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ACOC hands out 19th annual Business Excellence Awards

Award winners pose for photo at Columbus Hall.

A packed house at the Columbus Community Hall in McGregor helped pay tribute to award winners in Amherstburg’s business community last week.

The 19th annual Business Excellence Awards were presented by the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) with 15 award winners recognized.

Lauren Baillargeon won the Youth Engagement/Leadership Award. She thanked the ACOC for the award and paid tribute to the other nominees. She stated it all started with her efforts in starting the charity Kids Curing Cancer (KCC), which began with her family when she was only nine-years-old.

The Community Service/Charitable Award was presented to the Windsor-Essex Bike Community (WEBC). WEBC director James Braakman thanked everyone who has supported them and their effort to build mountain biking trails at the Libro Centre. He added the group was excited about the “positive investments” in the community.

Speck’s Restaurant won the Excellence in Customer Service Award, with owner Sarah Brush also paying tribute to the other nominees. Brush added her staff deserves much of the credit.

“This is quite an accomplishment but it’s not just about me, it’s about my staff. I have the most incredible staff,” she said.

The Most Attractive Improvement Award went to The Lofts at St. Anthony and its developers Jones Realty. Terry Jones was unable to attend but his daughter Mackie accepted the plaque.

The Tourism/Hospitality Award went to The Bondy House Bed & Breakfast. Co-owner Carolyn Davies expressed her thanks to everyone including her staff and her husband Merv Richards.

The New Business of the Year Award was won by Flow Café and Bikes, represented by Eric Favot. Favot thanked the community for its support.

“We wouldn’t be here without you guys,” he said.

Tom Manherz from Wolfhead Distillery captured the Entrepreneur of the Year but was unable to attend the event. The Young Professional of the Year was Linden Crain from the Dominion Lending Centres Super Mortgage Team.

“I was definitely not expecting it,” he said. “Thank you. It’s an honour to also be a councillor in Amherstburg and surrounded by successful entrepreneurs.”

The Professional of the Year Award was won by Ashley Harmon of Hogarth Hermiston Severs LLP. Harmon said she has been practicing law for ten years, the last three of which have been in Amherstburg. She said she has felt welcome in Amherstburg and doesn’t plan to go anywhere else. Harmon added she plans on continuing to work with the business community.

Dr. Andrew Cormier won the Health Care Professional of the Year honour, giving his thanks to his colleagues at the Amherstburg Family Health Team as well. He added it is “amazing” to work with people who care about the people of Amherstburg.

Canadian Tire captured the Employer of the Year award, with franchise owner Dwayne Mackey stating he and Anjelisa Skinner want to ensure everyone has a safe and pleasant environment in which to work.

“We’re extremely humbled by this award,” said Mackey.

Team Rehab captured the Small Business of the Year award with Elyse Waters stating she and Dr. Kyle Morand and the whole team were pleased with the award. She outlined the services they offer and said it was a big honour for them to win the award from the ACOC.

Small Business of the Year winner Team Rehab. Presented by Sponsor ScotiaBank
Small Business of the Year winner Team Rehab. Presented by Sponsor ScotiaBank

Jack’s Organics won the Large Business of the Year with owner Chip Stockwell and he thanked the ACOC, his staff and management team. He said the business is named in honour of his father, who passed away in 2013.

Large business of the year Jack's Organics winner presented by Sponsor Invest Windsor Essex
Large business of the year Jack's Organics winner presented by Sponsor Invest Windsor Essex

“It’s his birthday today and I figured he gave me a wink and a nod on this one,” he said.

Ure’s Country Kitchen won the Business Legacy Award with owner Randy and Laurie Ure accepting. Randy noted they have been working at the business for 36 years, noting that gas was 47.9 cents per litre back then. He thanked the community for their consistent support of the gas bar, store, restaurant and now the mini-golf course. Staff have gone on to get married, buy cars and put themselves through school, he said.

The Believe in Amherstburg Award went to Richard and Colleen Peddie from Black Dog Entertainment. Colleen noted the other finalists also have made “great positive additions and changes to Amherstburg” and also recognized work done by town administration and the tourism department.

“Something that really excites Richard and me are the young entrepreneurs doing their thing. They don’t need to leave town – they can do it right here,” she said, citing Mackie Jones at the Towne Shoppe and Bethany D’Alimonte at Musicland as examples.

Colleen also thanked the staff at their own businesses.

“We will continue to listen to the positive people in our town and we will continue to work to make Amherstburg even better,” she said.

ACOC president Dan Gemus paid tribute to the winners and nominees.

“It’s a night to celebrate everything Amherstburg,” he said.

Gemus also recognized general manager Anne Creery for her work in putting the evening together.

Mayor Michael Prue thanked the local business community and said people are coming from around the region to visit Amherstburg.

“Thank you for what you do. You are putting Amherstburg on the map,” he said.

ACOC hands out 19th annual Business Excellence Awards

By Ron Giofu

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