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20 years of inspiration

Entrepreneurs turn us on.

20 years of recognizing bright ideas Ontario 2013

© 2013 Ernst & Young LLP. All Rights Reserved. “Entrepreneur Of The Year” is a registered trademark of EYGN Limited.

Special supplement published by OT Communications.

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Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go. –T.S. Eliot

TEC Canada salutes the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year finalists and award recipients – and all those who dream bigger, reach further and soar higher. We help good leaders become great CEOs. It’s where senior executives, business owners and entrepreneurs come together to discover how far they can go.

Entrepreneurs turn us on... To new ideas, new ways of thinking and new possibilities. At EY, we’re big believers in the transformational power of Canada’s entrepreneurs and all that they do to build a better working world. That’s why we’ve proudly celebrated their achievements for 20 years. And we’re just getting started. Entrepreneurs drive innovation, create new opportunities and sustain economic growth — here in Ontario, across Canada and around the world. They constantly use their fresh thinking and hard work to create positive change, bringing new concepts and products to market, and creating jobs and wealth that benefit their local communities and the broader economy. At EY, we share that desire. We’re committed to creating a better working world in large measure by harnessing the power of entrepreneurship and supporting the incredible men and women who have the vision, passion and determination to spark their ideas to life. The award finalists you’ll read about in these pages show that our province is home to some of the most dynamic innovators in the world. We’re proud to share their success stories with you, and I hope you’ll be as inspired as we are by their stories. As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Entrepreneur Of The Year — and look ahead to the next 20 years — we continue to look to Canada’s entrepreneurs for the ingenuity, innovation and inspiration that will build confidence, communities and economies — and a better working world for us all. Colleen McMorrow National and Ontario Director, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year

20 years of inspiration

Table of Contents Meet the 2013 Ontario Entrepreneur Of The Year Judges – page 5 Meet the 2013 Ontario Entrepreneur Of The Year Leadership Team - page 6 SPECIAL CITATION - SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR Scott Gilmore – Building Markets – page 7

SOFTWARE AND TECHNOLOGY John Baker – Desire2Learn Inc. – page 8 | Kyle MacDonald – Phoenix Interactive Design Inc. – page 10 Alex Rodov – QA Consultants – page 12

BUSINESS-TO-CONSUMER PRODUCTS AND SERVICES Dr. Walter Heidary – ChildVentures Early Learning Academy – page 14 Christopher Sybbo – CBI Health Group – page 16 | Marion Witz – Elizabeth Grant International Inc. – page 18

YOUNG AND EMERGING ENTREPRENEUR Shaheen Ahmad, David Lewis, Scott Peaker – SPL Consultants Limited – page 20 Lauren Friese - TalentEgg - page 22 Ryan Marien, Anatoliy Melnichuk, Michele Romanow – – page 23 Alkarim Nasser – BNOTIONS – page 24 | Robert Offley – CentriLogic Inc. – page 26 Matt Rendall – Clearpath Robotics – page 28

CLEANTECH AND MANUFACTURING Keith Bechard – Entropex – page 29 | Cathy Buckingham – TNR Industrial Doors Inc. - page 30 John Kimmel – Normerica Inc. – page 32 | Ernie Lynch – Lynch Fluid Controls Inc. – page 34

REAL ESTATE AND CONSTRUCTION Fred Losani – Losani Homes Group of Companies – page 35 | Mary Picard – Maram Building Corp. – page 36 Geoffrey Smith – EllisDon Corporation – page 38 | Alan Whitten – Huntington Properties – page 40

FOOD AND BEVERAGE George Croft – Brick Brewing Co. Limited – page 42 | Mohamad Fakih – Paramount Fine Foods – page 44 John Lettieri – Hero Certified Burgers – page 45 | Paul Mastronardi – Mastronardi/SUNSET Brand – page 46

BUSINESS SERVICES Ann Kaplan – iFinance Canada Inc. – page 48 | Bill Shaver – DMC Mining Services – page 50 Peter Stavropoulos – FlexITy Solutions Inc. – page 52 Frank A. Wilson – TES The Employment Solutions – page 54

MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT David Ciccarelli – – page 56 | Alex Mustakas – Drayton Entertainment – page 57 Neil Sweeney – JUICE Mobile – page 58

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EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013

To judge brilliance, you need lots of it. It takes talent to know talent. We couldn’t celebrate Ontario’s brightest entrepreneurs without the powerful insights of our judges. We’re truly grateful.

John Albright

Nicole Musicco

Claude Haw

David R. Shaw

Co-Founder and Managing Partner Relay Ventures

Managing Partner Venture Coaches

Vice-President, Funds & Co-Investments Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan

Founder and Chief Executive Officer Knightsbridge Human Capital Management Inc. Ontario 2010 EOY Winner (Professional services) National Citation honouree (Customer-driven excellence)

Tim Jackson

Vice-President, University Relations University of Waterloo

Don Morrison

Senior Managing Director and Country Head OMERS

Dr. Ilse Treurnicht Chief Executive Officer MaRS Discovery District

Meet the EY Ontario leadership team Ontario

Tony Pampena

Colleen McMorrow

Market Leader – Tax 416 941 1825 |

National and Ontario Director, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Canadian Leader, Strategic Growth Markets 416 943 2718 |

Joe Telebar Canadian Leader, Private Equity and Venture Capital 416 943 3527 |

Bill Demers

David Fabian Co-Leader, Private Mid-Market 416 932 6250 |

David Steinberg Co-Leader, Private Mid-Market 416 932 6206 |

Southwestern Ontario

Canadian Leader, IPO 416 943 3055 |

Greg McCauley

Julie Olden

Managing Partner – Waterloo Region 519 571 3319 |

National and Ontario Co-ordinator, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 416 943 2062 |

Elizabeth Maccabe Managing Partner – London 519 646 2503 |

Carrie Marchitto Canadian Program Sponsor, EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women 416 943 3374 |

Greater Toronto Area

Kevin Casey EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Leader – Waterloo Region 519 571 3311 |

Warren Granger

Eric Rawlinson

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Leader – London 519 646 5534 |

Managing Partner 416 943 3129 |


Massimo Marinelli Market Leader – Assurance 416 943 3922 |

Alex Morrison

Gary Zed Managing Partner 613 598 4301 |

Dave Walsh

Market Leader – Transaction Advisory 416 941 7743 |

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Leader – Ottawa 613 598 4331 |

Follow us on Twitter @EYCanada #EOY20

20 years of inspiration


Scott Gilmore Building Markets


lot of people talk the talk about changing the world. Scott Gilmore, the innovative and determined Canadian founder and CEO of Building Markets, is walking the walk.

After earning degrees from the University of Calgary and the London School of Economics, Scott has devoted most of his professional life to being a diplomat and working with various social development projects of the Canadian government, mostly in underdeveloped countries. It was there that he saw first-hand that countries with high poverty levels receive donated funds or support but as little as five per cent of the funds actually reaches the local economy of the affected country. Often, profits and proceeds of foreign aid are sent back out of the country, while the impact on the development of the local economy is minimal. Scott soon realized that this creates a cycle of dependence that slows economic growth and can cause instability to return. Once faced with this problem, the daunting challenge is what to do about it to make foreign aid and investment work for local economies and businesses. Scott has exceptional business savvy and experience both in government relations and funding and is globally respected as a social entrepreneur. “Instead of shipping goods and services, local resources can be leveraged,” he explains. “But there are several key obstacles which prevent this from happening: absence of information, corruption and convoluted procurement processes which invariably inhibits local sourcing.” His innovative idea was to create Building Markets – a tested and proven business model that creates jobs in developing countries by championing local entrepreneurs and connecting them to business opportunities. “Building Markets facilitates connections between the international community and the local economy, so that domestic firms are used wherever possible,” he says. “The concept includes training firms how to find and bid on contracts, setting up and maintaining a supplier directory, market research and advocacy, tender distribution services and even matchmaking local firms with development opportunities.” So far, Building Markets has created a network of over 16,000 local entrepreneurs, created or sustained over 65,000 full-time equivalent jobs, and helped local businesses win $1 billion in contracts. Scott’s ingenuity and success have been nationally and internationally recognized by the United Nations, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and others.

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013



John Baker Desire2Learn


y any measure, John Baker’s genuine passion, commitment, drive and focus are remarkable.

His ambition to transform the way the world learns was fused with his personal desire to make a difference in people’s lives. The result was Desire2Learn, the globally respected and tremendously successful education-technology company. John’s interest and background in education (both his parents were teachers) enabled him to see first-hand the challenges and limitations of the traditional education system. The model of educators lecturing to students and writing notes on a blackboard had remained stagtic for hundreds of years. He realized that technology and the Internet would revolutionize society and particularly the world of education. John resolved to be at the forefront of that change.

John committed himself to using digital technologies to remove the traditional geographic, physical, socio-economic and disability barriers to experiencing a good education. As he says, “change the way we learn, for the better.” With exceptional vision, tremendous hard work and gutsy determination (to help overcome the inopportune timing of starting a company during the 2002 economic downturn), Desire2Learn has grown into a global education phenomenon with more than 750 employees and offices around the world. The company provides a platform to more than 800 clients and 10 million learners in higher education, K-12, health care, government and the corporate sector. “As our company name of Desire2Learn suggests, we’re passionate about creating solutions that can ignite the desire to learn that can be found in everyone,” says John. “We are driven to make a real difference in people’s lives. It’s why nearly half of our staff is dedicated to research and development, and why our systems are designed so our clients and their learners can count on us anywhere, any time.” John’s strategy for Desire2Learn growth is still as ambitious as when the company began in 2002, and he makes it sound so simple: “We want to be the cornerstone of education.”


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013

Entrepreneurs take centre stage The EY G20 Entrepreneurship Barometer 2013: Canada


ntrepreneurs are key to building a better working world, and Canadian entrepreneurs have much to be thankful for. They operate in an environment that’s highly supportive of their activities. The cost of starting a business in the country is among the lowest in the G20, while entrepreneurs spend fewer hours on their tax affairs than their peers in most other nations, enjoy lower labour costs and benefit from better access to funding. As a result, levels of new business activity and startups are well above the G20 average. Those are some of the findings of the EY G20 Entrepreneurship Barometer 2013. Our survey found that Canada is one of the top performers in the world, scoring consistently high in nearly all categories of the entrepreneurial environment. Canadian entrepreneurs, however, are notably less positive than might be expected. For example, 73 per cent say access to funding remains difficult, greater than the G20 average as a whole. Similarly, while Canada has the lowest insolvency costs in the G20, 36 per cent of local entrepreneurs say business failure is a barrier to future business ventures, also above the overall average. This mismatch may reflect Canadian entrepreneurs’ higher expectations. In a generally conducive environment, they may expect greater levels of assistance and support and could be prone to disappointment during tougher times. Nevertheless, these concerns will need to be met in order to encourage entrepreneurship in the country. Looking ahead, all these strengths should support growing levels of new business creation, with one report predicting the net creation of 150,000 new businesses in the coming decade — a resounding endorsement for Canada’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.1 To learn more, visit us at


. B. Tal, Start-ups — Present and Future (CIBC World Markets Inc., 2012).

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013



Kyle MacDonald Phoenix Interactive Design Inc.


yle MacDonald, CEO of Phoenix Interactive Design, has a true confession.

“Whether it’s a round of golf or a multimillion-dollar contract from a client, I am one of those people who loves the adrenalin rush of competition and winning!” Since 1987, when she founded Phoenix with the strategic goal of changing and improving the way institutions “talked” to their customers with self-service technology, Kyle has stayed dynamically competitive and still keeps winning. Until Kyle developed the software solution that is the cornerstone of the Phoenix success (VISTAatm), all of the software installed in ATMs (automated teller machines) was supplied by the major hardware manufacturers. Since the initial software contract win in 2000, Phoenix has not only been very successful at carving out a special and profitable niche but forever changing the way the industry buys software. Kyle and the executive team have capitalized on that tremendous early success to build Phoenix into the “darling” of the industry – from 25 to over 150 employees and all the while remaining profitable. “When the global financial crisis hit in 2008, most of our clients stopped spending money. Very limited discretionary spending was available. That was then and this is now. This past year we realized a 38 per cent sales growth over the previous year, and we expect to do at least 40 per cent growth again this year. Our plan is to triple the size of our company in the next five years.” Today, Phoenix has a solid and growing global market share, not only selling its much-in-demand software solutions throughout Canada and the U.S. but also in Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and Europe. “After all, world domination is a full-time job,” she says with a semi-serious laugh. “Our competitive edge consists of the best technology in our industry; the best and smartest people to deliver on our promises; and the trust of customers to deliver on those promises,” Kyle states with pride and confidence. After 26 years of innovation and success, Kyle MacDonald still gets an adrenalin rush, is still competing ... and is still winning!


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013


Alex Rodov QA Consultants


lex Rodov is not only a dynamic and innovative example of the Canadian dream, he is also, proudly and uniquely a “category-killer” in the multibillion-dollar North American software testing industry. Alex founded QA Consultants (QAC) in 1994 and, with tremendous vision and constant development, his then startup is now North America’s largest dedicated software quality assurance and testing company.

As loyal clients (and competition) point out, QAC is not a traditional IT services firm. Explaining a notorious industry fact, Alex admits that “the economics and realities of outsource testing to Asia have changed. Thanks to changes in labour rates, currency values and the ease of doing business, it is now cheaper and easier to test mission-critical applications right here in Canada than it is in many parts of India and China. And our answer is the Torontobased Test Factory. “It is the next generation of software testing, providing a superior quality for QA clients in the insurance, retail and Internet services as well as banking, manufacturing and mining, transportation, construction and government,” he says. Thanks to the development of cutting-edge automation and methodologies, a learning­-focused culture and a client-centric sales model, QAC has grown rapidly to become the largest dedicated testing firm in North America, with over 110 employees and annual revenues exceeding $14 million. Although his booming QA Consultants business is built around innovation, Alex Rodov is always mindful of the challenges for his IT services company. “When there is fast and strong growth, we never take our eyes off the bottom line, we keep improving the talent of our staff, our structure and our processes and we never take our eyes off key values: business agility, cost control and staying close to our clients’ goals. “They are our QAC core values which are vital for our long-term success.”


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013

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Dr. Walter Heidary ChildVentures Early Learning


or Dr. Walter Heidary, it’s all personal! Even his extremely successful early-childhood education business started personal.

Before the first of his three children was ready for grade school, Dr. Heidary and his wife soon realized that the quality of preschool childcare in Canada was lacking. They knew that time with parents at home is a key to healthy development but exposure to other children and experiences related to learning make for a more balanced child.

He was determined to do something about it. Ten years ago, he launched ChildVentures, not only as a growing Canadian business but to make childcare better for his children, other generations of children and to make positive changes in the high-demand preschool childcare profession. “It’s absolutely not babysitting!” he says with a genuine passion. “The emphasis is on the neurological development within children. The child’s brain develops at such a fast rate and the formative years (age 0-6) is the most critical to neurological development. It desperately needs a program that provides a rich environment and experiences during those vital years. ChildVentures has become that rich (and invaluable) environment. Every ChildVentures ‘campus’ employs up to 35 qualified educators teaching multiple curriculums within homerooms and specialty rooms (art, music, drama, computers) and each campus has 89 - 265 full-time children. Dr. Heidary has become a leading force of childcare quality in Canada and the company celebrates 10 years with an impressive and escalating company value. ChildVentures is now focused on expansion – recently announcing plans to open campuses in Singapore and Malaysia – and growing the company to 50 centres internationally. “Of course ChildVenture’s business success is measured by our experiences, our retention rates, our referrals, our reputation and the growth rate of our business. But ultimately, the thousands of graduates over the past 10 years have demonstrated the ChildVentures success,” he says with tremendous satisfaction. “It is our ultimate feedback that ChildVentures provides a solid foundation for emotional, educational and all around significant personal development.”


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013

QUESTION: What business are we in?

ANSWER: Providing opportunities for children to develop and reach their fullest potential!

HOW: By collaborating with outstanding early childhood educators and allowing them to work their magic.

FURTHERMORE: It is my privilege and honour to be partnering with our educators who REALLY want our children to grow up happy, healthy, and well prepared for a wonderful life! Without a doubt, their commitment is the reason for Childventures’ success. To that I and our communities are grateful. Being recognized as an EY Entrepreneur Of The Year award finalist is dedicated to our Childventures team as they deserve this meaningful recognition. Thank you! Sincerely and most humbly , Dr. Walter Heidary

To learn more about our locations and services:



Christopher Szybbo CBI Health Group


hristopher Szybbo has solidly committed his personal and professional life to building CBI Health Group as a remarkable Canadian success story.

Chris started as a physiotherapist working at the Canadian Back Institute (CBI), a small company of 12 physiotherapy clinics. Shortly after starting, Chris accepted a chance to run a failing single clinic. Through determination, creativity and a total commitment to customers, the clinic transformed into a flagship operation. Chris rose through the ranks of CBI, turning around ailing sites, opening additional clinics and expanding services. In 1999 after the company was sold to an American health-care provider, Chris was promoted to president. CBI continued to expand but Chris believed he could capture more opportunities if CBI were an independent company and that his leaders could be engaged even more through direct company investment. It wasn’t easy, but after 14 months of negotiations, Chris – together with his team and sponsored by private equity – took ownership of the company he had been with for so many years. Today, he is an owner and CEO of CBI, now the CBI Health Group, a leading and national provider of rehabilitation and community health-care services with over 170 sites and more than 4, 800 staff. His vision remains compelling and a guiding focus – to coordinate an expanding network of healthcare practitioners and services to improve health-care access and outcomes in communities across Canada. “I am strategic, decisive and highly focused on what counts. Throughout my career I have been able to relate to those around me and create alignment and motivation to our goals,” Chris says. Although CBI operates a successful business model rich in operational features, Chris’ strategic focus is on its people and in shaping a high-performance culture. “Our industry success has been driven by aligning people and purpose and building a culture that displays genuine passion for care outcomes, fulfils commitments and understands that it is in doing handfuls of things really well over and over again that we create a high-value experience for patients and customers.” In a highly-regulated industry, CBI has led because it has remained highly responsive to its customers. “We look for ways to drive change and improve, and to create positive outcomes no matter what the challenges.” CBI is now poised to lead innovation in community health-care delivery in a wide range of health services.


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013

WHAT MATTERS MOST... IS BUILDING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES. I am honoured to be recognized as a finalist in the Ontario region for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award. As we enter our 40th year in 2014, CBI Health Group has become one of the largest, and most diverse, healthcare providers in Canada. I would like to thank our team of more than 4,800 staff, business partners and consultants whose collective talents and dedication make a positive difference to patients and communities across Canada each day. Our shared vision of providing greater access and better health outcomes to patients and communities has helped us grow to over 170 locations across Canada. I look forward to the future and continuing to build the health and wellness of our communities. Thank you, Christopher Szybbo

Neuro Developmental

Eldercare & Home Health Medical & Hospital Services

Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation

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Marion Witz

Elizabeth Grant International Inc.


lizabeth Grant Skin Care is a multimillion-dollar family affair and an international sensation.

Elizabeth Grant International Inc. is a successful, 60-plusyear-old skincare company that continues to evolve, based on its powerful and patented anti-aging ingredient – a blend of vitamins, proteins, botanicals and antioxidants that penetrate deepinto the skin helping to restore essential moisture, stimulate collagen and elastin production and repair damaged skin. It is the interesting story of Elizabeth Grant who worked as a makeup artist in a film studio in England and had loyal clients like Sean Connery, Vivien Leigh, Robert Taylor, Noel Coward and other clients. They were soon asking her about her ‘skincare secret’ and she knew she had happened on something special. She perfected and patented “Torricelumn™” and her popular skincare products began selling at select luxury retailers such as Selfridges in London. And so Elizabeth Grant international’s multimillion-dollar skin beauty empire began in 1958.

Fast forward to 1995, when Elizabeth came to Canada to retire and her daughter-in-law, Marion Witz, joined the growing cosmetic company as president, and moved it to Canada. It was the early time of The Shopping Channel (TSC), using animated graphics to sell products. When it went live, Marion had an idea. “I realized that TSC would be a terrific platform to relaunch the Elizabeth Grant range of skincare products. So we did!” Margot Grant, Elizabeth’s granddaughter, joined the company in 2004 and is launching a range of beauty products aimed at a younger audience. “Margot has injected the brand with a new customer base and has resulted in a product that is often heralded as a ‘beauty favourite’ by top beauty and fashion editors around the world,” Marion says proudly and now has a worldwide following, including A-list clients like Jennifer Lopez, Rosario Dawson and Petra Nemcova. What started out as a small ‘mom and mom’ business has grown into a huge global company, now housed in a 200,000–square-foot facility in Ontario. The Elizabeth Grant story is a “beautiful” Canadian success story.


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013

I am honoured to be recognized as a finalist for the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year, yet this honour would not be possible without the incredible Elizabeth Grant team. I want to thank my team for their invaluable effort, dedication, support, for all the long hours, for all the help and advice, for going that extra mile and for showing me the way. I would never have been able to grow the Elizabeth Grant company without you.

375 Kennedy Road Toronto, Ontario Canada M1K 2A1 Tel: 416-510-0299 Toll Free (US & Canada): 1-877-751-1999 Fax: 416-510-0949


Shaheen Ahmad, Scott Peaker and David Lewis SPL Consultants Limited


haheen Ahmad, Dave Lewis and Scott Peaker are testimonials to the power of focus, determination, partnership and an uncompromised priority for customer satisfaction. The specialized, solution-based consulting engineering vision that eventually became SPL Consultants Limited (SPL) has been evolving since 1992. Despite uncertain economic times, tremendous financial requirements and the availability of specialized technical staff, in 2009 Shaheen, Scott and Dave chose to overlook the obstacles and started a new company. In four short years, SPL has grown from a staff of five to nearly 200 with four offices in Ontario, specializing in geotechnical, environmental, hydrogeological, materials testing and inspections, as well as building science, bridge and building condition consulting services – targeting primarily major infrastructure clients. In addition SPL is a recognized service provider to developers, municipalities, government and the broader public sector. The firm’s hiring structure is the key to the young organization’s notable success. With a growing team of highly qualified professionals with unique skill sets, SPL distinctively positions itself as a consulting firm providing a winning balance between expertise and cost-effectiveness. Each division at SPL works in tandem with the others to provide an integrated experience for clients looking for one-stop solutions that meet project budgets and timelines. “Even with the growth of our wonderful staff, we still consider SPL to be a ‘family business,’ keeping our staff happy and motivated is a key priority at SPL. We are proud of our very healthy staff retention. Senior staff have been working with me for over 30 years,” says Shaheen. Today, SPL is doing business not only in Ontario but throughout Canada and internationally, and looking at projects in the Caribbean and the Middle East. “We have four offices in Ontario, which allows us to be competitive on local projects and being a medium-sized company, we have the ability to attract large, high-revenue projects and maintain/cultivate personal relationships with our clients,” Dave explains. “SPL is a growth-oriented firm with an achievable goal to double in size within the next four years, through a combination of organic growth and acquisitions.”


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013

Vaughan Cambridge Ottawa Markham SPL prides themselves on providing quality, solution based consulting engineering services to their clients. This is only possible due to the breadth of highly skilled technical staff available to the organization. As the senior principals we would like to say heartfelt Thank You to all of the staff at SPL for their hard work and dedication to the organization. It is through their efforts that we have been nominated for this prestigious award by EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ and it is because of them we are able to continue to reach our goals. David Lewis, P.Eng, President Scott Peaker, P.Eng, Vice President Shaheen Ahmad, P.Eng CEO

Consulting Services Provider: Geotechnical Hydrogeology Environmental Building Science Natural Sciences Concrete Technology Pavement Engineering Materials Testing & Inspection Instrumentation & Monitoring



Lauren Friese TalentEgg


alentEgg is not just a company or a jobs website. According to the innovative founder and creator, Lauren Friese, TalentEgg is an “online resource that caters to Canadian students and recent graduates.” TalentEgg provides students and grads with access to meaningful entry-level workplace opportunities, internships and co-op programs, as well as all the supporting resources necessary to make a successful transition from school to work, such as industry guides, resumé advice and more. In 2008, Lauren had an idea for a national career resource, based in Toronto, to complement and enhance traditional forms of on-campus recruitment with a format more appealing to the habits and lifestyles of contemporary students and grads. Before she started, there was nothing like it in Canada. Students struggled to access meaningful career opportunities and transition from school to work, relying on job sites like Workopolis and Monster that are not tailored to students, and employers primarily visited campuses in person to recruit students, an incredibly expensive and time-intensive strategy in a country as vast as Canada. Lauren admits that the idea was right but the timing wasn’t ideal. “TalentEgg had hatched right into the recession,” she laughs. “I guess that’s a fact that would probably make most young entrepreneurs close up shop within a few months. But I guess I was more determined than most. I stayed focused and developed some innovative ways to increase TalentEgg’s popularity and revenue at a time when many employers weren’t hiring. I built a team around me of ‘subject matter experts,’ in sales, content, marketing, account management and web development.” Today, is definitively Canada’s most popular job board and online career resource for students and recent graduates, with more visitors, employers and jobs than any other competing website, and proudly works with hundreds of employers to share their employer brand and career opportunities with students and recent grads, including many of the largest and most successful companies in Canada, such as IBM, Loblaw, Bell, Suncor Energy and many others.


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013


Ryan Marien, Anatoliy Melnichuk and Michele Romanow


n the traditional business world, Anatoliy Melnichuk, Michele Romanow and Ryan Marien are very untraditional. Not only their innovative vision, daring determinations and bright ideas, but they took on a fiercely competitive industry, fused it with the latest technology and have managed to turn “daily deals” into a remarkable, Canadian business success story. In an era where young entrepreneurs with exciting, bright ideas are consistently seeking investors, Ryan, Michele and Anatoliy chose to do it the hard way: from the ground up without any external financing in one of the most competitive and heavily-financed industries in the world. In 2010, starting two years after their main competitors launched, the three partners took on the challenge of pooling their personal savings of $45,000 to start It was a bumpy start but they had no regrets and the advantage of full control over their company, without any external pressure from investors.

The gamble paid off. Today is one of Canada’s leading daily deal companies, negotiates hefty discounts on popular local businesses, services and products – working with over 50 national brands (more than all of their competitors combined) including Staples, Sears, Netflix and Cirque du Soleil – and in less than three years, Buytopia has saved their 1.8 million subscribers over $100 million. The Buytopia executive team – Michele, Anatoliy and Ryan – attribute a large part of their success to thinking outside the box. While their competitors advertised almost soley through AdWords and online networks, the Buytopia executive team searched for underused media sources online, offline and through media partners. They then optimized these outlets to acquire new customers and drive sales for much less than their competitors through their strategy. In addition, their team uses an efficient sales strategy, which helped Buytopia to generate over $7 million in sales in 2012.

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013



Alkarim Nasser BNOTIONS


ou’d think that BNOTIONS, the Toronto-based strategic innovation firm with a focus in mobile and data would have a state-of-the art website. They do! It’s exceptional and boldly introduces and explains that BNOTIONS is a collection of “scientists, designers, engineers, dreamers, architects, developers, creators and strategists of world-class mobile, social and web apps.” The site is a fine introduction to Alkarim Nasser’s limitless passion and determination. Uninspired by his job at a major telecom, he knew he had to take action “because life is too long to be dispassionate,” he admits. “The digital media industry sparked something in me and I taught myself Flash development programming. Perfecting my skills, freelancing, college and meeting my three partners were how I continued to grow.” Alkarim founded Bogaroo, a small development shop that would evolve into the 55-employee company BNOTIONS is today. Now, Alkarim and partners Paul Crowe, Naeem Lakhani, Logan Aube, Mark Reale, Aaron Ritchie and Diamond Nasser work with clients such as Indigo, Johnson & Johnson, RBC, American Express, C Spire Wireless, and 500px. BNOTIONS’ superb work has been acknowledged globally, with Qualcomm and Facebook recognizing the company as “preferred developers.”

The partners keep a significant focus on R&D, helping the company grow a full suite of offerings while retaining an engineering-focused core. Building and testing in-house allows BNOTIONS to offer the best of what they have learned and pass it on to clients. Alkarim’s plans for BNOTIONS’ future are innovative and focused: “Stay entrepreneurial. Our workflows are based on methodologies that require us to move quickly and iteratively,” he explains. “Our success is the success of our products, making us very performance-focused. Our team works closely with clients to understand their business objectives so we can create products that provide long-term value. Our data science practice provides data and analytics to measure the impact of our decisions and inform optimizations for these products. A closed loop approach to product development is what gives our clients peace of mind; we won’t just launch a product and hope for the best, but rather we continue to invest in the success of everything we build.”


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013

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Robert Offley CentriLogic Inc.


obert Offley had a tremendously successful career, working for large IT firms like PSINet and Fusepoint but the innovative, entrepreneurial dream was always tempting.

In 2006, with no income, four kids and an unemployed wife, Robert did something about his dream. A year after leaving his job (and when the non-compete clause expired) he pitched a plan to buy a viable data centre and, with almost theatrical staging, launched his new company, CentriLogic. His company’s impact and client list grew with the similar warp speed synonymous with technology in general and in less than seven years, Robert’s daring dream has become an internationally respected leader in the data centre business with high levels of profitability, global operations, Fortune 500 clients, eight data centres in four countries on three continents and a trusted provider of international hybrid hosting, cloud computing, co-location, and managed data centre solutions, with facilities in North America, Europe and Asia. Robert’s vision, not to mention his drive and tenacity, has managed to grow the impressive and loyal CentriLogic client list to include Xerox, Bausch & Lomb, Yahoo, WIND Mobile, PayPal, Menzies Aviation, CIBC, Wegmans and Publicis. A key focus of Robert’s approach to serving CentriLogic clients is “a customer-first philosophy and consultative approach that help companies utilize information technology more effectively and more efficiently,” he explains. “If a company is considering outsourcing their critical assets and applications, they are looking for a relationship with a partner that is trustworthy and promotes confidence and peace of mind. They are also looking for ‘white glove service’ where issues can be dealt with proactively and efficiently. It’s what differentiates CentriLogic from our larger, less focused competitors.” Robert realizes that the remarkable pace of IT change will not only continue but accelerate. “Our future vision is that IT resources will be analogous to the way we consume electricity, where computer resources and storage are available on demand and you only have to pay for what you use.” That has become Robert’s latest professional dream.


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013


Matt Rendall Clearpath Robotics


att Rendall is the leading-edge CEO of Clearpath Robotics and holds a daring and uniquely different goal: to automate the world’s dullest, dirtiest and deadliest jobs ... through mobile robotics.

While attending the University of Waterloo mechatronics engineering program, Matt Rendall, Ryan Gariepy, Bryan Webb and Pat Martinson worked to create robots that cleared landmines in war-torn countries. The idea had the potential to save lives, but held significant risks. Through their experience as students came the realization that academia needed autonomous, out-of-the-box, affordable robotic solutions. They pivoted from focusing on mine clearance to education and research, and shortly after, received their first order. It was this purchase order in 2009 that led to the inception of Clearpath Robotics. As a determined and strong-willed entrepreneur, Matt lived and worked on a shoestring budget: building robotic prototypes at home, disassembling them to fit into carry-on luggage, and reassembling them on hostel room floors to attend industry trade shows. “I didn’t get a paycheque for the first two years, and I was living in a startup bubble: eat, sleep, start up, repeat,” he remembers vividly. Was it worth it? In less than four years after that first purchase order, Matt’s innovation, vision and leadership has driven the company to be a multimillion-dollar organization and a world leader in the unmanned vehicle robotics industry for research and development with clients including the Canadian Space Agency, the Department of National Defence, MIT and Carnegie Mellon University with rave reviews for products like Grizzly Robotic Utility Vehicle, Husky Unmanned Ground Vehicle and Kingfisher Unmanned Surface Vessel. What is unique about Clearpath Robotics is that it provides researchers with robust robotic solutions that are ready to use on day one, contain open-source software providing more flexibility, and robotic solutions that are comparatively low-cost. As Matt often jokes, “Working at Clearpath Robotics is measured in dog years. One is equal to five because so much happens – it’s great!”


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013


Keith Bechard Entropex


perating since 1978, Entropex earned its name as a Canadian leader in the development of market-specific recycled polyethylene and polypropylene for a variety of consumer and industrial applications. President of Entropex, Keith Bechard, then took on a challenge that many believed was not possible – changing the nature of plastics recovery in Ontario. With a business strategy in hand and a strong team in place, Entropex invented the process and the technology – where none was commercially available. “We created a consortium of public and private companies to research and fund innovation. Over 33 months we breathed life into the Rigid Reclaim process technology. Our successes were checkered with failure, but we knew we would ultimately achieve our goal,” says Keith. The Rigid Reclaim mixed-rigid plastics (MRP) technology was unique and significantly broadened the scope of plastics recycling. This was the first MRP recovery technology in North America. “More than 70 per cent of the plastics recovered by our technology were plastics that are not recycled by conventional recycling methods that would otherwise end up in a landfill or incinerator,” states Keith. “Ontario alone has experienced a 30 per cent increase in the recovery of ridgid plastics since the start of the Rigid Reclaim Project.” Entropex is responding to consumer demand for sustainable packaging. “We know that recycling is more sustainable than the production of virgin plastic,” he explains. “My measure of success is continuing year-over-year increases in the recycling of consumer packaging.” “We make sustainable packaging possible.” A fitting mantra for an entrepreneur leading and innovating the business of post-consumer plastics recovery. Entropex is currently ranked the eighth largest post-consumer recycler and the 18th largest plastic recycler in North America.

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013



Cathy Buckingham TNR Industrial Doors Inc.


athy Buckingham may just be the consummate Canadian success story who started by turning a discouraging negative into a dynamic positive.

In 2003, when a U.S.-based manufacturer announced its plans to close its industrial door manufacturing plant in Barrie and move it to the U.S., Cathy along with other ex-employees rallied the troops (the employees to stay in Canada), secured financing and parlayed her passion for keeping manufacturing in Canada. Her concern for the impact on the Barrie community and Canadian suppliers propelled the launch of TNR Industrial Doors Inc. (TNR). Cathy’s passion for the business combined with more than 60 years of the company’s experience and reputation – specifically in engineering and applications problem solving of industrial and commercial rubber roll-up doors – championed the regrouped, new company to create a new generation of heavy-duty industrial rubber doors. “We made some drastic improvements in the design of the doors, patented new curtain locks and guides and also a bottom bar that can be hit and easily reset,” she explains with enthusiasm. “In 2009, TNR created the HDXL 9 – an extra-large rubber door that can handle very high winds even while in operation.” Cathy agrees that it was not the easiest and best of economic conditions to launch a business. Between 2006 and 2010, Canada had a hefty 12.5 per cent drop in manufacturing sales and rubber products in general were hit even harder, with a 23 per cent drop. TNR was on the right track. In the past 10 years, TNR earned a 70.6 per cent increase in sales, working out to a remarkable growth from $2.9 million to $16 million, with 30 per cent increases per year, since 2010. Today, TNR is booming and is now the largest high performance industrial door manufacturer in Canada. “Customer success is our team goal,” she says. “We want to earn valued word of mouth business because our door helps our customers keep their costs in line and their business moving.” Cathy’s drive and determination has taken TNR throughout Canada, into the U.S., South America and currently finalizing plans to expand into Chile and eventually Peru and Africa. “The ultimate testimonial to our innovation, quality product and our success is that we believe in our doors and our clients believe in us.”


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013

TNR manufactures high performance rubber and fabric doors into commercial and industrial markets across North America and into select international markets. We have the brightest and most committed professional team that allows us to operate flexible production, provide aftermarket support, industry leading warranties and world class engineering solutions. I owe this team my sincerest thanks for the honour of being a finalist in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year™ Award. I am proud to lead the TNR team.


John Kimmel Normerica Inc.


here are clichéd business success stories about building a better mousetrap. Dynamic entrepreneur John Kimmel’s business success was built on making a better ... kitty litter.

He admits that it all began as a whimsical fluke. John was a food broker at the time and when he dropped in to pitch a customer, noticed a jug in his office. His customer explained that it was a new product from California, called self-clumping cat litter, fast and easy to clean up. John asked, “If I can find this product, will you buy it from me?” The customer said “yes” and, in 1991, Normerica Inc. began as a clumping cat litter company. Today, with John’s innovative and dynamic vision and his genuine passion for people (employees, retailers and customers), Normerica is a leading multimillion-dollar pet product manufacturer, with over $1.5 billion in cumulative sales, owning more than one third market share of the North American cat litter industry. It is also a manufacturer of all-natural dog treats, wheat-free, holistic dog biscuits and premium kettle-cooked meals for dogs. John is continually focused on growth and new product development, branching out into new and exciting dog and cat products. The company’s philosophy has also become their proud (and registered) slogan: “Giving Your Pet the Very Best.” An interesting fact: Normerica is also one of the largest movers of bulk railcars in North America with over 400 million pounds of product shipped by rail each year. The people side is a vital part of John’s professional and personal life. “Of course we have corporate financial goals but we also prioritize our people goals,” he says. “We want people to enjoy coming to work, in a place that is always interesting and sometimes even fun. And we need to give back to our communities and to those less fortunate. Giving back is such a big part of business and personal success.”


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013


Ernie Lynch Lynch Fluid Controls


rnie Lynch, an entrepreneur driven by perfection, is a visionary and ardent futurist! Working in Canada’s North with heavy hydraulics, he noted that the parts for his industry were imported from Italy, Japan and Germany. Ernie asked “Why not Canada?” and believed that there were opportunities for a domestic hydraulic and fluid power manufacturer.

Since 1987, Ernie has grown his organization into a global hydraulic, fluid power centre of excellence. Lynch Fluid Controls engineers, integrates, manufactures and exports manifolds, valve systems and electronics. Their exclusive distribution arrangement with Sun Hydraulics has been the backbone of the manifold manufacturing division. Lynch has taken cartridge valve integration to new levels, and now supplies many well-recognized distributors and Original Equipment Manufacturers. Lynch products are found in the automotive, mining, oil, plastics, military and power generation industries. With their expertise, Lynch has also provided unique solutions for entertainment venues: Cirque du Soleil, Disney and Universal Studios. Lynch Electronics and Dynamics are sister companies where creativity has succeeded in developing vertical markets. In 48 countries, part of the Lynch mission is selling and supporting customers in 75 countries by the year 2020. After a health issue forced the hard-charging entrepreneur away from the company, Ernie has made employee health and wellness a top priority. He leads the annual heart healthy lunch and all employees are financially encouraged to participate in marathons, Spartan races, Dragon Boat events, and in-house yoga sessions. “Our employees are a vital part of everything we do,” he points out. “We hire people with energy, flexibility and adaptability. Our people know that we are on the path from good to great and I feel that it is energizing for them to belong to a winning team.” With a collaborative culture, senior people mentor younger colleagues allowing expertise to be passed throughout the organization ensuring long-term competitiveness. The Lynch mission statement is always summarized in three words: “innovation, partnership and leadership.”


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013


Fred Losani Losani Homes


fter school, Fred Losani and his brother Lino helped their father John, lugging wheelbarrows of concrete for the customer’s front porches and cleaning up scraps at the job site.

Today, 38 years later, Fred is CEO of Losani Homes, acknowledged and respected by his peers and competitors alike as a true visionary and a strategic entrepreneur who has changed the homebuilding industry in the southern Ontario (Hamilton, Burlington, Niagara) market. The exceptional competitive edge of Losani Homes is – reputation! And reputation continues to grow the Losani brand into a market standard for new home excellence. “We are humbled and proud that 30 per cent of our sales are a result of wordof-mouth referrals. That’s the ultimate testimonial,” Fred says. In the past decade, Losani’s strategic plan has been terrifically effective. The company has doubled in size and expanded from exclusively homebuilding and land development to commercial construction and property management. The company grew from 2009 revenues of $79 million and, despite the southern Ontario real estate cool down, has sustained steady growth with 2013 revenues of $140 million. Losani Homes has been consistently profitable in the past three years and, as Fred explains, “We have an excellent pipeline of land with 3,000 lots and plans to acquire 2,000 more, as our company grows to selling more than 500 homes in the coming year.” Despite the solid success, Losani Homes still functions as an opendoor policy family business. Fred’s vision and uncompromising commitment to detail continues to earn industry and consumer attention. Losani Homes has won more than 85 various homebuilder awards over the years. “Balanced lifestyles are the real key to business and personal success,” he says with positive emotion. “Success is defined by what you do in your life, not necessarily what you do in your job.” Fred Losani walks the walk and is a tireless (and sometimes daring) fundraiser for numerous area charities. “Giving back is a responsibility we all have toward our communities.”

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013



Mary Picard Maram Building Corp.


lthough Maram Building Corporation is a privately held general contracting company, specializing in new construction, development, renovation, structural restoration, commercial, industrial, institutional and residential construction, its most important ‘build’ is an industry-envied, 15-year reputation for being solidly committed to the highest standards of commercial and residential construction and renovations and always responding to challenges with innovative solutions. “We recognize that, in this business, ‘time is money’ and we carefully work with our clients and their consultants to professionally handle changes while maintaining scheduling requirements,” says Mary Picard, who daringly started Maram in 1998 in a male-centred industry.

Maram’s tremendous skills and expertise has earned them an exceptional commercial construction and renovation reputation, enabling the company to be a key supplier to Walmart Canada (building over 45 locations across Canada in the past 14 years) and completing 40 LCBO stores across Ontario including the flagship LCBO store at Yonge and Lawrence in Toronto. Maram also has a strong customer base including various government entities like the City of Barrie, the municipalities of Collingwood, Stouffville and Wasaga Beach, the Town of Whitby, the Township of Springwater, York Region, the City of Vaughan, Ontario Provincial Parks and the Toronto Zoo. Maram was also recently awarded an $18-million contract from CFB Borden (federal government). Also, Maram is a respected and highly diversified Ontario homebuilder with a solid track record of excellent quality, workmanship and aftersales services in residential community contracting, new custom homes contracting and residential renovations. A key Maram competitive edge is an uncompromised reputation for their ability to complete projects while causing minimal disruption to clients’ operations. Maram’s track record and superb quality of work in commercial and residential construction is a success story that speaks for itself but Mary explains that: “Our team of skilled professionals have extensive experience with projects, typically requiring compressed schedules and changing requirements.” It is always a team effort and when it all comes together the results are incredible.


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013

Maram Building Corp. would like to congratulate all the finalists of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year. We would like to extend our gratitude to our team in the office and on the field for their dedication and perseverance. We would also like to extend a special thank you to our client/vendors where only with teamwork and partnering can we achieve the results that bring smiles to all our faces. Mary Picard

Customer Service General Enquiries Phone: 905-652-5333 Fax: 905-663-9033


Geoff Smith EllisDon Corporation


or more than 40 years, EllisDon, the giant construction company founded by two brothers (Don Smith and David Ellis Smith), was a booming success story. And then the ’90s hit. The economy took its toll and by 1997, when Geoff Smith took over as president and CEO, he had a new vision in mind. By 2000, EllisDon had overcome its liquidity issues, and Geoff’s vision and ‘Get Out Of The Way’ leadership philosophy were instrumental in the recovery. “It’s a leadership philosophy throughout our entire company,” he explains. “Everyone is a leader, everyone is accountable to each other and everyone is involved in the success of the company as a whole.” Geoff revamped the company by adding project finance, facility management and other capabilities to their base of construction, doubling the size of the balance sheet and creating their critically important employee-share structure. Could the ’90s happen again? Maybe. But Geoff says EllisDon is solidly ready. “Fast, fluid and flexible is our readiness plan. We make sure that we have the lowest fixed overhead in the industry, so that in tough times we can outlast our competitors and cut margins to keep our good people busy. We keep our growth moderate so that we don’t get caught again by a sudden downturn.”

Geoff admits that he is not “a builder,” but he has built a leadership team made up of the best builders in the industry and he consistently gives broad leeway and accountability to his senior team to run their operations, build growth and be involved in community leadership. “What makes our company and culture different,” Geoff says with pride, “is that we set our people free. We strive to give them all the information and support they need, and then we trust them to go out and get it done. Every policy must have the purpose of helping people do their jobs, not telling them how to do their jobs. Everyone is free (and expected) to think and act and be accountable.”


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013

WE BUILD STRUCTURES. WE BUILD OPPORTUNITY. WE BUILD COMMUNITIES. What makes our company and culture different is that we set our people free. We strive to give them all the information and support they need, and then we trust them to go out and get it done. Every policy must have the purpose of helping people do their jobs, not telling them how to do their jobs. Everyone is free (and expected) to think and act and be accountable.

- Geoff Smith


Alan Whitten Huntington Properties


lan Whitten personal approach to life – “treat others as you would like to be treated” – has also become a solid and effective mission statement for his successful, Ottawa-based Huntington Properties organization. Huntington Properties manages all aspects of property acquisition, building renovations, tenant fit-up and property management and owns over 30 commercial properties or land development sites (totalling over 700,000 square feet) of mostly low-rise commercial office space, with some warehouse/industrial space, throughout Ottawa and the surrounding area. Since launching the company 17 years ago, Alan’s strong ethics and uncompromising high standards when dealing with everyone – from clients, tenants, city officials, trades, suppliers and his staff – have been one of the keys to Huntington’s growth and success.

“In most aspects of business, and especially entrepreneurship, perseverance is an essential quality,” he says. “Execution rarely goes according to plan or written projections. The daily serendipity and randomness of life just works out that way but a positive attitude and perseverance always wins out.” Huntington’s management team has grown steadily along with its asset growth, and the dedication and loyalty of management has allowed the company to achieve its objectives. Alan explains that strong and loyal relationships are a major competitive advantage for his organization and being nimble and able to decisively act on opportunities has also set Huntington apart from others in the highly competitive industry. Alan’s integrity, attitude and approach are vital aspects of Huntington’s success and, as Alan points out, leveraging Huntington’s positive reputation for adding value to under-managed assets in the marketplace will continue to attract growth opportunities. Giving back to his community continues to be a high personal and professional priority, from years of involvement (and passion) with Ottawa’s NHL franchise Ottawa Senators, serving on committees of the Ottawa Carleton Economic Development Corporation (OCEDCO) to serving as president of the Kanata Chamber of Commerce and on the board of directors of the Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation, community is a high priority for Alan Whitten.


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013

At Huntington Properties, we strive to continually improve the value of the properties within our portfolio. Whether through renovation, new tenancies or stronger management, it is our goal to aim high with every decision we make. It is an honor to be a finalist for EY Entrepreneur Of The Year. We would like to thank our dedicated staff, advisors, and the many vendors and suppliers we have had the pleasure to work with over the years. Each individual, each voice and each encounter has contributed immensely to the success of our business. Thank you! - Alan Whitten & the Huntington Properties team

Commercial Real Estate | Property Management | Tenant Fit-Ups Renovations | Property Development | Construction

878 Boyd Avenue Ottawa 613-592-1818


George Croft Brick Brewing Co.


he story of Brick Brewing has been daring from the beginning. It began in 1984, being Ontario’s original craft brewer. For years, the brewery turned out good quality, niche products that earned a fiercely loyal but small and less and less viable following. Then came George! In 2008, after a long, solid and respected career at two of Ontario’s leading breweries – first with Labatt Breweries and later at Lakeport Brewing – George Croft became the CEO of Brick Brewing, just when the company was headed towards a record loss of $7.5 million. In addition to a hefty, personal financial investment, George aimed his wealth of corporate and brewery expertise to define a vision, a path and priorities for Brick Brewing’s refocus. His background and experience enabled him to define what works and doesn’t work and what it takes to win in the ferociously challenging and competitive brewing industry.

George drafted a three-part plan: get the costs under control, drive volume and optimize with new agreements, new products and new brands. “There’s no secret to success in this business,” George cautions. “It all depends on sustainable, continuous improvement in operating performance. It’s what allows the organization to invest in the business, in people, in equipment, etc. It also provides the organization with a stable base of shareholders. And without improved operating performance, any business is in serious trouble.” George’s vision has turned Brick Brewing into one of the most impressive corporate turnarounds in recent Ontario business history. With his leadership (and what he calls his organization’s “cost-conscious culture”) Brick Brewing has successfully driven double-digit growth and recently reported record 2013 EBITDA of $4.5 million, launched new products under the Brick brand and is now serving as a major player in co-packaging and utilizing available capacity to drive incremental earnings for Brick and its shareholders. Today Brick Brewing produces value beers, spirit-based drinks and craft beers, to the highest quality standards in the industry.


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013


Mahamad Fakih Paramount Fine Foods


ohamad Fakih is a dynamic, innovative and very successful entrepreneur, independent thinker and multitasker.

In 2007, Mohamad purchased a nearly bankrupt Mississauga restaurant that was barely generating $1 million in annual sales. Mohamad was enthusiastic and had a dream of creating the number one Middle Eastern halal restaurant chain in Canada. He applied his business savvy and experience, paid-off all outstanding debts, retrained the restaurant’s staff, created a new brand and transformed the struggling single establishment into a popular and profitable location – generating first-year sales of over $3 million. His multitasking (and his dream) continued and grew. He established several other businesses under the Paramount Holding Group and today, the near-bankrupt single restaurant has become a group consisting of eight companies (including a wholesale food distribution company, an in-house bakery producing Middle Eastern sweets and cookies, a state-of-the-art halal butcher shop as well as six Middle Eastern fine food restaurants) and employing over 400 people. The Paramount food distribution company supplies his trademarked food line to all Paramount locations, food supply companies and retail markets that carry his brand. The popular Paramount Fine Foods restaurants are the most high-profile examples of Mohamad’s success and every Paramount Fine Foods location operates according to his focus on nothing but authentic Middle Eastern food, serving staples like freshly-baked pita from wood-burning ovens, charcoal-barbecued halal meats, chicken and beef shawarma with exotic spices and delicious baklava prepared in house by Paramount’s full bakery. Mohamad uses his keen eye and business experience to rewrite the rules of the restaurant business. The almost ‘hidden’ Paramount flagship restaurant that stands among industrial buildings on a quiet back street in Mississauga has defied the real estate clichés. Currently, the large flagship location is the busiest Paramount restaurant, with an impressive $6 million in annual sales.


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013


John Lettieri Hero Certified Burgers


ohn Lettieri can’t deny that he inherited his determination, drive, hard work and entrepreneurial spirit. Many years ago, his family founded the iconic Canadian Tre Stelle cheese business.

John’s own story of entrepreneurial daring and success happened 10 years ago, coinciding with a milestone in his personal life. Opting for a healthy lifestyle, John committed to a regiment of exercise, lost 120 pounds and even began training and competing in gruelling lronman competitions. His new focus made him realize that it’s possible to have great-tasting food that can be both nutritious and wholesome, but he also suddenly realized a niche in his native Toronto’s Quick Casual Dining market. Nobody was serving really great-tasting, premium quality hamburgers! That’s when and how John started Hero Certified Burgers (HCB) – the first Canadian franchise to offer 100 per cent Heritage Angus beef, actually produced by a small group of ranchers in Alberta. “The beef cattle are raised free range,” John says proudly, “observing strict adherence to eliminating growth hormones (including steroids and antibiotics), and our beef is fully traceable – from pasture to plate.” John credits high quality and “a really great-tasting burger” for the popularity of HCB and the reason why, over the last few years, HCB has grown exponentially. With a total of 47 franchise locations in the Greater Toronto Area, HCB is opening an additional 18 stores this year and planning to increase the number of GTA locations to 130 by 2016. Also, John plans to expand HCB into the U.S. market in 2014. He credits the HCB franchise success to a dedicated front line and head office management staff. “A company is only as strong as its employees,” he says, “and a positive work environment that promotes open communication, education and training are the key strengths to our company’s growth.” A true testimonial of his staff approach is the fact that many of his management team have been with the company since he launched HCB, “best hamburgers in the world,” 10 years ago.

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013



Paul Mastronardi Mastronardi Produce/SUNSET Brand


or decades, Mastronardi Produce/SUNSET® has been taking the produce industry by storm. With nationally recognized brands like the Campari® brand cocktail tomato, Kumato™ uniquely brown tomato and Sweet Twister™ peppers, Mastronardi has transformed the market for both retailers and consumers.

Paul is the fourth-generation president of Mastronardi Produce. His passion for quality and innovation are deep-rooted in his family’s extensive growing history, which has led Mastronardi to be multifaceted industry pioneers, breaking barriers in flavour, safety, quality and sustainability. In 1995, Mastronardi Produce launched the Campari® brand cocktail tomato, the industry’s first branded tomato and forever changed produce brand marketing. Today, the Campari® brand is nationally renowned for its distinct flavour, versatility and exceptional quality. Paul’s passion for food safety and traceability is incomparable. Mastronardi Produce is the industry leader when it comes to food safety and operates under the international Safe Quality Foods standard. They work proactively to ensure the traceability and certification of their products are unsurpassed. Mastronardi’s farm-to-fork approach ensures consumers and retailers alike will be able to trace each and every product back to where it was grown. As the industry leader in sustainability, Mastronardi is fiercely passionate about the environment. In 1999, they launched the Green Grass Project™ to emphasize Mastronardi’s green initiatives. These included recycled growing mediums for plants and packaging made from sustainable materials. Additionally, Mastronardi uses integrated pest management to eliminate the need for pesticides. One of the most substantial environmental initiatives taken was the building of EnviroFresh, a greenhouse in Sombra, Ontario. EnviroFresh uses waste carbon dioxide from a neighbouring industrial facility, making it a carbon negative facility. This equals taking 6,500 cars off the road annually. The achievements and innovations of Mastronardi Produce are inspiring. For a company known for regularly upping the ante, it’s a Canadian success story that without doubt has many chapters left.


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013

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Ann Kaplan iFinance Canada


n 1995, dynamic and gung-ho Ann Kaplan – a single mother with no assets – had an aha-moment and an exceptionally good (and some said wild) idea. Just when, Ottawa declared war on the deficit and just started slashing health-care funding, she wondered how patients would pay for things that governments no longer covered. She sensed an untapped niche for financing the $32 billion Canadians spend a year on privately funded medical products and procedures. Not taking no for an answer, Ann went out to doctor’s offices pitching her offer of ‘in-house’ medical financing. With the rest of her time, she was pitching her idea to secure investors and make the financing a reality. Initially, her company financed mostly elective procedures such as lasereye surgery and cosmetic procedures, because the demand was rising by 35 per cent a year. Annual revenue earned from interest income skyrocketed from $1 million in its first year to $1 million a month in its second year. And the idea grew. Ann Kaplan was soon arranging financing for cosmetic dentistry and veterinary procedures. Today, iFinance Canada provides financing for patients of almost 6,500 affiliated doctors across Canada and has annual revenues of $25 million. Although cosmetic procedures account for almost 60 per cent of iFinance Canada’s financing business, the fastest growth is in other medically necessary procedures such as MRIs, drug rehabilitation and infertility treatments. Ann’s dynamic focus rarely takes a break, let alone stops. “We are currently and actively looking to acquire other companies and we have expanded to other verticals like auto and home improvement loans and various insurance products.” Ann continues with a unique approach to life and business. “I think business success is not just monetary, profits and growth but in the culture of the organization when goals are achieved. Personal success is different. It’s all about a certain level of inner-happiness. Peace, happiness and contentment.”


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013

For over eighteen years iFinance Canada has been a leader in providing consumer loans to individuals across the country. It is our mission to link the passion of the people that work with the Company to the quality of the services we so proudly provide. This is demonstrated in a statement on a simple plaque that is situated at each and every desk (a testamen t to the culture of our organization): “A place where treating borrowers, service providers, employees and shareholders with value and respect are the number one priorities.” It is this shared value that we use to mak e decisions. It is also this shared priority that has made the journey to date enjoyable. I would like to take this opportunity to than k the dedicated people that I have had the pleasure to work with for so many years. Your efforts and contributions to the orga nization are key to the successes to date. What is also important to me is the absolute joy that I have had in working with you. On a last note (as a very friendly and kind coworker points out), “You are acce pting recognition for our hard work.” This is so true. Sincerely and with appreciation,


Bill Shaver DMC Mining Services


fter 40 years in the mining industry, DMC Mining Services president and CEO Bill Shaver still beams with his trademark entrepreneurial enthusiasm when he says, “Work is fun!”. He embraces this philosophy wether he is negotiating massive contracts for highly technical work like frozen shaft sinking or creating and leading the vision which has more than quadrupled company revenues in less than three years. In between he is also focusing on strategies for a key joint venture to take on work in Europe and Scandinavia.

Despite the extreme industry competitiveness and DMC’s potent success, the organizational priorities are safety, client relationships, development of people and innovation. “These pillars have helped drive the revenue of the company from $75 million in 2010 to $330 million in 2012, with profitability being at historic highs while at the same time maintaining our industry-leading safety performance,” Bill proudly points out. “Right now, the management group is going through a strategic review to increase the company revenue by 40 per cent over the next three years. Part of the plan is to expand our existing business and move into the equity mining business where the company has expertise and now has a balance sheet that can also support that kind of expansion.” He explains that DMC’s competitive edge is also the company’s focus. “Our uncompromised performance priority is Safety! The world today is a place where good news travels quickly, but bad news travels even faster. Mining companies want to employ contractors with similar values to their own and a contractor that is able to operate in a highly ethical and safe manner and not expose them to risks or negativity from the public and the media.” The always congenial and upbeat Bill Shaver also has a refreshing outlook on DMC’s track record and success. “We celebrate our successes to ensure the organization can all take pride in the successes but we also review any failures to understand lessons to learn, so we can use them for future success.”


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013



Engineering design and feasibility studies Property development through equity investment, partnerships or joint ventures Contract mining Shaft sinking Raise boring and raise excavation Mine construction and infrastructure Mine development and rehabilitation Head frames and hoisting plants Ground freezing and grouting programs



Peter Stavropoulos FlexITy Solutions Inc.


eter Stavropoulos is a constant thinker. In the early ’90s, he was an ambitious employee of a technology company that had revenues under $500,000. Peter’s ideas and vision helped transform the company to revenues over $110 million, before it was sold to Bell Canada in 2004. Peter recognized the technology market was still underserved, with large institutions unable to meet the changing technology demands of their workforces. In 2005 he founded FlexITy Solutions Inc. and focused on securing several large institutional customers, with a focus on service providers, Tier 1 financial and health-care customers to build base contract revenues to allow the company to create sustainable growth. The FlexITy Solutions Inc. ideas have caught on – big. In less than eight years FlexITy Solutions Inc.’s revenue growth has accelerated to the current $100 million-plus run rate. As a visionary, Peter is always looking at the evolution of IT and the demands clients face on a daily basis. Now he is working on the development of the Managed Telephony and Infrastructure approach (FlexTEL) which allows customers to align business and technology in a secure cloud-based environment. This is gaining popularity among some leading Fortune 100 clients and his vision is globally respected by large partners like Cisco. In 2011 FlexITy was chosen from a select few Cisco partners in the world to receive both a North American and Global Award for work done in the evolution of IT in the health-care space. The North American as well as the Global Award had never been presented to a Canadian company at the same time until FlexITy’s win. Peter proudly admits to being an entrepreneur at heart and he walks the walk with the ability to adapt to changing situations being paramount, especially in the always evolving IT business. “Nothing ever goes as planned,” he points out. “It’s all about accepting the challenges and opportunities and pursuing flawless execution of goals. The world of business is full of surprises and unforeseen events. Being flexible allows us to respond to changes without being paralyzed with fear and uncertainty.”


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013


Frank A. Wilson TES The Employment Solution

Three guys and one phone at one desk over a butcher shop,” is how Frank A. Wilson describes the birth of his now-thriving staffing firm, TES The Employment Solution. Founded in 1975, the company broke the rules from the start. At a time when agencies gouged clients and treated workers like inventory, it disclosed all fees and percentages to everyone in the staffing relationship. Markups were modest and fair. But the innovation didn’t stop there. TES specialized in engineering and technical talent, then Frank moved quickly to apply its successful approach to the emerging field of information technology. As IT exploded across the country’s business landscape, so did TES, establishing offices in major centres nationwide and in the U.S. “We grew, but we stayed TES,” says Frank. “Most companies accumulate red tape and bureaucracy when they grow. We stayed lean and agile. We continued to deliver service differently for every single client. We can move into a client’s space and become what they need us to become.”

TES has established national credibility as the best source for highdemand and specialty IT/engineering talent, with a trademark commitment to service. “We deliver staffing, payrolling and IT infrastructure solutions across North America, in a way that is personal, ethical and responsive. It’s what clients mention first when they talk about us: our willingness to take on their challenges and go the extra mile. It’s made us the staffing solutions provider of choice for companies that lead their own industries.” It hasn’t all been easy sailing. TES has weathered some rough economic times – surviving, thriving and helping its clients and jobseekers do the same. The results speak for themselves. “We compete and win every day against much larger companies, but I measure success by relationships,” insists Frank. “Sales figures don’t tell the whole story. But when a client asks us to help them solve a challenging problem, or when a candidate trusts us with building their career, then I know we’re on track. I love the moments when they say things like, `you’re like family’ and `we couldn’t have done this without you.’”


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013

I want to use this opportunity to shine a spotlight on the dedicated group of creative, committed, hardworking professionals who have made TES a uniquely Canadian success story. Every member of our head office (shown here) and our branch teams across Canada and in the US contributes something unique and vital to our winning formula. Together, they have built the business success of TES’s clients, and the career success of thousands of placed candidates. Together, we have made amazing things happen.

Specialist in IT, Engineering and Aerospace skill sets Contract and Temporary Placement Permanent Placement Payrolling Managed Services Installs, Adds, Moves, Changes (IMAC) HR Consulting

1-800-818-4744 • Toronto • Mississauga • Burlington • Ottawa • Montreal • Saskatoon • Calgary • Vancouver • Raleigh, NC


David Ciccarelli


avid Ciccarelli is that gung-ho, ambitious young kid who sold lemonade at the curb. He later became a gung-ho, ambitious and savvy entrepreneur who followed through on a business bright idea and parlayed it into a booming success story. David and his spouse, and business partner, Stephanie, have a unique combination of technical and artistic skills, with a passion for the recording industry. They were working in their London, Ontario-based recording studio when they noticed the tremendous supply and demand for, what the industry calls, voice-over work: talented professionals who record the audio portion of business presentations, explanation videos for websites and telephone system messaging, scripted radio and television commercials, audiobooks, films, documentaries and movie trailers as well as the booming area of educational recordings such as e-learning software and training videos. To go all-in, David took a chance on their idea and sold his recording studio equipment for $50,000. In 2004, David and Stephanie revolutionized the voice-over industry.

Instead of the conventional process of time-consuming studio and production time, they created – an exciting, online marketplace that brings together the customers who needs the voice-over and the skilled and talented performer who will be ‘the voice.’ Within the first six months, more than 500 users were signed up. “It such a terrifically simple and efficient concept,” David says. “Some of the exciting and unique features and benefits include a 50 per cent savings on the costs of talent, audio production and administration. Having instant access, anywhere and any time, to a global network of more than 100,000 voice-over talents, the financial transactions are processed securely online. As well, most importantly for many clients, jobs are typically completed by the talent within 24-48 hours, cutting conventional production times by at least half.” Today, many radio and television stations, advertising agencies and Fortune 500 companies rely on to search for, audition and hire voice talents for all kinds of voice-over work. It has been a long time since he sold lemonade at the curb, but David now sets high standards in all aspects of his business and personal life. He is driven to succeed and never stops raising the bar for achievements, sets progressive goals for the company and together, with Stephanie and a strong team at, regularly exceeds all goals.


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013


Alex Mustakas Drayton Entertainment


lex Mustakas – the iconic founder, artistic director and CEO of awardwinning Drayton Entertainment and one of today’s central figures in Canadian theatre – good-naturedly but wisely points out that “the second part of show business is business.” While destiny and his true passion (the arts) were developing, Alex earned a business degree and did some time in the corporate world, but was constantly haunted and driven by his passion for live theatre. In 1991, in the middle of a recession, he took a big gamble and started a small theatre in the quaint, charming but (at that time, unlikely) ‘sleepy hollow’ crossroads village of Drayton, Ontario. In the Drayton Festival’s inaugural season, Alex was the clichéd chief cook and bottle washer and, with help from volunteers, performing all the necessary odd jobs both on and off the stage in order to successfully mount productions to an appreciative rural audience. Tapping sponsor money and support, he scraped together a modest budget and played to a first-season grand total of 14,591 theatregoers.

Fast forward 22 dynamic years of Alex’s peerless vision and business savvy, and Drayton Entertainment has transitioned itself from a fledgling summer festival to a year-round professional theatre company. In the process, it has become nationally respected as a model of sustainability for Canada’s cultural sector. The charitable not-for-profit organization’s annual budget is $8.2 million (“not a penny of provincial or federal arts funding!” he says proudly), and supports 40 full-time and 300 seasonal staff. This year, Drayton Entertainment will surpass 200,000 in attendance at seven historic venues located in Drayton, Grand Bend, Penetanguishene, St. Jacobs, Waterloo and Cambridge, making Alex one of the central figures in Canadian theatre. “Our success is ultimately defined by our ability to balance artistic integrity and financial responsibility,” reflects Alex. “We pride ourselves on finding efficiencies in an industry that is inherently inefficient. Everyone involved with our organization – our staff, our board of directors, our legion of volunteers, and of course, our audience – is tremendously passionate about what we do. It is a unique combination of personal pride mixed with community ownership that has brought us from our very humble beginnings to where we are today.”

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013



Neil Sweeney JUICE Mobile

We want to compete globally and put Canada on the international map for mobile adtech!”

It’s more than fighting words. It’s a summarized but blunt business plan from the supercharged Neil Sweeney, president and CEO of JUICE Mobile – the dynamic Canadian company providing leading edge strategy and advice about all things mobile: marketing, creative, product development, ad platforms, analytics, activation, technology and innovation. For 15 years, working in media, marketing and technology, Neil noticed a need for mobile advertising ‘beyond the banner.’ His innovator and entrepreneur skills shone through. He was determined to be on the crest of the wave and, in 2010, he launched JUICE Mobile.

Just three years later – with 30 highly creative and innovative staff who not only function as a cohesive team but a group of friends who share fun as well as working and defining the mobile space together – JUICE is a solid Canadian success story and a true source of personal and professional pride for Neil. JUICE builds software that helps solve the problems of brands, advertisers and publishers executing in the mobile space. “We are one of the only companies in Canada actually building technology in Canada, in our own office with international patents, being taken to the global market.” While other firms merely add mobile to online ad offerings, Neil emphasizes that JUICE is solely dedicated to the mobile marketing and technology industry. “A lot of hard work from our team has brought more than 300 Fortune 500 brands into the mobile space. It’s a massive market,” he says with enthusiasm. “Encompassing sub-markets like mobile payment, advertising, application, data and services, global mobile revenues reached $1.5 trillion in 2012. The Canadian mobile industry is $251.5 million and likely growing to $1.28 billion by 2017.” In addition to growing its already established partnerships with brands and publishers, JUICE is targeting international success – maybe partnering with Twitter to help launch its mobile advertising products in Canada and set to expand further into the States and take on Latin America and Europe. And Neil Sweeney has reason to be proud. “JUICE Mobile has built strategic relationships with more brands in the mobile market than any other firm in Canada and it also boasts more exclusive partnerships with Canadian publishers than any other company in the world.”


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013


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