Entrepreneur of the Year 2015: Business Services finalists

Steve Troyer (WINNER)
CEO, Troyer Ventures Ltd.

Steve Troyer got his first taste of hard work training as a farrier while still in high school. “We were turning horses feet, putting shoes on them and going to racetracks and trying to figure out how to make them run better,” says the 42-year-old Yukon native, who moved south to Fort St. John in his early 20s. In search of a new career—one that would be less taxing on his back—Troyer decided one day to go to a local oil-and-gas trade show, just as the industry was taking off in the northeast. “While I was there, I got talking to a slick truck salesman, and he told me that if I wanted to build a steam truck with a pressure washer, I’d be busy every day of the year.”

Troyer bought the truck, and while he says he almost went broke that first year, things eventually turned around. In time, one truck turned into two, and two became three; today Troyer Ventures Ltd. boasts a fleet of 100 trucks that transport waste liquids produced from oil and gas extraction for customers ranging from Shell to Encana to CN Rail. Troyer now has two B.C. offices in Fort St. John and Fort Nelson, as well as three in Alberta, with the company’s fortunes tracking those of B.C.’s natural gas sector. But he’s reticent to call his company a success. “We’ve managed to get through this far, and work with a lot of great people, but I don’t know if it’s a success yet. We’ve got plenty of room to grow.” 

Andrew Kemp (FINALIST)

President and CEO, CMW Insurance Services Ltd.

As one would expect from a successful insurance broker, Andrew Kemp has made a career out of minimizing risk. In his 20s, Kemp followed his father into the insurance business, working his way up the managerial ranks to eventually become senior vice-president at Aon, a major multinational insurance broker. “I was a bit of a golden boy,” he says. “I could do what I wanted.”

But what he wanted was to start his own business—and so, in 2004, he quit his job at Aon and, using his life savings and an undisclosed borrowed amount, acquired a stake in a small local insurance brokerage with a specialty in underwriting condo developments. Ten years later, he has built CMW Insurance Services Ltd. into an 84-person firm that has insured some 1,300 buildings across the Lower Mainland, with annual revenue of around $40 million. The decision to go it on his own has been rewarding. “The big win is the lack of frustration,” he says of his new, more entrepreneurial career track. “There’s an ease to doing business in this kind of environment.”

Timothy Germain (FINALIST)
CEO, T-Lane Nation

Timothy Germain got his start driving school buses, but he always had his eye on bigger vehicles–and bigger plans. At the age of 23, Germain got his licence to drive semi-trailers, bought his own truck and began driving short-haul routes around the Lower Mainland. By his late 30s, with a young family in Coquitlam, he saw an opportunity for “a surplus of growth and profit,” as he puts it, but he was unable to find a partner to share the costs of starting up: “None had the confidence nor risk-taking gumption to jump on board.” So with one dispatcher and one truck, he began T-Lane Nation in 2000, putting up his house as collateral. Taking those risks, he notes, “paved the T-Lane road” for his eventual success. The company–which specializes in moving unwieldy or dangerous materials, like power generators or cranes, to remote corners of the province–has since grown into a 250-person operation, with 11 offices and six warehouses across Canada and clients ranging from BC Hydro to the Department of National Defence. In 2014, T-Lane Nation had $45 million in annual revenue, which Germain hopes to grow to $100 million in five years’ time.