-medium clients. The strategy has led to

8–10 percent annual growth, with 16 percent growth in 2010. Recently, Rosen sat down with Advantage to share how he helped give Zebra its stripes. Advantage: How do three guys with no background in paper packaging end up starting a paper-packaging company?

David Rosen: This industry has large segments that are status quo. Paperboard packaging wasn’t our focus. Our focus was being new and innovative and creative and taking risks. We were looking for an industry that

would allow us to leverage our experiences to build a new and relevant positioning in the market. We identified great opportunity within the paperboard-packaging industry that allowed for creative and innovative approaches to marketing and product lines. This, along with a strong partnership that had experience in marketing, sales, and finance/operations, really helped. ADV: How did you start?

DR: We started back in 2003, and the industry was somewhat set in its ways. Product lines were fragmented and poorly promoted, so we took a fresh approach to what we converted. We leveraged our Zebra brand to promote products in a unique and exciting way, and understood that there was a growing need for sustainable and recyclable paperboard options. We identified that customers were looking for converters who offered quick turnaround on short runs and, most importantly, were singlesource providers for their paperboard needs. ADV: What made you think Zebra would be well received?

DR: We identified an opportunity to market our company in a fun and innovative way. The market was very fragmented with customers using two to three suppliers to purchase what they needed. Zebra quickly built an infrastructure that could accommodate a wide variety of paperboard-specific product offerings under one banner—all produced in-house and all available in 100-percent-recycled and recyclable paperboard grades for truly sustainable options. This allowed greater relevance and creditability within our customer base, and increased barriers to entry for our competitors. ADV: Describe Zebra’s niche in the marketplace.

David Rosen, co-founder, knows the only way to find success abroad is to be sensitive of the social and environmental context.



S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 48

DR: “Act small. Think big.” What I mean is that we have found great success in reacting quickly to customer needs and trends, allowing for flexibility and open-mindedness in our approach while fostering partnerships with our customers. We try to be an extension of our customers businesses from a packaging perspective. However, we still have developed a fully integrated, state-of-the-art production facility that allows us to compete—in the grades of material offered, quality, and price— with industry leaders across North America. We packaged this approach with a marketing approach unique to the industry.

5/12/11 4:41 PM

Zebra Paper Converters Inc.


zebra paper converters is founded with a staff of 6 people in an 8,000 - square-foot facility


company moves to 20,000 square-foot facility to focus on industrial paperboard

products & services

Your Local Route To International Business

2005 zebra’s expanded product line includes folding cartons and specialty die cuts , and its reach includes canada , eastern united states , and europe 2007

the company merges with terdun material management, a leader in reclaimed paperboard converting, and operations expand into a 100,000 -square-foot facility with a staff of 50 people

company timeline


fsc certification further establishes the company as the key paperboard converter in canada , and zebra launches a full line of custom fsc- certified rigid mailers and value-added products


continued investment in capital equipment, including sheeters and automated cutters , enhances zebra’s ability to provide a single- source solution for large- scale customers

ADV: Did you face any resistance?

DR: Building credibility with our suppliers and customers. We started this business when I had just turned 27. Both my other partners were also similar in age. We were a bunch of young guys with no paper experience trying to make a mark for ourselves and our company. Most found our approach aggressive, with colourful zebras and pieces of striped gum in invoices to customers and suppliers. We were playing within an “old boys” network that was content with the status quo. We ended up learning that strong cash-flow management and paying our supplier COD broke through many doors at the beginning. As we grew, our volumes and our fresh approach to business took hold, and it has helped us to develop some very strong supplier partnerships. ADV: What’s next for Zebra?

DR: We plan to continue innovating in both product and process. We have launched a new line of 100-percent-recyclable, FSC-certified custom rigid mailers—a first in the Canadian marketplace. And we’re building a new customer “Lunch-N-Learn” series, unique web elearning tools, and new social-media strategies. And we are always looking at new acquisition targets to continue to build and add value to the Zebra group of products. ADV: Why are green products so important to your company?

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 49

DR: We understood and identified that consumers were demanding more responsible packaging options that were recyclable and sustainable. We convert more than 12,000 tonnes of paperboard each year and are proud that over 70 percent of our converter material sold is 100 percent recyclable and or recycled. As part of our innovative approach, we believe that packaging sustainability is a key pillar to the ongoing success of our business, and the promotion of sustainable options is the responsibility of paperboard converters. ADV: Looking back, what factors have led most directly to your and Zebra’s early success?

DR: People—finding the right people for the right roles who share the same energy and vision. We believe strongly in empowering our people and nurturing an environment of individual leadership and collective team play. Zebra is not any one person; it is the success of our collective group. This, coupled with our integrated approach to converting and unique marketing initiatives, differentiates us well in the industry. _a A message from mk freight:

MK Freight has been in business for more than 12 years and is proud of its working relationship with Zebra Paper Converters. MK Freight strives to offer quality, reliable, and dependable service. It seeks to form relationships upon which to build for the future, and Zebra Paper Converters is clearly one of those relationships.

701 Rue Dubois Suite 101 St. Eustache, QC J7P 3W1 Phone (450) 623-8422 Fax (450) 623-0277 Toll Free 877-528-2873


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:41 PM

Facebook. Twitter. Yelp. Groupon. Authenticity. Wikipedia. Tumblr. Crowdstorm. Wordpress. Share. Technorati. Open source. Participat Flickr. Web 2.0. Friends. HTML. Las MySpace. Engagement. Skype. Fav IM. Ustream. URL. Followers. Blo RSS feeds. Tweet. Amplification. Widget. ReTweet. Brand. TypePa Avatar. API. Newsreader. Orkut. G FourSquare. Socializr. Conversatio Hyperlink. Blogosphere. LinkedIn. Crowdsource. Boxee. Community. Like. Hashtag. Flickr. StumbleUpon 50


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 50 @AdvantageCANADA

5/12/11 4:41 PM

pon. Kickstarter. blr. Skype. Bebo. e. Disqus. cipation. Vimeo. Chat. e. Favorites. Hi5. Blogger. Qaiku. on. Plurk. Tags. pePad. Podcast. ut. Groundswell. sation. YouTube. edIn. The Hotlist. nity. HootSuite. Upon. Feedback. @AdvantageCANADA

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 51

Going Social. by lynn russo whylly

n the 1990s, business went paperless. In the 2000s, it took to the web. And now, the newest decade is heralding a new tool for business: social media. In the following pages, you will see how three firms are dropping the formalities of corporate traditions to mingle with the masses.


01. A New Social Sphere Rypple brings the workplace up to speed 02. Face the Crowd

CNW Group Ltd. upgrades the newsroom

03. Engage UR Followers

ING DIRECT personalizes its brand through Facebook and YouTube


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:41 PM

Photos: Jordana Huber.

Co-CEO Daniel Debow (middle) and Rypple’s development team.

01. A New Social Sphere Rypple brings social-media tools to the boardroom

Personal e-mail clients are here to stay. So is Facebook, YouTube, and a number of other sites. The point is, for the working man and woman of the 21st century, a constant tap on the personal world beyond the cube is no longer a privilege—it’s a right. For companies, the key is navigating the path between restriction and tolerance. Most have adapted well to the new norms, adopting social-media strategies of their own and encouraging such tools among their employees. But what if there was a way to frame normal business operations within this social sphere—to make the requisite business functions as fun as it is to tweet? The Toronto- and San Francisco-based Rypple is taking a step in that direction. By targeting performance reviews (an increasingly outmoded 52


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 52

business practice), Rypple has created a web-based social-software tool that adapts business operations to the modern era. The latest version, Rypple 3.0, ensures that employees no longer have to wait a year for feedback, praise, or even constructive conversations. “The problem with performance management and HR software is that it is designed for HR and not managers,” says co-CEO Daniel Debow. “Feedback that is collected doesn’t get back fast enough to the individual employees who are creating the business value. We built an app based on work that people do every day.” Rypple’s software is built around people, not processes. “In a realtime world, it doesn’t make any sense that employees can’t get real-time feedback,” Debow says. “Everyone has been through the grueling @AdvantageCANADA

5/12/11 4:41 PM

Did you know?

Total Twitter messages posted per second: 600 Total Twitter users: 145 million

Source: ASCD.

“Rypple is a way to bring the performance-review experience into the modern age, using simple recognition and feedback that is easy and social.” —Daniel Debow, Co-CEO, Rypple

performance review. Rypple is a way to bring the performance-review experience into the modern age, using simple recognition and feedback that is easy and social.” Rypple allows managers and supervisors to say “thanks” publicly and frequently, rather than waiting months. The recognition system is based on badges. Unlike performance reviews or project-management documents that use terms such as “achieved core competencies” or “mastered technical skills,” badges are created in a language that people actually use. And each badge is also public, meaning that it takes a place on each employee’s personal profile for all to see. “Anyone can create badges,” Debow says. “So let’s say you create a badge that says, ‘You’re a rockstar’; what that means can be defined by the team. It can be associated with a series of skills, and anyone can edit them. When you define meaning and recognition in such a natural and authentic way, it’s better than any other type of recognition that any company can come up with.” In further pursuit of streamlining the review process, Rypple launched Loops. With Loops, a manager can aggregate all of the microfeedback for a single person into a performance-summary cycle to be used in interim reviews. The basic Rypple package is free, with a $5 per-seat premium for upgrades. Rypple’s customers are some of the world’s most innovative companies, including Mozilla, Rackspace, Accenture, and Shaw Communications. Companies using Rypple tend to have between 50 and 500 employees and typically specialize in knowledge work. Just last year, Rypple was dubbed one of HR Executive’s Top 10 Products of the Year. With its 3.0 software, Rypple has made performance reviews useful again. By basing itself within a social-media platform, Rypple has found a way of tapping into the trend of both new media and innovative technology for the sake of business productivity. “[We’re] already sitting in front of the screen,” Debow says. “So the opportunity is there every day.” @AdvantageCANADA

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 53


rypple’s core components Say Thanks The “thumbs up” badge allows managers and even other team members to congratulate someone on a great idea, a job well done, or for putting in that extra effort. Get Feedback Private messages allow team members to confidentially receive personal feedback on how they’re doing and constructive ideas for improvement. Meet 1:1 Managers and employees can hold one-on-one meetings. With the Loops feature, all of the feedback can be aggregated into a summary to help facilitate the process and make it most beneficial for both the employee and manager. Set Goals Rypple allows each team member to set goals and subsequently collaborate on the important work required to achieve them. advantage

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:41 PM

Laurie Smith, CNW vice president of culture and communications, uses TweetDeck to monitor online conversations on Twitter.

02. Face the Crowd Social-media tools give CNW Group Ltd. the ability to bring the new age of technology to a highly demanding audience When Canadian journalists look for the latest news, one of the first places they turn to is CNW Group, a newswire service that caters specifically to the Canadian market. CNW is owned in part by PR Newswire and offers services in both French and English, annually distributing more than 100,000 news releases to all the television and radio stations, online media outlets, wire services, and print newsrooms in the country. But this is nothing new. For several decades, press announcements have entered into the various editorial systems as straight text. However, in August 2008, CNW launched a new product to supplement this format, one designed to optimize the power of web technology. Called CNW Social Media Release, the product offered social tools, text, and multimedia content—all wrapped up in an HTML format—to a press audience that had been needing such information for years. 54


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 54

“Within a CNW Social Media Release, clients can add impact to their news by adding video, audio clips, photos, pull quotes, and buttons for sharing and comments,” explains Laurie Smith, vice president of culture and communications. Upon release, CNW Social Media Releases served as a temporary bridge for the gap created by aging newsroom technology and capabilities. “We’ve been working with newsroom recipients of our newsfeed to encourage them to upgrade to more modern technology,” Smith says. As newsrooms began to listen, CNW started testing a new XHTML feed that offers a multitude of benefits for newsrooms, including the ability to receive multimedia in the same news file as the text news release. “Since the launch of our social product, interest in the Social Media Release has skyrocketed,” Smith says. The end result of this effort is that, as quickly as it rose, the release will change, keeping pace with the @AdvantageCANADA

5/12/11 4:41 PM

Did you know?

Length of video uploaded to YouTube per minute: 24 hours YouTube daily page views: 2 billion

Source: ASCD.

Photo:Vincent Demers.

“Within a CNW Social Media Release, clients can add impact to their news by adding video, audio clips, photos, pull quotes, and buttons for sharing and comments.” —Laurie Smith, Vice President of Culture & Communications, CNW Group

evolution of the new media sphere. By the time this article is published, an even better solution will be in place. CNW used the move to XHTML as an opportunity to build a new website that would showcase the benefits of the technology and clients’ content in a new way. The response has been great. Newsrooms are embracing the new format, not just out of convenience, but necessity. “Tight budgets have led to decreased staff,” Smith says. “[Newsrooms are] saying, ‘I don’t have a photo team anymore. Send me some photos.’ And the emphasis is on the newsroom website—even radio stations are asking for photos and video. CNW is helping newsrooms get what they need.” This has led to the company outgrowing the moniker “newswire.” “We’ve evolved to support every aspect of the professional communicator’s role,” Smith says. CNW now offers photo and video assignment and production services to support the demand of newsrooms for multimedia. Additionally, the company provides Canada’s largest webcast service to support its clients in investor relations with its financial-earnings reports. Moreover, translation services are available in an abundance of languages. “All CNW services are integrated to support the communication process.” CNW clients have also been asking for more information about what’s happening with their news online. CNW responded by adding MediaVantage to its service lineup, acquiring the original developer of the service in early 2010. MediaVantage specializes in monitoring traditional, online, and social-media news for keyword mentions, and provides workflow tools and measurement capabilities to help communicators gauge corporate reputation and campaign success by issue. The instantaneousness of social media has had a fundamental impact on news media, making it even more immediate. This has challenged newsrooms and PR reps alike to learn how to thrive in this new social environment. “We’re here to help,” Smith says. “As the times and the needs of our clients change, so will we. Enabling multimedia distribution is one step in that direction.” @AdvantageCANADA

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 55

Top Five

What cnw social media releases offer to readers The releases are in a format that is easily viewable on the web and, therefore, appeal to a broad audience.


Each release packages the company’s multimedia assets, such as photos and videos, with the story. The bundle brings a stronger impact to pure news.


Releases are easy to share, as bloggers can embed assets in their posts. The releases are also in a format that web and social users are accustomed to, and they can be added to social-media outlets, like Facebook.


Distributing information and news via CNW’s Social Media Releases adds a level of new-media savviness and modern credibility to the organization distributing the information.



The releases increase the information’s value by inviting a conversation. advantage

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:41 PM

Twitter allows ING Direct to provide play-by-play updates of its many community activities. Here, CEO Peter Aceto takes a proactive stance as he leads his team to shape up a public space.

03. Engage UR Followers A bank without walls, ING DIRECT harnesses the power of social media to stake its claim on the e-frontier ING DIRECT is a bank. It offers the standard range of financial services, including checking and savings accounts, mortgages, investments, and retirement accounts, among others. There’s just one catch, though: ING DIRECT has no branches, no brick-and-mortar presence—it exists solely online. For such a company, then, it’s appropriate that ING DIRECT started using social-media avenues like YouTube in 2007. The firm’s early experience with the medium is part of the reason it is so committed to social media today. And that commitment has certainly paid off. “At the start, we didn’t have a strategy,” says Mark Nicholson, head of digital and interactive. “It was a test-and-learn approach.” YouTube, Nicholson says, was new to Canada, and the Toronto-based firm was the first in its market to launch a YouTube-focused campaign. “We tested the waters, and it worked fantastically,” he says. “Based 56


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 56

on that learning, we went to work on what our strategy was going to be and how we were going to engage consumers in social media. We took a multipronged approach, with one prong being client service, one being brand amplification, one products and services, and another about just listening to our Canadian customers.” One of the company’s latest social-media efforts falls under the category of brand amplification. Called “We Like to Give,” a December 2010 campaign was conducted on Facebook, not only for ING DIRECT to broadcast its services to its customer base, but also to allow customers to actively participate in the actions of the company. “We wanted to drive engagement with them so they could be a part of it,” Nicholson says. “We leveraged our network to bring awareness to some causes that might not ordinarily draw eyeballs.” During the campaign, fans, which numbered more than 10,000 at @AdvantageCANADA

5/12/11 4:41 PM

Did you know?

Canada’s Total Facebook Users: 17,381,700 Penetration of population: 51.49%

Source: Socialbakers.

“We wanted to drive engagement with our customers so they could be a part of the great work we do. We leveraged our network to bring awareness to some causes that might not ordinarily draw eyeballs.” —Mark Nicholson, Head of Digital & Interactive, ING DIRECT

Good Advice

the time, were allowed one vote per day during the three-week campaign. Their votes determined the percentage of the $150,000 donation each charity would receive. “We basically asked them to vote for one of the six nonprofit organizations they would like our funds to go to in 2011,” Nicholson explains. Voters could share the event with their friends and drive them back to the Facebook page to vote. The charities spanned several key philanthropies that ING DIRECT is committed to supporting: the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the DAREarts Foundation for Children, Right to Play, Evergreen, and Raising the Roof. Preliminary outreach was advertised to ING DIRECT’s customers through the company’s website and other customer touch points, including e-mail and Twitter—all of which linked back to the voting page on Facebook. In the end, the 5,600 votes were spread pretty evenly across each of the philanthropic organizations, and each one received a minimum of $10,000. The results for ING DIRECT were equally successful. “We received more than 200 comments on our Facebook page and 300,000 media impressions, including blogs and tweets, which generated great awareness for our causes,” Nicholson says. “And we doubled our Facebook fans as a result of the campaign.” The experience revealed several lessons with regard to social media’s benefit as a marketing tool for ING DIRECT itself. “We learned that we’ve got a very engaged following already, and that leveraging a platform like Facebook is a nice way to amplify our giving-back message,” Nicholson says. Given this, Nicholson also believes the company must be altruistic about philanthropy and not try to turn such an effort into a sales channel. Instead, ING DIRECT plans to continue to use social media to engage its customers for the benefit of both them and the organization. “Our intention is to do more,” Nicholson says. “We’re looking toward bigger and better things in 2011.” _a @AdvantageCANADA

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 57

the dos and don’ts of social-media campaigns Do •

Define your goals and objectives.

Be an active participant, but also be transparent in everything you do.

Be respectful.

Be original.

Participate actively, but start slowly.

Be open-minded about other viewpoints.

If you’re getting feedback, use it quickly or you won’t be around in 3–5 years.

Be altruistic about philanthropy, and don’t try to turn it into a sales channel.

Treat every engagement the same and with the utmost urgency.

Don’t •

Don’t spam.

Don’t accept all friend requests— watch out for spammers.

Don’t be negative or defensive.

Don’t engage in dubious behaviour.

Don’t always make it about selling. Social media is about engagement. advantage

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:41 PM



S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 58 @AdvantageCANADA

5/12/11 4:41 PM

Networking 2.0 The new mediascape is the provenance of a new type of connectivity— seamless, personal, and constant. Whether launching a Facebook page or getting tweets flying, firms like MGImedia are the digital pioneers helping companies find a plan that works for them. by david hudnall


o a rapidly increasing segment of the population, using Facebook is like putting on pants: it’s so natural that it’s hard to believe others might find it foreign or confusing. But a wide swath of people—primarily those who came of age prior to the rise of the Internet—don’t possess the web background to decipher the nuances of social networking on their own. To some, this isn’t a tragedy; after all, the world might be a simpler place if more people took a break from the web a little more often. But for anyone running a business in 2011, a presence on Facebook and Twitter, let alone the other avenues of social media, is becoming a necessity. “The social-media space is evolving extremely quickly, and it’s becoming more and more essential for a successful business model,” says Jeff MacArthur, president and cofounder of MGImedia. “Keeping up with the bleeding edge of that space isn’t easy. To maximize your company’s social-media effectiveness, you need a vision and a strategy. We provide that.” MGImedia, founded in 2006, is a unique operation: part marketing firm, part development house, part journalist. In many ways it is a direct result of the backgrounds of Jeff and his cofounder and sister, Amber MacArthur (also known as Amber Mac). Prior to founding MGImedia, Jeff had been involved in international development work and management consulting, which over time shifted into the world of technology and communication. Amber worked in journalism and television, but grew tired of “the daily rush of coming up with a story, whether there was one or not,” @AdvantageCANADA

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 59


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:41 PM

Networking 2.0

Jeff says. “We decided to combine our skills and make a company where we could offer a coherent package of services for the people we were meeting who wanted help with social media, video production, and user experience.” The company’s first project was for not just a famous individual but a famous individual with a highly developed brand: the motivational speaker Tony Robbins. Robbins sought to create a network that would combine his life-planning ideals with social media. “We consulted on a variety of socialmedia matters: features, functionality, usability, video guides,” Jeff says. “Working on such a high-profile project really gave us momentum and credentials.” The work of Jeff and Amber caught the attention of other large Canadian companies—including the clothing manufacturer Canada Goose and Genumark, a promotionalproducts distributor—and MGImedia was off and running. Unlike similar firms that solely provide private consulting, MGImedia elected to lean on Amber’s television experience to provide additional avenues of education and information. Such a move culminated with the launch of commandN, a 10-minute weekly video podcast. One of the first video podcasts in the world, commandN covers web and technology news, and includes reviews, interviews, and other informational segments. (The firm has filmed more than 250 episodes of the show to date.) “We see a lot of potential in providing content, particularly video content,” Jeff says. “It tends to have a higher value online and can be a great vehicle for messaging and exposure for products.”

In Brief: What MGImedia Offers Education: “Most businesses by now know that they need to get on Facebook, but how to actually go about that is daunting,” says Jeff MacArthur, cofounder of MGImedia. “We come in, get them set up, and then go over social-media behaviour and etiquette. And then beyond the rules of conduct, we educate them on how to best engage with their audience through those individual platforms.” Strategy: In order to develop a plan, MGImedia looks at how much an organization already participates online as well as the time and human resources available for social media. “Almost everyone will have presence on Facebook and Twitter, for instance,” Jeff says. “But we also examine where any content could come from and who could develop it, what competitors are

As a company based in a rapidly evolving industry, commandN also helps keep the sibling duo in the know. “It’s exposed us to lots of websites, tools, and trends that help us as social-media advisors,” Jeff says. “What we cover on commandN is directly relevant to our work for our clients. It informs almost

“The social-media space is evolving extremely quickly, and it’s becoming more and more essential for a successful business.” —Jeff MacArthur, President & Cofounder



S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 60

doing, what the best platforms are for the company’s goals, and how to best tie in the corporate brand to those platforms. Then we set out timelines and an editorial/execution calendar for how to proceed.” Community Management: The firm doesn’t stop with the development and distribution of the strategy for its clients. Instead, the company continues to help its clients with follow-up services. “After the strategy has been undertaken, we often provide continued monitoring and management for a month or several months, depending on the situation,” Jeff says. “Hand-holding is important because we can show a company how to respond to interactions and how to increase the frequency of those interactions.”

everything we do.” The trends in social media are expanding rapidly, and Jeff identifies several areas where he sees promise. The first is in the various “apps” that social media offers. “The popularity of things like the iPad and iPhone make it a space that’s increasingly necessary to have a presence in,” he says. For MGImedia, the trend has led to the desire to build apps in-house. “We’re going to have programming and coding resources that will be offered in the package for clients. You can have a great site, videos, everything— along with a specialized iPhone app.” Contests and giveaways are another approach MGImedia recommends for companies. “Contests where you ask Twitter followers or Facebook fans to submit photos or other content are an effective way to increase interaction,” Jeff says. “We recently introduced a campaign for a video-game company that started out as a giveaway and evolved into reaching out to reviewers to review the company’s games and soliciting feedback from @AdvantageCANADA

5/12/11 4:41 PM

Networking 2.0

“When it comes down to it, we’re just trying to help people connect with other people.” —Jeff MacArthur, President & Cofounder

people who bought the games.” Geolocational sites, like FourSquare, have become another powerful tool for certain types of businesses, namely brick-and-mortar establishments. “There are hugely compelling applications for restaurants and retail,” Jeff says of such services. “Right now, not everybody is totally comfortable sharing location information, but I think it will eventually take hold. As a store owner, it can be very appealing to know who’s been in your store, or near your store, and have a way to interact with them about specials. You can create a more genuine sense of community.” At first, all the approaches and techniques can be overwhelming. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook—a decade ago such terms were nonexistent. Today they can all be expressed as verbs. For companies like MGImedia, service is about getting clients in touch with their market. “Not everybody knows how to go about that correctly,” Jeff says. “When it comes down to it, we’re just trying to help people connect with other people.” _a @AdvantageCANADA

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 61

Amber Mac’s Web Empire Known best as “Amber Mac,” MGImedia vice president and cofounder Amber MacArthur is one of Canada’s leading socialmedia experts—and certainly the nation’s most visible. In addition to regularly appearing on MGImedia’s commandN video podcast, Amber has reported on the tech

sector for Citytv and CBC, founded the popular podcast net@night on, and appeared on ABC News. Currently, Amber writes a regular column for the Globe and Mail and lectures on social media throughout North America. In 2010, Portfolio/Penguin published her first book, Power Friending.


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:42 PM



S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 62

5/12/11 4:42 PM

products & services Effective methods for delivering the goods 63 Pareto Corporation 65 Baker Street 67 Dophes 72 Sage Energy Corp 73 Rex Pak Limited

69 LeBlanc Brothers Boatbuilders

retail smarts As an industry leader in shopper marketing, the Pareto Corporation ratchets up the capabilities of its client-retailers across Canada by chris allsop


erry Shapansky is an individual with more than his fair share of personal motivation. Prior to founding his shopper-marketing firm, Pareto Corporation, in 2002, Shapansky ran the Canadian division of a multinational corporation. He increased the annual sales of that division from $12 million to $120 million in a blistering six and a half years. The success sparked his entrepreneurial drive, and he left the corporation to set up Pareto, for which he now serves as president and CEO. Combining foresight and great timing, Shapansky’s bet on shopper marketing—now the fastest-growing segment in the marketing industry—has paid off. Pareto, named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto (who coined the 80/20 rule), closed out 2010 with annual sales of more than $100 million. The company has a client list that includes many of Canada’s largest retailers and a number of well-known international brand names.

services offered > In-store promotions: Pareto tailors promotions to individual locations, with concept to delivery completed in 9 days. Direct marketing: Data analysis allows Pareto to customize a client’s direct-toconsumer communications. Direct selling: Pareto has 600 direct-sales professionals available to sell complicated products and can train the client’s staff at the same time. Merchandising: A small army of 1,500 merchandisers can transform stores to optimize sales potential. President and CEO Kerry Shapansky wagered Pareto’s success on the rise of shopper marketing.

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 63

Incentives: Pareto can design an incentive program or an in-store promotion to increase brand loyalty. advantage

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:42 PM

products & services

pareto corporation

Partners in Business .....................

Partners in Success

the takeaway > “I am a big believer that a B-quality strategy with A-quality execution will beat the best strategy with shoddy execution every time. We are exceptionally good at making our clients look good.” kerry shapansky, president & ceo

“We’re in the business of helping you sell more,” Shapansky says. “Every one of our services is integral to driving the kind of sales lift that retailers and people who sell through retail are hungry for.” Pareto’s services can be broken down into five main areas, and each tie into the other to create a holistic sales-and-marketing proposition for clients. The first of these is in-store promotions: Pareto can design, produce, and fulfil a client’s in-store promotional material needs, from concept to store, in just nine days. “Each store gets a different variation of the promotion based on the unique variables of one location to the next,” Shapansky says. “That’s one of our core service offerings.” Another service is direct marketing, where Pareto helps clients reach out to their customers to drive more traffic to their stores. Pareto interprets loyalty data to help its client discover its customer base and buying trends, and subsequently plans appropriate communications. Pareto also helps with merchandising. The company employs 1,500 agents across Canada who can go into a store and physically transform the retail environment. With Pareto research showing that 69 percent of all purchases are made spontaneously, the impact on a retailer’s sales can be considerable. “We ensure that the store is easy to navigate and very shoppable,” Shapansky explains. “We can upsize the shopping basket, as a customer sees one product and finds another nearby that logically connects.” Pareto also sells for its clients. A directsales force of 600 professionally trained salespeople is available to go in or out of store to sell products. This service is usually called 64


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 64

upon for the sale of a complicated product, such as a new piece of technology or a credit card. They can also pass on their skills to instore staff. Incentives complete the service offering, with Shapansky’s team on hand to create either sales-incentive trips for organizations, or programs to increase brand loyalty among customers. “We run a program for Nestlé, for example, where if you purchase Nestlé products, you earn Aeroplan miles,” Shapansky says. “Consumers go online to redeem their air miles and are taken to a site that allows Nestlé to build more of a relationship with those consumers to increase brand loyalty.” Augmenting the effectiveness of this service suite is Pareto’s client-management process. Monthly meetings are scheduled where subject-matter experts from the various divisions meet with a client’s dedicated account team to analyze how to continuously improve the service offering. According to the statistics, the clientmanagement process is working. Pareto grew over 40 percent in 2010, with more than half of that growth coming from existing customers. Additionally, the company has never lost a material customer. For the future, Pareto is focused on data in the hopes of developing a more in-depth analysis of shoppers’ insights. “With between 1,500 merchandisers and 600 salespeople out there doing work in stores every day, we learn an awful lot about what is happening on the floor of the store,” Shapansky says. “We are getting better and better at packaging up that learning and insight, and leveraging and harnessing that data in powerful ways for our clients.” _a

Kraft Foods is proud to partner with Baker Street Bakery. We support Baker Street’s commitment to providing premium gourmet desserts and to driving innovation. 5/12/11 4:43 PM

baker street

products & services

Clockwise from left: Marla Kravice, president; Esther Kravice, cofounder; and Mary Somerton, cofounder.

one part sugar, three parts smarts Baker Street’s business approach serves as a solid recipe for any company wanting to build a North American success story from scratch by zach baliva


s the old saying goes, find a job you love and you never have to work a day in your life. While the adage rings true for Marla Kravice, she also knows that running a business is indeed work—no matter how much fun is found along the way. Kravice is president of Baker Street, the company founded by sisters Mary Somerton and Esther Kravice in 1978. What started in the family kitchen has grown over the past 33 years into the leading dessert manufacturer in Canada. Although Baker Street is based in Toronto, the company’s products are available in supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, and

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 65

other locations across North America. Marla Kravice serves as president but makes herself available in all areas. “We pride ourselves on teamwork,” she says. The company is known for its delicious desserts, including cakes, cheesecakes, flans, pies, and cupcakes. Each product is manufactured in-house, and many (including a well-known and award-winning carrot cake) are made from original family recipes. In-house production helps Kravice maintain control and quality not possible when products are manufactured elsewhere. “Everything is handcrafted, and special attention is

products offered > Baker Street is known for its many decadent treats, including cakes and tortes (white-chocolate mousse, cappuccino crunch, and strawberry shortcake), cheesecakes (cherry, orange cranberry, Oreo, and blueberry), pies (apple, strawberry rhubarb, and peach) and seasonal offerings (maple pumpkin torte, whitechocolate strawberry yule log, and cinnamon-bun cheesecake).


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:43 PM

products & services

baker street

Baker Street’s pies are baked with high-quality ingredients and no artificial products.

paid to the quality of each and every item that leaves our facility,” she explains. Baker Street recently launched another popular product—an all-natural apple pie—at Loblaws. The goal? To offer the best apple pie possible. “We make our apple pie with fresh quality ingredients and no artificial products,” Kravice says. Many members of both family and staff invested months in perfecting the product through numerous trials and taste tests. While Kravice is hesitant to reveal too many family secrets, she shares that every Baker Street product goes through an extensive research-and-development process. “We perfect each and every component, including taste, smell, and flavour profile,” she says. “Because you eat with your eyes first, we spend equal amounts of time on the visual appeal of each dessert.” The women behind Baker Street view themselves as innovators within their industry. “We’re always trying to come up with new products or desserts,” Kravice says. They invented a line of cheesy tortes in 1980 (with flavours like taffy apple). Today, the line boasts several creative cheesecake selections, in such flavours as crème brûlée, pecan pie, and carrot cake. And in 2009, the company introduced a line of small unique square cakes, with flavours like raspberry truffle and milk-chocolate torte. 66


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 66

Customers have come to expect nothing less from Baker Street. Once a company develops a reputation for innovation, it must continue to deliver. “Our customers know they can count on us to come up with the hottest trend or flavour, and to satisfy specific needs they have,” Kravice says. She thinks of her company as a trusted partner to its customers. The perspective helps guide key business decisions. When it comes to marketing, Kravice prefers to let the desserts speak for themselves. “We just have to get new customers to take the first bite,” she says. “Once they do, they’re hooked!” Still, success at high-profile events can’t hurt. In February, Baker Street sent several products to the Academy Awards ceremony,

where Teri Hatcher, William Shatner, Jacki Weaver, and Jane Lynch sampled carrot-cake cupcakes, pecan-pie cheesecake, caramelbrownie cheesecake, and red-velvet cupcakes. Baker Street’s new apple pies were then sent home with the actors. Building Baker Street has indeed required hard work over the past several decades. The company has moved twice and introduced countless new products before expanding shipments to the United States in 1999 and breaking into Canadian supermarkets six years later. Still, Kravice feels fortunate to have what she describes as a wonderful job. “I’m surrounded by family, and we eat cake every day,” she remarks. “Who wouldn’t love that?” _a

the takeaway > “We use wholesome, quality ingredients that our customers trust, and flavours that please the pickiest of palates. We pride ourselves on having something spectacular and sweet for everyone.” marla kravice, president

5/12/11 4:43 PM


products & services

Joseph Aziz II (left), chairman, and Joseph D. Aziz III, president, pictured with the portrait of Dophes’ founder, Joseph Aziz I.

textiles by tonnage As a high-volume producer of home textile products, Dophes looks toward production facilities abroad to gain the ability to ship directly to its client customers and cut down on cost by lynn russo whylly

branded products >


Cantina: Premium, upscale kitchen textiles, designed in multipacks for warehouse clubs or similar retail formats.

f you’ve ever bought a kitchen towel, oven mitt, towels for the bath or beach, a bed sheet, or tablecloth, you just might have purchased a Dophes product. As a fourthgeneration family-run business owned and operated by holding company J&A Aziz Ltd., Dophes has been making textile products for the home for 116 years. Today, the company is preparing the company for the next 116 years by expanding into new markets and product lines and joining forces with new manufacturers. “My grandfather Assaf came to Toronto from Lebanon in 1895 with a dream of going

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 67

to the Yukon gold rush,” recalls Joseph Aziz, chairman of the company. “To fund his trip west, he borrowed $500 and bought some products to sell along the way. He ended up doubling his money and realized he was onto something. He decided to forget the gold rush and set up a business in Toronto. He brought over his brother Joseph and three more brothers.” The North York, Ontario-based company, which has 25 employees, sells primarily to retailers under its private label brands. “Wal-Mart is one of our largest clients,”

Canoe Home: Textiles with Canada-themed designs.

Delicious: Trendy, stylish, colourful, and fun kitchen textiles. Fresh Lemon: A brightly coloured, mostly microfibre cleaning line. Gillett: A basic kitchen cleaning line of textiles. Tate: Coordinated bathroom products designed for small to midsize accounts, including bath, hand, and face towels, as well as rugs and shower curtains. advantage

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:43 PM

products & services


the takeaway > “I’ve heard many great business leaders say, ‘It wasn’t so much me; it was all these great people I had working for me.’ I believe in that, too. If you surround yourself with really capable people and keep them motivated, you will succeed, and that’s what we’re trying to do here as well.” j.d. aziz, president

Dophes is your source for a wide range of quality home textiles. Our strength and focus is on manufacturing quality products, on-time delivery, at very competitive pricing. We specialize in bath towels, beach towels, kitchen linens, table linens, bed linens, pillows as well as blankets.



1635 Flint Road North York, ON M3J 2J6 T: 416.787.0365 | F 416.787.3292 Toll Free 1.800.836.5037 68


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 68

Joseph says, adding that Dophes produces the retailer’s Mainstays and George product lines. In recent years, Dophes has created its own branded product lines, including Canoe Home, which imprints Canada-themed artwork such as lakes, mountains, and lighthouses, as well as regional animals such as the moose, loon, and polar bear. Other brands include Gillett, a collection of cleaning products; Delicious, a trendy, colourful kitchen line; Tate, a collection of coordinated bath products; Fresh Lemon, a swath of microfibre cleaning products; Cantina, an upscale kitchen line; and a set of towels for Clorox that possess a special technology—when washed with bleach, the towels become antibacterial. With these lines combined, Dophes produces millions of products a year. The company recently landed distribution rights for bedding with Outlast Technologies, a temperature-controlled bedding technology manufacturer. “It’s used in clothing such as skiwear, long underwear, and socks,” says Joseph Duncan “J.D.” Aziz, Joseph’s son, who primarily runs operations, while his father is responsible for sales. “It helps regulate the body’s temperature, absorbs, stores, and returns heat when and where needed, and prevents

overheating. It’s ideal for bedding and is great for thermally incompatible couples. We’re selling sheet sets, blankets, and mattress pads with Outlast material in them.” Dophes’ latest product, lightbulbs, is taking the company in a whole new direction. “We signed an agreement with Energetic Lighting in Los Angeles—the biggest lighting manufacturer in the world—and we’ve started selling LED bulbs in Canada,” Joseph says. “We’re talking to people who have 500 stores, and they’re taking 250 bulbs per store. They’re going to save $3 million a year just by switching to more-efficient bulbs that use less electricity.” In addition, J.D. is working on additional licensing deals. “We just signed a contract with children’s book author Eric Carle,” he says. “We’re also looking at celebrity-chef brands and others that might help us build upon our US business.” To increase its competitive edge, Dophes has moved all of its manufacturing overseas. This is facilitated by a partnership with Chicago-based 1888 Mills, which has factories in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Ghana. As a result, the company will be shipping more of its products directly from the factory to the client. “We’re going to sell the lightbulbs FOB China,” Joseph says. “Then we will receive a commission from the factory. That’s how companies get the best price.” It’s a trend that Joseph hopes the company will continue into the future. “I think there will be a bigger part of the business that will be FOB China or Pakistan or wherever we have trusted factory associations, because the customer wants to eliminate the middleman,” he says “We’ve got to have a justification for our position in the marketplace and have value added for our proprietary products. You can’t just be a trader; you have to add value.” Joseph is excited about the future. “With these fast-paced, new ideas my son is bringing on, and some of the new ideas I’m leading us into, the coming years should be very positive,” he says. “I’m more positive now than I’ve been in a long time, especially with this lighting business.” _a

5/12/11 4:43 PM

leblanc brothers boatbuilders

products & services

The LeBlanc brothers (from left): Neil, Leo, and Kevin.

smooth sailing LeBlanc Brothers Boatbuilders has kept both fisherman and pleasure captains safe on the seas for more than 30 years, thanks to the strength of its custom creations by thalia a-m bruehl


ears ago, Nova Scotia-based LeBlanc Brothers Boatbuilders sold a boat to a Bostonian who loved the sea almost as much as he loved his family. He had already been away from them for too long, he felt, and despite warnings from Neil LeBlanc, president of LeBlanc Brothers, he decided to travel home in a harsh wind through heavy seas. LeBlanc worried for the Bostonian’s safety but knew the boat was built strong; he had told the Bostonian just days before that he would not sell a boat that he himself would not let his own family sail.

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 69

It wasn’t long before the Bostonian was out of harm’s way, reunited with his family. But he wasn’t just safe; he had arrived ahead of schedule, almost four hours earlier than he had anticipated. His boat didn’t only weather the storm—it exceeded expectations. Started in 1979, LeBlanc Brothers Boatbuilders is the result of three hardworking brothers born to a fisherman. The three young boys helped with the family business and on the family farm, but it wasn’t long until they wanted to do more. “With

the help of our father, Leo and I each made ourselves a small rowboat to gather rock weed, and the first week our friends were asking where we got these boats,” Neil says. “We told them they were our creations. Soon, they each wanted one. We sold our first boats that way; I was only 14 at the time.” The sale of these rowboats helped launch his career. LeBlanc Brothers Boatbuilders has moved past rowboats, and today it works on everything from 40-foot fibreglass boats to large 45’ x 17’ ships. “We’ve made 70 boats from that mould,” LeBlanc says. “Then in 2002, we made our last mould 50’ x 23’6”, and we are on our 12th hull now.” Leo LeBlanc, the oldest brother of the three, took to the craftsmanship and artistic side of building more than Neil or their youngest brother, Kevin, and is now in charge of the design and construction side of the business. Neil takes care of the daily operations. advantage

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:43 PM

products & services

leblanc brothers boatbuilders

Left: LeBlanc Brothers Boatbuilders puts the finishing touches on a new vessel. Right: President Neil LeBlanc stands at the helm of his own personal boat.

“My role in production is to see that we have enough workers, see that the materials are in on time, and that the boats are on schedule,” Neil says. “I also have the opportunity to go to the boat shows for possible sales, as well as the day-to-day things like taking calls and answering e-mails.” LeBlanc Brothers Boatbuilders’ vessels are developed and custom-made for customers depending on their needs and desired style. “We market through our website and the Nova Scotia Boatbuilding Association, as well as in shows and ads,” Neil says. “Most important of all for us has been our word-of-mouth business and people seeing our boats in harbours.” The boats are marketed and sold both in Canada and the United States. Almost since its inception, LeBlanc Brothers Boatbuilders’ primary customers have been commercial fisherman. But recently, despite economic downturns, the company has seen a rise in pleasure buyers, which now make up about 20 percent of its business. “In all the years we’ve been building boats, we’ve seen one trend: almost every 10 years we have a downfall in orders coming in,” Neil says. “The first couple of times it happened, it lasted about six months. Then the next time, it took 70


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 70

the takeaway > “What we would like our clients to understand is that we customize our hulls, and, with our designer’s help, we can put together the boat that you want—the exact way you want it, with the materials of your choice. We can build you the boat of your dreams.” neil leblanc, president

almost nine months. This last time was the worst we had seen it—it took almost two long years to recover. But we never had to close our doors. Maybe there weren’t as many new orders coming in, but we repaired plenty of older boats, and we worked on houses, which is Kevin’s specialty. It took time, but things are starting to come back strong now.” Whether they’re building boats for families to enjoy together, making repairs to get

by, or helping the local economy by supplying lobster boats, LeBlanc Brothers Boatbuilders has proven itself as a tough company. Like the boats it makes, the company can weather any storm. “Each year, during the worst winter weather, our family and neighbours challenge the wild seas of the Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine in a LeBlanc-built hull,” Neil says. “Our vessels have never failed them.” _a

5/12/11 4:43 PM


SAGE Energy!

Providing Industr y with Custom

Brazed Plate Solutions


The Lunenburg Foundry Group Serving the Marine Industry Since 1891

Proud supplier to LeBlanc Brothers Boatbuilders.

Shafting • Propellers • Marine Hardware • Custom Castings

We work with companies like SAGE to provide class leading gas compressor packages to the oil and gas industr y. Our units translate into valuable cost and footprint savings to increase your bottom line.

Refrigeration Components Canada Ltd. Ser ving Canada from Coast to Coast GEA PHE Systems GEA Aerofreeze Parker Refrigerating Specialties Delta, BC Tel: 604-940-9951 Fax: 604-940-9971

Brantford, ON Tel: 604-940-9951 Fax: 604-940-9971

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 71

5/12/11 4:43 PM

products & services

sage energy Corp

the globetrotters Following a decade of regional success, Sage Energy Corp brings its gas-compression expertise to the world by lynn russo whylly


n less than 10 years, Sage Energy has grown its business 20-fold. But regardless of the impressive, steady growth, the company isn’t ready to slow down. Instead, Sage (formerly known as Concept Compression) is poised to match that growth in the next 24 months via a new global strategy and strategic partnerships. The Calgary-based firm, which designs and produces gas-compression systems, opened its doors in 2002 with a dream to serve the 200-horsepower-screw-compression market. “No one was focusing on that market at the time,” says Andrew Kavanagh, director of sales and marketing. With competitive differentiators such as an extreme-temperature guarantee and several custom solutions that larger competitors couldn’t provide, Sage enjoyed tremendous growth throughout its first decade, expanding to include gas-compression systems between 50 horsepower and 400 horsepower. As a result of this growth, however, it became apparent that a service component was needed to complement the production side. To meet the demand, Sage, which started with three partners—Barry Rinehart, president; Karen Narfason, head of accounting and administration; and Trent Bruce, head of customer solutions—brought in a fourth partner, Blair Cuncannon, service manager, to help grow the service side of the business. In 2010, the company acquired Alberta-based service company GasField. The acquisition doubled the company’s payroll and secured the resources necessary for growth. While helping fuel Sage’s growth, the acquisition also left the company pondering the best way to take the firm to the next level: continue growing organically, sell the firm, or invest more money and make the company bigger. The partners decided on the latter. “We realized that our largest growth opportunity over the next 5–10 years was going to be international,” Kavanagh says. This decision also brought about the name change. The adoption of “Sage” came from an old-world aboriginal term that indicates “wisdom,” and reports 72


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 72

the takeaway > “Sage is about people serving people—the owners are very cognizant of the importance of this. They took a small business from conception to success, but they understand that to take it to another level requires a strong staff.” andrew kavanagh, director of sales & marketing

revealed that customers felt the company was already made up of good people who provided smart solutions. In addition to the new moniker, Sage added some fresh products to its lineup. “We went from being a sub-400-horsepower-screwcompression company to adding reciprocating compressors and power-generation equipment,” Kavanagh says. “Today, we range from 50 horsepower to 2,000 horsepower. Later this year, [our new shop] will take our product line up to 5,000 horsepower and from 55 kilowatts to 1.25 megawatts—and possibly larger.” Sage’s next challenge was to determine where and how to build its international business. “When I was asked to take on this challenge, we realized that, as a small to midsized company, we can’t be all things to all people internationally,” Kavanagh says. “So we looked at areas where our products and services would work well. We landed on Australasia, the Asia Pacific, and the Russian Federation.” Rather than start from scratch, Sage decided to join forces with partners in those regions. “We’re very close to an arrangement

with a good partner that will be able to support our products in Australia,” he says. In addition, the company, which previously had hired out the fabrication of the systems it designed, opened its own 30,000foot fabrication facility north of Calgary. “Our business model, to date, has been that we did not do any of our own packaging,” Kavanagh explains. “We do all the major procurement, engineering, applications, warranty support, and quality control, but we hired fabricators locally to do all the fabrication. That model has worked very well for us, but we’re now finding the need to have our own shop and our own facility. This gives us a different level of credibility in the international arena.” As Sage grows internationally, the sub400 horsepower-screw-compression business— currently the source of 70 percent of the company’s revenue—will play a smaller role. In its place, the reciprocating and power-generating units will take a larger share. And by this time next year, Sage’s international expansion will, no doubt, be providing a strong foundation for the company’s next 10 years. _a

5/12/11 4:43 PM

Rex Pak Limited

products & services

filling the gaps An emphasis in custom food manufacturing, Rex Pak Limited has prospered off the very thing that slows down most food companies by kelli lawrence


hen dry-foods companies first started using the services of Rex Pak in the mid-1970s, the jobs were frequently short-lived. But that was by design. “A lot of companies were looking for seasonal products to produce outside of their plants because it was costly, particularly in terms of personnel, to only run two months out of the year,” says Rex Pak president Louis Sabatini. “So they were looking to our company to take on this type of product.” The relationship between Rex Pak and those companies has endured. Today, three and a half decades later, the company is in its second generation of management. “We have to provide quick changeovers for the smaller production runs, so this is something that we’re professionals in,” says Denise Sabatini Fuina, vice president of operations. “Our experience with this is what makes us successful. We’re able to accept these particular projects because of our flexibility.” “For us, it can be a real merry-go-round,”

Louis continues. “But it works quite well. A lot of our larger clients love it because it enables them to do better volume on a larger product. It works well for everybody.” In general terms, Rex Pak is a custom blending and packaging comanufacturer that provides both national brand and private-label customers with a wide range of dry products— hot chocolate, rice mixes, gelatins, cereals, etc.—as well as an assortment of packaging options. But Rex Pak is more than a service provider for its loyal list of clients, often acting as a cocreative force by brainstorming and researching the viability of a given project before advising for or against it. Devin Sabatini, vice president of manufacturing, attributes much of this to his father. “Whether it’s electronic, computerized, or mechanical, Louis has the insight and experience to champion these projects,” he says. “He’s truly the magic behind the machinery.” Louis has also been the one to oversee

Rex Pak’s inevitable expansion. Although his company started with only one machine, it currently features 30 computerized lines and four “blending rooms,” all while meeting standards and certifications stringent enough to move it from its 67,000-square-foot home of 28 years to a 100,000-square-foot facility along Toronto’s shipping corridor. “We had to make that giant step, otherwise we would have stayed smaller and not been able to compete at the quality level needed,” Louis says. In fact, the past couple of years saw Rex Pak expand its services as well as its size. It now offers a turnkey option where the company overtakes the responsibility of ordering its clients’ raw materials. This process ensures that materials arrive on time, manufacturing takes place efficiently, and final products get to the customer as needed. “All they have to do is tell us what their forecast is and when they want delivery of that product,” Denise says. “We take care of everything else.” The combination of uniquely beneficial services, numerous long-standing customer relationships, and a steadfast commitment to quality and safety is paramount to Rex Pak’s success. Nonetheless, it’s hardly a company to rest on its laurels. Like the businesses it serves, Rex Pak is determined to think progressively from top to bottom. “Whatever the platform, we have the expertise here,” Denise says. “We contribute viable ideas.” _a

products offered > Stand-up pouches for rice/sauce mixes, nuts, and snacks. Zipper pouches for sugar substitutes and hot cocoa. Double-hinged pouches for drink crystals and seasonings. Individual cup servings for cereals and soups. Front row, from left: VP of manufacturing Devin Sabatini, president Louie Sabatini, and VP of operations Denise Sabatini Fuina, standing with the Rex Pak operating team. Photo: Ian Smith/Venture 2 Photography.

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 73

Pillow packs for potato chips and snacks. Horizontal and vertical cartoning for oatmeal and hot cocoa multipacks. advantage

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:44 PM

Refrigeration Ltd.

Your building maintenance experts! COMMERCIAL • Refrigeration • Air Conditioning • Heating • Control Systems • Boilers • Sheet Metal • Multi-Zone Systems

Canada’s leading dry food blending and packing co-manufacturer. We pride ourselves in working with customers both big and small to provide a high quality, competitive priced product. Over the past few years we have been able to provide the customer with a more convenient option to co-manufacturing. We now also offer complete and partial Turnkey solutions. For further information contact:

RESIDENTIAL • Furnaces - Replacement & service • Humidifiers • Air Conditioning • Sheet Metal INDUSTRIAL • Boilers • Control Systems • Make-up Air Systems • Exhaust Systems • Air Conditioning HEAVY EQUIPMENT

We are certified in :

• • • •

Kosher SQF Standard FDA Recognized Registered Meat and Dairy Facility CFIA recognized & HACCP Certified

85 Thornmount Drive Toronto, Ontario

Pro Heat Webasto Espar Air Conditioning

Pro-West Refrigeration is happy to congratulate the continual success of Aquatera Utilities Inc. and looks forward to many more years of partnership.


M1B 5V3 Telephone (416) 755-3324

Est. 1974

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 74



9022 109th St., Grande Prairie, AB T8V 4K8 Fax: 780-513-6804


5/12/11 4:44 PM

outreach Organizations making a difference in the community 75 Aquatera Utilities Inc.

78 St. Joseph’s Villa

80 O’Connor Associates Environmental Inc.

Company Stats founded

2003 employees

100 consultants

40 divisions operations and maintenance, technical services, and corporate and financial services

2010 revenue $35 million It’s not all about clean water for CEO Bernd Manz; Aquatera supports many philanthropies in the community.

2011 projected revenue $38 million

water workers More impressive than the diverse service offerings of Aquatera Utilities Inc. is the company’s penchant for giving back to the city it calls home by sally deering


quatera Utilities can rightly be described as a jack-of-all-trades. The Grande Prairie, Alberta-based company is the first regional utility corporation in the province to provide water, wastewater, and solid-waste disposal services to customers in its local municipalities, as well as recycling and residential garbage-collection services to Grande Prairie itself. As CEO, Bernd Manz ensures Aquatera’s success as a provider of high-quality, reliable services at good value, all while achieving the company’s

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 75

goals and meeting the board of directors’ and shareholders’ expectations. But his role isn’t confined to the office; Manz regularly goes out into the field to test the waters. “We have a really good raw-water source,” he says. “There’s very little upstream except the mountains, which means we have a great-tasting water supply. If you’re downstream of other cities, you’re drinking what they give you, and we don’t have that situation. It makes a big difference. We have high standards on how we treat the water.”

Founded in 2003, Aquatera provides its services to 60,000 customers in the city of Grande Prairie, the Hamlet of Wedgewood, the Hamlet of Clairmont, the town of Sexsmith, and various other areas within the county of Grande Prairie. The company runs three facilities that turn 80 percent of wastewater into clean water. Additionally, Aquatera treats leach water from landfills and captures methane exhaust to burn. Shareholder owned, the company is the only one of its kind in Alberta and symbolizes a fresh approach to advantage

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:44 PM



community connection > “Partnering with community groups helps to achieve our common goals and builds goodwill among the company, the community, and with the people who are participating.” bernd manz, ceo

conservation and innovation by protecting essential services, safeguarding health, and assuring the well-being of the environment, now and in the future. This dynamic approach has allowed Aquatera to expand the reach of its services and turned the company into an engine for regional growth. From 2003 to 2009, propertyassessment growth increased by more than $5.5 billion in Grande Prairie and the surrounding

area—a growth facilitated by ready access to Aquatera’s water and services. However, Aquatera doesn’t stop helping the community via its utilities. The company partners with Habitat for Humanity and operates an Eco Centre—a community recycling depot for paper, cardboard, plastic, and glass. The centre also serves as a permanent household waste depot to drop off used batteries and electronic waste, like cell phones and

Keeping its plants up to par requires that Aquatera regularly inspect each element. Photo: Keith Winsor.



S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 76

computers. Additionally, the facility performs fluorescent-tube and Styrofoam recycling, and oversees ReStore, where building materials are reused, recycled, and resold. Together with Recycle Plus—the local bottle depot owned by the Grande Prairie and District Association of the Mentally Handicapped—Aquatera created a bottle-donation program that supports disadvantaged-youth programs such as school lunches and sports activities. Since the program’s inception in 2004, Aquatera has donated more than $400,000. In another philanthropic endeavour, Aquatera oversees the annual Green-AThon—the spring cleaning of roadsides and open space sponsored by local Rotary clubs—and the Street Performers Festival (sponsored by the Downtown Association). The company also supports the local Community Foundation and United Way to help meet community needs, and is a major sponsor of the Grande Prairie Multiplex, a $110 million recreation facility, which opens late in 2011. The Multiplex will provide the community with swimming pools and slides, the Aquaterasaurus land/water playground, a fitness facility, and a field house. “I’m proud of our innovations in respect to environmental stewardship, our strong community support for waste reduction and recycling, and our position as a provincial leader in electronic waste diversion per capita,” Manz says. “Giving back to our community through our employees being involved in local organizations and some of the sponsorships and support of local events has been quite rewarding.” _a

5/12/11 4:44 PM


Your Care is Our Focus

Centric Health is a new Canadian company with a vision to be Canada’s premier healthcare provider. Through innovative solutions centred on patients and healthcare professionals, we offer a complete range of health and wellness services to individuals and corporations. • Rehabilitation • Seniors Services • Medical Assessments

• Disability Management • Surgical Centres • Pharmacy

• Sleep Clinic • Home Care • Medical Centres

Call 800.315.4417 or visit our website at to find out more.

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 77 CHActive_Advantage_FP_4.indd 1


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4/12/11 4:44 5:29 PM PM


st. joseph’s villa

beyond bandages As a healthcare provider, St. Joseph’s Villa works hard to treat its residents and enhance the community it calls home by sally deering


t. Joseph’s Villa, of Dundas, Ontario, was established in 1879 when the Sisters of St. Joseph of Hamilton opened the House of Providence to care for the poor and marginalized. Today, the nonprofit, which is owned by the St. Joseph’s Health System, stands as one of the largest and most innovative senior-healthcare providers in Ontario. The organization’s services are twofold,

offering both long-term care to residents, as well as medical clinics and adult day programs out in the community. St. Joseph’s Villa is a model for the long-term-care sector and provides a holistic approach to meeting the physical, social, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs of seniors while embracing new technologies to improve service and efficiency.

Under the guidance of president Shawn Gadsby, St. Joseph’s Villa strives to meet the diverse needs of the community, external partners, and legislative requirements, as well as adhere to an excellent standard of care. Unlike similar institutions, St. Joseph’s Villa strives to move beyond the facility to impact the community itself. “While our core service is long-term care, we are very active in services that promote independent living and allow people to age at home,” Gadsby says. “Another major focus is our position as a leader in the regional education of healthcare professionals such as physicians, nurses, personal-support workers, therapists, and social workers.” For the past six years, St. Joseph’s Villa has partnered with Centric Health Active to provide physical therapy, occupational therapy, therapy assistance, and education to staff and residents. The partnership made Central Health Active a clear choice when St. Joseph’s Villa opened up its transitional care unit. The goal of the unit was to facilitate in-home living for the elderly. “[Central Health Active] has been right on board with it,” Gadsby says. “Without

Company Stats founded

1879 employees

565 volunteers

180 top managers

20 operating budget

$26 million A volunteer spends time with a resident of St. Joseph’s.



S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 78

employee retention rate


5/12/11 4:44 PM

st. joseph’s villa


community connection > “Our greatest success has come from doing the simple things well— from building relationships to providing services that the community can rely on. It is this approach that has proven to pay back huge dividends to the organization over time.” shawn gadsby, president

them, we wouldn’t have the high level of programming necessary.” In 2005, St. Joseph’s Villa underwent a $50 million renovation that outfitted its 370-bed facility with new technology, room enhancements, and the Seniors in Motion Gym—a fully functional fitness centre that is open to residents in the community ages 55 and up. Additionally, several initiatives help St. Joseph’s Villa round out its niche. A variety of programs for cardiovascular exercise, balance, strength, and coordination were created on a one-to-one basis with OTA/ PTA on hand to assist. Aerobics classes are offered three times a week, and a community pool program offers classes in a warm, easyaccess environment. The renovation opened up other opportunities as well. In 2007, two local hospital systems were faced with bed shortages and looked to St. Joseph’s Villa for a solution. Utilizing existing space available after the renovation, St. Joseph’s Villa developed two transitional care units (TCUs) to care for 70 patients. In 2009, after the bed shortages were resolved, St. Joseph’s Villa was able to redesign the TCUs into a 41-bed assess/restore unit that provides care and therapy geared towards preparing people to live at home. In addition, St. Joseph’s Villa was one of

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 79

the first to develop and offer Life Lease Housing options—107 suites in two of its buildings that create a campus community for seniors. And the organization doesn’t plan on stopping there. “We are in the planning stages of redeveloping our entire site to provide more housing and commercial opportunities for our local community that will meet the needs of seniors for many years to come,” Gadsby says. This inspiring ethic has garnered St. Joseph’s Villa several accolades. The organization has previously earned the highest accreditation ranking from both Accreditation Canada and ISO, and is now currently accredited through CARF/CCAC. For several years, St. Joseph’s Villa has been the recipient of the Hamilton Community News Readers’ Choice Award and Hamilton Spectator’s Readers’ Choice award for Best Long Term Care Home. St. Joseph’s Villa, however, is much more than just another healthcare provider. Its character goes much deeper than that. “In hospitals, the focus is on acute care and disease management,” Gadsby explains. “As experts in senior services, our focus is on person-centred care in a community setting.” With a practice like that in place, it’s no surprise that St. Joseph’s Villa has accomplished all that it has. _a


Consulting environmental engineers and geoscientists


Do you have an environmental problem?

O’Connor Associates can help! Whether the project is complex or routine, we will work with you to find the right answers. We’ve been providing common-sense solutions to challenging environmental problems since 1979.



S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:44 PM


o’connor associates environmental inc.

From left: Dr. John Agar, founder; Dr. Scott Digel, founder; Dr. Mike O’Connor, founder; and Dr. Rob Micklethwaite, senior staff member.

a corporate commune The mission for O’Connor Associates Environmental Inc. isn’t to make more money than the next guy, but to have fun while giving back to the community by chris allsop “


here is no doubt that we have always been a somewhat different kind of company,” explains John Agar, one of the founders of O’Connor Associates, a geoenvironmental engineering firm. “Since we first began in 1979, our mission has always been to simply have fun, do good work, and earn a living. Unlike most firms, growth has never been one of our objectives.” Reading this statement, one might conclude that the founders of O’Connor Asso-



S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 80

ciates took one too many lessons from the 1988 Tom Hanks movie Big. The truth, however, is that the firm has expanded to more than 200 employees in six locations across Canada without really trying. The founders of O’Connor Associates began their careers with diversified degrees in geology, geophysics, and civil and geotechnical engineering. But by sheer luck, they found themselves face-to-face with a multitude of environmental issues that surfaced in the 1970s.

“Our challenge was to combine our diverse skills to provide common sense solutions to some of these environmental problems,” says Doug King, one of the founders. The founders’ backgrounds in earth science and engineering were best put to use in addressing soil- and groundwater-contamination issues, but their pioneering environmental efforts quickly propelled the firm into broader areas such as risk assessment, air quality, emergency response, and the development of

5/12/11 4:44 PM

o’connor associates environmental inc.

health-based clean-up guidelines. “Whether it was a train derailment, a refinery decommissioning, or a contaminated aquifer, we wanted to tackle it,” King says. Today, the firm’s modest size continues to support a corporate culture that is particularly attractive to professionals with natural consulting skills. As a result, staff members are encouraged to accumulate responsibility rather than authority. “Our employees have no titles,” says Mike O’Connor, the company’s third founder. “This wouldn’t work nearly as well if we were a much larger firm.” The lack of titles makes for an interesting dynamic. “Without titles, it becomes more difficult to tell each other what to do,” O’Connor explains. “You have to persuade instead.” This ability to persuade is, of course, an essential ingredient for a good consultant, and the rising stars that exhibit this quality quickly become obvious to the senior staff. This also means that a new employee is never put into a box. “We often like to hire professionals who have slightly different skill sets, and then encourage them to use these skills to diversify our knowledge base

community connection > “I was taught at an early age that we all share a responsibility for others in our community that may be less fortunate than ourselves. At our firm, we believe that exercising this responsibility always results in a win-win situation. The iconic Calgary Stampede, for instance, is a fundamental part of the city, and I volunteer over 700 hours annually helping the nonprofit organization deliver its services to the community.” mike o’connor, founder

and expand the kinds of projects we take on.” Agar says. Likewise, Scott Digel, who oversees the company’s day-to-day operations from the Calgary head office, notes that “the persuasive element ensures that every project attracts a motivated group of individuals who are interested in learning from the experience.”

Geologists Caroline Serhal and Amy Philip examine soil samples to trace potential contaminates.

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 81


After more than 30 successful years in the business, the original founders are cutting back on their direct involvement with clients and are focusing more on community outreach. For the trio, this means mentoring students who are still in university or young “up-and-comers” who increasingly form the backbone of the firm’s intellectual assets. Rob Micklethwaite, a senior staff member in the Calgary office, notes that the employees appreciate the opportunity to be involved in community outreach. “We are big supporters of local projects,” he says, “like the annual initiative to clean up the riverbank area, and the local ‘Ride for the Cure’ program in support of cancer research.” The firm also works with the less fortunate through two other avenues: the Kerr Street Mission, based in Oakville, Ontario, and the Calgary branch of the Mustard Seed. Both organizations provide services and support to the more vulnerable members of society, supported by annual donations from individuals and companies such as O’Connor Associates. Employees also contribute in other ways by volunteering at the centres and serving meals to the homeless. And what are O’Connor Associates Environmental’s plans for the future? “Well,” Digel says, “we will continue to be guided by the same mission statement that got us this far, and look forward to taking advantage of those great opportunities that seem to always come our way.” _a advantage

S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011


5/12/11 4:44 PM

last word

online presence Chris Forbes, president and CEO of Knovel, discusses what it takes to maintain a successful social-media strategy to keep users interested


few years ago, very few executives understood the potential that social media held for completely transforming the business world. Today, with a diverse surplus of websites and blogs making their mark throughout the corporate realm, social media has become a vital part of conducting successful customer-service and marketing endeavours and getting clients involved firsthand. Chris Forbes, president and CEO of Knovel—which offers analysis, information, and reference for technological engineering—understands the vast benefits that social media can have on a company, as well as the adverse effects it can bring about if done improperly. Here, Forbes gives his top tips for implementing a winning social-media platform to keep users coming back. Keep it simple. Play to your company’s strengths by sharing information your audience truly finds interesting. You know your customers best, so post information in a narrow range of topics to establish your expertise. Never spam. No one will take you seriously if you do. Beware of being overly promotional. Keep your content fresh with a good balance of content that focuses on the company, industry trends, news, and interesting tidbits. Offer consistency and balance. As a rule of thumb, we try to distribute a steady flow of content through all of our social-media channels. While the number of posts may vary from week to week, it’s important that your audience can depend on you. If you’re inconsistent with how you distribute information, they might get bored or go find the information somewhere else. However, that doesn’t mean it’s okay to overload people’s news feeds. You must find a happy balance between content sharing and information overload. Vary your content. Give your readers content they can depend on week after week. Not only do we want to share information about what we’re doing in our own company, but we try to be an industry resource by sharing relevant news on our company blog, Twitter handle, and Facebook page. Engage your readers. Yes, this is a business, but you have to remind people that there’s a person behind that computer screen. Injecting some humour or personality into posts can really resonate with your audience and helps to encourage engagement. It lets them know you’re human. This is particularly important if you have a service-based business.

Canadian native Chris Forbes’s executive journey began after he earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Toronto. After garnering serial entrepreneur experience in B2B paid-content services, finance, publishing, and operations, Forbes went to New York and founded Knovel, a webbased application that integrates technical information with analytical and search tools for engineers. Today, as president and CEO, Forbes continues to pilot Knovel’s growth and strategic direction for its more than 700 clients worldwide. Knovel got started with social-media efforts by posting company news and later including industry news and other bits of information. Today, Knovel uses many social-media outlets, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, as well as blogs that feature regular posts like Monday Link Reviews, KFacts, and interviews with experts from within the industry. Ultimately, Forbes feels social media helps Knovel expand its dialogue with customers. And by engaging them in such ventures, Knovel looks to continue to improve how it communicates and interacts with its clientele. To date, the company has more than 16,000 Facebook “Likes.”

Listen to your audience. It’s a two-way conversation. Be sure to participate in the conversations. Step in and help to resolve any issues, learn from customer feedback, and provide additional insight. 82


S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2011

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 82

5/12/11 4:44 PM

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 83

5/12/11 4:44 PM


PUT THE CLOUD WITHIN REACH. A cloud-optimized network may be closer than you think. With revolutionary Brocade® VDX™ 6720 Data Center Switches featuring Brocade VCS™ technology, you get the industry’s first true Ethernet fabric solution that can help dramatically simplify your architecture and streamline management. The result is unequalled network performance, greater utilization—and a clear path to the cloud. LEARN MORE AT

© 2011 Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Brocade and the B-wing symbol are registered trademarks of Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. All other brands, products, or service names mentioned are or may be trademarks or service marks of their respective owners.

ADV5_monday_may9.indd 84

5/12/11 4:44 PM

Millions discover their favorite reads on issuu every month.

Give your content the digital home it deserves. Get it to any device in seconds.