As candidates for Ernst & Young’s ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR PACIFIC REGION program, these business people not only put the dictionary to shame, they also submitted themselves to intense scrutiny by a top accounting firm and hard-nosed panel of judges. This list of high-performers comprised the list of runners-up for 2006.
EMERGING Todd Dunlop For Todd Dunlop, Neverblue Media is just the beginning. He ¬already has one multimillion-dollar start-up company under his belt, and he promises more to come. Based in Victoria, Neverblue started as a search engine marketing firm, but now matches ¬advertisers with clients online. “Online marketing has a fast business cycle so if you’re not seeing the next thing coming you’re going to be left behind,” he explains. Neverblue employs 45 people. His partners are all under 30 and Dunlop turned 27 in August. “I have to start getting some young blood in here,” he jokes. Douglas Tronsgard When Douglas Tronsgard started Next Level Games in 2002, he knew he was taking a risk. Not ¬because he didn’t know the industry, but because he knew it all too well and wanted his new company to be different. “I lived through the old style of making games; it eats people up and spits them out ¬because it’s so demanding.” With 85 employees, Vancouver-based Next Level Games makes console games, the most recent being Mario Super Strikers for Nintendo. The company stands out for being small in a world of consolidating companies. HOSPITALITY/TOURISM Gordon Fitzpatrick President and co-proprietor Gordon Fitzpatrick, 46, has spent a decade transforming Cedar Creek Estate Winery into an award-winning producer of ¬premium wines. Fitzpatrick took the helm at Cedar Creek in 1996, and under his guidance it has tripled in size to 22,000 square feet, and doubled annual production to 38,500 cases. The Canadian Wine Awards has named it Winery of the Year three times in the past five years. Fitzpatrick also chairs the B.C. Wine Institute and helps manage Greata Ranch Development Corp. Len Barrie Len Barrie, the Kimberley-born, 37-year-old former centre for the Florida Panthers hockey team, has been a sure shot in resort development. Bear Mountain, a $2.5-billion resort 20 minutes from downtown Victoria, will have 10,000 residents when it is built out in 2015. Bear Mountain Master Partnership, in which president and CEO Barrie has a half-interest, ¬includes construction, management and design divisions. Due to the development, downtown Langford has seen retail development ¬explode and upwards of 1,000 jobs created for local residents. MANUFACTURING Edmund Ho If you own a cordless phone, it’s probably got Edmund Ho’s stamp on it. In the late ’80s, Ho, an electrical engineer, developed the 900 MHz digital cordless while at VTech. Ho went on to found Ascalade in 1993. Today, Ascalade works in partnership with companies such as Philips Consumer Electronics, Linksys and British Telecom to ¬develop and produce phones. In 2005, Ascalade closed a $40-million IPO on the TSX, and posted revenues of US$112 million. It has maintained more than 30-per-cent revenue growth for the past four years. Robert Meggy Robert Meggy, the 60-year-old CEO of Great Little Box Co., launched the business in 1982 with just three employees. Today, it has nearly 200. It brought in $25 million last year, $30 million this year, and Meggy’s goal is $40 million by 2008. But he has no ¬illusions as to the challenges ahead. “The industry is flat,” he notes. “Seventy per cent of the businesses we deal with are not growing. Some are shrinking.” Meggy’s solution has been to expand, via acquisitions, into ¬labeling and foam for protective packaging, as well as to continue to boost sales staff. TURNAROUND David Allan Forty-eight-year-old David Allan, president and CEO of Rhino Print Solutions, knew exactly what he was getting into when he bought the assets of a bankrupt commercial printing business in 2001. “When I came along, [Rhino] was rapidly going down the drain,” he recalls. “Salespeople had left, and they couldn’t even order paper to keep the business going. This was really about buying a shell of a company, which I saw as an opportunity to mould into a new company.” Today, Rhino is one of the lead¬ers in the industry, and is expected to generate sales of up to $11 ¬million this year. David Slater When David Slater took over as president and CEO in April 1998, Hillsborough Resources Ltd. was selling coal to Japan for less than production costs. “It was a difficult situation,” Slater recalls. “Within three months of arriving, I laid off half of the workforce. Within nine months, I laid off another 100.” Hillsborough now operates coal mines in Campbell River and Tennessee. It is also developing properties near Tumbler Ridge and the Elk Valley, and a power plant at its Wapiti property. Sales are estimated to reach $25 million this year. B2B PRODUCTS AND SERVICES Jay Garnett By his early 20s, Jay Garnett had already founded a DJ business and Vancouver’s first condom boutique, Willy Wear. When he jumped from condoms to coffee in 1993, Garnett’s career hit the springboard. He opened a coffee house near Kitsilano Beach and bought the rights to become Seattle’s Best Coffee’s Canadian agent. His Whitefish Group has since carved a niche as a brand-management company for an international portfolio of food and beverage products. Whitefish wholesales $13 million worth of coffee a year, with total projected sales projected to reach $18 million to $19 million this year. Peter Joe It’s been 50 years since Peter Joe’s parents made their first block of tofu in the kitchen behind Yat Sang Grocery store in Vancouver’s Japantown. The tiny kitchen has since grown to a bustling factory on Powell Street, and Sunrise Soya Foods is today Canada’s largest producer of tofu and soy foods. At the helm is CEO Peter Joe, 46, who took on the family business in 1984. Joe formed partnerships with Yves Veggie Cuisine and Dairyworld Foods, and acquired two competitors. Sunrise has averaged 13 per cent sales growth over the past 10 years. B2C PRODUCTS AND SERVICES Kin Wah Leung After immigrating to Canada from Mainland China more than 20 years ago, Kin Wah Leung opened a small mom-and-pop fruit stand on Granville Island, which quickly drew a loyal following. In 1987 he headed into the suburbs, opening his first Kin’s Farm Market store in Richmond. By the time he opened his fourth store, Leung started training store managers to become district managers, leaving him free to expand the business into other fruit and veggie-deprived communities. Today Kin’s Farm Market employs 600 people at its Richmond head office and 20 stores throughout Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Brian Scudamore Most entrepreneurs can only dream of making $119 million on a $700 investment. But 15 years after buying a beat-up truck, Brian Scudamore has more than 315 trash-removal franchisees in Canada, the U.S., Australia and the U.K. Following all this success, a very grounded Scudamore, 36, still retains 100-per-cent ownership of the 1-800-GOT-JUNK, something he says is not negotiable, even if he meets his next audacious goal of becoming the world’s largest junk removal service with $1-billion revenues and a presence in 10 countries by 2012.