By and large, Canada’s story is one of immigrants. It’s fitting then, that the keynote speaker at this year’s CAMSC business achievement awards gala was Mohamad Fakih, the president and CEO of Paramount Fine Foods. Himself an immigrant who came to Canada from Lebanon in 2006, Fakih has gone on to build a successful Middle Eastern Halal restaurant chain.
CAMSC (the Canadian Aboriginal & Minorities Supplier Council) held its 14th-annual Business Achievement Awards Gala in Toronto on September 27. The event honours and recognizes leaders in supplier diversity and showcases successful certified Aboriginal and minority suppliers. The event celebrates accomplishments including growth in sales, innovative solutions, employment opportunities and community development. This year, Brandon Gonez, co-host and reporter for CTV Your Morning, acted as MC for the gala.
Fakih encouraged the audience to support diversity. Like many, Fakih came to Canada for a better future for his family, he told the audience. But the road to success wasn’t smooth. He didn’t speak the language, wasn’t familiar with Canadian customs, looked different, had a Middle Eastern name and he was Muslim. “Things were pretty much stacked against me,” he said. “But today, I’m the president and CEO of Paramount Fine Foods, with an honorary degree from Ryerson (University).” Fakih offered advice to immigrants on succeeding. “We’ve all heard it: if it is to be, it’s up to me,” he said. “If you want something to happen, just do it yourself.”
Today, Paramount Fine Foods employs over 2,000 people across 54 restaurants in Canada and internationally. This year, Fakih received an honorary doctor of law degree from Ryerson University and the 2018 Employer Award for Newcomer Employment from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. He has also received several awards for business achievement and charitable work.
CAMSC president and CEO Cassandra Dorrington also spoke, lauding the achievements of this year’s nominees and winners. “We’re all honoured to recognize these leaders who represent the core foundation of greater representation that’s behind CAMSC’s mission,” Dorrington said. “This year’s winners are an impressive group of first, second and third generation Canadians who exemplify the abilities found in so many diverse and minority-owned businesses in the country.”
This year, CAMSC gave out seven awards:
Supplier of the Year
emergiTEL won the Supplier of the Year award. The company is a staffing agency specializing in placing IT and business professionals. It has seen double-digit revenue growth with a client portfolio including telecom, CPG, banking, insurance, management consulting, data warehousing, IT reseller channel and software solution industries. emergiTEL’s founder Aneela Zaib accepted the award, thanking the company’s staff. “This award is dedicated to you,” she said. A CAMSC member since 2015, emergiTEL was recently recognized as a Canada’s Best Managed Company & TechConnex—Technology Enabler of the Year.
Procurement Business Advocate of the Year
This year’s winner Reggie Humphrey, senior manager, supplier diversity at General Motors, promotes diversity and inclusivity through outreach activities. At GM, he supports 22 regional and national advocacy organizations and volunteers as a board member for three organizations, including CAMSC. He is a chair of the Tuck Executive Education Program’s Advisory Board that sponsors over 20 scholarships, two of which go to CAMSC suppliers annually. Humphrey challenged the audience regarding their purpose and abilities surrounding supplier diversity: “My question to you is, ‘what are you going to do with it?’”
Small Business of the Year
AceTronic Industrial Controls Inc., a manufacturer, distributer and servicer of products used by plastics manufacturers, won the Small Business of the Year Award. An ISO 9001-certified facility, AceTronic is also an A2LA-accredited repair and calibration centre. It is CAMSC-certified and recently spoke at the organization’s B2B event in Windsor.
Technology Innovation Award
LA Metal Stamping Co. designs, patents and manufactures metal stamped parts. The company invested last year in R&D project reviews and a robotic machine that allows precision and quality with large volume productions. Such production initiatives created a savings of over $2 million for a client and led to its nomination in 2017 as Supplier of the Year.
Collaboration Award winner the City of Toronto implemented a social procurement program in 2017, using the organization’s procurement to create positive social and economic outcomes. The City spends $1.8 billion in procurement contracts annually. Its program has two streams: supply chain diversity and workforce development. City staff invites certified diverse suppliers to quote when making lower dollar value purchases. For workforce development, the City included targeted hiring requirements in 17 large-scale projects. Mike Pocholok, Toronto’s chief purchasing officer, accepted the award.
Tier 1 Champion of Supplier Diversity
Dana Incorporated provides engineered solutions improve the efficiency and sustainability of powered vehicles and machinery. Since 2010, the company has supported diverse suppliers and in the last four years they have expanded the development of diverse suppliers by 76 per cent. Dana has hosted diverse supplier matchmaking events and has used its diversity analytics and reporting to track and monitor their diversity progress.
Corporation of the Year
Toyota, winner of the Corporation of the Year award, works with diverse companies—either Tier 1 or Tier 2 suppliers. Toyota builds relationships with those suppliers through mentorship and two annual networking events. As a CAMSC corporate member, Toyota uses insights gained from those networking events to build a corporate culture reflective of the communities in which the company has a presence.