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YOUR SOURCE OF REGIONAL BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE SINCE 1989

December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011 • Issue 1105

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BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011 Business in Vancouver

WINNERS

A key ingredient

Natacha Beim—24

Chris O’Donohue—28

Christopher Bennett—12

Michael Parrish—23

A

Wendy Chu—19

s the expression goes, too many cooks spoil the stew (or broth, depending from which motherland you source your idioms). But when it comes to conceiving, starting or running a successful business, it seems the more input, the better. If there’s one ingredient that most of our Fortyunder-40 winners have included in their recipes for success, it’s getting input from anyone who can help. And this stood out particularly in answer to our favourite question, “What advice would you give the younger you?” Listen to people for input and feedback, says Kelly Jablonski, CEO of Ultimate Skateboard Distributors. “You can’t do everything yourself. [Don’t] be afraid to surround yourself with brilliant people.” Jeff Smith, VP commercial

for CHC Helicopter, wishes someone had told him to leverage the wisdom of senior colleagues, and Brand.LIVE president Catherine Runnals would also tell her younger self to ask for help, particularly on the accounting side. But perhaps the most profound and possibly difficult advice to follow comes from VIATeC executive director Dan Gunn: “Listen more than you speak.” So while almost every entrepreneur, CEO and manager knows what it’s like to be chief cook and bottle-washer, the word from the wise is to enlist help and listen to those with experience. Why not start with the food for thought on these pages. — Baila Lazarus, news features editor, Business in Vancouver

All photography by Dominic Schaefer, except Jeff Duncan by Dann Ilicic and Melissa Coughlan by Melanie Kelly Photography.

Traci Costa—16

ĂDaily news updates:

Peter Schouten—12

Jeff Duncan —24

Marilyn Senador—10

Jill Earthy—29

Todd Senft—28

Troy Fimrite—18

Shannon Shaw—30

Christopher V. Flett—22

Jeff Smith—8

Markus Frind—21 Nicole GartonJones—15

Jason Goto—19

John Starkey—7 Robert Tham—26 Todd Towers—30 Michael Trotman—5 Niels Veldhuis—27

Dan Gunn—6 Shaun Walker —14 Colby Harder—14 Kelly Jablonski—3 Dan Kriznic—26

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Catherine Runnals—4

Melissa Coughlan—20

Cameron Good—8 Business in Vancouver is published by BIV Media Limited Partnership at 102 East 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5T 1G2. Telephone-604-688-2398; fax: 604-688-1963; e-mail addresses: subscribe@biv.com, ads@biv.com, news@biv.com. New subscriptions are $79.95 for one year, $135.00 for two years, $189.00 for three years. Payment required with order. Monthly debit available. All prices are subject to 5% Goods and Services Tax. GST #131471674. Copyright 2006. Articles may not be reprinted without permission from the publisher. Reprint info: Veera Irani 604-608-5115. PUBLICATIONS MAIL AGREEMENT NO: 40069240. REGISTRATION NO: 8876. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to Circulation Department: 102 East 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5T 1G2. E-mail: subscribe@biv.com US POSTMASTER: Business in Vancouver (USPS 009-409) is published weekly by BIV Media Limited Partnership. Our U.S. subscription rate is $95.95 Canadian per year. Payment required with order. C/O US Agent–Transborder Mail: 4708 Caldwell Rd E., Edgewood, WA 98372-9221. Periodicals postage paid at Puyallup, WA. and at additional mailing offices. US POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Business In Vancouver, c/o Transborder Mail, PO Box 6016, Federal Way, WA 98063-6016 Retail distribution by Globe Distribution Services.

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BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

Business in Vancouver December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011

Kelly Jablonski

Andrew Ramlo

CEO, Ultimate Skateboard Distributors Inc. Age: 37

Executive director, Urban Futures Inc. Age: 38

S

kateboarding is not often seen as a path to corporate success, but for Kelly Jablonski, the popular pastime is more than a lifestyle; it also became his career. As a sponsored amateur to $4 million skateboarder, Jablonski throughout spent much of formative the ’90s to teenage years at a Richmore than $15 mond indoor skate park, million at the eschewing the classroom turn of the to log the sometimes millennium rough-and-tumble hours and settling needed to hone his skills. more recently By 15, the young Jabloninto the $10 million range, ski had caught the eye of skate boarding’s public the skate park owner and persona ebbs and flows but he was hired to help out a consistent core of skate since he was there all the subculture keeps business time anyway. When the thriving. manager ended up leaving, Unlike many other Jablonski was put in charge Canadian distributors, of the park. It would subseUltimate Skateboarding quently close in 1992. has remained focused on Despite losing his job, hard goods such as boards, the skate park owner told trucks and wheels, while Jablonski that once busistill catering to the lifestyle ness picked up, he could segment of the market come work for him at his with clothing, shoes and distribution company, other accessories. which sold skateboarding As a member of Interaccessories and lifestyle national Association of products. Skateboard Companies’ “He called me back in board of directors, based 1992 or 1993,” said Jablonin California, Jablonski ski. “He said, ‘Get in the finds it “surreal” to be warehouse. Pack boxes and sitting along side industry learn everything you can. I leaders he once idolized as want you to run the whole a young skateboarder. thing and take it to the “Guys that used to be big next level.’” names back in the ’80s and Within four years, ’90s and are now leaders of Jablonski was leading some of the largest comUltimate Skateboard panies in skateboarding,” Distributors Inc. he said. “I sit in a room “Luckily, I got the with these guys as an equal chance to learn life experipeer when for years I used ence not by going to school to buy their boards and see but by being given the them in magazines.” Ą real-life chance to do it. Not too many people get that chance.” Riding the latest wave of skate culture revival, the popularity of long boarding has pushed skateboarding back into the public eye, according to Jablonski. With annual revenue climbing from $3 million

“I sit in a room with these guys as an equal peer when for years I used to buy their boards and see them in magazines”

“W

Birthplace: Penticton Where do you live now: Richmond Highest level of education: High school and the school of life Car or chosen mode of transport: Cadillac Escalade EXT Currently reading: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts Last CD bought or music downloaded: God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise by Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs Favourite local restaurant: Cactus Club Profession you would most like to try: professional cyclist in the Tour de France Mentor: George Powell, founder, owner and president of Powell Peralta Skateboards Toughest business or professional decision: Putting business first and compassion second during the last few years Advice you would give the younger you: Listen to those around you who have valuable input and feedback. Took me awhile to realize and learn you can’t do everything yourself and to not be afraid to surround yourself with brilliant people What’s left to do: Continue to grow, evolve, change and, most of all, enjoy it both in business and life. Live by the motto, “Wait for no one,” when it comes to personal goals and projects I have including Just Giver for Parkinson’s Disease and the incredible grassroots success the charity event has seen in the past five years

e’re a bunch of numbers geeks.” That is Andrew Ramlo’s nutshell description of the folks at Urban Futures Inc., which Ramlo founded in 2001 with prominent Vancouverbased demographic and consumer behaviour researcher David Baxter. Urban Futures has grown into a leading pulse-taker of the demographic and economic issues that affect Canadian communities. But Ramlo is quick to separate Urban Futures from the pollster pack. “Polls don’t dig down into the details about how things change and, more importantly, why things change,” said Ramlo. Urban Futures is the private-sector sister of the non-profit Urban Futures Institute, which Baxter founded in 1996. The institute’s singular client is the general public. Its key goal, through the detailed reports it releases about once month, is to spur conversation about public policy and about why and how Canadians live, move and communicate the way they do. Ramlo began working for the institute in the late 1990s after obtaining a bachelor of arts in urban and economic geography. After returning to university to obtain a master’s degree in planning in 2000, he recognized the opportunity for the institute to subsidize its own research with fee-based work. Today, the incorporated Urban Futures, of which Ramlo is executive director, counts numerous municipalities, provincial governments and developers among its clients.

“It’s really been the best of both worlds, being able to work on the non-profit side getting better information out to the public and cross-subsidizing that work with fee-based work,” said Ramlo. Considering that Ramlo almost failed Grade 6 math, it’s a little surprising that Statistics Canada relies on him to interpret and convey the results of their surveys and findings for the media and general public. “Math was something I loved to hate in school,” said Ramlo. “I was a late bloomer.” His other roles with advocacy, community and public policy groups in B.C. have solidified his reputation as one of B.C.’s most prominent demographers and planning consultants. He has held a council position with the Planning Institute of BC and is currently an advisory committee member with the Vancouver Foundation, assisting with the development of the Vital Signs for Metro Vancouver indicator program. Ą

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Birthplace: Ottawa Where do you live now: Cedar Cottage neighbourhood in East Vancouver Highest level of education: Master’s degree from UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning Car or chosen mode of transport: Red 1965 Mustang (my first car!) Currently reading: Our Days are Numbered: How Mathematics Orders Our Lives by Jason Brown Last CD bought or music downloaded: High Violet by the National Favourite local restaurant: Campagnolo in Vancouver Profession you would most like to try: Professional cyclist Mentor: David Baxter Toughest business or professional decision: What to do when a founding partner decides to retire Advice you would give the younger you: Never give up, but know when to quit What’s left to do: Make Vancouver’s Power 50 list!

“Math was something I loved to hate in school. I was a late bloomer”


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BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011 Business in Vancouver

Sponsor’s Message

Catherine Runnals :c\V\^c\ :cigZegZcZjghid AZVgcVcY<gdl :DKVcXdjkZg!:cigZ" egZcZjgh¼Dg\Vc^oVi^dc ^h!dcXZV\V^c!VegdjY hedchdgd[i]Z7jh^cZhh >cKVcXdjkZgIde)% JcYZg)%6lVgYh[dgV +i]nZVg# 6hVc^ciZgcVi^dcVa!ldgaY gZheZXiZYVhhdX^Vi^dc d[ZcigZegZcZjgh!i]Z :DKVcXdjkZg8]VeiZg ^heaZVhZYid]VkZ]VY bVcn :D KVcXdjkZg bZbWZghVhl^ccZghd[ i]Z)%JcYZg)%6lVgYh dkZgi]ZeVhiiZcnZVgh VcYlZXdc\gVijaViZVaa i]Z[^cVa^hih[dg'%&%# 6hV\adWVaXdbbjc^in d[ ZcigZegZcZjgh :D ]Vh,*%%bZbWZgh^c(- Xdjcig^Zh#BZbWZgh bjhiWZi]Z[djcYZg! Xd"[djcYZg!dlcZgdg Xdcigdaa^c\h]VgZ]daYZg d[VWjh^cZhhl^i]VccjVa \gdhhhVaZhZmXZZY^c\ JH&b^aa^dcVcYWZ jcYZg*%nghd[V\ZVi i]Zi^bZd[_d^c^c\# :Dd[[ZghbZbWZgh9^gZXi EZZg"Id"EZZgAZVgc^c\! DcXZ">c"6"A^[Zi^bZ:meZ" g^ZcXZhVcY8dccZX" i^dcId:meZgihi]gdj\] bZbWZg ZkZcih VcY bdci]an;dgjb<gdjeh# I]ZKVcXdjkZg8]Ve" iZg^hdcZd[i]ZaZVY^c\ X]VeiZgh^ci]ZldgaY! d[[Zg^c\Vhigdc\BZcidg" h]^eEgd\gVbl^i]hZc^dg bZbWZghd[i]ZLdgaY EgZh^YZcih¼Dg\Vc^oV" i^dcLEDVcYVcVXi^kZ! k^WgVcibZbWZgh]^e# :DKVcXdjkZgVahdhje" edgihZbZg\^c\ZcigZ" egZcZjghi]gdj\]i]Z 6XXZaZgVidgEgd\gVbVcY i]ZVlVgY^c\d[Ndji] HX]daVgh]^ehegZhZciZY VccjVaanVii]Z)%JcYZg )%6lVgYh# 8dc\gVijaVi^dchid7jh^" cZhh>cKVcXdjkZg[dg i]Z^gk^h^dcidegd[^aZ i]Z¹WZhid[i]ZWZhiº ZcigZegZcZjgh^c7g^i^h] 8dajbW^VVii]Z^gVccjVa VlVgYh#

;dgbZbWZgh]^e ^c[dgbVi^dck^h^i lll#ZdcZildg`#dg\ $KVcXdjkZgdgXdciVXijh Vi+%)"+-*")---

President, brand.LIVE Management Group Inc. Age: 39

C

atherine Runnals had an extensive background in event management and music tour organization when she co-founded brand.LIVE Management Group Inc. with Greg Albrecht in 2008. Since then, she bought Albrecht’s stake in the company, grew the venture to 16 staff members and brought in some business heavyweights as partners: Boston Pizza co-founders Jim Treliving and George Melville. “To have people like George and Jim come on at a stewardship level was absolutely immense,” Runnals said. “They’ve been very important in growing this company in the past couple of years. There’s no way we would have been able to handle the volume of work we did over the Olympics without having their ac-

counting and legal prowess on our side.” Brand.LIVE designed, built and operated the Vancouver Pavilion at the Yaletown Live City site during the 2010 Winter Olympics. It contained an exhibit called Green Capital, which Vancouver Mayor

Gregor Robertson used to promote eco-opportunities in the region. Vancouver-born Runnals went to the British Columbia Institute of Technology after graduating from Notre Dame High School. What was then BCTV recruited the then-teenager as an intern. After freelancing for several years, she found her stride organizing events for Famous Events. She shifted to music tour organization in the late 1990s when her Quattro Projects Inc. was contracted by Nettwerk Music Group to help organize the first Lilith Fair tour. “Arguably the most exciting part of my career, other than what I’m currently doing at brand.LIVE, were all the years I spent on the road working for Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLaughlin, Neil Young and people like that,” she said. In 2004, she managed Dido’s world tour and was one of the world’s rare female tour organizers.

Birthplace: Vancouver Where do you live now: Strathcona Highest level of Education: BCIT marketing diploma Car or chosen mode of transport: Infinity FX35 Currently reading: The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma Last CD bought or music downloaded: Rest, Relax and Recover by John Morgan Favourite local restaurant: Boneta’s Profession you would most like to try: Chef Mentor: Unofficially Alison Lawton/officially Fiona Walsh Toughest business or professional decision: To come off the road, where I was working for amazing artists all over the world, and start my own business Advice you would give the younger you: Ask for more help. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. Don’t struggle through balance sheets and income statements: hire an accountant. It frees you up to do what you are good at and, most importantly, to build your business What’s left to do: I really want to be part of Vancouver’s creative economy. I just love living here and that’s from a girl who has literally worked all over the world. So, for me, next steps are to do more board work or to continue to sit on civic task forces so that I can help shape this gorgeous town Married to Paul, the couple have a four-year-old son, Griffin. Outside work, Runnals

enjoys snowboarding and is a major music fan who enjoys visiting music festivals. Ą

“Arguably the most exciting part of my career, other than what I’m currently doing at brand.LIVE, were all the years I spent on the road working for Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLaughlin, Neil Young and people like that”

Adam Levine Vice-president sales and marketing, TorchLight Bioresources Inc. Age: 39

A

dam Levine was riding his bicycle in New York City when the World Trade Center’s twin towers fell, a disaster he said compelled him to do more with his life. “It really sent me into a period of introspection, thinking about how I could make a difference,” Levine said. At that point, he took a closer look at self-reliance and the environment, which led him on a journey to eco-villages where he learned about emerging clean technologies. “So I said, ‘How do I make the biggest impact?’ Well, I thought if you could change the energy system, which is [causing] a lot of pollution, there’s a way to go.” His desire to foster new technologies and change the way energy is produced and used led him to the University of British Columbia for a master’s degree at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability.

While there, Levine honed in on an emerging biofuels sector and decided to invest his time in a thenunknown technology called biodiesel. In 2003, he co-founded Canadian Bioenergy Corp. with a desire to replace dirty diesel fuels with his company’s brand of clean fuel. In seven short years, Levine grew Canadian Bioenergy from a grassroots venture into a $5 milliona-year venture with 15 employees. Municipalities, ports, airports and national parks eventually began to use his company’s fuel, and now the company supplies approximately 40% of B.C.’s total biodiesel market. But Levine didn’t stop there. He recently left Canadian Bioenergy to start TorchLight Bioresources Inc., a startup focused on new biomass technologies. Levine also plans to open a live music

“It really sent me into a period of introspection, thinking about how I could make a difference”

venue and restaurant in Vancouver. “I like the arts, I like the sense of community, I like music,” he said. “I thought it would be a good opportunity to transition some hard skills from the petroleum and biofuels world and manage them in a different way … it’s a nice merge of my interests.” Ą

Birthplace: New York City Where do you live now: Vancouver Highest level of education: MSc in resource management, UBC Car or chosen mode of transport: Bicycle Currently reading: A Night of Serious Drinking by Rene Daumal Last CD bought or music downloaded: DBL Dragon Favourite local restaurant: Guu Profession you would most like to try: Psychology Mentor: My parents and Allison Morrison Toughest business or professional decision: Winding down an operating division Advice you would give the younger you: Trust your instincts What’s left to do: Launch a biochemical company, open a live music venue (Electric Owl), release an album


BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

Business in Vancouver December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011

Ben West

Michael Trotman

Co-Founder, Big Green Technical Solutions Inc. and Xomo Digital Inc. Age: 36

President and CEO, Trotman Automotive Group Age: 38

W

hen VANOC needed a spectator guide mobile application, Ben West’s company, Xomo Digital, was an obvious choice. Xomo had also provided apps for the Vancouver international jazz, film and fringe festivals, as well as the London Jazz Festival and Cannes Film Festival. “We’ve been a part of these large events in a way that hasn’t really been possible until now,” he said, speaking of the growing mobile technology trend. “It’s a huge segment of our business now, really satisfying the need to have a location where there’s pervasive, constant information, and by specializing in those events, we’ve really found a niche for ourselves, a niche that didn’t really exist until the last few years.” West’s other company, Big Green Technical Solutions, was founded in 2004. Big Green is a leader in web and mobile applications for high-profile property developers like Concord Pacific and Bosa Development. Under his leadership, Big Green managed to survive the 2008 recession. “It was one of those things where they always say ‘Out of crisis comes opportunity,’” West said. The recession motivated

his company to re-examine the market and look into emerging technologies. “It really helped us weather that year, provided focus, provided opportunities that now have come to fruition,” he said.

Big Green and Xomo are just two of the latest venture from the Queens University graduate. West exited Queens in 1996 with a degree in film and media studies, and one of his first accomplishments out of school was to help create financial web portals for Stockhouse.com. “As the Internet grew, we grew with it,” he said of his formative years at Stockhouse. “A lot of what I do now I learned in the trenches along the way as we grew from a fledgling company to one that had offices in many parts of the world. It was trial by fire, but that took me to where I am now.” Ą

“A lot of what I do now I learned in the trenches along the way as we grew from a fledgling company to one that had offices in many parts of the world”

Birthplace: Nelson Where do you live now: Kits Highest level of education: BA (honours) Car or chosen mode of transport: Prius during the week. Swagger Wagon on the weekends Currently reading: Omnivore’s Dilemma in addition to the nightly readings of Goodnight Moon Last CD bought or music download: The First Days of Spring by Noah and the Whale and Reckless by the SteelDrivers Favourite local restaurant: I’m a big fan of eating local, so it would have to be Bishop’s. Of course, there is also the ceaseless siren’s song of the fish tacos at Sobo’s in Tofino Profession you would most like to try: A combination of Hell’s Kitchen and some very useful mobile apps have me cooking a fair amount lately, so I might say chef. Of course, “pirate” would also look pretty good on a resumé Mentor: My grandfather, George. He epitomizes old-school hard, honest work Toughest business or professional decision: Having to lay off staff when the market tanked in 2008 Advice you would give the younger you: When you run your own business, it is far too easy to allow the work to consume you. If I could give advice to my younger self, it would be to ensure I stepped back more often to gauge whether my life was balanced and that I was investing as much time in the business as I was with friends and family What’s left to do: On the business side of things, I look forward to continuing to innovate in the mobile space. On the personal side, I can’t wait to travel more, particularly here in B.C. The scale of our province is truly aweinspiring

T

he auto business may have seen better days, but Michael Trotman has taken his family’s sole dealership business and made it thrive in adversity by expanding its geographical and product range when many competitors are falling by the roadside. His decision to travel to Australia and Southeast Asia with friends from university six months after completing his bachelor of commerce degree at UBC in 1994 is what ultimately led him back into the family business. “We all went away and said let’s reconvene in six months and then we are going to travel Southeast Asia and Australia,” he said, adding that he never intended to go into the family business. “I tried selling cars. That was my first career experience in the business. I did that for six months and did really well and then went travelling for six months.” When he returned from his trip broke, he went back to selling cars to make some money. “That was the point when my father was contemplating retirement and functioning as an absentee owner, so there was an opportunity to get involved and take the company over,” said Trotman. “I spent another couple of years working my way through the company and deciding whether or not this was something I wanted to dive into.” He had held an impression of the auto industry that “wasn’t necessarily a favourable one” and he was unsure if it was where he wanted to be. But after experiencing it and seeing the opportunities, it changed his mind and he got involved. He became the dealer principal of Langley Chrysler Dodge Jeep in 1998 at the age of 26, the

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Birthplace: Abbotsford Where do you live now: Vancouver Highest level of education: Bachelor of commerce, UBC Sauder School of Business Car or chosen mode of transport: 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota Sienna, Fiat 500 Currently reading: Drive: The Surprising Truth of What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink and Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Meg Meeker Last CD bought or music downloaded: k.d. lang’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah from the 2010 Olympic opening ceremony Favourite local restaurant: Blue Water Cafe and take-out from Simply Thai Profession you would most like to try: Orthopedic surgeon, guitarist/singer songwriter and professional baseball player Mentor: One of my business advisers, Bill Humphries Toughest business or professional decision: To enter the automotive industry, take over a company my father had started and rebuild it in my own vision Advice you would give the younger you (such as when you first started your business): Trust your gut. Invest your time in finding and cultivating the right people and everything else will take care of itself What’s left to do: Raise and champion my kids to be outstanding global citizens, establish our foundation to invest in giving back, help create a better world and inspire our future leaders youngest dealer principal in Canada with Chrysler at the time. He rapidly built the business during the next five years, earning industry and manufacturer accolades, and in 2003 was named president and CEO of the Trotman Auto Group (TAG), which has since grown to include Comox Valley Dodge, Alpine Toyota and Abbotsford Hyundai. The company now employs 140 people and generates more than $100 million in annual sales revenue. TAG’s latest acquisition, Abbotsford Hyundai, is not even a year old, but sales are already up 200% and profits by more than 500%, according to Trotman. Alpine

“I knew for our group to grow and expand there were opportunities and that Hyundai was emerging as a world class brand”

Toyota joined the TAG fold in 2008. “The industry was in flux. Banks wanted to see diversity and were nervous about U.S. brands,” he said. “I knew for our group to grow and expand, there were opportunities and that Hyundai was emerging as a world-class brand.” Many dealers are in defence mode and that spells opportunity for TAG’s youthful and energetic leadership team, he added. “It is a time of challenge for all dealers and groups. For us, it is time to take advantage of opportunities that exist.” Ą


6

BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011 Business in Vancouver

Sponsor’s Message

Arnold Leung CEO, Appnovation Technologies Age: 24

A JOHN PANKRATZ, FCGA President, Certified General Accountants Association of British Columbia

Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies DcWZ]Va[d[i]Z8Zgi^[^ZY <ZcZgVa6XXdjciVcih6hhd" X^Vi^dcd[7g^i^h]8dajbW^V 8<6"78!>VbeaZVhZYid Xdc\gVijaViZVaad[i]dhZl]d lZgZhZaZXiZY[dg7jh^cZhh ^cKVcXdjkZg¼hIde)%jcYZg )%6lVgYh# I]ZXdcig^Wji^dcZVX]d[ i]Z)%VlVgYl^ccZgh]VkZ bVYZidi]Z^gdg\Vc^oVi^dch! idWjh^cZhh^c7#8#VcYid i]Z^gXdbbjc^i^Zh^hVXVjhZ [dgXZaZWgVi^dc#L]Vi^hZkZc bdgZ^bedgiVci!]dlZkZg!^h i]Vii]Z^ghjXXZhh^hVc^che^" gVi^dc[dgVcndcZl]dlVcih idhjXXZZY^cWjh^cZhh# 8<6"78^hVegdjYhedchdg d[i]ZhZVlVgYh#Djg6hhd" X^Vi^dcgZegZhZcihbdgZi]Vc &%!%%%8<6hl]dldg`Vi ZkZgnaZkZad[\dkZgcbZci! ^cejWa^XegVXi^XZVcY[dg XdbeVc^Zhi]gdj\]djii]Z egdk^cXZ#8<6h]VkZWZZc Vk^iVaeVgid[i]ZWjh^cZhh Xdbbjc^in^c7#8#[dgcZVgan +%nZVghVcYlZVgZeaZVhZY idWZVhhdX^ViZYl^i]i]^h \gZViZkZci#LZl^h]Vaa i]dhZl]dlZgZ]dcdjgZY Xdci^cjZYhjXXZhh# H^cXZgZan! ?d]cEVc`gVio!;8<6

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rnold Leung’s role as the youthful head of one of Vancouver’s fastestgrowing web developers is doubly impressive considering that Appnovation Technologies is the second company he has founded. The first company, which Leung began while obtaining a bachelor of commerce at the University of British Columbia, failed, but was a valuable lesson in the dos and don’ts of entrepreneurialism. With Appnovation, Leung is getting it right. Appnovation, which Leung founded when he was 22, has made a point of offering few services – namely website and application development – and using few development platforms. The company is profitable and doubled its revenue to $2.2 million in 2010. Its specialty is opensource software: it’s one of the biggest Drupal development shops in Can-

ada and one of the few development shops in Canada that specialize in Alfresco development. “More and more corporations, especially bigger organizations, are moving toward open source,” said Leung. While his programming skills are sufficient, it is his knack for business development that has made Appnovation a success. Leung has found the right formula of people and platforms to make an ever-more scalable web development shop. He organized Vancouver’s first Alfresco night and is a co-founder of VEF Momentum, an event that’s under the umbrella of the Vancouver Enterprise Forum but dedicated entirely to Vancouver’s

“Most 15-year-olds probably want to be a firefighter or something, I wanted to run a publicly traded company” youngest entrepreneurs. He is a member of EO Vancouver and is one of the Vancouver Enterprise Forum’s youngest directors ever. As a lead organizer, he helped turn Enterprize Canada into one of Canada’s biggest undergraduate entrepreneurship conference by helping securing major sponsorships from PwC, Google and others. The 2006 conference

had a business plan competition with prizes valued at more $200,000. As a teenager, he likely didn’t have many friends who identified with his dream job. “Most 15-year-olds probably want to be a firefighter or something, I wanted to run a publicly traded company.” Ą

Birthplace: Hong Kong Where do you live now: Vancouver Highest level of education: Bachelor of commerce from UBC’s Sauder School of Business Car or chosen mode of transport: Infiniti FX35 Currently reading: I haven’t had time to finish a book since high school Last CD bought or music downloaded: I haven’t bought anything since I got XM Radio Favourite local restaurant: The Boathouse Profession you would most like to try: I’m happy running a company Mentor: Steve Curtis, who also became a Top Forty-under-40 winner when he was 24 Toughest business or professional decision: After finishing my commerce degree, whether to a start a company or get a regular job Advice you would give the younger you: There is no such thing as a cool or not cool business; there are only those businesses that make money and those that don’t What’s left to do? Grow the company until it can hopefully go public, then travel the world

Dan Gunn Executive director, VIATeC Age: 39

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ix years ago, when Dan Gunn became executive director of VIATeC at 33, the non-profit industry association was close to shuttering its doors due to insolvency. Revenue at VIATeC, which represents Greater Victoria’s technology sector, is double today what it was then, and the association generates a comfortable surplus thanks to 100% growth in membership and major growth in sponsorship. “We’re applying entrepreneurial principles to how we run VIATeC,” said Gunn, who originally joined VIATeC as an e-commerce consultant on a seven-month contract in 2000.

He’s been key in weaning the organization off a dependence on government funding. “When government decisions changed, it had a drastic impact on what we were able to deliver,” he said. “Now we make sure that about 30% of our funding comes from government sources and no more than that.” At the age of 23, Gunn chaired his own successful election campaign for a council seat in the Town of Georgina in Ontario, which has a population of roughly 42,000. His term there was a three-year crash course in communications, diplomacy and negotiations – experienced while Gunn attended university and founded and managed the Round Table News magazine and Round Table

Publishing. The former managed a regular student newspaper at Trent University, latter published the university’s yearbook and student handbook, among other publications. “Between being an elected official and a businessperson, I didn’t spend as much time in class as your average full-time student,” said Gunn. Regarding VIATeC’s role in cultivating Greater Victoria’s technology community, Gunn acknowledged it is difficult to put a finger on the tangible impact of industry associations like VIATeC. “You’re the sand filling the gaps in between the rocks that otherwise

Birthplace: Newmarket, Ontario Where do you live now: Brentwood Bay in Victoria Highest level of education: B.Comm in entrepreneurial management Car or chosen mode of transport: I just traded my Smart car for a Volvo XC-90 Currently reading: The Expectant Father, Seth Godin’s blog, Reddit.com Last CD bought or music downloaded: Rush’s Gold Favourite local restaurant: Any restaurant in which my good friends are with me Profession you would most like to try: Film producer Mentor: Rob Bennett, Don Safnuk and Art Aylesworth Toughest business or professional decision: Hiring and letting people go are always the most important and toughest decisions Advice you would give the younger you: Listen more than you speak What’s left to do: Strive to continuously improve VIATeC and be the best husband and father I can be wouldn’t get filled,” he said. “Which, overall, makes for a more solid foundation.” But there is industry consensus that, since Gunn took the reins at VIATeC, there is much greater

recognition in Greater Victoria of the size and importance of the local $2 billion-a-year technology sector, which has usurped tourism as the area’s number largest industry. Ą

“You’re the sand filling the gaps in between the rocks that otherwise wouldn’t get filled”


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Business in Vancouver December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011

John Starkey President and CEO, FCV Technologies Ltd. Age: 37

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etween 2001 and 2005, John Starkey led the creation of Expedia Inc.’s private-label technology platform, which became the back-end travel booking system for brands such as American Airlines, Starwood Hotels & Resorts and VIA Rail. He was among Seattlebased Expedia’s first employees – but Vancouver beckoned. “It was an amazing and invaluable experience to join Expedia in its infancy and be a part of building it into a global brand,” said Starkey. “But I had a young son, and it was important to me for him to grow up in Vancouver.” Starkey fell in love with Vancouver and B.C. during a trip here with colleagues from Accenture, where he was a strategic consultant between 1997 and 1999. Starkey also wanted to hang his own shingle after years of helping grow the

online businesses of other companies. His philanthropic efforts in B.C. are as impressive as FCV’s 50% year-over-year growth. He is a member of the Young Entrepreneurs’ Organization (YEO), a mentor for UBC’s MBA Program and a director of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs. Notably, Starkey founded FCV’s HELP network, which supports community efforts in the areas of health, emergency response, learning and participation. Through HELP, FCV started the charity Kayak for a Cure to encourage teamwork, outdoor lifestyle pursuits and community participation in raising funds for the Canadian Cancer Society. Following the Haiti earthquake, FCV built a community platform for a local charity supporting the cause. And closer to home, FCV built a social-media strategy to help save the HSBC Celebration of Light. FCV, which has been profitable since its first quarter of business, counts among its major

wins contracts to build Scotiabank’s rewards travel website and iPhone applications for Nike. FCV won two interactive media awards for web work it completed for its first client, the Canadian Tourism Commission. “We’ve grown entirely organically,” said Starkey. “The positive is that I’ve retained ownership, but we probably could’ve grown faster if we took outside investment. But I wanted to keep it independent.” His next objective: “I’d like FCV to become a $10 million-in-sales company in the next 24 months.” Ą

“I’d like FCV to become a $10-million-in-sales company in the next 24 months”

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Birthplace: Youngstown, Ohio Where do you live now: Vancouver Highest level of education: B.Comm in finance from the University of Colorado Car or chosen mode of transport: BMW 328xi Currently reading: Haida Monumental Art: Villages of the Queen Charlotte Islands, by George MacDonald Last CD bought or music downloaded: Oscar Peterson, An Oscar Peterson Christmas Person I would most like to meet: Steve Jobs or Pierre Trudeau Favourite local restaurant: Yew Restaurant Favourite movie: Star Wars Profession you would most like to try: Consul General of Canada or senator in the Canadian Parliament Mentor: Margaret Turner, a good friend of the family now in her 90s, who has mentored me in life and in business Toughest business or professional decision: To leave Expedia, immigrate to Canada and become an entrepreneur Advice you would give the younger you: Don’t be afraid to take risks What’s left to do: Open FCV’s Toronto office, travel within Canada and internationally and learn a new language. Also, help make the Canada that my children inherit to be even better than the one I immigrated to


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December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011 Business in Vancouver

Cameron Good

Jeff Smith

President, the Key Age: 39

Vice-president, commercial, CHC Helicopter Age: 36

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ome people look at a worldwide recession and think “crisis.” Others, like Cameron Good, look at the same worldwide recession and instead think “opportunity.” In this case, the opportunity the 39-year-old had in mind was leaving MAC Marketing and starting a brand new company (real estate marketing group the Key) in 2009, when the housing market was still trying to recover from the prior year’s recession. “I know this business very well – I know the people in it, and I know how to be successful,” he said. His colleagues would agree: “Most people who know me know that I’m very serious about what I do, that I don’t go into something half-heartedly,” he said, “so I didn’t have too many people who were that skeptical.” Good now has the

uncommon distinction of not only surviving the recession, but directly thriving from it. “I think I was actually very lucky because during the big downturn, we figured out a way to be really successful. In fact, the most success we’ve ever had was in 2009,” he said. Good knew the demise of the old ways of doing business would only lead to new and better ways of doing things. “When we went to start this company, in any recession and definitely at that time, there was so much shake up in the industry that there were lots of good challenges available, and we were able to put together the best team, I think, in the business.” Ą

“Most people who know me know that I’m very serious about what I do, that I don’t go into something half-heartedly, so I didn’t have too many people who were that skeptical”

Birthplace: Vancouver Where you live now: West Vancouver Highest level of education: B.Comm. Car or chosen mode of transport: Mercedes ML320 on biodiesel Currently reading: Good to Great Last CD bought or music downloaded: “Vertical Rhythm” Favourite local restaurant: La Taqueria Profession you would most like to try: Filmmaker Mentor: Sid Landolt and Father Moc AKA Johnny Mac AKA Tyre AKA John McIntyre Toughest business or professional decision: To swallow pride and right-size when necessary Advice you would give the younger you: Forget high tech. Get into real estate ... NOW What’s left to do: Take it to the next level

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hree companies in six years is a lot for anyone to deal with, especially if, like Jeff Smith, you never left your employer the whole time. “I had six boxes of business cards between the new companies and different roles,” he said of his time with what started as

Business Objects. What began as a five-month consulting gig turned into a six-year commitment, moving from consultant to senior manager, financial planning and analysis, and then director, global partner operations, and finally director, global partnerships. Fresh into his last extension while acting as a consultant for Business Objects, Crystal Decisions was acquired and that “opened up all kinds of new doors,” according to Smith. The subsequent move was ideal as Smith had been looking to transition from the consulting role he had taken on since he co-founded Ipreo with Leonard Brody in mid2001 and run into subsequent financing issues in the wake of the events of September 11. “That would probably be a low, but at the same time, I started doing consulting, which was really fun, but it got to the point where it helped me realize I needed to keep learning,” said Smith. “At that point in your career, you don’t want to be teaching, you want to be learning.” Marrying his financial background with a marketing and sales savvy – he was the first student

at Acadia University to graduate with a bachelor of business administration specializing in marketing and accounting – would prove to be a winning combination. He worked with Business Objects, Crystal Decisions and finally SAP before moving to CHC Helicopter as senior director, financial planning and analysis in November 2008. In relatively short order, he was named vice-president, commercial (global operations), in July 2009 and has worked with the team in global operations to secure several multi-million dollar contracts within the last year. “All of my background is about numbers and using numbers to be creative and find a solution,” he said. “That’s really all sales is.” Ą

Birthplace: St. John’s, Newfoundland Where do you live now: Kitsilano Highest level of education: Chartered accountant and chartered business valuator Car or chosen mode of transport: Kona commuter bike Currently reading: The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power by Daniel Yergin Last CD bought or music downloaded: Broken Bells, Broken Bells Favourite local restaurant: Bluewater or any other restaurant managed by Stefan Cachard Profession you would most like to try: NHL hockey player Mentor(s): Christine Baird, president of CHC global operations, and my father Toughest business or professional decision: Sometimes the hardest decision is to end the debate and actually make a decision. Don’t over analyze Advice you would give the younger you: Leverage the wisdom and experience of your senior colleagues. You don’t have to follow all of the advice you receive, but you really should listen What’s left to do: As the father of a child with a severe peanut allergy, I look forward to supporting the growth of Anaphylaxis Canada, a non-profit focused on allergy education and advocacy. From a career perspective, my goal is to lead a company while continuing to balance work with family and wellness

“All of my background is about numbers and using numbers to be creative and find a solution. That’s really all sales is”


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Business in Vancouver December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011

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December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011 Business in Vancouver

Boris Wertz CEO, W Media Ventures Age: 37

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ith an investment portfolio of 20 startup companies and a hands-on approach to supporting those companies, Boris Wertz is one of the few, if not the only, angel investors in Vancouver who can legitimately use the oft-misused buzzword “super angel” to describe himself. Two-thirds of his portfolio companies are in the Pacific Northwest where, at any given moment, he can hop on a plane and be at a portfolio company’s office within an hour. “If you only show up for board meetings every two

or three months, you’re just not getting deep down into what is going on with your portfolio companies – what their competition is doing, how their product is developing and how to market and scale them,” said Wertz.

“The entrepreneur will always take the handson investor who brings additional value over someone who just has the money”

Wertz, who founded his angel investment vehicle W Media Ventures three years ago, added six new companies to his portfolio in 2010. He invests in what he knows: the social media and consumer Internet sector. Much of that knowledge was derived from his experiences in developing

JustBooks, an online platform for used and antiquarian books that Wertz co-founded in Germany. In 2001, Victoria’s AbeBooks acquired JustBooks. As part of the acquisition, Wertz moved to Victoria to become AbeBooks’ COO and help it build an online marketplace for more than 110 million primarily used, rare and out-of-print books. Amazon.com Inc. ac-

Director, SaltGrass Health Inc. Age: 39

hen Marilyn Senador left the Philippines to come to Canada in 1999, she did not expect she would own a business that employs 180 people. She took English and nursing exams and promptly got a job as a registered nurse at Vancouver General Hospital, working in the neurosciences department. By 2001, however, she noticed a business opportunity. Patients were being discharged when they still needed someone to look after them. Senador’s father, who was a businessman, had long encouraged his daughter to go into business. Senador decided to go for it and, along with other investors, established what became SaltGrass Health Inc.

SaltGrass provides nursing care to hospitals, nursing homes, seniors’ facilities and private residents. The business quickly grew but Senador kept her job as a nurse just in case it floundered. By 2005, Senador recognized a second niche area where there was little competition: group homes for people who have brain injuries. She established Jasper Crescent Care Home in 2005 and, when it quickly started to fill with clients, Senador quit her nursing job. Demand was enough that she launched Thornhill Care Home in 2008 to similarly care for people who have acquired brain injuries. “I miss going to work in the hospital but I feel I am more passionate now about the business side of things,” she said. “I’m looking at ex-

Birthplace: Besigheim, Germany Where do you live now: Vancouver Highest level of education: PhD Car or chosen mode of transport: Audi A4 station wagon Currently reading: Do more faster: TechStars lessons to accelerate your startup, by Brad Feld and David Cohen Last CD bought or music downloaded: “Wavin’ Flag” by K’naan Favourite local restaurant: La Quercia Profession you would most like to try: Architect Mentor: Still looking for one Toughest business or professional decision: Laying off half of our team after our startup got acquired in 2001 by AbeBooks Advice you would give the younger you: Work hard, take the long-term view, grasp opportunities What’s left to do: Make Vancouver one of the best places in North America to build an Internet startup

Birthplace: Kiamba, Philippines Where do you live now: East Vancouver Highest level of Education: Bachelor of science in nursing Car or chosen mode of transport: BMW X6 Currently reading: Mostly national newspapers and business and trade publications Last CD bought or music downloaded: Revelation by Journey with their new Filipino lead singer Arnel Pineda Favourite local restaurant: Pinpin, for Filipino food; Stonegrill Profession you would most like to try: Florist Mentor: My father, Faustino Ancheta, and my husband, Jose Dennis Senador Toughest business or professional decision: To leave a stable and regular nursing job at Vancouver General Hospital in 2001 and to invest in an entrepreneurial venture with other investors Advice you would give the younger you: Commit to your passion. That’s very important. And, have a singleminded focus on the business idea while seeking advice, adaptability and a sustainable business plan What’s left to do: Ensure the sustainability of SaltGrass’ drive towards continuous growth. This is only possible if I can be always mindful of opportunities through a combination of resourcefulness, planning and gut feel or instinct

Marilyn Senador

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quired AbeBooks in 2008. Wertz had already left the firm to begin angel investing, but remained a minority shareholder. The Amazon deal provided Wertz with the financial ammo necessary to kick his angel-investing career into high gear. “Money is certainly the starting point for investing,” said Wertz. “But the entrepreneur will always take the hands-on investor who brings additional value over someone who just has the money.” While not cultivating a network of contacts that spans from Vancouver to the Silicon Valley to New York to Germany, he sits on the board of DigiBC and fundraises for Science World. He was recently named chair of Bootup Entrepeneurial Society, which is a non-profit that is very active in supporting development of Vancouver’s Internet startup cluster. Ą

panding the group home business. We’re looking at new places and in the new year we are looking at expanding.” SaltGrass has always maintained a healthy bottom line and in the past five years has managed to generate about $250,000 in profits. Outside work, Senador

is active in the Filipino community. She volunteers at the Multicultural Helping House Society, which is

a non-profit organization dedicated to helping newcomers to Canada. She is also on the audit committee of One Filipino

Cooperative of BC. That organization helps marginalized sectors of the Filipino community in B.C. Ą

“I miss going to work in the hospital, but I feel I am more passionate now about the business side of things”


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Business in Vancouver December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011

Thomas Ligocki

Birthplace: Brno, Czech Republic (formerly Czechoslovakia) Where do you live now: Burnaby Highest level of education: Master of science in software technology Car or chosen mode of transport: Jeep: I love the outdoors and need to occasionally get off the beaten path Currently reading: Jim Collins’ How the Mighty Fall Last CD bought or music downloaded: Nikki Yanofsky’s “I Believe” Favourite local restaurant: Burnaby’s Oyama Sushi Profession you would most like to try: Conservation officer or a political leader who lives for the people Mentor: My father. During my university days, he and I carpooled every day, and every day he taught me another lesson about life. Later in my career, my mentor was Paul Blanchet, who led by example, teaching me how to implement and use processes Toughest business or professional decision: Giving up a great job opportunity for the chance of a lifetime to start a new company Advice you would give the younger you: Don’t be afraid to make decisions; no one else really has a better answer. Listen to everyone; sometimes a less polished and not as well articulated idea may have brilliant merits once polished What’s left to do: A task that is always unfinished: for now and forever, showing my wife, children and mother that I love them

President and CEO, Clevest Solutions Inc. Age: 38

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hen a 13-year-old Thomas Ligocki and his family fled the former Czechoslovakia in 1985, Ligocki compensated for his poor grasp of the English language and for his family’s humble beginnings with a strong work ethic. “I had two jobs: I was cleaning up around the pub in the morning and delivering newspapers after school,” said Ligocki. The success of Clevest Solutions Inc., a company Ligocki founded in his basement with a handful of programmers in 2006, is attributable to that same work ethic. More than 100 utilities use Clevest’s mobile applications to manage their fleets of meter readers and to collect field data. Ligocki’s entrepreneurial adventures began in 2002 when he cofounded an online foodordering portal known as YummyWeb. But from experi-

ences early in his career developing products and managing projects for businesses involved with wireless networks, workforce management software and advanced meter systems, Ligocki knew a concept known as the smart grid was going to become bigger than online menus. YummyWeb still exists, but Clevest’s growth has Ligocki’s full concentration. Clevest has signed up more than 30 utility customers in 2010. It also acquired a competitor this year and, in the process, acquired another 28 customers. In addition to Ligocki’s work ethic, Clevest’s success is a result of its first mover status with utilities that are adopting smartgrid technologies. “The change in the utility sector to the smart grid was so profound that the existing players were not able to take advantage of it,” said Ligocki. “That gave us an opportunity to jump in and help fill that void.” Ligocki, who holds a master’s degree in software technology and

7,500

www.eonetwork.org/Vancouver

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a bachelor’s degree in computer science, is also a board member of the smart grid education group at Utilimetrics, which is an international utility technology association with more than 1,400 members. Ligocki has instilled a strong culture of philan-

thropy at Clevest. In 2009, the company won a Spirit Award from the United Way for a fundraising campaign in which every one of its 50 employees participated. Ą

“The change in the utility sector to the smart grid was so profound that the existing players were not able to take advantage of it”


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Christopher Bennett Communications Director, Best Buy Canada Ltd. Age: 32

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hris Bennett has been interim leader of the BC Green Party, senior adviser to TED Vancouver and now director of corporate communications at Best Buy, but he’s not letting his long resumé get to his head. “I wouldn’t define myself as successful yet,” he said. “I worry about peaking too soon.” Bennett has spent half his life in public relations and communications on both the political and corporate fronts. He got his start working for different provincial and federal candidates, and in 2007, he was elected to the federal council of the Green Party of Canada, where he spent a year as the senior communications strategist. “I’ve always had a love of political communication,” he said. After spending a year as the Green party’s interim

leader, Bennett left the political world and joined Best Buy Canada, where he got to make use of his political communications experience. “I became interested in trying to define a clear leader’s message for the organization,” he said. “I had a lot I wanted to achieve from a communications perspective.” Having had his feet in both camps, Bennett sees a lot of parallel between business and politics. Political parties and corporations alike both need to have a clear message to succeed, he said. One of Bennett’s responsibilities at Best Buy is establishing and strengthening its social-media presence. Best Buy and Future Shop now respectively hold the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in Canada for media coverage as compared with other consumer electronics retailers.

“I wouldn’t define myself as successful yet. I worry about peaking too soon”

December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011 Business in Vancouver

Birthplace: Welland, Ontario Where you live now: North Vancouver Highest level of education: Three years at Trent University, studying English, poetry and politics Car or chosen mode of transport: Smart Car and/or Seabus Currently reading: How To Build A Dinosaur: The New Science of Reverse Evolution by Dr. Jack Horner, and Jack Kennedy: The Education of a Statesman by Barbara Leaming Last CD bought or music downloaded: I wish I could say it was the new Beastie Boys Album, but that still hasn’t dropped yet due to delays. It would have to be Sesame Street Christmas (for my two-year old son, Jack) Favourite local restaurant: Memphis Blues and my wife’s kitchen Profession you would most like to try: NAVY officer or paleontologist Mentor: My granddad, H.C. Bennett, and my father, Ian Bennett Toughest business or professional decision: Leaving politics to build my corporate communications career Advice you would give the younger you: One day you’re going to have a son, just like you. Consider that before you do or say what you’re about to What’s left to do: You can’t possibly imagine

Peter Schouten General Manager, Heppell’s Potato Corp. Age: 39

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rowing a business is a lot like growing crops, according to Peter Schouten, and some of his greatest business lessons have come from farming. “I liked the part of a farm that is a natural process,” said the 39-yearold general manager of Heppell’s Potato Corp. “You can’t really fake it with a farm, you actually have to do the work, and then the results are the part of the work done in the right order.” Schouten began working at Heppell’s farm at the age of 12 when his parents moved in down the road. After attending business school in Holland, he returned to purchase the farm, which now covers almost 1,000 acres of land in the Fraser Valley. “In every business probably, there are opportunities to see really quick results,” he explained. “But what really intrigued me about this business was putting the same effort as you would into growing [a plant], into a plan for a business.” Schouten is unlike almost everyone else in the farm industry in that he didn’t inherit his line of work from his parents. “My approach to this is a much more business approach,” he said. “It’s easier for me to make decisions that are harder for

people who are third-generation farmers, because it’s been in the family for years and years, and I tend to evaluate it based on [the question] ‘Is it a good business objective?’” With growth inevitably come more challenges, however. “We’re working on an international and national level now while before, when I first started, it was a community with a little bit of imports,” he said. “But, now, my biggest competition can be thousands of miles away.” Regardless, Schouten isn’t looking back. “My goal is to have a national brand and to have farms in every province. I want to work in the potato market, but I want to be able to provide local produce everywhere.” Ą

Birthplace: Langley Where do you live now: Cloverdale Highest level of education: Grade 12 Car or chosen mode of transport: Pickup truck Currently reading: Good to Great by Jim Collins and The Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish Last CD bought or music downloaded: Bruno Mars, Just the Way You Are Favourite local restaurant: Elizabeth’s chalet Profession you would most like to try: Singer/ songwriter or real estate developer Mentor: Leonard Buhler Toughest business or professional decision: Terminate a 17-yearlong business partnership and terminate family members’ employment Advice you would give the younger you: Make your decisions based on your values and principles and vision not on your circumstances, no exceptions What’s left to do: Overarching – develop the skills, assets and passions that I have been entrusted with to their full capacity and motivate others to do the same; specifically – develop a sustainable value chain brand that provides local produce globally. And win a national Waterski competition

“It’s a privilege to serve a B.C. top-five company,” he said. Ą

“It’s easier for me to make decisions that are harder for people who are thirdgeneration farmers”


Business in Vancouver December 28, 2010â&#x20AC;&#x201C;January 3, 2011

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December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011 Business in Vancouver

Colby Harder

Birthplace: North Vancouver Where do you live now: Vancouver Highest level of education: College diploma in business administration Car or chosen mode of transport: My bike (when the sun is shining) Currently reading: Business Stripped Bare by Richard Branson Last CD bought or music downloaded: Pearl Jam’s Ten Favourite local restaurant: Kitto Japanese House Profession you would most like to try: Musician Mentor: My dad, and my fellow members of TEC Canada’s Group 233 Toughest business or professional decision: Repositioning our business for enhanced success in a recessionary market Advice you would give the younger you: Never burn a bridge, develop a clear vision for your business and find a mentor What’s left to do: Rapidly grow Conti’s contract support services business

President, Conti Electronics Ltd. Age: 35

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olby Harder saw bigger potential for Conti Electronics Ltd.’s audiovisual design and technical expertise when he joined and became a minority shareholder in the familyowned business in 2001. At that time, the clients of the Vancouver-based AV equipment reseller were businesses that required audio and video systems for basic, small-scale operations such as boardroom meetings and hallway displays. A salesman at heart, Harder refined the company’s account and customer-relationship management systems and targeted larger contracts. Contracts to design and install audio and video systems for large public entities including Vancouver International Airport and the Abbotsford Regional Hospital have been key

to the company’s four-fold revenue growth since 2001. A multimillion-dollar contract to design and install a network of digital advertising signage on the Lower Mainland’s SkyTrain and Canada Line has been the firm’s largest project. “I saw a real opportunity for us to push into some larger projects that we traditionally had thought were beyond our scope,” said Harder, who became Conti’s majority shareholder in 2008 – as part of a succession plan arranged with his father in 2001. His involvement in community-focused groups included a 2001 to 2009 stint as an elected board member of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club.

He led the club’s efforts to cultivate more interest in yachting among 20- to 30-year-olds. A natural interest in the symbiotic relationship between public safety and crime lead him to serve two years on the Vancouver Board of Trade’s Public Safety Task Force. Early in his career,

Harder cut his teeth with a small firm developing creative retail software products for computeroriented brands such as Seventeen and Kodak. He also learned a thing or two working for a dotcom-era firm that, like most dot-coms, went bust.

Shaun Walker CTO, DotNetNuke Corp. Age: 39

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haun Walker acknowledges open-source software developers can be a passionate bunch who follow the credo that software should be free and available to all. But DotNetNuke Corp., an open-source web content management portal Walker founded in 2002, has evolved into a hugely popular and successful revenue-generating enterprise while still abiding by the open-source community’s principles. Roughly 600,000 websites and intranets are managed using software developed on DotNetNuke.

There have been more than six million software downloads from the site. While software on the site is still free and available to all, DotNetNuke generates revenue by selling its programming expertise and an enterprise edition for developing more complex and robust websites. As well, the company collects commission on sales of upgrades in an online marketplace it acquired a few years ago.

“I didn’t quite know what would happen or how accepting the Microsoft developer community would be of such a project. But it turns out it was a good move”

When Walker started DotNetNuke, there were few open-source platforms available to the Microsoft Corp. developer community. Microsoft, after all, came late to the opensource ball. “I didn’t quite know what would happen or how accepting the Microsoft developer community would be of such a project,” said Walker who, with

DotNetNuke CEO Navin Nagiah, has raised $12 million in venture capital in the last two years in order to grow DotNetNuke. “But it turns out it was good move.” With it’s first mover status, DotNetNuke grew rapidly and caught the attention of Microsoft, which sponsored Walker full time for two years as he cultivated the portal and its community. In 2009, Walker became one of the original board members on Microsoft’s non-profit CodePlex

Unlike now, there was apparently no business in selling online coupons back then. “I’m kind of proud to

say I was part of the dotcom deal,” said Harder. “I learned a lot about how and how not to manage a business.” Ą

“I saw a real opportunity for us to push into some larger projects that we traditionally had thought were beyond our scope”

Birthplace: Kelowna Where do you live now: Abbotsford Highest level of education: Computer information systems diploma, Okanagan College Car or chosen mode of transport: Toyota Highlander Currently reading: Do more faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup by Brad Feld Last CD bought or music downloaded: Kid Rock’s Born Free Favourite local restaurant: The Keg Profession you would most like to try: Any industry where there is an opportunity to convert manual procedures to automated processes through the use of IT Mentor: Earlier in my career, Kent Alstad and Lee Purvis. More recently, Navin Nagiah, CEO, DotNetNuke Toughest business or professional decision: To leave my fulltime job at the Vancouver Port Authority to pursue my entrepreneurial interests with DotNetNuke Advice you would give the younger you: Spend an equal amount of time managing the business as you do on technical tasks such as software development or operations What’s left to do: Finish what I started: fulfil the mission of making DotNetNuke the most deployed and most valuable web content management platform in the world Foundation, whose aim is to bridge gaps between software companies and open-source communities. Its people like Walker who have helped Microsoft realize the value in open source.

“If you can get code in the hands of developers, they’re more likely to adopt it,” said Walker. “You can build large, loyal communities around products using that model.” Ą


BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

Business in Vancouver December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011

Nicole Garton-Jones Owner, Heritage Law Age: 38

N

icole Garton-Jones abandoned the highstress world of corporate law to start her own firm and pursue balance between her work life and personal life. And then she found out she was pregnant, and, in addition to a baby, Heritage Law was born – a boutique firm that leverages technology to employ skilled lawyers who are also moms. “I’d like to say I had this strategic plan, but it was born out of necessity,” she laughed. Since its inception in 2005, Heritage Law has grown to include two offices and some 13 staff and lawyers. Heritage Law employs a central cloud server that allows its lawyers to connect with the office whenever they need to,

allowing them to tailor their schedule so they never miss a soccer game or a school play. “The firm is wherever your Internet connection happens to be,” she said. But after five years of hard work, Garton-Jones needs to figure out how large she wants Heritage Law to be – and she believes it could be big. Every week, she receives resumés from female lawyers who want to trade the “lockdown” environment of big firms for something that allows them to have lives beyond the office. Garton-Jones also said there are more women than ever graduating from law school, but long hours and tough conditions have many of them leaving their careers behind a few years on. “The profession is not

keeping women in … it hurts the public because it’s a profession that’s not representative of the public, and the baby boomers are starting to retire so there’s a [human resources] issue … if we’re losing more than half of our graduates, that’s

a real problem.” Garton-Jones said now is the time to appreciate what Heritage Law has accomplished, and then she’ll answer the size question. “The firm will grow. The question is how quickly and how big?” Ą

“I’d like to say I had this strategic plan, but it was born out of necessity”

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15

Birthplace: Vancouver Where do you live now: West Vancouver Highest level of education: Bachelor of laws, UBC Car or chosen mode of transport: Volkswagen Passat Wagon Currently reading: Breaking Robert’s Rules by Lawrence E. Susskind Last CD bought or music downloaded: The Killers Favourite local restaurant: Bacchus Restaurant and Lounge Profession you would most like to try: Journalist Mentor: Debra Sing Toughest business or professional decision: Starting a solo law firm Advice you would give the younger you: Know yourself and watch the money What’s left to do: Continue to grow Heritage Law, help develop the area of elder and estate mediation, raise healthy and happy children and leave a legacy


16

BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011 Business in Vancouver

Traci Costa Founder and CEO, Peakaboo Beans Inc. Age: 38

T

raci Costa never set out to start her own children’s wear company; she just had a hard time finding clothes for her daughter. “I realized that there was a lack in the market for high-quality playwear that really focused on empowering children, the independence and freedom to dress themselves,” she said about the genesis for Peakaboo Beans. Costa started talking to her friends over coffee and realized she wasn’t the only one who thought that. She took on an intern from the Kwantlen fashion program, along with her sister-in-law, to help work on designs, and interviewed suppliers and manufacturers to get a

crash course on the children’s wear industry. Since Peakaboo Beans was a startup company, she had a hard time getting suppliers on board. “It was very challenging, because obviously, no one wants to work with a small manufacturer,” she said. “You get raked over in the pricing and the same with fabric suppliers – you don’t have the accessibility to produce your own fabrics

and colours, you have to take everything from stock colours.” Undeterred, she took to the streets. “I literally went out with my suitcase to different stores, really cold calling and introducing them to

the brand, and the feedback from the stores was phenomenal,” she said. Her hard work paid off: “I got into 12 stores in the first two months.” Since then, her company has grown steadily.

“For the suppliers’ side, it was challenging, and I had a lot of learning to do, but the response from the sales side was amazing and from Day 1 it’s been like that, and carried through until now.” Ą

“It was very challenging, because obviously, no one wants to work with a small manufacturer”

Birthplace: Richmond Where you live now: South Surrey Highest level of education: High school followed by the school of life Car or chosen mode of transport: Mommy taxi Currently reading: Good to Great and Good Night Moon Last CD bought or music downloaded: Keane, Mika and Band of Horses Favourite local restaurant: Cielos (in White Rock) Profession you would most like to try: Florist, stylist, photographer or wedding planner. How do you think that would sound on a business card? Mentor: Karin Piett – fabulous entrepreneur whom I was paired with three years ago via Forum for Women Entrepreneurs Toughest business or professional decision: There have been too many, and there will be many more Advice you would give the younger you: “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” — Robert Brault What’s left to do: To create the best culture and experience for working moms and families. To leave a legacy of happy, healthy human beans

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BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

Business in Vancouver December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011

Matthew Young President, Innovative Fitness Age: 39

T

hirty-nine-year-old Matthew Young has a work schedule that would exhaust someone half his age, but for him, his work is all play. Young is an accomplished athlete, coach, personal trainer and business. “Athletics teaches you everything you need to know about life in terms of winning or losing and being a teammate,” he said. When he founded Innovative Fitness in 1997, he was entering the “wild, wild west of personal training.” The gym industry in Vancouver was an unregulated world, according to Young, where “everyone could call themselves a personal trainer.” Thirteen years later and Innovative Fitness is now one of the leaders in providing certified career training for personal trainers in Western Canada. His company boasts four corporate locations in B.C.

and five franchises in B.C. and Alberta. One of Young’s major accomplishments was to legitimize the field and transform it into a viable career option for prospective trainers, and a valuable, valid life investment for consumers. He knew that a company’s credibility was only in the eyes of its customers, and he wanted them to feel that. “[T]hey were getting a trainer who was educated, who had to keep their certifications up, who was in the business for the right reasons,” he said. Young’s business model soon became an industry standard in Canada and the U.S. “It definitely raised the bar in terms of the quality of personal trainers in Vancouver,” but Young doesn’t want to take all the glory. He is always quick to emphasize that credit for

Innovative Fitness needs to be shared with his business partner Jeff Sharpe. Young also practises what he preaches and then some. He’s run 10 marathons, two Ironman races

and five half Ironmans, has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and set a Guinness record for the fastest cross-Canada bike relay. Oh, and he’s also run across the Sahara desert. Ą

Birthplace: Peterborough, Ontario Where do you live now: North Vancouver Highest level of education: Bachelor of human kinetics, UBC Car or chosen mode of transport: Bicycle Currently reading: Four-day work week Last CD bought or music downloaded: Jack Johnson Favourite local restaurant: Kokoro Sushi Profession you would most like to try: Athletic Director Mentor: Gene Smith Toughest business or professional decision: Hiring the right person and releasing the wrong person Advice you would give the younger you: There are four critical aspects of any business: self, team, operations and customers. Many people make the mistake of thinking of only one or two critical areas and that’s why they struggle or fail. One needs to study all areas equally and create a system (plan of attack) in order to truly maximize each area and be successful What’s left to do: Bridge the gap between our highend service offering (that caters to the 5% of the socioeconomic scale) with an affordable, accessible and accountable model for the 65% to 70% of the socioeconomic people. This will only happen with a program that brings public and private business together in a meaningful manner

“Athletics teaches you everything you need to know about life in terms of winning or losing and being a teammate”

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17

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18

BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011 Business in Vancouver

Troy Fimrite

Birthplace: Spirit River, Alberta Where do you live now: Victoria Highest level of education: Some post-secondary Car or chosen mode of transport: Ford F-150 and mountain bike Currently reading: The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman Last CD bought or music downloaded: Nickelback Favourite local restaurant: The Mint in Victoria and the Blue Water Café + Raw Bar in Vancouver Profession you would most like to try: Culinary arts Mentor(s): Mother, father, brother and wife as well as Ben Gray, Greg Garnett, Peter Thomas and Ric Petersen Toughest business or professional decision: When I decided to sell the family company Advice you would give the younger you: Make a plan, learn from the success of others, take time to think for yourself and stay focused What’s left to do: I have a thirst for learning. My sweetheart and I love raising our two young boys. I also have athletic pursuits such as triathlons, duathlons and marathons. I want to explore more countries and continue with business success by expanding with a global presence

President, Viking Pacific Inc. Age: 36

C

onnecting people, money and business has been something Alberta native Troy Fimrite has been doing since he was a teenager. Descended from a “pioneering” family – his parents and grandmother were homesteaders – Fimrite has been engaging in “entrepreneurial shifts” since he co-founded his first company, Wilderness Adventures International, in 1990. Moving into the oil and gas business, Fimrite would found, co-found and/or operate a number of companies in Grande Prairie, including Fimrite Holdings, Fimrite SubTerra Services, Peace Petroleum and Fimrite Oilfield Services Ltd., as well as excavating franchise Badger Daylighting Inc. “I remember my father taking me to a business meeting,” recalled Fimrite. “He took me out of school when I was in Grade 7 because he had a pivotal

business meeting and he wanted me to join him to see what business was like in the real world. I had a taste of it at quite a young age.” His latest venture, Viking Pacific Inc., came about almost by accident. “I had done well in the oil and gas industry and I wanted a change,” he said. “I was reviewing businesses to purchase throughout Western Canada, the western U.S. and Hawaii. I looked at close to 150.” To assist his search, he formed an executive team to help him review businesses and determine which ones would be the best to take on and grow. It was then he started getting approached by others asking if they could perform a similar service for them. “I saw there was room in the industry for more players and people with a different, possibly better, service offering,” said Fimrite. “We morphed from there to being a fullservice company.”

Viking Pacific, which has 10 employees and is growing monthly, is a hub for investment brokers, according to Fimrite. “We basically are a platform for deal-makers to work through when people want to merge or acquire other businesses,” he said. “We are transactional based. We are raising equity as well. We are a hub that attracts deal-makers and, therefore, attracts clients looking to get deals done.” Fimrite and his wife moved their family to Vic-

toria in 2007 because they felt it was a desirable place to raise a family, and it fit into their athletic, outdoor lifestyle. With trust, integrity and honesty as guiding principles, Fimrite’s core philosophical foundation allows him to make entrepreneurial decisions easily. “It gives you a guiding light,” he said, “and lets you become your best.” Ą

“We are a hub that attracts dealmakers and, therefore, attracts clients looking to get deals done”

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BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

Business in Vancouver December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011

Jason Goto President, AnalysisWorks Inc. Age: 39

I

t used to be that businesses never had enough data. That can still be an issue, but many businesses are up to their shoulders in data. And whether that data is being used correctly is another story. That’s where Jason Goto and his firm AnalysisWorks Inc. come in. The Vancouver company generated $1.7 million in revenue in 2010 helping businesses wade through data and separate what is relevant from what isn’t. From there, AnalysisWorks helps clients use the relevant data to make key business decisions and to re-shape business operations and processes. Goto started the company on the corner of a desk in his apartment in 2000 after obtaining a master of science in management science and, earlier, a bachelor of applied science in mechanical engineering. It was during his earlier consulting work at

Toronto General Hospital (TGH) that he saw the potential for AnalysisWorks’ services. For TGH, Goto measured the costs and other requirements for operational planning, performance

measurement and process re-engineering studies. “A common theme that we see among almost all of our clients is that they have all this information and all these smart employees, but they can’t put the data together as a team to make evidenced-based decision

and to change things,” said Goto. AnalysisWorks’ business has grown almost entirely by word of mouth and referrals since it landed its first contracts with St. Paul’s Hospital. “There are a lot of firms

you can hire who are all about pulling a lot of data for you, but where they stop is when they hand over a report,” said Goto. While growing AnalysisWorks, he’s found time to teach at the University of British Columbia’s faculty of commerce. He’s also been active in program planning, student recruiting and skills development and information systems management at the university’s Centre for Operations Excellence. Ą

“There are a lot of firms you can hire that are all about pulling a lot of data for you, but where they stop is when they hand over a report”

Birthplace: London, Ontario Where do you live now: Vancouver Highest level of education: Master of science in management science Car or chosen mode of transport: Toyota Venza Currently reading: Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury Last CD bought or music downloaded: In Rainbows, Radiohead (It’s been a while - I listen to satellite radio these days) Favourite local restaurant: Anything with easy and basic but good-quality food Profession you would most like to try: Artist Mentor: I’ve never had a specific mentor, but I’ve learned a lot from many different people Toughest business or professional decision: Hiring my first employee Advice you would give the younger you: Build your company’s systems and processes for the future starting on Day 1, because it won’t get any easier to do later What’s left to do: Take AnalysisWorks’ sustainable systems and processes to the next level in order to lead the way in helping organizations make measurable operational improvements

class of

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19

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20

BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011 Business in Vancouver

Melissa Coughlan

T

ranscold Distribution Ltd. has grown phenomenally with Melissa Coughlan leading the company’s sales. The cold storage distribution company, which generated $19 million in 2003, sold $90 million in 2009. That growth came primarily thanks to Coughlan’s close relationship with the company’s biggest client, the multinational Unilever. Unilever executives were so impressed with how well TransCold distributed Unilever’s Ben and Jerry’s-, Good Humor- and Breyers-branded ice cream products in Alberta and mainland B.C. they started awarding

TransCold contracts to be the sole distributor for those products in new territories, such as Washington State (2007), Oregon (2007) and Vancouver Island (2010). “We’ve been working with Unilever or Good Humor since before I was born and have grown in partnership with them through the years,” said Coughlan, whose father founded TransCold and is its CEO. Coughlan started helping her father at his eightbicycle ice cream vending company when she was nine years old. She monitored inventory, counted cash and performed other miscellaneous tasks. A few years

Jeffrey Whiting President and founder, Artists for Conservation Age: 38

J

eff Whiting is more than a serial entrepreneur; he is also a sculptor, author, illustrator, environmental advocate, naturalist and instructor. His main jobs, however, are as president of the non-

“Follow your passions. Be a good person. Choose inspiring role models. Take vacations regularly”

profit Artists for Conservation (AFC) and director of technology and development principal of ISCAPE Internet Consulting. “ISCAPE has been my bread and butter for some time. Technology is a passion of mine. AFC is also a passion, which was borne from my love of nature, my background and lifelong vocation as an artist and my background in technology,” he said. AFC generates more than $100,000 annually from member dues from

later, she was running the bicycle ice cream vending business. Through high school, she owned and managed the venture, which then had 20 ice cream bicycles. Not all of Coughlan’s experience involves ice cream, however. She managed two bars in Kingston, On-

its 500 members. Whiting would not reveal ISCAPE’s revenue. Whiting’s first entrepreneurial foray was when he was 15 years old and he started selling his art. His first official business was founding the publishing company Helicona Press Inc. in 1996. He has published nature-related art books, including educational workbooks, journals and exhibit books. His expertise in nature-inspired art stems from 23 years of experience in the field as author, educator and practitioner. Whiting founded AFC in 1997 and has grown it to be the world’s leading artist group which sup-

“That we’re operating in two countries is phenomenal as is that we’re operating two separate companies”

tario, supervising more than 20 employees in a fast-paced environment. Now, on any given day, Coughlan can be found

ports and advocates for the environment. He co-founded ISCAPE in 2001 and has created many business applications since then. He serves as an adviser to a range of projects, including as a member of the Circle of Advisors for the Science Art-Nature Foundation at Stanford University and the Vancouver development committee for the Robert Bateman Centre for art and environmental education at Royal Roads University Foundation. Whiting lives in North Vancouver with his wife Yasaman and their two young children, Amanda and Anthony. Ą

PHOTO: MELANIE KELLY PHOTOGRAPHY

Director of sales and operations, TransCold Distribution Ltd. Age: 29

Birthplace: Limerick, Ireland Where do you live now: Downtown Vancouver Highest level of Education: Some college Car or chosen mode of transport: Acura RDX Currently reading: Always Fresh, the untold story of Tim Hortons by Ron Joyce Last CD bought or music downloaded: John Mayer Favourite local restaurant: Sandbar Profession you would most like to try: Food buyer at a retail chain Mentor: My dad, John Coughlan. He mentored me to be everything I am today Toughest business or professional decision: To trust and delegate Advice you would give the younger you: Listen more, speak less What’s left to do: As well as launch new programs for our retailers and supply partners, I want to continue to grow our fantastic team to be the best that they can be goal setting for sales teams, strategizing with the management team, meeting with customers and business partners, negotiating contracts with customers and suppliers and travelling between TransCold offices. “That we’re operating

in two countries is phenomenal as is that we’re operating two separate companies,” she said. “Moving forward, we have a lot of work to do in the U.S. When we took over the Unilever territories, they had very little market share.” Ą

Birthplace: Ottawa Where do you live now: North Vancouver Highest level of Education: Honours bachelor of science from Carlton University Car or chosen mode of transport: Public transit when practical; 2001 BMW 528e Currently reading: Kingdom Under Glass by Jay Kirk Last CD bought or music downloaded: Circle of Life by Elton John Favourite local restaurant: La Regalade Profession you would most like to try: Filmmaker Mentor: My father, Bill Whiting, and Leonard G. Lee from Lee Valley Tools Toughest business or professional decision: Having to let go of a good employee for financial reasons Advice you would give the younger you: Trust your convictions. Follow your passions. Be a good person. Choose inspiring role models. Take vacations regularly What’s left to do: Slow the global extinction rate, preserve the world’s last great wilderness and find a sustainable means for all persons to guiltlessly pursue and enjoy a financially, environmentally and culturally rich lifestyle

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BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

Business in Vancouver December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011

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Markus Frind Owner, Plenty of Fish Age: 32

Birthplace: Donauwörth, Germany Where do you live now: Downtown Vancouver Highest level of Education: Computer systems diploma from BCIT Car or chosen mode of transport: BMW 335xi Currently reading: Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely Last CD bought or music downloaded: No idea. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a CD Favourite local restaurant: Gotham Steakhouse and Cocktail Bar Profession you would most like to try: Nothing jumps out at me Mentor: None Toughest business or professional decision: Finding ways of making perpetual improvements to grow the company because, in the web world, things are completely different every three months Advice you would give the younger you: Nothing gets huge overnight. Your business starts out slow and then, because of incremental improvements, it will start to take off What’s left to do: We’re just at the beginning. My users spend $500 million dollars a year on competing sites. So one thing to do is to find ways to get a lot of that revenue. Another is to expand into other languages

M

arkus Frind is one of the world’s most successful Internet dating entrepreneurs, but he did not need his own Plentyoffish.com website to snag a bride. He married Annie Kanciar in 2010 – eight years after the two met while working at a small Vancouver technology company. Plenty of Fish generates tens of millions of dollars annually from advertising. The free dating website attracts about 6.1 million unique visitors each month, according to Internet research organization comScore Inc. The only dating websites to attract more unique visitors were China’s Jiayuan.com (6.6 million) and the more global Meetic (6.4 million). Frind tends to be an introvert. He avoids busi-

ness and technology sector networking events and, until 2008, operated his business out of his apartment. His 18 staff members now occupy a 3,800-squarefoot office in the Harbour Centre Tower. Frind bought the Plentyoffish.com domain in 2000 for a nominal price, but he didn’t develop the site until February 2003. Frind had recently graduated from BCIT and was jumping from job to job while the technology sector remained mired in malaise. Valentine’s Day

was approaching, and Frind feared that he would be laid off. Almost immediately after developing Plenty of Fish, Frind started to make money. Initially the cash came from what he calls affiliate partnerships. People would click a link on his website to go to a pay site such as Amazon. com. Frind made money

if they bought something at the pay site. By spring 2003, he generated about $100 per month this way. He kept tweaking his website and added Google’s AdSense script in June 2003. The next month,

he generated $1,000. When that grew to $5,000 in October, he quit his job and focused his efforts full time on improving his business. In early 2004, he made $16,000 per month. “You’re not going to

get anywhere if you’re not analytical. This is a highly competitive business,” Frind said. “You never know what works until you try it. Most companies are too afraid to try new things. We like to try new things.” Ą

“Most companies are too afraid to try new things. We like to try new things”


22

BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011 Business in Vancouver

Christopher V. Flett

Wendy Chu

CEO, Flett Ventures Inc. Age: 36

Chief operating officer, Peterson Investment Group Age: 35

“Men are focused on the bottom line, while women are focused on building relationships that are mutually beneficial”

I

t’s a testament to how much progress has been made in women’s rights that Christopher V. Flett’s message still sounds so surprising to so many people. The long road to gender equality has seen breakthroughs in almost all levels of society, but that road has stopped abruptly at the corporate boardroom door. The popular corporate speaker and author of What Men Don’t Tell Women About Business has made it his life’s work to change that. “When men read my books, they’re like, ‘That’s common sense,’” he said. “When women read them, they’re like, ‘I can’t believe it’s actually like that.’” His book focuses on the different management styles that men and women tend to have and how women can use that knowledge to succeed in what has traditionally been a “man’s world.”

“Men are focused on the bottom line,” he said, “while women are focused on building relationships that are mutually beneficial.” One of the factors in the 2008 recession, according to Flett, was the tendency of male CEOs to pursue a financial goal by destroying everything in its way. “The recession was the first time that the light was shone on what men weren’t doing in business,” he said. Flett’s interest in workplace gender issues goes back to his childhood. “Having a strong mom, I saw that there was a different dynamic between my mom doing business versus my dad doing business,” he said. “When I entered the corporate world, I saw that the difference was night and day.” Although Flett has worked with a number of female business leaders, he finds that many of them face the same barriers as their younger colleagues. “We’ve just started to turn the boat,” he said. “The boat hasn’t turned yet.” Ą

Birthplace: New Glasgow, Nova Scotia Where you live now: Vancouver Highest level of education: Bachelor of arts in history Car or chosen mode of transport: BMW 540i Currently reading: Worth Dying For by Lee Child Last CD bought or music downloaded: B.o.B. presents: the Adventures of Bobby Ray Favourite local restaurant: Pied-à-Terre Profession you would most like to try: Restaurant critic Mentor: Hoping Richard Branson wants the job Toughest business or professional decision: Firing my first corporate client Advice you would give the younger you: Choose your partners carefully What’s left to do: Open an office in Paris and take some cooking lessons at the Cordon Bleu

F

or Wendy Chu, it’s all about the people. The 35-year-old COO of Peterson Investment Group – a commercial real estate investor and developer – credits her company’s success to her colleagues and the culture they’ve built over the years. “At Peterson Group, we always talk about our family culture. It’s about taking care of each other,” she said. “The way we handle our relationships, the way we do business, we think about why we’re trying to put a deal together, not necessarily about the ratios and checkmarks.” Chu came to Vancouver from Toronto when she was 25. “I think it was just being in the right place at the right time, being in real estate in probably the best 10 years to be in real estate in Vancouver.” At the time, Peterson was a fledgling company where everyone pitched in, including Chu. “It was about not being afraid to give more than I got at the time and just trying to do more than what my role was.”

The corporate culture at Peterson allowed the company to weather the 2008 recession. “Because of our reputation and our relationships, we bought Langara Gardens in 2009, which was one of the largest residential transactions in Canada,” she said. “We were actually able to grow in 2009.” Chu credits her success to the values instilled in her during those times. “The people are very important at Peterson Group, and we are what we are today not because everyone is counting their minutes of overtime, but because everyone was going above and beyond.” Ą

Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario Where you live now: Vancouver Highest level of education: University of Toronto, B.Com, CMA designation Car or chosen mode of transport: BMW X5 Currently reading: MAC Life magazine Last CD bought or music downloaded: Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster Favourite local restaurant: Too many choices but if I must - Hapa Izakaya, for the Japanese tapas Profession you would most like to try: Interior designer Mentor: Various throughout my life stages Toughest business or professional decision: In general, going against the grain when making decisions. The toughest ones are those that affect the lives of others Advice you would give the younger you: Do not be afraid to fail. Do not be concerned of what you are getting in return for your efforts. Try to be more than what people expect of you (over achieve expectations) and dream big What’s left to do: Everything. I’m not done with improving my career but there is so much more to learn and do in life. From travelling to see more of the world and other perspectives of life, learning everything imaginable, making a difference in other’s lives through work or personal activities

“At Peterson Group, we always talk about our family culture. It’s about taking care of each other”

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BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

Business in Vancouver December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011

Michael Parrish

Birthplace: Brampton, Ontario Where you live now: Vancouver Highest level of education: LLB Car or chosen mode of transport: SkyTrain, bike and cab Currently reading: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett Last CD bought or music downloaded: “Tell ‘Em” by the Sleigh Bells Favourite local restaurant: Crocodile and Steamrollers Profession you would most like to try: Pro bike racing or custom home builder Mentor: Avon Mersey, Mark Andrews, QC Toughest business or professional decision: Switching area of expertise a few years back Advice you would give the younger you: Work smarter, have a long-term plan, build a team of supporters, pick an area of expertise and focus, don’t neglect family and life, take time for yourself What’s left to do: Lots continue to build expertise and practice, become one the leadings lawyers in B.C. in my areas, less business travel, more family travel

Partner, Fasken Martineau Age: 39

W

hen a plane crashes or a ship sinks, people often get sued, and people like Michael Parrish are called on to represent them. The 39-year-old partner of Fasken Martineau law firm specializes in product liability and commercial litigation. Since being called to the bar in 1999, he has represented car manufacturers, utility companies, airlines and railroads, to name a few. “It’s all basically ‘Why machines break,’” he said. “So, if you like machines, airplanes, helicopters, locomotives and things like that, it can be interesting.” Parrish himself has had a lifelong interest in engineering and mechanics. “I’ve practised law for about 10 years,” he said. “At our firm, you start out doing a lot of different cases, and that was one of

the areas that I excelled in.” Like all lawyers, his daily schedule involves a lot of hard work and is nothing like the courtroom dramas on TV, but Parrish enjoys the scientific and technical challenges that come with each case. “It’s not really rocket science, well, sometimes it is rocket science,” he laughed. Parrish’s line of work is largely out of the public eye. “It’s not on the cover of the newspaper very often unless a plane crashes or a ship sinks, then I think there’s a lot of

23

“It’s all basically ‘Why machines break,’ so, if you like machines, airplanes, helicopters, locomotives and things like that, it can be interesting” interest as to why things happened.” Although Parrish has recently been named a “Rising Star-Leading Lawyers Under 40” by Lexpert, he has no plans to slow down.

“You really don’t become a good lawyer until you’re 50 years old anyways, so I’m not even close to being at the top yet,” he said. “I’m not planning on changing anytime soon.” Ą

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24

BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011 Business in Vancouver

Natacha Beim CEO, Core Education and Fine Arts Age: 38

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atacha Beim was 22 years old when she opened her first Core Education and Fine Arts school in North Vancouver, B.C. She now has 10 locations in the Lower Mainland, including recent openings in Burnaby, Vancouver and Coquitlam. Two U.S. locations were set to be open by the end of 2010, and Beim expects to have a franchisee in China by 2011. Her 2010 revenue is around $2.8 million, or 12% more than in 2009. Her growth would have been steeper had she accepted all interested potential franchisees.

In 2010, Beim turned down all but five out of 100 franchisee requests because she wanted partners who would focus more on kids than on profit. “We’re looking for that person who understands our concepts or can learn them, can work with the early childhood community and has something to give as an individual,” Beim told Business in Vancouver. Her franchisees – all of whom she claims are profitable – must pay a $50,000 one-time fee and a 6% royalty on all revenue. They must also fork out between $300,000 and $1 million to build a school.

For that investment, they get: Ąmanuals; Ąa curriculum Beim devised herself; and Ąassistance licensing the school with the provincial Ministry of Health – a task that Beim calls “daunting” if someone has not done it before. Beim’s North Vancouver location was the first junior kindergarten school

in Canada to follow the international guidelines for pre-kindergarten learning. Her passion to increase access to junior kindergarten led to lobbying and influenced the City of Vancouver to relax stringent bylaws that made it difficult for childcare businesses to open in the city. Born in Uruguay and raised in Montreal, Beim has travelled extensively and studied educational systems around the world.

Jeff Duncan President and COO, Meetingmax Planning Inc. Age: 32 alk about timing: On the same day in 2002 that most major airlines in the United States eliminated commissions to travel agencies – initiating the near-total extinction of the travel agent – Jeff Duncan spun off Meetingmax Planning Inc. from Uniglobe Network Travel. Duncan initially created Meetingmax as a portal where Ubiglobe’s corporate clients could research and secure hotel rooms and convention services. “But the writing was on the wall that the travel agency model was about to fade away,” said Duncan, who began working at Uniglobe when he was 16. He became Uniglobe’s youngest-ever director of sales before being

promoted to vice-president of sales. After spinning Meetingmax off, Duncan expanded the firm’s services to include handling most other aspects of the logistical nightmare that is event planning, from details as significant as site selection to those as minute as supplying notepads. It soon became evident that process would need to be automated. After an unsuccessful search for existing automation software, Meetingmax built its own software. While the company uses its software internally

PHOTO: DANN ILICIC

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to manage meeting and event planning for its clients, much of its revenue is generated from licensing out the software to other organizations. Today, about 35 destination organizations in North America, such as convention and meeting bureaus, use Meetingmax’s software to attract and plan meetings and

“There was a point I realized I could obtain any client I wanted to if I worked hard enough at it”

events in their respective communities. The number of hotel transactions the company’s software facilitates has grown 600% in the last three years. Its software ensured all security personnel hired for the Olympics could make it into town and would have a place to stay. Duncan has always been involved in hospitality and tourism in some capacity, and given his intimate knowledge of the its inner and back-end workings, he will likely continue to be

Birthplace: Rivera, Uruguay Where do you live now: North Vancouver Highest level of Education: Master’s degree Car or chosen mode of transport: Mercedes Benz Currently reading: Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin Last CD bought or music downloaded: Love and The Lack Thereof by Greg Sczebel Favourite local restaurant: Le Crocodile Profession you would most like to try: Researcher in developmental psychology Mentor: Don’t really have one. My mom, sister, brother, friends and especially Frank Iaci and Dave Barnes Toughest business or professional decision: Going for opportunities before you have financing in place Advice you would give the younger you: Ask for what you need What’s left to do: Open 250 schools in the next two years, manufacture my own line of educational toys, study developmental psychology, continue writing children’s and parenting books Outside of her work at CEFA, she is part of a B.C. government committee responsible for establishing public junior kindergarten

in B.C. She is married to Alex Beim, and they have two boys who are eight and 11. Ą

“We’re looking for that person who understands our concepts or can learn them, can work with the early childhood community and has something to give as an individual”

Birthplace: Kamloops Where do you live now: Port Moody Highest level of education: High school Car or chosen mode of transport: 2010 BMW X3 and, often, the West Coast Express for a relatively painless 20-minute commute. Currently reading: My annual review of As a Man Thinketh by James Allen and Be Great by Peter H. Thomas Last CD bought or music downloaded: Matthew Good, Vancouver Favourite local restaurant: Yew Restaurant at the Vancouver’s Four Seasons Hotel. They use truffle oil liberally and often Profession you would most like to try: Professional golfer. Realistically though, I would be happy if I could spend a bit of time getting my game under 100 Mentor: Peter Armstrong, founder of the Armstrong Group and the Rocky Mountaineer Toughest business or professional decision: For my business partner David Ebert and I to focus on and commit resources to a completely new model of licensing our reservation technology – while still maintaining focus on our legacy business of procuring large blocks of hotel room reservations Advice you would give the younger you: Get the right staff in the door and do what you can to keep them. Dismiss the wrong people and do it quickly What’s left to do: I still have many regions of the world to see, preferably with my wife and two sons, who travel with me often. Last I checked, there are about 100 five-diamond properties and I still have a few dozen of them left to see involved in the industry for many years. “There was a point I realized I could obtain any client I wanted if I worked hard enough at it,” said Duncan, who was recently appointed the forum chair

for the Vancouver chapter for the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. He also helps fundraise for community programs as a member of the Vancouver Police Foundation. Ą


BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

Business in Vancouver December 28, 2010â&#x20AC;&#x201C;January 3, 2011

25

Number Crunching with Flair

Todd Yuen Vice-president, industrial development, Beedie Group Age: 39

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hile early aspirations of becoming a lawyer were quickly quashed by a family friend, Todd Yuen subsequently found his calling in commercial real estate. After graduating from UBC with a bachelor of arts degree in political science, Yuen would eventually find himself working as a broker with JJ Barnicke Vancouver Ltd. in 1998 (now DTZ Barnicke) before being named as a senior vice-president with Colliers International in 2003. He joined the Beedie Group as vice-president, industrial development, in 2008. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I was like a lot of young people and I was trying to find out exactly what I was going to do as a career,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I was fortunate enough to find the real estate industry and it definitely stuck.â&#x20AC;? Mentoring as an industrial real estate specialist, Yuen found success early. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I never thought I would leave brokerage simply because the industry was so good to me,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;But I really like where I am right now.â&#x20AC;? Under the stewardship of Yuen and his industrial development team, the Beedie Group added more

than one million square feet of commercial space in 2009. While accepting much of that was business transacted in 2008, Yuen said new contracts and deals signed in 2009 maintained that momentum going forward into this year. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I am fortunate enough to work for a very forwardthinking and entrepreneurial owner. And even beyond that, our CFO, Jim Bogusz, saw the writing on the wall before the recession,â&#x20AC;? said Yuen. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Corporately, before I got there, they were already starting to make moves to secure their position to make sure they could weather any storm.â&#x20AC;? According to Yuen, Vancouver has one of the most professional and capable brokerage industries in North America. â&#x20AC;&#x153;For a relatively small market, there are a large number of brokers and a lot of very good ones who take their job very, very seriously,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have a market that is not much bigger than Calgary, and I would say we have double the number of brokers.â&#x20AC;?

While working to build his community involvement beyond simply cutting cheques to local causes, Yuenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s strength of character has held him in good stead in a highly competitive industry. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have been really good at being true to myself,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a business that is challenging in that the money involved can really make people do interesting things sometimes. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve really worked hard to not let go of who I am as a person and maintain my integrity,â&#x20AC;? said Yuen. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When I talk to younger people getting into the industry, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s something I really try to stress to them. And, like in any business, be fortunate or smart enough to surround yourself with really good people and donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t let your ego get in the way. Let them do their job and listen.â&#x20AC;? Ä&#x201E;

Birthplace: Vancouver Where do you live now: Gastown Highest level of education: Bachelor of arts in political science, UBC Car or chosen mode of transportation: BMW X5 Currently reading: The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis Last CD bought or music downloaded: Phoenix Favourite local restaurant: Italian Kitchen Profession you would most like to try: Sports agent Mentor: Ryan Beedie Toughest business or professional decision: Leaving brokerage to work for a developer Advice you would give the younger you: Be as focused as possible and have a plan. Figure out a way to have a work/life balance Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s left to do: Do my part to help grow the company and execute on Ryan Beedieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s vision. Also, get more involved in charitable organizations and give back in a meaningful way. The business and this city have been very good to me and I know how lucky I am so I want to repay that debt. The trouble is time

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve really worked hard to not let go of who I am as a person and maintain my integrityâ&#x20AC;?

!   

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26

BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

Robert Tham Owner, Corbel Commercial Inc. Age: 32

R

obert Tham hasn’t forgotten where he came from. In fact, he’s made a career out of giving back to it. The 32-year-old owner of Corbel Commercial Inc. grew up in Vancouver and turned his lifelong love of heritage buildings into a commercial real estate firm. “I love those buildings because my parents were in the demolition business,” he said. “I love history. I got that from my mother; she’s a big antiques collector.”

“When you have people living in an area that’s a little rough, they don’t tolerate stuff going on in their neighbourhood”

Tham’s firm is slowly transforming parts of neighbourhoods such as Yaletown and the Downtown Eastside. “For many years, parts of Yaletown and Gastown – a lot of people didn’t want to go there.” By encouraging investment in the local heritage buildings, Tham is able to attract reputable tenants who end up improving the surrounding area. “When you have people living in an area that’s a little rough, they don’t tolerate stuff going on in their neighbourhood,” he said. Corbel’s success came from developing a niche real estate market in Vancouver, Tham explained, and he’s proud of how his company stays true to its roots and hasn’t gotten too big. “The purpose of my company when I started it wasn’t to grow and get big. I could’ve made a lot more money if I believed in that, but I wanted to keep it small.” Ą

December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011 Business in Vancouver

Birthplace: Vancouver Where you live now: East Vancouver Highest level of education: BCIT, diploma in marketing management – commercial real estate option Car or chosen mode of transport: 2011 BMW M3 Hard-Top Convertible Currently reading: Practicing the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle Last CD bought or music downloaded: P. Diddy, I Need a Girl Favorite local restaurant: Kirin Seafood restaurant Profession you would most like to try: Teacher Mentor: My old boss Toughest business or professional decision: Starting my own firm and doing it my way Advice you would give the younger you: Sometimes you gotta just do it. If you think too much, you may think yourself out of it What’s left to do? Buy a ton of commercial properties and travel the world with my wife

Dan Kriznic CFO, Eminata Group Age: 32

D

an Kriznic was a teenager expected to jump into the family business when his daughter was born. It might have been easier to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a tradesman, but ambition and the desire to succeed was too hard for Kriznic to ignore. “I didn’t think I’d ever become a business guy,” Kriznic said. But at age 19, he discovered an affinity for numbers and joined Deloitte & Touche LLP’s assurance and advisory group. He did this while attending college for an accounting diploma and juggling a young family. By 25, Kriznic had his chartered accountant designation and was quickly ascending the ranks at the firm where he was eventually promoted manager and then senior manager. In 2009, he was on the road to being named a fullfledged partner but a headhunter sought him out for another opportunity. “You get the golden handcuffs and that’s it,

you’re a partner until you retire, but I thought I was young enough that I could go back [if I wanted to], so I should try something else.” That something else was the Eminata Group, Canada’s largest private education and training provider. These days, Kriznic oversees the finances and business development opportunities for 31 campuses and 1,100 employees across Canada. In his spare time, Kriznic is also chairman and president of the LINC Universities Foundation, which helps students obtain post-secondary education. At Eminata, he might be the chief moneyman, but Kriznic said he’s learned a lot about business since he was a teenager with a talent for numbers. “You can’t just be a bean counter, especially when you’re negotiating deals. No one is going to take you seriously if you’re just focusing on the numbers.” Ą

Birthplace: Edson, Alberta Where do you live now: Vancouver and Langley Highest level of education: Chartered Accountant Car or chosen method of transport: Yukon Denali Currently reading: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell Last CD bought or music downloaded: Rise Against Favourite local restaurant: Five Sails Profession you would most like to try: Professional wakeboarder Mentor: Parents, Rick Montgomery at Deloitte and Peter Chung at Eminata Group Toughest business or professional decision: Leaving the family business to go out on my own Advice you would give the younger you: Perseverance, time and commitment are the key ingredients to success. Stay the course, set goals and execute What’s left to do: Continuing the growth in the Eminata group, as well as taking some wins in business and helping out others in the local community. Our mission is to change lives through education, and we want to change as many lives as we can

“You can’t just be a bean counter, especially when you’re negotiating deals”


BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

Business in Vancouver December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011

27

Niels Veldhuis Vice-president, research, the Fraser Institute Age: 34

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iels Veldhuis has quickly built a reputation as one of Canada’s top economists. He dared to be one of the only economists in Canada who came out against the federal government’s stimulus package in early 2009. “We did a detailed analysis of how that stimulus package worked and whether it improved the economy. Our publication received responses from the prime minister and the finance minister. So, it immediately got responses from, arguably, two of the most powerful people in Canada,” Veldhuis said. “That’s one example of how the research that my team does, and that I’ve been involved in, has a significant impact on how our politicians and the public think.” Veldhuis’ team garners about 3,500 media mentions each year. His own involvement with media comes from writing more than 150 columns annually for papers such as the Na-

tional Post and Business in Vancouver. He is the author or co-author of five books and 55 major research studies. Veldhuis moved to Edmonton, Alberta, when he was six years old. He completed high school in south Delta before moving to Simon Fraser University for a BA in business administration and then a master’s degree in economics. The Fraser Institute is his main job, but he also teaches four courses each year at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and writes books that have nothing to do with his day job. His latest book, The Canadian Century: Moving Out of America’s Shadow, was published by Key Porter Books and has received rave reviews in papers such Ottawa’s Hill Times. Outside of these involvements, Veldhuis is

a member of Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts’ advisory committee on investment and job creation. He oversees the Donner Canadian Foundation Awards for non-profit excellence, which provides the tools for, and facilitates a movement toward, improved performance in the non-profit sector. He also regularly gives presentations on economics to Rotary Clubs, high school and university students and community organizations.

Congratulations

“Professors often end up talking to a very small group of people. I much more want to be engaged with the general public than sitting in an ivory tower,” he said. “That’s what gravitated me toward the Fraser Institute.” Ą

Birthplace: Enschede, the Netherlands Where do you live now: Tsawwassen Highest level of education: Master’s in economics, SFU Car or chosen mode of transport: Jeep Liberty Currently reading: I juggle several books at a time but my current favourite is The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley Last CD bought or music downloaded: The Weary Kind by Ryan Bingham Favourite local restaurant: Illuminate Restorante in Tsawwassen Profession you would most like to try: Heli-skiing guide Mentor: My dad, Henk Veldhuis and Jason Clemens Toughest business or professional decision: Taking unpopular positions on critical issues. The latest tough decision was whether or not to wade into the census debate this summer. We went against the country’s political and academic elites by suggesting that the long-form census be scrapped because it is rife with intrusive questions (PS: I find this question intrusive) Advice you would give the younger you: Working hard is important but being fit and healthy is equally, if not more, important. It will ultimately increase your productivity and chance at success. It took me years to figure this. But, after dropping 80 pounds in 2005, I haven’t looked back What’s left to do: I’ve got a five-year plan, both personal and business related. First up: start a family

“I much more want to be engaged with the general public than sitting in an ivory tower”

Research. Dialogue. Solutions.

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28

BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011 Business in Vancouver

Todd Senft

Birthplace: Penticton Where you live now: Vancouver Highest level of education: College diploma Car or chosen mode of transport: SUV Currently reading: Turning Passion into Profits by Christopher Howard Last CD bought or music downloaded: Kings of Leon Favourite local restaurant: Chambar Profession you would most like to try: Lawyer Mentor: My son Zachary Toughest business or professional decision: Grow or die Advice you would give the younger you: Never, ever give up What’s left to do: Keep moving forward

President, reVISION Custom Home Renovations Inc. Age: 39

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odd Senft got into the home renovation industry by following in his father’s footsteps. He stayed in the field and made it his career for a simple reason: “I just really enjoyed it,” he said. It wasn’t always easy, though, especially when he first set out to build his own business. “It was definitely overwhelming with electrical codes, plumbing codes, etc.,” he explained. “There was so much information just in the basic B.C.

building code book – beyond any better-business practices.” One of the biggest challenges facing Senft was the unregulated state of much of the home renovation industry. Too many people were being taken advantage of by shady companies and workers. “The professional level in our industry is nowhere near doctors or lawyers or accountants,” he said. “They have a lot of professional associations and systems put in place.” Senft has made it a long-standing mission to

help professionalize his industry. “That’s what prompted me to get really involved in the Homebuilders Association,” he said, “because they were on that pathway.” That move toward

professionalism has been one of the keys to the success of reVISION so far. “There are a lot better professional trades out

there,” he said. “At the level that I’m at, I’m finding a lot more professional trades are calling me rather than me calling them.” His company has won numerous awards and has

built a reputable name for itself. “They [Clients] know I’ve been around in the industry, I’ve developed a name for myself and they think, ‘I want to be a part of that.’” Ą

“The professional level in our industry is nowhere near doctors or lawyers or accountants”

Chris O’Donohue President and Owner, the Great Canadian Landscaping Company Age: 32

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hat started out as a side job to help pay for school soon became a full-time career for Chris O’Donohue of the Great Canadian Landscaping Company. “I was in my second year of college doing my business degree, and I didn’t want to just do a part-time job,” he said. The 32-yearold O’Donohue was working at a garden centre in North Vancouver and

decided to start up a small lawn-care and gardening business. “I started out of my mom’s house, in a garden shed and a trailer that my dad lent me, a lawnmower, a weed whacker, went around and started cutting lawns,” he said. Eventually, he added more staff and expanded into a full-scale landscaping business. “By my third year of

“I started out of my mom’s house, in a garden shed and a trailer that my dad lent me, a lawnmower, a weed whacker, went around and started cutting lawns”

operations, which was my last year of schooling, it was definitely starting to take some precedence.” The Great Canadian Landscaping Company now has eight trucks, four trailers and 23 full-time staff and is a multiple award-winning North

Shore company. “Truly, when I started it, it was to make some extra spending cash and pay for my schooling,” he said. At the time, O’Donohue thought he would graduate and go on to work for someone else in business or marketing.

Birthplace: Vancouver Where you live now: North Vancouver Highest level of education: Bachelor of business administration, Capilano College Car or chosen mode of transport: Dodge Ram Currently reading: Driven by Robert Herjavec Last CD bought or music downloaded: James Blunt, Some Kind of Trouble Favourite local restaurant: Earls Tin Palace and Sushi Bella Profession you would most like to try: Pilot Mentor: My grandfather and father Toughest business or professional decision: Hiring a vicepresident and general manager and relinquishing some control Advice you would give the younger you: Don’t ever give up, all of your hard work will pay off What’s left to do: Make the Great Canadian Landscaping Company one of largest landscape companies in B.C. and create other divisions to form the Great Canadian Group “Everyone always says no one plans on creating a business; you know, sometimes a business is created as they start, and that’s what happened.” Ą


BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

Business in Vancouver December 28, 2010â&#x20AC;&#x201C;January 3, 2011

Jill Earthy

Birthplace: Moncton, NB Where do you live now: Vancouver Highest level of education: MBA Car or chosen mode of transport: Acura MDX Currently reading: The Help by Kathryn Stockett Last CD bought or music downloaded: Everything by Michael Buble and Yeah by Usher Favourite local restaurant: Crave on Main Profession you would most like to try: Philanthropist or venture capitalist Mentor: Fortunately, I have many and they change depending on the stage I am in Toughest business or professional decision: Selling my ďŹ rst business too early, but I was just relieved to have survived 9/11 and SARS in the hospitality industry and wanted to start a family Advice you would give the younger you: Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t sweat the small stuff and donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be afraid to ask for help! Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s left to do: So many ideas, so little time. In the short term, I want to focus on bringing the resources offered by both FWE and momcafĂŠ to as many communities as possible. In the long term, the possibilities are endless

Executive director, Forum for Women Entrepreneurs Age: 37

J

ill Earthy knows how to pull together the right ingredients to cook up a successful business. Her first venture, Frontline Staff, was launched in Toronto nearly a decade ago to provide staffing services. In three short years, Earthy was plying her services in eight cities across the country before she sold the company in 2003. The sale enabled her to move back to Vancouver where she was raised, and stay on with Frontline as a director until 2007 when she decided to go out on her own again. At that point, she became the Forum for

Women Entrepreneursâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; (FWE) first executive director and founded momcafĂŠ, a network that provides online resources for professionally minded moms. In short, Earthy knows what it takes to build a venture from the ground up and what elements are needed for success. And a little personal experience doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t hurt either, she explained. â&#x20AC;&#x153;For momcafĂŠ, it came from being a woman on maternity leave surrounded by friends in a similar situation who are having children later, who have invested a lot of time in careers and education

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and want to maintain that,â&#x20AC;? Earthy said. Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a firm believer that as professionally minded women choose to have families later in life, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more important than ever to bring them together to share ideas and explore opportunities.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think our goal is gender equality and having a balanced perspective at

all levels,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s certainly my goal.â&#x20AC;? In addition to expanding the operational capacity at both FWE and momcafĂŠ, Earthy has two daughters and is currently

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our goal is gender equality and having a balanced perspective at all levelsâ&#x20AC;?

chair of the Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Business Network organization in Vancouver. She said the last three years of her life have been a â&#x20AC;&#x153;complete blur,â&#x20AC;? but sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s proud of her success to date and plans to continue to help business thrive by creating opportunities for others. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re all in business together, so itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s about making things better.â&#x20AC;? Ä&#x201E;

12th Annual

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30

BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011 Business in Vancouver

Shannon Shaw President, pHase Geochemistry Inc. Age: 39

p

Hase Geochemistry Inc. is a world-class consulting firm that specializes in the effects acid rock drainage (ARD) has on water quality and the environment. Shannon Shaw founded the North Vancouverbased venture in 2009, and despite her company’s niche focus, it’s vital for metal mine permitting and cleanup. pHase might be only a year old, but Shaw has more than a decade and a half of experience in the industry and was the first person in Canada to receive a degree in ARD Geochemistry. Her expertise in metal contamination and water quality problems has been sought out by some of the world’s leading engineer-

ing and environmental consulting firms, and she was even asked by the United Nations to establish guidelines for water treatment. Since she founded pHase, Shaw and her team have taken on diamond, precious metal and base metal projects throughout the world. Needless to say, she’s leveraged her expertise to create a recipe for success in Vancouver’s highly com-

petitive mining industry. “I guess it’s been a little unexpected at how stable the workflow has been,” Shaw said. “I thought starting out with an economic downturn it might be a little harder or slower, but it hasn’t been.” When she’s not travelling to mine sites in farflung destinations, Shaw is busy raising two kids.

She said owning her own business has allowed her to trim her hours and find more time for her family, but that doesn’t mean pHase is any less busy. “I really haven’t had to market,” Shaw said. “I have more work than I can take on.” Ą

Todd Towers

odd Towers is a well-known global player in the tight niche of developing site-specific artwork for hotels. Along the way, he has grown Farmboy Fine Arts to an 18-employee company with millions of dollars in annual revenue and about 8,000 completed projects, about 95% of which are from outside Canada. “Instead of simply being the single vendor provider of artwork inside hotels, we’ve been gaining more ground and are becoming year-over-year increasingly the art consultant of the brand,” he said. “We’re working with various brands for multiple rollouts as an art con-

“We’ve been gaining more ground and are becoming year-overyear increasingly the art consultant of the brand”

sultant to build not only manufactured artwork in the hotel rooms, but also a collection of artwork that would have both investment and intrinsic value to the hotel in common areas.” Some recent impressive work was providing art for the new Abu Dhabi destination Yas Island. Towers and his team provided about 8,000 pieces of art for seven hotels on that island. He is currently working on projects such as the W Hotel in Beijing and the

“I thought starting out with economic downturn it might be a little harder or slower but it hasn’t been”

Birthplace: Calgary, Alberta Where do you live now: Vancouver Highest level of education: Bachelor of fine arts degree, University of Calgary Car or chosen mode of transport: My car is parked. I walk to work Currently reading: Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton Last CD bought or music downloaded: God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise by Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs Favourite local restaurant: Chambar Profession you would most like to try: Either managing director of an internationally traded art fund or a latenight TV talk show host Mentor: My father and my grandfather Toughest business or professional decision: After three years of near financial starvation, when everyone sane around me told me to give up on this business, I reinvested everything I had into it. That was nearly eight years ago and it was the best decision I ever made Advice you would give the younger you: I would give some advice that my father gave me: “It takes a steady hand to carry a full up” What’s left to do: Everything. I just need to take it one day at a time

President, Farmboy Fine Arts Age: 38

T

Birthplace: Calgary Where do you live now: North Vancouver Highest level of education: M.Sc., geological sciences Car or chosen mode of transport: Skis whenever possible, but our Honda CR-V when they aren’t Currently reading: The Natashas by Victor Malarek for myself, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis for my son and Junie B. Jones is Captain Field Day by Barbara Park for my daughter Last CD bought or music downloaded: A Halloween dance party compilation Favourite local restaurant: Palki restaurant or Krua Thai restaurant Profession you would most like to try: Canadian women’s Olympic hockey player or a farmer Mentor: Dr. Heather Jamieson, Dr. John Jambor and Dr. Andy Robertson Toughest business or professional decision: The toughest and easiest decision was to have a family Advice you would give the younger you: There was a bad haircut I would now advise against, but on a more professional level, to worry less about things I can’t change and focus on what I can What’s left to do: Everything

Hotel Georgia project in downtown Vancouver. His biggest client remains Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, which owns brands such as Westin, Sheraton, aloft, Le Meridien and W Hotels. Towers also does work for competing companies such as Marriott International. His early projects were for Calgary technology

companies. Praise for his work encouraged Starwood to give him the nod for a W Hotel project in Mexico City. Once Towers had jammed his foot in W Hotels’ door, he made extraordinary efforts to ensure that he would secure further inroads. For example, he splurged to finance an unannounced trip to Seoul, Korea, where

W Hotels was building a posh resort that would be its first Asian property. Towers met the general manager, showed him some ideas and won the job. Towers founded Farmboy in 2000 after earning a bachelor of fine arts degree at the University of Calgary in 1996. He moved

the company to Vancouver in 2006. He has served on various boards for art institutes, including the Art Gallery of Calgary (between 2001 and 2004), Emily Carr University of Art + Design (currently) and Element Magazine. Ą


BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

Business in Vancouver December 28, 2010–January 3, 2011

See who’s cookin’!

Celebration Awards Dinner: Tuesday February 1 Join us to celebrate the winners of our top Forty under 40 and hear their recipes for success. BIV has celebrated BC’s up and coming business stars for more than 20 years. This year, come join us for our networking reception and awards dinner. Rub shoulders with our winners and meet up with winners from previous years.

Tickets available now online at www.biv.com/40under40 Individual tickets $125 (subscribers and previous winners) or $150 each (non-subscribers) Corporate branded tables of 8 – (show your support) $1950 Event sponsorship contact Nick Hiam 604.608.5137

Sponsored by:

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BIV 2010 FORTY UNDER 40

December 28, 2010â&#x20AC;&#x201C;January 3, 2011 Business in Vancouver

2010 Forty under 40 special edition  

Yearly feature honouring the best and brightest in BC under 40.

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