Our Team

RICK EKSTEIN

President & CEO

Rick launched Phaze 3 in 2016, after stepping down, as President, at Weston Forest.

Rick’s father began buying shares of the small lumber yard he worked at, and when Rick joined the company in 1978, he and his father bought out the remaining share holders. Under Rick’s direction and guidance Weston has grown to become one of North America’s leading full service distributors and remanufacturers of softwood and hardwood lumber and specialty panel products. Weston quickly grew to operate in more than 40 countries on five continents.

On three separate occasions, Weston was named “One of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Private Companies.” In 2015 and 2016, it was named "One of Canada’s fastest growing companies." Most recently, Weston was recognized as having “One of the 10 Best Corporate Cultures in Canada.” A key force behind these successes is Rick’s personal commitment to giving people the opportunity and tools to succeed, then mentoring them until they reach their potential. He takes pride in the growth and success of the people he has had the privilege of working and partnering with.

Rick’s first direct exposure to politics was the softwood lumber dispute between Canada and the United States in 1991. He observed that the Canadian Forest Products Industry, and particularly lumber remanufacturers, were being unreasonably targeted by the United States and that the Canadian government was not doing enough to defend this important economic sector. Rick rallied his sector, founding both the Association of Lumber Remanufacturers of Ontario (ALRO), and the Canadian Lumber Remanufacturers Association (CLRA). He took on the role of chairing both Associations and spent a significant amount of time advocating on behalf of the industry in Ottawa and Washington. Rick built a coalition that ensured Canadian remanufacturers’ rights were successfully enshrined into the US-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement.

This success taught Rick that one person can make a difference and led him to get involved in politics.

When former broadcaster Peter Kent decided to run for the federal Conservative Party in Rick’s riding of Thornhill, he asked Rick to serve as his campaign chair. Rick helped build the teams that led to the Honourable Peter Kent's victories in 2008, 2011 and, 2015.

During this period, Rick was invited to join the boards of several Jewish advocacy organizations. He received an invitation from Reform Party Founder Preston Manning to get involved with the Manning Center for Building Democracy, and a number of other Conservative politicians sought him out to provide his advice and friendship.

Throughout these years, Rick served on the Executive Committee of the National Hardwood Lumber Association, and became Chair of the North American Wholesale Lumber Association. He was a frequent speaker at industry events, at the prestigious C.D. Howe Institute, where he is a long-term member, at the Schulich School of Business, and presents annually to the Conservative Party of Canada’s internship program.

In December of 2015, following a carefully planned succession process, Rick stepped away from his day-to-day role at Weston; however, he maintains the title Chief Executive Officer and remains actively involved in shaping the company’s strategic direction and in government relations activities on behalf of the industry.

Rick is a mentor to many young people, has advised numerous businesses, and is an advocate for many who are confounded by government bureaucracy.

He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Lillian, for more than 37 years and they have two daughters. Of the many roles Rick has held over the years, his absolute favorite is being “Opa” to his granddaughters Emily and Hallie.

Contact RICK EKSTEIN

Roles & Responsibilities

Weston Forest Products,

Partner and CEO

Brookside Capital,

Member, Advisory Board

Weston Wood Solutions Inc,

Partner and Director

Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee,

Board member

Phaze 3 Management Inc. and related companies,

Owner and CEO

Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs,

Member, Local Partnership Council
Member, Government Outreach Working Group

CD Howe Institute,

Member, National Council
Member, International Economic Policy Council

Manning Center for Building Democracy,

Member, Conference Advisory Committee

Queens York Rangers,

Member, Regimental Council

Association of Lumber remanufacturers of Ontario,

Founder and Advisor

BRIAN ROWLEY

Chief Financial Officer

Brian is a chartered accountant with 35 years of experience strategizing, overseeing and conducting the due diligence, income tax and financial planning necessary to facilitate business success for a collection of private holding and operating corporations. Through these endeavors, Brian has participated in the acquisition and management of corporations within a wide variety of industries, including food processing, transportation (trucking), steel service centre operations, steel mini-mills, real estate management, manufacturing (point of purchase sale systems), importation, sales and marketing of hardware products and, theatre exhibition.

In addition to working with private enterprises, Brian is a past CFO of Slater Industries Inc.

Brian takes a hands-on “in-the-trenches” approach to management. As a result, he has been directly involved in the planning and implementation of many corporate reorganizations, strategizing for revenue growth and profit maximization, corporate refinancing, income tax restructurings and the integration of financial systems. Some of the key areas he has been involved with during his career are financial analysis, forecasting, budgeting, cash management, corporate and personal tax planning, debt restructuring and business valuations.

Brian holds an Honours Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Windsor.

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LAURA GROSMAN

Communications & Strategy

Laura is a politico who spent eight years on Parliament Hill working for various MPs and handling policy files relating to a range of departments, including Immigration, Veteran Affairs, Public Safety, and Justice.

In 2014, Laura became Director, Communications and Public Affairs at the Israeli Consulate in Toronto, where she managed complex and sensitive files and effectively represented Israel during the 2014 Gaza War, the 2014 General Election, the Iran Nuclear Agreement and many other international events.

Laura was the impetus behind the Canada’s National Holocaust Monument, which will be completed in 2017. The granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, she thought it important to have a memorial in the Capital region where people could reflect on those whose lives were cut short by the brutality of the Nazis, as well as to honour the Canadians who fought against state-sanctioned hatred and anti-Semitism. Her vision led to the introduction of, and all-party support for, Bill C-442, an Act to Establish a National Holocaust Monument, which was passed into law in May, 2011.

Laura’s interests include public affairs and politics at all levels of government, and exploring Toronto’s green spaces with her Golden Retriever, Daisy.

Laura brings her knowledge of government and her passion for accomplishing lofty goals to the Phaze 3 team.

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ANDREW PICANA

Controller

Born, raised and educated in Manila, Philippines, Andrew is known as a math wizard. Able to add and subtract complex numbers before learning the alphabet, a career in accounting was a natural choice.

Andrew migrated to Canada in 1997 leaving behind his public accounting practice. He enrolled and studied at the Toronto School of Business (now CDI College), graduated among top of his class and was awarded a diploma in accounting and computer applications. Before joining Phaze 3 Management, he was an Accounting Manager with the Scarborough Town Centre Promotion Fund where his primary responsibilities included accounting and fund generation for the Centre’s advertising and promotional activities. Before his three year stint at the Centre, he was the Controller of Evandtec (formerly Envirotower) a Canadian pioneering company that manufactures, installs and markets water based cooling tower equipment for American and Canadian commercial, institutional and industrial facilities. Andrews’s professional interests include cost and general accounting, payroll, internal control, inventory management, operation procedural guidelines and reporting.

Most notably, Andrew is a Chess Master. He enjoys teaching others how to play and travelling to compete in chess tournaments.

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STEPHANIE SHAPIRO

HR & Investment Management

Stephanie has held diverse roles in human resources and management for more than 10 years, with extensive hands-on experience in policy design, performance management, recruitment, training and development and union relations. Prior to her position at Phaze 3 Management, Stephanie spent eight years as a Senior Human Resources Advisor with the Government of Canada, providing strategic advice to a large management team and over 200 staff within the Civil Aviation Branch in the Department of Transport.

As part of the Phaze 3 Management Team, Stephanie is excited to be expanding her knowledge by delving into the world of investment management.

Stephanie is an energetic wife and mother of two young daughters. She actively supports and advocates on behalf of mothers who suffer from postpartum depression and anxiety. Stephanie’s blog (www.mamaneedsavodka.com) tackles hard to discuss subjects and aims to eliminate the stigma surrounding mother’s mental health.

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