July 3, 2013
A serial entrepreneur was named tops in the province by the Faculty of Business Administration recently.
Patrick O’Callaghan, president and CEO of East Coast Catering in St. John’s, was named the 2013 Gardiner Centre Newfoundland and Labrador Entrepreneur of the Year at the annual Partners Celebration on June 27 at the Johnson GEO CENTRE.
“What a huge honour it is to receive this award from Memorial,” O’Callaghan said at the event. “The 2013 Gardiner Centre award is, in my mind, a testament to 40 years of hard work [and] some hard times but mostly a wonderful life in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Mr. O’Callaghan began his career in the hotel industry in the 1960s after emigrating from Ireland at the age of 23. Holding a diploma in hotel management, Mr. O’Callaghan became general manager of the then-Hotel Newfoundland within eight years.
In 1984, Mr. O’Callaghan started East Coast Catering to meet the rising demand for catering services in the offshore oil industry and later, remote mining and construction camps across Canada. Today, the company services markets in Labrador, Western Canada and Ireland.
In 1999, East Coast Catering became the first company to establish a limited partnership with the Innu Development Limited Partnership to provide catering services to Voisey’s Bay. This partnership continues to grow and has expanded to include three other major mining operations in Labrador. Under Mr. O’Callaghan’s leadership, the company remains committed to training and employing aboriginal people and currently, 97 per cent of Labrador Catering’s employees are aboriginal.
Mr. O'Callaghan has focused on his employees throughout his career, supporting diverse hiring practices and providing training, education and resources to foster a workforce of long-term employees and promote hiring from within.
“All of this would never have happened without the ECC team,” he said. “I may have the ideas but it’s the others who actually make them work … This award is as much – and more – about them as it is about me.”
The Entrepreneur of the Year Award wasn’t the only honour of the night.
David Kelly, a graduate of the commerce class of 1968, was this year’s recipient of the Alumni Honour Award.
Known as an expert in cash logistic services, Mr. Kelly has served as owner or investor in number of technology companies dedicated to the cash processing and cash-in-transport service segment over the past 18 years.
During the 1990s, Mr. Kelly developed a software services business called Vault Master, which supplied hardware, software and 24-7 operational support to cash management service providers across North America and the Caribbean. Under his direction, this software evolved into the solution of choice for North America’s large cash logistic service providers.
Mr. Kelly sold Vault Master in the mid-2000s and was immediately engaged by the purchaser, Carreker Inc. of Dallas, where his focus shifted toward implementing a restructured cash supply system for Australia. Working with three major Australian banks and three armored carrier service providers, his expertise helped launch the cash logistics business of Cash Service Australia Pty. Limited, which acts as the consolidated purchasing arm of the banks’ cash supply management chain.
Following a 35-year career in the Canadian technology industry, Mr. Kelly financed and framed the money laundering detection issue that led to the creation of St. John’s-based Verafin Inc. in 2003, which has flourished in the Canadian credit union sector and the small banking and savings and loans sector in the United States.
Brendan Brothers, senior technical sales director and co-founder of Verafin, accepted the award on Mr. Kelly’s behalf and noted that Mr. Kelly’s willingness to work with a group of students to start the business was crucial.
“Everybody at some point in time makes the decision to help somebody or aid somebody,” Mr. Brothers said. “The fact that he made that decision to help us to me is really quite something. I’m really glad that Dave is part of our story.”
In videotaped remarks provided for the ceremony, Mr. Kelly issued a challenge to his fellow business alumni.
“We as alumni are an untapped wealth of knowledge and experience and we need to step up to the plate. We need to become engaged in order to give our graduates a competitive edge in this global market,” he said. “Access to your time and the excitement that you bring is what we’re asking for … I’ve enjoyed a very remarkable success here at the university with a small nudge that I gave to some students, and it’s been extremely satisfying. I would ask that you pick up on that challenge.”
Partners is the Faculty of Business Administration’s annual celebration that brings together members of the faculty and business community as well as students and alumni to pay tribute to those who have achieved excellence in business while using their skills and expertise to contribute to their peers and communities.
“This is an important event in the annual life of the Faculty of Business Administration, where we recognize that what we do. we do it in partnership with others,” said Dr. Wilfred Zerbe, dean. “We do it with the support of individuals and groups and organizations that allow us to do so much more than we could otherwise.
“Tonight we celebrate our common efforts and achievements and also honour the particular contributions of some individuals who stand out as worthy of special recognition,” he added. “And even as we name some individuals, there are many that we do not name whose support is critical to our success and without whom achieving our mission would be much more difficult.”
Special guests at the Partners Celebration included members of the faculty’s Advisory Board and Associates Program as well as Dr. Cecilia Reynolds, deputy provost of students at Memorial University and Dan Crummell, MHA for St. John’s West and parliamentary secretary for the minister of Advanced Education and Skills.