The belief “no one does it alone” echoed through the acceptance speeches like a refrain of humility at the 2023 Best Ottawa Business Awards, an annual awards dinner that celebrates excellence and recognizes outstanding achievements.
More than 600 entrepreneurs and industry leaders gathered Nov. 23 at The Westin Ottawa for the gala evening hosted by the Ottawa Board of Trade and Ottawa Business Journal.
“I’m proud that every year we get together as a community in what many people think of as a government town and we celebrate the work that is done in the private sector by business leaders like you,” said Mayor Mark Sutcliffe.
If you love living in Orleans and are looking for a new place, the new town homes at The Commons, could be what you’re looking for.
From sleek corporate hubs to cozy creative studios, this magazine is a celebration of diversity in workspace excellence.
He congratulated recipients for making the local economy stronger, recognizing that thriving businesses provide the resources to solve many of the challenges faced by Ottawa as a community.
Almost 30 awards were handed out during a seamless ceremony punctuated with speeches from recipients in the four top categories. There to welcome attendees to the BOBs, as it’s known, were OBJ publisher Michael Curran and board of trade president and CEO Sueling Ching.
Rogers has posted highlights of the awards gala on its YouTube channel.
Check it out here.
CEO of the Year went to Mike McGahan of CLV Group and InterRent REIT; CFO of the Year to Nathalie Cadieux of The Ottawa Hospital; Lifetime Achievement to Grant and Pam Hooker of BeaverTails fame; and Newsmaker of the Year to Michael Andlauer, new owner of the Ottawa Senators.
Here are the other award winners:
DEALS OF THE YEAR
Real Estate: CBRE
Ottawa’s biggest real estate deal of the year certainly had the city buzzing. Thanks to the CBRE national investment team who brokered the deal, 160 Elgin changed ownership from H&R REIT to Groupe Mach to the tune of $277 million, one of the largest commercial real estate transactions in the city’s history. One of Ottawa’s marquee office towers, this LEED Gold-certified building is accessible, comes with exceptional tenants and boasts nearly one million square feet of space.
Video surveillance company Solink takes this year’s prize for best technology deal. The company landed $60 million in fresh venture capital after closing a Series C round led by Goldman Sachs. Since its founding in 2009, Solink has been a trailblazer in the video surveillance market. Its AI-driven technology is now used to store security camera data in the cloud for more than 18,000 locations around the world. The company is said to be headed for an IPO.
Retail: CF Rideau Centre
Ottawa’s CF Rideau Centre turned lemons into lemonade after losing marquee tenant Nordstrom. Without missing a beat, the CF Rideau Centre team secured tenancies with several first-to-market retail players, including Uniqlo, Arc’teryx and the first Imaginaire location outside Quebec. The gaming and hobby retailer Imaginaire occupies 20,000 square feet of space spanning the third and fourth floors. Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo occupies 15,000 square feet. Popular outdoor retailer Arc’teryx has 3,000 square feet on the second floor. These deals and more continue to make CF Rideau Centre one of the top 15 highest performing shopping centres in Canada.
Tourism: Porter Airlines and Ottawa International Airport Authority
Ottawa is becoming an even bigger part of aviation infrastructure due to the deal struck this year between Porter Airlines and the Ottawa International Airport Authority. Two new hangars totalling nearly 150,000 square feet will be added to Ottawa’s airport as the maintenance hub for Porter’s new fleet of planes. Hundreds of jobs will be created, including 160 aircraft maintenance engineers plus shop technicians, store clerks and administrative support workers. With the first hangar scheduled for completion by the end of 2023 and the second in the first quarter of 2024, Ottawans can expect Porter’s presence to grow in coming years.
Finance: Ottawa Senators / Michael Andlauer
Ottawa’s splashiest business deal of the year was preceded by months of rabid speculation and celebrity star power. On the opening day of this year’s NHL training camps, it was announced that Michael Andlauer, founder and CEO of the Andlauer Healthcare Group and founder of Bulldog Capital Partners, would be the next owner of the Ottawa Senators. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the deal took a bit longer than expected to close due to the number of local investors in Andlauer’s ownership group, including Farm Boy grocery chain partner Jeff York and the Malhotra family, owners of real estate development giant Claridge Homes.
TryCycle Data Systems
Digital health innovator TryCycle Data Systems is revolutionizing mental health care with its app TetherAll. The app improves mental health-care delivery and outcomes for Indigenous peoples and was built hand-in-hand with the community it serves. Founder and CEO John MacBeth believes “listening is a superpower.” It’s why his company’s competitive advantage is living and demonstrating inclusivity and transparency. TryCycle’s exponential growth continues to be fuelled by strategic partnerships to reach more people and give back to the community.
After 40 years as a global tech leader, Calian keeps delivering the “wow” factor through innovation and strategic acquisitions in new markets. It’s why it keeps winning contracts from tech powerhouses such as NASA and NATO 360. Calian has been able to continue positive revenue growth, reaching new revenue milestones in spite of the pandemic and supply chain issues. A diverse leadership team is steering that growth, with a focus on gender equity and inclusion.
Amsted Design-Build wants to be the most sought-after company in its industry and is on the way to achieving that. In 2022, the company surpassed $20 million in revenue by acquiring a like-minded Brockville company and diversifying its offerings. The team that made it happen was built by focusing heavily on recruitment and retention. Amsted has built a company culture that landed it a Best Places to Work award in 2022. To take the company to the next level, Amsted is harnessing its team’s energy and potential with a new HR strategy.
BEST NEW BUSINESS
Serial entrepreneur and lawyer Hugues Boivert is revolutionizing the way kids learn to swim. He designed Kids Can Swim’s purpose-built swim schools with the needs of babies, children and parents in mind. Families have been lining up to buy a monthly subscription since the first facility in Kanata opened in 2020 and popularity has grown throughout the pandemic. With the Kanata location being sold out and boasting a 500-person waiting list, new locations in Orleans and Barrhaven can’t come soon enough.
Esprit-ai provides smart tech that monitors seniors who are limited by mobility and memory. The goal is to keep seniors safe and living where they choose. Esprit-ai Sense is an imperceptible caregiver. It doesn’t rely on wearables or intrusive cameras. For care teams, every 16 rooms equipped with the technology is like adding an extra staff member. The company is founder-funded and is led by a dream team boasting deep expertise in technology and health, including Ottawa tech giant Terry Matthews.
Genesislink is a business firm dedicated to helping talented individuals and aspiring entrepreneurs settle their businesses in Canada. Founded during the pandemic to empower startups and support their growth, Genesislink is on track to reach $1 million in revenue in 2023. Among its keys to success, Genesislink rapidly adapts to market needs, provides stellar service and practices inclusivity. It takes care of its people with progressive HR policies and is committed to moulding future industry leaders by mentoring students, newcomers and youth.
Marketing: Ottawa Airport Authority
Twenty years after opening the new YOW terminal building, the Ottawa International Airport Authority decided to raise awareness about its important role and contribution to the local community. It landed on the theme “Global Reach, Local Return” for its first major public marketing campaign in two decades. Externally, the message reached more than 3.3 million people and generated 10,000 plus click-throughs to the YOW website. The videos were also viewed 750,000 times.
Customer Experience: Fullscript
Fullscript’s ultimate goal is to become an indispensable partner to its customers with an unwavering focus on their needs. The goal is for each customer to feel helped, empowered and poised for success after an interaction with the Fullscript team. Fullscript delivers that best-in-class support by providing a seamless experience from start to finish, even evaluating its performance monthly with its Customer Effort Score. With empowered agents trained to handle any interaction, Fullscript recovers 50 per cent of dissatisfied customers.
This isn’t the first time Nokia has been recognized for its stellar co-op program. The first time was in 2016. Since then, the co-op program has hit new heights, with 535 students joining Nokia for internships and co-op placements this year. Most of those placements come straight from Ottawa’s robust academic community, which helps keep local talent in Ottawa. Nokia attracts the best students through its heavy involvement in events and sponsorships at Carleton, uOttawa and Algonquin college, as well as its presence in Kanata North.
Export: Siemens Healthineers
Siemens Healthineers’ export strategy is driven by its mission to deliver the best health care to everyone, everywhere, sustainably. The company pioneers breakthroughs in health-care technology, making it more accessible, while developing customer bases in less mature markets and rural areas, reaching those who need it most. Regardless of location, patients can receive information such as lab-accurate blood gas, electrolyte and metabolite results in less than one minute. Siemens Healthineers exports to more than 100 countries, including Asia Pacific, North and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Social Entrepreneurship: Youth Ottawa: Hot Shoe Productions
Hot Shoe Productions is a social enterprise of Youth Ottawa. It empowers youth by providing a pathway for young people to build a career in video production. With a focus on at-risk youth, Hot Shoe Productions makes a tangible difference in the lives of young individuals who face barriers to employment. By giving young people hands-on experiences, Hot Shoe Productions is unleashing the untapped potential, creativity and talent of these young individuals. The team intertwines business success with social impact in hopes of creating leaders, advocates and contributors in the community to further spark positive change.
Whether in the office or working from home, Spiria’s team takes its HR practices to heart. The company’s human resources policies reflect its core values: transparency from leadership, integrity of all, trust towards employees, and fun … during and after work. A transparent pay grid, unlimited leave for physical and mental health challenges, and a new “hours used to get better” program are pillars of that strategy. As a result, Spiria has seen an increase in employee engagement and a zero per cent turnover rate.
Sales: TryCycle Data Systems
TryCycle Data Systems’ commitment to addressing societal needs provided the genesis for its successful sales performance. The company recorded a 381 per cent increase in sales, ending fiscal 2023 with just under $4 million in revenue. For TryCycle, success lies in a better future for Indigenous youth and anyone else who needs access to mental health and addiction support. New contracts in these areas and introducing its flagship programs Talking Stick and Milos Wish bolstered revenue and achieved these goals by reaching new markets and growing the company’s impact.
Environmental Sustainability: Quantum Lifecycle Partners
Sustainability is baked into Quantum’s vision to become its customers’ most trusted partner. Quantum sets the standard for sustainable electronics lifecycle management by linking its goals back to stakeholders: the planet, its team and its customers. Quantum is reducing building emissions for the planet, diverting waste from landfills for customers, and ensuring a safe workplace for its team. The company only works with partners who match those high standards and has proven its the best in the biz with top certifications for responsible recycling, data security, responsible management and more.
BEST NOT FOR PROFIT
Ottawa Tourism’s mission is to market and sell Ottawa as a compelling leisure and business destination, all with a goal of supporting Ottawa’s economic development objectives. Ottawa Tourism is bringing billions of tourism dollars to Ottawa, attracting events that leave legacy infrastructure and creating thousands of jobs. Ottawa Tourism measures its success by tracking the number of visitors, how much they spend and attractions they visit. The data-driven team also reports its local impact by tracking the size of the tourism workforce, the number of businesses in the industry, and how the community responds to its efforts.
BEST LEADER IN DEI
Dancia Susilo Services
Dancia Susilo Services wants to make Ottawa more accessible by providing training around culture, stigma and teaching people how to be more inclusive. This small team of designers, communications professionals and administrators helps companies and organizations implement DEI initiatives and company restructuring. The team uses a robust training and analysis toolkit to help employers update their policies and processes. By helping organizations focus more on diversity and inclusion, the team is also looking to educate workplaces about making work more accessible for people with disabilities.
SERIOUS TECH LIVES HERE
Best Business: Calian
Based on this year’s revenues, Calian’s trajectory continues to “grow” where no one has gone before. By diversifying its customer base in new markets in the U.S. through strategic acquisitions, the company realized its 21st consecutive year of positive income. Working in health, cybersecurity, agriculture and now playing a leading role in Space Canada, Calian is expanding its capabilities to put the company on the global stage. Calian delivers results year after year by fostering a culture of innovation, while creating efficiencies and interconnecting various parts of the business.
Best Innovation: Pleora Technologies
When Pleora Technologies discovered a pain point for manufacturers, it didn’t hesitate to put its 23 years of expertise to work to find a solution. Enter Pleora’s Vaira AI-driven inspection tool, an easy-to-deploy app that helps reduce costs and risks by making human decisions consistent, reliable and traceable. Vaira helps manufacturers solve an error-prone process with an app-based approach for incoming, in-process and outgoing manufacturing steps. It cuts inspection time from minutes to seconds. Because Vaira works for automotive, medical, utility and small parts manufacturing sectors, it has also expanded Pleora’s market opportunities.