Drew Green
CEO, Indochino Apparel
(Winner)

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Drew Green didn’t launch Indochino, the menswear maker founded in 2007 on the premise that customers shouldn’t have to spend tons of money for custom clothing. But having built a successful business of his own in Shop.ca, the Scarborough, Ontario, native considered taking over as CEO of Indochino in 2015 more challenging than starting something himself. “The company was losing US$7 million to US$8 million a year, had very little runway and was in need of a total revamp,” Green recalls. “The existing shareholders and myself came together, essentially reacquired the company and started from scratch.”

However, Green faced pressures that wouldn’t dog a new business. “It’s a lot different than starting your own company from the ground up,” he says. “But to be honest, it’s a little more stressful because you’re losing money from day one and you don’t have a lot of time to figure it out.” Green has used his time at Indochino well, reengineering its supply chain, developing partnerships with companies like Postmedia Network, building new showrooms—the company now has 34 across North America—and personally overhauling the management team. Since he arrived, the business has grown from just over 100 employees to about 600 through a combination of online sales and bricks-and-mortar stores.

The CEO likes to share credit for this turnaround. His preferred brand of office culture—cultivated with Shop.ca, sold in 2014 to Toronto-based Emerge Commerce—hinges on recognizing others.

“My companies have always been known for daily stand-ups, where you have everybody communicate their top priority for the day before and the day that’s happening,” Green says. “Then we have a weekly game ball, which is a peer-to-peer recognition mechanism, and you feel great because somebody’s recognizing your efforts. Whether you’re playing on a team or building a company, the more you can work as a unit, the better things you accomplish.”

What did your summer jobs teach you about business?
My first summer job was working for my father, building and repairing cottages. The most significant lesson I had from this experience was the importance of hard work, anticipation and to overdeliver for customers, every time you can.

Is an entrepreneur born or made?
Entrepreneurs are born; successful entrepreneurs are made.

What is your definition of success?
For me, success comprises many things, but the constant is the feeling of satisfaction and happiness I get from setting goals, daily, weekly, monthly, et cetera, and then going out and doing my very best, personally, as a father, friend, et cetera, and professionally, as a CEO, partner, investor, role model, et cetera.

What other career might you have had?
Broadcasting.

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?
I enjoy quiet time and quiet places.

Finish this sentence for us: “Entrepreneurs need a lot more…”
Patience.

What businessperson do you most admire?
Michael Jordan.

What do you do to unwind/relax?
I spend time with my sons, watching and helping them become men.

How would you describe your leadership style?
I am constantly thinking through how best to motivate and inspire my team, organization and culture towards a loftier goal than most would have, or even think is possible. I like to work closely with my team to use data to identify areas that are in need of change, gain consensus on solutions, and then create a vision with the team or leader to hit the goals we set, as one team.

Name an item you typically forget to pack on business trips and regret not bringing.
My charger, but I am getting better.


Randy MacEwen
President and CEO, Ballard Power Systems
(Runner-up)

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Next year Ballard Power Systems turns 40, and in the words of its chief executive, “this is probably Ballard 4.0 or 5.0, from the different business models we’ve had.” Founded to develop lithium batteries, the Burnaby-based company pivoted in the 1990s, focusing on hydrogen fuel cell technology. Back then, many observers thought fuel cell passenger cars were the way of the future.

“I have a hydrogen fuel cell car here in Vancouver; it’s one of about 10,” says Toronto-raised Randy MacEwen, who managed other cleantech companies in the U.S. and Canada before becoming president and CEO. “But that’s not the key market. The key market is heavy-duty motive–so, buses, commercial trucks, trains and marine-based vehicles.”

MacEwen, who holds a law degree from Western University, leads some 450 employees at Ballard. Since his first full year at the helm in 2015, the company has grown from $56 million in annual revenue to more than $121 million. “People are seeing the value proposition for fuel cell electric vehicles for heavy motive,” MacEwen says.

What did your summer jobs teach you about business?
Every summer as a young kid, I worked on my grandfather’s potato farm in PEI. I learned the value of your word and handshake, and the importance of hard work.

Is an entrepreneur born or made?
I don’t know. I do know that you must have passion, high risk tolerance and a fierce resolve.

What is your definition of success?
You can’t achieve success without putting yourself out there and trying something bold. So, in my mind, for new entrepreneurs I would recommend that the first measure of success is giving your idea a real shot.

What other career might you have had?
I started my career as a securities lawyer, focusing on M&A and corporate finance. That would have been my fallback career.

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?
I enjoy writing country music songs. Finish this sentence for us: “Entrepreneurs need a lot more…” Conviction and humility.

What businessperson do you most admire?
Jeff Bezos.

What do you do to unwind/relax?
Fitness; read business articles; watch boxing.

How would you describe your leadership style?
I have tried to develop a leadership brand based on integrity, professionalism, passion, high energy, fierce resolve and collaboration.

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


Jamil Murji
President and CEO, Inter-Urban Delivery Service + Argus Carriers
(Runner-up)

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Five years ago, Jamil Murji decided to buy a company. The stock analyst, who had done his undergrad in computer science at SFU and an MBA at Western University’s Richard Ivey School of Business, had always wanted to run his own business. So when the Vancouver native noticed that Abbotsford-headquartered transportation and logistics firm Inter-Urban Delivery Service was up for sale, he examined the books, liked what he saw and put every penny he had into it. Running a company in an industry he knew nothing about was tough, but dealing with the staff he inherited proved tougher.

“It was a small office of four or five people, and not even 90 days after [purchasing it], the operations manager and office manager were kicked out because I caught them stealing our customer list and starting their own company,” Murji says. “It took me a good 18 months to figure out how this business runs, to beg for forgiveness from our customers.” Since then, Inter-Urban has doubled its employees, and in 2016, Murji bought Burnaby-based freight carrier Argus. He oversees about 185 staff overall.

What did your summer jobs teach you about business?
Work is hard.

Is an entrepreneur born or made?
Born. Running an enterprise is a lot of work. You have to be hard-wired for it. It’s in your DNA.

What is your definition of success?
It’s all about balance. Have fun; live a nice, healthy lifestyle; spend time with family; and be passionate about work.

What other career might you have had?
I came from finance, and I really enjoyed it. Had I not changed careers to entrepreneurship, I’d still be studying companies and investments for a living.

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?
I am horrible with maps and directions. I always get lost, even with GPS. Surprising for someone who runs two transportation companies.

Finish this sentence for us: “Entrepreneurs need a lot more…”
Support.

What businessperson do you most admire?
None, really. I admire bits and pieces from a lot of businesspeople, but no one specifically.

What do you do to unwind/relax?
Beer! I like the really good Belgian beers, and good craft beers.

How would you describe your leadership style?
I see myself as a resource provider. Provide capital where needed, help with training and hiring when needed, and provide information and visibility into the operations. This sets my staff up for success and lets them do their jobs to the best of their ability. They really do all the work, not me.

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


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