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B2B Products and Services Winner: Arjang Nowtash, President, Sinclair Dental Co. Ltd.

Old World business smarts and a low profile in the New World have been a profitable mix for Arjang Nowtash, the soft-spoken president of North Vancouver's Sinclair Dental Co. Ltd. Growing up in Tehran, Nowtash was surrounded by the dental business. His father was a denturist, and the smell of wax wafting from his father's workshop across the courtyard of the family home is something he remembers fondly. Working in the shop and watching his father deal with his customers, Nowtash learned a practical side of the business that's rarely seen in North America. "It was like being in a business school every day because every day I saw, from the decisions he made, how he treated the customer, how he negotiated with the manufacturer," Nowtash says of his father. The early lessons have paid off handsomely. Sinclair Dental is now the largest supplier of dental products in Western Canada and is among the top three in Canada, with annual sales in excess of $100 million. Nowtash says that being located in B.C. enabled him to focus on growing the business without the same competitive pressures he would have faced in a larger market such as Ontario or Quebec. "Ontario alone had more business than Western Canada," he says. "They didn't pay attention to a small competition growing in Vancouver." Nowtash studied medicine, then dentistry, and initially joined his father's business as a travelling sales rep. Making the rounds of dentists' offices, he mastered the art of the deal. "It was all about one-on-one haggling and trying to convince someone to buy," he says. "I had to learn how to sell. That is the biggest art." When revolution convulsed Iran in 1979, the government took steps to nationalize businesses. In 1983 the family moved to Canada. Then in his late 30s, Nowtash initially pursued a number of ventures as an investor. A software-development company he backed went under, but another venture, in real estate, was more successful. However, neither venture really grabbed him. "I really did not warm up to any of those things. I just made money from some investments," he says matter-of-factly. Nowtash was soon scouting opportunities in the dental supply business, cold-calling companies with a view to becoming a purchaser. It was, he says, rather naive. The opportunity he was looking for ended up being a 10-minute drive from his home. Nowtash bought Sinclair in 1988 and used his experience to improve the business. He kept prices low while seeking to maintain a personal contact with customers. "We are really a friendly partner to the dentist," he says. "We work out whatever has to be done in the dental office to get their business." The original sales force of two has grown to 100 in 11 locations across Canada. But it's not just a responsive sales force and low prices that count in winning customers; Sinclair also offers its customers ongoing technical support for dental equipment. "When we grew, we realized that the name of the game is to be able to provide the total services to the dentist, because if we do not have a strong technical service department, the busier offices, the bigger operations, would not rely on us," Nowtash says. Overall, the company now employs 300 people. Nowtash's two eldest sons are a part of the company, while a third son, born in Canada, works for the company part-time. While he is happy to see the family involvement in the dental trade continue, it also points to the deep pride Nowtash takes in his family. Some of his happiest moments include family vacations, though he also enjoys solo vacations across Canada aboard his BMW touring motorcycle. He's not about to ride off from his responsibilities with Sinclair just yet, however. The expansion into Central Canada is just beginning, and Nowtash sees exciting challenges ahead as the company pursues new opportunities. "I really enjoy coming to work, the challenges and the growth we have enjoyed," he says. Runners up Marla Kott A silent investment led to a second career for Marla Kott, who sold her partnership in a Montreal accounting firm seven years ago to become CEO of Imprint Plus in Richmond, which designs, manufactures and distributes name tags, generating $8.5 million in annual sales. Its more than 15,000 clients include major companies as well as retail consumers through office-supply stores. Since becoming CEO in 2001, Kott has headed off a growing debt and boosted the company's balance sheet by controlling expenses and introducing new products. Jack Lee When 4Refuel Ltd. president and CEO Jack Lee returned to Canada in 1995 after a 23-year career in Australia's landscape and nursery sector, a national franchise licence from Australia's fast-growing Mini-Tankers Pty Ltd. fuel-supply company provided an opportunity. Lee acquired full control of the company in 2003, and he introduced larger delivery trucks, a technology wing and biodiesel deliveries. Rebranding followed in 2005. The company posted $130.7 million in revenues last year and now has 95 trucks in Canada. It expanded into the U.S. this past summer and plans to enter the U.K. next year. Winners:

Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 Finalists Slideshow Pt. 1 Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 Finalists Slideshow Pt. 2 Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 Finalists Slideshow Pt. 3 Entrepreneur of the Year Judges' Criteria Gala Event Slideshow: EOY 2007 Winner | Category Winners Gala Event: Winner's Acceptance Speech