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2021 Canadian Employee Ownership Conference - Speakers


Ramshackle Industries

Fearless Leader, President

Ramshackle Industries – Bravely Onward

I am often called the mastermind behind the growing empire but I am also the plumber, grease trap expunger (when necessary), general contractor, emotional labourer, and future woman of leisure (hopefully).

For now, I can be found sporting a crinoline and doing whatever needs doing to keep 5 restaurants and an accommodation moving forward and creating spaces where worker-owners have a chance at a retirement plan and year round employment that helps them buy houses!

Ramshackle Industries (The Red Rabbit, AVEC, Old Man & Son, Pollo Morta, Somewhere *a restaurant, Chez Lapin)

We are working to put together the 2021 speaker line-up




How do ESOPs Fit in, Fuel and Adapt to the Strategic Plans of Good Companies

Eben Louw, CPA, CA, is a Partner in MNP’s Abbotsford office. Drawing on more than two decades of experience, Eben delivers assurance and taxation services to clients across a broad range of industries.

Eben’s services include strategic planning, helping companies share profits and ownership with their employees, as well as succession services through MNP’s proprietary SMARTshare and ExitSMART programs.

Depending on his clients’ specific needs, Eben delivers programs and workshops in a variety of areas, including ownership and team succession, retirement planning for owners, and strategic goal-setting for senior leadership teams. He has been coaching clients and their families for years, helping them prepare and grow for the next step in their own transition. He firmly believes teams will achieve more if they plan ahead with a clear path for execution of the truly important aspects of their business.

Eben is a frequent speaker at industry events and was the author of a highly respected training workshop focused on successfully addressing the transition and leadership changes of key employees.

Eben was designated a Chartered Accountant (CA) in Canada in 2003 and in South Africa in 2002. He has Bachelor degrees in Accounting (Hons.), Commerce (Hons.) and Military Science and holds a Masters degree in Strategic Foresight. In a volunteer capacity, Eben is an elder with his local church and volunteers for the Abbotsford Food Bank.


ESOP Builders Inc.


Building an Ownership Mentality through an ESOP

From helping Canada’s fastest growing companies implement engagement strategies to supporting business owners exiting on their terms, Perry Phillips is recognized as one of Canada’s leading experts on employee share ownership plans (ESOPS).

Perry is the Founder and President of ESOP Builders Inc. (the largest designer of ESOP plans in Canada for small and medium sized Canadian private companies) and also the Founder of the ESOP Association Canada (Canada’s only national not for profit organization promoting the ESOP concept in Canada) and primary author of ESOPS in Canada: How to Implement an Employee Share Ownership Plan to Grow and Exit Your Business with Your Legacy Intact (2015).


ESOP Builders Inc.

Vice President


Building an Ownership Mentality through an ESOP


Joanna is a Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL) and Certified Value Builder (CVB). She holds an Honors Degree in Business Management Specializing in Human Resources from Western University.


Since graduating, Joanna has worked with various companies in a wide range of industries such as healthcare, insurance, supply chain/ logistics, and marketing. She has excelled in all her roles within Human Resources and has been a trusted guide and advisor to business leaders to ensure continued success of the company. Joanna’s main areas of focus have been talent management and strategy, including succession planning, employee relations, health and safety, and disability management. However she has also gained experience within labor relations and compensation strategy.

Passionate about creating ownership and wealth on a broader level, Joanna brings a creative, modern, and focused view to EBI and their clients.


Joanna is currently a Director of the ESOP Association Canada.


Blue Cay Consultants

Ownership and Management Transition: Some Hard Lessons and Practical Approaches

Steve is veteran of employee-owned businesses. He is an environmental engineer who cultivated his career in professional service, and until September 2019 was one of two Executive General Managers leading the 4,000-person strong North American business of a global consulting firm. Steve spent the bulk of his career delivering complicated technical solutions to clients with environmental problems.

Steve began his career in a partnership with 175 employees and was part of the team that evolved the business, distributed its ownership, re-drew the fundamentals of the firm’s shareholder structure, grew the business to 3,000 people in North America, then negotiated and implemented a merger into a global employee-owned consulting firm.

Steve is now in a unique position to assist others in managing and making change, developing their strategic plans, developing their leaders and growing their businesses. Steve is a chemical engineer by training and is a licensed professional engineer in Canada and the US.


Dale & Lessmann LLP


Key Legal Issues for ESOP Companies

Dean practices business law with a focus on Canadian and cross-border mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, and financing transactions. Dean also spends much of his time advising foreign and domestic clients with respect to the establishment and expansion of their businesses across Canada. He advises clients on business formations and wind-ups, immigration and employment matters, shareholder matters (including shareholder agreements, reorganizations and employee share offerings), financings, partnership and joint venture arrangements, corporate governance and regulatory matters and on-going commercial transactions. Dean has particular expertise representing clients in the manufacturing, retail, distribution, private equity, insurance services, banking, renewable energy, agriculture and agrifood and not-for-profit sectors.


Felesky Flynn LLP

Managing Partner

ESOP Planning for Canadian Corporations – Tax planning and the use of Trusts

Jeremy is a tax lawyer with Felesky Flynn LLP. Jeremy’s practice covers a broad spectrum of tax planning, with a focus on corporate and personal tax planning for owner managers. Jeremy has written various papers and articles for the Canadian Tax Foundation and has presented on topics including employee stock ownership in private corporations. Jeremy has also recently presented on employee compensation and equity participation in private corporations at an international tax conference in Provence, France.

Jeremy has assisted numerous clients with the implementation and modification of employee stock option plans, from key person planning in small closely held organizations to large employee-owned corporations with hundreds of employee-shareholders.

Jeremy graduated from the University of Alberta in 2004 with a combined LL.B/MBA degree, receiving a number of awards including the Stikeman Elliott – Carswell National Tax Award. After graduation, Jeremy completed a clerkship at the Federal Court of Appeal before transitioning to private practice.


 Strategic Natural Resource Consultants Inc. Managing Director


Cultivating a Stewardship Ethos


Jon began his forestry career on Northern Vancouver Island with companies like Canfor, TimberWest, Weyerhaeuser and Canadian Air Crane and was inspired to co-found Strategic Natural Resource Consultants, one of the larger resource management consultancies in BC. In his role as Managing Director, he is responsible for setting strategy, growing culture and building a world-class team. The firm was recently named as one of the Top 100 Employers in Canada.


Strategic issued it’s first ESOP share offering in December 2018 and now has 16 shareholders. The company was founded by Jon and Niels Jorgensen in 2003 and it has grown to nearly 200 employees across 6 offices throughout BC. The transition to an ESOP will help fuel the company’s growth, sustainability and prosperity into the future.


Jon studied at SFU, BCIT and UBC Sauder School of Business and has been recognized as the ABCFP’s Forest Technologist of the Year, received the CIF’s James Kitz Award and was named by Canadian Forest Industries Magazine as one of Canada’s Top 20 Under 40 in the forest sector.


Jon has served as President of the Consulting Foresters of BC, the Association of BC Forest Professionals, the Canadian Institute of Forestry and the North Island Community Forest. Outside of work, he enjoys racing rally cars, riding motorcycles and exploring the waters and backcountry of Vancouver Island and the Central Coast.


Predictive Success Corporation

Managing Principal

Drive Results by Optimizing Your Talent

Eric Irwin is an MBA graduate from Queen’s University. Eric holds certificates in SAS Querying and Reporting, Online Learning Design, Distance Learning Administration and Management Solutions for Distance Education.

Prior to joining Predictive Success, Eric was with Walmart Canada Bank, where as a founding member of the bank team, he established all store-level Financial Services sales operations processes. Eric’s previous experience includes management roles with Walmart Canada and Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. in the areas of operations, communications and marketing.

In addition to his guest lectures at the Queen’s University’s Smith School of Business and the Kenneth Levene Graduate School of Business at the University of Regina, Eric has participated as a panelist at the Queen’s University “Smith Scale Up Summit.” Eric’s other speaking engagements include presentations at the 2018 HR Analytics Conference in Toronto, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s “Talent: How to Hire & Train” event, as well as a radio broadcast appearance on Buffalo’s WNY@Work station. Eric’s article on Safe Behavior Analytics was published in the Canadian HR Reporter.

Eric’s client list includes; Revera Inc., Magna International, Chelsea Piers New York, SaskPower and many more. Eric resides in Toronto, Ontario and is an avid Toronto Blue Jays and Buffalo Bills fan.


VeritableSoft Innovations

Managing Director and CEO

Stock-Based Compensation – The Path to Employee Ownership

Ramy will address equity units, stock options, share purchase plans, performance units and other forms of stock-based compensation (SBC) and touch on the technology requirements for SBC during the session.

Ramy is responsible for all the day-to-day operations of VeritableSoft, in addition to setting up the strategic direction of the company as a board member.

Prior to working in VeritableSoft, Ramy held different executive positions including Chairman and CEO at SyncBASE, CIO at Insurance Bureau of Canada, VP – Internet Strategy and Development at Fidelity Investments, VP – Internet Strategy at Merill Lynch and Chief Systems Architect at Merill Lynch. Ramy has also held various directorship positions, and he is currently a director of CryptoMiles, AlphaOmega Reno Construction and ESOP Association Canada.

Ramy is a Professional Engineer who holds an M.Sc. in Computer Science, MBA and he is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). Ramy has been practicing different forms of martial arts over the last 35 years and he currently actively practices Karate and Tai Chi. He speaks 6 languages, and enjoys reading, writing, traveling and playing music.



Corporate Controller & ESOP Administrator

iQmetrix – The Evolution of an ESOP Agreement

Dean Ell is the Controller and ESOP Administrator at iQmetrix, a software company specializing in end-to-end retail solutions. iQmetrix started in Regina and now has 3 locations in Canada and 2 in the USA and over 400 employees. The company has been on the Profit 500 list of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies several times. Maintaining a fun and rewarding work culture is very important at iQmetrix.

Some ESOP models support a set it and forget it approach but that has not been the case at iQmetrix where our ESOP has evolved significantly since 2007. The most recent iteration of our ESOP hit in 2019 and is related to a pivot that started a couple of years ago. With a very solid core business, iQmetrix always invests heavily in our future. However, we decided that rather than fund new business lines 100% internally we would become an incubator and spin-off these new business lines when the timing is right. That meant several changes within our ESOP were required. We needed a structure to create a new preferred share for each division we spin off, allowing employees to hold these new preferred shares post-employment with iQmetrix had to be addressed. There were also some concerns related to valuations and share sales of these incubated divisions, as well as the impact on our ESOP Administration. Updating an ESOP agreement involves legal, shareholder voting, and in our case consultants.

Dean will share this interesting and complicated story that illustrates how an ESOP can evolve if there is a need.

Dean is also currently the Chair of the ESOP Association of Canada. He has performed several roles within the Association over the past 5 years including sitting on the conference planning committee, advisor to the Board, and Board Member.




Maarschalk Valuations Inc.



Key Issues in Valuing a Business and How Owners Can Enhance the Value of Their Company


Paul Maarschalk CPA, CA, CBV has been a Chartered Business Valuator since 2007 and a Chartered Professional Accountant since 1986.


Paul’s business valuations skills are built on both his education and his experience in the financial industry. Prior to founding MVI in 2008 his career focused on corporate finance and corporate financial planning, disciplines that, like business valuations, require an ability to project forward and understand business risk.


MVI has completed numerous valuation assignments, in support of ESOPS, marital and shareholder disputes, buy/sell agreements and corporate reorganizations. These engagements have covered a variety of industries across Central and Western Canada, with a focus on British Columbia and Alberta.


Paul has been qualified as an expert witness in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

The two words that are most commonly used by MVI clients to describe MVI’s service are “thorough” and “professional”, words which validate MVI’s core values: Objective, Insightful, Articulate.



ESOP Builders Inc.

Employee Ownership Specialist

ESOPs 101: The Why’s and How’s

Why all the hullaballuh about ESOPS?

Because they work. They are the ideal business model to humanize and revolutionize our economy.

At ESOP Builders Inc., our mission statement is to make employee ownership one of the most rewarding decisions a business owner makes – benefiting the owner, employees, the business, and the community. That’s why we are Canada’s premier firm for designing, training and implementing Employee Share Ownership, and Stock Option Plans for small- and medium-sized privately held companies.

As an Employee Ownership Specialist with ESOP Builders Inc., Dan excels at meeting clients’ needs by designing custom-tailored ESOP transition plans. Beyond the technical components, he brings expertise in the human, or cultural component that makes an ESOP thrive. He is a certified coach with the International Coach Federation, a skilled communicator and facilitator, and is known for building high-trust relationships with business owners and employees.

Dan also provides post-ESOP coaching programs to ensure long-term sustainability, success, and happiness.

We are working to put together the 2021 speaker line-up

We are working to put together the 2021 speaker line-up