The 2010 Runners-up

Manufacturing Karen Flavelle, President and CEO, Purdy’s Chocolates



Karen Flavelle, President and CEO, Purdy’s Chocolates

When Karen Flavelle took over Purdy’s from her father, Charles Flavelle, in 1997, selling chocolates was a commodity business, with predictable assortments sold by the pound. Putting her marketing expertise to use, she put her customers first. “We try to understand what occasion the customer is looking for and what price point they’re looking for and then create something that fits that need,” she explains. She introduced lean manufacturing and launched an aggressive growth campaign; today Purdy’s has 900 employees and 58 stores, and is opening its first downtown Toronto store this fall. – David Jordan

Dan On, President and CEO, Dan-D Foods Ltd.

When he arrived in Canada from Vietnam in 1979 at age 18, Dan On had no ambition of founding a global food processing and distribution empire. “I just struggled to make a living in Canada and do my best,” he recalls. Happy to land a job as a janitor, he just wanted to be the best janitor he could be. But when his boss retired in 1989 and closed the food importing business, On seized the opportunity. Today Dan-D Foods employs 500 people worldwide and processes, packages and distributes more than 2,000 products from a 67,000-square-foot facility in Richmond.
– David Jordan


Business-to-Business Products and Services

Burns, President and 
CEO, Canpro 
Services Inc.

Robert Burns comes from a long line of family members in the military or corrections; as he puts it, “I was either doomed or destined to be in this business.” Today the 47-year-old helms Canpro, one of Canada’s largest risk mitigation firms, which works with companies and governmental organizations throughout Canada, the Middle East and Asia. Since 2004 Canpro has seen annual revenues grow from $1 million to $18 million. “We shop for hot economics, hot industries and hot countries with serious problems. If we can’t take on the most high-risk clients, I don’t want to do it.” – Matt O’Grady


Vincent, Former CEO, Canpages Inc.

Olivier Vincent, a 46-year-
old engineer who in the early 
2000s spearheaded wireless product strategy for Verizon Communications, joined Canpages in 2006 when 100 per cent of its business was in phone books. Today over 30 per cent of its revenues, 60 per cent in major markets such as Vancouver and Toronto, are in the digital realm. Vincent (who sold his stake in Canpages in June to become CEO of Ziplocal LP, a similar Vancouver-based firm that exclusively targets U.S. markets) says the next step in the evolution of local-search firms is social media: “Our biggest competition these days is word of mouth.” 
– Matt O’Grady


Clean Tech

James Tansey
, President, Offsetters

Many wonder what happened to the promised post-Olympics boom, but for one local company the verdict is clear. Last year Offsetters, a UBC-spawned outfit that helps organizations and individuals reduce their climate impact, had eight employees; now it has 30. According to co-founder James Tansey, most of the growth can be attributed to the increased exposure Offsetters received during the Games, when it helped VANOC develop a methodology for measuring its carbon footprint. Since February he’s fielded calls from companies around the globe wanting to do the same. “Before the Olympics,” says the 37-year-old U.K. native, “we ate what we could kill.” – Matt O’Grady

George Rubin, President, Day4 Energy Inc.

The timing couldn’t have been worse. In December 2007, Day4 Energy decided to complete its initial public offering, at $7.25 a share. Then the economy tanked and the market for photovoltaic solar panels dried up; now the stock trades at less than a dollar. But for George Rubin, the world Day4 now faces represents a great opportunity. “Before 2008 we were just taking orders,” says the 36-year-old president from Day4’s offices in Germany, where more than 80 per cent of its sales occur. “Now we’re expanding to new markets, like Italy, India and Australia, and investing in seasoned sales guys who’ve sold products in tough environments.” – Matt O’Grady


Hospitality & Tourism

Yuri Fulmer, President and CEO, FDC Brands

After running out of money before he could afford a ticket back home to Australia, Yuri Fulmer got a job in Vancouver as security escort for the A&W Root Bear. By the time he was 19, he bought his first A&W franchise. Thirteen years later, Fulmer is head of one of Canada’s fastest-growing companies, owning 28 restaurants. A natural-born entrepreneur, Fulmer treasures his independence: “If I have to make Teen burgers myself at one A&W in order to keep working for myself, then I would rather do that than have any sort of senior management or executive job working for somebody else.”
 – Inés de Sequera

Craig Widsten
, President, Shearwater Marine Services Ltd.

It’s been a story of reinvesting and diversification,” says Craig Widsten of his eco-tourism business and marine service centre. Since founding the company in 1967, Widsten has faced the challenges of foreclosure, a hotel fire and government-funded competitors with resolve and sheer determination. “People depended on our company to maintain the community, and I didn’t want to let that fail,” he says. His company’s marina has become the lifeblood of Bella Bella, and he works proudly alongside local First Nations to boost the economic growth of the central coastal region of B.C. – Inés de Sequera


Information Technology

Andrew Reid, Founder and 
president, Vision Critical Communications Inc.

Andrew Reid is the first to admit that as a 23-year-old film school grad, he hardly knew what he was doing when he founded an online market-research company in 2000. When the tech bubble burst six months into the venture, he had to be a quick learner. Today he oversees technology and global partnerships in a $70-million company with 450 employees worldwide. “It took a lot of tenacity in those first years,” he recalls. “It’s gratifying to have been there from the beginning and to continue to add value and to continue to be able to grow with the company.” – David Jordan

Christopher Krywulak, President and CEO, iQmetrix 
Software Development Corp.

At age 18, Christopher Krywulak knew that his future did not lie in the steel mills of Regina. He left his mill job to open a cellphone kiosk in a local mall, then in 1999 founded a software company that gives consumers a single point of access when comparing handsets, accessories and rate plans. Today iQmetrix software is in nearly 10,000 retail locations, and Krywulak feels his career has only just begun: “I’ve always had ideas that I would be part of something that made an impact, and I feel like we’re just getting started right now.” – David Jordan


Mining & Metals

Dick Whittington, President and CEO, Farallon Mining Ltd.

Dick Whittington had spent 35 years in the mining business when in 2004 he jumped at the chance to build a mine and his own company. Taking the helm at Farallon, he took the unusual step of proceeding simultaneously with permitting and mine construction without a feasibility study. “I felt comfortable with the balance of risk and reward and my ability to navigate the choppy waters that we knew were going to lie ahead,” he recalls. The gamble paid off when the poly-metallic mine in Guerrero, Mexico, reached commercial production in April 2009. Farallon is now securely in the black, with earnings of $8.6 million on revenue of $79.7 million for the first six months of this year. – David Jordan

Rick Clark, President and CEO, Red Back Mining Inc.

Most people would be disappointed to find a lump of ore in their stocking, but Rick Clark was inspired by the mineral samples an uncle used to give him for Christmas. An early career as a mining lawyer proved a false start: “I thought that if I was going to put all this work and effort in, I want to reap the rewards and not have it spread around a whole bunch of partners,” he explains. Today his passion for mining has driven Clark to oversee a string of successful mine startups, including the spectacularly successful Chirano gold mine in Ghana. – David Jordan


Social Entrepreneur

Tim Cormode, Founder and executive director, Power to Be Adventure Therapy Society

The year got off to a good start for Tim Cormode, as he collected over $150,000 with a fundraising climb up Mount Kilimanjaro in January. Cormode left behind his career as a residential youth worker in 1998 to form a charity aimed at providing outdoor education programs to improve the health and quality of life of disadvantaged youth. The key to success, he says, is keeping an eye on the bottom line, without forgetting the bigger goal. “We need money to build a business,” he says, “but our end result isn’t profits in money but, rather, profits in someone’s life.” – Inés de Sequera

Daphne Nederhorst, Founder and executive director, Sawa Global

When Daphne Nederhorst was seven, living in Tanzania opened her eyes to the destitution around her; it was from there, she says, that “the passion started.” Three degrees and 15 years of environmental engineering work later, Nederhorst established Sawa Global with $3,000 of her personal savings. Using social-media tools, Sawa raises awareness of local heroes in the world’s 50 poorest countries who have found their own solutions to extreme poverty. “We are trying to revolutionize foreign aid so that in the end, we get one billion people out of poverty.” – Inés de Sequera

Business-to-Consumer Products and Services

John Nicola
, Chair and CEO, Nicola Wealth Management

In 1974 John Nicola was a 22-year-old UBC grad looking for work in insurance sales. He approached Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. and took the company’s aptitude test. He failed. He then approached Manulife Financial. Same thing. He then spent $50 to get an independent test done, which showed he was “uniquely suited to insurance sales,” brought the results to Metropolitan Life and finally got hired. Perseverance is a hallmark of Nicola’s career. “I’m always looking for new ways, better ways, of running our practice,” says the 59-year-old, whose Nicola Wealth Management focuses on business owners and incorporated individuals and manages more than a billion dollars in assets. – Matt O’Grady

Arash Fasihi
, President and CEO, Cymax Stores Inc .

In 2002, just four years after moving with his family from Iran to Vancouver, Arash Fasihi decided to launch a gifts website geared toward Persian expats. That first foray into e-commerce wasn’t successful, but his second, Cymax, was. The online furniture retailer, started in 2004 with just 50 product lines and two employees (Fasihi and his wife Shima), now employs 130 and offers 250,000 different products. “Attitudes have changed,” says the 35-year-old Fasihi. “People are comfortable now with the idea of buying online.” Despite the recession, Cymax revenues rose 60 per cent in 2009 over 2008. – Matt O’Grady