Ottawa Business Journal October 9, 2017

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Building a better city

Inside Ottawa’s galas, fundraisers and networking events

Trinity Development founder John Ruddy’s passion for his hometown extends far beyond its real estate > PAGE 9

October 9, 2017 Vol. 20, NO. 25 PAGES 10-13

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Debt relief at home OBJ columnist Michael Prentice explains how homeequity lines of credit can help seniors better address debt. > PAGE 8

Road to success

Construction exec Cindy Tomlinson Keon knew early on her working life would revolve around the family business. > PAGE 15

New chief executive Caitlin Kealey (left) is part of MediaStyle’s veteran leadership team along with operations director Allyson Chisnall. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON

Firm passes the CEO torch in style Founder’s decision to step back doesn’t dampen MediaStyle’s commitment to social justice Ottawa media relations company says change at the top gave nine-person firm a chance to reassess its corporate mission > PAGES 2-3


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SMALL BUSINESS WEEK MediaStyle’s CEO shift ‘a chance to shake things up’ Faced with founder’s departure, Ottawa public relations firm took fresh look at its reason for being and reaffirmed its core mission BY DAVID SALI



MediaStyle’s Caitlin Kealey (left) and Allyson Chisnall. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON



s partners in one of Ottawa’s leading public relations firms, Caitlin Kealey and Allyson Chisnall are usually the ones asking other people what message they want to send to the world. But when the executives at MediaStyle learned earlier this year that the firm’s founder, Ian Capstick, was planning to step away from its day-to-day operations to launch a new social enterprise, they decided it was time to sit on the other side of the table. They enlisted co-worker and strategist Bailey Reid to put to them the questions they’d so often asked of their clients: What is your core purpose? Where is the firm heading? How do you plan to get there? The process, they say, was enlightening and invigorating. “It was fun doing ourselves what we would do with our clients,” says Ms. Chisnall, the firm’s director of operations. “We had to walk the walk.” The conviction in her voice suggests her words are far more than a cliche. Nine years after it was launched by

Mr. Capstick, a well-known political analyst and commentator, MediaStyle has earned widespread respect in the industry for staying faithful to its philosophy of promoting social justice. The company lists its four core values – or pillars, as it calls them – prominently on its website. They include promoting healthy lifestyles and free post-secondary education as well as championing the rights of Indigenous peoples and bolstering democratic institutions. One of the firm’s highest-profile clients was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and it’s worked with organizations such as the National Association of Friendship Centres and Community Foundations of Canada. A certified B Corporation, MediaStyle is required to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental responsibility. But at the end of the day, its leaders point out, it’s still a business – and a profitable one. Last year, MediaStyle placed seventh on OBJ’s list of the city’s fastest-growing companies with threeyear revenue growth of nearly 280 per cent. Riding that wave of success, the nine-person firm is now adjusting to life without its founder. Ms. Kealey, who joined MediaStyle five years ago, has

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JOIN THE BIGGEST CELEBRATION OF LOCAL BUSINESS IN 2017 taken over from Mr. Capstick as CEO, a transition she concedes hasn’t been without its challenges. ‘TAKE A FRESH LOOK’ But the 2017 Forty Under 40 recipient also sees the change in leadership as an opportunity to “take a fresh look” at MediaStyle’s operations – hence the sitdown with Ms. Reid. After taking a good, hard look at the company they’ve built, the executive team decided to double down on the firm’s commitment to social justice, adding fair labour practices and environmental sustainability to its list of core values. “At almost the age of 10, it gives MediaStyle a chance to sort of shake things up a little bit,” Ms. Kealey says. Ms. Chisnall and Ms. Kealey rewrote the firm’s mission statement over the summer, consulting regularly with staff on issues such as what type of pro-bono work the company should do and what community causes it would support. “We listened a lot,” Ms. Chisnall says. “We listened closely, asked a lot of questions, asked a lot of questions of ourselves, what was really important to us, what kind of impact did we want to have on Ottawa and Canada with our company.”

To reflect its expanded mission, the firm is hoping to build on its existing relationships with clients in the environmental space such as the World Wildlife Fund and add others with an equally strong social-justice focus. “We’ve realized that the work that we’re best at is the work that we are all collectively passionate about,” Ms. Kealey says. “It was really important to me to continue the work that we do because we support a lot of organizations … that are doing really important work. For the team to know that the mission wasn’t changing was of the utmost importance.” Ms. Chisnall sums up MediaStyle’s fundamental raison d’etre in one simple sentence. “We’ve always been storytellers, and we keep that focus,” she says. A certified financial planner who has her own practice, Ms. Chisnall has helped many businesses navigate their way through various stages of growth. She says it’s important for all companies, big or small, to embrace change as part of the ride and keep their eyes fixed on their long-term goals. “Sometimes, you get blinders on,” she says. “You’re so focused on where you are right now that you lose (sight of) the bigger picture.”

“We listened closely, asked a lot of questions, asked a lot of questions of ourselves, what was really important to us, what kind of impact did we want to have on Ottawa and Canada with our company.”


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In his own words: Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke’s first sale


hopify co-founder and CEO Tobi Lütke didn’t set out at first to build an e-commerce giant. A decade and a half ago, he was new to Canada and simply wanted to sell snowboards online to make a bit of extra cash. The software behind Mr. Lütke’s original store would later become the foundation of Shopify’s online retail platform. In September, Mr. Lütke took the stage at the finale of Shop Class, a touring event by Shopify that aimed to share retail tips and help attendees launch their own businesses. The CEO told the crowd of aspiring merchants the story of his first sale with Snow Devils, and how the desire to share that experience convinced him to launch Shopify. What follows is an edited transcript of Tobi Lütke’s fireside chat on Sept. 20 at the Andaz Hotel in Ottawa. “I’m originally from Germany. I moved to Ottawa in 2002. My background is computer programming. I was living here because my girlfriend, now wife, was starting a new job.

Shopify co-founder and CEO Tobi Lütke says getting the email for his first sale was one of the most important moments of his life. FILE PHOTO

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“I realized, in that moment, that I had gone from someone who did something kind of interesting to actually being an entrepreneur.” – SHOPIFY CEO TOBI LÜTKE, ON RECEIVING THE EMAIL FROM HIS FIRST SNOWBOARD CUSTOMER



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I realized, okay, I have to make some money somehow. Why don’t I just use my technical skills and my snowboarding knowledge and combine those two things and make an online snowboard store? The funny thing is, I imagined setting up a website would be something I could do in an afternoon … I found out all the software was absolutely horrendous. I decided to fall back on my programming skills and build my own software. I launched Snow Devils in November of that year (2004). It was just me; I didn’t have an office. I actually did all my work out of the Bridgehead on Elgin Street. They had free WiFi. Or, actually, I think I fixed their router so, therefore, I had free Wi-Fi. There was one day where I came in, I got my coffee, I sat down and I was scanning through my emails. While I was doing that, another email came in. It said, ‘new order.’ It was an insane moment. First of all, it was no mystery at all. I wrote the software that did that. I literally wrote that email at some point. So I got an email that I wrote myself after I got this order for this product. It still was probably one of the most important moments of my life. Because I realized, in that moment, that I had gone from someone who did something kind of interesting to actually being an entrepreneur. I remember it, I remember exactly where I was sitting, what I was eating that day. It was something that I just fell in love with, and I wanted to share that. From that point on, Snow Devils took off and became really, really successful. Come summer, people stopped buying snowboards, and it became a discussion: “Should we start selling skateboards in the summer?” But it was at this point already clear that the really, really, really interesting experience was this first sale. I realized the only reason why I was able to get through this was because when all else failed, I could fall back on my own technical skills and somehow overcome these incredible hurdles. There’s two choices that I had. One of them leads to more people having the experience that I had. I’ll always choose that one.”




Entrepreneurship 101 Some of Ottawa’s leading founders and CEOs share hard-won wisdom about what it takes to build a successful startup BY LUCY SCRENCI SPECIAL TO OBJ

STEVE CODY, Ruckify founder Making the leap to tech


hree of Ottawa’s most prominent entrepreneurs addressed a local business audience in late September to talk about the challenges of scaling up and sustaining growth. Longtime businessman Steve Cody, the founder of the Better Software Company and new online marketplace Ruckify, joined Brennan Turner, cofounder of online grain seller FarmLead, and Andrew Waitman, CEO of software firm Assent Compliance, at the Industry Issues and Insights event on Sept. 28. After the event, which was cosponsored by OBJ and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, OBJ reporter Lucy Screnci asked the three entrepreneurs if they had any advice for small business owners looking to take their ventures to the next level. Here’s what they had to say:

Much of Steve Cody’s career has been devoted to building and operating a slew of successful businesses in the

retail and rental space. Three years ago, he made his foray into the technology industry, deciding to sell the software that had been developed to run his own operations. He established the venture-backed Better Software Company, serving as chief executive until he stepped down earlier this year. Mr. Cody now has a new venture, Ruckify, which merges his entrepreneurial acumen and passion for technology. Ruckify is a marketplace that will make it easy for users to rent specialized tools and equipment. Cody foresees a consolidation of already-existing platforms that target specific niches and looks to capitalize on this trend. Mr. Cody concedes that at first, it was intimidating getting into a tech company armed with a traditional business background. “What I figured out at Better Software was building a technology

company is not that different than building a traditional company,” he said. “You need a product people want to pay for, you need good service and you need to have good people. “With Ruckify, we want to go a little slower. We want to make sure we get the foundation as solid as possible and make sure we’re aligned with the right investors.” A startup’s most valuable resource, he adds, is its people. “I think that’s extremely important to get the DNA of the company right – make sure the team you start with, probably the first 10 people, are the right people.” Another key lesson he’s learned: timing matters in any business. “You have to hit it at the right time. With Ruckify, we’re a little early, but we think we’re at the beginning of acceptance, which is why we’re bringing various verticals under one brand.”

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Mr. Cody is energized about starting his new company and is looking forward to getting back to his small business roots. “I don’t want to be bound to a desk,” he says. BRENNAN TURNER, president and CEO of FarmLead Challenging the status quo

close to your user base. “Constantly get customer feedback, re-iterate the product, and ship it. If you’re new and starting out, and you’re trying to grow faster, always seek customer validation and customer feedback, because that will drive your business.” ANDREW WAITMAN, CEO of Assent Compliance From startup to venture-backed business

Ottawa’s Waterbridge Creative Media expands to Vancouver Waterbridge Creative Media

Learn more about Waterbridge Creative Media at Check there for a full list of services and contact information for both their Ottawa and Vancouver offices.


Ottawa tech veteran Andrew Waitman says it’s important to never underestimate the intensity and focus it takes to build a sustainable business. Mr. Waitman is the CEO of Assent Compliance, a software-as-a-service company that helps corporations ensure they and their suppliers comply with government regulations. Today, the firm counts major brands such as Whirlpool, General Electric and Rolls-Royce as customers, but the early days involved a lot of hustle. “Obviously, one of the challenges of when you’re trying to sell to large companies is they’re apprehensive about buying from smaller companies,” he said. “You need to appear bigger,” he added, invoking the imagery of a pufferfish inflating itself. Mr. Waitman said it’s critical for companies in their early stages to build close relationships with customers and establish credibility with larger players through thought leadership and knowledge. He said securing investor capital is another surefire way to gain the confidence of potential customers. “We’ve been successful in getting investors excited about what we’re doing,” he explained. In July, Assent Compliance raised a $40-million Series B round from a mix of Canadian and U.S. investors. Mr. Waitman credits a strong leadership team for the leading the company through its various stages of growth and progress.

business community in Vancouver. Waterbridge intends to engage with Vancouver’s real estate media industry, providing video and photography services to those building, buying and selling some of the most luxurious homes in Canada. These services include architectural photography, 3D renders of homes and drone video, among others. Geographically, opening a Vancouver office was the next logical step for Waterbridge as the company grows. It offers the company the opportunity to do business along the west coast as well as in Calgary, which can be tricky to serve solely from the company’s Ottawa base. “It just made a lot of sense to look west for expansion,” says Mr. Frank. With the expansion to Vancouver, the company is now able to readily serve five major Canadian cities: Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary. While Vancouver makes sense for Waterbridge from a business perspective, the initial draw for the company was the opportunity to bring Mr. Wilson on board. Mr. Frank attributes his new colleague’s strong photography and marketing background as the driving force behind the expansion of their real estate media offerings. While the expansion will see Waterbridge West leave its mark on the west coast, Mr. Frank expects it to ultimately improve their services in Ottawa as well as they integrate new skills into the home office’s offerings.


For Brennan Turner, “literally digitizing” an entire industry has been a monumental challenge he’s beginning to overcome. FarmLead is an online marketplace for buying and selling grain – a process that has traditionally taken place over the phone. “Trying to mount the mentality of ‘This is the way that things have always been done’ is extremely difficult,” said the Saskatchewan-born entrepreneur, who grew up on the family farm and was a defenceman in the Ottawa Senators’ minor-league system before diving into the world of business. For Mr. Turner, early adopters were critical in ushering in this novel way of conducting grain deals. “Getting those first moments of validation are extremely critical in order to push forward and continue to drive towards that bigger vision.” Today, nearly half of FarmLead’s customers come from word-of-mouth referrals, and the country’s largest wheat processors rely on the platform. In just over three years, the platform has processed transactions for 2.4 million tonnes of grain, amounting to US$30 million. Mr. Turner says it’s vital for founders to surround themselves with people “who are smarter than you” who they can turn to for advice and support at critical times. “A lot of times you’re going to be the only person that’s going to be able to do this, but you need to be able to humble enough to ask for help,” he said. Mr. Turner also stresses remaining

is heading west with the opening of a new office in Vancouver. The Ottawa-based digital media agency is dubbing its new production office “Waterbridge West.” Darren Wilson, a native Vancouverite and former client of Waterbridge, has been appointed president of the branch. “Vancouver has an amazing entrepreneurial spirit,” says Mr. Wilson. “We have a booming startup community that could really benefit from Waterbridge’s accessible pricing, cinematic flair and relationship-driven approach to business.” Mr. Wilson brings over ten years of marketing experience to his new role. Brian Frank, president of Waterbridge Creative Media and one of the founding members of the company, says he expects Mr. Wilson’s expertise to enable Waterbridge to create more “holistic marketing plans,” expanding beyond Waterbridge’s core offerings of video and design services. Waterbridge provides video, branding and advertising solutions for businesses of all sizes. The company’s brand design services give them a leg up when creating videos, Mr. Frank says. Understanding how branding works enables the firm to make stronger video content, a fact he says both clients and viewers pick up on. With its expansion, the agency expects to tap into the diverse

COMMENTARY Homing in on debt solutions Consumer columnist Michael Prentice says seniors looking to cut their debt loads should consider using their houses as leverage



e occasionally hear sob stories about senior citizens being at risk of losing their homes because they cannot afford to pay property taxes, which now are about $4,000 a year on the average Ottawa home. Give me a break. These people – typically owning a home worth $400,000 – have difficulty paying one per cent each year in property tax? True, many are retired and living on incomes that are well below what they earned while working. But I bet many of them paid off their mortgage long ago. Let them borrow a little of the equity they have built up in their home to pay their property taxes and, if necessary, household bills such as electricity, gas and water. Hard-hearted? I don’t think so. Full disclosure: I retired more than a decade ago and am still paying off a loan I took out to purchase my present home. I got to thinking about this on a recent vacation in British Columbia, where I learned that home owners aged 55 and over are entitled to a ludicrously generous break on their property taxes. The B.C. government permits them to defer payment of property tax for as long as they own the home. These lucky homeowners must eventually pay the property tax, plus a little interest, when they sell. The interest rate is pegged at a maximum of two percentage points below prime borrowing rates. Recently, this interest rate has been slightly less than one per cent a year. To me, it seems a flagrant case of a government bribing people with other people’s money. In this case, B.C. homeowners aged at least 55 are being subsidized by the rest of the population. That would include a majority of British Columbians who will NEVER be able to afford their own home, especially with astronomical real estate prices in the Vancouver area.



‘IT ISN’T FAIR’ After learning of this B.C. tax break, I did a little research and found this quote from a Vancouver real estate agent: “When you think about it, it is absurd … It isn’t fair, but it’s a program that the (B.C.) government offers, and I think people would be foolish not to take advantage of it.” In Ontario, people of advancing years must be more creative if they want to stay in their homes. According to a recent study, the average Canadian aged 65 and over has debts totalling almost $16,000 – and that does not include any mortgage debt. Still, elderly Canadians generally manage their debt

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 EDITOR, ONLINE CONTENT Peter Kovessy, 238-1818 ext. 251 REPORTER Craig Lord, 238-1818 ext. 285 CAMPAIGN MANAGER Cristha Sinden, 238-1818 ext. 222 ADVERTISING SALES General Inquiries, 238-1818 ext. 286 Wendy Baily, 238-1818 ext. 244 Carlo Lombard, 238-1818 ext. 230

I thought I was handling my debt as well as possible until I got a tip several years ago from a friendly employee of the branch where I usually do my banking. He suggested I should gradually move my mortgage over to a home-equity line of credit

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Tanya Connolly-Holmes, 238-1818 ext. 253

well, according to debt-rating agency Equifax, which conducted the study. I thought I was handling my debt as well as possible until I got a tip several years ago from a friendly employee of the branch where I usually do my banking. He suggested I should gradually move my mortgage over to a home-equity line of credit. It took several years to complete this. The result is that my monthly home-loan payments are now about half what they were when I had a mortgage. It took a while to get into my thick head why this is so. The explanation: By switching to a line of credit, I have extended the repayment period, thus greatly lowering the monthly payments. For seniors who own a home and want to stay there, there is also the option of a reverse mortgage. With this, the homeowner receives a monthly sum, and makes no payments of principal or interest until the home is sold. But my advice is look hard before leaping into this. Two key questions: is the interest rate higher than with a mortgage or home-equity line of credit? And how much must be paid in fees?

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For many homeowners, the goal is to own their home 100 per cent. No mortgage! Yippee! Yet a mortgage or a home-equity line of credit is the cheapest loan one can possibly find. Most credit card issuers charge a shocking annual interest rate of 20 per cent, or even more, for customers who fail to pay their credit card bill in full and on time. What seems most unfair about this is that interest is charged on the entire amount spent on the card, even though the customer makes a partial payment before the payment deadline. I make it a rule to never, ever run a balance on my credit cards beyond the due date for payment in full. My advice to anyone who has difficulty paying credit card bills in full and on time: Seek a line of credit at the bank. Pay off the credit card debt from the line of credit. And smarten up.

Michael Prentice is OBJ’s columnist on retail and consumer issues. He can be contacted at

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Redblacks co-owner Ruddy a hall-of-fame philanthropist Pioneering real estate developer and passionate football supporter to receive OBJ and Ottawa chamber’s 2017 lifetime achievement award BY DAVID SALI


KEY PLAYER IN LEBRETON FLATS Since then, the firm has developed more than 28 million square feet of retail space across Canada. In addition to taking a leading role in the Lansdowne project, Trinity is also a key player in the group that is negotiating with the NCC to redevelop LeBreton Flats and is a partner in an ambitious plan to build the city’s three tallest mixed-use highrises at nearby Bayview Station.

“I know I would not have gotten involved in Lansdowne but for John’s involvement … In my mind, John was always the centrepiece. He just had a gravitas to him and a sense of accomplishment.” – OSEG EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN ROGER GREENBERG, ON JOHN RUDDY

Greenberg says. “He’s trying to do the same thing again now with LeBreton Flats, and I have no doubt that at the end of the day, it will be successful as well.” Trinity CEO Fred Waks calls Mr. Ruddy “a pioneer in new format retail” who deeply understands the industry and his clients’ needs. But he also points out that his friend is just as dedicated to creating a lasting community legacy in other ways. Over the years, Mr. Ruddy’s Trinity Development Foundation has donated more than $10 million to local arts, sports and medical institutions, including the Ottawa Art Gallery, the Ottawa Heart Institute, the YMCA-YWCA, the National Arts Centre and St. Patrick’s Home of Ottawa among others. In 2015, he chaired a campaign that raised $25 million for the Royal Ottawa Foundation for mental health issues. Of course, Mr. Ruddy’s other passion – football – has also benefited mightily from his philanthropic efforts. The man most responsible for the CFL’s revival in Ottawa also helped lead the way for the sport to be resuscitated at his alma mater when he donated $2.5 million toward Carleton’s return to Canadian university football in 2013 after a 15-year absence. “He is one of the finest human beings I know,” Mr. Waks says simply. The BOBs will also celebrate the city’s top business performers in more than a half-dozen categories and recognize the city’s 2017 CEO of the Year, who will be announced on OBJ’s website later this month. Mr. Ruddy will also take his place in the Plaza of Honour outside the World Exchange Plaza in 2018.

Before walking into the building, take a look the surroundings. Where will customers and employees park? How far is the closest bus stop? How frequent is transit service? Is it accessible to people with disabilities? Once inside, look at the condition – and sophistication – of the locks on the doors and windows. Also consider whether the common areas and parking lots are adequately lit. Lobbies, elevators, hallways and shared restrooms will make an impression on visiting clients and should be maintained accordingly. Pause for a moment to consider the unit’s acoustics. Do you hear the other tenants or traffic noise? Also consider the lighting. How far does natural light reach? When you find the right location and are ready to negotiate, experts advise working through a broker and speaking to a lawyer before making any commitments. Once a deal starts coming together, you’ll want to be sure a lease agreement spells out who is responsible for covering the cost of initial renovations. Landlords will often give new tenants a budget to fit-out their space, depending on how long the lease runs. The Quartier Vanier BIA has prepared several tools to help entrepreneurs across the city find the right home for their businesses. These include a step-by-step guide to finding a location in Ottawa as well as a commercial space directory. Visit to access these resources and learn more.


“We are delighted to honour John Ruddy not only for his outstanding business achievements with Trinity Group, but also for his generous philanthropic work,” says Ian Faris, president and CEO of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce. “Mr. Ruddy’s visionary leadership, especially on the revitalization of Lansdowne Park and the re-establishment of CFL football in Ottawa, has created a new legacy for Ottawa, the benefits of which will be felt for years to come.” Mr. Greenberg says Mr. Ruddy’s laserlike focus and tireless work ethic have allowed him to push through projects like Lansdowne long after lesser men would have abandoned them. “He put his muscle and his brain power to bear to making it successful,” Mr.


Finding a home for your café, store, art studio or startup should involve tours of several potential properties.


t’s a rare entrepreneur whose name alone would be enough to convince some of Ottawa’s most astute businessmen to pour their hard-earned dollars into bringing CFL football back to the capital after two previous franchises failed. But it’s a measure of the esteem in which John Ruddy is held that he was able to do just that. The Ottawa native who grew up a few doors down from Rough Rider legend Bobby Simpson and later starred on the gridiron himself at Carleton University went on to make Trinity Development Group a leading force in Canadian real estate before spearheading the successful bid to resurrect pro football in his hometown. For all his efforts as a community builder, Mr. Ruddy has been named the Ottawa Business Journal-Ottawa Chamber of Commerce 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. The award will be officially presented during the Best Ottawa Business Awards (BOBs) gala at the Westin Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 15. “At all levels – as a businessman, as a family man, as a philanthropist, as a sports fan, as a supporter of the city of Ottawa – he’s at the top of the class,” says his friend and business partner Roger Greenberg, executive chairman of the Minto Group and one of the men who bought into Mr. Ruddy’s vision for a revitalized Lansdowne Park with a new CFL franchise at its core. “I know I would not have gotten involved in Lansdowne but for John’s involvement,” says Mr. Greenberg, one of Mr. Ruddy’s partners in the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, which owns the CFL’s Redblacks as well as the Fury FC soccer club and junior hockey’s Ottawa 67’s. “He did say that he had an idea that would take a little bit of time, a little bit of money and we’d have lots of fun. It’s not so much what he said, but the person who said it. In my mind, John was always the centrepiece. He just had a gravitas to him and a sense of accomplishment.” Indeed, Mr. Ruddy’s achievements are impressive by any measure. After studying architecture at Carleton, he worked in real estate in Toronto for a few years before returning to his hometown and launching Trinity in 1992. Mr. Ruddy spotted the trend toward larger retail

outlets early on, putting his company at the forefront of the industry’s shift away from malls and toward big-box stores.



Stories and photos by Caroline Phillips


The verdict is in: Rockable Hours musicians know how to party



Ottawa lawyer Kirk Shannon, from the band Caveat Rumpus, belts out The Tragically Hip’s New Orleans is Sinking during the Rockable Hours charity concert for the Ottawa Food Bank.

From left, Rockable Hours organizer Albert Chang with fellow lawyer Kirk Shannon, who performed in the charity concert, and the evening’s emcee, Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Beaudoin, at the fundraiser for the Ottawa Food Bank held at the Babylon Nightclub.

Brenna Baggs helps out the lawyer band Caveat Rumpus with vocals at the Rockable Hours charity concert for the Ottawa Food Bank.

Gowling WLG partner David Law (left), board chair of the Ottawa Food Bank, with the organization’s executive director, Michael Maidment. University of Ottawa law students Sarah Lyle Skinner and Wil Longard from the band Bail Denied.

Daniel Boivin (left) and David Law, partners at Gowling WLG, sing with the band Chairman and the Bored.

The musical lineup included a Gowling WLG band called Chairman and the Bored. It was fronted by law firm partners Daniel Boivin and David Law. They were terrific and sounded more like a pair of nightingales than legal eagles. Coincidentally, Law is board chair of the Ottawa Food Bank. “It’s wonderful to get people out to learn about the food bank and have a good time,” Law told shortly before going on stage. He wasn’t really nervous, by the way.

Lawyer Max Binnie, lead singer for the band Caveat Rumpus, performs at the Rockable Hours charity concert.

“A lot of lawyers perform for a living, if you will, so we kind of get trained to go into that mindset,” Law explained before wondering aloud whether maybe he should be nervous. Don’t let the Latin throw you off with the band Caveat Rumpus, made up mostly of lawyers from the Department of Justice. The band was a blast to see live. It has a strong lead singer with lawyer Max Binnie, son of retired Supreme Court of Canada judge Ian Binnie. Lawyer Kirk Shannon once again proved himself a man of

many talents, on keyboard and vocals. He was last seen by performing Macbeth for the annual Lawyer Play fundraiser for the Great Canadian Theatre Company. On trumpet was lawyer Youri TessierStall, while University of Ottawa law professor Ian Kerr was on drums. The two other great bands that performed that night were: Bail Denied and Plaintiff and the Defendants, made up of law students from the University of Ottawa.

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The court of public opinion has ruled in favour of the Rockable Hours charity concert for the Ottawa Food Bank, basing its decision on the quality of musical talent exhibited by the participating parties – lawyers and law students. Boy, were they good. More than 250 friends, peers and colleagues packed the Babylon Nightclub on Sept. 29 to cheer on the lawyersturned-musicians while occasionally cutting loose on the crowded dance floor. By the end of it all, the popular benefit had raised at least $7,000 for the food bank. Returning to organize the charity concert for his third year was Albert Chang, a lawyer with the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). The organization manages Canada’s .ca domain name registry and develops and implements policies that support Canada’s Internet community. It’s also an ongoing sponsor of Rockable Hours. “When I was a law student (at Queen’s University), there were a lot of events that were really stuffy. This is a good way to show a different side of lawyers,” said Chang, who’s also a musician but was too busy running the event to perform that night. “It gives lawyers the opportunity to play rock stars for a night.” Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Beaudoin was the evening’s emcee. “We’re all about evidence; we’re all about proof,” he reminded the crowd. “Tonight, we’re going to provide you with definitive proof that we’re not as boring as accountants.” Attendees included Ottawa Food Bank executive director Michael Maidment, who reminded everyone that the non-profit organization helps 40,000 people each month.


CAPITAL OKTOBERFEST TAPS INTO COMMUNITY’S GENEROSITY She’s only just arrived to town, and already new German ambassador Sabine Sparwasser was involved last Wednesday night with a very important diplomatic matter: tapping a barrel of beer for Capital Oktoberfest 2017 at the Bier Markt on Sparks Street. With a few careful swings of the hammer, both by Sparwasser and by Bier Markt general manager Peter Chase, they got the beer flowing and officially launched the fundraiser. It netted $103,825 for the world-class University of Ottawa Heart Institute. The evening featured live music and prizes, a sumptuous spread of Germaninspired food and beer glasses big enough to bathe a baby. Tickets were $250 but came with a $125 tax receipt. Returning to co-chair Oktoberfest were Steve Gallant, first vice-president, branch manager and investment adviser at CIBC Wood Gundy, and Tony Rhodes, awardwinning sales representative with Coldwell

Banker Rhodes & Company. This year’s presenting sponsor was Mackenzie Investments, represented by district vice-president of retail sales Patrick O’Connell. You’d never know it by looking at him, but O’Connell is a heart attack survivor. In 2015, he was a fit and healthy 39-yearold when he started feeling inexplicably and consistently crummy. His symptoms included shortness of breath, achiness and fatigue. He soldiered on for a couple of months, parenting five boys, all under the age of 11. It was O’Connell’s father who ended up driving him to Queensway Carleton Hospital after he suffered a heart attack late one night. O’Connell was next sent to the Heart Institute for further testing. He was diagnosed with a viral heart disease known as myocarditis. It attacks the heart muscle, causes inflammation and is potentially fatal. Luckily, his case was caught in time

and he was successfully treated. “I have the fortunate and unfortunate experience of having actually been a patient of the Heart Institute,” O’Connell told “I was terrified when I was there, not because I thought I was going to die, but because I had these five young boys who needed their dad.” The Heart Institute plays a life-saving role in the lives of so many, added O’Connell, recalling a day in November 1982 when Dr. Wilbert Keon performed a quadruple bypass on his 70-year-old grandfather, extending his life another 15 years. The reason O’Connell remembers the date so clearly is because all his relatives came to town, just in case his grandfather didn’t make it. Spotted in the crowd of about 200 was Jim Orban, president of the Heart Institute Foundation, along with such supporters as Shannon Gorman from Telus; Cindy Tomlinson Keon, executive vice-president at the Tomlinson Group

German ambassador Sabine Sparwasser taps the keg for the opening of Capital Oktoberfest 2017 at Bier Markt on Sparks Street on Oct. 4.

of Companies; Chris Vivone, senior vicepresident of Edelman; and Greg Roscoe, a financial adviser with Contego Wealth Management of Raymond James. Particularly popular during the live auction this year was a dinner for 16 hosted by the German ambassador and her Canadian husband at her official residence in Rockcliffe. Her embassy dinner sparked a bidding war that was won by Meredithe Rechan. She paid $5,000, beating out BMO Nesbitt Burns investment adviser Andrew Beamish and Sheldon Rice, a financial adviser with Raymond James.



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Fight for the Cure aims to put cancer down for the count



The Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation was fortunate to have a committed group of businesspeople in its corner for this year’s Fight for the Cure, a popular charity boxing fundraiser that leaves participants at risk for a public pummelling. Not only did the businessmen-turnedboxers expose themselves to pain and injury, but they also collectively raised tens of thousands of dollars for local cancer research, clinical trials and cancer coaching. The gala raised a net $125,000 and brought together an impressive turnout of about 900 to the Hilton Lac-Leamy in Gatineau on Sept. 23 for a gourmet dinner, followed by white-collar and amateur boxing. The gala’s claim to fame is hosting the 2012 bout in which Justin Trudeau beat Sen. Patrick Brazeau. In the heavyweight category, Kammal Tannis from Tannis Food Distributors was pitted against Jim Carty, senior adviser and broker with Cresa, making for a fierce fight that ended nicely with a hug. Shawn Hamilton, managing director of CBRE’s Ottawa office, put his dukes up against Sean Cavanagh, a manager of software development and quality teams at CENX. Micheal Burch, managing partner of accounting firm Welch LLP, competed against Steve McBurney, client services director at Robert Half Management Resources. It was a battle of the networks between CTV Ottawa anchor Stefan Keyes and Radio-Canada sports journalist Jonathan Jobin. Organizers are looking to add female participants to next year’s event. The men trained twice a week for the past six or seven months with Scott Whitteker. By all accounts, Mr. Whitteker went above and beyond as director of Fight for the Cure. He took over the volunteer role from his brother, Matt Whitteker of Assent Compliance, who co-founded the event and fought as an amateur boxer that night (and won). Appearing on stage were such celebrity athletes as Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson and Ottawa Redblacks centre Jon Gott. The audience was packed with people from the business community, including Larry Bradley and Pat Kelly, co-owners of presenting sponsor Heart & Crown Irish Pubs. Hosting the event was former cancer foundation board chair and white-collar boxer Walter Robinson. The evening wasn’t all about the sharp jabs, uppercuts and left hooks, though. The audience also learned about the men’s personal cancer stories.

Scott Whitteker, director of Fight for the Cure, becomes emotional on stage while talking about his personal connection to the cause

Jim Carty (left) and his competitor Kammal Tannis before their bout at the Fight for the Cure charity boxing gala.

Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson helped to present the medals with emcee Walter Robinson.

Micheal Burch (left) and Steve McBurney symbolically raise their arms in the air together following their Fight for the Cure boxing match. From left, Giselle Bergeron-Raganold with her husband, Bruce Raganold, director of business development with sponsor Welch LLP, with Andrew Waitman, CEO of sponsor Assent Compliance, and his wife, Heidi Hauver, now with Keynote Group.

Matt Whitteker, who co-founded Fight for the Cure, inspired the crowd after winning his matchup.

Chief executive James Baker and his wife and business partner, Donna Baker, from Keynote Group, put up their dukes in the photo booth.

Larry Bradley (left) and Pat Kelly, co-owners of presenting sponsor Heart & Crown Irish Pubs.

Kammal Tannis reacts upon being declared the winner against Jim Carty.

Burch was just a kid – about eight years old – when he lost his father to cancer. He’s also had many friends die from the disease. The Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation is his firm’s charity of choice. His competitor, McBurney, agreed to fight because he wanted to raise awareness and funds for cancer research after his wife was diagnosed with the disease. He’s happily married to Melanie Adams, who’s often in the public eye as the president and CEO of the Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation. “This is his moment to shine,” Adams proudly told prior to the fight. If there’s a silver lining to the diagnosis, she said, it’s been watching the white-collar boxers devote so much of their time and energy toward a cause they believe in. “Steve really has been an incredible role

model in our family,” she added. Adams has advanced stage three melanoma and has started her 49 weeks of treatment. McBurney won his match against Burch. He felt “awesome, awesome, awesome” when Robinson asked him afterwards on stage how he was doing. That wasn’t quite the adjective Burch had in mind when posed the same question. “Not as well as (Steve),” he replied good-naturedly. Proving himself a powerhouse, both in the ring and as a volunteer fundraiser, was Tannis. He raised close to $25,000 and also won his fight against Carty. “He hits like a truck,” a breathless Carty told Robinson in the ring afterward. Learning how to box happened to be on Tannis’s bucket list when he was first asked to take part by the cancer foundation’s

Ottawa Redblacks centre Jon Gott, with emcee Walter Robinson, was another celebrity medal presenter.

vice-president of philanthropy, John Ouellette. “I have wonderful family, friends and businesses associates, and as soon as they found out I was boxing, they said, ‘We’re in,’” said Tannis, who sold a ton of tables and raked in donations. Keyes – who worked with a nutritionist to become a lean, mean fighting machine – said all he wanted was a cookie after his fight was over. “An M&M cookie from Subway would be golden,” he specified.


LABOUR OF LOVE: EMOND HARNDEN LLP CELEBRATES 30 YEARS OF SUCCESS From humble beginnings, Emond Harnden LLP has grown into the largest labour and employment firm in Eastern Ontario and one of the leading firms in the country. The Ottawa-based firm brought together its clients, past and present, to thank them for their support at its 30 Year Celebration on Sept. 28 at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne. Special guests included Mayor Jim Watson. He didn’t arrive empty-handed; he brought with him a framed official letter of congratulations for the two founders, Jacques “Jake” Emond and Lynn Harnden. Among the faces seen in the crowd of about 300 were retired chief justice John Richard from the Federal Court of Appeal, Ottawa Chamber of Commerce board chair Ian Sherman, a partner at Ernst & Young, and Dr. Chris Carruthers, former chief of medical staff at The Ottawa Hospital. Al O’Brien, senior partner at Nelligan O’Brien Payne, was also there. He and Emond articled together.

From the millennial set was Emond Harnden law student Patrick Twagirayezu, former winner of Ottawa’s Outstanding Youth Award from the local chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The room heard how the two founders came together in 1987 to open their own firm, relying on a bank loan from TD. “We’re not going to pretend they had a strategic plan or an operational budget or an HR strategy,” Emond Harnden chief operating officer Antoinette Strazza said during her brief remarks. “They had an idea. What I’m convinced has sustained them through the test of time is their core set of values, two of which are humanity and integrity.” Today, the firm has 34 lawyers. Back in 1987, there were only the two … and a half – the half being George Rontiris, who was an articling student back then but is now a partner at the firm. “I was concerned about whether the phone would ring and whether we’d make

Mayor Jim Watson dropped by Emond Harnden’s 30 Year Celebration, held at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne on Sept. 28, to congratulate the law firm and its founding partners, Lynn Harnden (left) and Jacques “Jake” Emond.

From left, Kathy Brulé with her husband, Lynn Harnden, Ellen Emond and Jacques Emond.

rent that month,” Harnden recalled on stage. “Thanks to a number of you who were around and supporting us back in 1987, the phone did ring and we made rent the second month.” In 2016, Emond Harnden was selected by its peers as one of the top 10 labour employment boutiques in the country. The founders also recognized their team of law partners and staff, many of whom have been with the firm for most of the ride.

From left, Emond Harnden partners Jennifer Birrell and Colleen Dunlop with Katherine Ryan and her husband André Champagne, also a partner at Emond Harnden.

From left, Don Sutherland from the Walls and Ceilings Contractors Association, with his wife, Marnie, and Michael Assal, president of Taplen Construction, with Paul Lalonde, partner at Emond Harnden LLP.

Sports fans will be excited to know the firm’s partners include Jock Climie, a football analyst for TSN and retired CFL player. “It’s just been spectacular that we’re all part of the same team, and we know that at any time they’re there for us as much as we’re there for them,” Emond said in his brief remarks. “Certainly, from my perspective, we have got the brightest, most energetic, fun-loving, crazy, wild people that we could practise with.”




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Calian’s $1B deal: Ottawa firm secures 12-year contract BY DAVID SALI












f Calian employees needed any more reason to celebrate during the firm’s fiscal year-end party on the last Friday in September at the Hilton Lac-Leamy, CEO Kevin Ford provided it in spades. At 3 p.m. that afternoon, Mr. Ford received the news he’d been anxiously awaiting for weeks – Calian’s 12-year contract to provide health-care support services to the Canadian military had just been renewed. And as a bit of a TGIF bonus, the firm also found out it had received two additional contracts to supply similar services to the RCMP and Veterans Affairs Canada. The expected total value of the deals: $990 million, including $875 million for the armed forces contract, plus an additional $60 million for the RCMP pact and $55 million for the Veteran Affairs deal. “There was tears, elation, joy,” Mr. Ford told OBJ the following Monday when asked to describe his employees’ reaction to the new deals. “This contract has been a big part of what we do for the last 12 years. You never take it for granted that you’re going to rewin these things. You couldn’t have scripted it any better. “From a financial lens, as a small-cap company, a 12-year contract with a value up to $1 billion is very significant,” Mr. Ford added. “It provides a solid foundation to continue to grow the company.” The new contracts are expected to kick in once Calian’s current 12-year pact with the Canadian Armed Forces expires on April 1, 2018. The deals have an initial term of four years, with options for an additional eight years. ‘UPSIDE FOR JOBS’ Calian’s current deal with the armed forces generates between $65 million and $70 million in annual revenues. The company said the latest contracts have the potential to be even more lucrative, but the exact services the firm will provide to the RCMP and Veterans Affairs have yet to be determined. Asked if the additional work will mean more hiring at Calian, which now employs 2,800 people, Mr. Ford said it’s too early to say. “We have no idea of the scope of the demand and how much more horsepower

Calian CEO Kevin Ford. FILE PHOTO

we’re going to have to add in,” he said. “I definitely think there’s upside for jobs … but I think we have to wait and see how this plays out before I can commit to any numbers.” Calian supplies a range of health-care services to armed forces personnel across the country, filling short-term positions at military bases, providing medical care in remote regions and offering access to specialists who are in high demand. The company will now provide similar services to the RCMP and Veterans Affairs. As part of the new contracts, Calian will partner with fellow health-care provider Bayshore, which operates a total of more than 100 home-care facilities, pharmacies and physiotherapy clinics across Canada. “We’re really excited about working with them,” Mr. Ford said. “They’re a key partner for us on this deal.” He also said the Ottawa-based firm, which has acquired five companies since he joined the executive team seven years ago, isn’t done expanding its base of customers and services. “We’re going to continue to look for other opportunities, whether organically or through acquisitions, to continue to grow our health-care footprint for sure. This is definitely a piece of the puzzle, but there’s still lots of things to get done.” In its last earnings report in mid-August, Calian reported third-quarter revenues of $67.3 million, a decline of eight per cent year-over-year. At the time, Mr. Ford attributed the drop to a “gap in the winddown and ramp-up” of major projects.

PROFILE Building on a strong foundation Tomlinson VP Cindy Tomlinson Keon never let her gender hold her back while making her own name in the family construction business BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS


indy Tomlinson Keon might not have grown up playing with Tonka trucks, but she learned early on the difference between an excavator and a backhoe. She’s one of the owners of Tomlinson Group of Companies, the largest privately owned, Ottawa-based heavy construction company in Eastern Ontario. The firm employs more than 1,800 people and owns and operates 14 pits and quarries. Its services include building roads and bridges, installing underground sewer and water pipes and providing aggregates, concrete and asphalt to waste management and environmental services. As long as she can remember, Ms. Tomlinson Keon knew her career lay in the family business, with her father Bill Tomlinson. “I don’t think that I ever questioned it,” she recalls. “It was just one of those things. I



She talks to her parents every day, both about work and personal matters. They live only a few minutes apart in Manotick and, along with her brother, all own waterfront homes next door to one another on the St. Lawrence River.


Tomlinson Keon’s favourite piece of advice is: Respect is not a thing that comes through name, profession or money; respect is something earned through the things you do and the way you live.



Ms. Tomlinson Keon has proven herself to be cover-page material. She once appeared on the front of a power boating magazine, co-piloting with her dad his renowned race boat, called My Way.


“When I was younger, I had to work against the bias of being the owner’s kid … As a family member, there is a responsibility to uphold the family name and set a good example for those working around you.” – TOMLINSON GROUP EXECUTIVE CINDY TOMLINSON KEON

started working as corporate counsel for her family business. She still remembers how intimidated she felt accompanying her dad to meetings of the National Capital Heavy Construction Association. The only other women she’d see were Deborah MohrCaldwell from Goldie Mohr and Kathleen Grimes from Site Preparation. In her 30s, she took over as president of the Centurion Conference and Event Center, which her family had acquired. She and husband Ryan Keon had their wedding reception there in 1999. Tomlinson Keon continued to work while raising two children, albeit with reduced hours. Their son William has just started his first year in the biomedical and mechanical engineering program at Carleton University. Emily is in Grade 11 at St. Mark’s Catholic High School. It can be tough raising children to pursue productive lives when they’re surrounded by wealth and privilege. For Ms. Tomlinson Keon, it was important that her children be grateful, not greedy.

“I think they know how lucky they are, and that they appreciate it,” she says. Growing up in a successful familyowned business comes with its own set of challenges and heightened expectations, she concedes. “When I was younger, I had to work against the bias of being the owner’s kid,” she recalls. “My kids are experiencing that now. “As a family member, there is a responsibility to uphold the family name and set a good example for those working around you. And if you don’t, you know you will hear about it,” she adds light-heartedly. With her kids now getting older, Ms. Tomlinson Keon is looking to branch out further. She’s been taking an education course designed for corporate directors. She also serves as president of her family’s new charitable foundation, established last year. “I’m at a point in my life where I will increasingly have more time to commit to my career,” she says. “I’m in the process of figuring out exactly where that will bring me.”


The Tomlinson Family Foundation, under the leadership of Ms. Tomlinson Keon, announced in July its donation of $1 million to the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, a non-profit organization that reaches out each year to 4,500 local children and youth through after-school, weekend and summer programs.

IMPORTANCE OF TEAMWORK “My father was the driving force in growing the business into what it is today,” says Ms. Tomlinson Keon. “His success is inspiring, and he definitely has given us – my brother, myself and our children – big shoes to fill.” Ms. Tomlinson Keon says her father taught her the importance of learning from others and recognizing their strengths, and of working together as a team. “As a company, we cannot accomplish something without the input of each and every member of the team, from the flagman up to the CEO,” she says. Ms. Tomlinson Keon got her own start at age 13, cleaning the office on weekends. Her summers always involved working for the family business in office-type jobs. She grew up in and continues to live in Manotick. After graduating from South Carleton High School, she earned a bachelor’s degree at Bishop’s before studying law at the University of Ottawa. In her late 20s, Ms. Tomlinson Keon

Tomlinson Group of Companies VP Cindy Tomlinson Keon. PHOTO BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS


Ms. Tomlinson Keon is related by marriage to one of Ottawa’s most famous doctors: retired heart surgeon and senator Wilbert Keon, founder of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. Dr. Keon is her father-in-law.

grew up in the business, so you sort of have this whole organic understanding of how it works.” Today, Ms. Tomlinson Keon, 45, is executive vice-president, director and corporate secretary at Tomlinson Group. She’s an equal shareholder with her older brother Ron, who holds the title of chief executive officer. Bill Tomlinson, 71, is the company chairman. The story of the self-made business began in 1952 with her grandfather Ralph Tomlinson and his trusty dump truck. His two boys, Bill and his younger brother Ken, got involved in the operation once they were old enough and eventually bought their father out. Over the years, Bill and his children became sole owners after purchasing the shares of Bill’s brother and those of others who had partnered in the business. “He took a lot of risks, but they paid off,” says Ms. Tomlinson Keon, recalling how her dad and mom, Johanne, used their Manotick home as collateral in order to buy their first quarry on Moodie Drive in the early 1980s. One could say that Bill Tomlinson left no stone unturned in building his road construction company into a multimilliondollar operation. It has successfully expanded both organically and through acquisitions, beginning with Beaver Asphalt in 1988 and continuing with others such as Greenbelt Construction, Goulbourn Sanitation and, most recently, Dufresne Piling Company.

TECHNOLOGY Ottawa-built open-source software making the grade Online classroom product launched at Carleton now saves U.S. Department of Defense $12 million per year BY CRAIG LORD


hat do Harvard University, the United States Department of Defense and a group of monks in Myanmar have in common? A local company and an Ottawa-born software are behind all of their online classrooms. Blindside Networks develops an open-source software called BigBlueButton that allows students and teachers to gather in one electronic space. The software plugs into learning management systems such as Moodle, as well as nearly every other major online learning provider. The platform allows for video chats, shared screens, interactive polling, shared note-taking and more.

More than 100 universities, including Harvard, Columbia and EU Business School, have BigBlueButton integrated into their LMS. It’s currently the sixthmost-used plug-in on the Moodle platform, and more than 5,000 websites in the world currently run the Ottawabuilt software. “We have become the de facto standard for online learning,” says CEO and co-founder Fred Dixon. But Blindside’s story is about more than a classroom: It’s a validation of open source as a business model, a government IT solution and a way to make technology accessible to users around the world. OPEN-SOURCE REVENUES The BigBlueButton project has its roots in Carleton University’s Technology

The BigBlueButton team at Blindside Networks. PHOTO PROVIDED

Information Management program. Roughly a decade ago, director Tony Bailetti harnessed the school’s resources towards unlocking the business model

behind open-source technologies. Mr. Dixon said Mr. Bailetti was looking for an alternative to the expensive online classroom software that





Millennial Leadership in the C-Suite


Millennial entrepreneurs are beginning to take charge. As they take command of the C-Suite, the question is: what style of leadership will they bring to the CEO job? Born digital and holding different values from past generations, Millennial CEOs promise to bring a unique approach to leading their business teams.



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“When people ask who our customers are, I just say, ‘The U.S. Department of Defense.’ End of conversation.” – BLINDSIDE NETWORKS CEO AND CO-FOUNDER FRED DIXON

existed at the time. It was Richard Alam, a former Nortel engineer, who first began developing the origins of BigBlueButton at Carleton. At that time, Mr. Dixon was looking for a new project. He had just exited the first iteration of Blindside Networks, which began as a web-based data analysis tool in 1995. Blindside raised $13.5 million over three investment rounds, eventually being acquired by Cognos in 2004. When Mr. Dixon discovered what Mr. Alam was working on, he says he thought immediately “there’s something here.” The nature of open source means that the new Blindside Networks makes no money directly from users downloading and running the software it helps to develop. Instead, the firm makes its money in two ways: hosting the service for the universities that opt to use it, and upselling additional features. Much of Blindside Networks’ revenues come from its three data centres spread out through Europe, North America and Australia. Blindside sells directly to its university customers to host BigBlueButton on its servers. The other revenue stream comes from Blindside’s value-adds to users. The firm can help with setting up, installing and maintaining the software, or it can be contracted to add premium offerings such as permanent access to recordings or other custom features by request. Blindside Networks now employs 14 full-time staff operating out of an office on Gloucester Street, and it’s looking to grow that number as it continues to scale.



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FROM OTTAWA TO MYANMAR Revenue streams aside, Mr. Dixon says one of the major goals of BigBlueButton has been to make education accessible to a wider audience. The provincial government recently awarded a $200,000 grant through its Ontario Centres of Excellence program to students at Seneca College to make BigBlueButton more accessible to users with disabilities. Other developers have contributed language features to the open-source platform, allowing for real-time closed captioning. One of Mr. Dixon’s proudest use cases has been a group of Monastic educators in Myanmar who have adopted BigBlueButton to help reach students in the troubled region. The country’s geographic diversity sometimes makes connecting students and teachers in rural regions difficult, but through Moodle and BigBlueButton, students are able to connect with teachers outside of school. The BigBlueButton project even developed a low-bandwidth solution to accommodate technical limitations in Myanmar to make sure even the most remote students could watch lecture feeds. “They don’t pay us anything. But they’re using our product to further the education of students who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it,” Mr. Dixon says. To be able to run a financially viable company that contributes a social good is at the heart of entrepreneurship for him. “We’re enabling education around the world. At the end of the day, that makes me feel very good.”


A GOOD DEFENSE Mr. Dixon says his approach to growing the firm has been based on entrepreneuring fundamentals: focus on one market and dominate it. Blindside targeted the education and e-learning sector, but its solution has found enterprise applications as a tool for collaboration. That’s how the small Ottawa company ended up with the United States Department of Defense as a customer. In 2014, the DoD found itself frustrated by the proprietary solution it was using for web conferencing. Mr. Dixon says its existing solution was costing the department $14 million a year, and it was in the market for a change. That’s when someone at the DoD installed BigBlueButton on a laptop and brought it in to show the rest of the team what was possible with an open-source solution. The capabilities of the software aside, its open-source nature let the department view the entire source code, allowing for diagnostics not possible with the incumbent proprietary software. Mr. Dixon says he was surprised when, a couple years ago, he received an email from a .gov account. “I had this conference call with

them, and they were telling me all of the things they were building out around BigBlueButton. I just about fell out of my chair.” Today, the U.S. Department of Defense runs the largest deployment of BigBlueButton in the world, with thousands of users on the system at a time. “They save $12 million a year on open-source software that originated at Carleton University,” Mr. Dixon says. The DoD invests in Blindside Networks to have the team develop specific functionalities, which in turn contributes to the larger open-source product. There is only one version of BigBlueButton running at any time, Mr. Dixon says, and it’s the result of more than eight years of development and client input. Ever since the DoD adopted Blindside’s solution, Mr. Dixon says the company hasn’t had much trouble pitching to new clients. “When people ask who our customers are, I just say, ‘The U.S. Department of Defense.’ End of conversation.”

THE LIST 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 MONDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2017




18 19 20

Company Name Address, City, Postal Code Phone / Fax Web site Fulton’s Pancake House & Sugar Bush 399 Sugar Bush Rd. Pakenham, ON K0A 2X0 613-256-3867 A.H. Fitzsimmons 1878 Co. Ltd. 46 Daly Ave. Ottawa, ON K1N 6E4 613-238-2100 / 613-238-7456 Marchand Lighting and Electrical 1283 Algoma Rd. Ottawa, ON K1B 3W7 613-749-2279 / 613-749-9952 Sanderson Roofing 437 Catherine St. Ottawa, ON K1R 5T7 613-233-9369 / 613-230-4646 E.R. Fisher Menswear 199 Richmond Rd. Ottawa, ON K1Z 6W4 613-829-8313 McIntosh & Watts 11-700 Industrial Ave. Ottawa, ON K1G 0Y9 613-233-2332 Freightliner of Ottawa 3818 Russell Rd. Ottawa, ON K1G 3N2 613-744-0974 / 613-744-8952 Budd Gardens Perennials 2832 Innes Rd. Ottawa, ON K1B 4K4 613-830-4328 Snelling Paper & Sanitation Ltd. 1410 Triole St. Ottawa, ON K1B 3M5 613-745-7184 / 613-745-7949 Binks Insurance Brokers Ltd. 100-881 Lady Ellen Pl. Ottawa, ON K1Z 5L3 613-226-1350 Frisby Tire 1377 Clyde Ave. Ottawa, ON K2G 3H7 613-224-2374 / 613-224-3782 C.A. Paradis / Chef’s Paradise 1314 Bank St. Ottawa, ON K1S 3Y4 613-731-2866 / 613-731-8439 Tanner Insurance Service Ltd. 200-2435 Holly Lane Ottawa, ON K1V 7P2 613-232-5704 / 613-232-6486 Hulse, Playfair & McGarry Family Chapels 315 McLeod St. Ottawa, ON K2P 1A2 613-233-1143 / 613-233-9166 Scrivens Insurance And Investment Solutions 270 MacLaren St. Ottawa, ON K2P 0M3 613-236-9101 / 613-236-0856 Rideau Bakery 384 Rideau St. Ottawa, ON K1N 5Y8 613-789-1019 Francis Fuels Ltd.

105-28 Concourse Gate Ottawa, ON K2E 7T7 613-723-4567 / 613-723-6722


Year Founded

No. of generations currently operating the business

# family members currently involved


Current Owner/Principal




John Fulton

Shirley Fulton Deugo




Alexander H. Fitzsimmons

Frank Rizzo




P.E. Marchand

Jacques Marchand




J.D. Sanderson

Don Mann




Emerson Ralph Fisher

Sonia Fisher

Men’s tailored clothing and sportswear; made-to-measure service




Grant McIntosh; Christina Watts

Rob McIntosh; Barb McIntosh; Peter McIntosh

Retail, fine tableware and gifts. Specializes in fine bone china coffee mugs designed in Ottawa under the “McIntosh” brand.




H.G. Francis

Matthew Francis




Peter Budd

Don and Dave Budd




Charles Snelling

Randy Graham Patrick Lahey

Food service packaging; janitorial supplies and equipment; industrial packaging; safety supplies




Harry S. Binks

Harry S. Binks

Specializes in directors’ and officers’ liability; automobile and power sports dealerships; manufacturers; non-profit organizations; defence industries; contractors and property management firms




George Frisby

Don Frisby

Owned by George, James and Don Frisby over the years, offers name brand tires, wheels, auto repair and brake services for customers located in and around the Ottawa area.




C.A. Paradis

Pierre Paradis

Retail store, commercial food service and restaurant supplier, specializing in fine kitchenware, small appliances, restaurant equipment, cookware, china and knives.




Allan R. Tanner




Charles Hulse

Type of business Maple sugar bush; seasonal restaurant; guided tours; gift shop; producer of organic maple syrup; maple gourmet and bath and body products

Full-service real estate brokerage

Electrical distribution; lighting supplies

Residential and commercial roofing, all types

Heavy truck sales and repair

Growers of perennial flowers, specializing in hostas.

Commercial insurance; home and auto insurance; boat Steven A. Tanner; Keith R. Tanner; and yacht insurance specialists; group auto and home Robert D. Tanner insurance

Sharon McGarry; Patrick McGarry Funeral and cremation service provider

Commercial insurance: contract bonding; marine insurPeter Scrivens; Michael Scrivens; ance; manufacturers; directors liability; professional Ole Jensen; David Scrivens; David errors and omissions. Personal insurance: home; auto; Scrivens; Shawn Ryan boats. Financial & estate planning; group life insurance and employee benefits; RRSPs; GICs




W.H. (Bill) Scrivens




Abie Kardish; David Kardish

David Kardish; Louis Kardish




H.G. Francis

Brent Francis




Omar Armstrong; Clarence Richardson

Eric Armstrong; Blair Armstrong

Footwear and accessories for men and women.




Robert Bourk

Gary Bourk; William Bourk

Automotive wholesale and repair; property development (Bourk Family Developments-Westboro Station)




Ernest Bouchard

Pierre Bouchard

Industrial distribution of bearings, power transmission components and material handling equipment

Bakery; wholesale and retail

Fuel; gasoline; propane; heating; air conditioning

Armstrong & Richardson Fine Footwear

4-1050 Baxter Rd. Ottawa, ON K2C 3P1 613-596-5511 / 613-596-5651 Bourk’s Complete Car Care

4009 Carling Ave. Ottawa, ON K2K 2A3 613-599-5232

General Bearing Service Inc.

490 Kent St. Ottawa, ON K2P 2B7 613-238-8100 / 613-236-8207

WND = Would not disclose. *Did not respond to 2017 survey – using data from previous years. Should your company be on this list? If so, please send details to This list is current as of August 6, 2017. © 2017 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 Patti Moran. Please send questions and comments to

FOR THE RECORD People on the move The Ottawa Film Office announced the appointment of 12 members to its new board of directors. Joining the team as board members are: Bernie Ashe, CEO, Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group; Steve Ball, president, Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association; Catherine Callary, senior director of destination development, Ottawa Tourism; Jean Cloutier, councillor (Alta Vista), City of Ottawa; Mark Edwards, lawyer, Edwards PC, Creative Law; Daniel Feeny, director of marketing and partnerships, National Capital Commission; Robyn Heaton, dean, faculty of arts, media and design, Algonquin College; Tom McSorley, executive director, Canadian Film Institute; Bruce Raganold, director of business development, Welch LLP; John Smit, director of economic development and long range planning, City of Ottawa (non-voting member); Ken Stewart, president and executive producer, GAPC, chair of the film and television advisory committee; and Nicole St. Pierre, senior vicepresident of business and legal affairs, Mercury Filmworks, vice-chair of the

film and television advisory committee. Catherine Callary was unanimously selected as chair. Kinaxis named Paul Carreiro as its chief revenue officer. In this role, Mr. Carreiro will lead initiatives to further drive sustained revenue growth as Kinaxis continues to execute its global expansion.

Hats off Calian Group has received the Canada Company Military Employment Transition Top Employer Award, which recognizes the company as one of the best employers for Canadian veterans and serving-member spouses. This is the third consecutive year the company has received this award. Espial’s Elevate cloud-based softwareas-a-service video platform received TV Tech Global’s Best of Show Award at IBC2017 in Amsterdam. Elevate won the award for its innovation in providing IPTV, cable and OTT operators with a proven, cloud, multi-tenant solution to deliver next-generation video services.

Ottawa 2017 and Mayor Jim Watson, in collaboration with lead partner CIBC, received the Most Innovative PR Campaign award at the 2017 Explore

Contracts The following contains information about recent contracts, standing offers and supply arrangements awarded to local firms. Lesage & Turgeon Electric 739 St-Joseph Blvd. Description: Fit-up of 6th and 7th floor Buyer: PWGSC $3,807,735 The Canadian Corps of Commissionaires 100 Gloucester St. Description: Commercial security guard and related services Buyer: Courts Administration Service $2,865,607

Canada Awards of Excellence. The awards recognize excellence and creativity in promoting and inspiring travellers to explore our country.

Canadian Bureau for International Education 220 Laurier Ave. W. Description: International scholarship programs Buyer: Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development $2,852,426 The Canadian Corps of Commissionaires 100 Gloucester St. Description: Commercial security guard and related services Buyer: Courts Administration Service $2,165,135 The Canadian Corps of Commissionaires 100 Gloucester St. Description: Commercial security guard and related services Buyer: Courts Administration

Service $1,865,257 R.E. Hein Construction (Ontario) 275 Michael Cowpland Dr. Description: Major building modifications and generator replacement Buyer: PWGSC $1,637,740 Calian Ltd. 340 Legget Dr. Description: Nursing care services Buyer: Health Canada $1,500,000 TCI Translators, Conference Interpreters Inc. 160 George St. Description: Translation services Buyer: PWGSC $1,192,060

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