18th Annual Top 50 CEO Awards

18th Annual Top 50 CEO Awards
Lisa Drader-Murphy
Lisa Drader-Murphy
President and Designer, Turbine Clothing Company (Falmouth, N.S.)

“It’s important for me to be present at all levels of my company”

Pattern of Success After graduating from Calgary’s Form and Function Design Academy in 1990 (at the top of her class), and honing her skills as a designer for a variety of sectors (e.g. performance, ladies’ wear, ready-to-wear, active wear, children’s clothing, film and television), Lisa Drader-Murphy founded Turbine in 1997. This rare Canadian fashion house designs, cuts, produces and retails its products in-house. Under Lisa’s direction, Turbine has grown to five posh retail locations (Halifax, Bedford, and Falmouth, N.S.; Cavendish, P.E.I. and Toronto, O.N.) and a Mobile Boutique, debt-free, on retained earnings. Turbine has never applied for, or received, government funding. Each store was opened with liquid assets.

Designing Bespoke Leadership Turbine’s owner pursues a hands-on leadership style in which she collaborates with her team in many facets of the daily business. In the span of a week, she says, “I may go from media interviews to working with my production team cutting, sewing, and processing new garments, to joining retail employees on the sales floor of one of my stores.”

Fabric of Growth Drader-Murphy, who currently has 11 mentees, is a big advocate of peer mentoring as the “most potent resource for avoiding pitfalls in business.” She also believes in the power of travel as a business tool, saying it both inspires her work and provides valuable insight into the worldwide fashion industry.

Steven Drummond
President, Source Atlantic Ltd./Petro Service Ltd.
(Saint John, N.B.)

“If leaders do not operate with integrity, they will soon lose credibility”

Supply Chain Magic Steven Drummond underscores the importance of consistency, reliability, innovation and making the right connections at the right time. As the president of two companies that do just that – supply a wide variety of goods, technical services, business solutions, and learning management solutions for businesses and petroleum sites – he knows of which he speaks. Seven years ago, he began integrating the various operations under his control into an effective twenty-first century force for growth. Today, combined revenues from Source Atlantic and Petro Service hover around the $166-million range. Overall, this represents a 26 per cent revenue growth rate over the past three years.

Leading with Intent For Drummond, leadership is like a functioning supply chain. It has to do with passion and belief, imagination, integrity, the ability to make decisions, and communication. “The challenge in becoming a learning organization,” he says, “is in overcoming traditional, cultural views on the importance of, and how to train a team.” The result of doing so? On-time delivery improvements from 84 to 93 per cent over the previous year.

Delivering the Future Drummond’s five-year targets are as clear as is his current focus. He’s determined to increase annual revenues at Source Atlantic from $130 million to $220 million, and those at Petro Service from $36 million to $70 million.

Doug Ettinger
President & CEO, Scotsburn Ice Cream Company
(Truro, N.S.)

“With empowerment comes the accountability to achieve agreed upon results”

Success is Sweet Doug Ettinger sees the co-operative dairy operation over which he has presided since 2012 as a delicious example of teamwork, partnership and management savvy in action. He should. With annual revenue exceeding $100-million, Scotsburn is a leading manufacturer of value-added ice cream, novelties and frozen desserts across Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. The brand currently enjoys the number one market share in Atlantic Canada. It is also the largest private-label and co-pack manufacturer in the country. Under Ettinger’s direction, the company recently sold its fluid milk division and is now re-inventing itself as a manufacturer of premium ice-cream products.

The Active Listener Ettinger says the most important skill a leader can possess is “active listening”. He notes, “most people have great ideas and the best solutions are usually in their minds, but they often need to be encouraged and supported to move the ideas into real action. We need to listen actively.”

Taste for Innovation For his part, Ettinger has listened. He says Scotsburn was the first ice cream company in Canada to invest in new extruded production capabilities. This technology now enables it to put confections or fruit into novelty bars. In 2013, the co-operative invested $11 million in a robotic production line at its Truro facility, proving only, perhaps, that success is indeed sweet.

Roxanne Fairweather
& David Grebenc

Co-CEOs/Co-Owners, Innovatia Inc.
(Saint John, N.B.)

“It’s about building, improving, growing, and watching people shine”

Life as Innovation Roxanne Fairweather and David Grebenc might pride themselves at being forerunners of knowledge-based professionals and business owners in Atlantic Canada. After all, since taking over Innovatia from Bell Aliant in 2009, the co-chiefs have shepherded its development as a firm that now posts in excess of $20 million a year in revenues and employs roughly 600 professionals who deliver solutions to clients in the information, communications and technology, and energy sectors. Along with maintaining an R&D agenda focused on advancing thought leadership and the commercialization of knowledge management software, Innovatia delivers knowledge management services in information architecture consulting, documentation, learning solutions and technical support.

Geek is Chic Fairweather and Grebenc are also big believers in the power of education to improve conditions in the Atlantic region. Roxanne insists literacy is a cornerstone for building and sustaining social and economic fabrics. Grebenc adds: “We focus our charitable contributions on early childhood literacy and youth at risk.”

The Customer Maniacs For all their good community works Fairweather and Grebenc see only congruence between their social attitudes and business success. Says Grebenc: “Our goal is to double our company size in the next five years. My business partner and I are absolutely committed to customer excellence. In fact, she has a phrase; she refers to us as ‘customer maniacs’.”

Paul Farrah

President & CEO, Partner Seafood, Inc.; Entrepôt Froid Xtreme Cold Storage Ltd.; Farrah Holdings, Inc.
(Dieppe, N.B.)

“Devotion, accountability; there are no jobs too dirty for the leader to do”

Diversifying with Pluck Paul Farrah holds an advanced degree in international trade law. What he likes, though, is trade, itself. That’s why his self-named, privately owned firm cradles Partner Seafood, Inc. and Entrepôt Froid Xtreme Cold Storage Ltd. The former is a production management and marketing company of seafood products exporting to over 40 countries. Established in 2007, it boasts a current turnover of around $20 million. The latter is a third-party public warehouse and distribution facility offering frozen, cool, and dry storage at the Greater Moncton International Airport. About this, Farrah says, Xtreme “was established in 2014 and has been in operation since May 2015. It’s already showing a 140 per cent occupancy.”

Appetite for Growth Farrah, whose companies now earn annual revenues of between $20 and $50 million (and whose growth rate over the past three years exceeds 300 per cent), is clear about his ambitions: “You cannot simply look at what your competitors are doing and mimic their ideas; you have to innovate and make it better.”

Local Means Global Says Farrah: “Our motto states, ‘a local company with global reach’.” What that means, over the next five years, is developing and diversifying his Partner Seafood operations around the world and transforming his boutique cold-storage technology into a multi-purpose model for other locations in North America.

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