Gabriel Pizza honoured at inaugural CAFE Ottawa gala

Tom Pechloff
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Gabriel Pizza is the 2016 recipient of CAFE Ottawa’s Family Enterprise of the Year Award.

CAFE Ottawa president Danielle Walsh (left) with members of the Hanna family. Their family run business, Gabriel Pizza, is CAFE Ottawa's 2016 Family Enterprise of the Year Award winner.

The Ottawa chapter of the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise handed out the award during a gala dinner Saturday night at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier.

The sold-out inaugural event drew almost 200 people representing a range of businesses from restaurants to car dealers. CAFE Ottawa president Danielle Walsh said she hopes “The Arnie Vered Dinner: Honouring Families in Business” becomes an annual event.

Ms. Walsh said her group had been thinking about organizing a dinner for quite some time and was inspired by the success of a similar event run by CAFE’s Halifax chapter. Its annual dinner attracted 60 people in its first year and now boasts an attendance of more than 600 for its lobster meal.

“Ottawa, we’re much bigger,” said Ms. Walsh. “We should be able to achieve something similar if we slowly start and if we find the right person to build that event around.”

Mr. Vered was that person, she said, because he was always a strong supporter of CAFE Ottawa.

Mr. Vered, who was president of Arnon Corporation, a family-run property development firm, died in 2014 after a 16-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

“We just kind of thought that he was someone that everybody knows and everybody loved because he was so philanthropic, and so it’s hard to find somebody better suited than that,” Ms. Walsh said.

The evening also featured a fireside chat with Minto Group chair Roger Greenberg, who knows a thing or two about running a family business. His uncle, Irving Greenberg, founded Minto in 1955. Roger started working there in 1985 and took over as CEO six years later.

Mr. Greenberg took questions from the audience and spoke about the importance of communication, professionalizing the family business and having governance structures.

CAFE Canada was founded in 1983 and now has 13 chapters from coast to coast. John Pigott of Morris Lamothe founded the Ottawa chapter in 1987.

Ms. Walsh said CAFE members get the most value out of the organization’s personal advisory groups, in which anywhere from four to 10 or more people are brought together to share all the issues that may be unique to family-run businesses.

“They get to share that so it’s nice, because it’s not everybody that understands what it’s like to work with family or how to do things,” she said, adding that members are not grouped with their competition, allowing them opportunities to really open up.

“They really share everything because it’s family business. It goes from the extreme personal to the extreme business-related,” said Ms. Walsh, who runs Walsh Family Business Advisory Services.

On the heels of the dinner’s successful debut, Ms. Walsh said she hopes the event can attract 300 people next year. She is also considering two guest speakers so there can be a local representative as well as someone speaking about issues on a more national scale.

Meanwhile, Gabriel Pizza will advance to the national level, where a winner will be announced at CAFE Canada’s National Symposium, to be held May 17 in Calgary.

Organizations: Canadian Association of Family Enterprise, Minto Group, Arnon Corporation Walsh Family Business Advisory Services CAFE Canada

Geographic location: Ottawa, Halifax, Canada Calgary

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