October 2019 – Making Waves

With a mission to inform, empower, celebrate and advocate for British Columbia's current and aspiring business leaders, BCBusiness go behind the headlines and bring readers face to face with the key issues and people driving business in B.C.

Issue link: http://digital.canadawide.com/i/1173482

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Page 28 of 71

BCBUSINESS.CA R U N N E R - U P Jay Evans C O - F O U N D E R A N D C E O , K E I R T O N n Jay Evans was building his telecommunications business in 2005 when a friend's mother showed him the cannabis industry's potential. A paraplegic suffering from constant pain, she called Evans crying, telling him that the plant had let her sleep through the night for the first time in years. Evans saw how cannabis could help people and figured the industry was ripe for growth. Mechanically inclined, he set about creating a device for processing marijuana plants. "We built the first machine in a garage," remembers Evans, who grew up in the Lower Mainland and studied electron- ics and communications at Vancouver Community College. "It was crude and made with rudimentary tools." He thought he might sell one of the $15,000 units a month, which he did. But soon more orders started flowing in–five, then seven, then 15, and eventually 60 each month. Surrey-based Keirton has since grown to 50 staff. As governments worldwide change their cannabis laws, the com- pany works with top producers in more than 20 countries. –D.H. R U N N E R - U P Danny Chase F O U N D E R A N D C E O , C H A S E O F F I C E I N T E R I O R S n Growing up in the Yukon, Danny Chase never thought about becoming an entrepreneur. Nobody among his family or friends had started a business. "I was raised to think that you go get a job and you work your way up the ladder," he says. That changed after he earned a business degree from Trinity Western University in 1997 and took a job managing a company that sold office supplies. He found that the business world stoked the competitive fire he'd developed playing soccer and hockey as a child. When clients asked Chase about providing furniture, he gave them a level of service they hadn't experienced. "I was just being responsive to my customers," he recalls, thinking that was just common sense. But it wasn't common for office furniture suppliers, so in 2003 he founded Chase Office Interiors to disrupt a complacent industry. His West Vancouver– based company employs about 30 people, including space- optimization and concierge teams to keep delivering premium customer service. –D.H. R U N N E R - U P Haresh Bhatt P R E S I D E N T , N A T U ' O I L S E R V I C E S n Haresh Bhatt came to Canada from Malaysia in 2003 to give his daughters, then seven and 12, a better education than they could get in their home country. Starting a new life was challenging for all. "Kids are kids," Bhatt explains. The children were sad to leave their friends. Meanwhile, he invested most of his life savings in a new business to support his family. Bhatt, who had worked as a palm-oil broker in Malaysia, founded Port Coquitlam–based Natu'oil Services to bring that commodity to North America. He was confident it could compete against other food oils like soybean, sunflower and canola. "It was versatile. It was economi- cal," he says. "I wouldn't put most of my money into it if I didn't know how to manage a risk. I saw an opportunity, and I took my time to do things." Besides expanding his payroll to 27, Bhatt has grown Natu'oil's sales from 100 tonnes a month to 15,000 throughout North America. His company now owns warehouses in Port Coquitlam, Toronto, Tacoma, Los Angeles and upstate New York. –D.H. manufacturer of water- park products. He's still the top waterslide expert nearly four decades later. While his competitors typically make a handful of products, WhiteWater works with partners like Six Flags Entertainment Corp., Universal Studios Hollywood and Walt Disney Co. to help create nearly every aspect of their fantastical parks—including slides, wave pools, interac- tive play structures and wave machines—and keeps providing service through the life of their projects. WhiteWater's archi- tects, engineers and play specialists can help operators at the earli- est conceptual stages to design parks that suit their topography, budgets and demographics. The business has liter- ally and figuratively taken Chutter on some wild rides since he saw Canada's first waterpark in Kelowna in 1980, which prompted him to leave his job as an auditor for KPMG to build his own. He still loves to enjoy his company's latest offerings. "We've had the good fortune over the last 35 years of being ahead and staying ahead," Chut- ter reminisces. As for the future? "The focus has to be on sticking with your guiding principles and continuing to innovate." For WhiteWater and its 600 staff, that means looking after customers' needs first. "It's service, service, service," Chutter says. —D.H. OCTOBER 2019 BCBUSINESS 29

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