Meet the 2020 Halifax Business Awards finalists

Meet the 2020 Halifax Business Awards finalists

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NEW BUSINESS OF THE YEAR


Greywave Senior Care Consulting

Many families face a crisis as loved ones age and their needs change. Greywave helps you and your family understand and navigate a full range of service options. We develop an effective, affordable and practical care plan to help people remain at home or move to a supportive environment.

Where do you see your organization in 10 years?

I see Greywave as becoming recognized as the go-to agency for aging adults and their families for support in health-care planning and delivery. I will work with a broad range of associates in delivering Greywave services.

How can we encourage youth to explore entrepreneurship as a possible future career?

I am a Wise 50 over 50 award winner. I am more about encouraging the older, wiser entrepreneur. Life is just starting at 50. Reinvent yourself and your work life.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

That I did it — I have successfully launched the company and built a platform for growth. My definition of success in this regard is simple and is measured in the satisfaction of clients who know they are being helped to meet their health-care needs. I am also proud of doing this on my own. As a solopreneur with no business experience I had to learn to be a bookkeeper, a receptionist and my own tech support, social media and marketing department.

Ring Rescue Inc.

Ring Rescue Inc. is a medical device startup company, formed in 2019 and is located in Dartmouth, N.S. We commercialized and internationally export our made-in-Canada product. Rings are culturally important and our product has globally redefined how to solve the common problem of removing stuck
finger rings safely, easily and without ring cutting or damage.

How did you get your start?

We started with a problem to solve and a ring becoming stuck on a swollen finger is actually a common problem. Then, we solved it! The original concept began as a final year student project in Dalhousie Mechanical Engineering and it won Dalhousie’s Capstone competition in 2017. I was a judge for that competition. As an emergency department physician, mechanical engineer and entrepreneur, I recognized this concept had real life potential. We believed we could commercialize this device together, so we teamed up and got it done!

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Our testimonials from patients that have had rings removed by Ring Rescue without ring cutting represent our best accomplishments. For example, a wedding ring stuck during a pregnancy, a 91-year-old woman whose husband died 42 years ago and whose ring meant the world to her and a Blue Jays World Series championship ring saved from cutting. You can see these testimonials and more on our website.


HFX Wanderers FC

HFX Wanderers FC is a professional soccer club in the Canadian Premier League, playing at Halifax’s illustrious Wanderers Grounds. The club has averaged close to 6,000 fans per match and brought significant excitement and revenue to Halifax shops and restaurants. The 2019 team featured 15 Canadians, two local players and head coach.

Who/What inspired you to open a new business?

I had been involved in sports entertainment for the last decade. I was approached by a former colleague about this new league being formed and felt there was a gap in the market for great summer activities. I knew the desire was there within the city to host the right size events in downtown. The league founders and staff were of a very high quality and I knew the league mission would resonate across the country.

How did you get your start?

After playing university football at St.F.X., I worked in sports in Toronto. I had the opportunity to learn from several organizations and experienced people in the industry. I brought that experience to Halifax and started running events such as World Beach Volleyball on the waterfront and various university athletics events.

Why did you choose Halifax?

I was committed to continuing to build projects in Halifax and Nova Scotia because it is the right size for many of the sport and entertainment events that we will continue to bring to the city. There is a strong collection of talent to be hired from the universities and an excellent influx of immigrants that will help build the vibrancy of the city. Halifax has always been a willing partner to work with organizations on world-class events.

threesixfive

threesixfive is a convention-crushing creative agency producing content and strategy for top local and global clients such as Saint Mary’s University, Nova Scotia Power, Puma, eBay and Fossil. Specializing in unique video content, 2019 included projects in Vancouver, Montréal, Toronto, New York, London, Berlin and more.

Who/What inspired you to open a new business?

I found a lot of inspiration to start my business online, from some of the world’s best in video and marketing. I consumed a lot of books, blogs, YouTube content and podcasts. I also felt a push from a few of the core messages put forward in the Ivany Report.

How did you get your start?

I dedicated an entire year to creating a video about my life and journey in the city and province every day. This got me out meeting people, learning about the region, learning my craft and got my work in front of the right people. I also received tremendous amount of support from a few key mentors and friends
I made near the start of this journey. A very special thank you to Robert Zed, Mike Kennedy and my good friends from Sickboy Podcast.

Tell us one thing people may not know about your business

People may not realize that almost 100 per cent of our business has been inbound. We haven’t had any form of sales strategy other than to do good work, over deliver, make friends with our clients and take advantage of social media to put our work out into the ethos. It’s served as a bit of a screening process to allow us to work on the right projects and continue to have fun while growing at the right pace.

Bar Kismet

Bar Kismet is a family run seafood restaurant and cocktail bar highlighting handmade pasta with a spotlight on seasonal produce. It is known for its deep wine list, craft beer offerings and approachable hospitable service.

How did you get your start?

My wife and I left our jobs at another restaurant to move home to Halifax and chase a dream. We started by opening a farmers market stall to meet farmers to supply the restaurant. I enrolled in the SEB program at CEED and my wife took a job as a fishmonger. We found our own location, designed the space ourselves and borrowed enough money for leasehold improvements. She runs the food and kitchen side, I run the bar and floor.

Do you have any tips for people who are thinking about starting their own business?

The best advice I could offer someone who is starting their own business is to follow their dream and find a way to make it a reality. There will be a lot of people along the way who doubt your ideas, but if you train hard to work on perfecting your craft, your reputation will take you far. Stay positive, look at roadblocks as challenges and don’t give up on doing what you are passionate about.

What has been the biggest challenge to being a new business?

I believe that the biggest challenge for most new businesses is developing a reputation, especially in food and drink. There are an incredible number of great restaurants in this city and we had to push beyond our threshold of exhaustion to separate ourselves from the rest of the pack. Convincing financial establishments to lend to another seafood restaurant was also nearly impossible, but we had a vision that we never gave up on.


SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

SONA

Sona provides competitive pricing and tailored solutions to simplify payment acceptance. In an industry known for confusion and misleading claims, we put it all on the table with clear, honest, transparent information and a fresh approach. Powered by the world’s largest payment processors, we offer cutting-edge technology to improve business and commerce transactions.

What would you say is your organization’s proudest achievement?

We’ve been able to establish a strong reputation in the merchant services industry as client centric in a very short period of time. The industry as a whole generally has a high level — close to 30 per cent — of merchant attrition (merchants defecting for another merchant service company). Since SONA’s inception in 2016, we have been operating at a small 8 per cent attrition level. With fewer merchants leaving, it is a testament to the relationships and trust we are building with our customers and that makes me proud.

If you could follow in the footsteps of a successful business, which would it be and why?

I would say Helcim Commerce based in Calgary. This is another merchant service company who shares many of the same values as SONA. Values like transparency, integrity and delivering on commitments to the team, partners and merchants. In the current landscape, merchant service companies need to move beyond simply providing a commodity in transaction processing but rather offering technology solutions that will help business owners grow their business.

Monk Renovations

Monk Renovations provides outstanding and reputable home renovation experiences in and around the Halifax area. We work hard to protect our reputation and the industry by providing a quality
product, professional service and a focus on maintaining trust with our clients. Kitchens, bathroom and ensuite, basement renovations and additions are where we specialize.

What would you say is your organization’s proudest achievement?

Simply put, we all like each other. We have 14 people within our company and we laugh, joke, socialize and have a great time together — the company feels like a family. We get a lot of work done and we never compromise and always do what is right for our clients, employees and subtrades, because that is what family is supposed to do. Our clients become friends, our crews become family. Doing the right thing is never wrong, so we always do the right thing and that makes a happy workplace.

If you could follow in the footsteps of a successful business, which would it be and why?

Sawlor Built Homes — A third generation, family owned and operated business, with a reputation for excellence. I have created a company which I would like to be a legacy to future generations of my family. I have worked with my kids in the past and have always enjoyed working with them. My eldest Daniel, will graduate from Dalhousie University, in mechanical engineering in the spring of 2020 and my daughter, Ceiledh, is studying international commerce at Carlton University and doing her third year in Germany. Both are intelligent and capable of running a company in the future. I hope it will be ours.

Preserving Traditions

Preserving Traditions specializes in making homemade preserves using time-honored recipes and techniques. We also offer bakery items made from scratch and our meals and chowders are created following traditional recipes passed down through generations. Our goal is to provide healthy choices that connect customers to their memories of days gone by.

What would you say is your organization’s proudest achievement?

Since inception, I have been fortunate to realize several key accomplishments and to reach goals that I had set when opening my business only three years ago. Most notably was the purchase of our commercial production and retail property. Each small step gives me cause to celebrate how far Preserving Traditions has come. Earlier this year, I was honored by the NS Association of Community Business Development Corporations as one of the three finalists for New Business of the Year. I am so very proud to have also been selected as a finalist in the Small Business of the Year category with the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. It has truly been an amazing year for Preserving Traditions!

How is your business contributing to making Halifax a better place?

Preserving Traditions is firmly established in the community and consistently provides support to a variety of organizations. As a company, we are actively connected to our customers and support many of their various fundraising activities throughout the year. We provide display space and host workshops within our retail store for local artisans and craftspeople, allowing them an affordable opportunity to showcase their talents. Our growth and success is due in large part to the overwhelming support received from our customers which allows Preserving Traditions to provide an economic boost to many other small businesses within the municipality.

The Flag Shop Nova Scotia

The Flag Shop Nova Scotia is an independently owned and operated franchisee functioning within a Canadian franchise system known as The Flag Shop. The business consists of a brick and mortar retail location, online sales capability and an in-house production area specializing in custom flags and banners of any size and related products.

What would you say is your organization’s proudest achievement?

Our organization’s proudest achievement is its ability to adapt to the changing marketplace, to see opportunities and capitalize on them. One example is our work with the military community — we saw a gap in service related to their requirement for signal flags and developed production methods to construct these items.

If you could follow in the footsteps of a successful business, which would it be and why?

This is an interesting question! I do not follow but recognize our business’ strengths and build on those. Franchise systems are generally successful in that there is a support network built into the system and with this organization, there is also the flexibility to respond to local differences and requirements.

Where do you see your organization in five years?

In the next five years, I anticipate that our organization will continue to see growth, with possible expansion of services offered to our clients.

What has been the biggest challenge to being a small business?

Our biggest challenge has been finding balance between seasonal requirements and sustaining our workforce. Hiring students has been one way to address this challenge.

Made with Local

Made with Local is a Dartmouth-based snack foods company and Certified B Corp. Through our partnerships with local farmers, producers and social enterprises, we’ve grown from a five-foot farmers market stall to a celebrated natural food brand with over 800 retailers all across Canada. Our foods are simple, nourishing and have social impact baked in.

What would you say is your organization’s proudest achievement?

Seeing our social enterprise production facilities scale to keep up with our growth has been a huge source of pride for us. We love seeing how our expansion impacts these community-based organizations and has a tangible, measurable social and economic benefit. Also, navigating a national launch with Sobeys and Loblaws at the same time while I was working with a newborn baby this summer is something I’m so proud of our team for achieving!

If you could follow in the footsteps of a successful business, which would it be and why?

I really look up to other purpose-led,
B Corp companies like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, LUSH Cosmetics, who through their products and processes, are working to make the world a better place. I look up to companies who know deeply that business can be used as a force for good.

What has been the biggest challenge to being a small business?

Navigating huge growth spurts from a cash flow perspective and adjusting to world of “big grocery” has been challenging. Long payment terms, rigid rules and expectations and a lot of red tape takes a lot of energy to manage but we’ve done our best as a small team and are starting to see really positive growth from our national grocery chain partners.
It’s exciting!


EXPORT BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

Outdoor-Fit Exercise Systems

Outdoor-Fit Exercise Systems is a leading manufacturer of outdoor fitness equipment. Our unique designs combine the bio-mechanics of commercial-grade indoor fitness equipment into a tamper-
proof and weather-proof package. Our equipment is installed in correctional facilities, parks, military bases, corporate campuses, home owners associations and campgrounds all around the world.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the local business community?

Our biggest contribution is support of other local businesses. We currently work with over 20 local businesses for everything from our steel fabrication, to our accountant. We pride ourselves in working with all local companies to ensure our products are built to the quality we expect and to ensure smooth day-to-day operations.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as an exporter?

The biggest challenge we face is concerns with customs clearance from U.S. customers. Our equipment moves freely through the Canada-U.S. border, but we often have U.S. customers concerned that they will be hit with duties or taxes. We have only lost a handful of orders for this reason, but it is a concern many buyers have. We also will run into the “buy America” mentality from time to time in the U.S.

Triple Maple Trading Co. Limited

Triple Maple Trading (TMT) is a small-medium sized company, specialized in exporting pharmaceutical and food ingredients and food supplements to the Middle East region. In five years TMT has expanded their business all over Egypt and is now penetrating new markets like Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia.

What inspired your company to become involved in export?

TMT has been focusing on export business from day one. We realized the size of the Canadian market might not be a good start for us as an SME that opened only a few years ago. Therefore, we thought of overseas markets and tried to focus on innovative products as much as possible.

What is your organization’s biggest achievement to date?

Currently one of the biggest achievements is the diversity of products we have and the markets we’ve penetrated up to now. We export products to Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Some of the countries mentioned are still in the trial phase, but still it counts as an achievement.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as an exporter?

Price is a major challenge for a product produced in Canada and shipping costs cannot be neglected. However, we have managed to close some deals for products produced in Canada and have outsourced other products to be produced in South Asia which will later be sold through TMT to customers outside Canada.


G.M. Applied Technologies Canada Inc.

G.M. Applied Technologies Canada Inc. is a Canadian owned firm, specializing in supply and exportation of telecom products to markets overseas. G.M. Applied Technologies Canada Inc. represents Canada internationally and we are the hub for export, carrying Canadian business mark and professionalism.

What inspired your company to become involved in export?

Expertise in telcom products.

What is your organization’s biggest achievement to date?

We’ve seen a big increase in orders intake.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as an exporter?

Tough competition and availability.

What do you enjoy most about working with international markets?

Challenges and overcoming the obstacles.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the local business community?

Local distribution agreements for marketing overseas, logistics, employment and consultancy overseas.

Why did you choose Halifax?

Strategically located east, close to the overseas exit for export services.

What do you think Halifax needs to do in order to grow?

Growth through luring new immigrants to Nova Scotia with attraction of settling in Halifax. Facilitation and encouragement of small businesses for the newcomers can also play a major role.

Site2020 Incorporated

Site2020 was founded by Mitch Hollohan and has grown significantly with team members now working with organizations all across North America. Site2020 designed and built the Guardian Smart Flagger system to address current technical limitations in the industry, solve onsite resourcing issues, ensure safe work zones and be the smarter choice.

What inspired your company to become involved in export?

We were inspired by the true need for the product in the U.S. Both the U.S. and Canada face the problem of dealing with flaggers and the dangers of the traffic control industry. With the pain being so significant and us receiving so many calls for the product it was the most natural next step for Site 2020.

What is your organization’s biggest achievement to date?

Our biggest achievement to date would be partnering with Google Maps and Waze to improve the safety of our job sites through clearly reducing the amount of cars through our SmartFlagger sites by rerouting them around our job sites.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as an exporter?

One thing we have found difficult is dealing with regulations in various U.S. states.

What do you enjoy most about working with international markets?

Seeing our product grow through the minds of people from across the world. We are always gathering feedback and integrating it into our product.

What is your favorite region or country to do business with?

North America.

Northern Business Intelligence

At Northern Business Intelligence we have an incredible team that delivers a world-class customer experience. With our partner, Geotab, we provide a best-in-class Telematics Solutions for fleets across Canada and the U.S. We are your trusted partner to assist in making the best decisions by presenting data in an efficient and streamlined manner, ultimately realizing maximum ROI.

What inspired your company to become involved in export?

It was a natural progression for the growth of the business. With our amazing team we were able to focus on customer experience and create strong partnerships that helped build a reputation for service excellence. With the success we had in Nova Scotia we were confident we would be successful in growing in other markets. We also knew that showcasing the incredibly talented people we have in Nova Scotia would help provide more visibility to Halifax and our province.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as an exporter?

We always view challenge as opportunity. To become established in a new market
it takes significant time, effort and investment.

What do you enjoy most about working with international markets?

They present unique opportunities and slight differences in culture and approaches to doing business.

What is your favorite region or country to do business with?

I can’t say I have a favorite. Our team enjoys doing business in all regions in Canada and U.S. in which we operate.

INNOVATIVE BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

Sauté

Sauté is a healthy, ready-made meal delivery company that delivers meals directly to your door throughout
Nova Scotia.

What inspired your business’ innovation efforts?

Travelling outside of the region, to New York and San Francisco in particular, exposed us to innovative entrepreneurs and startups that offered a similar service to what Sauté offers today. Almost five years ago we noticed the combined trend of convenience and healthy eating emerging in larger markets and we decided to help bring it to Halifax.

What is your definition of innovation?

Innovation in business is the process of identifying and solving problems through research, critical thinking and creativity with the intention of improving a business’ value to stakeholders. Innovation at Sauté means listening to customer’s feedback.

Why did you choose Halifax?

There is a long list of reasons of why we love Halifax, but among them are the friendliness of the people, its proximity to the ocean and hiking trails, reasonable cost of living, ease of access to large centres like New York and London, as well as the prospect of building a large company on the East Coast. Nova Scotia also faces an obesity crisis that we believe Sauté can improve by providing easy access to healthy food and educating our communities.

Air Realty

Air Realty saves you thousands when selling your house and is the easiest way to independently list your property on the MLS and REALTOR.ca. We have created the Air List, an online tool allowing homeowners to independently list their property in 15 minutes and save 50 per cent of the listing commission.

What is something new that’s happening at your company?

Something new and exciting at Air Realty is the growth that is happening with our team. We have a great core of licensed agents that have recently joined up. We are raising the bar on the level of professionalism clients will experience using an Air Realty agent. As a company we are dedicated to hiring new agents to the industry to mold new and better habits.

What is your definition of innovation?

Our definition of innovation is taking an existing product or service and improving it to produce the easiest path of resistance to achieve the end goal. We created the Air List to give homeowners not only the easiest, but also the quickest path to getting their property listed on the MLS and REALTOR.ca. This meant shifting the entire process to an online platform, essentially giving the homeowner a direct link through our brokerage to the MLS. We give homeowners the same exposure and selling process a licensed realtor has. Innovation to us means continually improving a product or process allowing fewer barriers to exist for the consumer.

Precision BioLogic

Precision BioLogic develops, manufactures and markets specialized products used by medical professionals and scientists around the globe to diagnose coagulation disorders and conduct research. From our Dartmouth facility, we serve more than 1,000 clinical laboratories throughout North America and work with a network of international distribution partners.

What advice would you give to another business that wants to embrace innovation?

I’d say do it! Embracing innovation keeps businesses healthy and growing. I’d also say be tenacious and don’t get discouraged.

What is something new that’s happening at your company?

There’s a new mindset at Precision BioLogic and as an organization we’re committed to developing one new product per year. I can’t say too much right now, however, I can say that we have a number of innovative products in our pipeline and we are well on our way to achieving and possibly surpassing this goal in 2020.

What is your organization’s proudest accomplishment?

While our products help diagnosis coagulation disorders on a daily basis, in my mind, Precision BioLogic’s proudest accomplishment is being the first diagnostics company to support the World Federation of Hemophilia’s Humanitarian Aid Program. In June 2016, Precision BioLogic donated much-needed calibrators, controls and reagents to the University Teaching Hospital in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Globally one in 1,000 people has a bleeding disorder and most are not diagnosed and do not receive treatment. Our donation was
the first of its kind and an important step in the effort to improve and sustain care for people with bleeding disorders such as hemophilia.

Junk Works Halifax Inc.

Junk Works is an environmentally responsible junk removal business. We offer full-service removal and a drop-off dumpster service. Junk Works offers the best customer service at the best value for money and is committed to recycle, reuse, repurpose and donate as much as possible.

Why did you choose Halifax?

Halifax is a great city. It’s compact enough to get around fairly easily, but large enough that we can run a business that benefits the people of Halifax — and of course, ourselves. But one of the very best things about Junk Works is the amazing people we meet and work with every day. Of course we service all of central Nova Scotia and not just Halifax, the people we meet in other areas are just as great too!

What inspired your business’ innovation efforts?

Our customers. We started our business providing full-service junk hauling and removal. It became apparent quite quickly that some businesses and domestic customers wanted to take more time over their renovations, yard work or domestic clearing but both wanted to know that as much as possible was being recycled. The option to have a walk-in, driveway friendly bin gave them that option and at a lower price point as well.

What is your organization’s proudest accomplishment?

That we have stuck to our fundamental ideals from day one, even though sometimes it costs us more to do so. That is to provide the best customer service, recycle, reuse, repurpose and donate as much as we possibly can and provide the best value for money to all our customers. By adding our bin service, we have been able to extend our services with the exact same principles to more people and businesses and in a way even more people can afford.

BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

Wilsons Security

Wilsons Security provides peace of mind to homes and businesses in Atlantic Canada. We use electronic security and monitoring solutions to protect over 10,000 homes and businesses, helping our customers manage life safety and security to protect their families,
employees and property.

How have you helped Halifax grow?

We have successfully demonstrated that an industry-leading company can be built by leveraging the strengths of our people. Our industry is dominated by international companies that provide limited service to smaller geographies. Wilsons focuses on the customer experience and providing excellent local service, becoming a nationally leading independent provider of security and life safety solutions. We have grown our team to over 80 people since our inception in 1998, now servicing homes and businesses across Canada.

What would you say is your organization’s biggest achievement?

We are proud of our ability to grow an industry-leading, high-performing team through a combination of strategic hiring and successfully integrating new team members from acquired businesses. In the face of rapid growth, we have been able to carefully align our objectives, build a common culture around delivering an exceptional customer experience and establish ourselves as the employer of choice in our industry.

FBM

FBM is a widely respected architectural firm that has been in continuous practice since 1917. Based in Halifax and locally owned, the focus of the practice is primarily in Atlantic Canada. The firm has been responsible for significant buildings the region including the Halifax Central Library and the upcoming Richmond Yards Development on Almon Street.

What one piece of advice would you give to a new business?

Invest in the development of the next generation! Developing and retaining new young talent is critical to the long-term success of any business. As part of our mantra — people driven design — we are constantly looking at ways to support, mentor and empower our employees and create an environment where they can succeed. Our younger staff members bring new ideas and make sure that we as a firm are always on top of new trends and changes that are constantly happening in our professions and in the world we inhabit.

What is something new that’s happening at your company?

Strategic growth! Over the past few years we have strategically been working to enhance our architectural services with the addition of related design disciplines. Nikki Steele joined us from Ottawa as Partner and lead for FBM’s interior design studio. We launched a new planning division to support Halifax’s ambitious rejuvenation plans. In the last year, we also hired a renowned health-care architect to align with Nova Scotia’s need to overhaul our health-care infrastructure. Overall, we have added 18 new talented people in the past 18 months.

Home Instead Senior Care

Home Instead Senior Care’s mission is to change the face of aging by providing personal, one-on-one support to older adults while enhancing the lives of seniors aging in our community. Our approach to care is relationship based and as our tagline states: “To us, it’s personal."

What would you say is your organization’s biggest achievement?

At Home Instead Senior Care, our biggest achievement is the difference we make in the lives of seniors and their families. With the help of Home Instead Senior Care, seniors have been able to remain where they want to be — at home. Their families have the peace of mind and comfort of knowing their loved one is safe and being taken care of.

How have you helped Halifax grow?

Home Instead Senior Care has helped Halifax to grow by enabling seniors to take a more active role in the community. Our caregivers accompany seniors to activities and events within Halifax that they might not have been able to take part in otherwise. The caregiver-senior
relationship enhances Halifax by encouraging more senior involvement in the community, while also improving the social lives of the seniors.

Why did you choose Halifax?

Halifax is a great community that will continue to flourish over the next few decades — it’s full of opportunity and spirit. It’s large enough to enable great opportunities for the young and old, yet small enough that it still feels like a community and enhances our lives. There are tens of thousands of aging loved ones living in the city that need assistance. With a focus on enhancing lives, Halifax is where the biggest impact could be made and it’s central to other communities Home Instead is expanding service to.

Davis Pier

Davis Pier is a consulting firm that works with public sector and non-profit organizations in Canada and internationally to design and implement innovative solutions to complex government and social challenges. Their services include strategy and analytics, design, transformation, people and social innovation.

How have you helped Halifax grow?

We believe we have provided opportunities for people to build their lives in Halifax. Whether it has been providing roles for new graduates to allow them to stay in the province, attracting newcomers from elsewhere or repatriating those from the region, we feel that we’ve hired some excellent talent for the city that wouldn’t have otherwise come or stayed.

What would you say is your organization’s biggest achievement?

Our biggest achievement would be our growth and more importantly, retention of our clients and our team members. Since inception five years ago, our company has grown to 35 consultants and has collaborated on projects with clients in 25 countries — almost all of whom have continued to work with us. We’ve been able to do all of this while making a true impact on the delivery of government programs and services.

What one piece of advice would you give to a new business?

While it is tough to narrow that down to one thing, I would say only hire people who you think are spectacular and a fit in terms of both skillset and values. From there, figure out what you can do better than anyone else and be super focused on just that. Always use the golden rule: if you treat colleagues and clients the way you want to be treated, things will be much easier. It sounds hokey, but that’s been our experience.

BUSINESS LEADER OF THE YEAR

Mathew Benvie, President, Evolve Fitness Ltd.

Evolve Fitness is a safe and welcoming one-stop private studio specializing in large groups, private training and small groups for those under the age of 55. Each session is led by a qualified instructor with every client getting the personal attention they need to be successful. All fitness levels, ages and genders are encouraged and welcomed!

Why did you choose Halifax?

I chose this city for the people and to remain close to family where I grew up outside of Truro. Halifax is a big enough city for small businesses to thrive, but has a small-town feel where everyone knows everyone and they are very loyal.

What would you say is your biggest accomplishment to date as a business leader?

Our biggest accomplishment to date is expanding on Strawberry Hill to create two locations under one roof and then opening in Bedford within three months of each other. We went from being able to directly impact 350 people to over 1,000 with much better services and amenities. This also allowed us to go from four amazing full-time employees to nine and five part time.

What’s something new that’s happening at your organization?

Our expansion to Strawberry Hill and opening in Bedford both happened in late 2018. Our core offering is large-group training/boot camps, but we now offer small-group training for clients over 55 looking for a more intimate setting and more one-on-one attention. We have three functional aging specialists on the team who take care of this. We will soon be offering small-group training as well for the general public looking for the feel of private training with the accountability of their peers.

Karim George, CEO, InTouch Communications

InTouch Communications Inc. is a full-service marketing and communications agency based in Halifax, N.S., working with clients countrywide in a variety of industries. InTouch core competencies include digital marketing and creative content including video production, branding consulting and design, strategic marketing planning, communications, public relations, advertising and media buying.

What steps does Halifax need to get to the next level?

Halifax needs to continue to increase opportunities for mentorship and support for new businesses of all sizes. We need education and programs in place to encourage people to take risks, partner on new initiatives and invest in opportunities. Halifax is a great place to do business with plenty of support, but there’s always room for improvement.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice I’ve ever been given was to focus on the success of others’ over my own. I see very clearly that my success is completely dependent on the success of others. If my goal is to help my staff and clients reach their goals, I will reach my own in return. There’s also a great deal of satisfaction in helping others succeed, so even when success doesn’t come quite as quickly as you’d like for yourself, you still enjoy the journey.

Roger King, President, Supplement King Canada

From a one-man university delivery business to over 55 locations in nine provinces, Supplement King rules retail. The fastest growing company in its channel, they fuel their customer’s goals through retail innovation and are proudly headquartered in Dartmouth, N.S.

What’s the best business advise you’ve ever been given?

Surround yourself with positive people! This applies to all aspects of your life. Those with a can-do attitude will always find ways to lift you up, keep you focused and provide the motivation to work through difficult situations. Success in business is less about the wins and more about strong management through challenging times.

Why did you choose Halifax?

I moved to Halifax as a 20-year-old Saint Mary’s Univeristy student to live in residence. This was my first time in Halifax and coming from Saint John, N.B. I was impressed by the level of economic activity and prosperity visible here. I had the desire to create my own path and that led to the launch of my campus-based business, Supplement King, back in 2006.

What’s your favourite part about Halifax?

We are the perfect small city. Great dining, entertainment options and unmatched coastal scenery without the traffic woes and other draw backs of big city living.

Paul Tordon, Owner/Operator, Apex Tire Services

Apex Tire is a full-service automotive shop. We pride our self on quality, quickness and putting the customer first. Through social media and word of mouth we have built a strong following that continues to grow at a very strong rate.

What steps does Halifax need to get to the next level?

I believe that this city is full of people with bright ideas and dreams that could grow to be very successful businesses. However, starting out can be very expensive. Unless you have saved money or know someone to help you get off the ground it just might not be possible. We were lucky to stumble upon one group to help us in the beginning, but I think having more resources to help guide new entrepreneurs who are just starting out could be very beneficial for Halifax as a whole.

What would you say is your biggest accomplishment to date as a business leader?

When starting Apex Tire, we knew that it was joining an already competitive market that has some well-established competition. I’m very proud of how we were able to build something that stands out from the competition. We get to know our customers on a personal level and have created a shop where people can trust they are receiving honest and quality work. Our reviews on Facebook and Google reflect that.

Sherry Willison, Director, Junk Works Halifax Inc.

Junk Works is an environmentally responsible junk removal business. We offer full-service removal and a drop-off dumpster service. Junk Works offers the best customer service at the best value for money and is committed to recycle, reuse, repurpose and donate as much as possible.

What would you say is your biggest accomplishment to date as a business leader?

As a business leader, I would say that my biggest accomplishment to date is building an amazing business network and developing loyal customers who trust me. I am also very proud of my dedicated recycling program.

What leadership advice would you give an up-and-comer?

If you want to be successful in business, do something that you are passionate about. Treat others as you would expect to be treated in return.

What’s your favourite part about Halifax?

My favorite part about Halifax is its size — not too big, not too small, the perfect size to run a business. The city is big enough for my business to thrive, but small enough for me to get to know some of my customers personally.

What’s something new that’s happening at your organization?

We are expanding our business to not only service residential customers, but to also service more commercial customers, such as construction companies, property managers, real estate agents and renovators. We provide both full-service junk removal and bin drop off junk removal —
both with the same great Junk Works service.

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