Ottawa startup turns UFC stars into e-commerce merchants P65
Leadership in a year of extreme change
SUMMER 2021 Vol. 23, NO. 06
WELCH LLP OTTAWA BUSINESS GROWTH SURVEY
BUILDING BACK BETTER: The opportunities for businesses in a post-COVID Ottawa A permanent shift is underway in how we work, connect with clients and think about our city as a whole
READ THE REPORT
of economic growth in the capital, says Jim McConnery, managing partner at Welch LLP. “Business leaders really drive activity in our community, so it’s encouraging that there is a sense of hope,” he says. “That can translate into actual investments in the economy, which will help us bounce back stronger.”
www.ottawabusinesssurveyreport.ca to download your copy.
OTTAWA’S BUSINESS CONFIDENCE INDEX
The business confidence index is a composite calculation ranging from zero to 200, with a score of 100 representing a neutral position.
in the Ottawa community. CHOOSE LOCAL. CHOOSE WELCH.
4 .2 11 7 11 9. 2 12 4
mpty office buildings, shuttered restaurants and makeshift work-from-home arrangements were hallmarks of Ottawa’s economy over the past year. There’s widespread optimism that will soon change. With a mass vaccine rollout expected this summer, many hope the economic recovery already underway in some sectors will expand to the industries hardest hit by COVID-19. But relatively few observers believe the city’s business community will simply revert to its pre-pandemic form. There are already signs of a permanent shift in the way we work, connect with clients and think about office space, opening a virtually unprecedented opportunity for the city’s business leaders. The 2021 Welch LLP Ottawa Business Growth Survey explored how the city can build back better – taking the lessons learned during the pandemic and applying them to create a stronger, more vibrant Ottawa. Local companies are investing in digital tools and e-commerce platforms to reach new customers as many employers creatively help employees achieve better work-life balance through flexible arrangements. And, as the wider economy reopens, landlords and urban planners are eyeing ways of reanimating downtown Ottawa and other urban neighbourhoods. While there are undoubtedly more challenges ahead, this year’s survey of local business leaders paints a picture of optimism and a new phase
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Ottawa startup turns UFC stars into e-commerce merchants P65
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Leadership in a year of extreme change
SUMMER 2021 Vol. 23, NO. 06
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65 08 Caroline Phillips explores Ian Sherman’s post-EY career
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Robert Hocking on how a former CJOH executive is redefining wealth
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Ron Corbett unearths the hidden costs of construction
Commercial real estate: The rise of Ottawa’s boutique brokerages
16 Clean tech: Rod Bryden’s trash-to-energy technology rises from the ashes 21 The Bright Side of Business: Africa World Market’s
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FORTY UNDER 40 AWARDS 29 Recipients share stories of achievements, inspiration
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65 Techopia: Matt and Scott Whitteker’s newest venture 71 OBJ.social 74 People on the Move
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Forty Under 40 recipients leading Ottawa to a more prosperous, community-minded future I count my blessings at OBJ. I have the privilege of interacting with smart, industrious overachievers who are usually pursuing some larger purpose, such as social causes, improving the lives of co-workers or simply building a better community. In June of every year, those interactions take special focus as a new cohort of Forty Under 40 recipients prepare to take a bow. They never fail to impress. Given pandemic restrictions, this year’s annual networking event for new recipients was done virtually. We embraced a speed-dating format that saw four new faces flash on my computer screen every 10 minutes. It left me buzzing for hours as I tried to absorb these fastpaced introductions. There was Darryl Arvai, the 39-yearold corporate controller at Shopify, a real made-in-Ottawa success story. Arvai did his commerce degree locally, spent a few years with a major accounting firm and then cut his teeth at DragonWave. At Shopify, he played a key role in raising almost $7 billion in funding and then ramped up finance operations.
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That impressed me, but it wasn’t the takeaway. In passing, Arvai mentioned that he built a Shopify store for his favourite Bank Street bakery after he noticed they weren’t keeping up with e-commerce trends. No one asked him to do this – he just wanted to help. Matthew Carr, still in his mid-20s, took over his family’s third-generation insurance business when his father passed away from cancer in 2013. Since then revenues at Gifford Carr Insurance Group have increased fivefold – this in an industry overtaken by consolidation. The company has such a rich tradition of charity donations that it formalized its giving-back program. Cynthia Benoit also popped onto my screen, accompanied by her ASL interpreter. She launched CB Linguistic Services three years ago and experienced triple-digit revenue growth, all while creating jobs for seven deaf employees and more than 60 deaf and hard-ofhearing freelancers across Canada. While navigating her company through the pandemic, she is completing her MBA.
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These are three of the many people I met during the networking session. All of their stories are compelling and that’s why a big part of this issue is devoted to them. The profiles are full of great anecdotes and little gems of business wisdom. Enjoy. Forty Under 40 has grown into something much more than an awards program. Its recipients are like beacons on the horizon, leading us to a more prosperous, innovative and community-minded future. As the pandemic hopefully winds down, we’ve never needed them more than now.
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Did you ever consider that COVID-19 is like a training program for entrepreneurs and business managers? Marketing expert Robert Hocking (a columnist in this issue) is delivering a webinar for Invest Ottawa titled: “The COVID Bootcamp: How the Winners Adapted, Overcame and Delivered.” Hocking suggests many of the changes brought about by the pandemic will persist. The presentation will feature case studies of companies and lessons learned. Visit investottawa. ca for information.
It’s time for Ottawa’s rising young business stars to take the spotlight. The 2021 Forty Under 40 recipients will be feted in a professional online and TV broadcast organized by OBJ and the Ottawa Board of Trade in co-operation with Rogers TV. The show will be hosted by local media personalities Mark Sutcliffe, a founder of OBJ, and Sandra
Plagakis from KiSS 105.3. It will feature profiles of recipients, celebrity messages and a special musical performance. Visit ottawabot.ca to get updates on the broadcast and related events.
All aboard for the Mayor’s Breakfast for June. The regular speaker series, now a virtual event, will welcome Cynthia Garneau, the CEO of VIA Rail. She will speak about the train company’s big plans for the future. Before taking the top
OBJ and the Ottawa Board of Trade will tee off the back-to-work season with a networking golf tournament in late August at ClubLink’s 36-hole GreyHawk Golf Club. Attendees can register as a foursome or request to play in a mixed group. The tournament will include great gifts and prizes. Watch ottawabot.ca for updates.
job at VIA Rail, Garneau was president of Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Ltd. She brings 20 years of experience in the aerospace industry, including various technical and leadership roles at Bombardier Aerospace. Register in advance at ottawabot.ca to get the link to watch.
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No. 1 Foko Retail CEO Marc Gingras
U.S. firm acquires Gatineau’s Foko Retail
A Gatineau-based software firm that landed millions of dollars in venture capital to fuel its global expansion drive says those efforts have shifted into high gear now that it’s been sold to a U.S. tech company with customers in more than 80 countries. Foko Retail said in mid-May it was acquired by Workforce Software, a Michiganbased firm with offices in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The deal comes just three months after Foko closed a $3-million funding round aimed at pushing its employee communications platform into new verticals and penetrating deeper into U.S. and European markets. CEO Marc Gingras said joining the Workforce fold will dramatically boost Foko’s customer base and geographic footprint. “It’s like putting what we built on a trampoline – on a rocket, actually,” he told OBJ, adding the U.S. company plans to keep adding to Foko’s 40-plus headcount in the National Capital Region to meet an anticipated surge in demand for its products as they’re rolled out to Workforce’s clients around the world.
Hexo’s expected rank among licensed Canadian cannabis producers, by volume of dried flower, following its $925 million acquisition of Redecan.
Developer proposes hotel, 22-storey apartment tower for ByWard Market site of former Shopify HQ
I wanted to further sink my roots into the ground and just get my hands dirty. And, I love apples. – SAUNDERS FARM CO-OWNER MARK SAUNDERS ON THE FIRM’S ACQUISITION OF SPENCERVILLE-BASED FLYING CANOE HARD CIDER AND SUBSEQUENT LAUNCH OF SAUNDERS CIDER CO.
A Montreal developer with a growing portfolio in Ottawa is proposing a 22-storey hotel and apartment complex on the site of a historic commercial building in the ByWard Market that was once home to e-commerce powerhouse Shopify. In a recently filed planning application, Rimap Development says it wants to build the project on a P-shaped 1.3-acre property at 126 York St. and 151 George St. A fivestorey heritage warehouse building now sits on the York Street site and a surface parking lot occupies the George Street portion. The plan would see the Major Building – which was built in 1913 and is now protected under the Ontario Heritage Act – preserved and converted into a hotel with 214 suites. Perhaps best known for being Shopify’s headquarters back when the e-commerce powerhouse was still a fledgling startup, the 58,800-square-foot loft-style structure is now home to several tenants, including software company Kivuto Solutions and architecture firm Linebox Studio.
New Hyatt hotel opens in Bells Corners The Hyatt Place Ottawa West officially opened its doors to customers in late May – a debut that happened without any of the fanfare and fancy ribboncuttings that typically mark such occasions. The new Hyatt’s management team decided to take the plunge and start welcoming customers after delaying the opening several times. Owned by a local group that includes Colonnade Development president Cal Kirkpatrick, the new Hyatt is hoping its location near the new Department of National Defence headquarters and the Kanata North tech park will attract a steady stream of business travellers once the economy is back at full throttle.
Feds inch forward with major redevelopment of Parliamentary Precinct block
Almonte’s Dairy Distillery lands $4.8M in fresh funding An Ottawa-area company that’s gaining a loyal following for its spirits made from a milk byproduct has landed $4.8 million in fresh
Several organizations with a major Ottawa presence are among the firms that have
qualified for a design competition aimed at restoring and modernizing a prominent collection of historic government buildings in the Parliamentary Precinct. Public Services and Procurement Canada said the block facing Parliament Hill bounded by Wellington, Sparks, Metcalfe and O’Connor streets – known as “Block 2” – will be redeveloped into an “innovative complex that will meet the needs of a
modern Parliament.” The area includes 11 buildings covering nearly 110,000 square feet – several of which are designated heritage buildings – as well as two parcels of vacant land. The feds say the redesigned buildings will provide space for the Senate, the House of Commons and the Library of Parliament and will also include renovated retail space on the Sparks Street Mall.
venture capital as it looks to get a taste of the massive U.S. market. Dairy Distillery recently closed the new investment round led by Ag Capital Canada, a private equity fund based in the southwestern Ontario town of Tillsonburg that’s focused primarily on Canadian companies in the agriculture and food sector. Founded in 2018, Dairy Distillery makes cream liquors and other spirits from milk permeate, the liquid left over after cream, fat and proteins are removed from whole milk. The unconventional business idea has
been a resounding success for the Almontebased enterprise, which took second spot on OBJ’s 2021 list of fastest-growing companies with revenue growth of more than 2,000 per cent in its first three years. Co-founder and CEO Omid McDonald said the new investment would allow the company, which now employs more than 20 people, to expand its current facility and construct a large-scale ethanol plant capable of producing five to eight million litres a year of low-carbon ethanol for transport fuel.
Dairy Distillery co-founder and CEO Omid McDonald.
Welcome our newest Ottawa and Gatineau Partners We’re pleased to welcome Lynda Carter, CPA, CA, Mélanie Lefebvre, CPA, CA, Gilles Fleury, CPA, CA, Chris Stephan, CPA, CA, and Jeff St. Louis, CPA, CGA, to the MNP partnership in 2021.
Mélanie Lefebvre, CPA, CA
Gilles Fleury, CPA, CA
Chris Stephan, CPA, CA
Jeff St. Louis, CPA, CGA
Lynda Carter, CPA, CA
named Ottawa Businessperson of the Year in 2009. “I’m certainly not retiring but I am going to slow down.” He plans to continue working as a consultant and to remain engaged with “a manageable number of businesses” through board and strategic advisory roles for both private and public companies as well as through his new company, Relationship Capital. “I plan to continue to help nurture, mentor and develop our next generation of business leaders,” says Sherman.
Ian Sherman helped to guide the Ottawa Board of Trade through its ambitious amalgamation of several local chambers of commerce into a single organization in 2018. PHOTO BY LINDSEY GIBEAU
‘Rewiring,’ but not retiring: Ian Sherman prepares for life after EY SUMMER 2021
Board of Trade chair and community leader sees opportunities for more advisory and consulting work with new venture
BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS email@example.com
t’s fair to say Ian Sherman was a late bloomer. But once he figured out what he wanted to do and what he was good at, he wasted no time rising to the top, both as a tax expert at EY and as a dedicated and tireless community leader in Ottawa.
Later this month, the 62-yearold will be stepping away from his positions as tax partner and tax practice market leader in the Ottawa office of professional service firm EY. The chartered professional accountant has reached the mandatory age for EY partners to retire. “I see myself as ‘rewiring’ as opposed to retiring,” says Sherman, who was
During his nearly 32-year career with EY, Sherman has worked closely with major public companies that generate billions of dollars in revenues and with large private corporations in the real estate, technology and retail sectors. He’s also been a tax adviser to a former prime minister and a former governor general. “It’s been a privilege and an honour,” says Sherman of the strong client relationships that he’s forged. “I haven’t always had to be strapped to my desk, in the early days with pencil and paper or in the later days at a computer, drafting memos. A lot of what I’ve done in the last 10 to 12 years is nurturing relationships. I take enormous pleasure, and with gratitude, in the human dimension side of business. “I’ve had the privilege of knowing so many people in the community and I’m proud of the fact that I know a lot of the C-suite in Ottawa, many of whom are now also friends,” says Sherman. Not bad for a guy who battled extreme shyness as a kid. It was his wife, Randi, who helped to get him out of his shell. They met in their youth at Camp B’nai Brith, a well-known Jewish sleepaway camp. “She was the best thing that ever happened to me,” says the born-andraised Ottawa resident. “None of what I’ve been able to do both at EY and in the community would have been possible without Randi being that rock. None of it.” Sherman was elected as a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario in 2006 in recognition of his professional achievements and contributions. In 2013, Sherman received the CPA Canada Award for Excellence in Income Tax in recognition of outstanding service to the profession
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT IAN SHERMAN:
He once considered a career in law but went the accounting route instead. Interestingly, all three of his sons are lawyers in Toronto. Jonathan, 31, is a partner with Cassels; Matthew, 29, is a third-year associate at Davies; and Adam, 27, is a first-year associate at Gowling WLG.
Sherman can carry a tune. He conspicuously serenaded Randi at their wedding reception with a Lionel Richie ballad.
Sherman grew up in the former Nepean neighbourhood of Parkwood Hills. His dad, Jack, ran the Parkwood Hills Foodland while his mom Bea (née Shinder) worked as an executive assistant, first at his Jewish day school, Hillel Academy, and later at Carleton University. His parents’ marriage ended when he was 11.
His favourite spectator sport is hockey, followed by football. As a youth, he coached underprivileged kids at an outdoor rink in Parkwood Hills and dreamed of becoming GM of the Montreal Canadiens, before Ottawa had its own team. He also helped to coach his sons during their Nepean Minor Hockey years.
Best advice received, he says, is to never quit. “A lot of people have told me that you can accomplish anything you want to accomplish if you put your mind to it. And of course collaborate and co-operate, and do it with integrity. You can do anything you want. You really can.”
and the Canadian tax community. He is the kind of business leader who’s highly sought-after by organizations looking for his kind of talent, energy and enthusiasm. His decision to join the finance committee of the Soloway JCC in the early ’90s was somewhat of a launching pad.
I just needed to gain the selfconfidence to be able to go out there in the community and feel comfortable in my own skin. – IAN SHERMAN “I just needed to gain the selfconfidence to be able to go out there in the community and feel comfortable in my own skin,” said Sherman. Sherman currently chairs the Ottawa Board of Trade and the Ottawa-Gatineau Youth Foundation. In mid-June, he takes over from good friend Michael Polowin as board chair of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa. Sherman helped to guide the Ottawa Board of Trade through its ambitious amalgamation of several local chambers of commerce into a single organization in 2018. “I’m so proud of that,” says the University of Ottawa alumnus. “It was the right thing to do for the city.” He created the Ottawa Sports Celebrity Dinner many years ago and was also founder of what’s grown into
the Ferguslea Sens Soirée. Additionally, Sherman is a stalwart supporter of the Hellenic Community’s Gold Plate Dinner for the Heart Institute, with EY serving as auditor of its exciting prize draw. The event was started by Steve Ramphos, who founded District Realty with Sherman’s late uncle, Lionel Shinder. Sherman strikes the perfect balance between confidence and humility. He knows when to openly express pride, and it’s when he’s speaking about organizations he’s attached himself to, including Ernst & Young. The partnership’s rebranded EY letters, he says, have become a badge of honour that he will carry with him. “That’s what I’m most proud about, professionally, and the relationship advantage it has provided to be present and give back to our community.”
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Ray Sapiano’s journey from CJOH to outdoors entrepreneur An entrepreneurial story of true passion and second chances BY ROBERT HOCKING firstname.lastname@example.org
’d just finished reading an article on Zoom exhaustion and the malaise it produces because of the endless pressure of COVID-19 when I called Ray Sapiano of the Marten River Lodge to find out how he was doing. “I’m great,” he replied. “I get up every day and drink the best water and breathe the cleanest air in the world. I’m more active and healthier both physically and mentally than I’ve ever been.” Cue envy. Sounds great, I followed up. But how’s the pay? “It depends on your definition; what we do goes way beyond mere money.”
‘WORK WAS MY LIFE’ Ray Sapiano made a name for himself in the TV world at CJOH. His first encounter with the media industry came as a teen when he snuck into his future employer’s building through an unlocked bay door and gave himself a tour of the facility. “I was blown away by the studios,
cameras, the open space – I was so impressed,” he said. Not long after, his father took Sapiano – who had recently dropped out of high school – to audition for a CBC musical competition. He describes failing the tryout but approaching the floor director of the station nonetheless and asking how to get into the business. “He told me to go back to school,” Sapiano said. So he rejoined his classmates, went to college, and then graduated near the top of his class, having found his new passion. Sapiano grew his career at a time when community television was the corkboard of happenings in cities large and small. A time when people would call the station for help finding their missing dog. His first desk was an old coffee table with a turned-over trash can as a seat. He’d work there during the day before moving to the edit suite at night to keep the channel on air. “I was 20-something; my work was my life,” he said. After years as a master control operator, writer and producer in stations from Prince George to Pembroke, Sapiano got married, spent his honeymoon on the drive home, and settled with a new wife in Ottawa, where he eventually became the head of marketing for CJOH.
The industry saw these digital changes as a passing fad and ignored them until layoffs and consolidation consumed it. Sapiano was 52 when he got to the end of his suit-and-tie career. “I lost my job. I was scared, paralyzed,” he said. “I didn’t know how I was going to better that experience – how could TV be dead; how could my career be dead?” He was no longer in control. After CJOH he spent eight years moving from job to job working in production or for agencies but couldn’t manifest the same convictions that had previously driven him. Sapiano describes feeling defeated as he tried to make himself relevant in this new world. “It wasn’t anything to do with the companies I worked for; it was me,” he said. “I was lost in my own perception of myself.” Eventually his wife asked him point blank, “Ray, what do you want to do?” He interpreted the question as her giving him permission to follow his heart. “I said I wanted to own a fishing resort. She said, ‘Let’s do it.’”
BACK TO SQUARE ONE
AN INDUSTRY DISRUPTED To hear Sapiano describe his life in television is to hear bliss; someone who absolutely loved what he did. “I helped pioneer the medium,” he said. “I worked with the people who turned on the lights at CJOH in 1961 when it was live broadcasting. They transitioned television from black and white to colour.” It worked for Sapiano for almost 30 years. But then the internet blew everything up. Up until then, traditional media – in particular TV – was the sole proprietor of content. “People would schedule their lives around television programs. Carol Burnett, Ed Sullivan, you didn’t miss Max Keeping at six o’clock.”
The energy in our conversation suddenly went up. Once he made the decision, he stopped writing resumes and committed 100 per cent of himself into making his dream a reality. He rented a truck, drove across Northern Ontario and visited 22 lodges – “a learning exercise in what not to do,” he said – before eventually buying the Marten River Lodge, roughly 45 minutes outside of North Bay. Sapiano and his wife sold everything, shedding 27 years of accumulated stuff to re-make themselves. They went right back to square one, moving from a fourbedroom home into a trailer. Life became stripped back to the basics, allowing him to look at life differently. “This was something I’d never done before,” he said. “Suddenly we had to make it on the merits of ‘us,’” on the almost 30 years of trust and strength they’d built up in their relationship. Sapiano is a no-nonsense character whose temperament is driven by being frank, open and honest. He’s appealing in that way. You always know where you stand. In hearing about his journey after television, the idea of working the consulting circuit seems out of place for someone so forthright. Owning a business in the backwoods, where your clientele
It’s caused me to redefine wealth. It’s changed my values.– Ray Sapiano are largely guys whose greatest thrill is catching fish or hunting deer, would seem to lend itself well to this approach. Sapiano describes never having written a business plan before he bought the lodge, instead relying on the lessons learned in marketing. What struck him was how odd it was to have a business with no
guaranteed return for the consumer. “These lodges all hang their hats on fishing or hunting, on the idea that as a customer you’d be able to take home a fish or shoot a bird – but there’s no guarantee.” Sapiano knew that there needed to be something more, and that’s when his TV background became meaningful for his new business. “I realized, we’re actually in the business of creating memories,” he said. “The crazier the world gets, the more it consumes peoples’ lives, the more they need us. They come to Marten River Lodge, they unplug, experience something completely different to their day-to-day
life and become real again.” But it wasn’t all smooth sailing (or motorboating, as it were). Sapiano recalls arriving to take possession of the businesses and realizing he was now managing 15 buildings including a restaurant, 23 boats and staff to run it all. He lost a third of the business in his first year, but broke even by year three and was profitable thereafter. “We simply needed to get control of it all and put our spin on things,” he says. Flash-forward to 2021, and Sapiano says the past nine years “have been the best of my life.
“It’s caused me to redefine wealth. It’s changed my values. Running this business taught me this by shedding everything that was.” I asked if he’d do it again. “In a heartbeat,” he quickly responded. “The only regret is that I wish I’d have done it earlier. But in hindsight, I needed the growing, learning, and mistakes to be able to do this. It takes courage. But the real courage is in being honest with yourself about what gets you up in the morning.” Robert Hocking is a marketing strategist and teacher who’s endlessly inspired by the creativity of commerce.
PULVERMACHERKENNEDY & ASSOCIATES TRANSITIONING YOUR FAMILY BUSINESS IS BOTH A SCIENCE AND AN ART General Hospital, and nationally as the CEO of the Canadian Medical Protective Association. With Hartley, we are able to offer leadership help to key requirements the pandemic has exposed: transformation of the long term care and seniors’ housing as well as the mental health of employees returning to congregant work settings. Because we are values driven and wish to return something to the community that we are so fortunate to live in, we are making a financial contribution to the Paralympic Foundation of Canada to help Canadians with a disability achieve their dreams through sport. Further we are offering a free consultation to any new or existing client who makes a contribution of $1,000 or more. As we come out of this horrific pandemic let’s do something to help ensure that all Canadians have equal and unimpeded access to sport. To make a contribution simply visit www.paralympic.ca/pka
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Leaders are in the business of making decisions and creating new leaders. This notion is industry agnostic. PulvermacherKennedy & Associates have had 48 years of experience helping leaders in real estate, oil and gas, aviation, professional services, healthcare and financial services sectors. We continue to have a strong focus on medium to large family business succession planning, and have used case studies in this journal to illustrate the particular challenges patriarchs and matriarchs have in dealing with next generation conflicts, chemistry and competency challenges. We are successful in helping these leaders for two principle reasons: “ We know a thing or Two, Because We’ve seen a Thing or two”; and because we are a values-driven company like those we seek to help. Recently we have expanded our competency in the health care sector by adding Dr. Hartley Stern to our company. Hartley is well known to Ottawans in his previous roles as Chief of Surgery at the Ottawa Hospital, CEO of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Centre, and more recently as CEO of Montreal’s Jewish
The hidden costs of Ottawa’s ‘revitalization’ Should hard-hit merchants be compensated when construction projects decimate their business? PHOTOS BY JULIE OLIVER
BY RON CORBETT email@example.com
here are some business problems you don’t know about unless you’re in that business. Get an MBA. Two. Three. You’ll never know about the problem. Bassel Awada is a businessman with a problem you’ve likely never thought about. Awada is co-owner of the Lorenzo’s pizza shop at 94 Montreal Rd. Montreal Road is in year three of a four-year “revitalization” of the street. Construction began in June 2019 and is slated to end next summer at a projected cost to city taxpayers of $64 million. The cost to businesses on Montreal Road is harder to calculate. The City of Ottawa has posted signs saying that businesses on the street are open during construction. If you want to try it, I would suggest a few practice runs through a quarry. When I did it, both the sidewalk and the sidewalk-arrow sign disappeared on me. Left me standing in front of what looked like a Rideau Street sinkhole. When I asked a nearby construction worker what happened to the sidewalk, he laughed and pointed at the hole. I didn’t bother asking about the sign. Open for business? I suppose. If your customers are brave, physically active and never wear flip-flops. But getting back to business problems
Try delivering a pizza over there. – BASSEL AWADA, OWNER, LORENZO’S PIZZERIA you’ve never thought about. I talked to several pizza shop owners when I was hiking down Montreal Road. There are a lot of good pizza shops on Montreal Road. (I’ve never been inside a bad one.) “How in the world do customers get here?” I asked Awada, as we stood outside his pizza shop, staring at the starting line for this year’s construction – the Vanier Parkway – a half block from Lorenzo’s. “That’s not a problem,” he says. “Are you kidding?” “No. We never get that many walk-ins.” “So, construction isn’t affecting your business?”
“I didn’t say that,” and he points toward the sinkhole on the other side of the Vanier Parkway. “Try delivering a pizza over there.”
COMPENSATION QUESTIONS The business problems you never think about. According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, 41 per cent of small businesses in Canada report being disrupted by government construction projects. And five per cent of its members – or roughly 65,000 businesses – report being “severely impacted” by such projects. Ottawa seems to have a particular
fondness for “revitalization projects.” (That’s what we call them, by the way, in the nation’s capital. Infrastructure projects are for places like Hamilton.) The city has moved through downtown neighbourhoods like a revitalizing weedwhacker. Bank Street, Rideau Street, Elgin Street. Main Street. Montreal Road. They’ve all been whacked. No business has ever been compensated. “It has always been the city’s position that businesses will benefit from revitalization once the work is complete, therefore no compensation is necessary,” says Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury, whose ward includes the Montreal Road revitalization project. “It is an investment by the city that will benefit businesses on the street in the long run.” Most cities in Canada see it the same way (the reason for the CFIB study), although Montreal started offering compensation to construction-affected businesses in 2018, up to a maximum of $30,000. Given Ottawa’s love of revitalization, is it time to consider a similar program? Fleury is one city councillor who thinks it is. “(The city’s) economic development department is doing a study on that issue right now,” he says. “I’ll put in a request for an update.”
BUSINESSES BEING CC’D I’m hiking my way from pizza shop to pizza shop on Montreal Road, standing inside Eastview Pizza now, talking to Nick
offices for the local MPP and MP. There is your standard COVID warning posted to the doors of MP Mona Fortier and MPP Lucille Collard. The notices say the offices will reopen – sometime. Right next to the constituency offices are open businesses, trying to get through the construction and the lockdown. If that doesn’t leave a business owner on Montreal Road with a sinking, someone-got-out-of-Dodge-ahead-of-me feeling, I don’t know what would.
STUDY EXPECTED ‘IN DUE COURSE’
If the city just finishes the project, moves on and forgets about it, what have we accomplished? – DAN SAUVE, MANAGER, STEVE’S MUSIC
CONSTRUCTION ZONE RECORDS You’re on your own, Montreal Road. Welcome to the five per cent. No need to be lonely, though. There are many other five-per-centers in Ottawa (that’s the number the CFIB uses for businesses “severely impacted” by government construction projects). I may even know the leader of the local Five Per Centers. The business that, by my calculations, holds the record for longest
Ron Corbett is co-founder of Ottawa Press and Publishing, a regional book publisher. A former columnist with the Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa Sun, Corbett was also the third editor of Ottawa Business Journal.
“I don’t know. I’m afraid to ask in case they put it inside next.” “It almost is.” “I know. I probably shouldn’t complain. I’ll survive this. Not everyone on the street is going to be so lucky. They’ve been cc’d.” “Cc’d?” “Yeah. COVID and construction.” That’s not bad. I’m stealing it. You can already start compiling a list of cc’d businesses on Montreal Road that didn’t make it. Karaoke bars, laser-tag rooms, restaurants – they’re papered over or abandoned, including the constituency
El-Sahibi, whose family opened the shop in 1964. It is late morning, the pizza shop has just opened, and El-Sahibi is in a good mood. He laughs when I tell him that the construction in front of his store is an investment the city is making on his behalf. “Here, let me show you my investment,” he says, and we walk outside. “What do you think?” And there stands a new traffic-light pole. Erected one foot from the front door of Eastview Pizza. “Why did they do that?” I ask.
Two days after putting in his request, city staff reply to Coun. Fleury with an update about the compensation study. The first paragraph has the pith and substance of the staff reply: “We have not looked at what other municipalities are doing to support local businesses during City construction projects. As you know, we have been over-whelmed with COVID-19 recoveryrebound efforts.” I believe this is the polite way of saying, “don’t hold your breath.” When Fleury asked if city staff could be more specific about the study update – how long is the overwhelming expected to last? – he received a second reply. This time, the pith and substance of the staff reply was in the last paragraph: “As time and resources permit, we will undertake an environmental scan of best practices/programs in other municipalities and determine what opportunities may exist and communicate back to you in due course (late 2021/2022).” This is perhaps stronger than don’t hold your breath. Although you may also notice two interesting things about the city staff replies. One – the City of Ottawa defines due course as next year. Two, city staff believe saying “we are overwhelmed” is a hall pass.
time operating in a construction zone. Steve’s Music on Rideau Street. The record is eight years. That’s how long there was a backhoe parked next to the guitar strings. Construction around the store started in 2012 with “revitalization” of the Rideau Centre. Then it moved to King Edward Avenue. (Steve’s Music is half a block from the intersection.) Then it moved to Rideau Street. Then came LRT construction. Then came the sinkhole. Then came the pandemic. Despite holding the record, the manager of Steve’s Music isn’t an advocate of compensating businesses. He worries about the cost to taxpayers. “The bigger issue is what the city does once the project is finished,” says Dan Sauve. “What are we doing to bring people downtown? If the city just finishes the project, moves on and forgets about it, what have we accomplished?” It’s a good point. The city tends to treat its “revitalization projects” like maturing bonds. The project is complete. Here’s your investment back, with profit (look at the traffic-pole flags!). Go have fun. The city does little after the maturity date to promote businesses that lived through years of construction. Nor does the city seem to have grasped this little urban-renewal fact – streets don’t need a city plan to change. They can do that all on their own. Look at “revitalized” Rideau Street. One year after construction ended around Steve’s Music, the city came back to remove the benches it had erected nearby. Too many people were sleeping on them. Six months ago, a methadone clinic opened next door. The city has yet to find a way to revitalize addiction. Although someone may get back to us in due course. “As an investment, after eight years, no, the payoff was not there for us,” says Sauve. Does he have any advice for merchants on Montreal Road as they enter year three of their revitalization project? “No. I’ll just wish them good luck.” I’ll do the same.
COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE
The following year, he launched Real Strategy Advisors, which provides advisory and brokerage services to office tenants in the tech, professional services and not-for-profit sectors. He’s never looked back. Too often, Fleming says, strict corporate policies at bigger firms put entrepreneurialminded brokers in a straightjacket. He points to an example from early in his career, when an employer told him he was storing too much sales data on a company server. “I think I’m addicted to being an entrepreneur and being my own boss,” Fleming says. “Are there days when you wish someone would sign off on payroll other than you? Yeah, but it’s worth it in the end.”
‘I’m addicted to being an entrepreneur’ Owners of boutique Ottawa real estate firms say they love the freedom of doing business their way BY DAVID SALI
KOBLE THRIVING PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON
fter more than a decade in commercial real estate, John Zinati had settled into a comfortable career as a leasing manager at a well-known locally owned Ottawa firm and could have simply counted down the days until retirement. Instead, he chose a different path. In 2016, he launched Zinati Realty, a boutique brokerage that serves mainly owners and landlords in the office, retail and industrial sectors. Since then, Zinati has brought on two more brokers and is looking to expand his team further as the industry slowly works its way toward a post-pandemic future. Looking back on his decision to leave the security of an established firm for the uncertainty of life as an entrepreneur, he has no regrets. “I was just faced with too many limitations, so I made the decision to go out on my own,” Zinati explains. “Being nimble and quick and working closely with these owners to get their spaces filled or get their buildings sold is really rewarding.” Zinati is one of a growing number of local real estate executives who’ve left comfortable, secure jobs at established big-name companies to start their own brokerages and advisory firms. Many of these owner-brokers point to the freedom of being able to make their own decisions and do their own deals without having to answer to corporate bosses as a major factor in making the leap. “I think commercial real estate brokerage in the boutique setting is one
Being nimble and quick and working closely with these owners to get their spaces filled or get their buildings sold is really rewarding. – John Zinati, broker of record at Zinati Realty of the last few places where you can just earn more with a little bit more elbow grease,” says Darren Fleming, the CEO of Real Strategy Advisors. “There’s so much upside.” Before launching his own firm, Fleming spent seven years as managing director of Cresa’s Ottawa office. His lengthy real estate resume also includes
four years as a sales representative at Colliers International and a one-year stint as a leasing agent with Montrealbased developer Canderel. In 2016, Fleming sold his shares in Cresa, left the company and enrolled in the Executive MBA program at the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management.
Graeme Webster is a partner at Ottawa’s KOBLE Commercial Real Estate, a firm that brokers mainly off-market and unlisted office and industrial transactions for buyers such as entrepreneurs and well-heeled professionals looking to build up their investment portfolios. He and fellow partner Marc Morin founded KOBLE seven and a half years ago after cutting their teeth for more than a decade at large, well-established firms. Webster says he thrives on the feeling of satisfaction he gets from navigating clients through deals that can set them up for retirement or attain assets that can be passed on to future generations. “Our focus is to help people establish that family legacy,” he says. “Real estate is really just the tool to allow them to do that.” Now at six employees, KOBLE recently brought Ottawa commercial real estate veteran Richard Getz on board as a senior adviser. The firm is also looking to hire someone to oversee its business operations as it continues to expand. Webster says that despite the overall uncertainty facing the industry at the moment, KOBLE is thriving. The firm has more deals in its pipeline than at any other time in its history, a development he attributes largely to the city’s reputation for being a safe haven in times of economic turmoil. “It’s a place where when there’s volatility, people want to jump in (the market),” he explains.
‘Dual delivery’ is here to stay As we look to some return to normal life, the precedent has been set for a dual delivery model that has in-person and remote participants in the same class. “While some programs – such as labs or soft skills training that is highly dependent on role-playing and reading body language – will continue to be best delivered in-person, I don’t feel that training will ever return to primarily face-to-face,” said Kathyrn Leroux, acting executive director of business development at Algonquin College. “Many instructors have said there is an interesting dynamic among remote students now – they can be following what is happening and they can also ask questions and share info with each other through chat tools.” ACCT’s strength doesn’t come only from this flexibility in program delivery, but also from how it will custom-build a program based on individual needs.
Changing the engine in mid-flight How Algonquin College Corporate Training adapted to stay the course for its clients Keeping individuals and employers on track This flexibility made it that much easier for ACCT to shift gears amid the pandemic and offer more of its training remotely. Some training did continue to take place inperson, with appropriate measures in place to ensure the safety of all participants. With the first lockdown, ACCT offered hundreds of free online courses to support the ongoing educational requirements of Ottawa-area businesses and the wider community. The team added additional new short courses on a variety of subjects through the spring of 2020 and provided a 25 per cent discount on paid courses. ACCT’s offerings have continued to evolve through the pandemic, with new platforms and online teaching tools, as well as the addition of virtual moderators to assist students and instructors. Program structures were also adjusted to help participants better juggle family and work obligations as children attended remote classes from home.
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How can ACCT help you adapt? It’s not just about hard skills, but also creating a workplace environment led by empathy that prioritizes emotional well-being. “Employers will have to take a fresh look at how they manage people and what it takes to build a strong corporate culture when some of the team may still work from home,” Snell said.“Many individuals will have decided it’s time for a change in career path. Whatever the case, ACCT is here to listen and develop the critical training and support to help with these transitions, whether it’s in the form of technical skills or those all-important soft skills.” To learn more about how ACCT can help your organization prepare for its next phase of growth, or help you with the next phase of your career, contact the team at 613-727-7729 or visit www.algonquincollege.com/ corporate for more information.
Like the employers and individuals that it serves, Algonquin College Corporate Training (ACCT) endured its own trial by fire over the past 15 months. With rapid shifts in technologies and labour force demographics, employers and individuals alike must reskill and upskill more often than ever before. For several years, ACCT was exploring the best way to serve these needs through in-class, hybrid and online forms of delivery. ACCT established a new 8,800-square-foot modern learning environment in downtown Ottawa at 700 Sussex Dr. This facility opened in the fall of 2019, just months before the pandemic hit. That’s when ACCT’s research into new delivery forms became invaluable. From the start, ACCT took a hybrid approach. Corporate or individual training could be delivered in-class, online or at an employer’s premises – whatever it took to deliver value and results.
Thinking way outside the box That’s the work of senior learning consultants like Joanne Snell. She will sit down for a needs analysis with any prospective client. If the requirement is simple upskilling, this may be well served through “open enrolment” in existing curricula. For complex requirements, Snell will work with the client to develop a custom curriculum of “dedicated training” that may include some combination of remote and in-person instruction. As we move out of the pandemic, Snell believes employers and individuals alike face a challenging period of reintegration. “The past 15 months have led many of us to re-evaluate our priorities when it comes to how we work, where we work and the kind of work we want to do,” she said.
KANATA NORTH We happen – finally – to have a product in the right place at the right time. — Rod Bryden, CEO, Omni Conversion Technologies
Omni Conversion Technologies once operated a demonstration plant on city-owned land on Trail Road, but the city ultimately severed its ties with the company then known as Plasco. PHOTO COURTESY OMNI CONVERSION TECHNOLOGIES
Long time coming: Bryden’s trash-toenergy firm lands first official sale BY DAVID SALI
Kanata cleantech company that’s risen from the ashes six years after filing for creditor protection has signed the first customer for its technology that converts trash into energy. Omni Conversion Technologies – formerly known as Plasco Conversion Technologies – said it’s closed a US$35million deal to sell one of its wasteconversion units to the Larsen and Lam Climate Initiative, a non-profit foundation led by California philanthropists Chris Larsen and Lyna Lam. Larsen, a billionaire tech entrepreneur and executive chairman of moneytransfer software firm Ripple Labs, is working with a California developer
who plans to install Omni’s system at an undisclosed location in the state. Larsen hailed the Ottawa-developed technology that uses high-temperature plasma gas to convert garbage into energy as a “first-of-its-kind product that can have a global and immediate impact.” Omni CEO Rod Bryden said Larsen heard about the firm last year from renowned renewable-energy expert Daniel Kammen, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley who has studied Omni’s technology.
KEY ENDORSEMENT Larsen ultimately decided that setting up one of the local company’s units would be his foundation’s first project in its fight against climate change. The
plant is expected to be up and running by the end of 2023. Bryden is hoping an endorsement from a significant figure in the greenenergy movement will help accelerate Omni’s path to market. “We have a number of discussions proceeding well, but they’ll proceed a lot better after that (sale),” he told OBJ. Bryden conceded that many potential investors and customers have been skittish about pouring money into “what was seen as a reincarnation of Plasco,” but he thinks the tide may be turning. “We happen – finally – to have a product in the right place at the right time.” Its first official sale is a long time coming for the firm, which was founded by Bryden 16 years ago and was once
considered a rising star in the local cleantech scene. In 2008, then-Plasco convinced Ottawa city council to provide municipal land for a demonstration project on Trail Road. The company spent hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment attempting to prove its technology would work. Three years later, Plasco got the green light from the province to build a commercial plant and signed a 20-year, $180-million deal with the city to take as much as 300 tonnes of garbage a day. But the company missed several deadlines to provide the city with plans for a functioning plant. In late 2013, Bryden was replaced as CEO by Ray Floyd, a former senior executive at General Motors, Exxon Mobil and Suncor Energy. After the company struggled to meet several deadlines to secure additional financing, the firm ultimately filed for protection from its creditors in early 2015. Later that year, Bryden repurchased the company for $1 in a transaction that included its intellectual property, but not the Trail Road facility.
POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS IN NORTH AMERICA, EUROPE While Bryden admits the last few years have been a tough go, he said Omni appears to be back on track. The company is now in talks with several potential customers in North America and Europe. But Bryden cautions that Omni’s system is just one component of the complex and expensive process of turning trash into green hydrogen and other fuels. Discussions with prospective buyers can stretch on for months with no guarantee they’ll result in a signed contract, he noted. “The opportunities are large,” Bryden said, adding: “We could lose them all, or not.”
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OTTAWA’S PORSCHE DEALERSHIP DEBACLE SHOWS THERE’S A BETTER WAY TO INCENTIVIZE DESIRABLE URBAN DEVELOPMENTS The city should encourage investment in our communities, writes Architects DCA president Toon Dreessen
t is easy to lambaste city council for approving a $2.9 million tax break to a luxury car dealership in one of Ottawa’s poorest communities. Awarded through a program aimed at incentivizing development in target areas including Vanier, the move appears to be at odds with Ottawa’s aspiration to be a leader in fighting climate change. It also exposes the challenges of this one-size-fitsall policy and the expected relationship between the development industry, the city and the community. This is a relationship that needs to be renewed. This particular site has been a car dealership for decades. And there is little or no reason for Ottawa to oppose or prevent the dealership from being built. It is, however, concerning that a grant is being provided while we’re experiencing a housing crisis, cuts to transit service and holes in our social safety net affecting Ottawa’s most vulnerable residents. But this issue centres around a legitimate business making an investment in the community and opting to take advantage of a tax incentive program. This is a policy with good intentions and, as the public has stated, poor application.
These are legitimate businesses, even if not to City of Ottawa staff’s personal taste. Such efforts to exclude some businesses in favour of others can accelerate a community’s gentrification with unintended knock-on effects, such as pushing out vulnerable residents who can’t afford to move anywhere else. Excluding warehouses and wholesale operations was also easy, since this sort of use needs large swaths of land, surface parking for trucks and easy access to highways, none of which are available in Vanier. In short, most of the exclusions are either dubious in real social value or are unlikely to happen anyway. Car dealerships could have easily been added to this list of excluded businesses. The text that supports this program seeks to have new developments that “encourage urban renewal, promote the development of cultural assets, support businesses (and) contribute to making the city an attractive and business friendly environment.” All of this is commendable. The public disagrees that a car dealership meets these aims, and the outcry is, for now, the way in which they can hold staff and council accountable.
ENCOURAGING URBAN RENEWAL On the surface, the objectives of the Montreal Road Community Improvement Plan are laudable. If a landowner chooses to develop (or redevelop) their property, an incentive can be provided by the city to encourage this investment through a so-called tax increment equivalent grant for up to $5 million or 50 per cent of the redevelopment cost where the tax increase is more than $50,000. The city has listed a number of business types that are excluded from the program. These include bingo parlors, video arcades (do those even exist anymore?), adult novelty stores and body rub parlors – likely an attempt to “clean up” Vanier – among others.
INCENTIVIZING DESIRABLE DEVELOPMENT The city needs to encourage the type of development we want to see. That includes: • Faster planning approval. As-of-right applications should be approved within two months, rather than the current eight or more. According to the 2018 Ontario Association of Architects Site Plan Report, every month of planning delay in a representative 100-unit apartment building adds $20,000 per unit per month of delay to the cost of housing. That cost is passed on to buyers and renters, and the delays do little or nothing to add to the quality of the building. • Deferring development charges. It can cost a small infill development upwards of $2 million to get through
planning applications and pay development charges and security deposits before a shovel hits the ground. Deferring the bulk of this – the development charges – until occupancy frees up capital that a developer can use to kickstart their project. That cash flow can make or break smaller developments. • Extend that deferral for specific businesses or property uses. This could be small grocery stores, affordable housing or other key services that a community needs to be successful and inclusive. • Tie deferral periods to sustainable design. Net-zero energy or zero-carbon buildings – which will help the city achieve its climate crisis goals – need greater capital up front. The less sustainable the building, the sooner the development charges have to be paid. All these incentives are policy choices that the city can make today and don’t need to be targeted to a specific community or area. Any of these deferrals is simply a line item in the city accounts and costs the city nothing, other than paperwork. There is no fear of default since, if unpaid, the city can levy the costs against property taxes. We need a reset on the sort of policies we create. Good governance is that council steers and staff rows. We need to tell our elected officials that we want better policies that reflect the city we aspire to. We need to incentivize the development we do want, encourage investment in our communities and hold staff, and council, to account for well-meaning ideas that fail on execution. Toon Dreessen is president of Ottawabased Architects DCA and past-president of the Ontario Association of Architects. For a sample of Architects DCA’s projects, check out the firm’s portfolio at bit.ly/DCA-portfolio. Follow @ArchitectsDCA on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Ottawa’s Mission Control Space Services soaring to new heights BY DAVID SALI
ate next year when a vehicle bound for the moon is scheduled to be launched into space on a Falcon 9 rocket from Elon Musk’s SpaceX, a little bit of Ottawa will be hitching a ride. The Rashid lunar rover is being designed in the United Arab Emirates as part of the Gulf nation’s bid to ramp up its space exploration program. Among its key components is software made right here in Canada’s capital by Mission Control Space Services, a six-year-old startup based in Little Italy that’s now
supplying technology to some of Earth’s most cutting-edge companies. In the case of the Emirates Lunar Mission, MCSS’s AI platform will provide vital information to the Rashid rover as it studies a remote part of the lunar surface near the moon’s equator. The Ottawa firm’s software will help guide the 10-kilogram vessel throughout its mission, alerting it to changes in topography, warning it when obstacles are approaching and providing valuable information about geological features that will help scientists on the ground at Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre determine what areas of the
Ewan Reid is founder and CEO of Ottawa-based Mission Control Space Services. PHOTO COURTESY MISSION CONTROL SPACE SERVICES
terrain are most worthy of study. The firm’s founder and CEO, Ewan Reid, is an electrical engineering grad from Queen’s who got hooked on a career in space-tech after landing a summer job with Ottawa’s Neptec Design Group, which built operational systems for NASA’s space shuttle program and the International Space Station. Reid eventually worked at NASA headquarters in Houston, serving as a
controller on 10 space shuttle missions, and later helped design exploration vehicles for the CSA. In 2015, while pursuing a master’s degree in technology innovation management at Carleton University, he decided to put the entrepreneurial skills he was learning in the classroom to good use. With help from Carleton’s Lead to Win incubator, he launched MCSS that spring. “Ultimately, it was kind of a recipe to say, ‘OK, I’m going to go out on my own and start a company,’” explains Reid, who grew up near the Ottawa Valley village of Ashton. Before the year was out, the fledgling firm had a $500,000 deal to design software for the Canadian Space Agency’s autonomous rovers in its back pocket. Its ascent has barely slowed since then. The company has designed software for a variety of “international exploration companies” in the space industry, Reid says, and in late May the CSA put a little more financial rocket fuel in the company’s tank when the agency kicked in $3 million in fresh funding from its Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program.
“Confidence is your biggest asset. Without confidence it doesn’t matter what skills or training you have.” - EP.36: ADAM MIRON, CO-FOUNDER OF HEXO CORPORATION
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Coworking space operator TCC Canada breathes new life into Shopify’s iconic Elgin Street HQ Move creates opportunities for businesses of any size to access the best-designed collaborative workspace in Ottawa
ne of Canada’s largest providers of coworking and flexible workspace has snapped up space at Shopify’s former Elgin Street headquarters, opening opportunities for businesses to set up shop in what is arguably the city’s most unique and highprofile office space. TCC Canada’s move to reignite Shopify’s space at 150 Elgin St. comes as many employers are rethinking their office space requirements and how to provide a workplace that attracts talent, promotes collaboration between staff and presents a professional image to clients while still maintaining flexible remote-work options that became commonplace in 2020. TCC Canada already operates a network of shared and virtual office spaces across Ottawa and is adding the iconic former Shopify HQ, which has six interconnected floors of uniquely designed space – each of which is its own “ecosystem” of shared spaces and private offices – to its local portfolio. As businesses look to bring teams back together, 150 Elgin St. offers a premium employee experience without a long-term lease commitment, says TCC Canada president Sean Cochrane. “One of the biggest things employers are looking for is flexibility around where and how they work,” he says. “Whether that’s in a single office, a team room or an entire floor, at 150 Elgin St. you can still enjoy that highly collaborative ecosystem and that flexibility without having to break the bank or commit to a 10-year lease.”
Cost savings While the former Shopify office is known for its playful amenities such as a slide and colourful murals, its creative layout – with dedicated spaces for both quiet, individual work as well as collaboration – lends itself perfectly for coworking. The location features open spaces, comfy seating areas, private suites and offices as well
as theatre-style training and event spaces. “The space speaks to so many different uses and so many different people,” Cochrane says. “Not everyone is looking for that cookie-cutter corporate image, and this space is far from it.” Tenants also have access to a 10-gigabyte dedicated fibre network which includes stateof-the-art Cisco Security and can choose to include meeting or event space access in their agreement – saving them money in the long run by not paying the full overhead costs for amenities that go unused for significant periods of the day. All of the spaces at TCC’s Collaboration Centre have independent air circulation and feature modern HVAC systems and controls, helping to alleviate health and safety concerns about working in an enclosed office. Rethinking the office With so many companies rethinking their traditional real estate footprint, Ransome Drcar – vice-president of real estate services firm JLL Ottawa – says coworking can be a great solution for companies looking for ways of bringing employees back together. Working from a serviced office offers business owners unparalleled flexibility to take additional space or downsize as needed. “The worst thing a company can do right now is decide what their new footprint is going to look like five years from now,” says Drcar. “Coworking spaces can provide a very valuable service for companies as they try and figure out what our new normal is going to look like.” The former Shopify space also gives employers a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining employees who are increasingly looking to work in space that facilitates creativity and collaboration, he adds. “The changing demographics are really going to favour that type of environment over time,” Drcar says. “And TCC Canada’s new location is really going to incorporate those elements of creativity and flexibility all in one.” OBJ360 CONTENT STUDIO
Discover your new office Space at 150 Elgin St. is available immediately. Options include monthly coworking membership plans, dedicated spaces, private offices, private team rooms or even full office HQs suitable for teams of any size. If you’re interested in acquiring space for your team, contact TCC Canada at 613-566-7000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BRIGHT SIDE OF BUSINESS The Bright Side of Business is an editorial feature focused on sharing positive stories of business success. This column is presented by Star Motors, Ottawa’s original Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes Van dealer.
Africa World Market celebrates two decades of growth and expansions BY NICKIE SHOBEIRY email@example.com
SUPPLY CHAIN BOTTLENECKS
hen entrepreneur Hawaba Kebe first opened Africa World Market, she set up shop in a small location on Rideau Street, selling a curated assortment of food, clothing and cosmetics. Some 20 years later, she has grown her business into two large, thriving locations, with no signs of slowing down. “(The business) started out of her desire to eat foods that she missed from when she was back home,” says Mory Kaba, Africa World Market’s chief operating officer and Kebe’s son. Kebe immigrated to Canada from the Ivory Coast in 1992. When her mother would come to visit, she’d typically bring suitcases filled with various ingredients and foodstuffs from the Ivory Coast – items that piqued the interest of many of Kebe’s friends in Ottawa, who would ask where the products were from. Seeing the major gap in the city’s food market, Kebe – already an entrepreneur with her own cleaning company – switched gears, using her savings to open up Africa World Market in 2001.
when you come into the store.” Kaba was just six years old when Africa World Market first opened. When he wasn’t swimming or playing basketball, he was in the store. “I think it was easier for (my mom) to have me around instead of trying to hunt down a babysitter all the time,” he laughs. “I’d go there after school, just seeing how things were being done.” Fast-forward several years and, in addition to creating business strategies and ensuring operations run smoothly, Kaba is launching an online shopping platform for the store.
ABOVE: Mory Kaba is the chief operating officer of Ottawa’s Africa World Market, a business founded by his mother, Hawaba Kebe. RIGHT: Entrepreneur Hawaba Kebe, outside one of her stores.
QUICK EXPANSIONS Within five years, the business had outgrown its first home and moved to Charlotte Street. Four years after that, it moved to its current 4,000-square foot location on McArthur Road. By 2019, Kebe opened a second location in Cyrville, quadrupling to 17,000 square feet.
It’s important for Kebe and her team that Africa World Market incorporates the style and culture of the different African countries it represents. “We use a lot of African art on the walls (and) on the top of the shelves,” Kaba says. “We always have Afro music playing – things that bring culture out
With food and grocery stores deemed essential businesses and allowed to remain open throughout the pandemic, Africa World Market has seen an influx of customers, keeping its 40 employees busy. But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. The pandemic has made sourcing products from overseas a challenge, with expensive shipping costs and longer wait times. However, thanks to its large warehouse, Africa World Market is able to stock up its products, creating a buffer between deliveries. That same warehouse has played a key role in Africa World Market’s charitable events. Last year, the business partnered with the African Canadian Association of Ottawa, donating items for COVID-19 relief packages that were assembled in its warehouse space and distributed using its trucks. Africa World Market eventually hopes to open its own charitable foundation. “We do love to give back to our community, and we definitely are looking at doing more of that in the coming future,” Kaba says.
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CAPITALIZING ON OTTAWA’S EVOLVING COMMERCIAL LEASING MARKET Ottawa Real Estate Board members helping tenants, landlords navigate new trends
ith many office towers and traditional mainstreets still quiet, tenants and landlords alike face an uncertain outlook. Have the ways in which the city works and shops changed forever? Or are residents eager to rush back to Ottawa’s commercial districts to collaborate with colleagues and shop in-person as vaccines are rolled out? In both scenarios, members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board’s Commercial Network say the evolution of office, retail and industrial leasing in the city has opened up opportunities for tenants and landlords to explore new markets and re-evaluate how they think about commercial space. “Whether you’re a tenant or a landlord, now is a great time to get on the phone with your Realtor and discuss the possibilities happening in the market,” says Darren Fleming, CEO of Real Strategy Advisors. “Working with a trusted Realtor will help you navigate the uncertainty of what lies ahead and ensure you’re getting the best possible deal.”
A CHANGING MAINSTREET Mainstreet property landlords are facing a drastically different market as their retail tenants continue to face financial and operating challenges stemming from COVID-19 restrictions. Many business owners are more cautious to sign a lease than they were pre-pandemic and are searching for smaller, more affordable spaces, says Bill Edelson, a sales representative with Royal LePage Team Realty. This is having an impact on rental rates in some of Ottawa’s hot neighbourhoods. “Landlords aren’t seeing the same rent prices in Westboro that they would have three or four years ago,” he says, adding that lower prices have the potential to entice some new businesses to the area. “Alternatively, if there are tenants that just can’t afford to stay in these communities, they will look elsewhere.” This is contributing to an increased interest in properties closer to the suburbs and city boundaries – which could open more leasing opportunities for landlords and better deals for tenants.
How can an OREB member help you? Commercial Realtors provide professional services including: • Exclusive access to thousands of listings through the MLS System; • Professional advice based on market knowledge, experience and education; • Tenant and landlord representation; • Advice on real estate investment purchases and leasing
In rural regions especially, tenants can find high-value space at a fraction of the cost, making areas such as Almonte a market to watch. “Businesses are trying to go to where the people are, and that’s just not downtown anymore,” he says. “We’ve heard about people moving to rural areas during the pandemic; now commercial tenants are following suit.” RETHINKING THE OFFICE For any tenants considering upgrading their office space, now may be the perfect time to make the move, says Fleming. With many businesses experimenting with hybrid or fully virtual workplaces, landlords will likely look at lowering rental rates on class-A space to minimize vacancies. “We’ve seen many businesses let their leases end in
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favour of new working options, so this is good news for tenants looking to make an upgrade,” he says. “This shift could give a lot of office tenants choice in the next few years.” Lease negotiations have also evolved during the pandemic, with the majority of tenants looking to sign shorter three-year terms to reduce their long-term financial commitments. They are also looking for modern facilities that come equipped with updated finishings to help entice employees to return to the office, putting pressure on landlords to renovate their spaces. “When buildings were full, it didn’t make sense for a landlord to upgrade flooring or paint the walls because they were making money,” says Fleming. “Now, landlords who choose to leave their space untouched will likely face higher vacancy rates going forward.” RISING DEMAND FOR INDUSTRIAL SPACE While some office and retail landlords are facing shortterm occupancy challenges, industrial vacancies, by contrast, are approaching all-time lows. Tenants are snapping up smaller pockets of space of between 1,000 and 5,000 square feet as soon as they hit the market, causing demand to skyrocket, says Geoff Godding, a sales representative at Decathlon Commercial Realty Corp. “We are experiencing the lowest vacancy rates and the highest rental rates I’ve ever seen,” says Godding. “It’s definitely a landlord’s market out there.” Driving the market are local plumbers, contractors and construction companies that are seeing demand for their services spike during the pandemic. Although there are some new industrial projects in development that could bring some relief to the market, working with a commercial member of OREB is critical to helping you find available space when demand is this hot, adds Godding. “We’re checking for listings every day, and as soon as one pops up we’re on the phone to a client,” he says. “Tenants will need someone with experience to help them navigate the market if commercial leasing continues this way.”
RECONNECTING OTTAWA’S BUSINESS COMMUNITY How ThinkOttawa is helping local industry leaders reimagine meetings and conventions in the capital
A FRESH TAKE ON FOOD PAGE 26
BUILDING YOUR BRAND PAGE 27
PLANNING INDUSTRY CONFERENCES PAGE 28
The AMO conference brought guests to Ottawa virtually, digitally recreating the Shaw Centre lobby and Parliament Hill.
Event organizers put Ottawa at the centre of reimagined meetings and conventions Ottawa Tourism is ready to help associations and businesses plan their meetings and events, even if they look different than what we are used to
espite the ongoing restrictions on large in-person gatherings, local and provincial associations are finding creative ways to host their conferences and events – and managing to bring Ottawa to their attendees, even from a distance. While several groups were scheduled to bring trade shows and conventions to the city over the last year, many were forced to postpone or outright cancel due to the pandemic. Others, however, are proceeding with their events in new formats. As restrictions on gatherings are eased, local institutions such as Ottawa Tourism and the Shaw Centre are ready to help associations and businesses plan their meetings and events, even if they look different than what we are used to, says Jantine Van Kregten, director of communications at Ottawa Tourism. “The hospitality industry is chomping at the bit to get back to doing what they do best: Hosting,” she says. “Whether it’s the Shaw Centre, hotels or local museums, these groups are prepared to welcome people back in a safe and controlled way.” While multi-day, multi-venue events
may be temporarily on hold, there are still options available for those looking to reconnect with employees or groups that were kept apart this past year. Technology has been a key factor in keeping people connected, says Van Kregten, and it is a great way to start reintroducing conferences. The hybrid model – having a small number of people gather in person and connecting virtually with other groups in the province or country – allows organizations to come together locally while enabling people to explore the great amenities their home city has to offer.
As opposed to travelling to Toronto for an annual general meeting or yearly convention, hosting local staff in Ottawa and connecting via video conferencing is a “great alternative,” says Van Kregten. “Keeping these events in Ottawa is going to be a key part of the economic recovery for the city and the hospitality industry,” she says. “Your attendees will feel safer without having to travel, and you’re injecting muchneeded money into the city, so why not keep it local?”
Ottawa goes virtual
While some remain hesitant about gathering in groups, organizers can still bring guests to Ottawa, even through virtual events, as the Association of Municipalities of Ontario demonstrated last August. After months of preparing to bring the
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AMO conference back to the capital in 2020, executive director Brian Rosborough and his team were forced to change their approach, turning it into a fully digital event when COVID-19 emerged. Not wanting to lose out on the experience of attending a conference in Ottawa, they decided to virtually recreate the Shaw Centre lobby as the navigation hub for the event, as well as include surrounding sights such as Parliament Hill to give attendees a sense of familiarity during the new experience. “We often host the event in Ottawa, and our delegates always like to go because both the facilities and the attractions available are great,” says Rosborough. “This time, we took all kinds of steps to make sure it had some look and feel of the city, which was really well-received.” To further highlight Ottawa as the host city, Mayor Jim Watson and Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation Chief Wendy Jocko both gave opening remarks to welcome those attending, while Ottawa Tourism representatives provided information to attendees on what the city has to offer once everyone can safely travel again. “Ottawa Tourism was critical in helping us create a welcoming environment, even in a digital world,” Rosborough says. Hosting the conference virtually also allowed organizers to be creative with the content lineup, as well as with how users interacted with the event. Attendees were able to access webinars, videos and meetings from wherever they were located, giving them the flexibility to come back days later and revisit any material they felt they had missed. Although many were still longing for the face-to-face interactions and evening networking events commonplace at large conferences, having Ottawa locales present at the event definitely added a sense of comfort to everyone involved, says Rosborough. “It lent some familiarity and certainly acknowledged the important role of Ottawa as a host,” he says. “We really wanted people to understand that even though we couldn’t be in Ottawa physically, like we all wanted to be, we were still there virtually.”
A virtual tour of Ottawa As meeting planners look to the future, Ottawa Tourism is doing its part to ensure the capital remains a top destination for events and conventions. The organization has launched a virtual toolkit called Virtually Ottawa that provides planners with a bird’s-eye view of the downtown core. Filled with links to local amenities, excursions and activation opportunities such as cocktails from Bar From Afar, the virtual tour gives event planners a full picture of what Ottawa has to offer – all from the comfort of home. “We needed to find a way to give clients the opportunity to tour the city virtually, given that they’re not able to travel and experience it first-hand,” says Stephanie Seguin, the assistant director of sales, business events at Ottawa Tourism. “This tool will be full of local flavour, and will set the city apart as the place to host an event.” The virtual tool is accessible through Ottawa Tourism’s website.
Chef Patrick Turcot hosting the virtual cook along event for MPI.
How Ottawa meeting planners are creating engaging virtual events W
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ith in-person events on hold for the foreseeable future, CONNECTING IN THE KITCHEN event planners in the capital are putting a new spin on While eye-catching extras such as a prize wheel or an virtual gatherings and enlisting the help of local businesses interactive game are commonly used to draw guests to to create memorable experiences for online attendees. corporate booths at trade shows, the addition of an online But with many virtual events still lacking the natural activation can be a great way to reach a wider audience and opportunities for networking found at in-person ensure a lasting impression, says Karen Wiersma, an account conferences, a growing number of companies and manager at the Shaw Centre. organizations are creatively using bonus activities – or “Standing in a booth, hoping someone comes by never “activations” – such as wine tastings, virtual escape rooms worked before, and it definitely doesn’t work online,” she says. or a guided tour of a local landmark, to entice event goers “In a virtual world, you have to have a bit of a draw.” to connect in a more relaxed setting. For MPI Ottawa, it was the opportunity to cook “Activations are designed with audience engagement in mind,” says Stephanie Seguin, the assistant director of sales, business events at Ottawa Tourism. “We want people to be participating and experiencing the city through more than just a presentation.” Local community leaders including Ottawa Tourism and the Shaw Centre are working with businesses, restaurants and museums across the capital to create memorable activation DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE opportunities that event planners can Visit OBJ.CA/OBJ-DIGITAL-EDITION to view the digital edition for exclusive features incorporate into their online functions to help them stand out in the virtual world.
alongside one of the city’s top chefs that helped to draw a crowd of more than 100 participants to its annual year-end networking event. The local chapter of the international meeting professionals organization worked closely with Wiersma to plan a virtual cook-along with the Shaw Centre’s head chef, Patrick Turcot, who showed guests how to prepare a worldclass meal at home, guiding them through the process step by step. “The idea of getting on another call just to sit in front of your screen and occasionally chat just wasn’t going to work for us,” says Gabrielle Whittaker, director of member events at MPI Ottawa. “Seeing everyone participate and do something physical helped people get over that hump of being online all day.” Whittaker received such positive feedback from the event that she subsequently hosted a brunch cook-along with Turcot for her team at software firm Kinaxis, where she works as an events specialist. Hosting the gathering online also gave her team the opportunity to connect with their Kinaxis colleagues around the world – something they wouldn’t have been able to achieve had they met up in person. “This really demonstrated how much of a global reach you can have by hosting creative virtual events,” adds Whittaker, who is planning a virtual escape room experience for MPI’s next event. “It also shows the value of forming those great relationships with businesses in your local community and how a little creativity can go a long way.”
Ottawa chefs prepare for return of meetings and conventions with new culinary offerings, services
ith many of Ottawa’s conferences and conventions rescheduled, several of the city’s top chefs are hard W at work planning new and safe ways of using food to
becoming less common, says Turcot. Similarly, charcuterie spreads and similar offerings that invite guests to make their own plates will likely be replaced with pre-portioned individual servings. bring people together. Kenton Leier, executive chef at the National Arts “We are looking closely at everything from how we Centre, is also exploring creative ways of ensuring guests serve food to how we set up a room so that guests won’t can gather safely without sacrificing any part of the event lose the feeling of an intimate event, but will feel safe and – least of all the NAC’s well-known culinary fare. spread out in the space,” says Patrick Turcot, the executive “While the food experience may look different, the chef at the Shaw Centre. overall quality and taste will be the same,” says Leier, When business and social events resume in earnest, who catered a handful of events last summer before attendees are likely to see several subtle changes. For additional limits on the size of in-person gatherings were example, culinary staff will be more likely to serve dishes reintroduced. “I have a lot of confidence in the industry, to guests directly, with buffets and self-serve setups and I know we will adapt and make the necessary changes to be able to do things safely for our guests.” Providing clear directives on where attendees should gather and sit is also a priority when events return – a routine Leier and his team rolled out when hosting an outdoor wedding at the NAC. Where a typical event would see guests mingle over cocktails before a meal, NAC staff DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE instead directed guests to their tables as they Visit OBJ.CA/OBJ-DIGITAL-EDITION to view arrived. Louis Simard, the executive chef at the the digital edition for exclusive features Chateau Laurier, expressed similar sentiments OBJ 360 CONTENT STUDIO
about the ongoing changes to meetings and events. “You can expect that the sequence of service will be different and more streamlined,” adds Simard. “We have been nimble in our approach and we continue to look for any way possible to serve our guests and meeting delegates.” The ingredients going into the dishes will also be carefully considered amid the growing emphasis on supporting local businesses, says Turcot. He plans to continue to use locally and nationally sourced ingredients to not only create exciting new combinations for guests – such as a blackened cod with soba noodles and lobster broth, or mac and cheese with duck confit – but to help support local area farmers and producers affected by the pandemic. “It’s going to take some time before we get back to normal, but by working closely with local farmers, event planners and organizations across the city we will be able to earn back their trust and their business,” he says. “And we are very much looking forward to that day.”
A VIRTUAL KITCHEN PARTY While in-person celebrations may temporarily be on hold, some organizations are still finding a way to make food the centrepiece of their event – even from a distance. The Great Canadian Kitchen Party is an annual cooking competition that brings hundreds of people together for an evening of food and drinks prepared by top Canadian chefs. The event – which typically hosts its local competition and Culinary Championships at the Shaw Centre – also raises money for Canadian musicians and athletes. With large in-person gatherings out of the question during the pandemic, GCKP co-founder Karen Blair and her team brought the kitchen party experience into the homes of ticket holders instead. “Chefs, restaurant owners, musicians and Olympic athletes who had dreams of competing in Tokyo have all had their livelihoods put on hold, so we knew we had to do something to help,” she says. Virtual attendees – including more than 600 from across Ontario – were invited to order a takeout meal from a list of six local chefs competing in the event before tuning into an online broadcast of live music from performers across the country, allowing guests to still gather with their families and enjoy the perks of the Kitchen Party from the comfort of their homes. And, while the 2021 Culinary Championships portion of the party had to be postponed until 2022, the team is eagerly awaiting their return to Ottawa and the Shaw Centre, where guests will be able to come together to celebrate innovative menus from across the country. “Ottawa has some incredible chefs and a very lively culinary community, so for us it’s a great fit,” says Blair. “We are sad not to be hosting there, but we are looking forward to rejoining the community when it’s safe to do so.”
How SAAS NORTH made its home in Ottawa S
AAS NORTH is the first event of its kind in Canada: an annual conference that brings hundreds of cloud software executives, venture capitalists and tech enthusiasts together to network, strike deals and learn about the latest happenings in the softwareas-a-service sector. And when its organizers went looking for a city to launch the annual event in 2016, the support from Ottawa’s tourism and tech communities quickly tipped the scales in favour of Canada’s capital. Local meetings and convention experts showed the SAAS NORTH team how they could leverage local attractions, hotels and event space at the Shaw Centre to create a memorable experience for delegates. Five years later, the results speak for themselves. Attendance has grown year after year, reaching 1,200 guests in 2019, and SAAS NORTH has become one of the leading events in the Canadian tech industry, and is consistently ranked as one of the top five SaaS events globally. David Tyldesley, the vice-president of Vancouver-based Cube Business Media who co-founded SAAS NORTH with Ottawa tech accelerator L-Spark, attributes the growth to the connections his team has made in Ottawa. “It was kind of serendipitous for us to connect with a company halfway across the country who was contemplating hosting a similar SaaS event,” he says. “We have seen incredible grassroots support from the Ottawa community, which reconfirms that we made the right choice by partnering up and hosting it in the city.”
A VIRTUAL BACKDROP Hosting the event in Ottawa over the last four years also allowed SAAS NORTH to prominently promote and build its brand, adds Tyldesley, which contributed to the event’s continued growth. With fewer competing events taking place at the same time, SAAS NORTH is able to take over downtown Ottawa and host all of its delegates in one area as opposed to everyone spreading out at hotels across the city – making for a more cohesive event structure.
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“There was a lot of pressure to put this event in Toronto because of its size and market,” he adds. “But we saw an opportunity to stand out in Ottawa’s mid-size market and it has definitely paid off.” While plans were underway to bring SAAS NORTH back to the Shaw Centre in 2020, COVID-19 abruptly derailed the opportunity for delegates to meet in person. With SAAS NORTH pivoting to a digital conference instead, it was just as important to incorporate Ottawa into the event since the city has played such a pivotal role in the event’s success, says Tyldesley. The Shaw Centre team worked with SAAS NORTH’s emcee to film an opening welcome sketch from the event space, paying homage to where the event would have taken place had attendees been able to gather. “We had so much fun working on that video for the digital conference this year, and it was a really creative way to bring a sense of normalcy to the guests,” says Lapensée. “It was a great reminder that even though we moved to virtual, the Shaw Centre is still the home of SAAS NORTH.”
BREAKING THE EVENT MOULD From the outset, Tyldesley wanted to establish SAAS NORTH as a top-tier event and reached out to the Shaw Centre and Ottawa Tourism for insights into the local services available for a conference of its magnitude. Collaborating with Delia Lapensée, a senior account manager at the Shaw Centre, the SAAS NORTH team received marketing material to help excite attendees about visiting Ottawa. “We work really closely with Ottawa Tourism, our hotel partners and local off-site attractions to showcase what Ottawa offers as a host city,” says Lapensée, adding that industry officials typically give conference organizers a tour of the surrounding amenities to get a feel for the destination. “From there we look at their guest demographics, what food and drinks they like and how to design the floor plan
so it’s conducive to networking and mingling.” Lapensée and her team worked with Tyldesley to bring the SAAS NORTH vision to life, breaking the mould of the traditional conference floor plan. Steering away from the classic pipe-and-drape booths synonymous with trade shows, the team focused on ambient lighting, modern music and an intentionally casual layout that allows people to get lost in the content on display, as opposed to weaving in and out of rows of booths. Illuminated turn-key exhibits and displays added a subtle glow that added to the ambiance, befitting of the short November days. As SAAS NORTH continued to outgrow its initial floor plan, Lapensée assisted Tyldesley in adapting the structure of the event to incorporate even more meeting rooms and event spaces. “We had to do more than just rely on a great view; we wanted to create an experience for our guests,” says Tyldesley. “We managed to leverage the space, but also create an ambience that actually encourages people to hang out with the vendors and other attendees.”
How ThinkOttawa is simplifying the conference planning process How does an organization book 4,000 room nights across four hotels at the same time? ThinkOttawa makes it easy.
ith an abundance of hotels, shops and restaurants situated in the downtown core, it took executives from the International Association of Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Societies only one visit to Ottawa to agree that the nation’s capital would be the perfect place for their conference in 2022. Made up of scientists, federal employees and academics working to create policies and solutions to fight the effects of environmental chemicals, the association hosts an international conference every four years, bringing together members from more than 30 countries. The organization has never held the event in Ottawa before, and association president Paul White saw the opportunity to showcase the city and the work happening within it when North America was chosen as the upcoming conference’s location. In order to put together a pitch that truly highlighted the best parts of the city, White enlisted the help of ThinkOttawa – a partnership between the Shaw Centre, Ottawa Tourism and Invest Ottawa. The trio assists association leaders in planning conferences in the capital by helping organize bids and supplying marketing and promotional material as well as locating venues, hotels and excursions – free of charge.
From left, Carole Yauk, Paul White and Francesco Marchetti – members of the organizing committee for the upcoming International Conference on Environmental Mutagens in Ottawa – review materials for the event. File photo, taken prior to COVID-19.
“It’s pretty simple – without the help of ThinkOttawa we couldn’t have done it,” says White, who works full-time at Health Canada in addition to running the organization. “We would have had to set everything up personally, which would have been nearly impossible.” In preparation for the bidding competition, ThinkOttawa provided the IAEMGS team with a myriad of promotional tools, including an eye-catching video and a presentation highlighting the key benefits of Ottawa in order to help White sell the city as the best location. Before winning the bid in 2016, the team at ThinkOttawa organized and paid for a visit to the capital for association executives, which included a tour of amenities such as the convention centre, hotels and off-site venues, as well as the opportunity to visit areas such as the ByWard Market to get a feel for the city. “(The leaders) like for the delegates to be able to walk to get dinner, to shop and so forth,” says White, who was struck by the association’s enthusiasm for Ottawa. “When people came to visit, I think the proximity of it all was what was really impressive for them. It’s not very common that you have everything so close.” Working in collaboration with White was Theresa Gatto, a certified meeting professional and a senior business events manager at Ottawa Tourism, who says the partnership that forms between ThinkOttawa and the association is what makes the program so successful. To help White win the conference bid, Gatto worked with him to figure out what kind of event space the association could use and what kinds DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE of extra activities would be available for visitors, Visit OBJ.CA/OBJ-DIGITAL-EDITION to view as well as how many hotels they would need to the digital edition for exclusive features host roughly 1,000 guests. In the end, with Gatto’s OBJ360 CONTENT STUDIO
ThinkOttawa can help with: Accommodations When it comes to planning a large conference, guests often have to stay in more than one hotel, which can be daunting to organize. ThinkOttawa can help facilitate sourcing out hotel availability, ensuring all of your guests have a place to stay. “We help create connections with the hotel community and all members of Ottawa Tourism to provide options on availability and pricing. We send the information out about how many rooms a client is looking for, and then we act as the go between to communicate availability and pricing,” says Gatto. “Once contracted, those hotels would then block off those rooms, ensuring everyone is together and provide the organization with a link to register so the delegates can book their rooms on their own.” If you’re looking to host an event in Ottawa, visit thinkottawa.com to see how ThinkOttawa can help make your event a success. assistance, IAEGMS successfully secured four hotels, totalling more than 4,000 hotel room night stays. “It’s really important for us to work with thought leaders within our community from various organizations such as Health Canada and the University of Ottawa to bring large conventions to the city because the ripple effect of what it is that we do together is huge,” says Gatto, adding that events such as the IAEGMS conference can inject millions of dollars into the local economy. “We do all of that legwork because that’s what we do best. That’s our expertise.”
35, MANAGER OF DESTINATION DEVELOPMENT, OTTAWA TOURISM
Dr. Samuel Hetz Ken Jennings
39, OWNER, JENNINGS REAL ESTATE CORP.
Taylor Johansen Each year, Ottawa Business Journal and the Ottawa Board of Trade recognize the accomplishments, professional experience and community involvement of 40 of the region’s rising young business stars. Read stories of achievements, obstacles and inspiration – as well as the lessons learned along the way – from this year’s recipients on the following pages.
39, PARTNER, GOWLING WLG 39, CORPORATE CONTROLLER, SHOPIFY
Jonathan Atwill-Morin 39, PRESIDENT, ATWILL-MORIN ONTARIO
37, CEO, CB LINGUISTIC SERVICES INC.
33, FOUNDER AND CEO, SPARK LIFECARE
34, GENERAL MANAGER, CAVANAGH CONCRETE LTD. 34, PRESIDENT, GIFFORD CARR INSURANCE GROUP
Michelle Coates Mather 36, VICE-PRESIDENT, SYNTAX STRATEGIC
35, DIRECTOR OF PEOPLE OPERATIONS, YOU.I TV (A WARNERMEDIA COMPANY)
Dr. Tracy Dalgleish 36, PSYCHOLOGIST, INTEGRATED WELLNESS
38, FOUNDER AND CEO, MAKER HOUSE CO.
33, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER, FULLSCRIPT
39, WORLD WIDE HEAD OF AI/ML SOLUTIONS, AMAZON WEB SERVICES
37, CEO, CANADIAN CENTER FOR WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT
Elnaz Kanani K.
36, SENIOR MANAGER OF DATA AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, DELOITTE
38, VICE-PRESIDENT OF STRATEGY, FRANCONNECT
38, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, NEUROVINE
38, OPERATIONS MANAGER, PCL CONSTRUCTION
35, MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE USE MANAGER, OTTAWA PUBLIC HEALTH
38, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, QUANTROPI
28, CHIEF REVENUE OFFICER, NOIBU
38, FOUNDER AND CEO, CAPITALTEK
Christopher Redmond 38, DIRECTOR, DISTANT RED PICTURES
Allan Reesor-McDowell 39, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MATTHEW HOUSE OTTAWA
38, PRESIDENT, ASL CONSTRUCTION
37, DIRECTOR, CALIAN GROUP AND TUNDRA OIL & GAS
Solmaz Shahalizadeh 38, VICE-PRESIDENT OF DATA SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING AND HEAD OF COMMERCE INTELLIGENCE, SHOPIFY
Sarah Lynne Howard
39, MANAGER, WSP CANADA INC.
38, VICE-PRESIDENT OF ASSET AND PROPERTY MANAGEMENT, COLONNADE BRIDGEPORT
39, FOUNDER, CYPHERCOR INC.
35, MANAGING PARTNER AND CANADIAN CONSULTING LEADER, GLOBAL BUSINESS SERVICES, IBM
36, PRESIDENT, ROXBOROUGH BUS LINES LTD.
36, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE DEVELOPMENT, DESCARTES SYSTEMS GROUP
39, MANAGING PARTNER, BAIAME CONSULTING
39, PRESIDENT, TCC CANADA
36, AUTISM PROGRAM DIRECTOR, CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL OF EASTERN ONTARIO
36, PRINCIPAL, FOXNRTH
Ottawa’s biggest and best celebration of entrepreneurship
36, OWNER AND MEDICAL DIRECTOR, CONCEPT MEDICAL
Ottawa’s biggest and best celebration of entrepreneurship
39, PARTNER, GOWLING WLG Business: Law firm Born: Toronto Biggest business achievement: Rose to partnership quickly and helped build one of the largest municipal law teams in eastern Ontario. Biggest obstacle overcome: Overcame ferocious competition to rise as one of the prominent municipal law teams in eastern Ontario.
39, PRESIDENT, ATWILL-MORIN ONTARIO
Biggest influences: My family drove me to be community oriented and to strive for excellence. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Be gentle to yourself and to others. Everyone is going through various challenges – we will not always be our best self every day. Charitable involvement: Lifesaving Society of Canada First job: Paper route before being a janitor at a waterpark Advice I’d give the younger me: Pace yourself. It is a marathon. Favourite pastime: Swimming
Business: Historical building restoration Born: Montreal Biggest business achievement: Winning the contract for the north walls on the Centre Block rehabilitation project. Biggest obstacle overcome: As a startup in 2003, cash management was a great obstacle. We were not
39, CORPORATE CONTROLLER, SHOPIFY Business: E-commerce Born: West Lorne, Ont. Biggest business achievement: Helping the company raise billions of dollars in financing, including its 2015 IPO. Biggest obstacle overcome: Continuously scaling finance operations in the face of massive merchant, vendor and employee growth.
capable of expanding at the pace that we wanted because of funding. Biggest influences: As a thirdgeneration heritage specialist, my father was by far the greatest influence in my life. Our Sunday morning talks still mean the world to me. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Take the time to stay close to all the people around you. Give a nice friendly call to a client or a partner, and make sure your employees are well. Charitable involvement: United Way First job: Heritage mason Advice I’d give the younger me: Keep working! Work hard, but also smart. Favourite pastime: Flying
37, CEO, CB LINGUISTIC SERVICES INC. Business: Sign language linguistic services Born: Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Que. Biggest business achievement: Founding a consulting firm that has grown annual revenues by 750 per cent over the past four years and employs four full-time deaf employees, three part-time deaf employees and more than 60 deaf and hard-of-hearing freelancers
Biggest influences: My parents – they both modelled for me the value of hard work and family. My father has grown a small concrete business he started 35 years ago to more than 100 employees today. My mother worked full-time at a factory and managed to feed and support me and my three amazing siblings. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Try and find positives in hard situations. Working from home has afforded me the opportunity to have lunch with my wife and kids, Facetime distant family more often and have greater ownership over my time. Charitable involvement: The Ottawa Centre Minor Hockey Association and the Ottawa Sting Minor Hockey Association First job: Planting tobacco on my grandparents’ farm Advice I’d give the younger me: Plan for the future but live in the moment. Favourite pastime: Playing, coaching and watching hockey
across Canada. Biggest obstacle overcome: Being agile and making my business grow while facing a highly unpredictable environment when the pandemic hit. Biggest influences: Dr. Alex Iantaffi, who literally changed my career trajectory. He inspired me to be my best, and showed me what a healthy working environment should look like. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Agility and the team’s mental health and overall well-being truly matters. Charitable involvement: Canadian Deaf Sports Association First job: Dishwasher at a cafeteria Advice I’d give the younger me: Never stop learning, find yourself different types of mentors, stop holding yourself back and enjoy the journey! Favourite pastime: Kayaking
33, FOUNDER AND CEO, SPARK LIFECARE Business: Healthcare matchmaker Born: Kapuskasing, Ont. Biggest business achievement: The lives we have changed at Spark. We can successfully help a child overcome a cancer diagnosis, help someone walk again after a catastrophic accident or be there when a senior has their last few
34, GENERAL MANAGER, CAVANAGH CONCRETE LTD. Business: Concrete forming and material supply Born: Ottawa Biggest business achievement: Exceeded all financial targets on the MHLH Helicopter Facilities, Lansdowne Live and OLRT tunnel projects while being named the Top Value Added Salesman of the Year across Lafarge
Eastern Canada in 2014. Biggest influences: My family has continuously inspired me to challenge myself on both a business and personal level. I have also been very fortunate to be guided by strong mentors throughout my business career that have provided me opportunities to succeed. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Empathy and consistency. Understand how people react differently to fear and ensure everyone is provided sufficient resources and support to cope with it. Charitable involvement: Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health First job: Ottawa Citizen paperboy Advice I’d give the younger me: The results of stepping out of your comfort zone are worth it. Favourite pastime: Golf
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breaths when they have no friends or family. Biggest obstacle overcome: Following through on our commitment to bootstrap Spark from start to finish. Biggest influences: I lost my father and hero to mental illness a few years into building Spark. I am proud to continue his fight for ending the stigmas surrounding mental health. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: In a post-COVID economy, the companies that take care of their people the best when nobody is watching will be the most successful ones. Charitable involvement: Spark University First job: Slinging newspapers! Advice I’d give the younger me: You don’t have to be Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. The world already has one of each of these people. My clients, coworkers and family need a Bradley Bezan. Be him. Favourite pastime: Spending time at my cottage with my wife and kids.
From BDO to Ottawa’s Forty Under 40: Congratulations! Nothing drives leadership, resilience and innovation like times of crisis. Ottawa’s under-40 visionaries have proven they have these qualities in spades.
People who know, know BDO.SM Assurance | Accounting | Tax | Advisory www.bdo.ca
That’s why BDO Canada is a proud sponsor of Forty Under 40. The honourees have made outstanding achievements in business and our community.
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34, PRESIDENT, GIFFORD CARR INSURANCE GROUP Business: Property and casualty insurance brokerage Born: Ottawa Biggest business achievement: Took over and managed the business when my dad was terminally ill. Then took over the business during a pandemic. In both cases, I grew the business the following year.
39, PRESIDENT, TCC CANADA
Business: Serviced offices, coworking and business support Born: Edmonton Biggest business achievement: Grew an embattled coworking firm to a $10 million a year enterprise that’s been growing at more than 100 per cent a year for the past five years. Biggest obstacle overcome: Bootstrapped the company while we recovered from the fallout of the 2008
Biggest obstacle overcome: The passing of my father, and taking over the company in the pandemic. Biggest influences: My parents, who taught me the value of hard work, as well as Jim Mahood, who forced me to challenge my thinking from different angles. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Own it. Making decisions and trying to get consensus at the start of the pandemic was difficult with things changing hourly. I ultimately had to make decisions, move forward and adjust if necessary. Charitable involvement: Gifford Carr Gives Back Initiative First job: Greens crew at a golf course Advice I’d give the younger me: The same thing my dad always said to me: “It’s better to be seen than heard.” I’d add, “Always do the right thing, no matter the cost.” Favourite pastime: Relaxing with my family and friends at the cottage, or golfing.
real estate crash. Then pushing to grow the company tenfold over the past six years. Biggest influences: My father. He’s one of the most genuine, hard-working people on the planet. Everything he does is to help others and I hope to be half the man he is. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Look after one another! We’re all in this together and are all so much stronger together! Charitable involvement: Ottawa Network for Education First job: Paper delivery boy, then worked at an auto parts factory Advice I’d give the younger me: Never give up. Favourite pastime: All things music!
Michelle Coates Mather
36, VICE-PRESIDENT, SYNTAX STRATEGIC
Business: Public relations and public affairs consulting Born: Ottawa Biggest business achievement: Supporting a diversity of clients achieve their communications and public affairs objectives while providing trusted advice to overcome brand and perception challenges.
35, DIRECTOR OF PEOPLE OPERATIONS, YOU.I TV (A WARNERMEDIA COMPANY) Business: Software that powers streaming app experiences Born: Ottawa Biggest business achievement: Led You.i TV on all HR-related matters through a successful acquisition by WarnerMedia in December 2020. Biggest obstacle overcome: Starting my role at You.i during the pandemic
Biggest obstacle overcome: Returning to work following a six-month maternity leave with optimism and a desire to help Syntax grow its business offerings against the backdrop of COVID-19. Biggest influences: My parents. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Never assume you know how a colleague is feeling or coping. Also, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to employee well-being, especially in times of crisis. Charitable involvement: 21st Century Workforce Committee First job: Grocery store cashier Advice I’d give the younger me: Take advantage of every opportunity you can to learn and grow through experiences that challenge and fulfill you. Worry less about the titles and promotions. Favourite pastime: Spending quality, undistracted time with my family, including my three wonderful young children.
and working 100 per cent remotely with three young kids at home. Then, navigating through an acquisition after only being with the company for a few months. Biggest influences: My dad, who passed away in 2009. He worked extremely hard, always looked for ways to give back to the community and instilled in me a sense of confidence and determination. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Be patient and compassionate with those around you, and also with yourself. Asking someone how they’re doing, and being flexible, really goes a long way. Charitable involvement: iSisters Technology Mentoring First job: Working the concession stand at Ottawa 67’s games Advice I’d give the younger me: Aspire to be like the leaders who show empathy, and aren’t afraid to admit they don’t know all the answers. Favourite pastime: Reading a good book.
36, PSYCHOLOGIST, INTEGRATED WELLNESS Business: Mental health clinic Born: Toronto Biggest business achievement: I founded Integrated Wellness, starting as one clinician. It’s now a collective of eight female mental health care providers. Biggest obstacle overcome: I joined social media in 2018, sharing evidence-based research and tools
38, FOUNDER AND CEO, MAKER HOUSE CO. Business: Retailer selling a curated collection of furniture, homewares and gifts from Canadian makers. Born: Brampton, Ont. Biggest business achievement: Founded a retail startup and social enterprise that’s grown to $1.5 million in annual revenue, employs 10 people, sources products within Canada and
has donated more than $100,000 to Ottawa community organizations through the #CraftChange Fund. Biggest obstacle overcome: Pivoted from an immersive, tangible instore shopping experience to an e-commerce model during the pandemic while maintaining overall sales growth of 28 per cent. Biggest influences: My mother, who was always passionate about shopping local and supporting artists before it was trendy. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: That what we do as a business is essential to people’s lives. Charitable involvement: Parkdale Food Centre First job: Hockey referee Advice I’d give the younger me: Share your ideas, foster partnerships, keep dreaming and be patient. Favourite pastime: Playing guitar for my two kids.
Ottawa’s biggest and best celebration of entrepreneurship
Dr. Tracy Dalgleish
about mental health. There were very few psychologists on the platform at the time and I had to overcome a fear of being seen in this different way professionally. Biggest influences: Dr. Sue Johnson, creator of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and author of Hold Me Tight. Our meetings over tea in her sun-filled kitchen helped me push past my fear of failing my dissertation and find my voice in writing and clinical work. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: In order to move through something, you need to be willing to allow yourself to sit in uncomfortable feelings without a true knowing of the outcome. First job: Working at a small-town pizza shop Advice I’d give the younger me: You can do hard things. Favourite pastime: Being outside, with the opportunity to connect with nature and move my body, while having my two children and partner beside me.
The entire Quantropi team is proud to celebrate your well-deserved 2021 Forty Under 40 award.
James Nguyen, Co-Founder & CEO
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Founded in 2018 and poised for hypergrowth, Ottawa-based Quantropi is bound to be the standard for quantum-secure communications. Only Quantropi provides “TrUE” Quantum Security, combining the best of Trust, Uncertainty and Entropy — for data security you can count on today, and perfect secrecy you can trust forever. Visit our website to learn more about our groundbreaking technology, and exciting career opportunities!
33, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER, FULLSCRIPT Business: Supplement dispensing technology platform Born: Ottawa Biggest business achievement: Building and scaling the Fullscript platform, playing a major role in growing Fullscript from a small startup to a company with hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and
37, CEO, CANADIAN CENTER FOR WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT
39, WORLD WIDE HEAD OF AI/ML SOLUTIONS, AMAZON WEB SERVICES Business: Cloud platform Born: Ottawa Biggest business achievement: After growing the AWS enterprise business in New York and Boston, I returned to Canada as the first AWS Canada employee tasked with building out the AWS Canada business and solutions architecture practice coast to coast.
35, MANAGER OF DESTINATION DEVELOPMENT, OTTAWA TOURISM
Business: Destination marketing and management Born: Ottawa Biggest business achievement: A tie between helping to develop Indigenous Tourism Entrepreneurship Training and being asked to be a keynote speaker in Kuala Lumpur for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Biggest obstacle overcome: COVID-19. I continue to work with my fellow Ottawa Tourism colleagues to ensure our destination is well-positioned and competitive once restrictions are lifted and we’re able to welcome visitors back. Biggest influences: My amazing parents! From starting out as a marine biologist, to moving halfway across the world and back again, to changing career paths into tourism – throughout it all they have been my biggest cheerleaders. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Adaptability is key – situations can change quickly and the most effective thing you can do is be ready to roll with the punches. Charitable involvement: The Indigenous Tourism Collaborative of the Americas First job: Retail clerk at Gap Advice I’d give the younger me: Trust your gut and don’t be afraid to speak up. Favourite pastime: Travel
Business: Nonprofit organization fostering systemic change to support survivors of economic and financial abuse. Born: Ethiopia Biggest business achievement: Reached more than 10,000 people on how to identify and respond to economic abuse, financial abuse
and post-separation violence in the context of IPV. Biggest obstacle overcome: Learning how to get out of my own way by letting go of what I think others expect of me and focusing on being myself. Also, learning how to juggle priorities as a working mother. Biggest influences: My mother has taught me that hard times can be overcome and that losing battles can be won. She is my inspiration and my role model. Charitable involvement: Ambassador of Meaningful Business – a curated global network of progressive leaders who are combining purpose and profit to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. First job: Midwife Advice I’d give the younger me: To find the power of knowledge, aspire to inspire and set periodic goals. Look for mentors and invest in relationships. Favourite pastime: Mesicho
Biggest obstacle overcome: Building out the global AI/ML solutions program, hiring a new team and opening up an office partnered with Invest Ottawa at Bayview Yards. Biggest influences: My kids are slowly becoming my biggest influence. Seeing the world through their eyes really helps me focus on what really matters, understand what’s really possible and be grateful for what I have. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: We don’t really have to fly around the globe as much as we used to in order to drive meaningful business and impact. Charitable involvement: Bishop Hamilton Montessori School First job: Delivering the Pennysaver door to door Advice I’d give the younger me: Your choices are your most powerful weapon; choose wisely. Favourite pastime: There’s nothing better than building Lego with Thing One and Thing Two!
Ottawa’s biggest and best celebration of entrepreneurship
hundreds of employees. Biggest obstacle overcome: I’ve struggled with anxiety, but try to see it as an asset rather than a limitation by channelling it towards better performance at work. Biggest influences: Court Ewing, a senior engineering manager at Elastic. He helped me grow as a person, software engineer, manager and leader. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Being deliberate about creating connections in a distributed environment should be a top priority for healthy and successful teams. Charitable involvement: Ottawa Ruby First job: Unofficially, delivering phone books to businesses in Orléans with my parents, who owned and operated the Orléans Cumberland Phone Book. Officially, I began as a dishwasher – then cook – at a local restaurant. Advice I’d give the younger me: Listen to your intuition, and take more vacations. Favourite pastime: Cycling, guitar and walking my dog.
Ottawa’s biggest and best celebration of entrepreneurship
Dr. Samuel Hetz
36, OWNER AND MEDICAL DIRECTOR, CONCEPT MEDICAL Business: Advanced cosmetic medicine and medical skin clinic Born: Mississauga Biggest business achievement: Welcoming our 15,000th patient in December 2020. Biggest obstacle overcome: With no prior business background, learning and navigating the operations of a
36, AUTISM PROGRAM DIRECTOR, CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL OF EASTERN ONTARIO
small business. Biggest influences: My wife, Hana. For the last 17 years she has been my biggest supporter, constantly encouraging and believing in me. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: There is so much that can be done virtually. We have shifted our consultation process to 80 per cent virtual and will likely continue postpandemic. First job: Subway Advice I’d give the younger me: Worry less. It always works out. Favourite pastime: Great food with friends and family – cooking and dining!
Business: Pediatric health and research centre Born: Ottawa Biggest business achievement: Helping CHEO’s YouthNet/RéseauAdo program triple its capacity and reach. Biggest obstacle overcome: Becoming a mother and learning how to carry the responsibilities of parenthood
instilling the values of hard work, integrity and consistency, and my mother for encouraging me to do what I enjoy and to live a balanced life. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Relationships and trust matter more than any contract. Charitable involvement: Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation First job: Labourer on a landscaping crew Favourite pastime: Hockey and skiing
39, OWNER, JENNINGS REAL ESTATE CORP. Business: Commercial real estate company Born: Ottawa Biggest business achievement: Founded a commercial real estate business that now manages a diverse portfolio of properties and employs nine people. Biggest influences: My father for
while pressing forward with personal and professional growth. Biggest influences: I worked as a frontline disability support worker in Australia and cared for an incredible young man with multiple diagnoses, significant mental health challenges, social disadvantages and the most honest heart. Ray taught me the meaning of vulnerability, inspired me to pursue graduate-level education and led me down the career path I am on today. Also, my strong, cancer-surviving, career woman mother, Faye Linseman. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: We can quickly and dramatically change systems and reinvent the way we deliver healthcare services. Charitable involvement: CHEO Foundation First job: Delivering Avon catalogs Advice I’d give the younger me: Learn to cook earlier! Favourite pastime: In summer, hiking in the Greenbelt with my husband and two daughters. In winter, curling.
Elnaz Kanani K.
36, SENIOR MANAGER OF DATA AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, DELOITTE Business: Business consulting firm Born: Tehran, Iran Biggest business achievement: The network of people around me. Biggest obstacle overcome: Restarting my life as an immigrant – adjusting to the new culture, language, values and rules has been a fun, yet tough, curve.
Biggest influences: My PhD supervisor, Prof. Georges Zaccour, at HEC Montreal. He showed me how to be a better person and was the reason I kept going in difficult times. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Seeing how the world changed overnight reminded me of all the things that are sometimes taken for granted. Charitable involvement: Cornerstone Housing for Women First job: A data entry clerk at a small company. It forced me to practice patience on a daily basis! Advice I’d give the younger me: Don’t take life too seriously. And that it’s OK to be different and go off the typical and proven path for success and happiness. Favourite pastime: Reading books, especially novels by Jane Austen, plays by Eric Emmanuel Schmitt and poems by Rumi. I also enjoy keeping a diary of my random thoughts and life events.
38, VICE-PRESIDENT OF STRATEGY, FRANCONNECT Business: Franchise management software Born: Gatineau Biggest business achievement: Founded a high-tech startup named FranchiseBlast that supported more than 100 franchise brands before being acquired by FranConnect. Biggest obstacle overcome: Starting
38, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, NEUROVINE
Congratulations Matthew Carr
YOU ARE BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS. TRUST IN US TO PROTECT IT.
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Business: Digital health company combining AI and wearable technology to help brains heal Born: Ottawa Biggest business achievement: Founded a neuro-tech startup that has grown to 10 employees and partnered with clinics across Canada and the U.S. to improve concussion recovery.
Biggest obstacle overcome: Delivered a novel and effective medical technology to concussion patients who were isolated due to the pandemic. Biggest influences: Dr. Heidi Sveistrup, CEO of the Bruyere Research Institute, encouraged me at every stage of my career. She was my PhD supervisor and demonstrated that you can be a strong female leader while also raising a family. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Communication builds resilience. Working from home has increased our team’s communication and I’ve witnessed a collective increase in the resilience of our team. Charitable involvement: Society for Canadian Women in Science & Technology First job: I started a gymnastics summer camp for kids in my hometown. Advice I’d give the younger me: Be patient with my growth and confident in my abilities. Favourite pastime: Running
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with no money right out of university, managed to bootstrap the company to its exit with no outside equity funding. Biggest influences: Becoming a teaching assistant for Daniel Amyot (and later doing my master’s under his supervision) marked a pivotal moment in my self-confidence, which was critical in my development as an entrepreneur. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Avoid knee-jerk reactions. Even as many of our clients were being shut down by governments, we decided to take our time before making any major decisions. In the end, we made no layoffs and staff appreciated our transparency. Charitable involvement: I’m a big fan of kiva.org, helping other entrepreneurs help themselves. First job: Phone surveys in a call center Advice I’d give the younger me: Surround yourself with people who excel at your weaknesses, but don’t be afraid to learn their skills and apply them yourself.
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New COO finds the perfect fit to build her leadership skills Forty Under 40 alumni Neha D’Souza on what a Telfer Executive MBA did for her
hich comes first, achieving a senior executive role, or obtaining a Telfer Executive MBA? For Neha D’Souza, COO of Ottawa’s largest local independent law firm, they went hand in hand. D’Souza’s career path is the classic example of working your way up through the ranks. She first joined Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP/s.r.l. in 2008 as a law clerk with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from McGill University. Over the next five years, she would advance to human resources manager and also obtain her Master of Arts in Legal Studies from Carleton University. In late 2017, D’Souza was named the law firm’s COO. Shortly thereafter, she enrolled in the Telfer Executive MBA program. “I hoped that the program would complement my career progression by allowing me to further develop my knowledge and techniques within HR and help prepare me for future challenges as part of this all-encompassing role within my company,” D’Souza said. The EMBA program offered by the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa accelerates graduates’ business impact in three distinct ways: • Strategic business leadership • Global experience and mindset • Bringing value to their community
Success demands two years of hard work, using weekends and evenings to balance the commitment with a graduate’s day job.
Solving real business problems “The program is really tailored towards highperforming business executives,” said D’Souza. “The business consulting projects and dynamic course variety really appealed to me.” A series of six consulting projects emphasize the “global, practical, relevant” aspects of the
program. D’Souza worked with various types of organizations in different locations around the world, including Vietnam and Silicon Valley. In collaboration with her EMBA teammates, she developed recommendations to address pressing business problems in real-time. This teamwork and camaraderie has forged long-lasting relationships with her fellow graduates. “We became so close coming out of that experience and I am so grateful for that,” D’Souza said. By working to deliver realistic recommendations and action plans to solve current business problems, D’Souza acquired critical skills she could immediately apply in her role as COO with Perley-Robertson. “The program allowed me to reflect on and broaden my understanding of leadership and what makes a great leader,” D’Souza said. “I have been able to strengthen my personal competencies and even surprised myself with what I am capable of to achieve any business goal.” D’Souza can say this with confidence because those new skills were soon put to the ultimate stress test. She graduated from her EMBA only three months after the pandemic struck.
Passing the pandemic stress test D’Souza describes the confluence of challenge and opportunity to demonstrate her leadership and resiliency as “poetic.” A year into the pandemic, the law firm is as strong as ever thanks in no small part to her guidance. As Perley-Robertson’s COO, D’Souza is responsible for all aspects of the firm’s operations outside of finance – HR, marketing, business development, IT and facilities management. In addition, D’Souza serves on the firm’s management, diversity and IT governance committees. “I now find myself operating on a whole other level altogether,” she said.
D’Souza is also active in the community. She serves on the board of non-profit Family Services Ottawa, where she sits on the executive committee and chairs the governance and HR committee. In 2020, D’Souza’s career accomplishments and community involvement earned her a Forty Under 40 award from the Ottawa Business Journal and the Ottawa Board of Trade. What advice does she have for anyone considering a Telfer Executive MBA? “If you are in a leadership role within your organization or looking to expand or complement your skillset, go for it. I learned a lot and am very happy I enrolled.”
Is it your time for Telfer? The Telfer Executive MBA was recognized as CEO Magazine’s #1 Global Executive MBA in 2017 and 2018. Telfer is also one of only three business schools in Canada and 40 worldwide to have achieved the “triple crown” of accreditations – from AACSB (Advance Collegiate Schools of Business Association), AMBA (the Association of MBAs) and EQUIS (the European Quality Improvement System). To learn more, please visit telfer.uottawa.ca/en/emba
Ottawa’s biggest and best celebration of entrepreneurship
Ottawa’s biggest and best celebration of entrepreneurship SUMMER 2021 OBJ.CA
38, OPERATIONS MANAGER, PCL CONSTRUCTION Business: General contractor Born: Ottawa Biggest business achievement: Successfully taking on progressively larger roles within the organization. Currently overseeing the management of six individual construction projects, representing total contract values of more than $550 million and
generating more than $425 million in billings over the last year and a half. Biggest obstacle overcome: Navigating a new position while concurrently leading PCL Ottawa’s COVID-19 response. Biggest influences: My co-workers at PCL have taught me everything I know about the industry and how to navigate the various aspects of it while still having fun shaping the city’s landscape. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: It’s important to be flexible when looking at ways to maintain operational excellence, personal interactions and communication. Charitable involvement: The Royal Ottawa Foundation First job: Paperboy for the Ottawa Citizen and lawnmower extraordinaire. Advice I’d give the younger me: Work hard, learn as much as you can from those around you, and know that consistency and patience will pay off in the end.
35, MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE USE MANAGER, OTTAWA PUBLIC HEALTH Business: Promoting and protecting the health of individuals and our community. Born: Ottawa Biggest business achievement: Developed and implemented the first mental health strategy for the City of Ottawa.
Biggest obstacle overcome: A lack of funding and government support for mental health programs and services. Biggest influences: As an ADHD kid growing up, it was all the people in my life helping me channel my energy into positive outlets such as sports and volunteering – especially my grandma Phyllis, my parents and a few special teachers and principals who helped keep me out of trouble! Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Don’t sweat the small stuff, because if you are safe and healthy, and your family is safe and healthy, everything else is small stuff. Charitable involvement: The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention First job: Rink attendant at Fisher Park community rink Advice I’d give the younger me: You don’t have to have it all figured out, just keep working hard, have fun and be kind to others and yourself. Favourite pastime: Any physical activity outside and in nature
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39, MANAGER, WSP CANADA INC. Business: Innovative, high-quality buildings Born: Toronto Biggest business achievement: Mobilizing and leading a team of structural engineers and technologists from offices across Canada to deliver building structures associated with a nearly $2 billion project to construct and revitalize heating and cooling
39, FOUNDER, CYPHERCOR INC. Business: Cybersecurity Born: Lima, Peru Biggest business achievement: Founding and bootstrapping a hightech startup – which has grown to millions of dollars in annual revenues – while working with an incredible team and helping to increase the security posture of organizations of any size, worldwide.
COVID-19: How resilient, patient and strong people can be. Charitable involvement: IBM’s Employee Charity Fund First job: Working at a local grocery store, bagging groceries Advice I’d give the younger me: Working hard while being passionate and kind to people is at the heart of many of life’s accomplishments. Favourite pastime: Traveling with my wife and young kids, Emmett and Stella.
Business: Technology Born: Ottawa Biggest business achievement: Making partner at IBM at the age of 29. Biggest influences: My grandmother was one of the kindest – and strongest – people I have ever known. Biggest lesson learned during
Business: Passenger transportation Born: Ottawa Biggest business achievement: Taking Roxborough Bus Lines into its third generation as a family-owned business and expanding the company from a two-location, 120-employee operation to five facilities that employ more than 650 people.
36, PRESIDENT, ROXBOROUGH BUS LINES LTD.
35, MANAGING PARTNER AND CANADIAN CONSULTING LEADER, GLOBAL BUSINESS SERVICES, IBM
Biggest obstacle overcome: Navigating major labour shortages. During these instances we never once compromised our service commitments or safety protocols. Biggest influences: My father. He taught me that a strong work ethic makes it possible to achieve your goals and that leading by example brings out the best in your team and attracts the best team players. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Life can change in an instant and employers must use tools that work best for their team. Despite being apart, we learned that a wellinformed team is a resilient team. Charitable involvement: School Bus Ontario First job: Bus washer Advice I’d give the younger me: Never be afraid to ask questions. Listen to the opinion of others. Above all, once you make a choice – stand by it! Favourite pastime: Golfing, skiing and spending time with family
Biggest obstacle overcome: Maintaining a strong culture and work ethic while simultaneously scaling the solution, capturing market share and growing our team. Biggest influences: My father, Hernan Matute – the co-founder of Cyphercor – inspired me to relentlessly and purposefully pursue my passion and become an entrepreneur. He passed away in 2017. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Appreciation and gratitude Charitable involvement: The Ottawa Hospital Foundation and The Matute Legacy Endowment Fund First job: Paperboy for the Ottawa Citizen Advice I’d give the younger me: Believe in yourself. Never give up. Favourite pastime: Quality family time
Ottawa’s biggest and best celebration of entrepreneurship
Sarah Lynne Howard
plants and distribution systems in the National Capital Region. Biggest obstacle overcome: Equal opportunity in the construction industry does not necessarily equate to an equitable experience. I challenge this social stereotype by ensuring the validation of efforts by others, lifting up the women I work with by highlighting their achievements and creating a culture of respect. Biggest influences: My father never questioned my abilities to succeed at anything I put my mind to. Learning and creating motivates him; he’s passed that on to me. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Slow down and create space for yourself to live, apart from your identity of who you are in your business. Charitable involvement: Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance First job: Junior ski instructor Advice I’d give the younger me: Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Favourite pastime: Being outside
Ottawa’s biggest and best celebration of entrepreneurship SUMMER 2021 OBJ.CA
36, PRINCIPAL, FOXNRTH Business: Helps businesses get started, change direction and focus. Born: Ottawa Biggest business achievement: Successfully creating both the first commercial supply chain of cannabis into the U.S. in 2017 and the first commercial supply chain of psilocybin in 2021.
Biggest obstacle overcome: When the Trump administration closed the doors on the cannabis industry, I refocused on key criteria in controlled substances law, established key relationships and received approval from the same administration to import controlled substances. Biggest influences: My father taught me the importance of always learning and critical thought. My mother taught me the importance of relationships and empathy. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Health literacy should be taught in schools. Charitable involvement: My core work with FoxNRTH encompasses involvement in social justice and equity work. First job: Videoflicks, renting out movies Advice I’d give the younger me: It’s going to get weird. Stay the course. Favourite pastime: Spending time with my partner and kids
38, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, QUANTROPI Business: Quantum communications Born: Hull Biggest business achievement: Cofounding Quantropi, raising more than $5 million in seed funding, employing more than a dozen “cyber heroes” and being recognized globally. Biggest obstacle overcome: The pandemic forced me to upgrade,
grow stronger and pivot to ensure the company’s survival, while being present to my family’s needs. Biggest influences: My parents taught me being successful is being a happy person. They instilled in me to do good, as only through doing good can one truly be happy. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Be kind and strong enough to do the right thing, especially in the worst of times. Charitable involvement: OCCSC, In-TAC, and Ottawa Community Foundation First job: Started a carwash business with my brothers and friends at nine, but my first real job was a Harvey’s garnisher when I was 13. Advice I’d give the younger me: Always leap forward and the only thing that can ever stop you is your mindset. Change your mindset to where you want to go and do it sooner than later. Favourite pastime: Travelling and seeing the world
28, CHIEF REVENUE OFFICER, NOIBU Business: Software company that helps retailers detect checkout errors Born: Montreal Biggest business achievement: Founded Noibu at 23 and grew it from zero to millions of dollars in revenue while creating more than 25 highpaying jobs in Ottawa.
38, FOUNDER AND CEO, CAPITALTEK Business: IT services Born: Rostov-on-Don, Russia Biggest business achievement: Founding a high-tech firm that’s grown to $1 million in annual revenue, employs 12 people and helps more than 1,000 computer users work efficiently and stress-free.
Biggest obstacle overcome: Coming to Canada with only $500 and a student visa, working two jobs while studying and eventually launching a company without any capital. Biggest influences: Elon Musk – seeing how he created multiple companies inspires me to do more each day and set higher goals for myself and my company. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Realizing we are not only a local company, but global and can provide services Canadawide. Charitable involvement: Ability First Ottawa. First job: Delivering newspapers Advice I’d give the younger me: Hire a lawyer before signing important documents and use the services of other key business professionals. Favourite pastime: Riding my electric bike; restoring vintage computers
Your old furniture is their new beginning.
Ottawa’s biggest and best celebration of entrepreneurship
Biggest obstacle overcome: Fully bootstrapped, no external funding. Biggest influences: My mom is my biggest hero. She embodies the entrepreneurial spirit and taught me to never give up on my dreams. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Spend more time with your family – life moves so quickly. Charitable involvement: Startup Garage First job: Restaurant dishwasher Advice I’d give the younger me: Drop the ego and work harder. Favourite pastime: Reading and cycling
Ottawa’s biggest and best celebration of entrepreneurship
Christopher Redmond 38, DIRECTOR, DISTANT RED PICTURES
Business: Film and television Born: Blairmore, Alta. Biggest business achievement: Making a living exclusively directing film and television series in Ottawa, including a $600,000 feature film and two seasons of an original scripted comedy series. Biggest obstacle overcome: I was
laid off twice, and both times it felt like getting dumped from a relationship. Freelancing, however, led me to the career I always wanted, but was afraid to pursue. Biggest influences: Directors such as David Cronenberg, Bruce MacDonald, Don McKellar and Sarah Polley inspire me to be able to make a meaningful career without leaving Canada. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: When the co-lead actor of Stittsville on Patrol backed out for fears of shooting during COVID, I rewrote the series to be about a single character. That sharpened what I liked most about the concept, which wouldn’t have happened without the pandemic. Charitable involvement: Burundi Film Center First job: Fence painter Advice I’d give the younger me: Write everything down. Your career will depend on having a well of ideas, and you never know what will lead to the next one. Favourite pastime: Going to the movies
39, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MATTHEW HOUSE OTTAWA
Business: Charity providing shelter, furnishings and community to refugees and those transitioning to permanent housing. Born: Toronto Biggest business achievement: Turned around a local charity that was struggling financially. Biggest obstacle overcome: Increased
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donors by 162 per cent and donations by 168 per cent in 2020, even as more than two-thirds of charities nationwide saw a decline in donations amid the pandemic. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Don’t base your decisions on other people’s assumptions. Early on in the pandemic, I kept hearing that “the timing wasn’t right to fundraise for charity” as “everyone” was struggling. I took a different approach and invited people to support the important work we are doing at Matthew House Ottawa, and we saw a significant increase in donors and donations during the pandemic. Charitable involvement: Matthew House Ottawa First job: Selling poultry and eggs at a market Advice I’d give the younger me: Listen well. Be open-minded, and learn as much as you can. Be confident enough to think for yourself. Favourite pastime: Reading
Forty Under 40: By the numbers Growth rate of recipients’ companies in the last fiscal year:
Highest level of education attained by this year’s recipients:
College or vocational school
JORDAN LATIMER | Operations Manager, Ottawa
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Ottawa’s biggest and best celebration of entrepreneurship
Ottawa’s biggest and best celebration of entrepreneurship
38, PRESIDENT, ASL CONSTRUCTION Business: Civil construction Born: Regina Biggest business achievement: Grew revenue organically by several multiples in a short period by expanding services offered and clients served, all while maintaining culture and profitability. Biggest obstacle overcome: Guiding the transition from a small business
38, VICE-PRESIDENT OF DATA SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING AND HEAD OF COMMERCE INTELLIGENCE, SHOPIFY
Business: E-commerce Born: Iran Biggest business achievement: Grew the Shopify data team from a handful of people to hundreds. The Shopify data team has implemented
founded in 1975 to a SME during our period of rapid growth while navigating succession planning and employee retention. Biggest influences: Our staff inspire me to create the best possible work environment providing opportunities for them to succeed. Also, my wife and the recent birth of our first child are a constant motivation for me to strive for more. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Our philosophy of being direct and truthful with each other works. Have the hard conversations Charitable involvement: YPO, Rideau Club, NCHCA and ASL community initiatives First job: I started delivering newspapers before school at the age of 12 and haven’t stopped working since. Advice I’d give the younger me: When starting your career, chase work experience, not paycheques. Focus on learning as much as you can about as much as you can. Favourite pastime: Soccer, reading and self-supported bike trips
and scaled the company’s machine learning portfolio from one product to hundreds, empowering ambitious entrepreneurs with powerful tools typically reserved for enterprise-level businesses. Biggest obstacle overcome: Implemented Shopify’s first machine learning algorithms and built teams focused on integrating machine learning into new domains such as fraud prevention and payments – two areas that have changed the way the industry thinks about commerce. Charitable involvement: Backbone Angels
37, DIRECTOR, CALIAN GROUP AND TUNDRA OIL & GAS Business: Customer experience, feedback and contactless communications as a SaaS offering. Born: Winnipeg Biggest business achievement: Founded Benbria (and more recently founding investor of Brokrete Inc. and Hyperion Global Energy). Personally won several Fortune 1000 customers
38, VICE-PRESIDENT OF ASSET AND PROPERTY MANAGEMENT, COLONNADE BRIDGEPORT Business: Real estate investment and development Biggest business achievement: Hiring a great team and watching them flourish. Biggest obstacle overcome: Learning my blindspots and finding ways to
and partnerships at Benbria. Biggest obstacle overcome: Managing the team, investors and customers through a pivot from Benbria’s original emergency notification product lines to the current customer experience SaaS offering. Biggest influences: Terry Matthews, founding investor at Benbria and longstanding board chair. Infectious and enduring energy, grand vision, tireless persistence, loyalty and keen business sense. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Be amongst your buyer’s top-three must-have priorities, or find a new buyer. Shutdowns in travel and hospitality decimated budgets and forced reconciliation, including churn of an eight-year key account for Benbria after a zero-based “rethink” of their business plan post-pandemic. Charitable involvement: Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation First job: Instructor at a seasonal sailing club.
overcome them (thank you mentors!). Biggest influences: My wife and my kids inspire me every day to work to make the world a better place for them. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: To be flexible and to prioritize what matters most in life. Charitable involvement: PLEO First job: Paper route Advice I’d give the younger me: Find ways to give back and ask as many questions as you can. Favourite pastime: Any time with my wife, three kids and extended family together.
36, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE DEVELOPMENT, DESCARTES SYSTEMS GROUP Business: Logistics technology Born: Ottawa Biggest business achievement: Leading the value capture stream of a transformational acquisition that resulted in more than $100 million of annual run rate synergies. Biggest obstacle overcome: Acquiring
39, MANAGING PARTNER, BAIAME CONSULTING Business: Professional services Born: Peterborough, Ont. Biggest business achievement: Joined Baiame Consulting in 2016 as its second employee and grew revenues by approximately 450 per cent since then. Biggest obstacle overcome: Although COVID-19 caused uncertainty around business development and the
company’s sustainability, revenues increased by 60 per cent and the workforce grew by around 150 per cent. Biggest influences: My dad always taught me that I could do anything a man could do and do it better. My business partner, Claire Lake, offered me a partnership in Baiame before I had proven I was ready. Without either, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: The continued mental health of employees should be in the top three objectives of all organizations. Charitable involvement: Blue Sky School and Impact Hub First job: Assistant at the local library, shelving books two nights a week Advice I’d give the younger me: You don’t have to be perfect at everything – just live your values and the rest will fall into place. Favourite pastime: Travel, hiking, exploring beaches and outdoor concerts
Ottawa’s biggest and best celebration of entrepreneurship
and integrating strategically important companies, including Mitel’s purchase of ShoreTel and Descartes’ acquisition of ShipTrack. Biggest influences: My father. He taught me the work ethic and grit required to achieve goals at our family restaurant, where he worked 363 days a year. Biggest lesson learned during COVID-19: Always order another drink for last call, because tomorrow could be the start of a pandemic lockdown! On a serious note, I was reminded that the most valuable thing to me is not just time, but time spent with family and friends Charitable involvement: I spent more than eight years volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa First job: Takeout packer at family restaurant Advice I’d give the younger me: Things rarely work out the way you plan, but they will usually work out. So enjoy the moment a bit more. Favourite pastime: Travelling and foodie adventures
Ottawa’s biggest and best celebration of entrepreneurship
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THE ENTREPRENEURS AND INNOVATORS SHAPING THE FUTURE OF FARMING
OBJ REGIONAL Consumers want to have a connection to their farms. – ERIC LANG, CO-FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, ZIPGROW
Tyler Harbers, ZipGrow’s manager of growing operations, works using the startup’s hydroponics equipment.
‘This is the new future’
Cornwall startup ZipGrow bringing ‘farms’ closer to consumers BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS firstname.lastname@example.org
ndoor farming is getting its moment in the sun or, more accurately, under LED lights. Cornwall-based agtech startup ZipGrow recently purchased a 20,000-square-foot building, allowing it to more than double its footprint. “We’re growing super fast,” says co-founder and president Eric Lang, a serial entrepreneur with a background in traditional farming methods. The company, created in 2016, currently has a staff of 15. That’s expected to grow to 25 by the end of the
year, says Lang, who likes Cornwall’s proximity to the bigger cities but “without the bigger city prices.” ZipGrow has also launched a new partnership with food services and facilities management company Sodexo Canada. It will be introducing ZipGrow’s sustainable growing systems to clients in educational institutions, health-care centres, conference facilities and corporate food service centres, as well as remote mining camps that typically have limited access to year-round fresh food. “Our vision is to have your food coming from as close as possible,” said Sodexo Canada corporate sustainability
manager Davide Del Brocco, who’s also a trained chef. “We enjoy making our areas as green as possible and using that urban space to connect us a bit more with nature.”
REDUCING FOOD TRAVEL DISTANCE ZipGrow’s technology uses both hydroponic growing systems and vertical planes to maximize production volume while offering a functional and space-saving design. The systems primarily grow leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, kale and collard greens, along with herbs and small fruit crops such as strawberries.
“The goal on my end was to find a versatile indoor farming solution that could fit any space and really be an engagement piece,” added Del Brocco, who was the one to reach out to ZipGrow to discuss doing business together. “It grew so organically, pardon the pun. “Zipgrow is one of the great partners accelerating our move toward increasing our local footprint and attacking the distance travelled by our food, and giving us the availability of fresh food sourced on site. We’re so proud to be a partner with them.” Not only does indoor farming use less water, but it’s also resilient to changes in the climate and can be done all year, producing locally grown food that doesn’t require transportation costs. “It’s fixing a broken model,” says Lang. “There’s no going back from this. This is the new future.” It’s important to note, said Lang, that the technology doesn’t compete with local farmers growing crops such as corn and soybeans. “It’s competing with the vegetable growers in Mexico and California.” Lang also sees the agtech movement as giving consumers the chance to better appreciate where their food is coming from and how it’s grown. “Consumers want to have a connection to their farms. You can have a farm beside the grocery store or a farmers’ market and you can actually meet the farmer, and that farmer is literally living in your town.” ZipGrow has recently been tapping into the overseas market, particularly in the Middle East, where indoor farming helps countries get around water scarcity challenges. What differentiates ZipGrow from other agtech companies, he said, is that it offers turnkey solutions. “We’re not selling to farmers, we’re selling to farmers-to-be. These people really need a lot of support. That’s where we really shine. We train them. We educate them. We have long-term relationships. They call us whenever, anytime. “We don’t grow food, we grow farmers.”
Kemptville lab unlocking secrets to breeding better livestock EastGen part of a global alliance responsible for marketing 11M bovine semen doses annually BY MATT HORWOOD email@example.com
ust south of Kemptville lies a hightech lab at the heart of a $100-million industry that’s rapidly increasing productivity within the global livestock sector. EastGen’s facility, located just off Highway 416, is a “cornerstone” of a global alliance that markets more than 11 million doses of bovine semen across Canada and around the world. And while the alliance, named Semex, has been handling overseas sales of semen for farmer-owned artificial insemination companies for nearly half a century, recent technological breakthroughs have accelerated its
EastGen general manager Brian O’Connor. research. Advances in genetics research have allowed livestock farmers to make more informed breeding decisions that allow them to raise healthier animals and respond to changing consumer preferences.
“There were several years where the industry didn’t change a whole lot,” concedes John McDougall, Semex’s vicepresident of global operations. “But now ... the speed at which our businesses are changing is much quicker.”
GENOMIC TESTING While Semex has several sites across Ontario, Kemptville is one of its “cornerstone” production facilities, says EastGen general manager Brian O’Connor. Its 75-acre facility employs 30 people in semen processing and animal care functions and also houses up to 400 dairy and beef bulls. In 2016, new “state-of-the-art” lab investments were completed at the facility to maximize production. Born out of a 2011 merger between Eastern Breeders and Gencor, EastGen has carved out a niche for itself as a farmer-owned organization dedicated primarily to meeting the needs of dairy and beef consumers. “Our customers are our owners, so it’s a pretty clear alignment,” O’Connor said. Through the Semex network, farmers can access low-cost genomic testing that allows them to quickly analyze their animals’ genetic potential and make better-informed decisions on breeding programs. “That means higher reliability of predicting the merit of productivity
of the animal,” O’Connor explains. “That’s been a huge game-changer.” Another crucial technology for Semex is a genetics tool named Immunity+ that’s used to identify cattle bloodlines that are particularly resistant to disease. Through a partnership with the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College, a test was developed that could identify livestock with higher immune responses. Farmers that select Immunity+ sires can expect to see a five to 10 per cent reduction in disease in just one generation, with future generations being even more resistant to illness. EastGen’s Kemptville facility is expected to continue to grow in importance for Semex in the coming years. In the short-term, the pending closure of a Semex facility in SainteMadeleine, Quebec this summer will likely mean additional investments in bull semen operations capacity in Kemptville as well as EastGen’s Guelph facility. Additionally, with farmers consistently looking for productivity and competitive advantages – and with consumers increasingly looking for healthier food sources – the long-term outlook for the alliance looks bright. “As Semex grows ... the Kemptville facility will continue to play a very crucial role,” O’Connor says.
Renfrew County herb farm expands amid major growth ambitions
Rising interest in wellness products, shopping close to home and knowing more about producers are creating new opportunities for ‘multi-generational herbal artisans’ BY TOM VAN DUSEN firstname.lastname@example.org
t may seem like a lofty goal for a herb producer based in a Renfrew County community that’s best known for its cottage country and lumbering heritage. But St. Francis Herb Farm is used to
thinking big. The 33-year-old business is setting its sights on becoming the leading herbal production, distribution and education brand in Canada. Helping St. Francis move in that direction is its construction of a new
33,000-square-foot headquarters in Barry’s Bay adjacent to its 52-acre certified organic herb farm that’s expected to be completed this fall with a ribbon cutting and site tours. On-site retailing isn’t part of the plan. Down at the end of a dead-end
residential street, the new production, distribution and warehousing facility is gradually taking shape. The new state-of-the-art building will alleviate the cramped conditions the company currently faces in addition to creating 12 new jobs and the retraining of
Dairy industry eyes post-COVID rebound as restaurants, other commercial customers reopen With more people spending time at home, consumer sales have helped support $1.5B eastern Ontario industry amid pandemic
care, the immune system and sore muscles. Its products are available at 1,200 Canadian retailers – including via a Shoppers Drug Mart listing – and through 2,000 health practitioners, as well as online. Farm Credit Canada is financing the new complex. Paul declined to provide numbers for St. Francis’ annual sales or its investment in the construction project, citing competitive reasons. The Rivett-Carnacs continue to work with the Township of Madawaska and Renfrew County governments, consultants, engineers, construction partners and their team members to meet “aggressive” timelines. Contractors include Maple Reinders and Zuracon, while SPH Engineering Inc. assisted with design.
ne of eastern Ontario’s most prominent milk producers believes the dairy industry will continue to weather the overall downturn as COVID-19 gradually fades from the farm scene. The largest agricultural sector both in eastern Ontario and across the province – and one of the largest industries of any type – the Ontario dairy business took a hit after COVID-19 came on gangbusters last year, causing commercial sales to dry up almost overnight, said John Wynands, who milks 250 Holsteins with family members in Grenville County, north of Cardinal. “Restaurants, institutions and other commercial customers were forced to cease deliveries,” Wynands recalled during a recent on-farm chat. “That left us with a surplus in the system, much of which we donated to food banks. But we had to dump some milk, which no dairy farmer wants to do.” While commercial sales declined,
residential business increased during the pandemic, allowing producers to hold their own, said Wynands, whose parents started the same farm he now runs after arriving from Holland in 1952. “With people working from home and schools closed, our residential sales picked up,” he said. “As many people get back to their previous routines, we think the commercial stream will build up again.”
People have become more proactive about ... personal wellness. That’s our sweet spot. – PAUL RIVETT-CARNAC, CO-OWNER, ST. FRANCIS HERB FARM 50 existing workers in the latest wellness product manufacturing systems. The project will consolidate St. Francis’s operations, which are currently scattered in several locations in Barry’s Bay and the surrounding area. The farm marks a throwback to the company producing its own plants rather than sourcing and processing them from several growers.
GROWING CONSUMER DEMAND Rather than a detriment, the COVID-19
environment is encouraging owners Paul and Caitlin Rivett-Carnac that the time is right for a giant leap forward. Stay-at-home days precipitated by the pandemic have increased interest in personal health and wellness products, in shopping close to home and in knowing more about producers. “People have become more proactive about sleeping better, more exercise, stress management and personal wellness,” Paul observed. “That’s our sweet spot.”
The goal is to take the Canadian lead in awareness and education about herbs, along with extraction processing. In addition, the new St. Francis facility will become a tourism destination as visitors are shown around the farm and production plant, helping to diversify the region’s cottage and forestry economy. Describing themselves as “multigenerational herbal artisans,” starting with Paul’s parents, the Rivett-Carnacs have spent decades developing ways of getting the best out of each of the plants they grow. They call it the “holistic herb approach” – as much a way of life as a business. Among St. Francis’s 100-plus products are capsules, creams, salves and oils that target indigestion, skin
BY TOM VAN DUSEN
Like most dairy farms, the Wynands farm is a multimillion-dollar enterprise carrying a huge debt load. Gross revenues are $2.7 million a year; expenses are $65,000 a month. There are 10 full and part-time staff not including John and his wife, Dawn. The lifelong dairyman represents Region 3, which includes Frontenac, Renfrew,
Leeds, Grenville and Lanark on the producer-operated Dairy Farmers of Ontario board of directors. In the five counties represented by Wynands on DFO, annual production is about 154 million litres, representing a contribution to the economy of more than $350 million. When the other eastern counties are added in, total production is close to 647 million litres and total economic contribution is close to $1.5 billion. Creation of a producer marketing cooperative, collecting milk to sell to processors, dates back to 1965. Under the controversial milk marketing system, or supply management, dairy farmers must hold quota – basically a license to own a certain number of active cows and produce a set amount of milk. Quota is intended to match supply with expected domestic demand, preventing market gluts as well as ensuring stable prices and predictable returns. Currently capped at $24,000 per working cow, quota is bought and sold and has often been cited as contributing to higher consumer prices as well as one of the main reasons it’s so financially difficult for people outside established farm families to enter the dairy business.
OBJ REGIONAL We see Akwa cutting into a lot of the demand for Perrier and San Pellegrino. – JOSH HAYTER, PRESIDENT, SPEARHEAD BREWING CO.
While its beer sales have suffered from the closures of bars and restaurants, Spearhead Brewing Co. is able to distribute its sparkling botanical water in specialty supermarkets and convenience stores.
Kingston craft brewer taps into sparkling new market SUMMER 2021
Pandemic, shifting drinking habits increasing demand for non-alcoholic beverages
BY CHARLES ENMAN email@example.com
e love beer and we need water. Do we have to choose? Josh Hayter, president of Kingstonbased Spearhead Brewing Co., is living happily with both. Though he’s always had a broad range of in-house beers at his elbow, his choices have expanded since last September, when
the company introduced a sparkling botanical water called Akwa. “I just love it,” Hayter says. “I’m drinking six or eight cans a day.” But there’s a reason Hayter isn’t taking his water from the tap. Akwa, again, is a botanical water, infused with citra and cascade hops. One wouldn’t be far off in describing it as beer made without malt, the product of as much care and attention as the brewing of an
ale or a stout. The actual launch last September in the midst of the pandemic was, Hayter says, “really, really soft – it wasn’t really the moment we would have chosen.” Still, the brewery’s sales team began pushing Akwa to their usual customers, and samples were sent out to journalists who focus on the beverage industry. “The feedback was really good,” Hayter says. “And now we’re creating a lot of Akwa-themed sales material and sending out samples to a broader group of journalists. I think Akwa is going to be a strong performer for us.”
GROWING MILLENNIAL MARKET Akwa’s genesis, Hayter says, was in his team’s conviction that drinkers often needed a non-alcoholic choice when facing a night of social drinking. “Sometimes, you just need a drink that’s sans alcohol – you’re camping
with friends, say, and you’re the driver. You want something that doesn’t taste like beer but has something of the ‘feel’ of beer.” Of course, in the middle of the pandemic, selling water started to seem very attractive. Restaurants, bars and nightclubs were strongly restricted, which put a real crimp in beer sales. “But water? You can sell that anywhere, no licensed establishment needed,” Hayter says. “We can sell Akwa in lots of places – specialty grocery stores, convenience stores, trendy coffee shops.” That said, bars have been indicating lots of interest in picking up Akwa. “They see an advantage in using something local and good — and we see Akwa cutting into a lot of the demand for Perrier and San Pellegrino.” Hayter says cocktail bars in particular are taking a shine to the new product. “They say it’s a really good mixer … fantastic with gin.” Apart from the exigencies of the pandemic moment, Hayter predicts the market is going to be smiling more and more on sparkling water. “I’m sure young people, the millennial crowd, are going to buy into sparkling water more and more,” Hayter says. He may be right. No one is saying millennials are giving up alcohol, but there is some soft evidence that they’re drinking less than their forebears. At the same time, the market for low- to zero-alcohol beverages is projected to grow by 32 per cent between 2018 and 2022, according to a report by Bon Appétit – and that’s caught the attention of brewers and distillers, big and small. In eastern Ontario, Spearhead is not alone among craft breweries expanding their product lines beyond beer. Ottawa’s Dominion City, for example, recently launched its own line of seltzers. And the opportunities extend beyond tapping into a growing market. As Hayter notes, profits on Akwa are apt to be a bit higher than those on his beers. “Not tremendously higher, no – but higher, because there’s no Ontario beer tax on water.”
Picture-perfect pivot: Eastern Ontario scrapyard becomes must-visit destination A scrapyard might not seem like the most photogenic of locations, but the folks who run the region’s most improbable mecca for shutterbugs would beg to differ. “I don’t believe we ever planned on
becoming a tourist attraction,” says Kirsha Hutchcroft, social media and marketing co-ordinator for the Eastern Ontario Boneyard. “Somewhere along the line, that aspect of the business just kind
of found itself.” Hutchcroft is part of the third generation of her family to be involved in managing the recycling yard. Located in Edwardsburgh-Cardinal township, the business has been salvaging scrap vehicles and unwanted metal since the early 1960s. The past six decades have seen it process thousands of cars, trucks and other pieces of equipment for reuse in the metal industry. While the recycling aspect of the business remains steady, The Boneyard has seen the birth of a new area of interest. The site is quickly becoming a desired destination for scores of art enthusiasts. “In the late ’90s, my father started to hoard away some of the older vehicles that came into the yard,” Hutchcroft explains. But the collection brought in more than automotive enthusiasts. The old cars started attracting photographers. The initial few shutterbugs spread the word about the collection of rusted wrecks to the point that the business had to start scheduling days where only photographers were allowed on the site. — Joe Martelle
Hawkesbury’s Tulmar Safety Systems acquires U.K. firm
A Hawkesbury-based company that manufactures safety equipment for aircraft and military vehicles has acquired a U.K. firm that provides training slides, rafts and other products to airlines around the world. Tulmar Safety Systems said it has bought British firm Icarus Training
Systems. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. More than 100 customers use Icarus equipment to train flight crews on emergency exit and other safety procedures. Manufacturing of its products will now shift to Tulmar’s 60,000-square-foot facility in
Mike Amos named new head of Southeastern Ontario Angel Network A veteran entrepreneur is the new head of an organization that’s invested tens of millions of dollars in fledgling eastern Ontario companies over the past seven years.
Hawkesbury. Tulmar was founded in 1992. The company’s products range from highly specialized protection equipment for military vehicles to inflatable life support and flotation products for military and aerospace customers. — OBJ staff
The Southeastern Ontario Angel Network announced in May that Mike Amos has been named managing director. Amos replaces John Malloy, who retired at the end of March after serving as the organization’s leader since it was founded in 2014. A commerce graduate of the University of Toronto, Amos worked as an analyst at the Toronto office of business analytics firm Dun & Bradstreet before serving in various executive roles at
Popular South Dundas country store poised for expansion Williamsburg entrepreneur Sherry Mowat has spent more than a decade perfecting the recipe for running a successful country store. A combined gas bar, convenience store, bakery, LCBO outlet, takeaway kitchen and wildly popular bakery, Sherry’s – located north of Morrisburg in South Dundas – is poised for further expansion after acquiring the former municipal building adjacent to the one-stop shop. Already catering to customers from some 500 cars a day – even amid the pandemic – coming off County Road 31, Mowat says she wanted the parking lot that came with the old Williamsburg Township headquarters first and foremost, as well as control over what might happen next door to her business. There are still questions over what will become of the building on the property, which Mowat purchased for $349,000. A final decision on the structure’s future is on hold while Mowat cuts through a legal entanglement with the previous private owner over taxes owing. — Tom Van Dusen
PepsiCo, Loblaw and Brookfield Properties. In 2001, he founded software firm Empathica, raising $16 million in venture capital and growing the company to 180 employees before selling it to U.S.-based InMoment. Since then, he’s been an adviser and entrepreneur-in-residence at a number of Ontario startup hubs, including Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District and Kingstonbased Launch Lab. – OBJ staff
EXPERIENCE RENFREW COUNTY
Live, work, play P
Renfrew County and the Ottawa Valley are a veritable all-season and all-sport recreational paradise. Hike, ski and board the mountains, or get invigorated on the abundance of cross-country ski and snowshoe trails. Bike the trails, gravel and blacktop from spring through fall, or fat bike all winter long. Join the motorcyclists who fall in love each year with our country roads. Fish, hunt and commune with nature across thousands of square kilometres of crown land plus majestic rivers and over 900 lakes. Enjoy endless paddling, motor boating and sailing as well as world-class whitewater for dynamic descents. After your adventures, a burgeoning local food and beverage scene is waiting for you to relax and relive your adventures.
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Renfrew County offers surprisingly diverse opportunities for career development. Above and beyond the traditional and still thriving forestry and agricultural sectors, there exists a variety of other career options. Work within aerospace and defense manufacturing, science and technology R&D, pharmaceuticals, construction, tourism, food and beverage, health care and more. Whether you are an entrepreneur planning your next start-up business, a high tech employee working from home, a chef, an artist or an executive looking for a fresh change, shift your focus for work life balance in our direction.
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Starting just 25 minutes west of Kanata, Renfrew County boasts quintessential small towns, welcoming communities and natural rural environments. Travel picturesque country roads, enjoy forest trails and explore rivers and lakes. Make your new home in a town or community where you know your neighbors, your kids can safely walk to school or downtown, you can watch shimmering sunsets over the water in front of your home and you have the space to breathe and grow. Experience a more affordable and relaxed rural lifestyle, where your backyard truly beckons and you have the time to enjoy it.
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Discover the many towns, trails and paddle routes throughout Renfrew County. A short drive west of Ottawa, you find adventure in nature, food, art and music, all wrapped in a friendly and relaxing rural culture.
OBJ REGIONAL: VIDEO In a series of video interviews, OBJ’s Mark Van Dusen speaks to eastern Ontario’s entrepreneurs, business executives and political leaders to explore the trends shaping the region’s economy. Through his conversations, Van Dusen uncovers stories of innovation, industry leadership and perseverance. To watch the full series, visit obj.ca/videos. KINGSTON’S SPECTRA PLASMONICS PILOTS RAPID TESTS TO FIND ‘FINGERPRINTS’ OF TOXIC CONTAMINANTS IN STREET DRUGS
As the opioid crisis continues to take lives in big cities and small communities across Canada, a Kingston technology company has developed a rapid testing system to identify the lethal contaminants sometimes present in street drugs. Spectra Plasmonics’ drug analysis system identifies the unique chemical “fingerprints” of various substances found in a sample and can detect the presence of dangerous contaminants such as fentanyl. The technology is currently being piloted at
a supervised consumption site in Kingston, but company officials say they’re eager to roll out the devices across North America. “We want this to be in the hands of everybody whose job it is to save lives in this crisis,” says company co-founder and CEO Malcolm Eade.
KILLALOE BUSINESS OWNER, BEAVERTAILS FOUNDER TEAM UP TO KEEP SNACK FRANCHISE AFLOAT A local business owner has stepped in to keep Killaloe’s BeaverTails outlet alive – with a little help from the company’s founder. Dave Virk, whose family owns and operates the Freshmart supermarket in the town about 160 kilometres west of Ottawa, has purchased the deep-fried snack franchise from previous owners Brent and Linda Bistrisky. BeaverTails Ottawa, which is owned by company founders Grant and Pam Hooker, provided additional financing for the deal. The Hookers have a special connection to Killaloe – they’ve lived in the area for nearly 50 years and still reside in the same homestead they built on 100 acres of land south of town in 1976. Their attachment to the Renfrew County community runs so deep they named one of the most popular BeaverTail flavours – Killaloe Sunrise – after their adopted hometown. Grant Hooker, who opened the first BeaverTails stall at a local community fair back in 1978, says he couldn’t be happier with the new owners. “They are BeaverTail-type folks,” he said, praising Virk for the high standards of customer service he and his family maintain at the local supermarket. Virk also purchased the nearby Creekside Grille as part of the deal.
Young entrepreneur sets sail with Launch Lab support Launch Lab provides experienced guidance for new entrepreneurs in eastern Ontario
SOAN and Launch Lab aim to foster through our collaboration.” But it turns out those conditions aren’t just great for the startups. EIRs such as Khan say it’s people like Allore who keep them engaged with Launch Lab: entrepreneurs who are interested in growing their businesses, who have a great product idea and are easy to work with. “You don’t know what will happen or what new technology might enter so, when you’re investing in these companies, you’re betting on the people,” said Amos. “And it’s important to have that support at two in the morning when you’re staring in the abyss, unsure about what to do. I did it without Launch Lab in the early 2000s and could have used this kind of help.” For full Launch Lab program details, more info about its EIRs and success stories, visit launchlab.ca.
you figure out a destination and a plan to get there. This is why Allore turned to Launch Lab, a regional innovation centre that supports entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises throughout eastern Ontario. “With Launch Lab, there’s a connection to a lot of skilled business advisors and partner organizations in the startup ecosystem,” the first-time entrepreneur said. “You’re going to find a really good fit for a business mentor.” Through Launch Lab, Allore was introduced to a Launch Lab mentor who helped him shape the company’s next steps. First, he met Sam Khan, a Launch Lab entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR). Khan’s expertise in software development and scaling applications, as well as his familiarity with relevant government funding opportunities, helped Wavve raise capital and shape the early product. Allore was later introduced to the Southeastern Ontario Angel Network (SOAN) and eventually to Mike Amos, who recently became SOAN’s managing director – building on decades of Bay Street and startup experience. SOAN played a big role in Wavve’s seed investment funding and Amos, a boating enthusiast, guided Wavve through challenges such as how to position its product for business sales. Post-seed investment, Amos has remained engaged with the company as an investor and growth coach. “SOAN and Launch Lab work together to help companies create value, employ Canadians and help them scale,” said Amos. “There’s a growing movement in tech ecosystems to ensure businesses have the right combination of experience, enthusiasm and capital, creating the ideal conditions for innovation. That’s what
f you’re trying to give someone directions to a great hidden gem around town, you might pull out your smartphone or recite the turns they need to take. How do you do that on a lake, especially when you can’t see the hazards that lurk below? Enter Wavve Boating. In 2018, the Kingston-based business launched a GPS navigation app for smartphones that helps boaters keep their vessels safely afloat. “When I was a teen working along the St. Lawrence Seaway, I would try to sell nautical charts but most of the boaters couldn’t read them or didn’t care to learn how to,” founder Adam Allore said of his inspiration for Wavve. “They would want to know, ‘Where’s Potters Beach?’ or ‘Where are the pike?’ and I’d have to say things like, ‘See that tall pine? Line up with that spruce, head in a straight line, avoid the rocks, then turn right at the cove…’” “People would look at me like I was crazy,” Allore admitted. Since its launch, Wavve’s app has placed easy-to-understand digital maps for all North American waterways into the hands of tens of thousands of boaters. Wavve has seen exponential growth over the past three years in the U.S., where 85 per cent of its customer base resides. The company has plans to expand outside North America in the coming years fueled by sales to individual consumers and, increasingly, through partnerships with boat clubs and boating organizations. More recently, its software was integrated into the dashboard of Bombardier’s highend 2021 Sea-Doo GTX with the first-ofits-kind marine connected technology. But transitioning from a neat idea to an international success doesn’t just happen. You need a roadmap to help
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EASTERN ONTARIO’S LARGEST EMPLOYERS (COMPANIES OPERATING OUTSIDE THE NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION, RANKED BY NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES) Company/Address Phone/Fax/Web
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 8 8 8 12
Canopy Growth 1 Hershey Dr., Smiths Falls, ON K7A 0K8 1-855-558-9333 canopygrowth.com Walmart Logistics 1501 Industrial Park Dr., Cornwall, ON K6H 7M4 613-933-8664 walmart.ca Empire Life 259 King St. E., Kingston, ON K7L 3A8 1-877-548-1881 empire.ca Thomas Cavanagh Construction 9094 Cavanagh Rd., Ashton, ON K0A 1B0 613-257-2918 thomascavanagh.ca Invista 775 Development Dr., Kingston, ON K7M 4W6 613-384-2626 invista.com Calypso Theme Waterpark 2015 Calypso St., Limoges, ON K0A 2M0 613-443-9995 calypsopark.com Giant Tiger Distribution Centre 2 Newport Dr., Johnstown, ON K0E 1T1 gianttiger.com Olymel Cornwall Bacon Plant 2330 Industrial Park Dr., Cornwall, ON K6H 7N1 613-932-3040 olymel.ca Ivaco Rolling Mills 1040 County Rd. 17, L’Orignal, ON K0B 1K0 613-675-4671 ivacorm.com Alexandria Moulding 20352 Power Dam Rd., Alexandria, ON K0C 1A0 1-866-377-2539 alexmo.com Lactalis Canada 70 Dickinson Dr., Ingleside, ON K0C 1M0 613-537-2226 parmalat.ca Magellan Aerospace 634 Magnesium Rd.,Haley Station, ON K0J 1Y0 613-432-8841 magellan.aero
No. of employees
Key products and services
The company’s Smiths Falls facility researches and grows, produces and packages various cannabis-related products, including beverages and edibles.
Recreational and medical cannabis consumers and licensed cannabis retailers across Canada
Distribution centre for the big-box retailer
Walmart stores in central and eastern Canada
Life insurance, financial products and related services.
Canadians seeking insurance and investment products, as well as brokers
Engineering, construction and development services, including field testing and inspection as well as aggregate, concrete and asphalt materials.
Public- and private-sector developers and builders
Nylon manufacturing plant
Manufacturers of fabric-based products such as backpacks, scuba gear, carpets, clothing for military and emergency responders, seatbelts and pillows
Adventure and leisure-seeking families, tourists
Distribution centre for the Canadian retail chain.
Giant Tiger stores in Canada’s central and eastern provinces
Meat-processing facility (bacon)
Retailers and restaurants
Wire rod supplier
Businesses in the automotive, energy, agriculture, construction and telecommunications industries
Wood moulding manufacturer
Homebuilders and hardware stores worldwide
Dairy product manufacturer that owns brands including Black Diamond, Cheestrings and Astro.
Grocery retailers and wholesalers
Integrated products, including aero-engines, rockets, sand castings, maintenance, repair and overhaul.
Global aerospace industry
Source: Various economic development agencies. This data was first published in the spring edition of the Eastern Ontario Business Journal
Read the issue obj.ca/regional.
Your guide to growth, business expansion and investment opportunities in Eastern Ontario
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We have collaborated with economic partners to optimize every opportunity for an inclusive and sustainable community. And we have provided support for our businesses to grow.
he Ottawa Board of Trade was recently created when the three Ottawa Chambers of Commerce consolidated. We knew the changing economic landscape would require a stronger voice of business in Ottawa. We had no idea just how much. The onset of the pandemic has accelerated our advocacy agenda. This past year, we have worked with all levels of government on recommendations for policies and programs that would support the hardest
Ottawa has a very bright future and working together; business, community, and government, we will realize our full potential as the best Nation’s Capital in the world.
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Our staff and volunteers are a determined and passionate group of community minded people. It is an honour to work with them to serve our business community. Thank you to our members for supporting our work as we work to support you.
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Why I Support the Ottawa Board of Trade: Kimothy Walker There was nothing noble about it. I joined the Ottawa Board of Trade (OBoT) to get discounted prices on event tickets for my clients. As the CEO of Tiger Lily Marketing (TLM), many of our clients were event based, from Ottawa Race Weekend to others who hosted galas. Every single day after COVID hit, I was talking to tearful clients who were shutting their doors for a few weeks. Or so we thought. COVID didn’t release its grip. Trained in the “school of Max Keeping,” I decided to volunteer immediately, and a business contact said, “OBoT is having a meeting of leaders from small to medium sized enterprises today. Drop in.”
Aiana Restaurant Collective
Cloud Shift Inc
Nurse Next Door
David Burns & Associates
Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas (OCOBIA)
“Zoom?” I asked. “What’s a Zoom?”
Posh Media Inc
Donna-Lea Bowman Consulting Group
Taj Indian Cuisine
Federico Physiotherapy Professional Corporation
WeApply Canada Inc
Little did I know this council would be one of several supporting businesses by informing program and relief strategies through all levels of government, from grants to rapid testing kits.
Focus Eye Centre Inc
Being a member also helped me grow my own business because of the connections I made.
Lépine’s Les Terrasses Francesca development in Overbrook.
How realtors can unlock new listings in Ottawa’s tight market “As a trusted advisor for your client, realtors should be exploring all of the available options in Ottawa, and modern rental living is definitely one of them,” she says. “When an individual understands how much their home is actually worth, they are more receptive to learning about new lifestyle opportunities.” HELPING YOUR CLIENT RIGHT-SIZE Lépine Apartments makes it easy to introduce a client to the idea of right-sizing to a rental suite. With high-end amenities such as an on-site gym and indoor pool as well as outdoor lounge areas and party rooms, realtors can help clients visualize a new all-inclusive way of life. Moving to an apartment allows residents to focus more on traveling or outdoor activities by removing the need for landscaping or property maintenance. And with Ottawa’s real estate market booming, homeowners stand to benefit financially from rightsizing to a modern apartment.
FIND A LÉPINE APARTMENT NEAR YOU Looking to transition to a luxury apartment? Lépine Apartments has a number of locations across the Ottawa region for you to explore. Schedule a viewing at one of their many locations today: • • • • • •
Howard Grant (Barrhaven) Johanne’s Court (Carleton Place) Lépine Lodge (Renfrew) Les Terrasses Francesca (Overbrook) Saint Émilion (Kanata) The Normand (Kanata)
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EXPERIENCE THE BEAUTY OF OVERBROOK At Lépine’s Les Terrasses Francesca in Overbrook for example, residents have access to a games room, concierge service, catering kitchen and tenant lounge – amenities far beyond those found in a traditional house. The development is located alongside the beautiful Riverain Park and Rideau River for those looking for green space and has underground parking, negating the need to shovel during Ottawa’s long winters. With high ceilings, panoramic windows and hardwood floors throughout the units, residents at Les Terrasses Francesca can live stress-free without giving up the luxuries they’re accustomed to. “People don’t always move because they don’t like their current house,” explains Lépine. “Sometimes the opportunities somewhere else are just too enticing to turn down. Wait until they see what we have prepared for them in Barrhaven.”
Amid Ottawa’s white-hot housing sector and a shortage of new properties coming to market, a local real estate firm is helping open new business opportunities for realtors by helping them match their clients with the perfect new home. Lépine Apartments has several luxury rental apartment properties in sought-after neighbourhoods across the Ottawa region as well as Carleton Place, Renfrew, and eventually Smiths Falls, that cater to residents of all ages, including young families, retirees and work-from-home professionals. The apartment developments contain spacious, modern units and promote resort-style living, making it a simple transition from a house or condo to a luxury apartment. Agents looking for new listings have a huge opportunity to speak to their long-standing clients about the luxury rental market, says leasing agent Stacie Willson.
“Realtors should be educating their clients about the opportunity to sell their homes and move into a luxury rental unit,” says company president Francis Lépine. “This can help realtors unlock additional listings and revenue, while also helping the client find new alternatives for their next stage of life in comfort and class.” The finishings inside Lépine apartments are also enticing to homeowners in search of an elevated lifestyle. All units have an open-concept flow and lots of natural light, making the space feel bright and airy. The large eat-in kitchen and modern appliances also rival that of a single-family home, making it easy for prospective tenants to see themselves living in the space.
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Millions.co co-founders Matt Whitteker, left, and Adrian Salamunovic. PHOTO BY GABRIELA GARCIA.
Ottawa entrepreneurs’ Millions.co e-commerce platform packs a punch
BY DAVID SALI
this phase without boxing,” says Scott Whitteker, who, like his older brother, has been enamoured with the “sweet science” since he was a kid. The Ottawa natives also happen to be entrepreneurs to the core who opened
little over a year ago as the sports world was shutting down in the wake of the pandemic, boxing fans Matt and Scott Whitteker
quickly realized their favourite athletes were about to suffer a major financial body blow. “We were wondering how fighters were going to be able to make it through
With backing from heavy hitters such as UFC announcer Bruce Buffer, Matt and Scott Whitteker aim to connect fans of combat sports with their favourite athletes in a whole new way
their own gym when Scott was just 19 and Matt was 23. They knew from experience that most boxers, mixed martial artists and other combat fighters have few alternative sources of income beyond what they earn in the ring or octagon. While the brightest megastars in many other sports rake in millions of dollars a year through endorsements and merchandising deals, the majority of combat athletes are so focused on their next fight they don’t have time to dive into other aspects of the business such as the exploding world of e-commerce, Whitteker explains. “Most of these guys were buying 30-50 shirts, bringing them to their local boxing gym and just selling them there to help pay for their training,” he says. “Fighters want to fight and train. They don’t want to worry about managing online stores. “We thought, ‘Let’s give them an alternative.’” The result is Millions.co, a new venture that combines elements of social media with an online marketplace where athletes in combat sports such as boxing and MMA can sell merchandise, post videos and interact directly with fans. Millions came out swinging from the get-go, generating more than $10,000 in revenues in its first month while forging partnerships with fulfilment centres in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Europe. The platform splits profits from merchandise sales with athletes, who also earn a percentage of fees from customers who subscribe to the Millions app and pay to watch livestreams of events. In many cases, Whitteker says, the fighters themselves are the driving force behind the content. Washington, D.C.based boxer Jalil Hackett, for example, came up with the idea of offering paying fans an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at his pre-fight prep before his pro debut on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather-Logan Paul bout in Miami on June 6. “The athletes have really done a great job at being entrepreneurial and figuring out different usages for the platform that we missed as entrepreneurs,” Whitteker notes. “It’s been really cool to see that. The better they do, the better we do. So any ideas that they have we always take really seriously.” Continued on page 68
Alacrity Ottawa will be supported by Wesley Clover’s L-SPARK technology accelerator in Kanata North, as well as the uOttawa Faculty of Engineering’s new Master’s degree in Entrepreneurial Engineering Design (MEED).
Every engineer is a potential entrepreneur
Hanan Anis is the uOttawa NSERC chair in entrepreneurial engineering design Veronica Farmer is the director of partnerships and commercialization for uOttawa Kanata North
Building a pipeline of new Canadian entrepreneurs and tech startups in Kanata North uOttawa, Wesley Clover team up to launch Alacrity Ottawa
he launch of Alacrity Ottawa by the University of Ottawa and Wesley Clover could be considered the climax of a story years in the making. Consider, after all, the players. For almost 15 years, the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Engineering has worked with its generous alumni to develop a growing number of competitions, resources and curricula with a common goal – to educate engineering students on what it takes to bring a winning product to market. It’s not just about helping engineers understand the role they play in the innovation ecosystem, but also equipping them to become entrepreneurs themselves. The University of Ottawa founded its Kanata North campus in 2018 as the next step, to connect academic research and its brightest young minds with the needs of industry in emerging markets. Then we have Wesley Clover – a name synonymous the world over with startup chutzpah and innovation that is also based in Kanata North. Wesley Clover founded Alacrity in 2009 with its first
incubator/accelerator in Victoria, B.C. Since then, this initiative has expanded and refined its model with chapters around the world. Alacrity Global educates entrepreneurs, founds new technology startups and secures funding to scale these new businesses. Despite its growth and success, Alacrity Global did not have an Ottawa chapter.
Until now …
Through Alacrity Ottawa, uOttawa and Wesley Clover will educate, train and support engineering graduates with mentorship and investment opportunities meant to foster a pipeline of new Canadian tech startups. “Alacrity Ottawa is for those bright minds who want to learn what it takes to become an entrepreneur, but don’t yet have a strong business idea and are looking for a challenge from industry,” said Veronica Farmer, director of partnerships and commercialization for uOttawa Kanata North. “It’s another path that complements uOttawa’s other entrepreneurial initiatives, such as MakerLaunch and Startup/Scaleup Garages.”
MEED is a two-year program that will launch in September 2021 at the university’s downtown campus. It will offer aspiring entrepreneurs academic instruction combined with practical business training and experience in how to develop a business idea and turn it into a company. As students move through MEED, they will spend time at the uOttawa Kanata North campus and intern with local tech companies. This will put them on the frontline of new technology development in the hottest emerging markets, including 5G+ networking, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and medtech. MEED was created by Hanan Anis, uOttawa NSERC chair in entrepreneurial engineering design and faculty coordinator in entrepreneurship and innovation. “I am always convinced that the best way to learn to be an entrepreneur is by doing,” she said. “We keep adding the building blocks at uOttawa because we believe entrepreneurship is a vital, even necessary, career option for any engineer to have in their back pocket. This is not the same kind of job market as the one that existed for our parents and grandparents.”
Tackling healthcare challenges
Given how the world is wrestling with a health crisis, Alacrity Ottawa’s initial focus will be on challenges and opportunities in the digital medtech space. Successful applicants will form teams to tackle industry challenges. Those teams with viable and potentially scalable solutions will be presented to appropriate investors. If a match is made, a team will secure funding to form a new company and begin its journey as a startup. “As technologies of all sorts advance at unprecedented rates, the commitment of the University of Ottawa to play an ever-more relevant role, combined with the experience of the Alacrity technology and business teams, make this a timely initiative that is sure to benefit the city, the Canadian technology landscape and our aspiring young entrepreneurs,” said Wesley Clover chairman Terry Matthews.
For more information on Alacrity Ottawa, visit: www.alacrity.co/ottawa/ And to register for uOttawa Master’s in Entrepreneurial Engineering Design degree program, visit: uOttawa MEED at https://engineering.uottawa.ca/news/earn-master-engineering-degree-while-working-your-startup OBJ360 CONTENT STUDIO
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Continued from page 65 The veteran businessman thinks he and his co-founders have tapped into a market with plenty of upside. He says that while there are competitors – including video-sharing site Cameo and livestreaming services Streamlabs and Twitch – they offer more limited options for fans and fewer revenue streams for merchantathletes. “None of them do it all,” Whitteker says, adding Millions is the only platform devoted specifically to combat sports stars and their fans. More than 100 athletes have signed on to the platform since it went live in early May, and the Millions team expects that number to balloon to at least 5,000 by the end of this year. Although the site is laser-focused on combat sports right now – “We speak the language, we know the players in the game,” as Whitteker puts it – Millions is aiming to expand to a much broader audience through partnerships with other major sports organizations.
“There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to watch the Super Bowl with one of your favourite athletes on our platform one day.” – MILLIONS.CO CO-FOUNDER SCOTT WHITTEKER “There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to watch the Super Bowl with one of your favourite athletes on our platform one day,” says Whitteker, an executive at Ottawa-based PSL Mechanical Heating and Air Conditioning. While the Whittekers by themselves are an entrepreneurial force to be reckoned with – Matt helped launch Ottawa software powerhouse Assent Compliance 11 years ago and spearheaded the hugely successful Fight for the Cure charity boxing gala, which Scott now runs – the platform’s backers include other heavy hitters from the worlds of business and sports. Co-founder Adrian Salamunovic
launched Ottawa on-demand printing firm CanvasPop more than a decade ago before embarking on a successful career as a bestselling author and sought-after business adviser and mentor. Chief marketing officer Brandon Austin, meanwhile, is a serial entrepreneur with a string of successful startups to his name who began his career in Ottawa and now lives in Austin, Tex. But the most recognizable member of the Millions team is longtime UFC ring announcer Bruce Buffer, known to millions of mixed-martial arts fans as the “veteran voice of the Octagon.” Buffer, who first heard about the
company from Salamunovic, eagerly embraced the concept and has been a tireless promoter of the venture ever since. His involvement has piqued the interest of big-time players in the industry. “Mike Tyson wants to talk to us. That’s amazing,” Whitteker says with a trace of awe in his voice. “Who’s better known in the MMA community than Bruce Buffer? It’s just such a feather in our cap. We’re really excited about what Bruce can do for us.” The company is also in talks with pro wrestling legend Chris Jericho and former MMA champ Georges St-Pierre. It’s a rapid ascent for a startup that was little more than an idea in the Whittekers’ heads a year ago, but Scott thinks the ride is just getting started. “It’s infinitely scalable,” he says of the Millions platform. “We don’t see why we can’t get into every market. It’s just a matter of figuring out how we can get these products to the people most likely to buy them.”
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Why a thriving music industry is vital to Ottawa’s post-pandemic recovery
Matt Sobb is a member of the award-winning Ottawa-based band MonkeyJunk. Photo by Scott Doubt
Through a new crowdfunding campaign, the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition is supporting artists – and, in turn, the wider business community
f you’re familiar with Ottawa’s music scene, you’ve probably heard of MonkeyJunk – an energetic bluesrock trio boasting two Juno Awards. Before the pandemic, the band had been touring internationally, from the Caribbean to Europe. Then, the pandemic hit. “To be blunt, it’s been very difficult financially,” says drummer Matt Sobb. “The whole industry basically grinded to a halt.” For Sobb, it was a double whammy. In addition to a forced pause on MonkeyJunk, the music venue where he worked booking and promoting shows – Overflow Brewing Company – had to pause live entertainment for the duration of the pandemic. While Sobb has a supportive spouse with a stable job, their mortgage still has to be paid, forcing him to take up odd jobs. “I work really hard all day, I go home – I don’t have the energy to be creative,” he says. That’s where the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition (OMIC) comes in: a member-based non-profit organization, working to grow the local music economy by bringing together artists, venues, festivals, businesses and more. Pulling together Supported by the City of Ottawa, OMIC is working tirelessly to help
Jamie Kwong is the executive director of the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition. Photo by Sean Sisk
musicians like Sobb get through COVID-19. The organization is providing professional development services, such as teaching artists how to monetize music online, as well as administering microgrants through the $25,000 Ottawa Music Development Fund (OMDF). To showcase Ottawa’s musicians, OMDF recipients are invited to perform at OMIC’s virtual concert series, Encore Ottawa. Since February 2021, OMIC has hosted two online concerts every Friday, pre-recorded at the Shenkman Arts Centre in partnership with Rogers TV and Apt613, and funded by the City of Ottawa. The performances are broadcast to a potential 300,000 homes. “We have a ton of talent within our membership,” says OMIC executive director Jamie Kwong. “We try to create as many opportunities as possible to showcase them.” In the first round of Encore, OMIC paid approximately $40,000 in artists’ fees. MonkeyJunk is being showcased in round two, giving the band the chance to perform together again. “Through the pandemic, (OMIC) spurred us to start thinking about creating new music,” Sobb says. “We’ve already started writing new songs for a new record.”
The second season of Encore Ottawa premieres June 11, kickstarting 23 concerts featuring more than 60 local musicians. Revitalizing Ottawa’s music scene For Kwong, the pandemic showed how vital the arts are for mental health – and now, as vaccines start rolling in, a crucial part of Ottawa’s economic recovery. Just before COVID-19 struck, OMIC commissioned a report detailing the economic impact of Ottawa’s music industry. It estimated that consumers spend approximately $138.2 million annually to attend live shows, and that the industry’s contribution to Ottawa’s GDP was $115.6 million overall. While the music industry is taking a hard hit during the pandemic, OMIC is working hard to make a difference. Kwong estimates that OMIC paid out $70,000 in artists fees overall in 2020. “That’s the reinvestment that we’re putting back into our city,” she says. Additionally, the organization is working directly with venues, helping them sift through COVID-19 information by “making sure that they can ask
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(us) questions that we can bring back to the city,” as well as exploring the possibility of measures such as socalled “vaccination passports” that would allow music fans to safely attend concerts again. Kwong adds that a healthy music industry is important for Ottawa businesses looking to attract skilled employees who have a choice of cities in which to work. “Young talent wants to know that Ottawa is a vibrant place,” she says. To help kickstart Ottawa’s music economic recovery, OMIC is crowdfunding for the next round of the OMDF grants. The city is investing $25,000 and this time, OMIC wants to match it, “so that we can continue to help invest in our local creative talent in Ottawa,” Kwong says. OMIC is looking to partner with Ottawa businesses. In return for their sponsorship, the organization is offering branding opportunities, corporate concerts and more. “Any support people can provide to our local musicians is always appreciated,” Kwong says.
OBJ.social is supported by the generous patronage of Mark Motors, Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties and the National Arts Centre. STORIES AND PHOTOS BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS
From left, Ottawa city councillor Catherine McKenney, PAL Ottawa housing project co-chair Catherine Lindquist, Ottawa Community Housing chief development officer Cliff Youdale and Peter Haworth, chair of PAL Ottawa, at Piazza Dante Park near the site of a future Ottawa Community Housing project that will offer affordable housing to senior arts workers. PHOTO BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS
ARTS AND CULTURE
Ottawa Community Housing, PAL Ottawa enter into show-stopping partnership to create affordable housing for aging artists administrators. It also provides personal support to artists, so that they don’t end up isolated and alone. “We couldn’t be more excited,” said Catherine Lindquist, who co-chairs PAL Ottawa’s housing project with fellow board member Stephen Arbuckle. “This is a milestone moment in what has been a real labour of love.” The volunteer board at PAL Ottawa had been waiting in the wings for the right opportunity to come along. It finally found it with OCH, which is in the business of creating affordable housing communities.
already a happening arts scene. The plan is to build 80 apartment units, as well as complementary creative spaces. At least 40 per cent of the units will be below-market-rate rentals while the rest will be near-market rentals. The unique and innovative partnership with OCH, the city’s largest social housing provider, marks a major breakthrough for PAL Ottawa, a grassroots arts organization created in 2012 to come up with an affordable housing solution for older artists, including actors, singers and musicians, visual artists, dancers, writers and arts
Starving artists need not be homeless, now that the Ottawa Community Housing Corp. has entered into a preliminary agreement with non-profit organization PAL Ottawa to help keep a roof over artists’ heads. The two organizations have signed an official memorandum of understanding to work together toward creating affordable rental units for senior artists, ages 55 and older. The mid-rise apartment building, to be constructed and completed between late 2023 and early 2024, will be located in the Gladstone Avenue and Rochester Street area of Little Italy, where there’s
The new facility will give older artists a place to live comfortably and securely, and to have creative spaces to exhibit, perform and hold social gatherings, he added. PAL Ottawa plans to launch a fundraising campaign to develop the spaces into studios and/or exhibition rooms, and to make the below-market-rental apartments affordable in a sustained way. There are already 100 interested applicants for the apartments including Juno Award recipient and Canadian Folk Music Award-winning singer and songwriter Lynn Miles, who, incidentally, has launched a GoFundMe campaign in order to record her next bluegrass-style album. When it comes to artists, most of them don’t work in the sector for the money but see it as a calling or a vocation, said Lindquist. A statistical profile, done by Hill Strategies Research, of Canadian artists in 2016 found a typical artist was earning an income of $17,300, a figure that was 56 per cent lower at that time than the median of $39,000 for all workers. “It’s below the poverty line,” said Lindquist. A young artist may dream of hitting the big time but, if it hasn’t happened by the time they hit middle age, they may see their next best option as carrying on with what they know and love, despite the sporadic nature of their employment and the lack of proper benefits, PAL Ottawa chair Peter Haworth explained. There is, of course, the option of abandoning the arts and getting a secure job, but that would make for a dull outcome for everyone, he opined. “Do you want to live in a city that doesn’t have any art and that’s full of really responsible people who are not going to spend hours and hours for very little money to create something beautiful?” A thriving arts scene helps businesses recruit talent, universities to attract students, and cities to bring in tourists, added Lindquist, who, by day, is executive director of Capital Heritage Connexion.
OBJ.social is supported by the generous patronage of Mark Motors, Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties and the National Arts Centre. STORIES AND PHOTOS BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS
Hobin Architecture launches $40K matching gift campaign to help local charities One of Ottawa’s most prominent architecture firms has drawn up some well-thought-out blueprints for benevolence by matching all new donations made to four local charities that it has identified as vital to the community. Hobin Architecture is supporting BGC Ottawa (Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa), Cornerstone Housing for Women, Multifaith Housing Initiative and The Ottawa Mission. It has pledged to match donations, up to a total of $10,000 per beneficiary, made by the end of June. To stimulate new support, the company is asking that the giving comes
from individuals who have not donated to these charities in the past. By all means, donors should name-drop Hobin Architecture when they’re donating their dollars in order to double the impact. The campaign, You Give, We Give, is part of Hobin Architecture’s belief in supporting its community, said founding partner Barry Hobin. “It’s one of our core values,” he added. “We hold ourselves accountable to it.” Due to the company’s ongoing success, he added, the mid-sized firm of 40 staff has decided over the past couple of years to “increase our charitable giving” beyond
Barry Hobin, founding partner of Hobin Architecture, at the firm’s 40th anniversary celebration held in 2019 at Bayview Yards. PHOTO BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS its usual 10 per cent of the bottom line. Hobin, one of the best-known architects in town, has garnered a long list
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of awards and accolades over his 42-year career. He was inducted last fall into the Order of Ottawa, alongside his friends
and mentors, Rev. Anthony Bailey from his church, Parkdale United, and graphic designer Dave O’Malley. Three of the four charities that Hobin Architecture is supporting are faith-based and help to provide emergency shelter, supportive housing or affordable housing. “It’s about recognizing organizations within our community that actually make a difference,” said Hobin. “We’re just doing our part, and it would be great if everyday people might want to come alongside.” Charitable giving in Canada has been declining since before the COVID-19 crisis. While some citizens have been “incredibly generous” during the pandemic, said Hobin, societal numbers are falling off, gradually. “It’s endemic of a popular culture where we tend to focus inwardly, as opposed to thinking about our place on the planet, our obligation to the community.” Steve Clifford, who’s in charge of marketing and communications at Hobin Architecture, said the company normally makes donations to nonprofit organizations on behalf of its employees. The “You Give, We Give” matching gift campaign is a first, he said.
“It’s about recognizing organizations within our community that actually make a difference,” said Hobin. “We’re just doing our part, and it would be great if everyday people might want to come alongside.” “We’re hoping it becomes something that happens every year. That’s our goal.” Hobin, who is a proud alumnus of Carleton University’s school of architecture, said the firm continues to remain very busy during the pandemic, although projects are moving along more slowly due to pandemic-related delays with construction and the planning and approval process. “If anything I’d say it’s been stressful,” said Hobin of the inability for team members to collaborate and share ideas like they’re used to doing, face to face. “Our staff are generally trying to do the best they can.”
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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE
Mark Norman, former head of the Canadian navy and vice-chief of defence staff, recognizes all too well that not every veteran is in the same boat when it comes to transitioning out of the Canadian Armed Forces. “When people leave the military, everyone leaves for different reasons,” says Norman in an interview to discuss his new role as senior defence strategist with Ottawa-based strategic consulting firm Samuel Associates. “Some are ready to leave, some leave earlier than they need to, some hang on to the last second. “You have to respect that everybody’s journey is different.” It’s been almost two years since the vice-admiral entered into retirement, after serving almost 40 years in the Canadian Forces. Rather than pivot immediately into the private sector, he took time to consider the opportunities that were being offered to him. “To be honest, there’s an element of responsibility that comes with having options and I wanted to contribute in a responsible way,” says Norman, who was looking to accept roles that were intellectually satisfying, of help to others and that boosted Canada on a broader scale. Samuel Associates, led by president and CEO Goran Samuel Pesic, was one of several companies courting Norman. The retired vice-admiral says he liked how Pesic ran his business and was attracted to his leadership team and to the company’s interesting projects and clients. “I said, ‘Let’s do this,’” recalled Norman, whose role is purely advisory. “Samuel Associates is a great crew. At the end of the day, it’s all about what you are working on and who you’re working with.
Mark Norman / Samuel Associates If both of those things are interesting and exciting and you enjoy it, it’s a fairly natural transition.” Norman is also a volunteer champion with the Royal Canadian Navy Benevolent Fund, founded in 1942. As well, he took on the role of industry advisor last year with Chicago-based global management consultancy Argo Consulting. Born in Ottawa and raised in Kingston, the son of a military officer earned an economics degree from Queen’s University before rising up through Canada’s military ranks – eventually
becoming the second in command while in his early 50s. He’s also been forced to navigate the rocky shoals of the justice system. He was charged with breach of trust in 2018 in relation to leaked details of a large shipbuilding contract. The highly publicized case ended when the Crown stayed its charge in 2019 – a move Norman has said “exonerated” him of any wrongdoing. Not a day goes by when Norman doesn’t miss the navy, especially the people.
“Notwithstanding the fact that I’m past my best-before date,” he jokes of the physically demanding duties required of a sailor. “I like to keep in touch and live vicariously through their experiences.” Transitioning out of the military can be a real challenge, he stressed. Some veterans feel a loss of identity or purpose. He says they may continue working because they can’t afford to retire, or because they need to fill a void. Norman used to provide guidance to his men and women on the transitioning process, back when he was at a senior level of his military career and they were reaching key points in their own careers. He would remind them that the day would come when they would no longer wear their uniforms. He would tell them: “Try as much as possible to be in control of the circumstances under which you take off your uniform. Don’t allow yourself to be in a situation where you have no control.” Says Norman: “I think this is what happens to a lot of people and where they get themselves into trouble; they’re pushed out or they hang on too long, or whatever the case may be. “When I describe how fortunate I feel, it is really genuine.” Norman grew up sailing on Lake Ontario. These days, the resident of the Ottawa suburb of Orléans spends his free time mountain biking and road cycling, downhill skiing and working on his classic sports car, a 1974 Alfa Romeo. It seems his wife, Beverly, isn’t as keen on sailing as he is, which explains why he’s sticking to land. “I’d have a boat in a second, but that’s OK,” he says, affably. — Caroline Phillips
PEOPLE ON THE MOVE Nicolas Barbeau has joined ADGA Group as director of space solutions. He previously worked at Honeywell as general manager of the firm’s payloads and mission division. Crypto4A has named John Scott as CEO. Scott has served as chair of the company’s board of directors for the past three years.
is also board vice-chair of the Ottawa Gatineau Youth Foundation.
FEATURED PLACEMENTS FROM BOYDEN
Kassondra Walters is now working with the Ottawa Board of Trade as its new manager of membership experience. She previously worked as community engagement and information coordinator with the Kingston Military Family Resource Centre.
SANDY ROSE has taken on the role of director of investor relations and sustainability at InterRent Real Estate Investment Trust (IIP.UN). Rose was most recently a senior analyst of global real estate securities at Presima Inc. and is a seasoned finance professional, a talented communicator and an ESG thought leader in the real estate sector.
MICHEL RODRIGUE has been named president and CEO Hootsuite has hired Manish Kamra as senior vice-president of software development. Kamra brings more than 25 years of experience in software R&D to the role and most recently served as vice-president of software development and head of CENX product development at Ericsson’s Ottawa office. Germaine Chazou-Essindi has been named the inaugural director of diversity and inclusion at the National Arts Centre. Her new role will be to guide the NAC in its efforts to become a more diverse organization and to promote inclusive practices and approaches. Prior to joining the NAC, Chazou-Essindi was the director of national policy, programs and partnerships at the Department of Women and Gender Equality Canada. Jay McMahon has been promoted to regional vice-president of insurance, wealth management and benefits provider Canada Life. He was most recently managing director for almost four years of Ontario East Freedom 55, a division of Canada Life. McMahon
Costa Constantakis has joined Kivuto, a leading provider of digital solutions for the education industry, as its vicepresident of sales and marketing. He most recently served as regional vice-president of enterprise accounts for North America at Saba Software and, prior to that, held a variety of senior leadership positions at both private and publicly traded SaaS and enterprise software companies, including Halogen Software (acquired by Saba), Sun Microsystems (acquired by Oracle) and Nakina Systems (acquired by Nokia).
of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. An ardent advocate for mental health, Rodrigue has served as the MHCC’s vice-president of organizational performance and public affairs for the last five years, spearheading extraordinary progress toward reshaping Canada’s mental health landscape.
VANI EDWARDSON has joined Nanometrics Inc. as vice-president of marketing. A leader empowered to improve people’s lives, Edwardson enjoys tackling new challenges and having an open mind to learn and grow. She has previously worked in a variety of progressive leadership roles including marketing, strategy, HR and communications at Macadamian, a digital and connected health solutions company. She has also worked with Nortel, CGI, Mitel and Bell Canada.
Chris Davies recently joined knak, an email creation platform, as its new – and first – chief creative officer. Davies was previously vice-president and head of content at Quietly Media and has also worked with Hill+Knowlton Strategies. Krista Killingsworth is the new general manager of PCS General Contractors (a Power-Tek Group Company). She brings more than 20 years’ experience, having worked at Brofort Construction followed by Direct Construction as its general manager.
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Ottawa's authoritative source of business news, covering tech, tourism, real estate and other key economic sectors in Canada's capital.
Published on Jun 3, 2021
Ottawa's authoritative source of business news, covering tech, tourism, real estate and other key economic sectors in Canada's capital.