Page 1



2 0 1 7

sponsored content



elcome to our fifth edition of the Burnaby Profiles of Excellence, a very special annual publication of the Burnaby NOW.

The men and women profiled in the following pages come from a wide variety of backgrounds, education, experience and expertise, but they all share something in common: a commitment to excellence that is second to none. Their dedication and passion in both professional and personal endeavours have bred success on all levels, making them leaders not just in their respective fields but in the community as well. The awards and recognition these business and community leaders have earned are evidence of the truest hallmark of success: the loyalty and respect of customers, and a reputation here in Burnaby and beyond. We have collected their stories here to share a taste of what they do and why they do it, and most of all, to recognize their commitment to excellence. We are excited to give our readers a glimpse into the lives of these entrepreneurs and professionals, who call Burnaby their home. – Lara Graham, Publisher - Burnaby Now

BUSINESS PROFILES n North Burnaby Dental n Burnaby Hospital Foundation n New West Dentureworks Inc. n Appia Development’s SOLO District n Solace Home Comfort n Gateway Casinos - Grand Villa n Atlas Steak & Fish n Dorigo Systems Ltd. n Custom Mortgages n Save On Foods n Nurse Next Door n Forest Lawn Memorial Park & Funeral Home n Investors Group - Harjit Sandhu n Milani Plumbing, Drainage & Heating sponsored content


Writer: Christina Myers I Design & Production: Gary Slavin I Photography: Lisa King & Kevin Hill

PROFILES OF EXCELLENCE North Burnaby Dental Group


he proof of excellence can be found in many facets of an organization: the reputation it has built, the longevity it has experienced, or the steady growth it enjoys. Or, in the case of North Burnaby Dental Group, in all three areas at the same time. Having marked 60 years in business, the clinic continues to draw new patients along with lifelong ones, and has earned itself a sterling reputation in the industry along the way. The reason, says Dr. Houman Houchmand, is simple: a tireless dedication to each and every patient who comes in the door, yesterday, today and into the future. “We have been successful because we simply put the patient first,” he said. “Our whole team works together to ensure that the care of the patient takes priority over anything else.” That focus on patient care means having skilled, reliable and friendly staff working with patients at every step of the process. In fact, Dr. Houchmand and clinic partner Dr. Ron McCaffrey lead a team of more than 30 people – including administrative staff, hygienists, and specialists in a variety of areas –at the long-time family practice, many of whom have been part of the team for decades.

“This practice really operates as a family,” said Dr. Houchmand. “We have three staff members who have been here for more than 30 years, and many others who have been here more than 10 years.” That continuity has helped bolster the clinic’s continued success, along with an ongoing focus on staying up-to-date and ahead of the curve when it comes to techniques, equipment and technology while maintaining a comfortable environment. “We offer sedation for nervous patients and our staff is trained to make people feel at ease and to decrease their stress,” said Dr. Houchmand. “We have the latest technology available, from CAT scans to lasers. We want to offer the best dental care, plain and simple.” Their approach has certainly worked – with six decades under their belts, they continue to not just keep long-time patients but to draw new ones. “We have been here a long time and generations of families come from all over, including the island, to continue their dental care with us,” he said. “We have several patients who are more than 100 years old and


We want our patients to feel that they are truly among a team that puts patients first. – Dr. Houman Houchmand

have been coming to us for half their lives.” Meanwhile, referrals from friends and family, along with positive reviews online, bring new patients in every week. For Dr. Houchmand and his team, it’s rewarding to see those long time relationships continue and to be able to develop new ones. “We really want people to walk away saying that was the best service they ever had, that we explained everything and that we were extremely friendly,” he said. “We want our patients to feel that they are coming to the best dental practice in Burnaby, and that they are


Dr. Houman Houchmand

truly among a team that cares and puts patients first.” At the end of the day, that’s what makes the difference at North Burnaby Dental Group. “As a business, I know that if you treat people the way you would like to be treated, then success will follow,” he said. Being located in the heart of an ever-growing region doesn’t hurt either. As part of the booming Heights neighbourhood, the clinic enjoys a central location between downtown and Coquitlam and beyond, with easy transit access. sponsored content

4587 Hastings Street, Burnaby, BC I 604.291.6696 I www.northburnabydental.com

PROFILES OF EXCELLENCE Burnaby Hospital Foundation



Being involved with your local hospital is a way to help countless people in the community. – Kristy James

limit to the size of a donation. “There certainly are people who are able to make those significant, legacy contributions, but the reality is that the foundation would not be here without those $20 and $30 donations that people give when they are able to,” she said. “The contributions of an entire community is what drives the capacity to make change.” Some donors opt for “monthly giving” which helps spread out a donation over the year to fit into a budget. There are also ways people can help the foundation through hands-on volunteering.


ith a new leader at its helm, Burnaby Hospital Foundation is gearing up to usher in a new era of success, with a host of projects, plans and goals in the works. It’s a huge task but one that is built on the solid pillars of the Foundation’s long history of accomplishments. Kristy James, the Foundation’s new Chief Executive Officer, says it’s a job she’s excited to be a part of. “I love community hospitals, I love the work they do, how they become hubs in the community and how they really can bring a community together,” she said. “The hospital sees people from all walks of life, from birth to death. Coming into this role, for me, is a wonderful opportunity to be part of the future of Burnaby Hospital and the city itself.” The foundation was started in 1982 as the fundraising arm of Burnaby Hospital. Through community partnerships and fundraising, it has been able to provide vital medical equipment and technology, improve patient care, and support innovative and educational community programs in the 35 years since. “It’s a really broad spectrum of ways in which the foundation is able to Kristy James, CEO support the work that the staff do here,” said James. “It’s not just inside the walls here, it really reaches out into the community in so many ways.” James notes that the Burnaby region continues to grow, with an ever-larger population who will rely on the hospital through their lives. “The reality is that you may not need the hospital today or tomorrow but by supporting it, you’re supporting your friends, your family, your neighbours and perhaps yourself down the road. Being involved with your local hospital is a way to truly be part of something bigger than yourself and to help countless people in the wider community.” James says it’s a wonderful time for residents to get involved with the foundation, whether they have before or not. “There’s so many opportunities to help,” she said. “We really encourage people to check out the website, to look at some of the volunteer and donor opportunities.” She says it’s important to remember that there is no

“There’s so many opportunities and we really encourage people to explore how and where they might get involved,” she said. The foundation’s major event of the year is coming up in February, with the gala evening themed this year as the Emperor’s Ball. “This will be my first one but I understand it has been a wonderful event in the past,” said James. She joins the foundation after having held leadership roles at Lions Gate Hospital Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Canada and Variety – The Children’s Charity. sponsored content

3935 Kincaid Street, Burnaby, BC I 604.431.2881 I www.bhfoundation.ca

PROFILES OF EXCELLENCE New West Dentureworks Inc.


ince completing an extensive trade program at the age of 19, followed up with an 18-month apprenticeship with a dedicated and highly talented mentor, Denturist Quan Gifford, R.D. (Denturist) has been driven to provide the very best in dentures and advanced procedures. With more than 18 years of experience, she is still passionate about patient education and believes a big part of her job is to educate patients about their dentures so that they can make well-informed decisions. “Being upfront, honest and more importantly kind, while providing high standards in quality of materials and products is what drives us,” says Quan. “For me, service is also about being there for your patients without any added charges for extra time spent.” Since being licensed in 2000, Quan has ensured that each patient achieves their desired result. Whether a patient’s dentures are for purely cosmetic reasons or for optimizing full dental function, the clinic offers full removable denture and permanent denture solutions. Working closely with some of the Lower Mainland’s top dental professionals and specialists, the clinic delivers a comfortable, relaxed and enjoyable experience. Her denture clinic offers the latest state-of-the-art dental office and specializes in the fabrication of removable dentures, partial dentures or complete

dentures, refitting and immediate repairs pertaining to dentures. Rest assured that Quan can bring back a smile to those who have lost their confidence because of problems with their dentures. In addition, it is equipped with an in-house lab where everything, from start to finish, is being quality controlled by her. This allows for a more thorough job and helps eliminate potential difficulties. Quan believes the key to the practice’s success is a combination of knowledgeable, friendly, caring, empathetic, highly skilled team of professional support staff. She strives to provide her clients with the very best denture services available. She does that by looking for new ways to improve her techniques and knowledge in the field of denturism in order to stay current with the latest technologies and products. “I attend continued education on a yearly basis with various seminars and or hands on participation with new trends,” she adds. It’s an approach that has paid off: their reputation draws satisfied customers from every


I’m very involved with the young children in our community – Quan Gifford, R.D.

part of the Lower Mainland, in particular from neighbouring Burnaby and the Tri-Cities area. Quan is also paying it forward. Having had a truly talented and wonderful mentor, this dynamic professional provides a learning environment for young entrepreneurs by opening her doors to mentor and inspire. Furthermore, Quan is deeply committed to the community which has supported her over the years. “I’m very involved with the young children in our community,” she says. “I volunteer many hours at schools and have been involved with fundraising with various sports teams in our community. In addition, I provide


(L) Denturist Quan Gifford with staff

pro bono cases for the patients struggling financially in our community once a year.” New West Dentureworks Inc. presents donations to many local public schools and churches on a regular basis. For those aspiring to enter the field, Quan says: “My advice to young people is to be honest and kind, everything is reflective in how you treat others, whether in business or in life. Moreover, keep good lines of communication open between you, your patients as well as other dental professionals.” Discover how Quan and her professional team can help give you that smile you dream of. sponsored content

270 - 522 Seventh Street, New Westminster I 604.553.1222 I www.newwestdentureworks.com

PROFILES OF EXCELLENCE Appia Development’s SOLO District



My team and family have been building here for almost 30 years. We believe in this community. – Jim Bosa

ways, a family affair. Bosa’s father, renowned developer Nat Bosa, created Bosa Development in Burnaby in the ’80s. Building on the family legacy both Jim and his brother Ryan have carried on that tradition for excellence in their respective companies. Bosa says the pillars of quality and integrity that helped grow his father’s business continue to guide his decisions as Appia looks to the future. “We treat people the way we want to be treated, and build homes we want to live in,” he said. “We’re proud of every home we’ve built. We appreciate the business and trust that buyers and repeat homeowners have in us.” Appia gives careful consideration to every aspect of a project, from the larger city to the local neighbourhood and its future growth – but


uild something you’re proud of, give people more than they expect, and do it all with integrity. It’s not an official motto but it certainly sums up the approach that Appia Development has taken in everything it’s done over the years – including its most recent and ongoing project, SOLO District in North Burnaby. SOLO’s second phase, ALTUS, has recently begun completions with new residents moving in, offering high praise for their new homes. “The feedback from buyers has been really positive,” said Founder and President of Appia, Jim Bosa. “People are so impressed with the quality of construction and the views, which are incredible.” Buyers have been drawn to the project, not only for its location, quality and the company’s reputation, but also those fantastic sight lines – 360 degrees of Burnaby, the North Shore mountains, downtown Vancouver, Stanley Park, towards Richmond and Mount Baker – along with communal outdoor lounge spaces, BBQ areas, a media centre, games room and rooftop terraces. Appia has created a uniquely beautiful and livable property for its residents. “When you’re in the amenity space on 49, it’s like you’re a penthouse owner,” said Bosa. “It’s just such a beautiful spot to relax, enjoy the sun, read a book, or spend time with friends.” ALTUS, a 49-storey Jim Bosa tower with 280 residential units, joins STRATUS, the first phase of SOLO District, with 360 residential units in a 45-storey tower located over street-level retail, including a Whole Foods Market. With both towers fully sold out, excitement and interest in Phase 3 is booming – CIRRUS, the latest addition to the project, is expected to launch in early 2018, offering another 280 residential units, more streetlevel commercial, and an approximately 4,200-sq. ft. community police office. “People see the value in SOLO District, not only in terms of the quality and the views, but also living in an established neighbourhood as opposed to a major construction site. It’s a really big win,” said Bosa. It’s a project the entire Appia team is proud to have brought to the city. “I grew up in Burnaby and my team and family have been building here for almost 30 years. We believe in this community,” Bosa said. “I think that’s pretty clear based on the number of projects we’ve built here,” he said with obvious pride. In fact, the company itself is, in many

at the forefront of every decision is the individual homeowner. “Our team is methodical about reviewing every detail of a home from the layout, to the choice of the cabinetry, the selection of the appliances, to the flooring,” said Bosa. This is especially true in the upcoming third phase at SOLO District, where homes have been designed with quality and livability in mind. The development will feature larger layouts than many of the other new projects in the area. “In all of our developments, we strive to deliver not only a functional and efficient space, but also the kind of property where your family and friends will come over and say ‘Wow, this is special – I wish I lived here.’” sponsored content

Southwest corner of Lougheed and Willingdon, Burnaby, BC I 604.298.8800 I www.solodistrict.com



omething special, the intangible sense of home, a product that is more than the sum of its parts: just a few of the ways to describe what Solace Home Comfort provides its customers. Though they primarily supply and install fireplaces – along with furnaces and air conditioning systems - what they hope to create is more than just that: it’s the sense comfort in all its forms. “That idea of the hearth being the centre of the home – that’s an idea that goes back centuries, but it’s still true,” said Mike Masterton, one of the leadership team at Solace. “Particularly with fire places, it gives people that feeling of a safe haven, a place to gather in the evenings, to be with family. It’s a centrepiece and it’s not just about the warmth that it creates but about that feeling in your home.” Masterton notes that one of the things they hear most often from customers is how happy they are with the finished product – but how much they wish they’d done it earlier. “People say that a lot, why didn’t I do this ten years ago, 15 years ago,” he said. “It really adds so much to

your home space and your living space, and these days from a heating efficiency perspective, to put a new gas fireplace insert into an existing old-fashioned fireplace really turns something that is a net energy loss in your home to a significant gain.” The Burnaby-based company has been providing heating and cooling solutions for residential properties for more than 30 years and their constant steady growth is testament to the reputation they’ve built. “We’ve got a real passion for what we do, everyone here is dedicated to really ensuring the customer gets what they want and what they need,” he said. “In new construction you’re putting in the newest products but with older housing stock it can mean going in and assessing what will work best, replacing those old inefficient wood-burning fireplaces. “People are often surprised at how simple it is, to get a fireplace insert done.” Masterton says in particular their partnership with Valor Fireplaces, based in North Vancouver, and other


It’s not just about the warmth that it creates but about that feeling in your home. – Mike Masterton

high-quality suppliers, has helped Solace develop a name for quality and integrity. “Most of our new customers are referrals from previous customers who were happy with what we did,” he said. “But in fact we also get a lot of customers who have worked with us before. They move into a new home and miss what they had at the previous home, and they’ll come back to us again.” The company also provides furnace and air conditioning products, with clients from West Vanouver to Maple Ridge, and south of the Fraser River as well.


Mukhtar Khawaja and Mike Masterson

“We have the team and the partnerships to really be able to cover a wide service area, which is really great for the customers,” he said. “Really at the end of the day, we want people to enjoy their homes – that’s what it comes down to. Comfort is about so many things and we feel like we provide that.” The company has a second office based in Port Coquitlam, with the primary office on Hastings in North Burnaby. “This is a great home base for us, it’s central and just a great community,” he said. sponsored content

4025 Hastings Street, Burnaby, BC I 604.291.0342 I www.solacehomecomfort.ca

PROFILES OF EXCELLENCE Gateway Casinos - Grand Villa


here’s two options for every business that has done well: rest on your laurels, or look to the future. For Gateway Casinos Grand Villa Burnaby, the choice is clear. “We have a wonderful property here – Grand Villa is really our flagship property – but we always want to be thinking about what we can do better, what can we do for our visitors and guests, what’s our next step,” said Rowland England, Gateway’s vice president of operations for BC West. “That’s an ongoing process, but right now in particular is a very exciting time as we roll out a number of changes.” The organization, which marked its 25th anniversary this year, announced a $15 million investment in renovation and upgrades to the popular Burnaby destination. Those include an expansion to the poker room, an expanded VIP gaming room, the introduction of several new restaurant choices – including Atlas Steak + Fish – as well an expansion to the current buffet, as well as new carpeting in the casino area, upgrades to the rooms and public spaces at the adjoining Delta Hotel Burnaby Conference Centre, and more. Those would be a challenge for any business to undertake, but in a 24-7, 365-day operation, it presents a unique task.

“We plan everything down to the finest detail, especially around the timing, so that there is minimal impact to our guests, no matter which part of the property they’re visiting,” he said. “That’s our biggest goal in all of this, is to be able to bring these new changes to our guests as seamlessly as possible.” So far, so good, he says, noting that facility renovations have already been underway; Atlas opened its doors to considerable fanfare and other projects are well in hand. “What it really comes down to is creating a destination,” said England. “We want to provide that overall entertainment experience – it’s not just gambling here. There’s food and beverage options, there’s places to meet with friends, to watch a hockey game, to celebrate a special occasion. It’s a night out, or a quiet dinner, or an exciting event. It’s really that allaround entertainment vision.” Drawing guests in means offering not just great choices – like unique lounge spaces or great menus – but also, particularly in this region, being a convenient and easy choice.


What it really comes down to is creating a destination. … It’s really that all-around entertainment vision. – Rowland England

“We’re right off the highway, and we have a huge parking facility that is free for guests,” he said. “Parking on a night out can be very challenging, and costly. And that’s just not the case here. It’s a small thing perhaps but it’s just one more thing to offer our guests.” England says he’s excited to see the renovations and upgrades roll out and what it means for the future of Grand Villa and Gateway itself. “This company is very progressive, very focused,” he said. “It’s all about the guest, all the time, and exceeding guest expectations.” With a team of about 1,200 staff – and


Rowland England, Gateway’s Vice President of Operations for BC West

growing all the time – England says now is a good time for people keen to build a career in the industry. “We have a great team here, a wonderful management culture,” he said. “We’re a very large employer here in Burnaby and we will be for a long time.” Gateway Casinos has 26 properties in all, including Grand Villa Casino Burnaby, which offers two casino floors with slot machines, table games and a poker room, as well as higher stakes and private gaming salons, along with eight dining, bar and lounge options, live entertainment and hotel accommodations at Delta Hotels Burnaby Conference Centre. sponsored content

4331 Dominion Street, Burnaby, BC I 604.436.2211 I www.gatewaycasinos.com




This is truly a destination, a real gem. – Sylvain Cuerrier

Conference Centre in rooms and public space, and the addition of several new dining options on top of the current establishments. The newcomers include within the hotel include Atlas, currently just serving dinner, Villa Bistro (opening early December), serving breakfast and lunch, as well as Chow Lucky Noodle Bar within the casino, long with expanded buffet seating (due in mid-2018). It’s a redevelopment that makes for a hectic schedule for Cuerrier and his team, but a welcome one. “It’s been very busy, but so rewarding,” he


he clink of glasses. Low lights and laughter. Old friends. New friends. Simple flavours from a classic menu. And all in the heart of a bustling entertainment centre. The new Atlas Steak + Fish at the Delta Hotels Burnaby, part of the Grand Villa Casino complex, has put a modern twist on old-school charm with its updated take on the iconic North American steakhouse. For executive food and beverage manager Sylvain Cuerrier, the new restaurant is certainly a jewel in the crown of the Gateway Casino organization but the guiding principles behind it are the same as those applied to every type of restaurant, regardless of size, style or menu. “This is truly a destination, a real gem,” he said. “But you can have all the pieces in place, a beautiful location, great food, but if you don’t focus on your customers, and take care of them, it will never work. That is always the core of it.” For Cuerrier this means being aware of the unique nature of the location. “We often talk about the fact that we are serving hotel guests and casino guests – and also guests who come in just to have a meal – but at the end of the day these are all people who choose to visit us here and they may have different needs but we tend to those needs in the same way – we put them at the centre of everything, the focus Executive Food and Beverage point of our Manager Sylvain Cuerrier decisions making process, and then you deliver the best.” Making that happen means building a dynamic team of staff who are supported and encouraged to grow and learn. “You take care of your people, you invest in them, and awaken them to a knowledge and possibilities they maybe did not know existed,” he said. “You take care of your staff, and they take care of your customer, and your customer takes care of you because they come back again, and they love what you gave them. That’s the trilogy. If you can do that, then you win on every front.” The opening of Atlas Steak + Fish is one step in an ongoing process of revitalization at the popular Burnaby destination. Gateway Casinos and Entertainment, which is marking their 25th anniversary, announced in September it was rolling out a $15 million dollar package of upgrades at Grand Villa: renovations to the gaming floor, a refresh of the Delta Hotels Burnaby

said. “Everything we do here must stand on its own, must be the best you can make it. You cannot assume that guests who come here for the hotel or the casino will be a captive audience for what you offer. I always bear in mind: could I take this physical space, this menu, this staff, and transplant it to a street corner anywhere in Vancouver or Burnaby or somewhere else, and make it work. You never take a customer for granted. If you know they would come in your door anywhere, and you can be proud of what you have built, then you have a winner.” sponsored content

4331 Dominion Street, Burnaby, BC I 604.453.0776 I www.atlassteakandfish.com



he technology is complex and cutting-edge, but the approach to business that has made Dorigo Systems a Canadian success story is as simple as it gets: do it right the first time. That focus on quality – in an industry that can be known for putting too much focus on low cost – has made Dorigo one of the world leaders in electronics manufacturing services and has been a guiding principal since it first opened its doors in 1988. It’s an approach that has paid off in spades: with the company set to celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2018, Dorigo’s reputation has grown far beyond the borders of its Burnaby birthplace. “We pay attention to detail in everything we do for our customers. This is how we define excellence,” said Dorigo Systems founder and president, Mark Pillon, P. Eng. “Our growth can be attributed to Dorigo’s dedication to achieving the highest quality standards combined with the exceptional team that delivers Dorigo’s services.” That focus on quality comes hand-in-hand with the knowledge that in the fast-paced world of new technology, time is always of the essence. “Every step in the manufacturing process is time sensitive,” notes Pillon. “In the world of high technology, being first to market with a new product can mean the difference between success or failure.

Dorigo is well positioned to help our customers in bringing a quality product to market – faster.” Using a framework they’ve dubbed The Dorigo Advantage – a three-pillared focus on stability, loyalty and longevity – the company has managed to garner continued accolades from the industry itself and the business community in general year after year. While that’s exciting for the team at Dorigo, it’s the relationships they’ve built with their customers that is the true reward, and fuels a constant evolution to maintain high levels of excellence. A key piece to the puzzle has been a “Design for Manufacturability” system: in simplest terms, a process that involves teaming up with customers and working in close collaboration from the very outset to ensure not just that the product works but that it’s done in the most efficient way possible, saving time and money along the way, while maintaining top-notch quality. “We are partners in the manufacturing process who can deliver the highest level of quality for high precision electronics manufacturing,” says Pillon. “Quite simply –


We couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds. – Mark Pillon

we build it right the first time.” Dorigo recently upgraded its certification to ISO 9001:2015 standards – a benchmark international standard – and as time goes on, the company has been converting many customers from “consigned” to “turnkey” – the latter being an approach in which a company turns over many or all aspects (such as part sourcing, board manufacturing, mechanical assembly and final test) to Dorigo. It requires a lot of trust – which the company has more than earned over the years – and allows Dorigo to be a champion for tech innovators in B.C. and beyond, as they leverage their size, and the knowledge and experience


Working with Dorigo’s high speed SMT assembly lines.

of staff, to help smaller companies develop their ideas. It would be easy to sit back and relax, resting on the laurels of accomplishments to date – but for Pillon and his team, there are always new ways to grow and improve. As technology continues to transform the world – in particular the ongoing development of the Internet of Things – so too will the company continue to transform to meet those challenges. Major plans are already in the works for a largescale expansion. “Within the next few years you can expect to see Dorigo attain an even greater level of efficiency and productivity – and we couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds.” sponsored content

3885 Henning Drive, Burnaby, BC I 604.294.4600 I www.dorigo.com




We couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds. – Rishel Tomlinson

“To be able to see someone achieve their goals is so rewarding,” she said. “I have heard many times: I didn’t think it would be possible, thank goodness I talked to you because having achieved this real estate ownership has made so much more in my life possible.” For example, Tomlinson points to a client who, through several moves, went from not believing they could own a home at all, to being mortgage free. “That’s a huge accomplishment and it’s very exciting to be part of people’s lives in that way,” she said. As the organization reaches its 10th anniversary, they’re preparing to launch a


he hunt for a dream home is often focused on the physical: the type of house, the number of rooms, the neighbourhood it’s located in. But in truth, making the right choice involves all sorts of less visible but equally critical considerations – and key among them is the mortgage. The wrong mortgage can make the dream of home ownership into a nightmare – but the right one can be the foundation upon which the success of long-term financial success is built. Making sure every client finds the latter is the philosophy that’s been driving Custom Mortgages since it opened its doors 10 years ago. “Custom Mortgages was founded on the principal of helping people achieve their goal of real estate ownership in a way that helps them achieve other goals in their life as well,” said Rishel Tomlinson, principal mortgage broker with Custom. “My motto is: if you get your mortgage right, everything else becomes possible.” For Tomlinson, that means sitting down with clients to look at goals, budgets and most importantly, cash flow, and not just figuring out the biggest possible amount a client can be approved for. “Contrary to most mortgage application processes Rishel Tomlinson where the conversation begins by asking how much income is earned, at Custom Mortgages we begin the conversation by asking what type of property and location is desired, and depending on the given purchase price range for this type of product, we talk about what the individual cash flow needs are for each unique borrower, and from there provide them with their top three mortgage options and strategies to help them achieve their real estate purchase within the cash flow parameters we’ve identified.” In other words: find success for each client by matching the right mortgage – type, conditions and size – to their actual lives, goals and financial situation. For Tomlinson, avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach means getting to know her clients and their goals – and staying with them for the long-term. She’s worked with countless clients through that overwhelming “first home purchase,” helping them navigate the process – but she’s also worked alongside long-time clients through multiple home sales and purchases.

unique app that will help people answer the question “What can I afford” which looks at not just the basics, like income level, but future plans like having children or moving to a different area. “It’s not a simple question and the app will help make it simple by working step by step through all the factors,” she said. “It can be a very stressful process for people when it comes time to buy or sell, to apply for a new mortgage, and really at the end of the day my job is to make it straight-forward, to make it comfortable and to make it work for my client, now and into the future.” sponsored content

220 - 4411 Hastings Street, Burnaby, BC I 604.294.9330 I www.custommortgages.ca

PROFILES OF EXCELLENCE Save-On-Foods Highgate Village



We love what we do, and we want to keep doing it better every day. – Darren Burrows

customers to have the best experience in our store, every time, whether that’s the visual displays, a tasty demo, great deals, the service from a staff member.” And if something isn’t just right – or, if they’ve had a great experience - they want to know about it. They maintain an online customer feedback form at www.saveonfoods.com/survey and customers can win a gift certificate for providing feedback. Ultimately, it just comes down to treating people well. “One of the things I learned a long time ago, from one of the presidents in our company, was


or Darren Burrows, the small things are as important as the big ones. The long-time Save-On-Foods team member, who took over the head role at the HighGate location in Burnaby last year, says you can’t overlook the tiny details when considering the big picture. “There’s always a way to make things work better, to make customers enjoy their time here more, to be a better leader to your team, to create a great environment for everyone,” he says. “It might be just taking that last once-over in the produce department and making it look as perfect as possible – it’s a small thing but it adds up.” That attention to detail and a constant quest for excellence across all measures – be it customer satisfaction, workplace environment, business practices, or innovation – is not unique to the HighGate store. It’s part of the culture of the entire organization, from top to bottom, says Burrows. “This company is really unique, really focused on being the best it can be,” said Burrows. “It’s an incredible place to work, and we hope it’s always the best place for our customers to shop.” The store is constantly looking at new ways to Darren Burrows ensure that Save-On-Foods continues to be the number 1 choice for its customers. That might involve ensuring staff have special training for their departments, considering the visual impact of the various shopping areas, and expanding or shifting products based on demand. As an example, Burrows points to the recent introduction of a line of British products from the UKbased Tesco grocery stores, which are now on shelves in the HighGate location. “It’s been really exciting,” he said. “Save-OnFoods is the exclusive retailer for Tesco products in western Canada. The feedback I’ve been getting from customers has been unbelievable – it’s been even more popular than I expected. People come in to take a look and walk out with an armful of Tesco products.” But Burrows is quick to note that the best looking store, and the most diverse product line, means nothing without a dedication to customers. “That’s the big thing, at the end of the day. Always. The customer. How was their experience, how were they treated, did they walk away happy? We want our

no matter what, you take the time to greet and welcome every one,” he says. “It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to me, or someone from head office, or your hands are full with something: when a customer walks by, you stop and greet them and offer a smile. I’ve been with Save-On for 28 years and I learned that early on and I still instill that in my staff now.” A smile might seem another “small” thing but it’s part of the “big picture” that continues to make Save-On-Foods one of B.C.’s best business stories. “We love what we do, and we want to keep doing it better every day.” sponsored content

200-7155 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC I 604.540.1368 I www.saveonfoods.com




Wendy brings a wealth of experience with 45 years in the healthcare field.

found her passion in making a difference in the lives of clients and families who were experiencing difficulty in navigating the complex health care system. Susan graduated from BCIT with a Diploma in Medical Laboratory Technology and has a certificate in Applied Project Management from Langara College. Like Wendy, she considers herself a lifelong learner, and continuously seeks out learning opportunities in the business and technical fields in order to ensure best practices in the franchise operations arena. After working in the lab clinical field, Susan decided to embark on a career in the lab related field of instrumentation. This decision


t’s a family affair – and a calling of compassion – for the co-owners of the local Nurse Next Door home care services. Wendy J. Scott and sister-in-law Susan Scott came together to offer a wide range of oneon-one home care services under the Nurse Next Door banner in Burnaby, New Westminster and the Tri-Cities. Headquartered with offices in the Royal City, the local office has customers of all ages, needs and requirements in the surrounding region – and their reputation has been growing by leaps and bounds. They have won a number of awards including New Westminster Record’s Readers’ Choice Award, Burnaby NOW’s Best of Burnaby Award for Best In-Home Care, a first-place win in the Favourite Home Health Services three years in a row for A-List New Westminster, and have been included in the 50 over 50 National Awards, and nominated for the 2017 Business of the Year by the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce. Considering the breadth and depth of experience both women bring from their backgrounds in health care and related fields, it’s perhaps no surprise that they’ve garnered so much recognition as they continue to grow their business. Wendy came to the business with first-hand knowledge of the benefits of home nursing care thanks to a lifelong career in healthcare. Susan’s entry into the world of home care services came from the personal experience of Wendy Scott (left) and Susan Scott struggling to (right), Co-Owners find reliable and respectful care for her ill mother. Having heard similar stories from other people, she knew that there was a growing need for the services that could be offered with Nurse Next Door. Wendy brings a wealth of experience with 45 years in the healthcare field. Her background includes roles in clinical and management/ leadership, coronary care, intensive care, emergency, and interventional cardiology. A lifetime learner, Wendy completed her diploma and baccalaureate degree in nursing and is a graduate of the master’s program in leadership and training from Royal Roads University. She has also completed the Advanced Project Management Program from Langara College and the Canadian Legal Nurse Consulting program. She is also a certified dementia practitioner. Susan too brings 45 years of experience with her to Nurse Next Door, coming from a background in the laboratory technology field and case management software, sales and marketing, project management, and customer service and support. Susan says she

led to experiences working with hospital and private labs involving sales, marketing, installation of equipment and applications support. After the lab, she went to support and sell case management software for cancer patients in Canada, the US and internationally. Both Wendy and Susan say that they are focused on driving and building the strong Nurse Next Door brand in the local area. With the ability to keep close attention on the New Westminster, Burnaby and Tri-Cities communities, the pair say that families here can be confident they are receiving the best in home care services for seniors and others in need. sponsored content

209 - 88 Tenth Street, New Westminster I 604.522.9989 I www.nursenextdoor.com

PROFILES OF EXCELLENCE Forest Lawn Memorial Park & Funeral Home


he days and weeks after a loved one passes can be full of unexpected challenges, endless details to sort through, and tasks one had never even imagined – on top of grief, sadness, and shock. The goal for the team at Forest Lawn and Ocean View Cemeteries and Funeral Homes (Dignity Memorial provider) is to lighten the load as much as possible by helping people plan in advance. “Pre-arrangement is just that: when you take care of your arrangements ahead of time,” said Mike Toth, senior sales manager. “This is something that a lot of people still aren’t aware exists.” Toth notes that there’s a myth – perpetuated perhaps by dramatic films or novels – in which sorting out details around funeral services and burial or cremation only happens after a person has passed away. “This idea that it all begins at that moment leads to a lot of stress for people, a lot of uncertainty,” he said. “Our job is to really relieve the burden on people, whether that’s a surviving spouse or adult children or whoever is tasked with making those decisions.” Uncertainty around what a loved one might have

wanted if it’s never been discussed, or disagreement between family members on best options, can lead to a lot of heartache, he notes. There is also an often unspoken stress after a death that is eased by prearrangement: finances. “When someone has pre-arranged, they’ve taken care of that piece in advance,” he said. “That’s something we hear a lot from people who come in to set up a pre-arrangement – they don’t want their spouse or their children having that burden down the road. ”It also locks in pricing for the future at current levels. “When you consider how the various costs of living go up over 10 years or 20 years, you begin to see how that might be a significant savings,” he noted. Pre-arranging also involves pre-planning of specific details – making written instructions around services, preferences for burial or cremation, and other decisions. “These are things that people don’t always talk about and so when the time comes people can be left wondering ‘Am I making the right decision?’ And even within a family, between a husband and wife, there may


We work very hard to look after our families with dignity and respect. – Mike Toth

be different individual wishes. Getting all of that sorted out in advance makes sense.” It all comes down to one ultimate goal: making the most difficult day of someone’s life a little bit easier. “I’ve heard it from so many people over the years: people saying ‘I’m so happy mom and dad made these decisions in advance, I’m so happy I know what to do here, it’s made this challenging time easier for us.’” In addition, many people aren’t aware of all the various options available to them, assuming there are only one or two choices when it comes


Mike Toth, Senior Sales Manager

to wishes or to paying for them. In fact, notes Toth, there are a wide variety of alternatives, as well as flexibility in payment plans. “We really encourage people to come in and talk to us and learn more,” he said. “We work very hard to look after our families with dignity and respect. We’re never going to be able to undo the grief but we can make it a little less painful to get through the process. We never lose sight of the fact that to each person this is possibly the hardest event of their lives.” sponsored content

3789 Royal Oak Avenue, Burnaby, BC I 604.299.7711 I www.dignitymemorial.ca

PROFILES OF EXCELLENCE Harjit Sandhu at Investors Group


or many people, talking about money is stressful – for Harjit Sandhu, talking about money, and helping people feel comfortable doing the same, is all in a day’s work. “That’s what it’s all about – I want my clients to feel confident, have a plan and know they’re headed in the right direction,” he said. As a Senior Consultant with Investors Group, Sandhu has been providing investment, debt management, wealth, estate planning and tax planning services to a wide range of clients. “We work with every type of client: corporate business owners, individuals, families,” he said. “What we do for people is help them save money, pay off their debts faster and provide for themselves and their loved ones for a more secure financial future.” Sandhu says people of all income levels – yes, even low income – can be helped significantly with a little planning. “If anything, someone coming in with less to start with are the people who can really benefit over the long term by working with us – planning is always a benefit,” he said. The same goes for lack of knowledge – a factor which can sometimes make people avoid looking at

their financial situation altogether. “That’s why we’re here – we walk clients through all of it, how estate planning works or tax planning, whatever they need,” he said. He says he encourages everyone to consider the benefit of planning, regardless of age or stage of life or income level. “When we’re meeting people for the first time, we hope they see right away that different level of service we’re bringing to the table – our expertise and knowledge – and then to begin to learn what financial planning is all about, and walk through that with them.” Providing financial planning services as part of the Investors Group team is “wonderful,” says Sandhu. “We’re the leading financial planning firm in Canada.” Investors Group first opened its doors in Canada in 1926; there are now more than 100 offices across the country, with a head office located in Winnipeg. The company also has a strong commitment to community involvement in the Burnaby Community; it is major donor/supporter to the Burnaby Rotary Club, South


I want my clients to know they’re headed in the right direction. – Harjit Sandhu

Burnaby Neighborhood House and the Burnaby Salvation Army. The company’s philosophy includes a strong focus on creating long-term relationships with clients to help provide solid financial advice at various life stages. That’s a philosophy that Sandhu stands behind. “You create a relationship of trust and respect, and help your client with their goals – that’s positive for everyone,” he said. “The relationships that I develop with my clients over time is very rewarding.” Sandhu


Harjit Sandhu and his team

notes that there are approximately 40 financial planners working through the Greater Vancouver Central office – a culturally diverse group representing a number of languages to serve the population of the region. Sandhu, who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from SFU, a Bachelor of Business Administration from Kwantlen University College and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, has won a number of national and local awards for his work in financial planning. sponsored content

900-5945 Kathleen Ave., Burnaby, BC I 604.431.0117 I www.investorsgroup.com

PROFILES OF EXCELLENCE Milani Plumbing, Drainage & Heating



Our mission is to inspire our team to constantly exceed our customers’ expectations. – Vern Milani

term relationships, we want our customers to come back to us, so that’s not just giving great service… it’s also about understanding what they need, like prolonging the life of their equipment or giving them efficient energy options to save money. Our mission is to inspire our team to constantly exceed our customers’ expectations with every aspect of their plumbing, drainage, heating and air conditioning needs. Plain and simple.” As they move into their seventh decade in business, Vern is excited that the family business will continue under the Milani wing: his son Alexander is a member of the team as the Commercial Accounts Manager, and Vern hopes his younger son, Christopher, will follow suit in a few years. As a long-time resident of


lot has changed since Demetrio Milani started the family business back in 1956. Back then, Demetrio’s tools were a collection of shovels and picks in a sack flung over his shoulder each morning, and a trolley car took him around the city to do his work. An Italian immigrant who came to Canada alone at 13 with just $50 in his pocket, he learned early on that success takes a lot of effort. As he started the Milani business, he quickly known for the integrity of his work and a willingness to put in hard work to get the job done right. In 1986, Demetrio’s son, Vern, bought the business from his father and has grown the company from just 2 trucks to 100 trucks, more than 140 staff and top-notch equipment, and services Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. Vern attributes this growth to continuing to operate the business on the core principles his father taught him. Despite all that growth, one thing has remained a constant in the six decades since the business began: an expectation of excellence in all things. “It’s a very different world these days. My father would go out and follow the new city sewer lines and then offer his services to people who had septic tanks, but wanted to connect to the system,” notes Vern Milani. “They didn’t have back hoes Alex and Vern Milani then… he did everything by hand. These days we do a lot more than sewer lines – we’re a one stop shop for plumbing, drainage, heating and air conditioning in houses, residential and commercial buildings. We have the capabilities now to do repairs, maintenance, retrofits and installations 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” For Milani, that means taking pride in fast, fair, reliable service - with a human touch. “We call our core values P.I.P.E. – passion, integrity, professionalism and empathy,” he said. That last component is a key piece of what has made Milani the success story it is, says Vern. “We’re in the service business, we’re dealing with people every day – when a home or building has a flood, or they have a broken pipe, or it’s the middle of winter and the furnace or boiler breaks and its cold, we need to be really aware of the fact that this can be really stressful,” he said. “Our job is to understand not just what to do to fix a problem but to take care of the customers along the way, too.” It’s a compassionate approach, but also one that has proven a success from a business perspective. “We’re looking for long-

Burnaby, it’s been rewarding to not just build a strong business in his home community, but to also give back, says Vern. “We support various organizations – BC Children’s Hospital, Coast Mental Health and Canadian Cancer Society to name a few. I have also been on numerous non-profit boards like the Burnaby Hospital Foundation board and Better Business Bureau board for many years,” he said. Milani is also involved with several community organizations and environmental protection initiatives. “We all need to make an effort to leave a healthy planet where our children and grandchildren can thrive,” said Vern. “We take a lot of pride in being a part of making sure that happens.” sponsored content

5526 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC I 604.430.2603 I www.milani.ca

Profile for Burnaby Now

Profiles of Excellence - Burnaby  

Profiles of Excellence - Burnaby  


Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded