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News from CNW Group

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

CALGARY, Oct. 18 /CNW Telbec/ - A group of Canada's most promising young entrepreneurs will be honoured this evening by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) at a ceremony in Calgary. BDC will present the business people, representing each of Canada's provinces and territories, with its Young Entrepreneur Awards (YEA). The event is a major feature of Small Business Week, which runs from October 16 to 22 under the theme: "You're the Power behind the Canadian economy, let's share the energy!"

"By pursuing their dreams with passion, these young entrepreneurs are making a significant mark on communities," said the Honourable David L. Emerson, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for BDC. "Their initiative and commitment have resulted in the type of expanding businesses that drive our country's economic growth."

BDC's Young Entrepreneur Awards, an annual event in its 18th year, singles out Canadian entrepreneurs between the ages of 19 and 35 for special recognition of their accomplishments in areas such as operating success and innovation, involvement in the new economy, community work and export performance. Winners are chosen by a selection committee.

"It takes an innovative spirit and determination to succeed as an entrepreneur in today's business world," points out BDC President and CEO Jean- René Halde. "This year's winners have become leaders by seizing opportunities, striking out in new directions and building exciting business ventures. We proudly honour these outstanding young people for their remarkable success."

Special awards

YEA winners were also eligible for two additional awards. Ernest Yale and Frederic and David Lachance of Triotech Amusement won the Export Award for the most outstanding export results. Scott Macdonald of Noise Solutions Inc. received the Creative Mind Award for daring and originality in the creation, marketing and promotion of a product and/or service. The awards were presented on October 17 and include a $15,000 grant each to be invested in the winners' business.

Elana Rosenfeld and Leo Johnson of Kicking Horse Coffee Ltd., a British Columbia YEA winner, was presented with the Ongoing Achievement Award. The award goes to a YEA winner, between 1988 and 2004, whose business has continued to grow steadily since receiving the award. It includes a $20,000 grant to be invested in the business.

The YEA honourees had the opportunity to gain from each other's experience, benefit from the knowledge of others and expand their networks at the fourth annual BDC Forum, an event that brings together entrepreneurs, business leaders and academics to exchange ideas and information.

The 2005 Young Entrepreneurs, listed by province and territory, are as follows:

British Columbia - Frederick Ghahramani, 27, and Vincent Yen, 27, AirG, Vancouver. These two self-described "mobile phone geeks" have turned their passion into a thriving business which delivers software, content and applications to more than 85 mobile phone carriers in 33 countries around the world. Employing 70 people, AirG has two business units: one which sells multiplayer, interactive games for mobile phones and the second, an innovative, fast-growing mobile communities business which reaches more than 5 million users with applications such as instant messaging, photo profiles and public and private messaging.

Alberta - Scott MacDonald, 30, Noise Solutions, Calgary. Working with his father, Scott MacDonald has built a 29-person team of experts in the emerging sector of noise control, attracting clients locally and from the United States. The eight-year-old Calgary-based enterprise provides large-scale industrial companies with innovative, turn-key solutions that help suppress noise pollution. "A huge part of our growth is attributable to the fact that we go beyond what our clients' needs are and improve the end result for them," explains Scott.

Saskatchewan - Murad Al-Katib, 32, Saskcan Pulse Trading, Regina. In just three years, Murad Al-Katib has created one of the world's foremost processors of pulses - lentils, chick peas and peas. Teaming up with partners in Turkey, he has created a business that employs 85 full-time staff and exports to more than 60 countries. "Saskcan is a perfect model of economic immigration," says Murad. "We've brought capital and technology from Turkey and, as a result, have created new Canadian jobs."

Manitoba - Ken Rempel, 33, Greta Rempel, 29, Phyllis Rempel, 30, Lo-Pel Manufacturing, Rosenort. Lo-Pel was the brainchild of Ken Rempel whose initial goal, three years ago, was to build a better earthmoving scraper for his own construction work needs. It wasn't long before he was taking orders for the machines and had set up a production facility that employs 20 in its shop and contracts out to local tradespeople. Partnering with his sister Phyllis and wife Greta, Ken has turned an innovative idea into an expanding business that will sell 60 to 65 machines this year.

Ontario - Leerom Segal, 26, Klick Communications, Toronto. Starting Klick Communications when he was just 18, Lee Segal has carved out a niche in the burgeoning health care sector, providing education programs, brand development, software applications and interactive solutions to the pharmaceutical industry. His expanding enterprise, which two years ago branched out into e-learning and application development to a wider range of industries, has grown a phenomenal 1,800% over a five-year period.

Québec - Frédéric Lachance, 35, David Lachance, 27, and Ernest Yale, 34, Triotech Amusement, Lavaltrie. These three talented entrepreneurs have combined their complementary skills to create a unique Canadian business that develops, manufactures and markets video games, arcade machines and multi-seat 3D theatres to amusement parks, entertainment centres and arcade operators throughout the world. In just six years, they are headed toward $8 million in annual sales and say they have "only touched the tip of what the possibilities are."

New Brunswick - Steve Toner, 30, Timber Top Trusses, Grand Falls. By applying productivity and efficiency improvements to the business he bought from his father in 1998, Steve Toner has taken Timber Top Trusses to new heights. The business, which manufactures roof trusses and engineered floor systems and delivers its products to lumber yard owners, has quadrupled sales and started exporting to countries such as Germany and Spain. Innovations introduced include an online tracking system, lean manufacturing and laser jigging.

Nova Scotia - Marc St-Onge, 30, Ascenta Health, Dartmouth. Combining his microbiology and graphic design skills with entrepreneurial drive, Marc St- Onge has tapped into a high-growth category of the natural product industry with a company that develops, packages and distributes Omega-3 fish oil supplements throughout North America and to Europe and Asia. Ascenta Health, which markets its products under the name NutraSea, realized a 1000% increase in sales in its first year alone. "We've established ourselves as a leader in terms of quality and purity," Marc points out.

Prince Edward Island - Melody Dover, 34, Fresh Media Inc., Charlottetown. Three years after breaking her wrist prompted her to rethink her career as a graphic designer, Melody Drover has built a successful advertising, marketing and design firm that specializes in developing brand identity, print design, Web design and creativity coaching. With a growing number of clients, Fresh Media's sales have increased nine times over the previous year's results, and Melody has plans to hire full-time staff.

Newfoundland and Labrador - Michael Wahl, 27, Definitions, St. John's. In just a year and a half, Michael Wahl's fitness lifestyle company has taken off rapidly. Definitions, his St. John's fitness centre which is based on the concept of power living, limits membership and takes a "low volume, high attention" approach, has proved to be extremely popular with the high-end market to which it caters. This initial success has led to the national marketing of products, a franchise plan and the scheduling of an extreme makeover show on a local TV network.

Nunavut - Hamish Tatty, 30, M&T Enterprises, Rankin Inlet. Creating good working relationships with clients has been the key to Hamish Tatty's success in expanding M&T Enterprises, founded by his father in 1979, into a multi- faceted transportation business. A substantially Inuit-owned and operated business that hires locally, M&T employs up to 60 people. M&T's operations range from off-loading freight for airlines and ships, to distributing fuel, gravel hauling, snow removal and most recently, supporting the hauling needs of mining exploration camps.

Northwest Territories - Richard Barnes, 35, Cold Mountain Computing Inc., Yellowknife. Creating a software computing business with a difference was Richard Barnes' goal when he founded Cold Mountain Computing in 1998 - and customers appreciate this approach. The business has grown on average 60% per year, now employs up to 14 people and realizes half a million dollars a year in sales. A significant part of Cold Mountain's unique approach is built around Richard's philosophy of "building strong people and a strong community".

Yukon - Jason Rayner, 33, and Lael Lund, 29, Outcrop Yukon, Whitehorse. These two experienced entrepreneurs purchased an existing marketing and communications agency a year ago and have increased business by a third in that short time. With a shared interest in problem solving, they enjoy the challenge of finding creative solutions that fit their clients' advertising, web site and computer programming needs. Their recipe for success includes "hard work, integrity, commitment and keeping clients' interests at heart."

Small Business Week partners

National partners help make Small Business Week a success. Bell, WestJet and Western Economic Diversification Canada are official partners of the 2005 Small Business Week and Young Entrepreneur Awards. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has been a privileged partner of the event since 1981.

About BDC

The Business Development Bank of Canada is a financial institution wholly owned by the Government of Canada. It plays a leadership role in delivering financial, investment and consulting services to Canadian small business, with a particular emphasis on the technology and export sectors of the economy.

Photographs of the 2005 Young Entrepreneur Awards winners are available on BDC's website at www.bdc.ca .

For further information: or to arrange for an interview on October 18: Media Room: 1-877-261-1338, (403)-267-1338; After October 18: Eva Boucher-Hartling, Media Relations Manager, (514) 283-7929

© CNW Group