Message from our CEO

So much of success can be attributed to leaders taking ownership of GETTING THE RIGHT PEOPLE focused on THE RIGHT THINGS. It sounds so simple. Pulling it off, however, touches all aspects of business and requires a dispassionate view of your people, performance, position, competition, customer sentiment and macro environment. It also requires strong systems to bolster a “trust but verify” approach as complexity and scale grow. Where we stumbled and excelled in 2023 can be traced, in part, to this.

Ken Rotman, CEO and Managing Director of Clairvest

We live in challenging times both politically and financially. Many countries and institutions that historically have provided leadership and stability have been absent.

Through all of this uncertainty, what we need more than ever is leadership focused on optimism and bringing people, culture and religion together.

Our north star at Clairvest has always been and will remain on seeking long-term partnerships with aligned entrepreneurs working towards a common goal. Our partners come from a myriad of backgrounds with different views of the world. They are optimistic people who work hard, lift up their communities, give back and recognize that merit dictates opportunity. At Clairvest, we strive to mirror these attributes.

It is easy to be pessimistic, more so from going online or watching the news. However, it is more productive to remain optimistic and focus on what we can control and all that can bring people together.

Michael Wagman
President and Managing Director of Clairvest

Whole societal movements boil down to the actions or the inactions of the individual. While each of us would probably rather not believe this because of the serious implications it carries or want to take responsibility for the bigger issues in the world around us, this is a mistake and an abdication of our responsibility.  As influential and accomplished leaders, we must call out actions, beliefs, and values that we do not agree with. Often reasonable smart people remain silent because of self-preservation, general incredulousness about what is happening, or just waiting and hoping for the next person to speak up. These moments accumulate and not only make us weaker and a little smaller each time we are quiet but contribute to the overall moral decline and confusion we see around us in our society.  It is past due to put the fear of offending others to the side and be honest and loud about your own convictions.

Michael Skolnick
Co-Founder & CEO, Abra Health

One of my most important mentors told me, “When moving into a senior leadership role, spend your time on the things only you can do.”  In transitioning from the role of a COO to a CEO, I found myself wanting to dive into the internal operations of the company, a role I know well and have executed at a high level.  I quickly realized this is not the best use of my time and no longer my primary role.  It is much more important for me to focus my time on developing strategic level guidance and external relationships that facilitate growth.  Do the things only you can do and trust the team you have built to execute your vision.

Joe Paull
CEO, NexTech Solutions

There’s a time to buy, a time to grow, and a time to sell. Whether the moment is right for you to do any of these things depends on the company involved, the general economy, the availability of debt, but also on the circumstances inside your own team. The latter should be taken into serious consideration as part of the whole analysis.

One more thought: low leverage equates to staying power. Staying power is one of the most important ingredients for a successful investment outcome. That lesson was learned again this year when interest rates went from historically low levels to what is only about average in the long run.

G. John Krediet
Founder, Sparkling Spring Water, Director of Clairvest & Top Aces

Over the last year, I have been reminded over and over that the principles of leadership do not change with circumstance. If anything, as circumstances change you must be even more committed to those principles. To me, those principles are purpose, people, processes, patience, and persistence. In that order. If followed, everything works out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out, it isn’t the end.

Steve DeLong
Founder & Co-CEO, Bluetree Dental

Preparing for your own leadership succession will help you make decisions and build your team. When looking back on your career in leadership, the most appropriate way to evaluate your effectiveness and strength as a leader will be to look at the team you transitioned to and how the company was set up to thrive in your absence.

Lee Rogers
CEO, Acera Insurance

There were two notable lessons learned in 2023. Firstly, organizations must be adaptable. Leaders must foster a company that is resilient and embraces change. Secondly, it is critical to maintain a customer-centric focus. It is important that at all levels of the organization and all team members understand your customer needs and build strong partnerships with clients.

Val Adia
CEO, Boca Biolistics

There were two key lessons learned this year. First, is how we react to conflict – fight or flight? We all win contracts, and we all lose contracts. Losing is tough. So: fight or flight? We have a choice to move on, but occasionally the product you offer is truly what the customer needs. In this case, fight, and fight like hell.

Second, you are only as good as your next crisis. Post-COVID, crisis-fighting fatigue is a real thing, and although you won’t be ready for it, the next crisis will come. Pull up your socks and lead. It is what your employees and shareholders value most.

Chris Reynolds
President, Air Tindi

The continuing economic uncertainty has resulted in very challenging times, along with the opportunity for many learnings and the demonstration of the true character of companies and individuals. One of Clairvest’s core values is Integrity which includes facing challenges head on, honouring our commitments and doing the right thing. In the last year, our guiding principle around Integrity has assisted in managing through to better outcomes. My lesson is that having core values and living by them, in good times and bad, is a key to long term success.

Jeff Parr
Vice Chairman of Clairvest

As always, cash is king when it is difficult to borrow money, so it is important to have reserves and not be overleveraged.

Jeff Gural
CEO, Meadowlands Racetrack

Building a world class production facility and a growing senior leadership team created a unique set of challenges. Keys to our success this year were building a high level of trust within the team, a continued focus on clear communication, setting goals/targets that were achievable yet challenging, and on a personal level, learning to effectively delegate and focus on self-awareness.

Sean Fleming
CEO & Founder, Brunswick Bierworks

As effective as the Clairvest team is at finding and executing transactions, the efforts to work with management to improve operations and build value for customers, employees and investors can be even more important.

Bill Morneau
Director of Clairvest, Chairman of NovaSource

My lesson learned for the year is if an executive can only spend her or his time on one thing, it is the following: spend your time putting top talent in key roles. From my own experience, I have watched the positive impact of putting a very talented executive in a key role – problems seem to evaporate, planning improves, employees are happier and results invariably improve dramatically. I have also made the mistake of leaving very dedicated, hardworking executives in key roles when they are no longer capable of managing the complexity within their organizations and suffered the negative consequences. In the end, it is people leading people inside our organizations, so it stands to reason that having top talent in the key leadership roles is what will lead an organization to success!

Paul Bouchard
President & CEO, Top Aces

You can grow and build scale all while staying true to the values of the company. It is key that all leaders align to those values.

Alex Webb
CEO & Founder, F12

The past year has reinforced the value of maintaining investment discipline. Clairvest is very well positioned today…with available capital to deal with challenges in portfolio companies and to participate in new growth opportunities. I believe that Clairvest will emerge stronger than ever and will continue to create value over the long term.


Michael Bregman
Chairman of Clairvest

Everyone likes big wins, but they are infrequent. Seek smaller, continual improvements. The facility at Delaware Park Casino was unchanged for many years before the current ownership. Many people were not able to see what this team, the board and investors envisioned. But the property could not be transformed overnight. We’ve continued to improve the property section by section and it was certainly worth the wait. Our guests get to see something new every time they visit the property. We will continue to improve the guest experience in the coming years.

Terry Glebocki
President & General Manager, Delaware Park

With the continued high levels of change and uncertainty in the business environment, I am struck by how the premium on strategic agility has continued to grow. Organizations are challenged to better integrate strategy formulation and execution to allow for continuous learning and adaptation. As a new Board member, I have been impressed by the strong learning culture at Clairvest and how the firm’s professionals distinguish themselves by both formulating investment opportunities and then actively supporting execution at the portfolio companies.

Peter Zemsky
Director of Clairvest

Whilst ambition is always to be encouraged, too much ambition can lead you to trying to deliver too much, create too much complexity in the business or to divert too far away from the business’s core purpose/unique selling proposition. Lesson learned is to keep focused on the few things that will make the most difference to customers and business performance, deliver them, then move on to the next.

Adam Smith
CEO, FSB Technology