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Expanding, Innovating and Improving the Communities it Serves

ON THE HUNT

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Manufacturing drives Alberta’s economy. Helping you succeed drives us.

ATB has a dedicated manufacturing team that’s ready to help you take your business wherever you want it to go.

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60 YEARS OF ADVENTURE AND DISCOVERY


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Supporting the visions of entrepreneurs one story at a time. Volume 5 | Number 11

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 Alberta’s Hollow and Misguided Amazon Courtship By Brock Harrison

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CONTENTS 39 COVER FEATURE

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 hampion Petfoods: C Expanding, Innovating and Improving the Communities it Serves By Nerissa McNaughton

ON OUR COVER: ABOVE: FRANK BURDZY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CHAMPION PETFOODS PHOTO SOURCE: EPIC PHOTOGRAPHY INC.

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 Time to End the Government Ponzi Schemes By Colin Craig

 Edmonton Chamber of Commerce


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Supporting the visions of entrepreneurs one story at a time. Volume 5 | Number 11

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CONTENTS THIS MONTH’S FEATURES

COMPANY PROFILES

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Celebrating the Future

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On the Hunt Searching for the perfect candidate? Don’t be afraid to look outside for assistance By Ramona Korpan

A Lack of a Succession Plan Could Mean the Death of Your Business By Laura Bohnert

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Health City The new initiative aims to revolutionize Edmonton – and it’s working By Nerissa McNaughton

A City of Heart and Hustle Industry insiders discuss the continued success of Albertabased metal fabrication By Zachary Edwards


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ALBERTA’S HOLLOW AND MISGUIDED AMAZON COURTSHIP // BROCK HARRISON

Alberta’s Hollow and Misguided Amazon Courtship BY BROCK HARRISON

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t’s difficult to witness Alberta’s fervent courtship of ecommerce retailing giant Amazon without experiencing at least a fleeting sense that you’re watching an episode of The Bachelor. Alberta, playing the role of doe-eyed hopeless idealist, finds itself pitted against a field of equally smitten and ruthlessly competitive suitors to win the affections of a most eligible bachelor, promising a lifetime of economic bliss and all the perks that go along with it. There will be first dates and heart flutters and all the usual trappings of an awkward romantic pursuit before our bachelor, Amazon, hands out that final rose to The One special place. Alberta kicked its wooing up a notch, announcing it had formed an all-star team of business and investment experts to advise Calgary and Edmonton on how best to prepare their respective bids for Amazon’s so-called HQ2 project that the company says will deliver 50,000 high-paying jobs and $5 billion in economic activity to the city in which it chooses to set up shop. Of course, we aren’t the only ones. Well over 100 North American cities, including four others in Canada, have delivered their love letters to Seattle-based Amazon. Theirs is certainly a love worth fighting for, and you can hardly fault anybody for pursuing it. Amazon’s stated list of desired qualities in a partner city are basic enough: Metropolitan population base over 1 million, on-site mass transit access, a highly-skilled workforce, and within 45 minutes of an international airport. However, the fine print of Amazon’s RFP also contains six ordinarily boilerplate words that, given our current political and economic predicament, should throw a Seattle-sized

bucket of cold water on Alberta’s Amazon daydream: “A stable and business-friendly environment.” Um, yeah. About that… In the two-plus years since the NDP were swept to power in Alberta, they’ve raised corporate taxes, capped energy production, dramatically hiked the minimum wage, hatched an economy-wide carbon tax, jacked up the locomotive fuel tax, radicalized labour law and employment standards, and are currently working their magic on Occupational Health and Safety and the Workers Compensation Board. Oh, and they’re scrapping cheap coal-fired electricity in favour of what are sure to be heavily-subsidized renewables. Oh well, it’s not like an 8-million square foot office complex with dozens of buildings and on-site restaurants really needs affordable power, right? Simply put, the Alberta NDP has, on virtually all possible counts, erased Alberta’s competitive edge and in the process, repelled the kind of seismic investment it is now oh-so earnestly seeking. And, absent the competitive economic conditions the company wants, Alberta will almost certainly be tempted to crack open provincial coffers in search of subsidies and direct incentives to win the business. If the quest to capture Amazon’s heart devolves into an abject bidding war – which indications are it already might be – Alberta should think twice about throwing untold millions of public dollars at an American tech juggernaut, only to reinforce its global dominance. If not, and Amazon simply settles on where it thinks it’s easiest to make a buck, Alberta might be left heartbroken. It’s really too bad. There was a time when Amazon would have loved us for who we were. BROCK HARRISON IS THE VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS FOR THE ALBERTA ENTERPRISE GROUP.

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TIME TO END THE GOVERNMENT PONZI SCHEMES // COLIN CRAIG

Time to End the Government Ponzi Schemes BY COLIN CRAIG

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f you flip open the 2016 annual report for a massive government employee pension plan in Alberta, you’ll find a subtle note that should set off alarm bells for taxpayers and politicians. Among the potential “risks” outlined by the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP) is a “lack of growth in the public sector.” That’s an odd admission isn’t it? In the private sector, an investment scheme that depends on a constant growth of new members, in order to make payments promised to existing members, is called a Ponzi scheme. It’s also illegal – just ask Bernie Madoff. But in government, such schemes are not only legal, they’re very common across Canada. Each year, various government bodies in Alberta, and their employees, put in billions of dollars into the “defined benefit” Local Authorities Pension Plan. Once an employee retires, he or she is then guaranteed monthly payouts for the rest of his or her life. The problem of course is that the LAPP has stumbled … and stumbled. The pension plan’s 2014 annual report explains how the “dot-com” bubble caused financial heartache for the pension plan at the end of the 1990s … and then it was the “financial crisis of 2008” that took its toll. These problems contributed to a significant “unfunded liability” for the plan – a financial hole that has to be addressed. While the rest of us have to watch our RRSPs endure financial bubbles and crises, governments addressed the LAPP’s problems by bailing it out with billions of dollars. In 2007, Alberta taxpayers had to pay close to $476 million for the LAPP alone. But by 2016, the annual bill for

taxpayers had skyrocketed to approximately $1.3 billion; a 179 per cent increase in just 10 years. Again, we’re not talking about a one-time $1.3-billion expenditure. That figure is the annual cost for Alberta taxpayers for this one pension alone. If you divide that figure by the number of current employees enrolled in the pension plan, it works out to about $8,240 per employee each year. Governments also raised employee contribution rates. So if you were a new a clerk at the City of Calgary or City of Edmonton back in 2008, your biweekly contributions went up – not only to pay for your own future benefits, but to pay for pension plan members who have already retired. Again, it’s essentially a legal Ponzi scheme. Defenders of the plan will have all kinds of excuses for leaving the plan alone. But maintaining the status quo is not only costly, it’s also quite risky. What happens if we see another escalation of costs over the next decade? Are taxpayers supposed to just keep smiling and contribute even more money? That’s hardly fair. Scrapping the LAPP and other similar golden government employee pension plans will not be easy, but Saskatchewan has shown it can be done. In the 1970s, their provincial government began putting new employees in a far less costly pension plan; known as a defined contribution plan. Thus, over time, many of their pension problems have slowly been addressed. So the question is – do Alberta politicians have the steel resolve necessary to stand up for taxpayers and tackle this golden entitlement problem? Why not ask your local elected official where they stand on the matter?

COLIN CRAIG IS THE INTERIM ALBERTA DIRECTOR FOR THE CANADIAN TAXPAYERS FEDERATION.

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Customer accident leads to event sponsorship and new bike One of the best parts of owning a bike store is the enthusiastic customers that are so excited to get a new bike, meet other cyclists and just be fun to be around. Few customers exemplified that more than Suzanne and Leona to Mud, Sweat and Gears owner Paul Burgess. Burgess recalls "whenever I saw the two of them in the store together I just knew it would be a positive fun experience helping them, they both just overflow with happiness." All that changed in the summer of 2016 when Burgess learned of the devastating accident Leona had on her bike while riding with Suzanne. "We were all just gutted to hear of her spinal injury and knew the hard road she had ahead of her". A few weeks later Burgess was driving with his son and decided that they would both go visit Leona and let her know all the staff at MSG were pulling for her. "I remember not knowing what I was going to say, and the typical - let me know if there is anything I can do - just seemed so Leona with her new Recumbent Bike donated by hollow." So Burgess wrote up a Gift Certificate for a new bike, and Mud, Sweat and Gears owner Paul Burgess gave it to Leona under the condition she walk in and present it to him. "At the time Leona was immobilized without any movement, I didn't know if it was the right thing to do or not, but it seemed like all I could offer her." A year later, and many many challenges along the way, Leona did just that with the help of a walker, Burgess happily redeemed her gift certificate and ordered a custom recumbent bike for Leona. With the help of her husbands technical skills, the bike now has electric assist to help her navigate hills. In September Leona completed the 2nd Annual Ride For Courage, a 60km ride around Pigeon Lake to raise funds for the Glenrose Hospital!

mudsweatandgears.ca


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Enerkem Hits Production Milestones and Starts Commercial Production of Cellulosic Ethanol Enerkem, a biofuel and renewable chemical producer that is headquartered in Montreal and operates a state-of-the-art facility in Edmonton, (Enerkem Alberta Biofuels) recently started the commercial production of cellulosic ethanol. The Alberta Biofuels facility represents a major innovative collaboration between a city that wishes to increase waste diversion from landfills, and a waste-to-biofuels producer with a unique, disruptive service-offering approach. In 2016, Enerkem obtained certification from the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) system, and in 2017, the company was pleased to be awarded the lowest carbon intensity value ever issued by the British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines under the Renewable and Low Carbon Fuel Requirements Regulation. Enerkem is the first commercial plant of its size to produce cellulosic ethanol from non-recyclable, non-compostable municipal waste. “The commercial production of cellulosic ethanol at our facility in Edmonton marks a landmark moment for our company as well as our customers in the waste management and petrochemical sectors, and it confirms our leadership in the advanced biofuels market,” says Vincent Chornet, president and CEO of Enerkem. “We will now progressively increase production in Edmonton while preparing to build the next Enerkem facilities locally and around the world.” Biofuels are important in a world that increasingly seeks to distance itself from non-renewable resources, and to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible to combat the effects of climate change and resource depletion. Advanced biofuels are a key component in that they provide an alternative, clean fuel for vehicles while simultaneously reducing landfill waste. Cellulosic ethanol is produced from biological, non-food sources, such as forest mass, agriculture waste, energy crops and urban waste. “To unlock the value of non-conventional feedstock sources, these low-carbon liquid transportation fuels are produced using innovative and breakthrough technologies,” confirms Enerkem in a press release. The start of cellulosic ethanol production is not the company’s only great news from this year. In April, Enerkem

was proud to report that it had hit all of its production milestones in the Edmonton facility, and it had achieved the ability to turn household waste into 99.9 per cent pure liquid chemicals and biofuels in under five minutes. “The Enerkem Alberta Biofuels facility in Edmonton is fully operational in accordance with very rigorous production criteria,” says Chornet. “Our disruptive solution sets a new standard in waste management, biofuels and chemicals, thus accelerating the transition toward a circular economy where waste becomes a resource that can be used to make everyday products.” “We have been impressed with Enerkem’s discipline and commitment throughout the process of ramping up the world’s first commercial operation of its kind,” adds Greg Dimmer, managing director, IAM Private Debt Group. “As Enerkem’s senior lender, we look forward to expanding our partnership through future financing opportunities as the company continues to expand its market outreach.” Enerkem is on a mission to develop additional biorefineries across the globe, to help diversify the renewable energy mix and to create smarter, greener products. To learn more, visit www.enerkem.com. ABOVE: ENERKEM ALBERTA BIOFUELS: WORLD’S FIRST WASTE-TO-BIOFUELS AND CHEMICALS COMMERCIAL FACILITY. PHOTO SOURCE: MERLE PROSOFSKY

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Thank you for supporting Presented by

Thanks for your support of our 2nd Annual Wheels for Wellness car rally. This year’s event raised more than $212,000* with 50 per cent of net funds for the Stollery Children’s Hospital and 50 per cent for the Mental Health Foundation. Your support for the Stollery funds family-centred care at the Hospital where social workers, counselors, therapists and other medical professionals provide care right across the spectrum from mental health protocols in the Stollery emergency room, to offering families bereavement counselling when they’re at their most vulnerable. Your support for the Mental Health Foundation funds early intervention programs for children and youth — programs that reduce the risk of depression, suicide, substance use problems and hospitalization. Early intervention programs also help with a quicker and more complete recovery for children and youth affected by mental health issues. Thank you again for your generosity, and we look forward to seeing you at next year’s Wheels for Wellness rally! *gross funds

Special thank you to our 2017 sponsors

For further information about the fundraising goals and costs for this event, please contact: Whitney Masson, senior manager special events, Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, 780.431.4616 | whitney.masson@stollerykids.com.


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MacEwan University Honours Heather MacEwanForan and Installs new Artwork MacEwan University is named after former Lieutenant Governor Dr. J.W. Grant MacEwan. The university’s coat of arms bears a sparrow with a walking stick to further honour Dr. MacEwan. Since he passed in 2000, his daughter, Heather MacEwan-Foran, continued the relationship between the university and her family. Sadly, MacEwan-Foran passed away earlier this year following a battle with cancer. MacEwan University paid tribute to MacEwan-Foran this fall with a ceremony to officially name the gardens located on the east end of MacEwan’s City Centre Campus Heather’s Garden. The Garden will reside with other tributes on the campus, including the Christenson Family Centre for Sport and Wellness, Robbins Health Learning Centre, and Allard Hall. “The university has a 46-year history with the MacEwan family,” says Dr. Deborah Saucier, MacEwan University’s president. “What began with Dr. Grant MacEwan was carried forward by his daughter, Heather, who shared her father’s profound belief in nature and the importance of being a steward of the environment. The university is richer for that relationship.” Despite being a resident of Calgary, MacEwan-Foran attended most of the university’s special occasions, often travelling by bus and staying in residence to do so; and like her father, who also frequently attended on-campus events, she greatly enjoyed connecting with students, faculty and staff. MacEwan-Foran’s last visit to campus took place in May 2014, during which she attended MacEwan Day, the university’s annual celebration of its namesake and staff achievements. “Heather loved her annual visit to MacEwan University, where she met and interacted with people who cared about the things she valued,” says husband Max Foran. “Our family is delighted about the idea of Heather’s Garden as an ongoing testament to her bond with nature, and with the institution that she cared so much about.” This fall, MacEwan University also made headlines with an art installation that represented a three-year labour of love

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for artist Brenda Draney. The installation, called Trapline, honours Alberta’s trapping heritage. “The Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA) … [was] pleased to work with MacEwan University to facilitate an original and incredibly meaningful new work by Brenda Draney for students and audiences alike at Allard Hall. This work will be added to the AFA’s permanent art collection, and it will be cared for and maintained for the benefit of all Albertans for years to come,” says Liam Oddie, chair, Alberta Foundation for the Arts. MacEwan University, formerly Grant MacEwan College, was founded in 1971 with a mandate to provide studentfocused instruction in a warm and inclusive atmosphere. The University “focuses on teaching so our students can focus on learning,” and it has not varied from that mandate for nearly 50 years. Today, the university offers more than 65 programs, each designed to provide a transformative education based on creativity, research and innovation that involves students, faculty and the community. The university continues its mandate to provide outstanding education while also honouring the students and community members that impact both the institution and Edmonton as a whole.


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ON THE HUNT // HUMAN RESOURCES

On the Hunt

SEARCHING FOR THE PERFECT CANDIDATE? DON’T BE AFRAID TO LOOK OUTSIDE FOR ASSISTANCE.

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ON THE HUNT // HUMAN RESOURCES

BY RAMONA KORPAN

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kills. Experience. Expectations. Personality. It takes a carefully measured blend of the right ingredients to find the ideal candidate to fill a vacant role. Finding someone who fits perfectly into your company and your team can be a rare thing, but it’s valuable enough to be worth pursuing. Sometimes, however, try as you might, that perfect candidate eludes you. You can post on every job board, conduct one hundred interviews and send your HR team into overdrive to fill a single position, and still come up empty. What’s a manager to do? That’s when it’s time to go hunting. Head hunting, that is. Head hunting is the practice of professionally recruiting an employee. Head hunting, or recruitment, agencies specialize in connecting employers and employees based on skill sets, values, goals and cultural fit. Think of a recruitment agency as a matchmaker for the workplace: they size up companies and candidates until they find a compatible pair. Given that most companies have human resources departments, hiring managers and career pages on their website, what would drive a manager to look outside their own walls for help with recruiting employees? According to Danielle Bragge, a professional recruiter can help you dig a little deeper. Bragge is the co-founder and vice-president, accounting and finance at The Headhunters Recruitment Inc. Though she concedes that the hunt can be conducted internally, she feels you may not be getting the best value or the best results for your time spent. “I think there’s a huge value in using an agency,” she says. “I might be able to drywall my basement, and I might do an okay job, but if you look really closely you’ll notice it’s not perfect. Whereas, if I bring an expert in and all they do is drywall basements, you can switch on the light and put a spotlight on it, and you’re not going to see a single crack.” According to Bragge, the difference between in-house recruiters and professionals is their dedicated skill set. “There are HR groups that have in-house recruiters, and

THOUGH BRAGGE CONCEDES THAT THE HUNT CAN BE CONDUCTED INTERNALLY, SHE FEELS YOU MAY NOT BE GETTING THE BEST VALUE OR THE BEST RESULTS FOR YOUR TIME SPENT. their function is essentially what we do,” she says. “But the difference between what they do and what we do is that the in-house recruiters search for a variety of different positions within the organization, so they’re not necessarily the resident expert in a certain job or a certain skill set or a certain industry. So, by going to a specialist agency like ours, where each of our recruiters specializes in certain areas or niches, we really know who the available talent is, who

ABOVE: DANIELLE BRAGGE, CO-FOUNDER AND VICE-PRESIDENT, ACCOUNTING AND FINANCE

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ON THE HUNT // HUMAN RESOURCES

FOR SCHMIDT, USING A RECRUITMENT AGENCY ISN’T JUST ABOUT OFFLOADING THE TASKS ASSOCIATED WITH HIRING. IT’S ABOUT THE UNIQUE INSIGHT THAT ONLY A PROFESSIONAL RECRUITER CAN PROVIDE. performs, the leadership abilities and whether they have the things the client is looking for. We know whom those people are over and above their skill set, so we have access to a very different pool of candidates.” Lori Schmidt, CEO at GO Productivity, an Edmonton-based organization, has used the services of a recruitment agency to help find some key hires, and it didn’t take her long to see the value. “For the strategic hires, we’ve gone to a recruitment firm directly, right off the bat,” she says. “Just realizing that they’ve got a stronger, well-rounded expertise, a wider net of possibilities—I think they follow a very good process.” For Schmidt, using a recruitment agency isn’t just about offloading the tasks associated with hiring. It’s about the unique insight that only a professional recruiter can provide. “I think it’s been more around them helping us identify the key components of the role, but in particular, carefully

describing the fit of leadership and cultural values,” she says. “It also helps us think through the role and qualities in much more detail. Oftentimes we rush in our hiring processes instead of taking a step back to question the strategic fit of the individual, and more importantly, the fit with our corporate culture and values. What I’ve learned through working with a recruitment firm is how critical it is that all the pieces fit right.” One of those key hires Schmidt found through a recruitment firm was Tom Lieu, managing director, finance and business strategy at GO Productivity. According to Lieu, working with an agency allowed him to tap into roles he may not have otherwise known about. “I have used recruitment agency services since 2001,” he explains. “A lot of jobs are not posted publicly or are difficult to find. By using a recruitment agency, I was exposed to many different opportunities, which I did not find on my own.”

ABOVE: LORI SCHMIDT, CEO, GO PRODUCTIVITY.

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THIRTY YEARS OF DISTINCTION

Despite his positive experiences, Lieu does offer a word of caution. “It is important that a candidate chooses the right agency to work with because the right fit for a company may not be the right fit for the candidate,” he says. “Good recruiters are able to match both the client and candidate together.” Once a recruiter is able to successfully match up a candidate and company, there is still one small matter to settle: picking up the tab. Good news if you’re a candidate on the hunt: the job seeker is not responsible for covering fees. “Candidates are

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ON THE HUNT // HUMAN RESOURCES

not expected to pay. It is the company that pays,” reassures Bragge. As for companies, they do have to pay, but there are some options. “There are two types of agencies,” explains Bragge. “There’s retainer-based agencies and contingency-based agencies. A contingency-based agency essentially works for free, until such time that the company says ‘yes we’ll make you an offer, yes we want your candidate.’ But the retainer based agency will say ‘we’ll work your search for you, but in order to engage us to do the work for you, you need to pay us a percentage of the fee upfront.’ So there’s two very different types of billing methods, and some agencies do both.” Upfront costs don’t mean you’re losing out in the end. According to Schmidt, it all evens out. “It can be expensive, but it’s well worth the investment in the end, because the cost of a mis-hire is way more expensive than what we would invest in a recruitment agency,” she says. “We found that out the hard way!” Bragge says that many clients notice the savings sooner than later. “The savings start in the short term, though. Just look at the time and the energy that’s involved: if the average position is taking about 60 hours to fill, that’s 60 hours for one HR manager on one position!” she says. “So you look at the resources that you have to pull internally within an organization, a hiring manager sitting at the table doing an interview, paperwork that needs to be drafted, regret calls that need to be made, resumes that need to be screened, offers that need to go out—there’s lots of resources that they’re involving to get that person in through the door and performing.” Of course, the real goal in hiring—whether through your own internal resources or through the services of an agency—isn’t just to find a good candidate. It’s to keep that candidate for the long haul, and according to Bragge, that’s the difference a professional recruiter makes.

ACCORDING TO LIEU, WORKING WITH AN AGENCY ALLOWED HIM TO TAP INTO ROLES HE MAY NOT HAVE OTHERWISE KNOWN ABOUT.

“You’ve got a higher likelihood of retention, so they’re not going back through onboarding and training again,” she says. “Our goal is to not just put people in the door. Our goal is to keep the people there so that the companies can move their businesses forward.”

ABOVE: TOM LIEU, MANAGING DIRECTOR, FINANCE AND BUSINESS STRATEGY, GO PRODUCTIVITY

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CHAMPION PETFOODS // COVER

ABOVE: FRANK BURDZY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CHAMPION PETFOODS PHOTO SOURCE: EPIC PHOTOGRAPHY INC.

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CHAMPION PETFOODS // COVER

CHAMPION PETFOODS: EXPANDING, INNOVATING AND IMPROVING THE COMMUNITIES IT SERVES BY NERISSA MCNAUGHTON

D

o you feel like your cat or dog is a part of your family? Do you refer to them as your fur babies? For many, the family pet is a loyal companion and an important member of the household. Not only is a little spoiling in order for the furry friend, but pet owners are also very careful to ensure their cat or dog gets a nutritionally balanced, healthy diet as well – and that’s where Champion Petfoods comes in. Champion Petfoods creates and markets Biologically Appropriate™ foods that are made from fresh, regional ingredients. The company cooks its foods in its own kitchens and is, at present, developing a new 400,000 square foot state-of-the-art NorthStar® Kitchens facility just west of Edmonton in Parkland County. For this venture, Champion is pleased to work with Gray Construction Canada Company,

an industry leader in building food manufacturing facilities, who have partnered with Alberta-based Keller Construction Ltd., for the design build. Champion has purchased lands within the future Highlands Business Park being developed by Panattoni Development Company, a leading firm with 24 offices across North America and Europe. At the helm of this award-winning company is a man with a vision. Frank Burdzy, president and CEO, is driven by passion and demands excellence in everything he does. With the success of the company, not to mention the nutritional wellness of thousands of cats and dogs, as his prime responsibility, Burdzy combines his love of the agri-foods sector with his extensive experience to ensure everyone that deals with Champion – from the staff to the pet lovers to the contractors and the pets – has an exceptional experience.

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CHAMPION PETFOODS // COVER

“I grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan and subsequently spent the first 15 years of my working life both on and off the farm,” Burdzy reminisces. “I received my Bachelor of Business Degree and a Master of Business Degree from the University of Regina. From this, I was able to combine my passion for agriculture with a business skill set, and that led the majority of my career to working in the agriculture or agri-food sectors. This experience, along with the fact that I have been fortunate enough to work in internationally-focussed companies, made Champion a perfect fit for me. “I always envisioned myself working within the agriculture and/or food sectors because it has been a large part of my life and my upbringing; however, I can’t say that I would have envisioned pet food! That being said, at Champion, we hold ourselves to such high standards in terms of ingredients, food safety, and nutrition that it has the same components of making a human food product.” Burdzy continues, “Champion Petfoods makes premium dog and cat foods under two brand names: ACANA and ORIJEN. Our foods are based on the mandate of being Biologically Appropriate, which means as dogs or cats would eat in the wild. This translates to lots of meat – fresh meat and different types of meat. We make our food from fresh regional ingredients, and we never outsource, which means we don’t make food for anyone else, and nobody else makes our food. This mandate allows us to follow our vision of being trusted by pet lovers everywhere.” He’s excited for the new facility. “We are building a new state-of-the-art, custom-fitted kitchen called NorthStar Kitchens in Parkland County, Alberta to advance our Biologically Appropriate mandate and to accommodate the growing global demand for ACANA and ORIJEN. Situated on 75 acres of farmland, the new NorthStar Kitchens will continue serving our Canadian and export markets, which consist of over 80 countries. The 400,000 square foot kitchens will prepare our award-winning pet foods and treats. “We chose Parkland County as the location for our new kitchens because of their business-friendly focus and strong agricultural community. The location fits not only the

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technical requirements of a state-of-the-art kitchen, but it will also be a great home for ACANA and ORIJEN. “The new NorthStar Kitchens will bring the world’s best pet food kitchens back to where ACANA and ORIJEN’s story began: our agriculturally vibrant home of Alberta. “ACANA stands for Alberta/Canada. It was our first branded product. It just celebrated its 25th year in 2016, and it has a long history in the premium pet food market around the world. “ORIJEN stands for back-to-the-beginning to-nourish-as nature-intended. It was launched in 2005 and has disrupted the pet food industry with its never-before-seen high levels of fresh meat inclusion. “While Alberta is our home base, our marketplace is the world. It’s a shining example of what a value-added industry that is focused on local agricultural inputs can accomplish when it is combined with a penchant for international niche marketing.” Champion has trademarked the Biologically Appropriate mandate. “Champion is making Biologically Appropriate food and is going up against the biggest companies in the world and winning. You can do that here in Alberta, and that’s one of the many reasons we’re so proud to be Albertan. “Biologically Appropriate represents Champion’s position as an industry leader and award-winning innovator. Our Biologically Appropriate nutritional philosophy represents a new standard of pet food that is designed to nourish dogs and cats according to their evolutionary adaptation to meat and protein-rich diets. Biologically Appropriate is at the core of everything we do. This philosophy was founded on simple and strong principles of nutritional science and local ingredients, and it has enabled Champion to lead the industry in creating beautiful foods. “We bring economic diversification to our province. Our success means the agricultural producers throughout Alberta and beyond can plan to grow their businesses along with us. Champion is committed to excellence through our clear mission for fresh, regional ingredients, and


BUILDING SOMETHING BETTER

BEST

IN CLASS

Real estate and construction is fast paced and dynamic — there’s an energy and at the centre is the desire to build something better. At MNP we continuously strive to create innovative programs and scalable solutions that help you capture that momentum. Big or small, we know it’s not about size – it’s about quality, value and, above all else, the opportunity to build something you can truly be proud of. For more information contact Ian MacDonald, CPA, CA at 780.969.1423 or ian.macdonald@mnp.ca


CHAMPION PETFOODS // COVER

through our partnering with Alberta ranchers and farmers. This partnership introduces tens of millions into Alberta agriculture through direct and indirect economic benefit.” Burdzy has had a long and varied career, but for now, he’s content and happy to be innovating with Champion, and to be giving back to Edmonton, Parkland County, and its many surrounding communities. “The community and agricultural focus of Edmonton is something that really makes it a place in which I feel comfortable, and it makes Champion such a great company to work with and headquarter in Edmonton. The other factor that I find remarkable in Edmonton is the entrepreneurial spirit and the many diverse businesses and initiatives that are going on throughout the city, whether business, arts, cultural, culinary, or activity based, there is always something interesting going on in this city! “The most rewarding part of my job is when pet lovers who feed [their pets] ACANA and ORIJEN come up to me and tell me how our foods have made a significant and positive impact on their pets and their own happiness in life. “The most challenging thing for me about Champion Petfoods is managing the growth we have seen over the seven years I have been a part of the company. We have grown from 92 to 550 employees, from one facility to three kitchens in two countries, and from the 45 countries in which our foods were sold to over 80 and counting! These are all positive problems to have, however, we have to work hard to ensure we maintain our unwavering commitment to our vision and mission, and to quality, food safety and our culture.” How does it feel knowing that Champion has a hand in improving the lives and longevity of pets around the world? “Making a difference in the lives of dogs and cats is my favourite thing about the work I do with Champion Petfoods. We serve pet lovers who want the best for their dogs and cats and as pet lovers ourselves, we know peace of mind is paramount. We strive to earn trust with every food we make.”

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Burdzy, has made a huge impact on Champion during his time with the company, and he is happy to share some of the lessons he’s learned as president and CEO, as well as through his other entrepreneurial pursuits. “For entrepreneurship, it is important to have clearly established goals aligned with drive, dedication, and perseverance. It is as important to understand what it is to be a great team player as it is to identify what it takes to be a great leader. For teamwork, it takes each individual’s commitment to strive for excellence in their contributions, and to being fully aware of the team’s needs, as well as their own. It is important to take calculated chances in life because personal and professional growth only happens when you are outside of your comfort zone.” As for work/life balance, “It is something that we all aspire to, but it is very difficult to achieve, however, with commitment and focus, it is possible.” Burdzy helps achieve that balance by spending time with his family, running, hiking and snowshoeing through the mountains, and by playing golf when he’s not at work. Champion is committed to investing in the communities that have helped to support the company and grow their brand. “We strive to make all of our contributions focused on Champion values, including being regional, innovative, and authentic, in order to help us build trust in our community,” Burdzy points out. “We support many initiatives, organizations, and charities in our community in addition to local animal rescues. This giving culture is rooted in our culture from our founder, Reinhard Muhlenfeld. He learned that years of hard work created the foundation for award-winning brands. In Mr. Muhlenfeld’s words, ‘It’s only right that you should give back to the place that gave you the opportunity.’ Champion is committed to the communities it calls home to help make them greater places to live, work and play.” With the new facility on the horizon, along with unprecedented growth, Burdzy and his team look forward to everything the future has in store for Champion Petfoods,


CHAMPION PETFOODS // COVER

and for the thousands of pets and pet lovers that inspire their work every day. “The entire Champion team has really been key to the success of the company. Without the hard work and dedication that our teammates put in each day to build trust with pet lovers everywhere, Champion would not be what it is today. It is due to this team that Champion has grown to become one of the world’s best-loved pet food makers. We focus on continuous improvement through innovation. That innovation can take many forms, from reformulation to different product lines, or to an expanded geographic footprint. This year, we began construction on our new NorthStar® Kitchens and have opened new markets in Latin America. As we move forward, I see Champion continuing to push the boundaries of the conventional pet food industry; continuing to improve our foods, technologies and kitchens; and continuing to reach more pet lovers worldwide.” ABOVE: FRANK BURDZY AND A PRODUCT DISPLAY FROM NORTHSTAR KITCHEN’S GROUND BREAKING IN JUNE 2017. PHOTO SOURCE: CHAMPION PETFOODS

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A LACK OF A SUCCESSION PLAN // SUCCESSION PLANNING

A LACK OF A SUCCESSION PLAN COULD MEAN THE DEATH OF YOUR BUSINESS BY LAURA BOHNERT

D

o you have a succession plan in place for your business? No matter what size of a company you run, a succession plan is one of the most important factors in ensuring its long-term success. “It’s the foundation for what will happen to the business in the event of a life changing illness or disability, or in the event of the death of the business owner,” Tom Castonguay, certified financial planner, Shelter Bay Financial Corp., explains of succession planning. “Most entrepreneurs want to focus on building their businesses and working towards financial freedom, but without a succession plan, all their hard work and equity can disappear in an instant.” “The foundation of a succession plan is the insurance to create cash when it’s needed most—in the event of disability, critical illness, or death,” Castonguay adds. “Most small business owners are instrumental to their business’ daily operations, and if they are not able to work, they’ll need cash to hire replacement staff. When an owner dies, their family or business partners will need cash to continue the business, deal with creditors, buy out the deceased’s shares—and to replace lost talent, productivity, and revenue. “At the most basic level, a succession plan includes life, critical illness, and disability insurance. For multi-owner businesses, a buy/sell agreement is an absolute must, and it must be signed. An agreement spells out what will happen in certain conditions, such as the death, disability, or retirement of a shareholder. Will the remaining shareholders

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A LACK OF A SUCCESSION PLAN // SUCCESSION PLANNING

“AT THE MOST BASIC LEVEL, A SUCCESSION PLAN INCLUDES LIFE, CRITICAL ILLNESS, AND DISABILITY INSURANCE. FOR MULTI-OWNER BUSINESSES, A BUY/SELL AGREEMENT IS AN ABSOLUTE MUST, AND IT MUST BE SIGNED.” ~ TOM CASTONGUAY

have the first right to buy out the shares, or will they be stuck with a new partner they didn’t foresee, like a spouse, the child of a deceased owner, or someone that bought the retiring owner’s shares? In the case of the deceased or disabled owner, how will the remaining shareholders buy out the shares, and what will the formula be to calculate the fair value? How will lenders feel about your business if a key shareholder is no longer involved – will it limit the remaining shareholders’ ability to borrow? Whether a company has a single owner or multiple shareholders, a company can quickly be destroyed if a key stakeholder dies.” Castonguay notes, “There are strategies that manage these risks as a business grows, and those strategies transform into longer term tax planning and wealth building solutions. Even if a business has only seen moderate success, owners can use corporate revenue to create wealth beyond the value of the business for themselves and their family. These strategies guarantee financial success, no matter how the business does.” “The biggest risk of not doing proper succession planning is that it can instantly and dramatically diminish the value the business,” Heather Barnhouse, partner, Dentons, agrees. “For business owners, often the most valuable asset they own is their business, and failing to plan for succession inevitably is a plan for the business to fail.” “Many businesses cannot survive an unexpected or unplanned crisis event,” Barnhouse explains. “It can be

argued that the inherent value of a business lies in its ability to continue to operate and generate revenue, and without a succession plan, the very viability of the business is threatened. “Since death (but also other trigger events like disability) are often unplanned, the unexpected occurrence can seriously impede the ability to derive value from the asset (being the business) of the owner. Not only is the business, in many cases, reeling from the sudden unexpected loss of a founder or owner, but the death of an owner and shareholder also has certain tax consequences for the company, and for the owner’s estate. The death of an individual causes a deemed disposition of all of the assets owned by the individual, including the shares that individual owns in the company. If the company is very valuable, the tax bill can be significant and, without careful planning, can be devastating for the estate to pay.” “The good and bad news,” Barnhouse adds, “is that succession plans are very customized. There is no ‘one size fits all’ because every business is unique. A good succession plan is customized to the particular owner and circumstances of the business, and it must also be reviewed from time to time to ensure that it is still appropriate as the market and industry evolve and mature, as economic conditions wax and wane, and as the regulatory environment (including the tax regime) changes.” continued on page 32 ABOVE: TOM CASTONGUAY, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER, SHELTER BAY FINANCIAL CORP.

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FEX COMES TO EDMONTON!

The Family Enterprise Xchange Launches a New Chapter in EDMONTON and You Are Invited to Our First Event! We’re thrilled to announce that the Family Enterprise Xchange has created a chapter in Edmonton and invite business families, advisors, and those interested in family enterprise to attend our complimentary and interactive event, “Talking Through the Tough Issues - For Families Who Are in Business Together”, led by Trudy Pelletier, FEA, CEC. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to network and meet with local business families and family enterprise advisors and explore the benefits of being part of our learning community dedicated to helping business families succeed across the generations. When: Thursday, November 9, 2017 Where: Four Points by Sheraton Edmonton South | 7230 Argyll Road NW, Edmonton Time: 3:00 pm - 5:30 pm Register Online: family-enterprise-xchange.com/event/4167 The Family Enterprise Xchange (FEX) connects you to an engaged and trusted ‘safe harbour’ community that empowers business families with the knowledge, resources, and support they need to successfully navigate their family enterprise journey. Join our community and enjoy a membership experience that offers: • Ability to network with other business families to gain wisdom and share experiences • Ongoing support from your own dedicated Personal Advisory Group (PAG) • An understanding of what knowledge your family needs to succeed through the Learning Continuum • Access to the most comprehensive collection of family enterprise-specific knowledge and resources • Engaging educational programs and networking events • Access to professional advisors that understand the unique aspects of family enterprise • Differentiate yourself with the leading professional designation in family enterprise advising (Family Enterprise Advisor - FEA)

FEX Edmonton | 587.284.2233 | edmonton@family-enterprise-xchange.com


A LACK OF A SUCCESSION PLAN // SUCCESSION PLANNING

“IN MODERN TERMS, WE TEND TO NOW USE THE WORDS ‘TRANSITION PLANNING’ AS WE WORK WITH FAMILIES AND THEIR ADVISORS TO PROVIDE COMMUNICATION AND GOVERNANCE ON THE TRANSFORMATIONAL SIDE OF THE OPERATION VERSUS THE TRANSACTIONAL.” ~ SHAUNA FETH

“It’s never too early to think about the next steps for the business and implement a plan for succession planning,” Barnhouse recommends, “even if that plan is modified or refined before it is ultimately implemented.” Finances, however, aren’t the only factor to consider when it comes to business succession planning. “In modern terms, we tend to now use the words ‘transition planning’ as we work with families and their advisors to provide communication and governance on the transformational side of the operation versus the transactional,” says Shauna Feth, FEA, executive director, Alberta Business Family Institute, University of Alberta School of Business. “The reason this is so important is because family enterprises are faced with very complicated interpersonal dynamics and are applying complex strategies to ensure the best possible outcomes for the family, business, and shareholders are achieved.” “Transition plans are very complex and take years to complete, and even once complete, they need to be revisited on a consistent and ongoing basis,” Feth adds. “The result of a plan is not necessarily the end game; it is all of the two-way communication that takes place prior. Essentially, we need to support the family as they advance through a governance process that is systemically built on the three circle model of family business (Taigiuri & Davis). This systemic approach supports the family in setting up family meetings/councils, the business in establishing

an advisory board, and the shareholders in developing a shareholders’ assembly.” “The outcome of all of these governance structures is to find alignment on what the plan should look like,” Feth observes. That plan could include “Code of conduct; family values, vision, mission, family employment policies; family remuneration policies; etc. All of these then roll into the final plan.” “We are currently facing a trillion plus transitions of assets in the family enterprise space in the next five to 10 years, and yet there are shockingly low numbers reported in terms of how many of these businesses are formally working toward the transition plan. We have seen it time and again in Canada: I could name many very public examples of what happens when the family does not communicate effectively and both the business and the family end up devastated and in litigation. That is an extreme example, but if business families don’t actively think about managing all of the individuals in the system, any number of negative impacts will result. We often hear of family members not talking to each other for years, not attending traditional family functions, etc., and in the end, if the business is still viable and running, but the family is sacrificed, we have to ask ourselves if it is a win.” Feth concludes, “I urge business owners to do some research, find resources like our centre, and to search out advisors that have a specific interest in supporting the family as much as the business.”

ABOVE: SHAUNA FETH, FEA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ALBERTA BUSINESS FAMILY INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA SCHOOL OF BUSINESS

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2017 Board of Directors Executive

Chair: James Merkosky Partner, Tax Services, Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP Vice Chair: Len Rhodes President & CEO, Edmonton Eskimo Football Club Treasurer: Bryan DeNeve Senior Vice President Finance & CFO, Capital Power Past Chair: Bill Blais President and CEO Maclab Development Group

Directors

Dr. Glenn Feltham President & CEO, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology Crystal Graham Partner & Licensed Interior Designer, Kasian Architecture Interior Design & Planning Ltd. Dawn Harsch President & CEO, Exquisicare Inc. Alyson Hodson President & CEO, zag creative Elan MacDonald President, Impact Consulting

How can the new City Council help Edmonton businesses succeed? By Brent Francis, Senior Policy & Research Analyst

W

ith the October 2017 municipal election recently concluded, there were some familiar and some new faces elected to Edmonton City Council. In the spirit of the civic partnership we’ve maintained with the City for over 125 years, the Edmonton Chamber has outlined four key priorities for the incoming Mayor and Council to consider. We’re asking the new council to stop raising the cost of doing business in Edmonton, support regional economic development, keep investing in Edmonton, and keep innovating. Stop raising the cost of doing business in Edmonton • All levels of government have been piling new costs onto businesses. Businesses are tapped out and cannot be asked for more and more each year. • Between 2006 and 2015, Edmonton saw combined population growth and inflation of only 16%, but Edmonton’s total tax demand more than doubled. (Source: Altus Group, NAIOP Capital Region Non-Residential Tax Report, 2016.)

Scott McEachern Vice President, Engineering & Projects, Enbridge Pipelines Inc.

• The City needs to be more efficient and re-allocate existing funding when priorities change.

Dennis Schmidt Partner, Dentons Canada LLP

• We are very supportive of the City’s Program and Service Review, which is reviewing every single service and program the City offers to ensure they provide value to citizens.

Craig Thorkelsson Manager, Corporate Taxation PCL Constructors Inc. Liza Wold Partner, Miller Thomson LLP

Chamber Executive

Janet Riopel President & CEO Edmonton Chamber of Commerce Ian Morris Vice President, Finance Edmonton Chamber of Commerce Danuta Woronowicz Vice President, Policy & Outreach Edmonton Chamber of Commerce

Contact

Edmonton Chamber of Commerce #600 – 9990 Jasper Avenue Edmonton, AB T5J 1P7 T: 780.426.4620 • F: 780.424.7946

Support regional economic development • Until now, towns, cities and counties in our region have focused on attracting investment within their own boundaries. This creates competition between each municipality. • Instead of competing within the region, we need to compete as a region. • Working together will help us compete with much larger cities and regions across the continent. • The development of Edmonton Global as a single economic development and investment attraction entity for the Edmonton Metropolitan Region is a major step forward. • We strongly support further regional collaboration on economic development

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Photo courtesy of The City of Edmonton.

Keep investing in Edmonton • We strongly support capital investments made by both government and private industry. • Downtown has seen a new arena, new office towers, new restaurants, and new hotels. • Issues with project management have led to delays and cost overruns on major projects. LRT projects were supposed to reduce congestion, but have made traffic even slower in some areas. • The City should continue to invest in capital projects while strengthening project management and control processes. • The City should examine new ways to fund capital projects, like the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

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Keep innovating • Edmonton must continue to position itself for the future. • The Health City Initiative is helping Edmonton become a recognized centre of excellence in health innovation. • Edmonton is proving itself as a world-leader in artificial intelligence. • We need to compete for investments like the federal Innovation Superclusters Initiative, and promote Edmonton around the world as a world-class destination for investment in emerging industries. The Edmonton Chamber would like to hear from you. What issues affecting your business should Edmonton’s City Council keep top-ofmind? You can contact us by email: policy@ edmontonchamber.com.


AMVIC Licensed


Nordic Media Member profile Matthew Altheim, CEO & Executive Producer www.nordic.media What’s your story? The landscape of creative, production, and marketing has changed drastically since Nordic Media opened its doors in 2009. Early generation smartphones that played music and answered calls have morphed into virtual billboards for mobile advertisers, and have become an essential tool for businesses to manage their operations. As technology continued to evolve, we observed a massive shift from traditional advertising streams to online platforms such as Google and Facebook. This has represented new challenges, but has levelled the playing field for new and emerging businesses to compete for their audience. Throughout this technological revolution, Nordic’s philosophy as a company has not changed. We have maintained focus and chose to grasp this change as an opportunity to grow and expand. We believe businesses that advertise with compelling, entertaining, informative and direct messaging will most effectively communicate to their audiences, at a reduced cost with increased success. What are three things people are surprised to learn about your business? 1. All of our creative, production, and marketing is accomplished in-house at our own production studio. They don’t need to go anywhere else. 2. We have a full-scale studio environment to handle projects of any size. 3. Our clients are often surprised and delighted by the amount of time we spend educating them on the process. We feel it is essential for our clients to feel confident in their investment and that their decision making is derived from informed choices resulting in the best chance at success.

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Photo of Matthew Altheim (middle) directing a television commercial for an app being developed in Edmonton with professional actors Skylar Radzion (left) and Murray Farnell (right)

What has been your biggest challenge in the last 12 months? Although most of the advertising and production industry in Canada is based in Vancouver and Toronto, we have recently attracted several national and global companies taking advantage of our tremendous value and the professional yet personal approach of doing business differently in Edmonton - so much so, that we have recently begun expansion towards a larger facility in late 2017/early 2018 to provide an increased portfolio of services to our growing client base.


What has been your biggest challenge in the last 12 months? Patience has been the biggest challenge. The economy has been shaky since 2014 and like most businesses in Edmonton we had to manage a more efficient and delicate approach to business, not only to survive, but to also allow for a prepared transition when economic conditions improved so we could hit the ground running. This patience and careful planning proved essential, as we have been running at full speed since spring 2017 and anticipate smooth sailing into the new year and beyond! What do you think is the biggest issue impacting Edmonton’s small businesses at this time? Employees and owners alike are always concerned about our economic forecast. I believe we all want to see a favourable economic and political climate that encourages more opportunity with less risk. What do you enjoy most about being a Chamber member? Access to people and events that allow for personal and professional growth. What’s your secret to keeping your employees engaged? There is no secret. Every day we are are able to work on a wide variety of projects that are both exciting and fulfilling. I think I speak for all of us when I say we are truly lucky to work in our field. Do you have a personal mantra? A handshake means you will keep your word. We approach each relationship with clients, new and old, with the same philosophy.

What do you enjoy most about being a Chamber member? When we first joined, we found that our Chamber has a great digital portal for communication, events, and information. They do great work to help get businesses in our city intermingling, innovating, and growing into the future. Sometimes all you need is an introduction. Our Chamber mandate is to create the best environment for business in Edmonton. If you could make one substantial improvement to Edmonton’s business environment, what would it be? I would like to see our city attract more “social market” startups and businesses. The social market is coming and will lead to a massive shift in our economy with more micro-businesses tethered to social market economies. What is your favorite thing to do in Edmonton? Nothing beats a warm summer night at an Edmonton Eskimo game with my wife. On a cold night, a bag of popcorn and a great movie will do! Apple or android? We are 100% Apple. All of our office and networking infrastructure is Apple, along with our mobile devices. We save time communicating within one platform. Your most favorite place in the world? Salzburg, Austria. Coffee or tea? I’m going to go 50/50 on that one. To learn more about this project and the outcomes for our City, please visit enerkem.com.

Members in this Issue The Headhunters Recruitment Inc. and GO Productivity in On the Hunt on page 16 Dentons and University of Alberta in A Lack of a Succession Plan Could Mean the Death of Your Business on page 29 NorQuest College in Heath City on page 41

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Connecting Business

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Delegates received a warm welcome as they arrive at registration on day one of Opportunities North.

Delegates fuelled up on breakfast prior to heading out on a variety of innovation, health, and agriculture tours.

Recognizing our valued Opportunities North sponsors.

Exploring the DynaLIFE Medical Labs as part of the guided health tour.

The Opportunities North Mixer and Trade Show event provided a great platform for delegates and guests to socialize and grow connections.

Cathie Bolstad, Executive Director, Northwest Territories Tourism, chatting with guests in front of the unique display from NWT.

NOVEMBER 2017 // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM


Edmonton Chamber President & CEO Janet Riopel welcomes delegates and guests at the gala dinner.

The 3-day conference provided a great opportunity for business leaders to connect, network and explore new opportunities between Edmonton and Canada’s North.

Mixer and Trade Show guests enjoying a complimentary sample of beer and whisky from Yukon Brewery and Two Brewers Whiskey.

Thoughtful, relevant, and powerful key note address from Dr. Richard Heinzl Founder, Doctors without Borders Canada.

Delegates enjoyed the chance to connect with other informed opinion leaders and field experts as they rotated through the various tables at the Thought Leadership Roundtable session.

Mayor Don Iverson shares that ‘our prosperity and your prosperity is inextricably linked’ as part of the Mayoral panel discussion with Mayors’ Mark Heyck (Yellowknife), Dan Curtis (Whitehorse), and Madeleine Redfern (Iqaluit).

Key note speaker Gabrielle Scrimshaw, Co-Founder, Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada, shares her heartfelt personal journey, reinforcing the value of daily mentorship.

Panelists from Katlo Tech Communications, ATCO, Det’on Cho Corporation, and The Bouchier Group, speaking to delegates on how to develop partnerships between Indigenous and nonIndigenous organizations.

Panelists from Northwest Territories Tourism, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and Northern Vision Development LP, shared their insight on the positive economic impact tourism can have on a region.

Opportunities North ends on high note with captivating keynote presentation from Terry Booth, Founder and CEO, Aurora Cannabis Inc.

Special guest Premiere Bob McLeod addresses the delegates on the valuable opportunities between Edmonton, Alberta and Canada’s North.

BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // NOVEMBER 2017

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My Chamber

gives me a voice on issues that matter. Policy influence with all three levels of government

My Chamber

saves us money on business expenses. Valuable member rewards & discounts for you and your employees

My Chamber connects me to other business leaders.

Face-to-face connection with your business peers

My Chamber is my connection to the greater Edmonton business community; empowering me to grow my business, reward and retain my employees, and make a positive impact in my community.

EdmontonChamber.com

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Advocate. Educate. Connect.


HEALTH CITY // HEALTH CARE

Health City THE NEW INITIATIVE AIMS TO REVOLUTIONIZE EDMONTON – AND IT’S WORKING BY NERISSA MCNAUGHTON

I

n 2016, Mayor Don Iveson announced the Health City initiative, a venture designed to increase access to capital for the local health sector, and to grow and commercialize new technologies and products. To date, more than 70 public, private and philanthropic contributors have banded together to bring Health City to life. One of the founding inspirations for Health City is a life-saving technology that was developed in Edmonton: iTraumaCare’s iTClamp™. “The iTClamp is a small mechanical clip that seals the skin closed over a bleeding wound to trap the blood inside. The

back pressure of the bleeding creates stasis and forms a clot to temporize your bleeding until you get to the hospital. Each clip seals 2” of wound length,” explains Dennis Filips, iTClamp creator, chief medical officer, general surgeon and trauma surgeon. “I’m retired from the military. I did 20 years as a trauma surgeon, training medics in the field and teaching them lifesaving skills, including how to stop bleeding,” Filips continues. “With the tools we had, we couldn’t stop bleeding very quickly. I came up with an idea to take the advanced suturing skills I use in an operating room and put [the ability] in the hands of the lay user and have them accomplish the

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HEALTH CITY // HEALTH CARE

“HEALTH CITY IS ABOUT CREATING THE MOST FERTILE ECOSYSTEM FOR INDUSTRIES TO DO BUSINESS IN EDMONTON,” SAYS DR. ABBOTT. “IT’S ABOUT CREATING THE OPPORTUNITY FOR COMPANIES THAT ARE IN THE INNOVATION SPACE TO DO BUSINESS IN EDMONTON. IT’S ABOUT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.” ~ DR. JODI ABBOTT

same things within a couple of seconds.” Thus, iTClamp was born – but the idea was the only easy part. Getting this technology realized was a whole different matter. Filips joined forces with a friend from university that was into product development, and together, they launched iTraumaCare®. “We went through a whole lot of iterations of devices until we found one that worked just right to stop arterial bleeding anywhere in the body,” smiles Filips, “but it was a new idea and we were met with a lot of resistance. “We applied for a lot of government grants. All of them were turned down because they figured the device wouldn’t work as advertised, but we were very persistent. We didn’t take any salaries ourselves for a long time. We persisted in pushing it until we got funding for product development, and it took off from there – but we were self-funded for a very long time.” The company was started in Edmonton, but it had to branch out to where the investors were. Today, ITraumaCare is split between Canada and the U.S.. “I think that Edmonton has resources in place to help companies get started, and I think one of the critical paths moving forward is helping companies that are getting started to carry along the path to commercialization,” Filips points out. “That requires having institutional investors, venture capitalists, angel investors – people who are used to investing in the health care space. Most of the investors in Edmonton were not used to health care, but were used to

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investing in the energy sector. That was one of our barriers. If Health City [was in place when we started], it would have allowed us to move faster and stay centralized within the city. I think we could have grown faster and more efficiently.” He is thankful and humbled to have been one of the inspirations for Don Iveson’s Health City initiative. “That’s certainly flattering! I think he is a very progressive mayor, and I certainly return compliments to him as well!” Another very strong proponent of Health City is no stranger to community improvement and development initiates. Dr. Jodi L. Abbott, the president and CEO of NorQuest College, was handpicked by Mayor Iveson to chair the Health City Steering Committee. “Health City is about creating the most fertile ecosystem for industries to do business in Edmonton,” says Dr. Abbott. “It’s about creating the opportunity for companies that are in the innovation space to do business in Edmonton. It’s about economic development.” She sees the initiative as another win for the Capital City. “I think Edmonton has a lot of assets in this area in terms of an incredible university and great intellectual capacity. I think we have incredible potential for these startup organizations to build, grow and attract more financial investment into our city, as well as to create jobs for individuals in the healthcare sector. “I also think the timing is really, really good. We have had an interest in individuals who are working in this space,


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HEALTH CITY // HEALTH CARE

from government officials to private individuals. What has happened through Health City is that all of this has coalesced and come together. Never before have I seen people coming together, rolling up their sleeves, and working together like this. There is incredible synergy.” The timing of Health City is indeed fortuitous, as Edmonton seeks to diversity its energy sector personality and branch into other industries. Could healthcare be Edmonton’s next big break? “The steering committee and the 200-300 at the summit believe this is possible,” confirms Dr. Abbott. “We have 300 working in Edmonton in this sphere, and we need to grow. We need to track investments into this area, and for our products and services that are being developed, we need to break over the edge and move forward. There is great

opportunity here, and we are seeing it in companies like the clinics that have now partnered with Microsoft to take their products further. We are starting to see this happen and the momentum grow.” NorQuest College is proud to be part of the health care revolution in Edmonton. “Our role as an educator is very important because we are training people for the front line. As technology shapes how services and programs are delivered, our graduates need to be prepared for that; not just in learning about tech of the future and how it will influence the system, but also to be on the edge so when they leave, they are actually already trained in the tech of the future.” Dr. Abbott is excited about the future Health City will bring, as should be everyone in Edmonton. The possibilities are limitless. “One thing that has been really important to the initiative is the tremendous number of people that have come together to make this happen, be it a large company like Telus, a small or mediumsized company, citizens or the Government of Alberta. All have come together to participate on a volunteer basis. It is that momentum and commitment that will continue to move Health City forward,” she concludes. “I’ve been involved in a lot of initiatives over the years, and this one has been amazing. When you see people from all parts of the system with different agendas come together to coalesce on something that can help every one of those organizations, and that can help the overall economic system for Edmonton, it really is quite remarkable.”

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A CITY OF HEART AND HUSTLE // MANUFACTURING

A CITY OF Heart and Hustle INDUSTRY INSIDERS DISCUSS THE CONTINUED SUCCESS OF ALBERTA-BASED METAL FABRICATION

BY ZACHARY EDWARDS

I

f you took a walk downtown this past summer, you probably strolled past a number of metal fabrication projects that escaped your notice. You may have seen the impressive buildings going up in ICE District, or the expanded patios of Jasper Avenue’s numerous restaurants and bars. Every single one of these projects rely on metal fabrication, a quiet yet essential aspect of Alberta’s economy. Metal fabrication, the process of building structures and materials from raw metal products, in some cases, literally builds Alberta and its economy. Everything, from the smallest metal bracket custom-made in a shop to the gigantic metal structures in the oil sands, has relied on metal fabrication. While it grew with Alberta’s oil industry, it has always existed a little outside of that sector. As a result, metal fabrication in Edmonton has changed numerous times over the decades to succeed in the face of new challenges. “Being so close to Fort McMurray and the oil sands means that the city of Edmonton has been built around the industry,” says Mike Muirhead and Jesse Rudiger-Aasgard, owners and founders of Edmonton’s Forge North Services. “Big roads, large industrial districts, and access to customers in all directions make Edmonton an ideal place for metal

fabrication. Industrial work and tough winters breed a certain kind of mentality – we are a city of heart and hustle.” That “heart and hustle” is in the numbers, too. Alberta is the third largest metal manufacturing and fabrication sector in Canada. The Edmonton region is home to 40 per cent of Alberta’s total manufacturing. In 2014, Albertan metal fabricators exported $4.3 billion worth of products while “60 per cent of the sector’s output was shipped to customers in the province,” according to a study by the Government of Alberta. Even three years ago, much of the industry was still focused on the oil and gas industry. Today, companies are changing their focus to innovate and develop to the new status quo. Part of that new status quo is a change in what customers are looking for. GC Custom Metal, which was founded during another period of economic uncertainty, has seen the boom and bust cycle that has hit Alberta’s economy over the decades. Their secret to change is to think outside the box. “We have actually grown during the downturn by expanding what we do,” says Darren Schmidt, GC Custom Metal’s CEO and general manager. “Being a small business, we can afford to be flexible, so we introduced machining into our offerings.

BUSINESSINEDMONTON.COM // BUSINESS IN EDMONTON // NOVEMBER 2017

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A CITY OF HEART AND HUSTLE // MANUFACTURING

THE SECRET, ACCORDING TO THE TEAM AT FORGE NORTH, LIES IN CUSTOMER SERVICE AND COMMUNICATION. So while it has affected our bottom line, our top line is growing.” Beyond expansion, other shops have changed how they approach their client relations to succeed, listening to the new demands coming from a new economy. According to Michael Rachul, general manager of Special Metal Fabricating, the past few years have seen a shift away from scheduling to cost. “Customers are now looking for a more economical way of producing what they need [and] want,” he says. “In the past during the oil boom, they were more worried about getting [the product] on time, or more importantly, as soon as possible. Now it seems to be a bit more thought out and trying other ideas to help save money for them and their customers.” For Muirhead and Rudiger-Aasgard, economic difficulties were part of the game when they first opened in 2014. “Forge North was born in a very poor economy and has since operated in less-than-favourable economic conditions,” they say. “These lean times have caused us to operate in a lean manner, meaning we eliminate waste and redundancy wherever possible.” The secret, according to the team at Forge North, lies in customer service and communication. “Requesting fabricated items can be intimidating and when people don’t feel comfortable, and details can be lost in translation,” they explain. “We have found that a friendlier approach to customer service allows for comfortable communication and mutual understanding of what the end product will look like.”

Rachul agrees. “We have increased attention on customer service and really asking the right questions up front with clients so they know what they are getting, and there are no surprises both for them and our team.” Focusing on customer service has also helped Rachul’s company get leaner in lean times. “We have made changes [to] the design stage so, when it does hit the shop floor, the guys are spending less time asking questions and [more time] actually fabricating and knowing that when they are done, it is done correctly the first time.” The recent construction boom in Edmonton has been a great help to local metal fabrication shops. GC Custom Metal was hired to develop custom metal brackets for the Enbridge Centre,

ABOVE: MIKE MUIRHEAD AND JESSE RUDIGER-AASGARD, OWNERS AND FOUNDERS OF FORGE NORTH SERVICES.

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A CITY OF HEART AND HUSTLE // MANUFACTURING

which used the original bricks from the Kelly Ramsey Building that once occupied the same lot. Forge North has worked closely with many restaurants along Jasper Avenue, creating patio extensions that contribute to the development of [Edmonton’s] downtown core. Special Metal Fabrication has enjoyed a close relationship with CN and EIA, both of which have continued demands for professional, local metal fabrication. Looking to the future, each company says there are many ways to help Edmonton’s metal fabrication sector maintain its success, namely through education, prioritizing local industry and encouraging sectors that will require metal fabrication. “Edmonton, as a municipality, makes up a large portion of its industry, and we feel that the city could be more dedicated to local fabrication,” Muirhead and Rudiger-Aasgard note. “In terms of provincial and federal government, we would like to

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see more development grants offered to new entrepreneurs.” Since metal fabrication equipment can be quite expensive, grants to help with those upfront costs can help young companies find their niche. Rachul says local and provincial governments should take a hard look at the existing industries. “Because we have EIA and the CN rail yard, I think both the City of Edmonton and the Alberta Government should be really promoting accessibility,” he says. In looking to the future, Rachul hopes that metal exports will grow. “Historically we have been an oil province, but with greener innovation across the globe, we, as an industry, have changed to accommodate these products. [It] is no longer just provincial clientele, but international as well.”

Schmidt notes that there is a cost of being on the cutting edge, particularly when it comes to finding the right people for the job. Looking at his own company, Schmidt says expanding worker training, and education at schools weldco.applytojob.com like the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), could help the industry become more versatile. “Alberta’s sector is still heavily focused on heavy metals while we have moved towards lighter metals,” Schmidt says. “Finding the right people has become very difficult. We sometimes find people with the right experience and expertise, but we have mostly had to find good people and then train them in-house.”

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Edmonton’s landscape has been changed to meet the needs of its manufacturing sector and, in turn, metal fabricating shops both old and new have helped build the city. As it looks to the future, the industry will continue to rely on innovation and flexibility, all with a lot of heart and a lot of hustle.


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DICExp Doesn’t Take on the Future –

It is the Future By Nerissa McNaughton

T

he inuksuk is an important part of Canada’s indigenous history. Placed throughout the Arctic, inuksuit were hunting and navigational aids, coordination points and messaging centres. Clearly, innovative wayfinding has been a part of humanity’s culture for centuries, but now it has evolved beyond what most people can imagine. Here to usher smart companies through signage and wayfinding’s latest revolution is a company so cutting edge it is not on the cusp of the future – it is the future. DICExp is a boutique digital interactive media integrator with over 20 years of design, engineering, integration and fabrication experience, predominantly in the industrial sector and more recently, in the commercial, retail, and entertainment environments. “DICExp stands for digital integrated consumer experience,” says Brenda Purdie, senior director, digital market development. “We create custom digital solutions that provide firstly a return on investment (ROI), and a return on objectives (ROO) and secondly, convenience. Our solutions work in virtually any environment. We can work with you at any stage design to engineer, integrate, manufacture and service our products, providing a complete service from conception to completion.” DICExp is the Edmonton-based company that designed, fabricated and installed the interactive directories and wayfinding kiosks in West

Brenda Purdie, senior director, digital market development.

Edmonton Mall, where you, the consumer, can get your own personalized walking path to the store you are looking for by simply touching the screen. “There is increasing demand for content-rich, consumer facing digital solutions within spaces that wish to inform, orient and captivate. Convenience, which is what these things provide us with, is the new currency. Whatever the environment: retail, hospitality, residential, franchise, institutional or educational, DICExp can provide a custom solution,”

DICExp | Celebrating the Future | 1 51


largest event, exclusively dedicated to showcasing the latest innovative digital displays and interactive technologies. Some of the displays are simply mind blowing! The next generation is transparent LED screens – see-through displays. It feels like sci-fi, but these technologies are real and you can be on the cusp of it.” She notes how quickly futuristic digital technology is coming to Edmonton. “We are in the early stages with several large scale projects in Edmonton, including working with an architect firm to develop a mixed-use residential and retail tower in Edmonton. DICExp will integrate the smart home technology that recognizes you when you walk through the door because of signals given off by your phone and keys. The building will know who you are. The elevator will take you right to your floor. That intuitive intelligence is the way of the future, and that is very exciting.” Purdie urges innovative companies to be aware of their options so their forward-thinking competitors don’t overtake them and leave them in the age of printed phone directories and Eaton stores. Demand is driving the worldwide digital signage market, and it is expected to grow from approximately $20 billion (as it is today) to USD 33 billion by 2023.

Interactive touchscreen, digital wayfinding kiosk

says Purdie. “In fact, we find people are unaware of the full breadth of technology that exists today and how it can really help their business, so we now offer in-house workshops to help our clients discover what they really want and need. From there, DICExp will integrate made-to-order digital solutions into their environment.” “Digital technology evolves all the time, so we help companies discover and recognize what is possible. We are on it so you don’t have to be. It’s our expertise,” she continues. “We attend the Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas, which is the world’s

Purdie says companies need to ask themselves, “How much, or how little, of this technology do we want? That’s the choice the customer has to make. We focus on the consumer experience because it’s not just our customer – it’s their customer. We partner with our clients to give their clients an exceptional experience. We have designed digital signage solutions that can sense and interact seamlessly with mobile devices in close proximity. Using AI equipped cameras, sensors, NFC and Bluetooth LE, a call-to-action, coupon, or incentive can be seamlessly moved to a smart phone.

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“Talking to people about their projects is exciting. It’s a new frontier for most people. Our commitment to the collaborative design process allows us to get to know their company on an intimate level. That’s fulfilling. Seeing the final product up and running, delivering on the ROI and ROO, and seeing it doing what it’s supposed to do is very rewarding.” While DICExp’s use of intuitive technology that blurs the lines between algorithm and AI is incredibly progressive, the structure of the company itself is also very enlightened. DICExp is a division of Benchmark International, a local company founded in engineering, design and integration. Seeing that digital wayfinding, kiosks, signage and media were growing so rapidly in the companies Benchmark works with, the firm knew its capabilities were a perfect fit for this emerging field. Thus, DICExp was created to diversify Benchmark, and to take advantage of being an early adopter of the way of the future. Leading the charge is Purdie, the sole female on the management team. She majored in psychology at the University of Alberta, and has made a career out of building businesses through developing people, driving revenue and serving the client.

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“I believe our success comes from attracting phenomenal talent,” she says. “We have invested a lot in our people. We provide development opportunities to help our team grow by understanding themselves, improving communication, and realizing bigger goals. We think of ourselves as a family. “We are incredibly thankful to our past, present and future partners,” Purdie says on behalf of the entire team. She admits that it’s not easy pioneering in a field where some companies don’t realize the power and limitless potential of how a custom digital solution could improve their bottom line. “You need to have a passion for what you do, believe in your team and maybe have just a little grit,” she points out how she makes her way in management and how DICExp is winning over clients like Triple Five® Worldwide Group. “You need to have staying power, a willingness to try something new, the ability to innovate, and to sometimes completely change course. By listening to all of our stakeholders, we learn when we need to adapt and make the tough decisions to keep the company growing.” DICExp, and Purdie, are also very committed to the community in which they do business, and they support the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada - Alberta Division, the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, and Suit Yourself, to name a few.

Progressive in business, leadership and technology, DICExp can’t wait to help change the way people live, work, play and interact, thanks to customized, highend, leading digital technologies. “We are also incredibly thankful to our partnership with CEO, Joseph Schuldhaus and his company, Malltec Inc. Being, an internationally recognized leader and visionary in the information technology industry, Malltec technology solutions is one of the keys to DICExp’s success.” The young company is up and running into the future, taking as many forward-thinkers with it as possible, and like the technology it provides, the company sees a future without limits. “Right now, we are establishing ourselves locally and within North America,” concludes Purdie. “But our parent company, Benchmark International, is well established on the international stage, so it’s only a matter of time before we take our solutions global.”

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