The danger in this business, which is very broad, is "to spread out and pretend to be something you're not. And in all the roles I've had, it's been to clarify what the mandate is and to focus on that. That's allowed us to be pretty successful."
With two young children and a third on the way, Mr. Smith devotes spare time to the board of the Investment Dealers Association as well as the board of the Toronto Zoo Foundation.
His involvement with the zoo stems from a strong sense of place -- "I could have worked in New York, but didn't really want to," he says -- and real affection for the city where he grew up. "I'm very passionate about Toronto and its neighbourhoods and things that make Toronto different and interesting, like the zoo, which is a world class organization."
To that end, he takes on more than many Torontonians do and certainly more than many bankers, organizing his neighbours to clean up litter and paint over graffiti.
"Nothing drives me crazier than garbage and graffiti. I just put up placards and did a mail drop and got people of like mind to come out and clean up the ravines and encourage a stewardship program," he says. "That's your park, that's your alley, that's your ravine. If you see something, pick it up. Don't just assume someone else will do it."
C.J. Lovett Lewis, 38 President, Cansel Survey Equipment Ltd. Burnaby, B.C.
BY SALEM ALATON
Sales through the Internet? Not really. Out to conquer the U.S. market? No need. Snazzy personal transportation? Prefers tramping in the bush.
C.J. Lovett Lewis never did set out to be an executive entrepreneur, and he's still not much like most others of that breed. Nonetheless, sales more than tripled to more than $50-million at Cansel Survey Equipment within three years of Mr. Lewis buying in 2002 the firm he had joined as a sales rep a decade earlier.
"I started in sales with what I'd say is a typical engineer's output," says Mr. Lewis, who holds a graduate degree in geodesy and global positioning systems from the University of New Brunswick in his boyhood province. "People bought products when they needed products. I wasn't sure how I was going to influence that."
He found out, increasing Cansel's sales of emergent GPS technology tenfold in his first year, employing both his passion for surveying -- sparked at age 15 when his parents had a property survey done and Mr. Lewis was riveted by the process -- and a customer-centred approach low on the usual hustle.
"At the end of the day, if it's not to be, let's not waste each other's time," he says of his sales philosophy.
Simple enough, and it seems to work.
"Our expectations for the next three years is continuous growth at 25 to 30 per cent, kind of like what we've been experiencing the last four years or so."
It hasn't hurt that such traditional client sectors for surveying services as construction, forestry, mining and municipal-infrastructure development have been robust. The technology boom in GPS has also kept the flow of innovations high. In addition to selling the equipment, Cansel services and repairs it and offers professional data packages for surveying firms.
The technology may be cutting edge, but the sales -- half of them to companies with five employees or fewer -- are old school.
"A lot of the customers who buy our products are changing their business," Mr. Lewis says. "They want to see it, touch it, feel it out. The level of acceptance has been much lower than we would have expected for using the Internet to purchase our products."
Moreover, the surveying business is too different in the U.S. to bother with for now, says Mr. Lewis, who sees more potential in Canada than the sector can handle.
Keith Mullet, 35 Managing director of European operations, CHC Helicopter Corp., Vancouver
BY LISA STEPHENS
The guy who keeps the world's largest helicopter fleet flying throughout Europe concedes he doesn't have a pilot's license. Keith Mullet says he's never actually had the time -- he's been too busy building one of Canada's great international success stories on the ground.