David Ross named Ottawa’s CEO of the Year

Three years ago, when Ross Video purchased a Florida-based sports production firm, CEO David Ross made a bold prediction.

 “We’re just getting started,” he told OBJ in 2013.

It was an ambitious outlook for a 39-year-old family business that had already snapped up seven other companies in four years.

But true to his word, Mr. Ross was just warming up.

The company, which designs and manufactures equipment for live events and video productions, subsequently continued its acquisition streak, played a central role in the production of some of the most-watched live broadcasts on the planet such as the Super Bowl and even won an Emmy.

Along the way, Ross Video hired dozens of new staff members, growing its headcount to some 640 employees, and maintained an average growth rate of 18 per cent. Its revenues are now approaching the $200-million mark.

In honour of his business achievements and community involvement, Mr. Ross has been named the Ottawa Business Journal-Ottawa Chamber of Commerce 2016 CEO of the Year and will be honoured at the Best Ottawa Business Awards (BOBs) gala at the Westin Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 10.

“It’s not easy in technology to have a company survive as an independent business for 42 years,” said Mr. Ross, who was named the firm’s chief executive in 2006. “The accomplishments of Ross Video wouldn’t have happened without a fantastic senior management team over many years, the entire management team that kept the wheels on as we continually evolved and grew, and employees getting the work done and continually going above and beyond.”

The CEO of the Year award is a joint initiative of the Ottawa Business Journal and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce. Past recipients include Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group CEO Bernie Ashe, Minto’s Roger Greenberg, Halogen Software’s Paul Loucks and Ron Zambonini of Cognos.

“We are thrilled to recognize and honour David Ross for his vision, passion and leadership,” said Ian Faris, president and CEO of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce. “He has elevated Ross Video to new heights, not only expanding across the globe but also revolutionizing the industry with new inventions and innovations. He’s a remarkable global ambassador for Ottawa.”

“Ross Video is one of those remarkably successful companies in Ottawa that somehow are not a household name,” OBJ publisher Michael Curran said. “Believe me, they should be. And this award should help to bring them even more into the spotlight.”

Mr. Ross started to dabble in programming in the early days of personal computers in 1975 at the age of nine. While in high school, he won three national engineering competitions involving real-time programming and computer graphics.

He worked at Ross Video during university while completing his computer engineering degree and eventually joined the firm full-time in 1991.

Staying current with the rapidly evolving television and broadcast industry has been one of the keys to the company’s success.

“We’ve seen transitions from analog TV, to digital, to HD, and now 4K and other new technologies,” Mr. Ross said. “Related to that, we’ve also had to add completely new types of expertise and business models like robotics, web, cloud, services, consulting and even becoming a producer of TV shows.

“In technology it’s often grow or die, and keeping the pace up has been a big challenge.”

Outside the office, Ross Video supports several charities and food banks, including raising more than $100,000 for the United Way. The company also supports science fairs, robotics competitions and other educational initiatives.

Mr. Ross sits on the board of Invest Ottawa, where he helps to promote the nation’s capital as a business destination.

“The ecosystem of firms from consultants, banking, legal, accounting, and supply chain makes Ottawa hard to beat,” he said.

Tickets for the gala honouring Mr. Ross can be purchased online here.

The BOBs will also celebrate the city’s top business performers in more than a half-dozen categories and recognize the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, who will be announced in the coming days.