Bruce Linton, Terry Matthews entertain crowd at Best Ottawa Business Awards

Linton
The 2018 CEO of the Year Bruce Linton. All photos by Mark Holleron.

Quality mentorship and family ties were major themes of the evening at the 2018 Best Ottawa Business Awards as the capital’s top companies and entrepreneurs were honoured for the past year’s achievements.

Some 760 members of the Ottawa business community turned out to the Westin hotel on Friday evening to share in the wisdom of award recipients such as CEO of the Year Bruce Linton.

The co-CEO of Smiths Falls-based marijuana producer Canopy Growth thanked OBJ and the Ottawa Board of Trade for the recognition, not for self-serving reasons, but for the prestige and legitimacy that the award lends to the emerging cannabis industry in Canada.

“It would’ve been a lot easier not to pick me and I’m glad you did,” Linton said in his acceptance speech. “A toast to Ottawa, because I am going to use this as a tool that opens up a whole lot around the world.”

 
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Ordinarily, Linton wouldn’t be the type to bask in the spotlight – humility was one of the first lessons that his mentor, Wesley Clover founder Terry Matthews, taught him. In a further show of deference, Linton went on to apologize to Matthews, his board of directors, Canopy’s Mark Zekulin – “He does the work and I cause the work,” he said of his co-CEO – and his family for his tendency to get distracted and bombard others with questions as chief executive.

Reflecting on what brought him to this moment of his career, however, he recalled a colleague’s backhanded assessment of his curious nature and held it up as a paragon of leadership: “It’s not that you’re stupid, it’s just that you don’t know anything.”

Linton wasn’t the only mentee of Matthews receiving honours at the BOBs. The local tech magnate was in attendance and interviewed onstage about Steve Spooner, chief financial officer at Mitel and the inaugural recipient of the CFO of the Year award.

Steve Spooner
Mitel's Steve Spooner, the inaugural recipient of the CFO of the Year award. Photo by Mark Holleron.

The story goes that Spooner turned down Matthews the first time he came calling to join Mitel at CFO, but caved a couple of years later. Having now served in the role for 15 years, Matthews had a few tongue-in-cheek compliments to give to the seasoned finance veteran.

“With Steve, he’s still a young person, he’s still learning. I can report really good progress,” Matthews said of the 60-year-old CFO of the Year.

“I’ve noticed some characteristics that say he’s going to be good,” he said, earning some laughs from the crowd.

 
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For Spooner’s part, he thanked both Matthews and another mentor, Mitel director Peter Charbonneau, for getting him to this point. Despite an onstage brain cramp in which he momentarily forgot the name of Mitel chief executive Rich McBee, he also made point to thank his boss and called him a “world-class CEO.”

Accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of his father, Giant Tiger founder Gordon Reid, was member of Parliament for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston Scott Reid. The proud son said his father was not in attendance because he is a “quiet man,” but noted that the 85-year-old CEO still worked five days a week as the head of the Ottawa-born retail beast.

“He’s still very much in the driver’s seat,” Reid said.

Scott Reid
Scott Reid accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award for his father, Giant Tiger CEO Gordon Reid. Photo by Mark Holleron.

He went on to read a few prepared remarks from his father, in which the senior Reid noted that the first Giant Tiger franchise opened many decades ago in Maniwaki, Que. Today, that store is operated by the original franchisee’s grandson, an example that led Reid to stress the importance of family to the Giant Tiger model and his own success across a lifetime in retail.

“Family – three generations in this case – is an important factor in our success. We must take this opportunity – all of us – to look into our own mirrors and say to ourselves, ‘Congratulations on a job well done,’” he wrote.

Other firms congratulated on “a job well done” on Friday evening are listed below.

Full list of winners and categories:

2018 Lifetime Achievement Award: Gordon Reid, Giant Tiger Stores Limited 

Award Sponsor: EY

2018 CEO of the Year: Bruce Linton, Canopy Growth Corporation 

Award Sponsor: Boyden 

2018 CFO of the Year: Steve Spooner, Mitel 

Award Sponsor: Deloitte

Best Business

• Giant Tiger 

• Martello Technologies 

• MDS Aero Support Corporation 

Award Sponsor: BDO Canada 

Best New Business

• 1VALET

• PureColo Inc.

• Slice Labs Inc.

Award Sponsor: Hilton Lac-Leamy 

#NextBigThing

• Desk Nibbles 

• Rewind

• Wicket 

Award Sponsor: Invest Ottawa & RBC

Best Performance: Co-op

• PCL Constructors Canada Inc. 

Award Sponsor: Algonquin College 

Best Performance: Customer Experience

• DS Plumbing 

Award Sponsor: Janet LeBlanc + Associates 

Best Performance: Export

• OPIN Software

Award Sponsor:  Strader-Ferris International

Best Performance: HR

• Fullscript 

Award Sponsor: TAG HR

Best Performance: Marketing

• Assent Compliance

Award Sponsor: Algonquin College

Best Performance: Sales

• RE/MAX Affiliates Realty

Award Sponsor: Desjardins Business 

Best Performance: Social Entrepreneurship

• Ottawa Community Housing Corporation 

Award Sponsor:  La Cité Collégiale

Best Performance: Sustainability

• Regional Group 

Award Sponsor:  Hydro Ottawa 

Best Not-for-Profit

• RA Centre 

Award Sponsor:  Commissionaires Ottawa 

Deal of the Year: Real Estate

• Broccolini

Award Sponsor:  Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP

Deal of the Year: Private Equity

• Assent Compliance 

Award Sponsor: Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP

Deal of the Year: Tourism

• First Air 

Award Sponsor: Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP

Deal of the Year: Finance

• Martello Technologies

Award Sponsor: Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP

Kanata North Company of the Year

• Intouch Insight

Award Sponsor: Kanata North BA

Kanata North Team of the Year

• Syntronic Research & Development Canada

Award Sponsor: Kanata North BA

Newsmaker of the Year

• Amazon-Broccolini 

Award Sponsor: MNP