Page 1

Making her mark TECHOPIA PAGES 14-15


Inside Ottawa’s galas, fundraisers and networking events

Tamarack Homes executive Michelle Taggart on a mission to build a greener Ottawa > PAGE 3

July 2, 2018 Vol. 21, NO. 18 PAGES 10-12

For daily business news visit

Pivot paying off A shift in focus from software defined networks to cybersecurity has put Corsa Technology on a path to accelerated growth, its CEO says. > PAGE 5

Always a good sport

AtomicX CEO Dan Cummins says nobody has figured out how to get the most out of chatbots yet, but he hopes his firm will do just that. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON

Retired OSEG boss Bernie Ashe leaving behind an ‘incredible legacy’ after five years at the helm of Ottawa sports organization, friends and family say.

Chatbots worth talking about

> PAGE 13

Ottawa company touts system that changes bot-user interaction from an ‘afterthought’ to a ‘front-and-centre experience’ > PAGE 14

Startup AtomicX says its new tech is set to change the conversation when it comes to AI

Planning an adrenalinefilled summer? Expert weighs in on how to manage risks without sacrificing fun

See page 4


The phase one families, who moved into their new homes on July 1. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON

Habitat for Humanity welcomes first four families into Orléans homes Through community support, the east-end development will eventually grow to house 16 families

MONDAY, JULY 2, 2018




hen Annie first learned she had been chosen to become a Habitat for Humanity homeowner, she was in the car taking her son, Hunter, to daycare. It quickly turned into one of the most emotional rides of her life. “I remember just crying and crying,” recalls Annie. The single mother applied to Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa’s (Habitat GO) program slightly more than a year ago, despite not expecting much to come of it. “I never thought I’d be a homeowner,” she says. Fast-forward to 2018, however, and 34-year-old Annie and Hunter, five, have just moved into their new house at Leacross Landing in Orléans. As a Habitat GO homeowner, Annie received a long-term, interest-free mortgage on her home, which was built by teams of dedicated volunteers. Building materials were both donated by and purchased through the support

of corporate sponsors. Homeowners are also asked to contribute 500 hours of sweat equity back into the organization, whether through volunteering on the build site for their own home or by working in the Habitat GO ReStore. For singleparent households such as Annie’s, families are asked to contribute 350 hours. A FAMILY HOME Annie is proudly Inuit, having been born and raised in Pangnirtung, a small community on Nunavut’s Baffin Island. She originally moved to Ottawa 10 years ago to attend college, and has spent her time since divided between the nation’s capital and her home territory. The decision to settle in Ottawa came when Hunter was born. As a member of Ottawa’s 4,000-strong Inuit community, Annie has built her career around educating the public on Indigenous culture. She currently works with Canada World


Youth as the organization’s director of Indigenous programming. Since finding out her family was selected, Annie has busied herself thrift shopping for furnishings, even making some purchases at Habitat GO’s own ReStore. “We’ve been having a lot of fun all year choosing stuff for our house,” says Annie. Hunter, who turned five on the family’s July 1 move-in day, particularly enjoyed picking out items for his own bedroom. Among them are posters depicting different species of dinosaurs and bugs, and a collection of kids’ books in the Inuktitut language.

KEY CEREMONY In recognition of the many hands that go into these homes, Habitat GO hosts a key ceremony prior to each cohort of families moving in. Four families, including Annie and Hunter, received homes in the first phase of the Leacross Landing development. Phase two will see four more families moved into the east-end townhouse community, with the final plans allowing room for a total of 16 families. At the June 14 ceremony, Mayor Jim Watson spoke alongside a number of other local dignitaries. Sponsors, including Roslyn Bern from development sponsor the Leacross Foundation, had an opportunity to meet the families and present them with the keys to their new homes. “It gives a feeling of connection to the cause,” says Alexis Ashworth, Habitat GO’s CEO. Ashworth herself made the decision to get involved with Habitat for Humanity after attending a key ceremony years ago in Nova Scotia. She explains that while many sponsors take part in Build Days and have the opportunity to meet families there, the key ceremonies serve as a tangible example of the work that goes into erecting a Habitat GO home. The ceremonies are attended by Habitat GO families, volunteers, sponsors, employees and community members. “It’s a way to celebrate the culmination of all of those efforts,” says Ashworth. And as Annie and Hunter settle into their new home, a new grouping of families is preparing to start their journey to homeownership with Habitat GO. Last month’s key ceremony ended with a child from a phase one family passing a ceremonial shovel to a child who will move into a new home in phase two – a symbolic gesture underscoring the collective effort that goes into building stronger communities.

WONDERING HOW YOUR COMPANY CAN GET INVOLVED? Habitat GO is always looking for corporate teams that want to make a tangible impact with their philanthropic efforts. Help out on a build site raising a wall or laying a floor, and meet a Habitat GO family in the process. To learn more, head to

PROFILE “My favourite part about my work is walking through a neighbourhood that we built and seeing kids on their bikes, people in their gardens, healthy trees on front lawns of beautiful homes, and knowing that we started with an empty field, a vision and some hand sketches.”– MICHELLE TAGGART, DIRECTOR OF PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT AT TAMARACK HOMES

‘I want to be a strong role model for my daughters’ A member of one of the city’s preeminent business families, Tamarack’s Michelle Taggart is striving to build a greener Ottawa – one house at a time business: Taggart Group of Companies. You’d have to be living under a bulldozer to never have heard of ost people want to make a the Taggarts, their philanthropic difference in the world but aren’t contributions to this city or the range always sure where to start. For of land development work they do in Michelle Taggart, her eye-opening eastern Ontario, from infrastructure, moment came while she was a first-year homebuilding and commercial university student and environmental development to property management activist protesting outside the 3rd Summit and general contracting. of the Americas in 2001. “The best and most obvious way for She watched from the rowdy crowd me to make a difference was to work while the security gates opened long for the company, and to help my family enough to permit entry for the cars take it in new directions and make it carrying the leaders and influencers. more green,” says Taggart, 37, during “I felt kind of powerless out there,” an interview at Cardinal Creek Village Taggart recalls of that day in Quebec in Orléans, where subsidiary company City. “I decided that if I wanted to make a Tamarack Homes is developing a difference, I would have to be in the room 3,000-residence, energy star-equipped where the decisions were being made.” community that uses less energy due to She came up with a plan. She improvements in components such as completed her business degree at windows and insulation. Dalhousie and went on to earn her The new development gets its master’s in urban planning at Queen’s inspiration from the area’s history as a University. She worked for several years mill site. It features old-fashioned light in Toronto with a global urban design posts and fencing, pathways and parks firm before returning to her hometown and will eventually include a main street in 2010 to join her family’s well-regarded with stores. BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS


Green initiatives, such as building netzero homes that produce as much energy as they consume, are a priority for the Taggarts. “We love building homes for people. My favourite part about my work is walking through a neighbourhood that we built and seeing kids on their bikes, people in their gardens, healthy trees on front lawns of beautiful homes, and knowing that we started with an empty field, a vision and some hand sketches,” says Taggart, who joined the company as a planner but is now responsible for land development, planning approvals and project management.

CLIMBED MT. KILIMANJARO Taggart likes trash talk ​– of the literal kind. She’s been working for years with her father Ian and cousin Jeff Parkes to get a recycling plant built in the rural east end on Boundary Road. It has received approval from the province and the city. The new facility will recycle three to four times more commercial waste than the current provincial average of only 13 per cent. Taggart – who spent her honeymoon climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro – is driven. She is working toward partnership in the Taggart Group. Continued on page 17









2018-05-14 2:35 PM dd 1


Download the full report at

? ting Ottawa businesses g minimum wage affec PLUS: How is the risin



CONFIDENCE among Ottawa’s technology companies is at an ALL TIME HIGH

MONDAY, JULY 2, 2018

om on Ec k ’s loo wa ut ta O


ons the attitudes, percepti Exclusive insights into business leaders and plans of Ottawa’s


Planning an adrenaline-filled summer? Read this first Taking risks is part of life. Here’s an expert’s advice on how to manage those risks – while not sacrificing fun

MONDAY, JULY 2, 2018




hink back to the last time you went ziplining, white-water rafting or visited a water park. Before you strapped on a life jacket, soared through the skies or plunged into the pool, you were likely given a waiver to sign. In most cases, it’s a step that’s almost immediately forgotten amid a fun and adrenaline-filled day. Many people dismiss them thinking our courts would never enforce them. But a review of the case law shows that they are often enforced and stand as a further risk you cannot ignore. For a minority of people who suffer serious, life-altering injuries while participating in high-risk activities, the wording of those waivers can have huge, lifelong implications. In his work as a personal injury lawyer, Peter Cronyn – a partner at Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP – has seen the consequences first-hand. “You can draw a line through someone’s life – the before and after,” he says. As he helps clients who have been seriously hurt seek legal remedies that will help them put the pieces of their lives back together, Cronyn says the whole case can turn based on the waiver signed before an accident took place. Waivers are contracts and the terms are always non-negotiable. Your choice is simple: sign or don’t participate. Most people, having arrived at an aerial park, rafting

launch point or other activity base are unlikely to turn around and head home because they don’t like the language in a waiver. But that doesn’t mean participants can’t gain a better understanding of what they’re signing – or take additional steps to stay safe. “These activities offer tremendous fun and excitement. I don’t want to discourage people from doing them,” says Cronyn. “But they are also risky, so go in with your eyes open and do everything in your power to prepare yourself.”

waiver carry, by definition, some element of risk, the choice to take part should ultimately come down to a realistic assessment of the potential risks and proper preparation on the part of the participant.

RESPONSIBILITY Almost everyone has signed a waiver, be it before the start of a beer league softball season or prior to leaping off a bungee jumping platform. But despite the ubiquity of such forms, few understand the significance behind them. Though waivers vary in length and complexity, most contain three integral components: •

Outline of risks associated with the activity. This section can get specific, and typically includes a line that highlights participants assume risks “up to and including death.”

Hold harmless clause. This is the meat of a waiver, where an operator has participants sign away their right to seek damages in the event of an accident. In most waivers, Cronyn explains that there is typically also a clause that prevents the signatory’s family from filing a lawsuit in the event that they are killed.

PROTECTING YOURSELF A cursory web search will reveal a lot about an activity operator, including online reviews, news stories about any past incidents and an outline of the potential risks involved. Many high-risk activities have their own governing body that offers safety training, certification and inspections. Scuba divers, for example, are licensed by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). When selecting an operator for your next adventure, Cronyn recommends seeking out a company with an affiliation to a governing body when possible. They will be more apt to have properly certified guides and well-maintained equipment. Most companies will also provide their waiver ahead of time or online for participants to review. Though activities that require a

Operator’s negligence clause. Most waivers also include a clause absolving the operator from liability even if an accident was directly caused by their negligence.

Many people would understandably assume that even if they signed a waiver, an activity operator would still be liable for an incident if they were found to be negligent. However, that’s not always the case. In a 2012 British Columbia ruling, the court upheld a waiver after two women were seriously injured while ziplining, despite the accident they were involved in having been the operator’s fault. The pair were at Cougar Mountain Adventures in Whistler. One of the women went down the zipline but got stuck part way, out of the line of sight of the top of the ride. Rather than waiting for an all-clear from the guide at the bottom, the employee at the top of the line sent the next rider down. She crashed into the stopped rider, and both were seriously hurt. The court found that since both women had been warned of the dangers of the activity and had signed a waiver before taking part, they had waived their rights to seek damages. The case – and others like it – implicitly underscores the responsibility of individuals to evaluate the potential risks of participating in any activity. “You are your own protector,” says Cronyn. “I would rather you be safe than having to see me.” To learn more about Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP’s personal injury team, head to

TECHNOLOGY “It would be like Checkpoint Charlie, but you didn’t even know you went through Checkpoint Charlie.” – CORSA TECHNOLOGY CO-FOUNDER CAROLYN RAAB

INVISIBLE TO HACKERS Dubbed Red Armor, it can be installed anywhere in a server network. Shaped much like a pizza box, the device can be programmed to react to potential threats detected by security software in a number of ways, halting the flow of traffic completely, redirecting it or slowing it down so the data can be analyzed to see whether it’s harmful and how it can be Corsa Technology co-founder Bruce Gregory says pivoting to cybersecurity has put his firm on the fast track to growth. FILE PHOTO neutralized. Company officials say only authorized users are aware of Red Armor’s presence, rendering it effectively “invisible” to is on pace to become cash-flow positive potential hackers. within the next 18 months. “It would be like Checkpoint Charlie, “That’s really what the funding is about but you didn’t even know you went is to help get us there,” Gregory says. through Checkpoint Charlie,” says Corsa “We’re in a full-on press in bringing on co-founder and vice-president of product sales and marketing talent and growing management Carolyn Raab, likening the business side.” Red Armor to the famous crossing point As an SDN firm, Corsa’s annual between East and West Berlin. revenues were in the “single-digit “We sit on any line in any network, millions,” the CEO notes. But he thinks and we are able to offer up a point in the those numbers will jump significantly network where the network operator and now that the company has diversified the security team together can control, into cybersecurity, a sector with massive watch, monitor, take action on any flow upside. of traffic.” Canadian Companies to Watch in 2015, “It gives us the ability to accelerate on The firm currently has 28 customers BY DAVID SALI along with other notable Ottawa success the business side,” Gregory says. “The across all its product lines, about 85 per stories Klipfolio and You.i TV. time to significant revenue in that market cent of them in the United States and fter making a name for itself in But since the beginning of last year, is much (faster).” Europe. Corsa has a small sales team an obscure field of networking Corsa has shifted its focus. The firm has Security products accounted for about based in the Washington, D.C., area, technology, a Kanata firm is been investing heavily in a new series 60 per cent of Corsa’s revenues in the but most of its 30 or so employees are hoping a pivot to a higher-profile space of products designed to help thwart latest quarter, he says, the first period in based here in Ottawa – where the calibre and millions of dollars in new funding will cyber attacks, and in late June, it closed which the firm generated any significant of engineering talent, Gregory says, is help take it to the next level. a Series-C round of new equity financing sales from its new product line. second to none. Corsa Technology was founded worth more than $9 million. Gregory says he expects that share to Competition for such highly skilled in 2013 to produce hardware used in Investors in the latest round included rise as more and more organizations seek workers is intense, he adds, but is still programmable internet networks called Ottawa’s Celtic House Venture Partners, cutting-edge defences against increasingly much more manageable than in many software defined networks (SDN). The BDC Ventures and Toronto-based sophisticated forms of cyber-sabotage other tech hubs. company quickly became a leader in the Roadmap Capital, all of which contributed such as denial-of-service attacks, in which “The problem you have trying to grow production of data planes –​ platforms to previous rounds, as well as a number of hackers bombard networks with a flood a company like this in Silicon Valley, for for directing the flow of traffic on the private individuals. of superfluous requests in an attempt to example, is just the constant churn,” he internet. Corsa co-founder and CEO Bruce overload systems and shut them down. explains. “The skillsets that we have in In its first three years, Corsa landed Gregory says the latest funding will Gregory says there’s a raft of Ottawa, they’re still fairly unique as well – more than $20 million in venture capital help his firm deepen its talent pool and sophisticated cybersecurity software on that combination of people that are very investment and gained a loyal base of continue refining its new suite of security the market that can detect all kinds of good at data communications, at chip customers, mostly in the United States offerings. He says the latest quarter potential threats but has no idea what to design, at system design, the software to and Europe. The company’s early promise that ended June 30 was the best in the do about them. That’s where Corsa’s new run those systems. Ottawa is one of the secured it a spot on Deloitte’s list of company’s five-year history, adding Corsa hardware comes in. strongest centres in the world for that.”

Corsa feeling secure about its future

Fresh off $9M injection of venture capital, Kanata tech hardware firm says move into cybersecurity space will be springboard to new growth


MONDAY, JULY 2, 2018


REAL ESTATE Right at home in his new surroundings Jason Burggraaf, the incoming executive director of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association, brings a strong foundation of passion and experience to the job BY DAVID SALI


MONDAY, JULY 2, 2018

ason Burggraaf is no stranger to the homebuilding industry. The 39-year-old Newfoundland native, who came to Ottawa to study political science at Carleton University, spent nearly 15 years in a variety of roles at the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, culminating in a five-year stint as the organization’s government relations and policy adviser. In late May, Burggraaf took over as the executive director of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association after the group’s longtime leader, John Herbert, retired. OBJ recently spoke with Burggraaf about the challenges he faces in his new role, what his top priorities will be and why he thinks Ottawa’s residential real estate sector is on solid ground. What follows is an edited transcript of that conversation.



OBJ: So how did someone who came to Ottawa to study politics end up working for homebuilding industry associations? JB: I did come to Ottawa strictly for the politics, really. And then as I kind of jumped into it, then I really kind of became (caught up in) the passion of it overall –​​ especially once I became the assistant to the chief operating officer (at the Canadian Home Builders’ Association) and got a chance to really kind of get my feet wet, because in that position, you basically have your fingers in every pie. Every little thing that’s being done, you know about. That’s really kind of when I developed the passion for, if not homebuilding, at least representing the interests of homebuilding. Really, what I’ve come to discover is it’s not even really representing homebuilders. A lot of it is representing homebuyers and potential homebuyers who don’t really have a very co-ordinated voice of their own. You’re only a potential homebuyer for such a short amount of time in your life. And once you become a homeowner, even if you buy another house down the road, you’re in a very different position overall. A big focus

Jason Burggraaf is the new executive director of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON

of the association overall is kind of trying to look at those first-time buyers and ensuring that they get the chance to fulfil their dream. OBJ: How would you characterize your role at the GOHBA? JB: It’s really about what municipal issues are there that inhibit people from getting into homes and living in the kind of communities that are best for them – the ones that kind of achieve that work-lifeplay balance. Not everyone wants to live downtown, but not everyone wants to live out in Barrhaven either. There’s got to be a good mix of homes of different types. Some want to live in medium- to highrises and close to transit, and others want a bit of green space for themselves. The city and the industry have to kind of come together and deliver that to Ottawa in a responsible manner. OBJ: What are your top priorities right now? JB: On the association side, right now I’m just working on the value of membership and that proposition of value, ensuring that the experience that members have right now is a good one and the association is delivering what they want. There are a number of different constituencies; there are homebuilders, but there are also renovators, and then there’s contractors, suppliers, associates – people who are providing all the

services to those builders and renovators. And each of those individual groups come on for a different reason, and I feel we have a role to support all of them. Actually, just as you called what I was doing was our first member survey in well over a decade. Part of that is to reach out and kind of get a better idea of how members perceive what they’re getting out of the association, depending on what group they’re coming from, and then what we can do to enhance it.

JASON BURGGRAAF’S PATH TO GOHBA June 2013-May 2018 Government relations and policy adviser, Canadian Home Builders’ Association August 2004-June 2013 Executive assistant to the chief operating officer, Canadian Home Builders’ Association March 2003-August 2004 Secretary to the national coordinators for education and training and membership services, Canadian Home Builders’ Association

OBJ: Your association has about 400 members in variety of fields. Have you experienced any challenges trying to cater to such a diverse membership? JB: Not so far. I think the vast majority of the members, especially the ones providing business-to-business services, they understand the main thrust. The association is dealing with development issues and applications and what have you. They see it as, if builders have a good business, then they’ll have a good business too. I don’t perceive any real issue in that way. OBJ: What’s your take on what impact the new federal mortgage rules – for example, the financial “stress test” – have had on the local homebuilding industry? JB: You can see it in sales in some of the bigger (cities) – you know, in Toronto and Vancouver, you can see the impact in terms of the amount of activity that’s gone down. Ottawa’s a bit isolated in terms of the housing market – it’s kind of its own bubble in terms of being a heavy government town and sort of being a bit separated physically from any other competing city of about the same size. The business environment here is pretty stable overall, which is why you haven’t seen house prices climb to unbelievable heights as they have in some other big cities. Continued on page 9

The Ottawa Real Estate Show is a new online broadcast dedicated to commercial property in Canada’s capital. Watch the show at The Ottawa Real Estate Show is sponsored by Mann Lawyers and CBRE Ottawa.

KRP Properties eyeing new build ‘sooner than later’


ith Kanata office vacancy rates approaching a 10-year low, one of the west end’s largest landlords says it’s getting close to kicking off construction of a new 150,000-square-foot building. “There’s a lot of interest and demand out there” among tenants, KRP Properties leasing director Linda Sprung said on the Ottawa Real Estate Show. “We’re hoping we can break ground sooner than later.” KRP Properties currently has some 3.2 million square feet of space across more than 35 buildings on either side of March Road in Kanata. Its next building would likely be on Terry Fox Drive, where the firm owns development land adjacent to the Stealth Building, home to Huawei, March Networks and other tenants. Shawn Hamilton, managing director of

CBRE, a real estate services firm and show sponsor, said he expects to see construction of a new Kanata office property start within the next 18 months and be followed by other developers launching additional projects. “We’ve got the largest group of 20,000-square-foot-and-up tenants (in Kanata),” he said. “It doesn’t take many of them to kick off a building.” The Kanata office market has undergone a significant shift in a relatively short time. Less than five years ago, landlords were grappling with a vacancy rate of 16 per cent. Today, buoyed by a resurgent tech sector, the rate is in single digits for the first time since before the 2008 financial crisis. Sprung, who is marking her 20th year at KRP Properties, said the market is underpinned by much stronger fundamentals than in other boom periods.

André Martin

is a partner at Mann Lawyers and head of the firm’s business law group

KRP Properties is close to constructing a new building in Kanata. PHOTO BY FAN SONG

She recalled sitting across a table from a venture capital group in the 1990s that was interested in leasing an entire building. When asked for some form of security, they cut a $1-million cheque on the spot, but ultimately never occupied a third of the space.

Today’s tenants, she said, are much more conscious of their budgets. “That’s why you sometimes have hightech companies that refuse to lock in for longer than a three-year period, because it’s just too volatile,” she said. – Peter Kovessy


Hear from the experts in the latest episode of the Ottawa Real Estate Show:



MONDAY, JULY 2, 2018

Avoid these common traps and pitfalls

BOOK REVIEW rose and fell at exponential rates and long flatlands in the middle.


Bold moves set stage for corporate success, authors argue Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick: People, Probabilities and Big Moves to Beat The Odds by Chris Bradley, Martin Hirt and Sven Smit. Wiley and Sons, 2018.

MONDAY, JULY 2, 2018




s a longtime professor of business strategy, I have bookshelves full of volumes offering the secrets of corporate success. These books are usually full of tools, templates, best practices and cases of how successful companies have achieved market dominance. This, however, is not a traditional strategy book. Rather than cases, the authors – all partners at international management consultancy McKinsey – provide an extensive and rigorous empirical analysis of what drives corporate performance. Overall, the book makes two useful contributions to the strategy literature. First, it pulls back the veil on what the authors call the social side of strategy. Anyone who has been through a strategy development process has seen the social dynamics at play. Careers, resources, bonuses and egos are on the line. Managers often act in their own best interest. Compromises are made and difficult choices avoided. The result is often a lack of strategic

focus, minimizing the likelihood of bold strategies and big moves. In addition, the traditional strategy process is usually dominated by an internal focus, with companies concentrating on data from their own industry, comparisons with last year’s performance, their immediate competitors, etc. To address both of these issues, the authors contend that strategy is best served by an outside view which takes into account the experiences of thousands of other companies in a range of industries. They provide this outside view by analyzing 15 years of publically available data on 2,393 of the world’s largest companies. In doing this, they discovered a number of factors that accounted for superior corporate performance. Using economic profit – the total profit after the cost of capital is subtracted – as the measure of competitive success, they plotted the average economic profit of each company over the period. This process identified three discrete groups of companies: a bottom quintile suffering substantial economic losses, a middle group comprising 60 per cent of the companies and a top 20 per cent that captured most of the economic value. It resulted in a “power curve” with tails that

In analyzing the data, the authors found that real upward mobility on the curve was relatively rare. Only eight per cent of companies in this sample were able to jump from the middle to the top tier over a 10-year period. What differentiates successful companies from the pack in the middle? First, industry matters. Almost 50 per cent of a company’s position on the curve related to its industry. It is better to be an average company in a great industry than a great company in an average industry. Beyond this, the authors also found a number of attributes and actions that increased the odds of upward mobility. Their analysis identified 10 performance levers that were fundamental to achieving corporate success. These were divided into three categories: endowments, trends and moves. Endowments are a company’s starting position and include its revenue size, debt levels and past investments in R&D. Trends include the direction its industry is headed and its exposure to growing markets. It is a company’s moves, however – what it does with its endowment and how it responds to trends – that were found to make the real difference. Indeed, big moves were the key to moving from the middle to the top tier. Big moves were even found to cancel out the impact of a poor inheritance. The research found that five big moves, pursued consistently, were the key to outstanding corporate performance: programmatic mergers and acquisitions, the dynamic reallocation of resources, strong capital expenditures, a strong productivity program and investments in differentiation. Big moves were also found to be most effective when combined. For companies in the middle, the more big moves, the greater the impact. Moves also needed to be big enough to make a difference. To really have an impact on your competitive position, they have to be substantially bigger than the moves other companies are making. There is a lot to digest in this book. While understanding that strategy is not a purely scientific process, the book provides some interesting and data-driven insights into what it takes to achieve superior corporate performance. It also provides some useful guidance about how the results of this analysis can inform your strategy process and mitigate some of its social dynamics.

Great River Media 250 City Centre Ave., Suite 500 Ottawa, Ontario, K1R 6K7 TELEPHONE Phone: 613-238-1818 Sales Fax: 613-248-4564 News Fax: No faxes, email PUBLISHER Michael Curran, 238-1818 ext. 228 CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER Terry Tyo, 238-1818 ext. 268 EDITOR, PRINT CONTENT David Sali, 238-1818 ext. 269 REPORTER Craig Lord, 238-1818 ext. 285 HEAD OF CONTENT Peter Kovessy, 238-1818 ext. 251 CONTENT CREATOR & CAMPAIGN MANAGER Jacquie Surges, 238-1818 ext. 222 ADVERTISING SALES General Inquiries, 238-1818 ext. 286 Wendy Baily, 238-1818 ext. 244 Victoria Stewart, 238-1818 ext. 226 CREATIVE DIRECTOR Tanya Connolly-Holmes, 238-1818 ext. 253 ART DEPARTMENT Regan Van Dusen, 238-1818 ext. 254 Celine Paquette, 238-1818 ext. 252 FINANCE Jackie Whalen, 238-1818 ext. 250 PRINTED BY Transcontinental Qualimax 130 Adrien-Robert, Parc Industriel Richelieu Gatineau, QC J8Y 3S2 NEWS RELEASES Please e-mail to LETTERS TO THE EDITOR We welcome opinions about any material published in the Ottawa Business Journal or issues of interest to local businesspeople. Only letters with the writer’s full name, address and telephone number will be considered for publication. Addresses and phone numbers will not be published, but they might be used to verify authenticity. Letters can be e-mailed to

Ottawa Business Journal is published by


Micheál Kelly is dean of the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo and the former dean of the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management.

All content of Ottawa Business Journal is copyright 2018. Great River Media Inc. and may not be reproduced in any form without permission of the publisher. Publisher’s Liability for error: The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for other errors or omissions in connection with any advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue or the refund of monies paid for the advertisement. A guaranteed minimum of 10,000 copies are printed and distributed.

Continued from page 6 I think also what’s contributed to the steadiness of the housing market here is we’re still producing a lot of ground-oriented homes, not necessarily single-family, but semi-detached townhomes, stacked townhomes – kind of the things that survey after survey of homebuyers have said that’s the kind of housing (buyers) want to live in. Overall, in Ottawa we’ve got a nice mix. There are some highrises, but there’s still a lot of lowrises. If you look at other big centres – especially, say, Toronto and Vancouver – the vast majority of those are highrises now, which is why you see such competition and price escalation for the lowrise stuff because, frankly, that’s where people want to live. Right now, Ottawa is still kind of experiencing a slight uptick in price for sure versus other parts of the country. OBJ: The condo boom of a few years back has cooled off, and now there’s been a shift in the last year or so towards rental construction. Do you see that trend continuing for a while? JB: Rental is an interesting case. Part of the reason why rental had sort of dried up – not just in Ottawa, but really across the country – a decade ago was the financing structure wasn’t conducive (to investment) anymore. The vast majority of people who build those highrises aren’t the ones who own and operate them after the fact. So much of that investment money in terms of those owner-operators had gone into commercial properties instead, like you see with REITs and what have you. Eventually, what we saw a couple of years ago is that commercial market was essentially tapped out, and REITs started to move into rentals. Rental provides exactly the nice investment and continual seven, 10 per cent return year over year for them. So that’s exactly the type of setup that they want. So REITs came back into rental in a big way, and you’ve seen that in Ottawa now. OBJ: Do you see a bounceback coming in the condo market any time soon? JB: If there is, it will be all driven by transitoriented development. What we’re seeing is those highrises being built around transit

corridors and around (LRT) stations. At Blair, there will be a couple of towers around that train station. That’s where the heaviest development and the heaviest density really should be. That helps ensure ridership for the train so that transit is also equally viable. They feed off each other.



• Masonry Repairs • Waterproofing 3717 ST. JOSEPH BLVD, ORLEANS, ON, K4A 0Z7 TEL: 613-837-0111 FAX: 613-837-6724 • Caulking • Coatings • Concrete Repairs

OBJ: So what are the issues keeping you up at night these days? JB: (Laughs.) I don’t know if I’d put it quite that way, but some of the long-standing issues are always delays in the (municipal) development process and applications approvals. Timelines tend to be stretching out. Everything seems to be taking longer. Part of that is there’s sort of a lack of benchmarking (in Ottawa) compared to other municipalities. There’s no kind of idea of what is the ideal timeline to get a site approval done, what is the timeline then to subdivide the lots and that kind of thing. When you’re looking at regulations, they tend to just kind of pile on as opposed to looking at what the impact is on the timeframe or the cost. While all those individual regulations are certainly (created) with good intent, all of them overall add to the red tape burden that takes (housing projects) to get to completion and therefore adds to the costs.


3717 St. Joseph Blvd, Orleans, ON, K1C 1T1 Tel: 613-837-0111 Fax: 613-837-6724

OBJ: What’s your sense right now of where the homebuilding industry is headed in Ottawa? JB: It’s pretty good. Ottawa had its best year in terms of housing starts last year. It’s not just about housing either – spending on renovation has outpaced (spending on) housing for close to a decade now. It might not hit 7,400 starts or whatever it was last year, but I think we’ll still trend above the long-term average here in the region, and renovation is only going to continue on. When you look at people getting older and needing accommodative renovations, the push on for energy efficiency from the various levels of government, renovations have lots of growth potential yet. To get more of Jason Burggraaf ’s thoughts on real estate and housing in Ottawa, check out


We’re Back

at GreyHawk Golf Course! Double-shotgun tournament

Don’t miss the first joint event of Ottawa’s newly formed Chamber of Commerce, which merges the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce and the West Ottawa Board of Trade! Registration Fees:

When: Tuesday, August 28, 2018 12:30 p.m. - Shotgun Start Location: GreyHawk Golf Club 4999 Boundary Road, Cumberland, ON

Individual Players Ottawa Chamber Member: $200 + HST Non-Member: $225 + HST

Foursome Ottawa Chamber Member: $800 + HST Non-Member: $900 + HST

REGISTER TODAY @ Questions? e-mail, or call, 613-236-7029 ext. 136

• BBQ lunch • Networking activities • Delicious dinner • Fun contests & great prizes Presented by:


Media Sponsors:

Learn about a valuable resource to help get you started Kyle Stout


associate lawyer

MONDAY, JULY 2, 2018

Opening a restaurant in Ottawa?


Stories and photos by Caroline Phillips


This year’s group of Forty Under 40 winners — which, for the first time, featured more women than men — proudly gathers at the Hilton Lac Leamy on June 15.


Fab 40: Young business leaders feted at Forty Under 40 gala All the long hours, stress and sacrifices that go into building a business or career finally seemed worth it for the 40 young entrepreneurs and professionals honoured at a business awards dinner held late last month at the Hilton Lac Leamy. The 21st annual Forty Under 40 gala drew a particularly large crowd of 675 to this year’s event, organized by OBJ and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce to recognize some of our city’s young bright talent. The winners made their grand entrance into the ballroom, getting their swagger on to AC/DC’s Thunderstruck. They walked single file from the stage to their seats, a few of them with cocktail drinks still in hand. Emceeing the awards dinner were CTV

Ottawa News anchor Graham Richardson with Annette Goerner from CTV Morning Live. Sophia Leong, executive director of the University of Ottawa Telfer Executive MBA program, kept it real during a quickie Q&A that she and Telfer’s dean, François Julien, did with OBJ publisher Michael Curran. “Stay hungry but also stay humble,” she told the winners, passing along advice from one of her mentors, the late Adam Chowaniec. The awards, handed out intermittently throughout the night, are likely destined to remain in the public eye, whether it be on a recipient’s office desk, mantel or shelf. “As long as it’s out of the reach of my

two-year-old’s sticky fingers,” joked Forty Under 40 winner Julia Knox, 36, senior vice-president and chief purchasing officer at Giant Tiger and the only woman on the executive team of the Ottawa-based Canadian company. The mother of two young children is also on the board of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation and coaches her daughter’s cross-country ski club. She, like all the winners with whom spoke, was honoured to have been selected as a Forty Under 40 winner. Just the application process alone was rewarding, she said. “You get a chance to step back and reflect on where you are at your life and what you’ve accomplished, and what you

MONDAY, JULY 2, 2018

For the sport of it. The 718 Cayman. Mark Motors Porsche 611 Montreal Rd. 613-749-4275






JUNE 26, 2018 12:47 PM



haven’t yet accomplished and where you might want to go.” For her, the best part of the Forty Under 40 experience was getting to know the other recipients, who come from diverse backgrounds and industries. Shawn Malhotra, a vice-president at Claridge Homes, was at the awards gala with three tables’ worth of supporters, including his wife, Louise, with whom he founded the charitable Malhotra Family Foundation. “It’s always nice to be recognized, but I think it’s a product of the people who help support you and guide you through the whole process and get you to this point in your career,” Malhotra told He was talking about his dad, prominent developer Bill Malhotra, who attended with his wife, Romina Malhotra, and a group of their friends. This year, more than 170 applications were submitted. They were narrowed down to 100 finalists for the judges to independently assess and rank. In addition to Curran, choosing this year’s winners were Soloway Wright LLP

partner Iwona Albrecht; government affairs practitioner Patrick Dion; Ottawa Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Ian Faris; chartered professional accountant Robert Rhéaume; and OBJ print editor David Sali. Ottawa chiropractor Sasha Hamid, an associate at the Byward Chiropractic Clinic, nominated herself this year after not winning in 2017. “I said, ‘I’m going to do it. I have one year left; I’m 39. If it get it, I get it. If I don’t, no regrets,’” she told Her “nothing to lose” attitude paid off. Not only was she happy to have been chosen, but she knew she was in the right profession. “I can’t imagine doing anything else,” she told Many of the winners have already achieved great success in their careers during a phase of life that’s particularly demanding, whether it’s due to family life, volunteer activities or other commitments. Take, for example, 2018 Forty Under 40 recipient Ray del Cojo, engineering director at Lightenco, a fast-growing company that helps businesses reduce lighting costs and cut down on energy consumption. He puts in long hours during the week, and sometimes on weekends, too. He and his wife also have two children –​ a fouryear-old and a six-month-old baby. So exhausted is del Cojo that, by nightfall, it’s not unusual for him to conk out while reading a bedtime story to his eldest. Winning a Forty Under 40, added the Mexican-born entrepreneur, “makes it worth it – all the sacrifices you’re making.” For Stayci Keetch, CEO and creative director of her own video production company, Eyes on Ottawa, the gala was a much-needed night out for her and her husband, fellow entrepreneur Alex Proulx. They’re also parents to two young kids. “It’s nice just to be able to relax and enjoy myself and celebrate my accomplishments,” she told The gala turned out to be a date night that she’ll not soon forget; she and her husband won the raffle prize of two plane tickets to any of Air Canada’s destinations in Europe.


CARLETON BREAKS GROUND ON STATE-OF-THE-ART NEW BUSINESS SCHOOL Spirits were bright, like the midmorning sun that shone down on the groundbreaking ceremony June 19 to mark the start of construction on the Nicol Building, future home for Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business. It was a milestone moment, made possible by a $10-million donation from Tartan Homes founder Wes Nicol in 2014 to kickstart funding for an innovative new space for collaboration and learning. “Today is a special day in the history of Carleton and, in particular, the Sprott School of Business,” said retired orthopedic surgeon Chris Carruthers, chair of the university’s board of governors. The former chief of medical staff at The Ottawa Hospital earned his bachelor of science degree at Carleton University before continuing on to attain his

medical degree and executive MBA at other universities. “This groundbreaking represents the creation of a new signature building that will shine a light on Sprott and Carleton.” The ceremony took place one day after the anniversary of the founding of Carleton University, which opened its doors on June 18, 1942. Nicol, who passed away in November 2016 in his 86th year, was an alumnus of Carleton and former member of its board of governors. In 2006, Carleton awarded the successful real estate developer with an honorary doctorate for his “outstanding contributions to the governance of Carleton University, the health and spirit of the Ottawa community and the nurturing of Canadian entrepreneurship.” His son, Bruce Nicol, president

of Tartan Homes, was at the sodturning ceremony and was among the construction hat-wearing dignitaries to drive their shovels into the ground. “My role here is quite simple: It’s to soak up all of the gratitude that’s been offered for my father,” Nicol told the crowd good-humouredly. “And on behalf of my late father and on behalf of the family: You are so welcome. “This is something we are so happy to see coming out of the ground now. It really means a lot to all of us, and I know my dad would be, of course, over the moon if he was here with us now.” Wes Nicol was an active and involved student at Carleton University back in the 1950s, when the school was located at Lyon Street and First Avenue in the Glebe. After the building was turned into condos, it was home to him in his later years with his wife, Mary, who still lives there. In fact, the couple’s living room is the same space where Nicol once took his university French lessons and wrote his French exam. “The gift he gave for the building is really just a culmination of his lifelong relationship with the university,” his son said, before describing his dad as a generous father and community member. “I don’t think anyone who knew Wes or worked with him would ever call him a passive donor. He had his eye on the ball. He wanted things to work out and he applied his determination.” The new state-of-the-art, 100,000-square-foot facility, which will cost an estimated $65.1 million, is expected to open in 2020. With its flexible classrooms, unique spaces for experiential learning and communal meeting and event spaces, the new building is designed to bring researchers, faculty, labs and students all under one roof. The Nicol Building will be open to students from across campus while also looking to connect with the broader Ottawa community, attendees heard.

When you give to Bruyère, you help make life better for seniors and the most vulnerable in our community.


Give now.


The Finest Portfolio of Luxury Homes in Ottawa

As one of the largest healthcare centers of its kind in Canada, Bruyère offers services in brain health, rehabilitation, healthy aging and palliative care.

MONDAY, JULY 2, 2018

Manotick Waterfront - $1,725,000


Stories and photos by Caroline Phillips


Above, District Realty president Steve Ramphos with wife Doris. Below, Euro Tile & Stone’s Brian Boucher with Paramount Properties VP Stuart Ages and GGFL partner Josh Engel.

Above, Dr. Karen Palayew, Danya Vered and Rhoda Miller. Below, Vittoria Trattoria president Domenic Santaguida with son James.

From left, Jen and Josh Zaret with ‘Stuntman’ Stu Schwartz and Schwartz’s wife Connie Bernardi at Stu’s ‘Pool’ Party in support of the Ezer Mizion bone marrow donor registry.


Stuntman Stu’s ‘Pool’ Party makes big splash for charity It’s an incredible story of hope and inspiration filled with a mixed bag of emotions for popular Ottawa personality Stu Schwartz, whose life was saved two years ago by a bone marrow transplant. While still in hospital, Schwartz, publicly known as “Stuntman Stu,” had told his best friend Josh Zaret –​ a real “mensch” of a man – how he wanted to pay it forward at some point, somehow, somewhere. Schwartz is both a radio host on Majic 100 and public address announcer for the Ottawa Senators’ home games. “Josh said, ‘Leave it to me, I’ll take care of everything,’ and sure enough he did,” Schwartz told the large crowd of friends and supporters who attended a benefit held last month at the headquarters of Zaret’s family-owned real estate

development company, Gemstone. Stu’s ‘Pool’ Party had nothing to do with swimming pools and cannonball contests and everything to do with building a donor pool in Schwartz’s name in order to continue saving lives. The evening far exceeded its original goal by raising $65,000-plus for the Ezer Mizion bone marrow donor registry, the non-profit organization that found the transplant match for Schwartz. He had required the medical procedure, which replaced damaged bone marrow with healthy bone marrow, after being diagnosed and treated for leukemia. The funds raised from the benefit will cover the costs for 1,000 DNA tests. Schwartz joked that his only contribution to the ‘pool’ party was the

Barely a year has passed since Gemstone threw a big bash to celebrate its beautiful new space, which involved extensive renovations of a run-down old heritage building on Argyle Avenue in Centretown. It took the soirée a step further this time by setting up a giant party tent in cardboard cutout of himself looking buff the backyard and securing sponsorship, as and bare-chested. Sure, it was his face on well as selling close to 200 tickets, priced the life-sized figure, but everything below at $250 each. Restaurateur Domenic the neck belonged to Hollywood star Santaguida from Vittoria Trattoria supplied Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. most of the food, including the 180 pizzas Established 20 years ago, Ezer Mizion that were baked that night in the woodis the world’s largest Jewish bone marrow burning ovens. donor registry. Most Israeli soldiers In the crowd of lawyers, accountants, voluntarily join by means of a simple property managers and insurance brokers cheek swab sample. That’s how Schwartz, were Schwartz’s Majic 100 “work wife,” a father of two, was able to find his donor, morning show co-host Angie Poirier, David Levi, whom he met back in March. as well as Jill Scheer, wife of federal “It’s been a roller-coaster ride of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer. She emotions. Everybody says, ‘How did you was invited by Ezer Mizion through her get through it?’ I got through it with own advocacy work, inspired by a bone her,” Schwartz said of his wife, Connie marrow transplant that was successfully Bernardi, who was shyly standing close by performed on her young nephew. as he and Zaret announced the fundraising Mayor Jim Watson also dropped in on total. what was a busy night of events in Ottawa.

MONDAY, JULY 2, 2018

Lower Taxes, Higher Giving



Tel: 613 596 3277 @FoundationWCPD The Foundation WCPD

SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT provincial Liberal leader John Fraser and former Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi caught some of the game with Ashe. Greenberg recalled how he could hardly believe his good fortune back in October 2012, when Ashe emailed Greenberg to tell him he was leaving his job as chief executive at the Kott Group at almost precisely the same time the OSEG owners were about to start searching for someone to lead their organization. “You have these moments in your lifetime when you literally feel like the light bulb has gone off over your head,” Greenberg told the audience. “I just said, ‘That’s our new CEO.’” True to form, Ashe deflected all the praise thrown his way as deftly as a great defensive back bats down an errant pass. On stage to address his well-wishers, he called the redeveloped Lansdowne Park a “magical place” before pointing to OSEG’s ownership group. “It’s not me – it’s you guys who had the original vision for this,” Ashe, 61, said. “It’s just been a dream to be part of it.”

‘INCREDIBLE LEGACY’ Retired OSEG CEO Bernie Ashe (centre), with OSEG partners John Pugh, Bill Shenkman, Roger Greenberg and John Ruddy. PHOTOANNE.CA

Original OSEG chief Bernie Ashe hailed as ‘visionary’ at retirement bash VIP party raises $200K for new sports fund for disadvantaged children BY DAVID SALI


Brothers Bernie and Rob Ashe.


An all-star lineup of Ottawa business leaders turned out to pay tribute to the personable former executive, including OSEG partners Roger Greenberg, John Pugh, John Ruddy and Bill Shenkman. Among others who stopped by were Mayor Jim Watson ​– who presented Ashe with a proclamation honouring his achievements –​ as well as former mayor Jim Durrell, former Senators president Cyril Leeder, Ottawa Tourism president Michael Crockatt and Ottawa Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Ian Faris. Local provincial politicians were also well-represented, with Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod and Kanata-Carleton MPP Merrilee Fullerton in attendance. Later on, Ottawa South MPP and interim

MONDAY, JULY 2, 2018

or the past four seasons, Bernie Ashe’s 24-7 responsibilities meant Redblacks game nights were work nights for the chief executive of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group. But on June 21, it was Ashe’s turn to party. Surrounded by dozens of his closest friends and business associates, the recently retired OSEG boss was able to kick back and enjoy Ottawa’s home opener against the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders. The hometown Redblacks happily obliged with a dominant 40-17 victory over the Green and White, the same team that ended Ottawa’s playoff run last November in Ashe’s final season as CEO. But the festivities had really begun hours earlier at an invitation-only VIP tailgate event that served a dual purpose: Besides giving Ottawa’s business community

a chance to share its appreciation for Ashe’s long and distinguished career as a businessman in the nation’s capital, the celebration also helped raise more than $200,000 for the OSEG Foundation, the sports group’s charitable arm. Part of that money will be used to launch the new Bernie Ashe Sports Fund, which will offer underprivileged boys and girls a chance to play team sports. Friends and family said there couldn’t be a more fitting legacy for a man who’s always been the first to credit others for his success. “When you hear Bernie talk, Bernie talks about the team,” his younger brother Rob told the crowd of about 150 gathered at the Horticulture Building near TD Place for the VIP party. “He’s a team player, and I think that’s what draws people to Bernie. In our family, we call Bernie the commissioner, or the commish. Mostly because he’s a great leader.” Rob said those qualities were evident right from Ashe’s early days growing up with five siblings “in a three-bedroom house with one bathroom” in Elmvale Acres. “It’s quite a journey from the neighbourhood kid to the CEO,” Rob said, the pride in his voice evident. “It’s really quite phenomenal.”

As the crowd filed out of the Horticulture Building and headed to the game, OSEG Foundation executive director Janice Barresi told OBJ the new sports fund is Ashe’s parting gift to the organization. “It’s just an incredible legacy, and I think it speaks volumes about Bernie,” she said. “Bernie’s an incredible leader. He’s a visionary, but I think one of the adjectives that stands out most when you work with Bernie is that he is just so personable. He just genuinely cares, and some of the people he cares most about are kids.” Fittingly, the fund will provide kids a chance to benefit from sports programs offered by the Children’s Aid Society, a cause near and dear to Ashe’s heart. The parents of three adult children and grandparents to a newborn, Ashe and his wife Nancy took in a foster child from the Children’s Aid Society nearly seven years ago. Today, their daughter is an active participant in various sports whose team recently won the city championship in novice girls’ hockey. Ashe said giving kids a chance to be part of a team from a young age keeps them active and helps boost their confidence and self-esteem. “We think team sports builds a healthy community,” Ashe said after Thursday’s event. “But we didn’t see anybody really targeting that area. We know that for our business to be successful in the long term, we need people to play soccer, play hockey and play football. We’re developing future professional athletes on the one hand, but we also want to keep people interested in sports.” As for retirement, Ashe said he’s looking forward to indulging his passion for football in a way he hasn’t been able to for the past few years – relaxing in the stands and enjoying the action as a fan. “It’s going to be a blast,” he said with a grin.



Ottawa’s AtomicX puts personal touch on chatbots by Craig Lord

MONDAY, JULY 2, 2018




n Ottawa startup believes the biggest weakness in today’s chatbot offerings is a lack of focus on the other side of the conversation: you. AtomicX believes its artificial intelligence, nicknamed Rufus, will stand out from the market with its emphasis on user experience. The local startup makes its home above the Origin Trade cafe in the ByWard Market. Dan Cummins, who owns Origin Trade and the building itself, is the founder of AtomicX. He’s also the CEO behind Atomic Motion, a separate web development company that’s been in operation for about 15 years. That company makes its name in high-scale website and app development with a focus on – ​ you guessed it ​– user experience. The idea for AtomicX came a few years back when Cummins took a breath, looked around the web development industry and saw some significant shifts on the horizon. Website builders such as Squarespace and Ottawa’s own PageCloud were making it easy for anyone to build a site from scratch, and the higher-end web development jobs weren’t cropping up as readily as before. “What’s the future of my industry?” Cummins asked himself. “I identified AI as the next up-andcoming industry that was going to take root,” he answered.


Founded in 2017, AtomicX offers a variety of artificial intelligence-related services, but the main focus of the six-person startup is building chatbots. Specifically, Cummins says, ones that actually work. He’s insistent that nobody – from Silicon Valley startups to Facebook to Microsoft – has figured chatbots out yet. Today, Cummins explains, it’s mostly fixed-

merchants their “first employee.” That tech also has a useful internal role for the local e-commerce giant: It can give merchants tips on promotions to run based on in-store analytics. That’s not really the kind of chatbot AtomicX is building, though. According to Cummins, building better chatbots isn’t about perfecting the artificial intelligence underpinning the bot. Instead, it’s about focusing on that curious customer from earlier and changing the bot-user interaction from an “afterthought” to the “front-and-centre experience.” In other words, AtomicX isn’t trying to reinvent the increasingly crowded AI space; it’s changing the way chatbots are delivered. Through an app, the web manager can see all of Rufus’s current conversations. It’s currently a lot of the fixed-language standard you’d find on most websites, but it’s also tracking how well the conversation is going through basic sentiment analysis. If one of those conversations starts to go south, the manager can intervene and deliver the personal touch that could salvage the entire interaction. “We’re the only bot on the market right now that offers that,” Cummins says.


Does Cummins foresee chatbots disrupting the workforce any time soon? He’s not shy about the vision. “Absolutely.” He sees the Rufus approach reducing staffing at call centres by a ratio of 10 to 1. Instead of chatbots missing the mark or 100 employees manning individual conversations, one agent can monitor 10 Rufus chats at once and put his or her attention where it’s needed most. “Call centres are a nightmare. We hear it again and again and again. We see chatbots alleviating a lot of that frustration,” Cummins says. This is a common argument AI proponents will level against skeptics: Artificial intelligence isn’t replacing human workers, it’s augmenting them, allowing them to do a job better. What employers choose to do with those freed-up resources is the next question. AtomicX is currently split between an R&D team in Ottawa and a sales-focused division in Toronto. The company recently scooped former KEY PLAYERS: CEO Dan Cummins, Shopify comptroller Mike CFO Mike Gagnon Gagnon as its first chief financial officer. Rufus is SOLUTION: Artificial intelligence and chatbots focused on user still in beta testing, but experience trials with a local Ottawa FUNDING: Bootstrapped business have yielded promising results, the founder says. These early stages, where the tech is just starting to make a difference, are exciting Dan Cummins believes no one in the chatbot space has yet done it right, so he for Cummins. He believes AtomicX’s founded Ottawa’s AtomicX to take a crack at it himself. Photo by Mark Holleron startup status will help it break into the chatbot space with better luck than the large incumbents. language bots that can get a customer’s getting involved in chatbots. Ottawa “I see all the innovations coming from name and email address for follow-ups, Tourism has experimented with the tech to small startups like AtomicX,” he says. and they might be able to tell you if a help guide visitors to the capital’s hotspots. “We think there’s a lot of potential with customer is ticked off or merely curious. Shopify has also doubled down on chatbots, and we’re just skimming the AtomicX isn’t the only Ottawa company chatbots recently as a way of giving surface.”



Techopia Live brings Ottawa’s hottest startups and coolest tech execs to your screen every week. The live tech show airs at 12:15 p.m. on Wednesdays on Techopia’s Facebook and Twitter channels. Check out our ever-growing video archive of 80+ Ottawa tech interviews at, and if you’re reading our digital edition, click play below.

Broaden your search and focus on potential: Techopia Live talent panel by Craig Lord


n response to debates raging across Canada about whether we have a brain drain – a flood of skilled workers leaving the country – or the reverse, a “brain gain,” Techopia Live assembled a panel of Ottawa experts to share their perspectives and best practices on attracting and retaining tech talent. Tackling the issue were Shopify’s senior vice-president of engineering JeanMichel Lemieux, Kanata North Business Association executive director Jamie Petten and director of Hire Immigrants Ottawa Henry Akanko. Joining Techopia Live as co-host was Dean Fulford, vicepresident of HR consulting from sponsor Stratford Managers. Though each panelist had a different perspective, the overall message was clear: Ottawa’s business leaders need to broaden the horizons of their talent searches and focus on the potential of prospective employees rather than their technical skills. Akanko told Techopia Live that Ottawa is poised to benefit from an influx of people looking for opportunities from around the world, but businesses should first foster company cultures that will welcome newcomers. “Just having a diverse workforce isn’t enough. It’s about how you manage the diverse workforce. That’s where the magic is,” he said. Successfully integrating immigrant talent into the team goes beyond the HR department. Chief executives and managers must acknowledge their unconscious biases and find ways

to bypass them to retain diverse and valuable talent, Akanko said. Petten also advocated for new voices in tech. She said she’d like to see more companies going into the mainstream and attracting non-typical talent from fields such as health care, education and hospitality. “They’re able to offer experiences and knowledge that our tried-and-true tech talent might not have exposure to,” she said.


Widening the talent pipeline has been important for Shopify, Lemieux added. He pointed to the Ottawa-based company’s Dev Degree, a partnership with Carleton University that sees computer science students receive on-the-job educations at Shopify as a chance to breed industryready workers. It’s a model he’d like to see brought to other universities and tech firms in Canada to address the country’s talent demands. “This is something we have to unlock if we want to scale it,” he said. That’s a potential solution for entrylevel talent, but Lemieux and Petten both pointed to the need to invest in employees to build up homegrown talent to higherlevel positions. For that reason, Lemieux said Shopify often hires not for a person’s immediate skills, but for their potential and what they could do for the company with a bit of support. “If people grow as quickly as the company, you’ll be successful,” he said. Of course, outside talent is important to facilitate a so-called “brain gain.” Lemieux

Stay informed about business news that matters most to you. Startups, venture capital, accelerators and other local news from Ottawa’s tech sector.

Sign up here!

said around 30 per cent of Shopify’s hires in Ottawa are attracted from outside of the city. Some, such as officials at Invest Ottawa, often champion the capital’s lifestyle and cultural offerings to lure new workers. Lemieux agreed with that approach, but he said what really convinces new employees to uproot their lives to come and work for Shopify is selling them on the problem the company is trying to solve – and in doing so giving them a purpose. If more people and companies did that, he said, more prospective workers might see Ottawa as the best possible place to build their career. “Let’s go tell the world what we’re doing,” he said.

Top takeaways for attracting talent 1 Be honest about your unconscious biases when recruiting 2 Foster workplace cultures that embrace diverse backgrounds and perspectives 3 Look in fields beyond tech to find talent 4 Hire employees for their potential – and then invest in it 5 Sell prospective employees on the problem you’re trying to solve


(613) 238-2022

MONDAY, JULY 2, 2018

From left: Stratford Managers’ Dean Fulford, Hire Immigrants Ottawa’s Henry Akanko, Kanata North Business Association’s Jamie Petten and Shopify’s Jean-Michel Lemieux.



MONDAY, JULY 2, 2018

We specialize in providing scalable accounting support services to Ottawa’s growing number of technology companies.



Call for a free quote 613-702-8309 •

PROFILE Continued from page 3 One of the greatest challenges of her career, however, has been finding the balance between ambitious career woman and doting wife and mother. As an aspiring partner in the business, Michelle didn’t want to slow down when she had kids with her husband, Alex Wilson. She worked part-time within weeks of the birth of each of her three daughters. “At home, my Margot is only one-anda-half, and some mornings when I’m leaving, she is tugging on my skirt and crying. I want to be a strong role model for my daughters, and I know that for me, being a business leader is part of that. But it’s still hard.” Taggart Group goes back three generations to her grandfather, Harold Taggart. He built a few dozen homes in the Westboro area for returning war veterans and, recognizing an opportunity in servicing the land, went out and bought the biggest shovel he could find to start an infrastructure company, Taggart Construction, in 1948. He and his wife, Muriel, raised their seven children in one of the homes Harold had built in those early days. The kids grew up involved in the family business, and many went on to join it. Harold and Muriel made sure to instil a strong sense of family. “They always said, ‘Family first,’” says Taggart, who was 10 when her grampy – or “grumpy” as his nickname came to be – passed away. Today, Taggart Group generates about $350 million in annual revenues, employs more than 500 people in Ottawa and Kingston and enjoys one of the lowest worker turnover rates in the industry. Its subsidiary companies are Taggart Construction, Tamarack Homes, Taggart Realty and Doran Contractors. “The funny thing is, though, in many ways we still think and act like a small family business. We still make decisions informally, sitting around the boardroom table,” says Taggart, who loves working with her uncles, cousins and her sister as well as her father. “There are politics



She and her family live in one of the original Westboro-area homes her grandfather built. She was not aware of the connection the first time she viewed the house when it was for sale, but when she told her father about the listing, he knew right away. Taggart and her husband added on to the home as their family grew, while preserving the original character and features.


Taggart’s biggest inspiration is her father Ian, retired president of Taggart Construction. “He’s very practical and level-headed,” she said while giving him credit for expanding the company with his brother Jim and brother-in-law, David Parkes. “They were always a little conservative, but that worked because they grew it slowly, and it has continued on growing.”


3 4

She is a mentor for young mothers at the Youville Centre.

Taggart plays guitar, bass and piano. She and her husband have a studio set up in the basement for jamming with friends and family.



Taggart grew up as one of three daughters and has gone on to have three daughters herself: Lucy, 6, Vivia, 5, and Margot, 18 months. involved, but we’re best friends and we have fun.” So tight is the Taggart and Parkes clan that they tend to travel in packs, whether it’s skiing, cottaging or going to charity events together. “There’s never one; there’s always a group of us,” jokes Taggart. Thinking back to her first day on the job eight years ago, she remembers giving everyone hugs. They were, after all, her family. Older cousin Scott Parkes broke it to her gently: “Uh, Miche, we don’t usually hug at the office.” Never mind. She still gives them hugs – just maybe not at work.




Offices in Perth, Prescott and Ottawa

MONDAY, JULY 2, 2018


THE LIST Company / Address Phone / Fax / Web


Major clients and projects

Products and services

16 Marc Letellier, Bryan Wiens, David Gibbons, principals


Workplace design, development and implementaion; construction contract management.


HOK Inc. 101-205 Catherine St., Ottawa, ON K2P 1C3 613-683-1807 / 613-226-9656


17 Lynn Ferron (interiors) and Andrew Butler (architecture), vice-presidents and practice leaders

Brookfield Properties; PSPC; Minto; Carleton University; University of Ottawa; Westin Ottawa; City of Ottawa; Hydro Ottawa; Canadian Blood Services; Inside Edge Properties; Hill+Knowlton Strategies; Adobe

Master planning; interior design; feasibility studies; programming; space planning; contract administration; concept design.


4te inc. 73 Breezehill Ave., N.Ottawa, ON K1Y 2H6 613-232-4499 / 613-232-4187


8 Viv Nutt, Micheline Whale, principals

Brookfield GIS; Brookfield Renewable; Bell Canada; Bentall; Broccolini; CBRE; Ceridian; Colliers; Colonnade-Bridgeport; DND; Dream; KPMG; MD Financial; ManuLife; Minto; Morguard; Multivesco; Pythian; PSPC; Revera; Urbandale; Welch LLP

Specializes in interior design services for commercial clients in central Canada and U.S. Services include full fit-up; change management; furniture procurement strategies and project management.


Parallel 45 Design Group Ltd. 240-700 Industrial Ave., Ottawa, ON K1G 0Y9 613-738-7600 / 613-738-9425


9 Liz Miller, Sarah Oakley, Robin Peixoto, partners


Commercial and corporate interior design; facility planning; permit and construction drawings; BCIN; medical, dental and optometry planning and design.


Design Associates Ltd. 233 Argyle Ave.,Ottawa ON K2P 1B8 613.230.3850


6 Murray Cohen, founder/principal


Commercial, hospitality and retail design.


NORR Ltd. 600-55 Murray St., Ottawa, ON K1N 5M3 613-241-5300 / 613-241-4245


11 Jonathan Hughes, vice-president; Lizanne Dubien, manager of interior design

Carling Campus (BGIS/PSPC/DND); Science & Technology Museum (CSTMC); Wellington Building; Sir John A. Macdonald Building. (PSPC/House of Commons); Deptartment of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development; Royal Canadian Mint;

Interior design; functional programming and master planning for institutional and commercial projects; feasability studies; furniture, fittings and equipment; design and procurement; building information; modelling.


Hay Design Inc. 100-824 Meath St., Ottawa, ON K1Z 6E8 613-728-0954 / 613-728-6501


10 Catherine Rachel Hay, president

SMITH; PSPC; Infrastructure Ontario; Queens University; City of Ottawa; Brookfield Properties; RCEL; BGIS; Minto; Morguard; District Realty; Osgoode Properties.

Transforms commercial spaces including high tech, government, law and accounting office spaces, dental and health care, retirement homes, condominium and educational facilities. Feasibility studies; LEED documentation.


Southam Design Inc. 110-950 Gladstone St., Ottawa, ON K1Y 3E6 613-728-2227 / 613-728-4123


5 Penny Southam, principal

Amica Mature Lifestyles; Jask Salon and Day Spa; 7 Dental; high-end residential clients

Residential design and architecture; commercial design; retirement homes; hair salons and spas; dental clinics.


Ulya Jensen Interiors Ottawa, ON K1Y 2S9 613-761-1212


WND Ulya Jensen, owner and principal designer

Residential interiors; spas; salons; medical offices; designer for HGTV; Rona Home and Garden Decor & Design, Urban Quarry Cambria, Gusto TV kitchen set.

Interior design for new builds, renovations and remodeling, kitchen and bathroom design. Window treatments; soft furnishings; rugs; lighting; quartz countertops; custom draperies; furniture.

[in]tempo design studio 100-357 Waverley St. W, Ottawa, ON K2P 0W4 613-565-5500


6 Marianne Dupont, Marcqus Laver, partners

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Canada, QuadReal, Supreme Court of Canada, Colonnade Bridgeport, Trend Microsystems, Akamai Technologies, PSPC, Regional Group

Commercial interior consultants; strategic space planning; real estate development; creative integrated furnishings, AV, IT, acoustic solutions; sustainable architectural interiors for living and work space.

MCROBIE Architects + Interior Designers 100-66 Queen St., Ottawa, ONK1P 5C6 613-238-2072


18 Johanna Garwood, senior associate

PSPC; BGIS; Department of Finance; Treasury Board Secretariat; Ashbury College; Ottawa Construction Association

Corporate; commercial; retail; security; sustainable design; feasibility studies; code review; programming and planning; construction drawings; contract administration; furniture specification.

Atkinson Schroeter Design Group 100-441 MacLaren St., Ottawa, ON K2P 2H3 613-563-3797 / 613-234-0228


7 Sonja Schroeter, partner

CBRE; Canadian Red Cross; PPP Canada; PWGSC; City of Ottawa; Morguard; Colliers; Bentall Kennedy; Flex Canada; Colonnade Bridgeport; GWLRA; KRP; City of Ottawa

Interior design services (programming, planning, design, furniture, project and move management) for corporate, association, high tech, public service, condo, embassy, health care and retail.


West of Main Inc. 2437 Kaladar Ave., Unit B, Ottawa, ON, K1V 8B9 613 762 8073


6 Sascha Lafleur, principal senior designer; Justin Thomason, director

Jackson Café; Ottawa Art Gallery; Greatwise Fresh Towns sales centre; Urbandale Construction Experience Centre; Soloway Wright

Full-service commercial and high-end residential; corporate and office, educational and institutional, restaurant and hospitality design; model homes and design/sales centres; furniture/decor/ art/design studio.


Susan Firestone Design Inc. 301-275 Bank St., Ottawa, ON K2P 2L6 613-722-0106 / 613-722-9898


4 Susan Firestone

Lord Elgin Hotel, Best Western Plus Suite Hotel, Ramada on the Rideau Hotel, Al’s Steakhouse, Luxe Bistro



Carlyle Design Associates 205 Island Park Dr., Ottawa, ON K1Y 0A3 613-728-7880 / 613-728-9864


2 Anne Carlyle, principal

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital; One Kids Place Children’s Treatment Centre; Centretown Community Health Centre; Somerset West Community Health Centre; Library and Archives Canada; North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit

Planning, interior design and art program development for health care and other public-sector organizations.


Creative Friction Inc. E1-2212 Gladwin Cr., Ottawa, ON K1B 5W1 613-567-9793 / 613-567-2910


2 Richard Newbur, Celeste IrvineJones, interior designers

Conversant offices; Ravines 2 Retirement Residence; Orchard View on the Rideau; BMO Nesbitt Burns; Bluesfest offices

Full interior design services.


Clear 76 Chamberlain Ave., Ottawa, ON K1S 1V9 613-695-8060


2 Serina Fraser, Rebecca James


Commercial and residential interior design; renovations; millwork and cabinetry design; mid-century modern; modern design.


Place ID 115 Holmwood Ave., Ottawa, ON K1S 2P1 613-295-0914 /


1 Barbara Steele, registered interior designer

Assante Capital; Canadian Opthalmological Society; Corel; DND; Manulife; SNC-Lavalin; Workplace Safety and Insurance Board; residential clients

Investigation and design concept to construction documents and project management; commercial, government and residential interiors. Bill 124 for house, small building and large building.


Mascioli Design Inc 62 Glencairn Ave., Ottawa, ON K1S 1M6 (613) 233-2212


0 Paula Mascioli

Large custom homes

Commercial and residential interior design



No. of local support staff/ Key local executive(s)





LWG Architectural Interiors 211-2141 Thurston Dr., Ottawa, ON K1G 6C9 613-739-3699 / 613-739-3965



No. of local ARIDO designated designers


Linebox Studio and IBI Group Architects both offer interior design services in Ottawa. Neither company currently employs ARIDO designated designers. WND = Would not disclose. Should your company be on this list? If so, please send details to This list is current as of June 28, 2018. © 2018 by Ottawa Business Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced by any method in whole or in part without written permission by Ottawa Business Journal. While every attempt is made to ensure the thoroughness and accuracy of the list, omissions and errors sometimes occur. Please send any corrections or additions by e-mail to OBJ lists are primarily compiled using information provided voluntarily by the organizations named. Some firms that may qualify for the list are not included because the company either failed to respond to requests for information by press time, because the company declined to take part in the survey or because of space constraints. Categories are drawn up in attempt to gather information of relevance to the Ottawa market. Research by Rosa Saba. Please send questions and comments to

FOR THE RECORD People on the move Assent Compliance announced two new executives have joined its team. Keira Torkko is now the firm’s vice-president, employee experience. Prior to joining Assent, she held a range of leadership roles at the National Research Council, the Coaching Association of Canada, TD Bank and various small and early stage ventures. Marc Harrison becomes Assent’s vice-president, corporate development, and oversees identification of strategic business opportunities, including partnerships, alliances, channels and acquisitions to help fuel the company’s growth. Before joining Assent, he was vice-president of corporate development at Halogen Software and also served as VP of business development at BrightSpark Ventures and Think Dynamics. Geoff Godding has been named vicepresident of Decathlon Commercial Realty. In his 35-year real estate career, Godding has been involved in land development, commercial leasing and land acquisitions for both large retail tenants and commercial landlords. Prior to joining Decathlon, he was senior vice-president of development at Smart Centres. Daina Proctor has joined Optiv Security as a regional director. Proctor, who brings more than 20 years of services development and delivery to the role, was previously director of information security, international accounts at CG.

Hats off Ross Video CEO David Ross has been inducted as a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering. Fellows of the academy are selected through a

Contracts The following contains information about recent contracts, standing offers and supply arrangements awarded to local firms.

Jennifer Conley, Carleton University’s chief advancement officer and president and CEO of the Carleton University Foundation, has received the Dr. James Jamieson Influential Alumni Award from Nipissing University. Conley previously served as Carleton’s director of faculty development and major gifts. Before coming to Carleton, she served for more than 10 years as the first executive director and campaign director for The St. Patrick’s Home of Ottawa Foundation.


Best Business | Best New Business Best Performance in Customer Experience, Export, Human Resources, Marketing, Sales, Social Entrepreneurship, Sustainability | Kanata North #SeriousTechLivesHere Awards Submit your nomination online at by September 28, 2018 THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS LEAD SPONSOR
















For more information, please e-mail or call 613.236.7029 ext.136

Ottawa-based Windmill Developments received Project of the Year honours at the 38th annual BILD Awards for The Plant, its boutique condo development in Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood built in partnership with Curated Properties. The sustainable, mixed-use project features a blend of retail, office space and condos, with amenities that include an indoor greenhouse, openconcept, industrial-style kitchen and a community garden. The BILD Awards celebrate excellence in the Greater Toronto Area’s land development and new home industry.

Accenture Inc 45 O’Connor St., Suite 600 Informatics professional services Buyer: Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions $5,700,000 Veritaaq Technology House Inc. 1111 Prince of Wales Dr., Suite 100 TBIPS architecture services/ Informatics professional services Buyer: Citizenship and Immigration Canada $4,927,363

ADRM Technology Consulting Group Corp. 1052 St-Laurent Blvd., Unit #2 TBIPS architecture services/ Informatics professional services Buyer: Citizenship and Immigration Canada $4,924,432 Coradix Technology Consulting Ltd. 151 Slater St., Suite 1010 TBIPS architecture services/ Informatics professional services Buyer: Citizenship and Immigration Canada $4,817,456



Cache Computer Consulting Corp. 275 Slater St., Suite 1502 Informatics professional services Buyer: Treasury Board of Canada $8,109,177

Fullscript co-founder and CEO Kyle Braatz has been named a recipient of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 award. Braatz and his peers were selected from more than 800 nominees by an independent advisory board comprising more than 20 business leaders from across Canada. Honourees were chosen on four key criteria: vision and innovation; leadership; impact and influence; and social responsibility.

NOVEMBER 30, 2018

MONDAY, JULY 2, 2018

BluMetric Environmental Inc. 3108 Carp Rd. Water purification equipment Buyer: DND $14,400,000

rigorous, multi-stage review and election process in view of their distinguished achievements and career-long service to the engineering profession. Ross was named Ottawa’s CEO of the Year by OBJ and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce in 2016 and in 2017 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Ottawa.


e m t MeePreston ! on S G N I T S I L EVENT


T ber th d remem d awkwar p. n u bad, a f growing . e o r t s t a r e a h p tone T Glads


NUPS W O R G 2 1 S THEY G N I H T D A RE KItDimS e to S A E T O R Wravel back ine good,

13 A N E V

ve ccer li o s p g u orld c ses openin w h c t s Ca and ine n. Bus ing games m. o t s e r 9a orn on P for m l served at early o h alco

e Centr ource g Res ily-friendly. t Livin am heatre enden nual f Indep second an ladstone T G ttawa s The O hosting it fundraiser. e will b night and dy come


be the y l d e t er. oub ill und this summ Italy w t e ttawa n Stre Little Presto t place in O August 2, cious, our i s tastie uly 20 to st Presdel e of food. J o v h ng o m l Fro again on of the ill be offeri e c n i o t will l celebra nts w hree course d a r u a a t annu pating res watering t tions price i Partic ive mouth- r menu op e exclus ’hôte dinn or $48. d table er $28, $38 h t i at e


from e s o o h c s to set menu


ipating c i t r a p t A ts restauranItaly in Little

n of hibitio issance x e n a Rena seum ar Mu istory. Fromros. W n ia ut h nad erhe y sup he Ca ougho er at t armour thr modern da m m su y o On all hest-qualit collection t r ig u h o e th rm and a arms

MONDAY, JULY 2, 2018




TEigAh N A I R O T C I 22 V ian style, H m.

Victor e Arboretu at th th Tea in sts for bes me, e t u t n s o o c , est c and b andwiches s in r e a fing nd hot te r oo sa scone ina at outd irs. h fine c les and cha tab

LEtRheYinternatioallneanll.y L A G E R T PAO CEN video by t Roger B

1h3otSography aunthd African artis o p ned S renow

. n o t s e r p o Italy, gcot tus at prestonbiain le t it L in s a t even , cont To see aellyour event listed To hav

e set h t e s o o h ou c Cheers! Y28, $38 or $48) menu $

Ottawa Business Journal July 2, 2018  

Local Ottawa business news, start ups, technology, real estate, marketing, tourism, entrepreneurship, local commentary, reader comments, peo...

Ottawa Business Journal July 2, 2018  

Local Ottawa business news, start ups, technology, real estate, marketing, tourism, entrepreneurship, local commentary, reader comments, peo...