Jamals_2.jpg

Jamals_2.jpg

B2C Products and Services Winners; Azim Jamal, Zahra Mamdani, Abdul Jamal and Joe Moosa, Retirement Concepts Seniors Services Ltd.

The Jamals have learned to value community, both as a family of entrepreneurs and as operators of more than 2,300 units of seniors' housing at 16 residences across Canada. Ten years ago, Vancouver-based Retirement Concepts Seniors Services Ltd. - then a mom-and-pop operation in the hands of Abdul and Shamim Jamal - had just 135 units at two residences. But the addition of son Azim Jamal and daughter Zahra Mamdani, and the sound advice of Shamim's brother Joe Moosa, proved a winning combination as each contributed his or her skills to the venture. Today Abdul and Shamim remain the majority owners of the company (Abdul is also chair) while Azim, a former family physician, serves as president and CEO. Zahra, as VP of service innovation, uses her experience in management consulting to oversee policy development and marketing. Moosa, a civil engineer by training, guides development activities. Abdul was raised in Tanzania and was 18 in 1964, when his father's death placed him at the head of diverse interests ranging from transportation to wholesale groceries. Seven years later, he was applying the lessons he learned in Tanzania to business in Canada. Arriving in November 1971, Abdul and Shamim initially bought two IGA stores in Chilliwack, which they operated for three years before moving into the egg business in 1975. "I didn't even know ABC about farming or chickens, but I learned very quickly. And that was a very profitable business to me and my family," says Abdul, who sold the farm in 1989. The business diversified into packing and distribution, and generated enough income to enable Abdul to partner with friends and invest in Toronto real estate. In 1987 he bought a hotel in Abbotsford that was the start of a hotel portfolio that now includes four properties with 650 rooms. The following year, Abdul became a silent partner in the development of McIntosh Lodge, a 55-bed seniors' residence in Chilliwack. The lodge, which depended entirely on -private-pay residents, encountered financial difficulties and Abdul eventually acquired the business, which he admits now was a risky venture at the time. Abdul forged ahead and eventually won government funding for 10 beds in 1994, giving the business the stability it needed. A second home was acquired in Victoria in 1996, and the following year Azim joined to oversee the business's expansion. "I basically grew up debating business around the dinner table with my dad, and my parents never really wanted me to go into business," Azim says. "They wanted me to stay and practice medicine. But I wasn't happy doing that, and I saw myself as an entrepreneur wanting to get into business." A 1999 government tender to develop a new residence in Nanaimo brought additional changes. Development replaced acquisitions as a means of growth. With annual construction activity passing $40 million, Joe Moosa was called in to oversee construction. "We needed a lot more professionalism and oversight," Azim says. "With his background as a civil engineer, he was well suited to that task." Today Retirement Concepts has 1,300 units under development across the country. But to support ongoing growth, it must find new ways to cultivate staff in a competitive hiring environment. It is counting on a new school that trains employees exclusively for its homes to bolster its 1,800-person workforce. The more an employer can do to build a sense of belonging among employees, Azim explains, the lower the chances of that employee seeking opportunities elsewhere. Azim maintains an open-door policy when it comes to employee concerns, and relationships with the communities its homes serve are also encouraged. "We want our communities to continue to be part of the larger community in which they operate," Azim says. "Those types of initiatives, I think, create an opportunity for our employees to feel like it's more than just a job." Runners-up Brian Scudamore Brian Scudamore was just 19 in 1989, when he began hauling junk to pay for university. But his studies took a practical twist when he began outstripping the competition in the fragmented rubbish-removal business. By 1997 he was franchising his success, and today he is president and CEO of 1-800-Got-Junk LLC, the largest trash-disposal business in the world, with 320 franchisees in Canada, the U.S., Australia and the U.K. Annual revenues total $158 million, and growth is supported by cash flow - not debt or outside equity - Scudamore notes. Rick Baxter Rick Baxter, president and CEO, has propelled West Coast Air Ltd. to the top of its industry, transforming the former floatplane division of AirBC Ltd. into a carrier serving not just isolated coastal communities but destinations favoured by adventurous tourists. Baxter charted his flightpath after stints during university driving tour buses for Gray Line Corp. and founding Insight Apparel, a Vancouver company specializing in custom attire for student groups. Selling Insight and joining family-owned Baxter Aviation Ltd. in 1992, Baxter established the Nanaimo airline's Vancouver office. He acquired full ownership of the company in 2004. 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