Sunday, May 30, 2010

Canadian Family Enterprise of the Year!

Dad and I flew out to Regina last Wednesday. We had been nominated for the Canadian Family Enterprise of the Year, an annual award handed out by CAFE (Canadian Association of Family Enterprises).

We had first become aware of the organization last Fall, when they asked us if we'd like to come talk to the Ottawa chapter on our experiences as a family-run business. After our talk, they asked us if we'd like to submit our name for the award. We were humbled by winning the Ottawa-chapter award in February and at that time, we found out there was a national competition as well.

Turns out we were in the top 3, and as part of that honour, CAFE would fly us out to Regina, where the bi-annual symposium was taking place to hear if we were the winner.

I'd never been to Regina, and the symposium seemed pretty cool - guest speakers included Frank O'Dea (founder of Second Cup, former homeless person, order of Canada member), the guy who traded a red paper clip for a house, and a bunch of other cool folks. A bit drier, but no less important were tax issues for family businesses and succession planning for families.

On Wednesday we flew out and our flight was 2 hours late, so we missed the social stuff going on, which was probably a good thing, because Thursday morning we were to present our story to the symposium along with the two other finalists.

We did our presentation first and it went quite well. Then we got to learn about the other two finalists through their presentation.

First up, another Ontario-based company, Flanagan Food Service, from Kitchener. Flanagan was started up 33 years ago by Joe Flanagan and is now run by his four sons, Dan, Rick, Jeff and Murray. Their company has grown every single year for 33 years. They do eco-cool stuff like capturing rainwater to use for cleaning trucks, and installing a reflective roof to reduce energy requirements. They remain privately owned and, on a personal level, these guys were really nice and I'm glad I got to meet them - real class acts.

Next was Veriperm, and I'm still not exactly sure what they do, but it must be important, because they are doing really well in an industry that has had its challenges over the last few years. They were founded in 1969 by Bill Nurcombe. Bill is still around and actually presented on Thursday, but the company is now run mostly by his sons James and Kelly. It was nice to hear Bill talk with pride about his sons accomplishments since the passing of the torch.

So then more speakers, Dad and I snuck out for a quick trip to Bushwakkers Brewpub (great beer!) and dinner at the RCMP museum ended Thrusday. Friday involved more speakers, breakout sessions, sneaking out to Beer Bros. (enjoyed beer from Half Pint, Tree and Wild Rose) then out for dinner and the announcement of the winner.

I guess the title of the post gave this away, but we won! It was great to win and I'm so proud of my whole family and friends on the team for putting us in this winning position. It was a real honour and an unbelievable feeling. I'd like to point out that one of the first people to shake my hand afterwards was Murray Flanagan, proving once again how cool he was. On the way back my Dad and I had at least three conversations about Murray and Flanagan Foodservice as an example of true sportsmanship and class - they were quite inspirational.


Murray Flanagan said...

Thanks for the kind words Steve. It was great to meet you and your dad last week. We had a lot of fun in Regina. Congrats again!

Jeff said...

Hey Steve, I love your pose in the 1st pic! and the suits!

Gabriel... said...

Congratulations Steve, it's an incredible honour.