Kyle Tweter + Dan Wilson
CEO + President, Warehouse Group
(Winners)

WilsonAdam BlasbergFor a company that was founded on shots of Jägermeister, the Warehouse Group is doing pretty well. In 2003, Dan Wilson walked into the Moose, a downtown Vancouver watering hole, and was introduced to the owner, Kyle Tweter, through a mutual friend. As the story goes, the two started chatting. And drinking.

After a few repeats of the equation, Wilson followed up on their talks about putting in the work to start something together. Six months later, they began building what is now a 20-restaurant empire that spans B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.

Of course, there have been some hiccups along the way. One was the pair’s first Whistler location, which they took money from friends to start. “We were pretty inexperienced at the time, didn’t even have a lawyer to look into what it was we were agreeing to,” remembers Tweter.

It took five years to pay back their friends, but they got there eventually—in large part thanks to an epiphany triggered by an in-flight magazine.

“There was a story about this place called the Texas Tavern in Roanoke, West Virginia,” Tweter says. “And there was a picture of a whitewashed old building. Painted on the front, it said, ‘Hamburgers $2.95, hot dogs $1.95.’ So I got up out of my seat and slammed the magazine down in front of Dan and was like, ‘We need to do this.’”

Wilson balked at first, but eventually… “I went, ‘How cheap could we do it for?’ And he said, ‘$4.95?’ And I went, ‘OK, sold!’”

The more financially inclined Wilson still wishes he’d held out for a tad higher—Warehouse Group charges the same for all menu items—but after nine years, he got the price up to $5.95 in 2018.

And despite the low price point, the duo contends that Warehouse Group’s food is on par with competitors’ across the country. “We ensured that our chef did a value-driven menu that was food we could sell for $13.95 that we were doing for that price,” Wilson insists.

Having grown the business to about 1,500 staff, their ultimate goal is to double in size every five years. “From 2010 to 2015 we definitely did it, and from 2015 to 2020 we’re almost there now,” says Wilson. “So just trying to keep that streak going.”

No word on whether they’ll be celebrating with Jäger. 

Kyle Tweter

What did your summer jobs teach you about business?

Money management. I learned how hard money was to make and how easy it is to spend. I also learned very early what jobs I enjoyed and which ones I didn't. The work seemed much easier when I enjoyed doing it. 

Is an entrepreneur born or made? 

I believe it's both. I think having inherent characteristics like patience and an independent spirit are important but so are learned and developed skills like being hard-working and strategic goal-setting.

The most successful entrepreneurs I know might have been born with a lot of the tools that help entrepreneurially but had they not worked hard to make themselves better, I don't believe the same level of success would have been possible. 

What is your definition of success?

Waking up every morning to a life you are proud of, a job you enjoy, and that you are surrounded by people you love. 

What other career might you have had?

Bull rider.  I’ve never actually ridden one, but I think I’d be good at it. 

Name one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you.

I can use my thumb to puncture the can for shotgunning beers. 

Finish this sentence for us: "Entrepreneurs need a lot more...”

Mentors. 

What businessperson do you most admire?

Blaine Culling, owner of the Granville Entertainment Group. The foundations of how I build business is a product of everything I have learned from him. He is humble, hardworking and generous with his time. I admire him tremendously and owe a lot of my success to him. 

What do you do to relax/unwind? 

I have recently got into meditation after a week studying the Wim Hof Method on Cortes Island. It has opened my mind to a new type and level of relaxation. 

How would you describe your leadership style?

Honest, straightforward and leading by example.

Name an item you typically forget to pack on business trips and regret not bringing.
I own about 14 chargers because I am constantly forgetting them while travelling, which results in buying replacements at the airport.

Dan Wilson

What did your summer jobs teach you about business?

My summer job was tree planting. The harder you work, the more rewarding it is, and the more you’ll make. I used to get eight cents per tree I planted. Also, be very afraid of bears. 

Is an entrepreneur born or made? 

I can see the argument being made for both, as there are some traits you are born with, but I think a big factor is in the way you are raised. My parents did not love their jobs, so they always preached to never work for anyone but yourself. 

What is your definition of success?

Success to me is finding the balance of time with family and time for work. I love my job and all my work colleagues, and of course my wife and kids are my everything.

What other career might you have had?

Landscaper. That was my first business at 21 years old.  

Name one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you.

I have never had coffee in my life. 

Finish this sentence for us: "Entrepreneurs need a lot more...”

TIME. I use calendars and organizers well, but there just never seems to be enough time. 

What businessperson do you most admire?

My dad. He worked full time as a bus driver, but he was always was working on a new idea or on a new business. From importing underwear from Japan in the early 80s to selling stucco on the weekends. Dad did whatever he could to try to provide us with a better life and show us that it is important to work hard. 

What do you do to relax/unwind? 

Morning dance parties with my kids and going for a nature walks with my 150-pound dog, Bernie. 

How would you describe your leadership style?

I’ll always try to be the first up and last to leave. I’m not afraid to be the one scrubbing the floors. You will never catch me standing around and just watching. 

Name an item you typically forget to pack on business trips and regret not bringing.

My headphones, and of course I never realize until I’m on the plane. 


Ryan Moreno
Co-founder, CEO and Principal, Joseph Richard Group
(Runner-up)

MorenoAdam Blasberg

In an era where high-end food is accessible at the touch of a finger, 950-employee Joseph Richard Group has had to pivot. But guest experience is still at the centre of the company’s mission.

“We’ve used that as a guiding principle in everything we do,” stresses Ryan Moreno, who launched the restaurant chain, headquartered in his hometown of Surrey, with childhood friend André Bourque. “The chairs we sit on, the food we create, the lighting, the washrooms, whatever. That was sort of how we started, even in the nightclub days.”

But things have come a long way since the two were slinging drinks and good times at the Joseph Richard Nightclub, which closed in 2017.

This April, for example, they started Meal Ticket Brands, effectively opening 100 ghost restaurants (delivery-only concepts with no brick-and-mortar locations) across the Fraser Valley.

“Gone are the days when you can just order pizza or Chinese food to your house; now you can pretty much order anything,” says Moreno, who, in addition to the 100 new ventures, operates restaurants, pubs, liquor stores, a hotel and a winery in more than 20 locations in B.C. and Alberta.

“And that pushes the envelope of where you have to be and what fits and what doesn’t; you’re talking about the guest experience to a guest that’s sitting on their couch.”

What did your summer jobs teach you about business?

Hard work and dedication to something pays off.  Balance between finding time to enjoy the summer break and the commitment made to some form of work. 

Is an entrepreneur born or made? 

I think an entrepreneur’s spirit is definitely born but the tenacity, perseverance, experience comes with time and needs to be worked on constantly to be mastered or successful like anything else.

What is your definition of success?

Enjoying what you do every day. We have a quote written on the wall at the entrance at our head office that says “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.” If you do something you love every day, you’ll never feel like you’re working.

What other career might you have had?

Something to do with marketing or maybe corporate law? But I really couldn’t picture a career outside of being an entrepreneur. Must just be how I’m wired or perhaps how I was born??? What irony in relation to question No. 2… 

Name one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you.

I’m a pretty private person and don’t generally talk about things I’m doing outside of work. It took until 2017 to be convinced to join social media.

Finish this sentence for us: "Entrepreneurs need a lot more..."

Empathy, integrity and the ability to embrace failure. I truly believe that some of your greatest successes come from your biggest failures.

What businessperson do you most admire?

Steve Jobs for his vision, Jeff Bezos for his willingness to fail, Elon Musk for his persistence, Gary Vaynerchuck for his self-awareness, Warren Buffet for his investment acumen, and most of all my parents for showing us what matters most in life and for always pushing us to be the best versions of ourselves.

What do you do to relax/unwind?

Wife, kids, family, friends, a nice glass of wine. In that order. Outside of that, time at the gym, audiobooks and quiet time to think, reflect and appreciate everything and everyone.

How would you describe your leadership style?

Constantly striving to put the right people in the right places and empowering them to be their best selves. Inclusive, hands-on and always available. Obsessive on the constant self-improvement of the team. Relentless towards a goal.

Name an item you typically forget to pack on business trips and regret not bringing.

I always try and prep ahead of time, but if I had to pick something it would be business cards. With tech/phones nowadays, people don’t use them as much, I find, so I’ve forgotten to bring some or not brought enough at times and regret it when I’m in a situation that I realize, damn, this isn’t one of those times….


Aaron Chin
CEO, Organika Health Products
(Runner-up)

ChinAdam Blasberg

Aaron Chin never had any doubt about what he wanted to do when he grew up. His father, Thomas, founded Richmond-based Organika Health Products in 1990, and when he was in his teens, the younger Chin would walk by the sales manager’s office and joke to himself that his seat was just being kept warm.

“I’ve always known from a young age that this is something I’m passionate about and care about,” says 29-year-old Chin of Organika, which produces natural health solutions. “I wouldn’t be in it if I didn’t think I could bring value and also build on what my dad had built.”

Chin earned a master of international business at France’s Grenoble Graduate School of Business. Since joining Organika full-time almost six years ago (he started as a purchaser and moved up to national sales lead and VP of sales and marketing before taking over the top role), he’s worked to advance its footing in the marketplace.

“Innovation is our bread and butter,” he says, noting that Organika, which has 150 staff and three offices–two in Richmond and one in Scarborough, Ontario–was the first to launch a plant-based collagen and is Canada’s top brand for four natural health products.

What did your summer jobs teach you about business?

When I was 15, I spent the summer hand-picking berries on a blueberry farm in Richmond, B.C. The heat was immense and the work extremely hard, but the diversity amongst workers taught me to respect my colleagues and that no role or title in a business is more significant or important than another.  

Is an entrepreneur born or made? 

You either have the passion and entrepreneurial spirit, or you don't. Some of us live for the thrill of pushing through the challenges to reach our vision while some find excitement elsewhere.   

What is your definition of success?

When you feel confident knowing you gave it all you had and someone is able to benefit from your results. 

What other career might you have had?

In a dream world, a Canucks player! I grew up playing hockey competitively.  

Name one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you.

I share a birthday with Organika (we both turn 30 next year!). Our family loves to joke that growing up, Organika was the “favourite” twin brother, always getting more attention from my father than me. 

Finish this sentence for us: "Entrepreneurs need a lot more..."

Community. We need to make an effort to create a community in which we share our experiences, stories, struggles and advice with one another. It’s up to all of us (and the success of our businesses) to grow the health and wellness industry.  

What businessperson do you most admire?

My dad. He turned a passion into a purpose when he created Organika nearly 30 years ago, and overcame challenges I can’t even imagine facing this day and age. On numerous occasions, back when I was still in diapers, he had his catalogues and flyers ripped up in his face and kicked out of stores because he was Asian. For reasons like this, he’s also my hero. 

What do you do to relax/unwind? 

Play with my son Noah as soon as I get home from work and drink a glass of our vitamin C effervescent as part of a nighttime routine. 

How would you describe your leadership style?

Visionary meets motivational. Our brand is experiencing a major shift in strategy right now, in which I find by inspiring employees to set goals and promote their own, personal growth, our business is progressing more than ever before.