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Join MNP in Honouring Edmonton’s Visionary Business Leaders


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COVER

LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Edmonton’s

Visionary Business Leaders

Look and Move Ahead

BY MARK KANDBORG

T

“The variety of businesses represented and the quality of the nominations made this an intense process, but by the end of the afternoon we reached complete consensus. The process was a great testimony to the quality of the business people and community spirit in the greater Edmonton area.” Fellow Judge Lorne Rubis agrees. He’s very aware of the extent to which Alberta is run by small and medium businesses like This month, and every July in the foreseeable those represented here. “They’re a great future, we have decided to showcase 20 of these value to the economy and their community LORNE RUBIS stories, and the men and women behind them. involvement is remarkable,” he says. “They We’ve designated these individuals as “Leaders may not make the news, but they certainly of Tomorrow,” but it would have been just as make up the fabric.” accurate to describe them as Leaders of Today, What Rubis found most striking after because these aren’t business people with mere reviewing all of the nominations, however, potential. They’re Edmontonians who rolled up was how common it is for these individuals their sleeves this morning as you read this, and and their companies to invest back into the likely many, many mornings before this one, community. “They reach a threshold where dove in and got the job done. The ‘Tomorrow’ they want to give back,” he says, adddenominative is applied because these particuing that it’s surprising how quickly in the lar individuals, while already successful, are just business cycle that seems to come about, JAMES GILLESPIE getting started. They’re looking to the future, especially with those they chose to recogand whether intentionally or not, inviting us to nize here. “It’s amazing how many budding look there, too. entrepreneurs are already engaging in that The selection process was straight forward. process,” he says. “Not just giving money, Three judges, Jason Brisbois of the Western but making it part of their culture.” Centre for Economic Research at the U of A While it’s true that the following entrepreSchool of Business and a regular contributor neurs’ values and hard work may not make to this magazine, Lorne Rubis of ATB Finanthe nightly news or the front page, at least cial and James Gillespie of MNP, set themselves not right away, we hope that the recognition to the task of pre-screening each nomination we’re proud to provide will go a little way in and assigning an initial ranking based on the making up for that. The Leaders of Tomorrow JASON BRISBOIS nominee’s contribution to excellence in their may not seek the spotlight, but it has found own business, in the community and in their them nonetheless. industry at large. So if we may be so bold, we’d like to sug“We then convened for an afternoon and compared our gest that you join us in ignoring that one piece of motherly rankings and the rationale for our choices,” says Brisbois. advice, and by all means... mind these people’s business. BIE hose of us who work at this magazine occasionally received the same admonishment from our mothers as most of you probably did, which was to mind our own business. Evidently, we here chose to ignore that particular piece of advice and have, in fact, made other people’s business our business. May I say we are the happier for it as we’ve surveyed the landscape, examined the trends and listened to the stories. It’s been inspiring, as we hope it has been for you.

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The Judges

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www.businessinedmonton.com | Business In Edmonton Magazine | July 2013

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Congratulations to the 2013 Leaders of Tomorrow!

Business in Edmonton…

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COVER

LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Leader of Tomorrow:

Bill Knight

Company: B&B Demolition Ltd.

L

ike most of us, Bill Knight had a number of different jobs in his youth. “I did everything from milking cows to selling vacuum cleaners door to door to selling pagers, back in the days when there were pagers,” he says. But between all of those false starts he worked in demolition and it just kept drawing him back. So when it was time to get serious, Bill decided to put all his eggs in one basket and formed B & B Demolition. His young son, Steven, came up with the name. “He thought bigger and better sounded good, so we shortened it to B & B.” As for the wisdom of starting a business on December 15, 1999, “I figured if the world came to an end, they’d always need a demolition contractor.” As it happens, the world didn’t come to an end and Bill says he’s never looked back, growing his business from the basement of his house to where it is today, with more than 70 employees in the field. He’s quick to point out that he doesn’t particularly like the “E” word, however. Detests it, in fact. “We don’t have employees, we have team members,” he says. “We have a very strong focus on people becoming independent and successful. When they flourish, so does the business. Our people are our success.” Bill measures success not only by how much his company earns, but by how that money is spent. “I was on my own since I was 15,” he says. “I had a lot of help, so I believe that once you’ve reached a level of success in business, it’s important to give back. And it’s not to give out, it’s to help people out. Not a hand out, but a hand up. If I can really help that next person to reach their level of greatness, there’s no greater success than that.”

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COVER

LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Leader of Tomorrow:

Tony Freund Company: Beck Developments Inc.

W

hen Tony Freund went out on his own from a partnership, he was unsure what to call his company. Then it came to him. “Beck was my grandfather’s name, my Opa,” he explains. “He was an old time German tradesmen and he passed that same year. It’s sort of an homage to him.” Through Beck Development, which specializes in commercial construction, large-scale interior projects, smaller freestanding sites and pre-engineered buildings, Tony does his best to carry on the traditional values and work ethic of his company’s name sake. He strives to “be ethical, be loyal, be true to who you are and what you believe.” One of the things Tony believes in is the tried-and-true method of learning from one’s own mistakes. This philosophy informs his leadership style, which is one of empowerment. He has no interest in running a dictatorship, choosing instead to help his people identify their strengths so they can take charge of their own work. “Like any owner, you’re only as good as your team. And really, what I am is a team leader.” Tony doesn’t just surround himself with good people. He learns from them. “I’m 44 now, and when I used to hear these stories of experience as a young guy I kind of shrugged them off,” he says. “But now, when you’ve been there and done that, I have a lot of respect for the good old boys who taught me back then.” Some of the best pieces of advice he’s received over the years have been the simplest, he says. “Wherever you are, be there. It’s got to be 20 years ago someone told me that, but it still sticks with me today. It reminds me to pay attention, stay focused and give it my all. Hard to go wrong if you do that.”

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COVER

LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Leader of Tomorrow:

Terry Stephenson Company: Vertex Resource Group Ltd.

A

Chartered Accountant by profession, Terry Stephenson evaluated a lot of businesses and watched a lot of deals transpire while working in, and sometimes running, the finance departments of some pretty big corporations. That experience served him well once he decided to “try doing something on my own,” as he puts it. Stephenson acquired two small environmental consulting companies in the spring of 2005. “That was kind of the start of it,” he says. He formed Blackjack Investments (now Vertex) with a former mentor and acquired two additional entities, these in the construction sector. “We basically took the business from $2.4 million in ‘05 to about $107 million last year,” he says. Terry would be the first to admit that while those numbers are impressive, the road from $2.4 million to $107 million was not without its challenges – most notably the economic quagmire sitting right in the middle. Terry was determined that the downturn for his company was going to be short-lived, however, and used it as an opportunity to recruit middle and senior-level employees to divisions that he believed were likely to turn around the quickest. The move was a prudent one and when the economy began to improve, Vertex was able to execute an even greater magnitude of work than before. “One thing I’ve learned is not to be scared of change,” he says. “When you make a decision, make sure that it’s the right one and implement it quickly.” This openness to change may be why Terry is often described as being atypical for an accountant; not cautious and averse to risk, but aggressive and willing to take a calculated gamble. The key word is ‘calculated,’ of course. “You’ve got to really know what you’re good at and try not to conquer the world,” he says. “Stay focused so you don’t dilute the quality of service you provide.” Platinum Partner

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COVER

LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Leader of Tomorrow:

Jerry Hanna Company: Clearflow Enviro Systems Group Inc.

F

or water to have optimal value to us and to the earth, it has to be clean which, increasingly, it’s not. That’s a trend that Jerry Hanna, and his company Clearflow Enviro Systems, is working hard to reverse. His quest to solve a huge problem began with a small one. “A friend called me up asking for help with some surface water issues,” he says. “I had a background in storm water processing, so I said sure, but the more we got into it we realized that we couldn’t get answers to all the questions we were coming up with.” So he set his mind to finding the answers himself. With a fish tank. In his basement. Jerry’s moved out of the basement, and Clearflow is beginning to change the way the world thinks about cleaning its water. “Standard practice is to have someone come and treat 100 per cent of your water at the end point with chemicals. If the chemicals don’t work, they add more. You add enough,” he says, “you can actually cause the particles to suspend. Not good.” Jerry’s approach is to find out what’s causing the problem in the first place and solve it there, at the source. An ounce of prevention in this business is worth a heck of a lot. Because it works. Fast. “Where in some cases you’re looking at 1 – 5 weeks to get bio-reaction systems to work, our system works within minutes,” he says. “There’s a company in India that’s spent over $40 million over the last 10 years trying to clean a particular project and have finally reached 40% efficiency. We went in there and reached 96% efficiency in hours.” With the combination of incredible growth in the North and the focal point for tech that is the U of A, Jerry believes that Edmonton is an industrial research sweet spot. “We’ve got to quit buying from everybody else, because there are some tremendous technologies in Alberta that nobody’s seen,” he says. “We need to start waving our own flag.”

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COVER

LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Leader of Tomorrow:

Jason Collins Company: Collins Industries Ltd.

T

here aren’t a lot of young Canadian men who can say they walked away from a professional hockey career to get a “real” job, but Jason Collins can. “I spent a year playing in Texas after graduating from university, but after being exposed to what life as a professional hockey player was like, I realized how difficult being on the road would be. As a newly married guy, it just wasn’t that attractive to me anymore.” So he hung up his skates and went to work for his father’s steel fabrication company, and he’s never looked back. Jason had worked for his dad during the summer months, of course. “Once I had my drivers license, I didn’t have much of a choice,” he laughs. “I learned a lot about responsibilities and organizing, and in hockey I learned a lot about winning.” That combination has served him well, and now he and his brother run the company. Jason explains that their father taught them there’s no difference between business and life, because the same rules and principles apply. “You don’t conduct yourself one way at home and another way at the office,” he says. “We learned how to treat people properly by watching our dad. He was always involved in everything that we did. On top of building a business, he was at every hockey game or practice, basketball game or ski meet that we ever participated in. We sat down as a group at the supper table every day. That’s a pretty amazing commitment.” Before things get too warm and fuzzy, don’t discount Jason’s competitive side. “Being involved in a team that outperforms another team inspires me,” he says. “Building a strategy that beats other people, I like that. In business, if you’re not the best, eventually you’re going to fall by the wayside. It’s fun to try to be the best, and to pick the best people.

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COVER

LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Leader of Tomorrow:

Ed Cyrankiewicz & Ron Hinz Company: Delnor Construction

W

e meet a lot of people in high school. Some become friends, but rarely do those friendships forge a shared destiny. Lennon and McCartney come to mind. So it was for Ron Hinz and Ed Cyrankiewicz. “Ron and I have been working together since we were 16 years old,” Ed says. “We were both carpenters.” But in the struggling economy of 1983, they both became unemployed carpenters, so they decided to hire themselves. The company they started, Delnor Construction, has since gone on to open three offices in two provinces, with over $160 million in revenues. “Our business philosophy from the beginning was to construct relationships, not just buildings, and that hasn’t changed in 30 years,” says Ed. It’s no secret that the past three decades have seen wild fluctuations in the housing market. “One of our strengths was that in the down cycles Ed and I were able to hone our skills in cost control,” Ron explains. Encouraging staff to multi-task and handle more facets of their projects allowed Ed and Ron to sidestep the necessity of hiring and firing en masse as the market ebbed and flowed. This multitasking approach led to Delnor’s business model, where project managers ferry the entire project from tender to close, encouraging them to adhere to a budget and schedule that they themselves created. This “buck stops here” concept also gives customers a more positive construction experience, having the same point of contact throughout the experience. The two long-time friends have received their share of advice over the years. What stands out for Ed? “If your business isn’t growing, it’s dying. We’ve always taken that to heart and worked at attracting young, vibrant people into the organization.” “Manage the growth,” Ron says. “Don’t let the growth manage you.”

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COVER

LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Leader of Tomorrow:

David Cronin & Chris Izquierdo Company: DevFacto Technologies

W

hen David Cronin and Chris Izquierdo met working for a software startup in 2001, they were both putting in 60 to 80 hours a week. “That’s just how you operated, on pure energy,” David says. “It’s not something that’s sustainable, but it brought passionate people together.” When the project was complete, the two went their separate ways. “But after a while, we really missed that energy, of being around people that were really smart, that pushed you and pulled you. We wanted to re-create that.” Out of that desire, DevFacto Technologies was born. “It was a kind of social experiment, to see what would happen if we built the best environment with the best tools and hired the best people. We just wanted to see if it would work.” It did. Starting with $500 a piece, the duo bought equipment from a police auction and set up in David’s basement. Despite the challenges of a recession, they grew DevFacto’s revenues by more than 4,000 per cent in the first 36 months and moved into a well-equipped, high tech office on the 22nd floor of Scotia Place a mere two years later; and yes, it’s full of energy. Fun fact: “Despite hiring more than 50 highly skilled and sought-after professional consultants, DevFacto has not had a single employee resign from the firm in over five years.” Meteoric development aside, and despite having recently expanded into the Calgary market, David describes the company’s growth strategy as cautious. “We’re careful not to over-extend,” he says. “It’s about providing the right skill set at the right time that people are asking for.” The irony of two technology guys finding success by focusing on people isn’t lost on David. “There’s a stereotype about technical types, but I really enjoy shaping people and growing them into high performers. It’s something that I never thought I would want to do or be good at, but it’s what I enjoy the most.”

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COVER

LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Leader of Tomorrow:

John Stevens

Company: ENTREC Corporation

J

ohn has spent virtually his entire career growing businesses. As CEO and president of NC Services Group, a heavy haul and lifting business with significant exposure in Alberta’s oil sands, he experienced annual sales increases from $36 million to $150 million in a two year period. As an integral senior management team member of two other companies, one in industrial services and the other in the agri-food and livestock industry, he helped to shepherd annual sales from $34 million to $519 million in five years and $242 million to $919 million in four years, respectively. Not bad for a self-described farm boy from rural Alberta. “In the mid ’80s I went to Olds College and took Agricultural Engineering Technology, but there really were no jobs in that field,” he says. “I decided I was smarter than that and really enjoyed business, so I went to university and studied that.” Although he had no desire to become an accountant, John’s accounting professor offered him a job in his second year. He decided to take the offer, which ultimately lead him through the accomplishments outlined above to the point where he and two partners recently acquired the ENTREC Corporation from Flint Energy. With John in the president’s chair, it should come as no surprise that this company, too, experienced some significant growth. Starting with 80 employees and two locations, ENTREC is now coming into its 10th acquisition, holds $50 million worth of equipment and has 615 employees in 11 locations. They took control barely two years ago. “You have to be growing. For the past 20-some years, every business I’ve been involved in, we thought about it every day. It’s kind of how my brain is wired.” In recent years, John has set his sights on raising awareness and funds for prostate cancer research and continues to work tirelessly toward that goal.

Platinum Partner

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Gold Partners


COVER

LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Leader of Tomorrow:

Scott Stoppler Company: Executrade Consultants Ltd.

S

cott Stoppler likes to say that he’s in the people business. Companies hire his company to identify and hire people to work in theirs. His dad started Executrade Consultants Ltd., which now has offices in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver, in 1974. When Scott was old enough he couldn’t wait to be a part of it. But ironically, getting work there wasn’t easy. “I begged my dad for a job,” he says, “but there wasn’t really a role for me, so I just started assisting every position.” In that way, he learned the business inside out, taking over the job of president in 2006. Evidently, there really was a role for him. Since 2000 Executrade Consultants Ltd., has placed 15,089 individuals into temporary, contract and permanent positions. As Scott will tell you, that’s 15,089 personalities and that can present some challenges. “When you buy a car, you buy a car. There’s no question whether it’s coming home with you and it doesn’t change its mind two weeks later,” he says. “With people, it’s more complicated. You’re often dealing with things that are out of your control. But we don’t just help people get jobs. These are some of the most important decisions they’ll make in their lives.” For Scott, one of the most important decision’s he’s made is to make community involvement a big part of his company’s culture. Some of the organizations that the company supports and continues to work with are Kids with Cancer, Junior Achievement, Kid Safe, Kids in Motion, the Diabetes Foundation, Youth Empowerment Society (previously the Youth Emergency Shelter) and Bowling for Big Brothers. Scott has given additional time and engagement to ABC Headstart, a preschool support program for families with low incomes, works directly with the Lurana Shelter for Women and children fleeing domestic abuse and currently serves as chair with YPO Alberta (Young Presidents Organization).

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COVER

LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Leader of Tomorrow:

Dawn Harsch Company: Exquisicare Inc.

W

hen Dawn Harsch graduated from university and went to work at an extended care facility for the elderly, little did she know that her experiences there would change the course of her life. “I was just shocked that that’s how we care for our elderly,” she says. “These are vulnerable people who have oftentimes built this country, fought in wars, and I thought that we could be doing something better.” A little over a decade later, her dream of “something better” had become a reality. Westcliff Place, the first Exquisicare home, is a residential estate home of almost 7,000 square feet in a residential neighbourhood. “We have two staff 24/7 for 10 clients, one of whom is a professional nurse. In a traditional facility you have one nurse for 100 clients.” While her vision of a kinder, gentler future for our most senior citizens is fuelled by love and respect, there’s another future that Harsch, who earned an MBA in addition to her nursing degree, is very cognisant of. That of the long-term care industry itself. “It’s a growing population and there’s a huge demand for it. The Baby Boomers, as they age, are becoming less accepting of that institutional model of care.” Harsch says that the best advice she ever received was from a friend who told her to quit her day job. “You need to follow your passion. So that’s what I did.” That passion knows no bounds, evidently. While pursuing her goal of opening more homes in Edmonton and expanding to additional cities in Western Canada, Harsch somehow also finds time to volunteer with a number of community leagues and charities. She’s also a member of the Edmonton Rotary Club, the Alberta Association of Gerontology, both the Alberta and Canadian Gerontology Nurses Associations and the Society on Aging. Platinum Partner

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COVER

LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Leader of Tomorrow:

Sharleen Oborowsky Company: Fully Managed

S

harleen describes her entrepreneur father as a visionary and her greatest role model. Due to his influence she decided very early on to follow his path and set a goal to start her own business at the same age he did – 20 years old. “Even as an independent IT consultant, I had a big business mentality,” she says. “I didn’t want it to just be a one woman show.” It wasn’t, for long. “I grew it one staff at a time to where we are now, with nearly 40 employees here and in our new Vancouver location.” Sharleen’s decision to merge with a similar company in that coastal city was a significant one, not only because the move effectively doubled revenues, but because of the steep learning curve the transaction forced her to confront. “It was like earning an MBA,” she says, only half joking. “There is so much complexity and activity with mergers. The IT side was simple, but it was the HR and finance that was complex. We were a bit naive.” HR is a component of her business that Sharleen takes very seriously. “I’m very people focused, and learning about this Generation Y that’s very foreign to a lot of us as business owners. When the company was younger we had all Gen X, but that’s changed,” she says. “Gen Y’ers are less focused on money. It’s more important that they’re valued properly.” She points out that this often goes against the entrepreneurial mind set of full speed ahead. “You have to be more thoughtful. In Alberta we have to be very aware of turnover. In B.C. it’s not so sensitive, but it’s a good practice overall. To value the career path is for the betterment of the whole company.”

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COVER

LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Leader of Tomorrow:

Michael Roppelt

Company: GSS Integrated Energy Ltd.

A

s the president of GSS, Mike has been able to realize his vision of creating sustainable energy systems for new and existing communities. “We began as a geothermal company, but today we develop community energy systems and our area of expertise is underground thermal storage.” In essence, the community generates its own electricity through the use of natural gas generators, which produce a lot of heat. “We take all of the excess heat that’s produced in the summer, store it in the ground, and in the winter take it back out and heat all the homes and buildings.” What makes or breaks the workability of this concept is the efficiency of storage and retrieval, a technical problem that’s held back larger scale implementation. “The process we’ve developed is significantly more advanced, more dynamic,” Michael says. “We can inject and extract simultaneously.” Geothermal projects of the kind GSS is working on improving have traditionally used companies from outside of the country, he explains, “but when the projects were completed, everybody left. There really wasn’t anybody in Canada who’d gotten much further ahead.” His goal is to create an environment that will further advance the development of this technology, engaging engineering departments at both École Polytechnique in Montréal and the University of Alberta here at home. Breaking new ground doesn’t offer a lot in predictability, but Michael enjoys living on the cutting edge. “I love that every day brings new challenges,” he says. “We’re not only solving problems, but looking forward to new ones. There’s no cookie cutter for us to use.” For inspiration, he finds that he has to look no further than within his own peer group. “There are companies and people in this province that are very active in the industry and leading new energy models. That’s good for Alberta. It’s good for the economy.”

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Gold Partners


COVER

LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Leader of Tomorrow:

Teresa Spinelli

Company: Italian Centre Shop Ltd.

W

hen Teresa Spinelli took over the iconic Italian Centre after her father’s death, she knew she had some big shoes to fill. A pillar of the community, the loyalty the big man had earned from his traditional and predominantly male staff wasn’t easily transferred. “Some of the employees thought of me as the spoiled brat who played cashier. Also, I was a woman, which was a really big thing,” she says. So she did something her dad had never done. She called a meeting. “I told them, ‘I’m here to say. I’m not going to sell the business, and we’re going to have to do things my way.’” Once they realized that her way was to work very, very hard, everything, and everyone, came together. That meeting took place in 2000, when the Italian Centre had 36 employees and $9 million in sales. Today, those numbers have grown to 350 and $33 million. Her key to success? “Passion. It’s like the gas in your car. Without it, you won’t get very far, but if you have enough you can go as far as you want,” she says. A valuable lesson she’s learned over the years? “Hire slow and fire quick.” She admits, however, “I’m still learning that one.” The Spinellis’ affection for this city’s downtown core is legendary, and Teresa tirelessly keeps that tradition alive by serving as team leader for the McCauley Boys and Girls Club, sitting on the board of Edmonton Inter City Housing and the recently formed Boyle Renaissance Advisory Committee. A special part of her heart is forever across the street where a statue of her father sits surrounded by the park she helped to make beautiful again. “When my father was on his deathbed,” she says, “I thanked him for everything, and he said, ‘for what? All I left you was a good reputation.’ He said it like it was nothing, but that’s been everything.” Platinum Partner

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Gold Partners


COVER

LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Leader of Tomorrow:

John Cameron

Company: John Cameron Entertainment

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n 2004, KELLERDENALI Construction was given the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year award, but that’s not what CEO John Cameron is being recognized for here. He’s been singled out for founding John Cameron Entertainment (JCE), a company that showcases local talent and supports the community by putting on entertainment events and donating all of the ticket sales to local charities. John’s love of music began at the age of four when he first sat before the keys of a piano. He considers himself very fortunate to have found a way to bring the magic of art, music and drama to those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience them. “Edmonton and Alberta have been great for my construction business, and I’m a firm believer that if you want something out of something, you have to put back in,” he says. Cameron finds inspiration all over the city. “When I walk into the Winspear or the Art Gallery, I always go over to the wall and see the names up there and think, these are the people who have gone before me and I’m in this facility because of them.” But it’s the smiles of the kids on stage and the stories of how their lives have turned around that keep him going. Just some of the local charities and events that have benefited from John’s generosity are the Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts, Soaring for Song, Harvest Celebration, the Edmonton Food Bank, Santa’s Anonymous and the Royal Alexandra Hospital. Of particular note and something he’s especially proud of, is his part in resurrecting a 35-year tradition known as the Edmonton Singing Christmas Tree. “To help one family is a success,” he says, “but I’m proud to say that we’ve helped thousands.” Platinum Partner

Photo by EPIC Photography Inc.

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LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Leader of Tomorrow:

Stephen Ruggiero Company: Kimberley Development Group

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hen Stephen Ruggerio emerged from university with Phys Ed and Education degrees, he had a clear career path in mind. However, graduation coincided with a wave of teacher layoffs, so he took advantage of his minor in IT and accepted a six month contract with Kimberly Homes, to help them update the company’s computer systems. “I really got passionate about the business,” he says, and eight years later, Stephen was president of the company. Stephen believes his story serves as a powerful demonstration that “the future holds great things if you surround yourself with great people.” Characterizing his leadership style as collaborative, he takes the approach that while two heads are better than one, four heads are better than two. “I’ve been fortunate to have a very strong senior management team, and I really value the dialogue between my different department heads to the point that sometimes I think my biggest weakness is that I listen too much. But you have to make decisions based on what your people out there are actually seeing, touching and feeling.” The element of personal interaction is something that Stephen is pleased to find extends beyond company walls. “Housing and development is such a huge industry, but it’s a close-knit group of people,” he says. “We know each other very well. Whether it’s trades, suppliers, developers or competitors, you end up becoming good friends and spending time together outside of the work environment.” In fact, when asked who he turns to for inspiration, Stephen gives a surprising answer. “If there’s a situation that you’re just not sure how to handle, chances are that somebody else has run into it before, and it’s nice to know that in this industry you can pick up the phone and talk to them about it. Even if it’s a competitor.”

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LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Leader of Tomorrow:

Andre Gagnon Company: LiftBoss Material Handling Group

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t was always Andre Gagnon’s dream to start his own company. That dream became a reality when he and a friend started LiftBoss, an equipment dealership specializing in fork lifts. The company started with four employees in a rented bay. Seven years later, the employees number 45, they’ve expanded into the Calgary market – and they own the building. “The market was good, and we just let ‘er go,” says Gagnon, describing today’s LiftBoss as a “one-stop shop with parts, rentals, sales, shop service and on-the-road service, not just for fork lifts, but for all kinds of heavy equipment.” That kind of rapid growth can present significant challenges. “Keeping everybody on the same page and then integrating new people is definitely one of the hardest struggles,” he says. It’s a battle he seems to be winning. “Technicians in Alberta are hard to keep, but our turnover is almost nil, I think because we don’t use the old philosophy that a technician is a mechanic in the back. We don’t put sales people on a pedestal. It’s important that we all work together as a team.” It’s those same team members who Andre credits as his inspiration. “When everyone is happy and things are growing and moving forward and a staff member comes to me and says, ‘I’m loving this, this is good. Can I do more?’ That keeps me going.” By his own admission, Andre has never been a ‘school guy’. “I know a lot of people wrote me off as a kid that would never accomplish anything, let alone go for a post-secondary education,” he says. So having the ability to give back to students at NAIT, where he sits on the board as a volunteer and donates equipment to the mechanical program for training, means a lot. “It’s a highlight for me. If I can give even one student confidence to continue, I’ll be happy.”

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LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Leader of Tomorrow:

T. Marshall Sadd Company: Lloyd Sadd Insurance Brokers Ltd.

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. Marshall Sadd describes himself as an introvert in an extrovert body. He was born shy, he says, but obviously overcame that aspect of his personality as he followed his grandfather and father into the family business, buying and becoming president of Lloyd Sadd Insurance Brokers at a mere 28 years old. Although the company had been a successful, if traditional, reactive fundamental insurance vendor under his father’s guidance, Marshall shifted the firm’s focus to that of unique consultative outsourced risk management, garnering 25 per cent and 35 per cent annual growth over his first five years. “Once I was in the business, I recognized the opportunity and really enjoyed building it.” Marshall enjoys helping others build on their opportunities as well. He founded the Canadian Brokers Network, where insurance principals can meet and talk about best practices, is the director of Intersure, an association of international Independent Insurance Brokers and Agents and was the first chair of the Support Network Foundation in Edmonton. Add to that Marshall’s involvement with the Stollery Children’s Hospital, his work as Fundraising Director of the Little Warriors Organization, his past presidency of the Edmonton Chapter of the Young Entrepreneurs Organization and dedication to the Young Presidents organization, the Next Gen initiative of the Mayor’s Task Force and the Jerry Forbes Centre for Community Spirit Fundraising Committee and you begin to get a picture of how important community involvement is for him. “I’m proud of the individuals in our business, the people we’ve attracted. But I’m especially proud of how our business supports Edmonton and Alberta-based organizations through money and through time,” he says. “It’s a big piece of our culture.”

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We know what it takes to be a leader. We work with a whole network of them every day. At Intact Insurance we work with a strong network of brokers across the country to provide property and casualty insurance to close to 3 million customers. Brokers like Marshall Sadd, who are leaders in our community and experts at what they do. As the largest insurance company in Canada, we’re proud that together with them, we’re able to provide the responsive service, comfort and continuity you deserve.

www.intactinsurance.com

HOME CAR BUSINESS

The BIP logo is a registered trademark of the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada (IBAC). All other trade-marks are property of Intact Financial Corporation used under license. © 2013, Intact Insurance Company.


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LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Leader of Tomorrow:

Dan Brazinha Company: Look Homes Master Builder

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aniel Brazinha grew up in a residential home building household. “My dad, being an old school European, worked a ton. So I had the, I don’t know if it was a pleasure or not, but the privilege of being on job sites with a hammer in my hand at a very young age. I learned a lot, although at the time I maybe didn’t realize it,” says Brazinha. One of the most important things he learned was the value of a strong work ethic. “My parents were able to retire in their early fifties, and for people who came to this country with no language and no money, that’s pretty inspirational.” As president of Look Homes Master Builder Inc., there’s no question that what he does now is pure pleasure. “You know what? I don’t have a job,” he says. “I don’t come to work. I love what I do, and I love the people. Edmonton’s been so good to me and my family, and it’s blessed me with the opportunity to give back.” And give back he does. Operation Christmas Child, the Parade of Heroes, Revving Up for Kids and Building Cures for Kids are just some of the organizations the company has supported and continues to support over the years. The common thread of children in need is woven through all of these charities. In fact, when asked what inspires him from day to day, Daniel doesn’t hesitate to answer. ”When I look at the kids with cancer that we deal with, some of them are three, five, 10 years old. They’ve never done anything to anybody and they’ve got this disease that they’re fighting through. They’ve got this mental fortitude that’s unbelievable, you know? They’ve gone through more in their life and endured more in their life. Those kids, and their families, really have been a big inspiration for me.”

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LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Leader of Tomorrow:

Stephen Petasky Company: The Luxus Group

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magine having scores of beautiful vacation homes in exotic locations around the world. For many, Stephen Petasky, founder and president of The Luxus Group, has found a way to make this dream a reality. “The simplest way to understand our model is to imagine four guys who buy a place in Maui together. Extrapolate that to 200 investors with 30 properties worldwide and you get a pretty good picture of how Luxus works,” he says. If this sounds like time sharing, it’s not. “Just like those four guys in Maui, you own the properties, not the time, and can come and go to any one of them more or less as you please. This isn’t about two weeks a year. The properties are vacant 50 per cent of the time.” At a minimum six figures, membership isn’t cheap, but neither are the properties, valued at over $1 million each - in a depressed global market. This was not an easy concept to get off the ground. “We went to our closest friends and families. It took a lot of trust and belief in what we were doing, but they were the start and we’ve grown by 30-50 investors per year.” Much of Luxus’ success can be credited to Stephen’s unique management style. “I don’t believe in taking employees on the entrepreneurial ride, working harder and making less when things are slow.” Instead, he sets goals. If the team meets them, they earn bonuses. “It’s not tied to profits. Those are for me to worry about.” It can’t be all work and no play. The company continually gives credits for things like Spanish, photography or yoga classes, Costa Rican zip line adventures or Hawaiian helicopter tours. “If our employees are passionate about coming to work, I know we’re going to have a successful company. If you have that and you have a good concept, the rest is going to fall into line beautifully.” Platinum Partner

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LEADERS OF TOMORROW

Leader of Tomorrow:

Sean Rayner Company: Vets Sheet Metal

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ean Rayner has been an entrepreneur for as long as he can remember. You could say it’s in his blood. “When your family owns a business, whether they want you to or not, you learn about it at a very young age,” he says. “When your dad has to go to work on the weekend, you go with him and drive the fork lift or sweep the shop, and you learn how it’s done.” That business was Vets Sheet Metal, started not by his father or his grandfather, but by his great grandfather, in 1921. “He was a World War I veteran, as were most of the people there. That’s where the name came from.” Whether entrepreneurial blood ran through his veins or not, taking over the company reigns from his father at 22 years of age posed particular challenges for Sean. “People had been working there literally longer than I’d been alive,” he says but with an even hand on the tiller and a concurrent upturn in the economy, Sean sailed ahead to triple company revenues in just three years. Then doubled them again. The secret to success for Sean is to “keep making decisions, keep moving forward. Put one foot in front of the other. You can always make another decision if it was the wrong one.” To continue in the family business is one decision he’s especially happy that he made. “The most important thing to remember is to enjoy what you’re doing,” he says, “because life is fleeting.” To celebrate the company’s 90th year, Vets donated $80,000 in labour and raised $10,000 more in donations to help build Valour Place, a rehabilitation facility for service men and women. Sean also took that opportunity to unveil three permanent Alberta Sheet Metal Trade Scholarships. They’re his way of honouring the generations that came before him.

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ZAHRA AL-HARAZI FOUNDRY COMMUNICATIONS, CALGARY | CEO, CREATIVE DIRECTOR AND GO-GETTER.

LEADERS LIKE ZAHRA ARE DRIVING ALBERTA FORWARD. BUCKLE UP.

MEET ZAHRA. You could say she’s a whirlwind of bravada and confidence that goes from zero to 150 in less time it takes to say her name. At Foundry Communications, Zahra has a passion for strategy that proves loving what you do makes you great at what you do. Her unstoppable determination to succeed contributes to the 9% increase of women in business each year in Alberta. Every story has a destination, and ATB is proud to be part of Zahra’s journey.

Watch the Business Roadtrips at atb.com/ZahraGrowsAlberta @atbbusiness

BUSINESS ACCOUNTS І CASH FLOW І FINANCING І KNOW-HOW Statistics Canada helped us with our facts. Visit atb.com/wegrowalberta for more information. ™ Trademarks of Alberta Treasury Branches.


Your vision got You this far.

Where do you go from here? The mark of a true leader is the ability to embrace today’s challenges head on while uncovering opportunities to shape a successful tomorrow. The mark of a visionary, however, is defined by a leader’s ability to capitalize on those opportunities while effectively using their available resources to do so. Our national scope and local focus positions leading organizations – and the visionaries behind them – for success, no matter where business takes you. MNP proudly congratulates the 2013 Leaders of Tomorrow. We celebrate your achievements and anticipate the positive impact you’ll have on our business community. Contact James gillespie, Ca at 780.453.5380 or james.gillespie@mnp.ca.

Profile for Business in Edmonton Magazine

2013 Leaders of Tomorrow - Edmonton  

Leaders of Tomorrow is a program that recognizes people in the business community who have contributed to making Edmonton the great city tha...

2013 Leaders of Tomorrow - Edmonton  

Leaders of Tomorrow is a program that recognizes people in the business community who have contributed to making Edmonton the great city tha...

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