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.

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BCBUSINESS.CA n Thomas Ligocki knows firsthand the hard- ships that refugees face. When his family tried to escape from their native Czechoslovakia, "there was one failed attempt where we actually got arrested and got separated from my parents and got questioned," he recalls. "And then there were mul- tiple attempts where we came close, but we didn't get arrested." Arriving in B.C. as political refugees in 1985, the Ligockis had lost everything they owned, and 13-year-old Thomas didn't speak a word of English. Today, he heads a company with 230 customers worldwide and some 135 employees in the Richmond head office, the U.S.—and the Czech Republic. Clevest provides soft- ware for utilities that con- nects mobile workforces to office operations, improv- ing efficiency and sustain- ability. Ligocki launched the company in 2006 after co-founding online food delivery service Yum- myWeb and selling it to Just Eat. Having previ- ously worked for mobile workforce management outfits MDSI (Mobile Data Solutions Inc.) and eMobile Data Corp., he started Clevest because of a trans- formation that was occur- ring in the utility sector. "Utilities like BC Hydro and Fortis wanted to introduce smart metering, and it's not just about the meter but about the way that they service custom- ers that needed to funda- mentally change," Ligocki explains. "A new type of workforce management was required that could take into consideration these additional con- straints and opportunities, such as servicing smart meters." BC Hydro and Power Authority and FortisBC are now among his custom- ers. To date, Clevest has deployed over 35 million AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) smart meters and serves some 100 million consumers through more than 12,000 mobile workers and 1,200- plus dispatchers. Ligocki originally focused on mid-market utilities, but over the past three years he has repositioned the company to serve major ones like Romania's Distributie Oltenia. Clevest has seen a 400-percent increase in sales for its core Mobile Workforce Management solution and 200 percent more bookings. With a BSc in computer science from UBC and an MSc in software technol- ogy from the University of Alberta, Ligocki recently graduated from the director educa- tion program at SFU's Beedie School of Busi- ness and earned an ICD.D designation from the Toronto-based Institute of Corporate Directors. He's also become an active member of Social Venture Partners Vancouver. Given his background, he's par- ticularly involved with one of the philanthropic initia- tive's investees, Kinbrace, B.C.'s longest-serving hous- ing provider for people seeking refugee protection in Canada. —F.S. W I N N E R Thomas Ligocki P R E S I D E N T A N D C E O , C L E V E S T S O L U T I O N S R U N N E R - U P Raminder Grewal P R E S I D E N T , K E Y S T O N E E N V I R O N M E N T A L n Raminder Grewal grew up in Vancouver and Surrey, graduating from UBC with a BASc in environmental and geotechni- cal engineering–"I thought it was something that would be up and coming," he says. Grewal joined Burnaby-based Keystone Environmental in 2000, becom- ing the company's youngest-ever partner and department head seven years later. President since 2013, in January 2017 he purchased 51 percent of the company at a time when other environmental consulting firms were being bought up by larger international enterprises. To compete against these, Keystone has focused on clients, incor- porating an internal policy to respond to their requests within two hours. The company, which has about 95 employees, specializes in assessing and remediating contaminated sites, starting with the Expo 86 lands in 1988. Keystone works with sectors from forestry and mining to transpor- tation and property development across Canada. Over the next three years, it plans to expand its service options and build opportunities with First Nations, spill response and federal clients. –F.S. OCTOBER 2019 BCBUSINESS 31

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