2023 Halifax Business Awards

2023 Halifax Business Awards

< Back to Articles | Topics: Cover story | Contributors: 2023 Halifax Business Awards Finalists | Published: January 3, 2023

The Halifax Chamber of Commerce is pleased to present this year’s Halifax Business Awards finalists. Presented by RBC, longtime supporters of the business community, the annual awards gala is hosted at the beautiful Halifax Convention Centre and showcases Halifax’s best and brightest business leaders and entrepreneurs. This issue is dedicated to the hardworking and innovative people behind these remarkable business ventures. We hope you enjoy getting to know them!

The Halifax Business Awards finalists are chosen every year by an independent Judging Committee. The nominees can self-nominate or be nominated by someone in the community. Self-nominations are strongly encouraged. The nominees receive email notification of their nomination and are prompted to fill out their submission. The completed submissions (made up of six questions) are then reviewed by the Judging Committee. Comprised of six local business and community leaders, the Committee reviews all nominee submissions (usually over 100!). They then assign each submission a score — all the judges’ scores are added up and averaged. The Committee reviews the top five (who are deemed finalists) and approve a winner in each category.

To learn more about the submission process and annual gala please visit: halifaxchamber.com/awards

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Images Credit: Unbound Media

BV January 2023 Chapman Family Law

Chapman Family Law

What inspired you to open a new business? Like many industries, I have observed a solid glass ceiling in place for women in the private practice of law. The high attrition rate of women from private practice also means there are limited mentorship opportunities to have with other women and far fewer role models that are women. Beyond the goal of providing compassionate and quality client service, I started Chapman Family Law with the aim of mentoring, empowering, and advancing women in the legal profession.

Where do you see your organization in 10 years? In ten years, we hope to be a leader in mentorship, empowerment, and advancement of women in the legal profession in Nova Scotia. Providing women with mentorship beyond the substantive practice of law, including how to set healthy boundaries within the emotionally intense nature of our work, allows these women to become less susceptible to the burnout. They are then afforded the opportunity to build a more sustainable long-term career in the helping profession that is family law.

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ESG Partners Inc.

What inspired you to open a new business? I have been surrounded by entrepreneurs most of my professional life and have aways been pulled toward their energy and unwavering commitment to achieve their vision. Shortly after the pandemic shut things down, including international travel — something on which my previous role depended — I was given the rare opportunity to create a vision that would support sustainable business growth in this region. Recognizing the awareness gap that existed around ESG (environmental, social and governance), I launched ESG Partners.

Why did you choose Halifax? There was never any question — Halifax is my home. This city and this region are like no other. We are highly skilled, motivated, connected, and supportive of each other. Being part of the momentum that exists here right now is an incredible opportunity. Most importantly, I want my children to see Halifax as a place full of opportunities, where they too can grow their career and families one day.

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Indigenous Treaty Partners

What inspired you to open a new business? Having done work with and for Indigenous communities for many years, we noticed an opportunity to lend our experience and expertise to the broader business community to foster meaningful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses. Another factor is the willingness on behalf of Canadians to meaningfully connect with Indigenous people, which was a catalyst for us to help create that bridge between our Nations as we identified the growing demand for this service.

Do you have any tips for people thinking about starting their own business? For those looking at starting their own business, we cannot stress enough the importance of finding the right mentor to guide them through the initial phases of a start-up and help introduce them to other like-minded businesspeople. I would also recommend that they take advantage of the great support offered by their local Chamber of Commerce and partner with the right person or people. By multiplying capacity, great things can happen.

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QuickFacts Inc.

What inspired you to open a new business? For years, I tried to update all the information myself for the brokerages I worked for and realized there had to be a better way. I got tired of waiting for somebody else to build the software. I’ve put everything into every company I’ve ever worked for, so why not do it for myself instead?

Why did you choose Halifax? Halifax has been my home for many years. I love the city and the people. There is significant support here for entrepreneurs, especially in the technology space. I was able to attend the Grow Now program to gain excellent business knowledge, expand the software, and begin building my team.

What is your proudest accomplishment? Launching our software and hearing incredible customer feedback is our proudest accomplishment. At every brokerage that we onboard with our software solution, numerous employees have thanked us and said how much happier they are at work.

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Simply Good Form Inc.

Where do you see your organization in 10 years? Simply Good Form grows alongside the communities we live in. We are proud to be supporting not only companies in becoming more inclusive, but also individuals within the 2SLGBTQ+ community in becoming their true, authentic selves. Simply Good Form has seen national growth in 2022 and in the years to come, we’re focused on employing more trans and non-binary leaders. We aim to not only educate but inspire.

How can we encourage youth to explore entrepreneurship as a possible future career? Support marginalized communities in entrepreneurship. Include 2SLGBTQ+, BIPOC, and disabled people on panel discussions; share opportunities for capital funding; and allow young entrepreneurs to see relatable individuals who are thriving within our ecosystem. Growing up being one of the few openly queer and transgender people in Truro was incredibly isolating, and it was difficult to find local role models to help inspire me.

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Art Pays Me

What would you say is your organization’s proudest achievement? Outside of being a finalist for this award, I would say that I’m most proud of an art and fashion show that we co-hosted in 2018 where Art Pays Me was the primary draw. To have over 100 people pay to see my work at a venue like the Halifax Central Library felt surreal for someone who has often felt like an outsider in the creative industry.

Does your business engage youth and/or immigrants? What does that bring to your business? Yes to both. I am an immigrant and recently sponsored the ISANS Immigrant Entrepreneurship Awards. I also volunteer on an anti-racism committee at NSCAD University where I have the chance to engage directly with students. I received a lot of support throughout my journey and I enjoy helping people reach their full potential.

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Joyful Sounds Music Studio

What would you say is your organization’s proudest achievement? Having Kindermusik International recognize my studio as one of the Top Programs in the world is one of my proudest achievements. We have increased our rankings for several years now, going from 7th in Canada in 2009 to our most recent announcement of 2nd in Canada for 2022! Knowing that we are reaching so many children and families with the power and joy of music is our passion, and having it recognized nationally and globally is so special.

How is your business contributing to making Halifax a better place? We are giving a creative outlet to all ages. We know the importance of music as a means of expressing oneself, as a positive mental health exercise, and pure fun. We are ensuring there is a safe space in our community to participate in music education, and we continue to add programs and classes to meet the needs of our families. Every person who comes into our studio has the potential to bring immense joy to those around them.

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Placemaking 4G

How is your business contributing to making Halifax a better place? We connect and help build relationships between employers and deserving candidates — many being members of underrepresented communities. We also contribute to the positioning of leaders of colour into c-suite roles in Halifax’s business community, which is essential for influencing equitable decision-making power. We have been going beyond the recruiting process to help organizations create safer spaces where everyone feels celebrated.

What brings customers back to you? We are known for our drive to help make workplaces more human, meaning more diverse, inclusive, and equitable. We see that clients come back to us because they know we are going to challenge them on hiring people who ‘fit in’. Fitting in implies conforming to make yourself agreeable. We believe in building teams of people that are intrinsically different, while aligning with the organization’s vision, the why, the how and the what that makes it tick.

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Simply Go Natural Cosmetics

Why did you choose Halifax? I chose Halifax because of its supportive community and accessible lifestyle. It was a great place to start and grow a business because of the business support programs and supportive craft communities willing to support a start-up. I love the business community with its ever-changing ecosystem that helps small businesses to grow and excel.

How is your business contributing to making Halifax a better place? At Simply Go Natural Cosmetics, we run natural hair care workshops to help educate and empower girls and women with curly, coily, and textured hair. Participants learn how to better care for their hair without toxic chemicals and embrace their natural beauty. We do this to fight hair and skin discrimination (Colourism) in schools, workplaces, and other public places as we believe the lack of education contributes to bullying.

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Taya Ties

What would you say is your organization’s proudest achievement? Last year, being a finalist in the category of “New Business of the Year” at the Halifax Business Awards. The recognition has been outstanding. It exposed my business to different people, businesses, and communities. Being part of the entire process with the Chamber has increased my visibility and credibility as a new business. It put my business in the spotlight and helped me network to further grow my business.

Does your business engage youth? What does that bring to your business? Being a “kid-preneur,” I never in a million years thought that I would encourage others to start their own business. Over the last two years, there have been other kids who have asked for advice and encouragement to start their journey in starting their own business. Being a young black girl, it's important that other kids who look like me can see themselves as business owners. I hope in the near future to hire youth from my community, receive services from diverse local businesses, and encourage others to do the same whenever I have the opportunity.

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What inspired your company to become involved in export? Exporting to major US tech markets was always part of our plan as a business. As a consultancy focused on Cloud Services, the remote nature of our work allows us to export our services while maintaining a strong and thriving employee base in Nova Scotia. By GDP, California is one of the largest economies in the world, so servicing that market (particularly Silicon Valley) has been an integral part of our business from day one.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the local business community? CloudKettle is part of the 1% initiative, meaning that we’ve formally committed to donating 1% of our profits and 1% of our employee’s work hours to non-profits. While they can choose any registered charity, we encourage them to apply their technical skills to problems to help organizations. The high-end skills our team can contribute are often much needed, but out of reach from a cost perspective for the organizations we help, so we’re happy to give back in this way.

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First Catch Fisheries

What do you enjoy most about working with international markets? Globalization impacts our company in many ways. Many businesses gain much from globalization, including new customers and diverse revenue streams. We are interested in these benefits and looking for flexible and innovative ways to grow our business in the international marketplace. We believe working with international markets makes us more accessible than ever to be successful if we can effectively manage a global seafood supply chain from the source.

What is your favorite region or country to do business with? Nova Scotia, without a doubt. Nova Scotia offers the best quality seafood worldwide and raises the nicest people in the world. Since day one, Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance has given us all the support we need to be successful in the international marketplace. With their help, we successfully established a fishermen's alliance with most local lobster fishermen and placed all the orders through this alliance to ensure the best quality of the products supplied to the market.

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What inspired your company to become involved in export? Survival. From our earliest days, Nautel knew it had to export to grow and to tap into markets big enough to sustain the company for the long term. So, from the beginning, we have made products that are specialized to the needs of not just Nova Scotia or Canada, but the world. We’re proud to say our products truly compete on a world scale. Export thinking is engrained in our culture. It’s the default way we look at the world.

What do you enjoy most about working with international markets? I think it’s the diversity of customers, cultures, relationships, and the excitement of solving tough technical problems. What an opportunity it is to build high tech products by the ocean in beautiful St. Margaret’s Bay and interact with people all over the world. We’re small enough that our employees get to make a real difference in what we do and yet large enough that we get to do cutting-edge, world-class design, manufacturing, and marketing.

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Outdoor-Fit Exercise Systems

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the local business community? All our vendors and suppliers are Nova Scotia-based businesses. For our operations, we work closely with over 20 different companies. With 90% of our business done outside of Canada, and well over 95% of our business done outside of Nova Scotia, almost all Outdoor-Fit’s sales are export dollars that are then spent back in Nova Scotia with local companies.

Do you have any advice for other businesses that want to start exporting? Enroll in the Trade Accelerator Program (TAP) put on by the Halifax Chamber and Invest Nova Scotia. This program gives businesses tools to help either start or grow export sales. The program also provides strategic contacts and information on potential government funding programs that will allow you to get off on the right foot with exporting. While we are very experienced with export, the TAP program is a great help and a powerful tool to help grow our export business.

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Solid State Pharma Inc.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the local business community? One of SSPI’s four missions is to contribute to our community. With 100% of our business coming from outside Nova Scotia, we bring “fresh” money into the Halifax economy. This year we hosted the 24th Larson Conference, a high-profile event bringing together the top pharmaceutical scientists and engineers worldwide. We also seek out local businesses when outsourcing our operations and prioritize donating to local charities, including Adsum House, RMHC, Feed NS, Red cross for Hurricane Fiona, and NSHA.

Why did you choose Halifax? Halifax has many parameters that are intrinsically in favour of a high-tech business. There are multiple local universities that provide high-quality, educated talent. The proximity to Boston is also a major factor for us because the Northeastern United States is a global hub for pharmaceutical research and development. The unique lifestyle of Atlantic Canada is also a plus, as well as the supportive business ecosystem.

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Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank

What has been your favourite campaign or fundraiser this year? Parker Street’s Back-to-School program 2022 distributed over 1200 backpacks filled with school supplies to families within the HRM this summer! The community came together to donate school supplies, make monetary donations, and volunteered to make students happy going back to school equipped and ready to learn. Education is one solution to combating food insecurity and many other social problems, so getting kids ready for school and excited to learn with valuable tools was very rewarding for us.

How can the business community help support your growth? The business community can support us via the Parker Street Partnership Program. Partnering with Parker Street means serving over 1000 food boxes per month and providing clients in our community with furniture, clothing, school supplies, emergency financial assistance, and prescribed medication. Businesses may host a food drive, concert, or fundraiser on our behalf and direct the proceeds towards a program of choice. It’s one step towards corporate social responsibility and building community impact.

BV January 2023 reachability


How is your organization contributing to making Halifax a better place? We are living in a time that holds a great deal of uncertainty on a daily basis for many individuals. reachAbility stands firm in staying consistent and reliable for our community. We provide programming, counselling, food security, and so much more. Even through the uncertain times, our commitment to our clients has never wavered.

How did COVID-19 impact how you offer your services? Many of our clients seek to extend their journey with reachAbility because of the community feeling we provide. During COVID-19, we had to close our doors twice which affected in person visits. For those who were already feeling isolated, this was devastating. We quickly found a way to move our programs online and developed Hello Reach — a food security program. We were able to put recipes/ingredients together and do door drops of packaged meals for our clients.

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Spencer House Seniors Centre

What would you say is your organization’s proudest accomplishment? Along with the Halifax Business Awards nomination, our proudest accomplishment was our in-person programming in the fall of 2020. With a determination to provide social interaction safely, we were able to offer a much-needed alternative for seniors who were feeling isolated from their community. A long-time member said that what she missed most during the initial lockdown was “community, conversation, and connection.” I think that we achieved that then, and we continue to provide that now.

What has been your favourite campaign or fundraiser this year? The Buddy Project was inspired by the lived experience of staff members at Spencer House. As newcomers in Canada, working with older adults, they knew how daunting it could be to settle in a new country and the importance of making new connections and friends. The project paired newcomers and seniors, based on similar interests and hobbies, and gave them an allowance to remove any barriers from engaging with each other and the community, including translation services and transportation.

BV January 2023 prep

The PREP Academy

How is your organization contributing to making Halifax a better place? The PREP Academy inspires and prepares African Nova Scotian students for college, university, and beyond — and we continue to provide wraparound support to help students complete their education and transition to their chosen careers. We are influencing representation within postsecondary institutions, we are developing access for our students, and we are creating pathway programs that bring awareness to exciting career opportunities industry sectors offer.

What has been your favourite campaign or fundraiser this year? Our Micro-Internship Program, which equips African Nova Scotian students with enriched experiences to explore career possibilities and receive job readiness training through a week-long paid internship. The program helps students gain valuable experience to grow professionally, make connections with mentors and industries and receive job shadowing experience. We’re getting kids dreaming about possibilities.

BV January 2023 VON

VON Greater Halifax

How is your organization contributing to making Halifax a better place? VON’s mission is to help HRM citizens, of all ages and walks of life, stay healthy and safe in their homes and community. Last year, we made over 400,000 visits to clients across the HRM — from infants, to new mothers, to persons recovering from surgery, to centenarians. We also delivered over 16,000 meals to seniors and persons with disabilities who needed meal support and/or were food insecure.

What has been your favourite campaign or fundraiser this year? We’re currently raising funds for VON Connect, a digital health technology platform that will be a game changer in the way we provide services. The digital health platform will transform our clinical practice and streamline how we utilize our nursing hours to best serve our clients. It’s an exciting time to be meeting this new frontier of digital health, as we’ve just celebrated 125 years in our community!

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Elevate & Explore Black Nova Scotia Inc.

What inspired your business’ innovation efforts? “There’s Black People in Nova Scotia?” This question inspired me to create a business that helps fill a unique niche in the Nova Scotia tourism industry. I knew I could bring a fresh perspective to both the tourism and business community by targeting a new market of visitors and residents that have been historically underrepresented. In doing so, I’m promoting the inclusivity of Black presence in Nova Scotia and the Black community that has existed here for over 400 years.

What is your organization’s proudest accomplishment? We’ve had so many amazing accomplishments thus far, however, I absolutely love seeing so many beautiful people show up to our curated events that centre and celebrate the Black experience. Some of these events include our Black Excellence Boat Cruise, Elevate & Explore Wine Tour, Black History Bike Tour, and Elevate & Explore Wellness Retreat. We are also super grateful to be featured in the New York Times and Travel Noire!

BV January 2023 IHRD

Impactful Health Research and Development

What inspired your business’ innovation efforts? Global food waste results in $2.6 trillion in annual economic losses and produces 10% of the total GHG emissions. As a biomaterials scientist, I wanted to find a solution that could put a dent in the food waste problem. IHRD was born to develop sustainable active packaging that extends the shelf life of fresh proteins, starting with fresh fish. IHRD's solution increases return on investment for the entire value chain while reducing food waste and reliance on traditional plastics.

What advice would you give to another business that wants to embrace innovation? Innovation is the only way to ensure lasting business prosperity. However, adopting innovation involves change. In the short term, it can seem daunting to implement change and disrupt the status quo. But I advise that you embrace long-term vision and not let short-term comfort and gains come at the expense of long-term growth. Choose innovations that are in line with the company’s core values and ideologies. Consider people, planet and profit when embracing innovation.

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Nothing Cleaner by AquaNaka

What inspired your business’ innovation efforts? Sanitizers and disinfectants were promoted as our first lines of defense during COVID, used everywhere without a second thought to health risks. They’re toxic in nature by virtue of the active ingredients and exacerbated by multiple applications of different chemicals. We had a hunch that we could invent a solution that could kill bacteria and viruses and that would be safe on skin and for the environment. We felt ethically and morally obliged to research and pursue.

How can Halifax become leaders in innovation? We believe great innovation starts right here in Halifax. Create opportunities for entrepreneurs because entrepreneurs are innovators. Promote a culture wherein entrepreneurs and innovators are welcomed, assisted, and applauded. Great things are being created right here in Halifax. Why aren’t we hearing about them?

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Proedge Elite Training

What is something new that’s happening at your company? We’re constantly improving to make our space more inclusive and accessible. For example, it was brought to our attention that there are no women-only gyms in Bedford, where women with religious or personal restrictions could comfortably workout. As a private gym, we were able make the space exclusive for women during our first Community Day. We will now be hosting this program every month!

Why did you choose Halifax? We (co-owners) are both from Nova Scotia. We want to stay and make fitness and personal training more accessible in the community. We also wanted to empower trainers and create opportunity for them to stay in Halifax and grow. We’re local and want to support local — and we want to encourage everyone to do the same.

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ROCK Networks

What inspired your business’ innovation efforts? When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many Canadians easily made the switch to remote work, telemedicine, and distance education. Rural Canadians without access to high-speed internet, however, could not thrive in this new normal. It was clear that the current telecom model in Canada wasn’t working, and rural Canada deserved better. Understanding that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, ROCK Networks partners with municipalities to create broadband networks that connect rural Canadians.

What is your organization’s proudest accomplishment? When the Federal Government created the Universal Broadband Fund in the autumn of 2020, we made significant engineering, sales, and marketing investments in our community broadband network model. Awarded nearly $140 million in government grants, we were able to begin work on our first community broadband project in Northern Ontario. With more projects in the works in other parts of the country, ROCK Networks is poised to forever alter the telecommunications landscape in Canada.

BV January 2023 CGI


How have you helped Halifax grow? Since CGI expanded our presence in Halifax in 2004, we have been an important part of the local business and community fabric. Our 400+ person Halifax team contributes employment and financial benefits to the city and are also involved in the community with sports, associations, schools, and business groups. As a long-standing technology employer in the region, we have helped establish a solid foundation for other technology firms and start-ups to be successful in the region.

Why did you choose Halifax? As a Canadian company, CGI prides itself on having a presence in every major Canadian city. When CGI opened our Atlantic Global Delivery Center in 2004 and grew our Halifax member base to over 250 employees, we did so with the knowledge that Halifax’s geographic position, talent pool, local universities, and supportive government partners were going to ensure CGI achieved the full growth potential and our vision for the region.

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How have you helped Halifax grow? By implementing a living wage policy. We have invested in our staff through proper wages, we’ve helped them to flourish in the city and enjoy what Halifax has to offer. They frequent other businesses within Halifax keeping the local economy going. We have been a leader in the retail environment, with a hope to inspire others to create their own living wage policy.

What is one thing people may not know about your business? Our size and the fact that we are local. We currently have a 14,000 square foot facility housing over 35 staff, and we ship product across Canada. When most new customers come in, they figure we are a franchise as we are professional, well-stocked, and properly staffed. We are very much locally-owned and have created the best retail experience with the amazing team we have assembled, all in one Halifax location.

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Enginuity Inc.

Enginuity is a creative engineering consulting firm based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. As a Canadian leader in design engineering, mechanical engineering, electronics design, robotics, automation, and product design, we are on a mission to be the region’s most impactful design and engineering group.

Owner and CEO Ben Garvey started Enginuity out of his basement 18 years ago with one contract. Today, Enginuity employs 30+ experts and works with dozens of corporations, inventors, and strategic partners to design, prototype, and manufacture world-class products and processes. We provide world-class technical leadership, practical solutions, and innovative products to improve the world around us.

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Milk Moovement

What is something new that’s happening at your company? There is always something new happening at Milk Moovement, as we are disrupting the dairy supply chain in real time — building out new features to better serve dairy suppliers, producers, cooperatives, and processors. This gives our team new challenges each day and no day is ever the same. We have just partnered with Cargill, a company based in the United States, and are rolling out a new project with them in a couple of months with more details to be released soon!

What is one thing people may not know about your business? Much of the dairy industry supply chain still relies on outdated systems to transfer data. Our business is built around the idea that sharing data in the supply chain should be transparent and happen in real time. That's easier said than done given the complexities in industry. For example, some dairy producers live and work in Amish communities. Believe it or not, we have found a workaround for integrating people who do not use smartphones or computers into our software!

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Northern Business Intelligence

What is one thing people may not know about your business? When it comes to telematics and fleet management, most people don’t even know the industry exists. Most commercial and transport vehicles on the road are digitally tracked for safety and compliance. Tracking devices monitor GPS locations and collect engine data like speeding, seatbelt usage, and maintenance alerts. Most fleets don’t take full advantage of the data they’re collecting — that’s where we come in. We take the data and provide insights into your business to improve productivity, efficiency, and safety.

What is something new that’s happening at your company? As a tech-based fleet management company, it’s important we always stay up to date on new products. We’re constantly testing new fleet technologies including integrated software, asset trackers, and dashcams to equip our clients with the latest technology. We’ve also increased our investment in sales and marketing to help us reach more prospective clients. With these added resources, we’ve been able to attend more tradeshows, host webinars, and present at a variety of conferences across Canada and the United States.

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Joanne Bernard

What would you say is your biggest accomplishment to date as a business leader? I have had accomplishments like developing the Marguerite Centre from an idea to a reality, but growing Easter Seals Nova Scotia over the last five years in terms of capacity, space, footprint, revenue, partnerships, research, and profile would be my biggest accomplishment to date.

What steps does Halifax need to get to the next level? There needs to be a multi level short term and long solution framework on the lack of affordable housing. Lack of housing deters immigration, migration of skilled workers, new healthcare practitioners and just about every other sector associated with the growth of a healthy city.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever been given? “If everything is a priority then nothing is a priority.” I got that advice about ten years ago and it has helped me tremendously with prioritizing, so that the cream rises to the top and everything else settles below.

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Chantal Davie

What would you say is your biggest accomplishment to date as a business leader? Building trust with our 300 staff members. With remote staff, this can be difficult. With an environment that changes daily during the enormous pressures of the pandemic, a team could easily falter in their belief that their leader is supporting them. I'm proud of building a team that trusts me, through the good and the bad. With this trust, I've decreased staff turnover rate by 50% year over year. That's something I'm proud of, especially in this challenging healthcare climate.

What steps does Halifax need to get to the next level? I’ll focus on healthcare here. I believe we must innovate. While there isn’t a one size fits all answer, I know dedicated people are now looking for solutions through innovation. For example, opening multi-service nursing clinics for treatment and adding technology to our practice can help make better use of the healthcare resources we have (like our fabulous front-line staff!). Innovation will take us into the next level of providing excellent care to Haligonians and all Nova Scotians.

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Andrew Doucet

What would you say is your biggest accomplishment to date as a business leader? My passion for mental health and implementing critical staff support systems has been rewarding. Being on the Mental Health Foundation board for over four years and being able to introduce financial wellness and different awareness campaigns in our business has been amazing over the last several years.

What steps does Halifax need to get to the next level? Leave the past in the past — celebrate it, but don't get caught up in it. Now is the time to be innovative and disruptive, whether it's by building a building or uplighting communities through diversification and culture.

What's your favourite thing about Halifax? Driving over the MacDonald Bridge and looking at our incredible skyline. It never gets old for me.

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Rod Kerr

What would you say is your biggest accomplishment to date as a business leader? Being in business 25 years and seeing the number of individuals we have employed as team members. As we continue to grow as an organization, it’s nice knowing we’ve been able to employ and assist in developing their careers. I’m extremely proud of the team we’ve built and look forward to our growth in 2023.

What leadership advice would you give an up-and-comer? Surround yourself with smart people and create a strong network. As a leader, you must be bold and take calculated risks. You also need to rely on the skills and knowledge of the people you’ve employed. You hired them for a reason and need to trust in their experience to help guide the organization. It’s also important to remember to take care of yourself. Taking time to recharge and investing in your development makes you a stronger leader.

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Tia Upshaw

What would you say is your biggest accomplishment to date as a business leader? My biggest accomplishment to date is working with, supporting, and inspiring 67 Black women to start businesses across Canada. It’s all about creating safe spaces for Black women in business to enter and having the tenacity to do so!

What’s something new that’s happening at your organization? BWIE is always creating new ways and means to accelerate and celebrate Black women entrepreneurs. Our newest venture is securing a partnership with a financial institution to be able to offer micro-loan opportunities through BWIE for Black women-owned businesses with low interest rates and a scaling payback system.

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