2014/2015 Canada China Business Excellence Awards

 

 

As a membership organization devoted to helping our members achieve bilateral business success, CCBC is well placed to highlight and celebrate our members’ success stories. We often see Canadian companies being hesitant about China, because they think they will fail. They hear stories about corruption, intellectual property theft, and financial losses and think those are inevitable. They are not. Surveys show that the majority of foreign companies operating in China are profitable. The most recent survey of Canadian Businesses in China, published by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, shows that nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents have recorded profits in the last year, and another one quarter are breaking even. While 64% is lower than the results in countries like the US and Germany, many Canadian companies are recent entrants to China. Of Canadian firms who have operated in China for more than 10 years, 81% are profitable, and this aligns with the data from other countries.

 

The best way to counter the fears of Canadian companies is to show them a broad range of examples of success. The 2014 Canada China Business Excellence Awards celebrated these successes in five categories. It is always a pleasure to read the applications, which describe how China plays a role in the profitability, growth, and internationalization of our members, in both directions. The awards look back on proven success, completed projects, new offices opened, and strategies realized. The five award categories are: Exceptional SME, Education Excellence, Chinese Investment in Canada, Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services, and Outstanding Member.

 

The CCBC received a total of 36 nominations for the five award categories. An independent panel of judges drawn from industry and academia chose 15 finalists from seven provinces and territories. In late November, three awards were presented in each category.  Read on for some of the stories we are most keen to share.

 

We would like to extend a special thank you to HSBC Canada for being the National Sponsor of the 2014 Awards.

 

HSBC

 

 

 

 

I. Exceptional SME Award:

Presented to a small and medium-sized enterprise that best exemplifies the innovative inclusion of China in the company’s growth and overall business strategy. The successful implementation of such initiative has significantly improved the company’s competitive edge and financial performance.

 

 

Phase Separation Solutions


JV by Préfontaine Exportation Inc. and Dongguan Laurentide Paint Co. Ltd.

2

MedMira Inc.

3

 

 

 1st place

Award 1Phase Separation Solutions -Paul Antel

From left to right: Peter Harder, CCBC President; Paul Antle, Phase Separation Solutions; FANG Li, Former Consul General of the PRC in Toronto

 

With the majority of CCBC members being small and medium-sized enterprises, and the challenges for SMEs being greater than they may be for large firms, the accomplishments of our winners in the Exceptional SME category are examples for others to follow. The winning firm, Phase Separation Solutions (PS2), is a great growth story linked to China’s five-year plan, and involves not only China market entry, but also investment from China to support expansion in the market.

Newfoundland-based PS2 uses patented technology for indirect thermal soil remediation.  In 2010, 100 per cent of its revenues were in Canada, and by 2013 PS2 derived 90% of its revenues from China. That shift required navigating the “complex entry into the vast and rapidly-evolving Chinese environmental market.” It included establishment of a WOFE subsidiary, signing several Cooperation Agreements and Joint Ventures, and “creating the impetus for a Private Placement of CAD$7 million from its Chinese partner, Jereh Energy Services, into its publicly-traded Canadian parent company, West Mountain Environmental.”

Instrumental to its success was the use of the Canadian government’s Trade Commissioner Service and diplomatic relationships and Export Development Canada. PS2 also recognized the value that China places on academic institutions, so it approached the Nanjing Institute of Environmental Science and nurtured a relationship that provided it with credibility, connections, and funding for its first commercial remediation site in China within twelve months of signing an agreement. The awards judges felt that PS2’s story is a “how-to-guide” for cleantech SME’s to avoid obstacles.

 

2nd place

Award 2Prefontaine Gerry JV

From left to right: The Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien; Gerry Prefontaine, Prefontaine Exportation Inc.

 

The second-place award in the SME category also has an environmental angle.   Quebec-based Préfontaine Exportation Inc. and Dongguan Laurentide Paint Co. Ltd. established a joint venture to import and distribute eco-friendly paint products in China. Under its own brand name, “Laurentide,” it began distributing products through both Laurentide stores and chains like B&Q, Homello Decoration, and Red Star Macalline, and it plans to open 100 Laurentide stores within three years..     The JV sees the increasing demand for environmentally friendly products and provides paint with fewer odors and no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). It is investing in the well established Laurentide paint brand (with 60+ years of Quebec experience) and leveraging the power of “Made in Canada,” which the market associates with purity and safety. The JV overcame significant hurdles in product certification and changes to China’s environmental laws and opened its first retail store in Dongguan in 2014. Préfontaine’s nomination was recognized for its clear articulation of the barriers and challenges, and how the company overcame them.

 

3rd place

Award 3MedMira Hermes Chan MedMira

From left to right: Hermes Chan, MedMira Inc.; The Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien

SMEs often face challenges in finding the right partner. After working closely with the Trade Commissioner Service to identify and evaluate distributors, Halifax-based life sciences company MedMira determined that as a foreign company it needed to team up with an established sales and distribution partner in China. A global strategic partner program established by MedMira in 2009 was quickly applied to China, resulting in a strategic partnership with a major player in China’s diagnostic sector, Triplex International Biosciences. This partnership has been successful, and MedMira was able to leverage healthcare systems reforms that allowed its rapid HIV test to be re-classified as a medical device, versus its previous classification as a pharmaceutical.   MedMira has become a well-recognized player in China with one of the top-ranking rapid HIV tests on the market, enabling growth in the in vitro diagnostics market and future expansion of its product offerings.

 

 

 

 

II. Education Excellence Award:

Recognizing outstanding achievement in delivering China-related growth in areas including research partnerships, recruitment, student/faculty exchanges, alumni relations, institution linkages, executive training, and provision of Canadian curriculum.

 

Ivey Business School

1 (tie)

Simon Fraser University

1 (tie)

Queen's School of Business

2

 

 

Education is one of Canada’s primary service exports, contributing billions of dollars to the Canadian economy. This year judges determined a first-place tie between a school with a  long-established China agenda (Ivey Business School at Western University) and one with a new and innovative program (Simon Fraser University).

 

1st place (tie)

Award 4Ivey Business School -John Irwin

From left to right: The Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien; John Irwin, Ivey Business School/Ivey Asia

 

Ivey Business School runs undergraduate, graduate, and Executive Education business programs in Canada and China. Ivey was nominated for expanding Canada’s relationship with China through education, research, alumni relations, and student/faculty exchanges. Its physical presence in China, cross-cultural nature of training, and overall volume, activity, longevity, and durability were the elements that impressed the judging panel the most. The work it has done to develop demand for its case studies, and the executive programs it has run for the Agricultural Bank of China and China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation, all figured prominently in its nomination. The judges felt that Ivey is well ahead of most schools in terms of volume, activity, longevity, and durability of the assets or new initiatives.

 

1st place (tie)

Award 5SFU- Yuezhi Zhao

From left to right: Peter Harder, CCBC President; YU Benlin, Embassy of China in Canada; ZHAO Yuezhi, Simon Fraser University

 

Simon Fraser University’s nomination featured a unique dual-degree M.A. program in Global Communications in partnership with the Communication University of China (CUC) in Beijing. Unlike most universities, the dual degree (versus joint program) and nature of the Communications discipline set SFU’s offering apart.  Communications is a difficult, highly controlled field in China that is dominated by the state.  The SFU-CUC dual degree program focuses on news and media and involves both practical work experience and exchange study, creating a program that shows creativity, clear insight, and great strategy.

 

2nd place

Award 6Queen's Uni

From left to right: Peter Harder, CCBC President; Dr. Wei WANG, Queen's University; YU Benlin, Embassy of China in Canada

 

The third finalist in the education category, Queen’s School of Business, also demonstrated a breadth of programs to train students, including the new Queen’s Master of Finance in Beijing. Building on the success of Queen’s Toronto-based Master of Finance, the Beijing-based program is offered in partnership with Renmin University's Hanqing Advanced Institute of Economics and Finance. Classes are taught in English by outstanding faculty from both schools. Students earn a Queen's Master of Finance degree in one year, while they continue to work. Renmin is one of the most prestigious universities in China, and has produced many influential figures in China's reform and development. With the support of the Chinese and Canadian governments, the new program was created to foster growing relations, co-operation and shared knowledge between the two countries.

 

 

III. Chinese Investment in Canada Award:

Presented to an organization that has demonstrated ingenuity, success, leadership, and commitment involving inbound investment from China, contributing to bilateral economic growth and to the company’s international success.

 

 

Century Iron Mines Corporation

1

Siwin Foods Ltd.

2

Selwyn Chihong Mining Ltd.

3

 

 

1st place

Award 7Centrury Iron - Sandy Chim (Century Iron)

From left to right: The Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien; Sandy Chim, Century Iron Mines Corp.

 

Our Chinese Investment in Canada category was expanded in 2014 to include Canadian firms that benefitted from significant Chinese investment. The winner in this category, Century Iron Mines, a TSX-listed firm with iron ore projects in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, integrated C$130 million in investment from WISCO International Resources Development and Investment Ltd. and China Minmetals Exploration and Development, two Global Fortune 500 SOEs. The judges were impressed with the growth that this investment spurred, as well as team integration and sustainability activities with its Chinese partners.   The agreements with and investment from these two Chinese SOEs will make Canada a viable source of iron ore supply to China, easing the current market concentration from other countries.   A 60% off-take agreement with WISCO helps “secure Century’s customer base, safeguard future revenue streams from the Chinese market and increase Canadian supply in the global market.”

 

The other two finalists, Siwin Foods Ltd. and Selwyn Chihong Mining Ltd. (SCML) represent examples of Chinese companies who have established subsidiaries in Canada.

 

2nd place

Award 8Siwin Foods Qiang Lin

From left to right: The Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien; Qiang Lin, Siwin Foods Ltd.

 

Siwin is a subsidiary of Xiwang Foods Co Ltd, with a newly-established food processing business in Canada. It has committed to Canada via a new state-of-the-art production Facility in Edmonton. Siwin’s commitment to producing high quality foods with the best in Asian flavors   lead to the winning of a major Alberta award for best value-added pork product.

 

3rd place

Award 9SCML Richard LI (Selwyn Chihong Mining Inc) + Fang Li (Consulate General of the PRC to Toronto)

From left to right: Peter Harder, CCBC President; Richard Li, SCML; Fang Li, Consulate General of the PRC in Toronto

 

Selwyn Chihong Mining Ltd. (Selwyn Chihong) owns and operates the Selwyn Project and is the Canadian subsidiary of Yunnan Chihong Zinc & Co.,Ltd. Selwyn Chihong is committed to develop the Selwyn Project with high standards of social, economic and environmental performance, and build long-term relationship with local First Nation communities and all stakeholders.

 

 

IV. Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services Award: 

Presented to an organization in the professional, scientific, and technical service sectors that can demonstrate successful inclusion of China in the company’s growth and its overall business strategy.

 

Hill & Knowlton Strategies

1

CSA Group

2

Gowlings

3

 

 

1st place

Award 10Hill+Knowlton Strategies - Elizabeth Roscoe

From left to right: The Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien; Elizabeth Roscoe, Hill + Knowlton Strategies

In the Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services Award category, the winning entry, by Hill+Knowlton Strategies (H+K), also involved Chinese investment in Canada. H+K put together a global team that led China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) through the successful approval of its $13-billion acquisition of Nexen Energy—the largest overseas Chinese investment in history. The judges felt that the Nexen deal was the biggest accomplishment in bilateral economic relations of the last decade. This project required trust, excellence and knowledge. It was seen as a unique accomplishment that will have a major impact on Canada. H+K Canada led a multilingual, multi-stakeholder endeavor with the firm’s top government relations and public relations strategists from three countries, activating its global network to “collaborate with cross-border colleagues in new and exciting ways.” The transaction also transformed H+K’s approach to and perception of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), creating “SOE governance considerations, their business imperatives and their global footprint.” The acquisition initiated national debate on a broad series of sensitive and complex issues such as economic nationalism and foreign direct investment—resulting in worldwide recognition for the firm. H+K acknowledged the “crucial role that CCBC plays in developing these important bilateral relations” and highlighted CNOOC’s involvement in CCBC as an important element of the communication around the transaction.

 

 2nd place

Award 11CSA Group RJ Falconi CSA Group

From left to right: The Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien; RJ Falconi, CSA Group

 

CSA Group is a leading standards development organization and a global provider of testing and certification services, also providing consumer product evaluation, education and training services. CSA Group established multiple offices in China in the past two decades to certify and test products bound for the North American market. As China’s manufacturing exports have moved up the value chain, CSA Group has been able to leverage the growth in high-value exports through its significant local presence. Its focus on teams run by local management, ability to help Chinese companies meet relevant national and global standards before their products are shipped, technical expertise and timely delivery allow it to succeed in a highly competitive environment. In addition, CSA Group has been recognized for the role its plays in helping to reduce counterfeiting and IP theft.

 

3rd place

Award 12Gowlings Stephen Pike (Gowlings)

From left to right: The Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien; Stephen Pike, Gowlings

 

The third finalist was Gowlings, a leading international law firm, with over 700 legal professionals serving clients in 10 offices across Canada and around the world. The firm was nominated for the continued success and growth of its China and East Asia Initiative. It demonstrated how establishment of an office in Beijing allowed it to grow its work with large, sate-owned enterprises, private companies, government agencies, and individuals. The local presence allowed Gowlings to be closer to its Chinese clients, with increased language capability, cultural sensitivity, and same-time-zone service.

 

 

V. Outstanding Member Award:

Presented to a CCBC member organization, irrespective of size or industry, which has had high profile and successful business initiatives or projects in the last two years.

 

Teck Resources Ltd.

1

Vancouver Economic Commission

2

Air China

3

 

 

All three finalists in the Outstanding Member category were from Vancouver.

 

1st place

Award 13Teck Resources- Ralph Lutes

From left to right: The Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien; Ralph Lutes,Teck Resources; Peter Kruyt, CCBC Chairman

 

The winner in the Outstanding Member category was Teck Resources Ltd., Canada’s largest diversified mining company. Since 2012, China has been Teck’s largest market by revenue. Teck was nominated for combining commercial success in China with a series of innovative research and relationship-building initiatives. The judges saw these initiatives as going beyond business as usual and clearly differentiating both Teck and Canada. Teck’s efforts in China include “advancing projects that extend well beyond what many may consider the natural course of business for a natural resource company.”

A major investment by the China Investment Corporation in 2009 made CIC the single largest shareholder in Teck and has created a partnership that has helped the company develop business in China, both directly and indirectly. Teck also has innovative initiatives that allow it to better understand and contribute to the future of its largest market. A three-year research and collaboration relationship with the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (Central Party School) has allowed Teck to “share best practices in areas including sustainable mining, environmental stewardship, safety and community engagement.” Through this relationship, Teck gains access to the Party School’s insights into “China’s economy, political system and public policy developments.”

As one of the worlds’ largest producers of zinc, Teck initiated a research agreement with the National Agricultural Technology Extension Service Center of the Ministry of Agriculture of China. The work has been able to demonstrate “that zinc-contained fertilizers increased crop yields by 8% to 20%, increased zinc content in grains by 20% to 40% and increased economic returns for farmers.”   The project resulted in fertilizers with zinc being officially recommended in national guidelines, creating increased demand for the mineral and providing “new and innovative ways to increase food security, open new markets and help improve nutrition.”

 

2nd place

Award 14VEC Ian McKay (VEC)

From left to right: The Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien; Ian McKay, VEC

 

The Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC), which is the City of Vancouver’s economic development agency, was nominated for organizing the largest-ever Vancouver-led Business and Cultural Mission to China in 2013. The organization of, and the result from, this major mission should serve as a model for other jurisdictions. VEC differentiated itself by solidifying its expertise of Vancouver’s key business sectors, extensive connections with influential Chinese government and business stakeholders, expertise of Chinese culture, and a strong capacity for guanxi Many MOUs were signed as a result of the meetings organized for delegates on the mission. The mission also attracted much social media attention, including 3.8 million hits on Mayor Robertson’s Weibo account. A one-hour live social media chat where the mayor took Q&A on investment, immigration, and life in Vancouver resulted in one million user clicks. Following the mission, VEC restructured by establishing the “Asia Pacific Centre” and incorporating stronger relationships with China into VEC’s business model.

 

3rd place

From left to right: The Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien, Junhong XU, Air China

 

Air China Ltd. is the national flag carrier of the People’s Republic of China. Air China’s nomination recognizes the significant investment of capital and resources dedicated to the expansion of bilateral business relationships. The judges were particularly impressed by Air China’s corporate citizenship. Air China has increased the infrastructure available to the bilateral business community and has innovated its products and services to “anticipate and meet the future needs” with simplified processes and improved traveler experiences. In addition, it has engaged in a variety of mainstream business associations and initiatives in Canada, which CCBC often advises Chinese companies is necessary in order to be fully accepted as a Canadian company.

 

CCBC hopes that its readers will find inspiration in the success stories of our award winners and looks forward to launching the next installment of our bilateral awards process in early 2016, generating even more examples of successful bilateral business.

 

Photography: © Eric Yip, Toronto Media House 2015