Whether they’re new kids on the block or mainstays who have years under their belt, some local businesses are getting primed for the 15th-annual Bell Business Awards being held tomorrow night at La Place Rendez-Vous.
This year’s awards have drawn a total of 68 nominees, including a couple which were nominated in more than one category.
Those nominated for the Accessibility Award include the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre, Canada Safeway, and Community Living Fort Frances and District.
The nominees for Business of the Year (1-15 employees) include Ron’s Auto Body, Lidkea Optometry, Greensides General Store, Northern Lights Credit Union, Citi Financial, A Little Off the Top, Nor-West Animal Clinic, Webb’s Power Shack, Causeway Insurance, Camp Narrows Lodge, Rainy River True Value, John Gavel Custom Manufacturing Co. Ltd., and Fort Duty-Free.
“It’s definitely an honour, especially being our first year in business and being nominated already,” said Kevin Webb of Webb’s Power Shack.
“It seems we’re doing something right, I guess,” he reasoned.
Webb noted several employees will be attending the awards gala just in case they case they win.
Webb’s Power Shack, which just opened last spring, sells Polaris ATVs, snowmobiles, and utility vehicles, Tracker boats, Ariens snowblowers and lawn mowers, and Echo power equipment.
Meanwhile, the nominees for Business of the Year (16+ employees) include MacDonald Motors, La Place Rendez-Vous, Tompkins Hardware, Iron Range Bus Lines, and Shaw Communications.
Nominees for Business Woman of the Year include Roberta Parker (Mr. Sub), Sherry Kaun (Share Bears), Angela Korzinski (Rusty Myers), Erin Wood (Simplicity Professional Hair & Body Care), Tonia Dolph (Northland Kitchen & Design Consulting), and Dawn Gustafson (Lifetime Smiles).
Wood said she was “very surprised” to find out she was among the nominees.
“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” remarked Wood, who just opened Simplicity Professional Hair & Body Care, located in the Rainy Lake Plaza on King’s Highway, in early December.
“It doesn’t even matter if I win or not. It’s just nice to be thought of, to be nominated,” she remarked.
Wood added business is off to a promising start.
“Things have been excellent, really good, busy,” she noted.
Manitou Forest Products, North Auto, Lowes Furniture, Fort Frances General Supply, Nor-West Animal Clinic, CIBC, Badiuk Equipment, Stan’s Carpet, Starbucks, and Darryl’s Custom Landscapes have been nominated for Customer Service (business).
Those nominated for Customer Service (individual) include Debra Elias (Revco Carpet), Theresa Dobie (Northern Lights Credit Union), Matt Sweigard (Sight & Sound), Krista Kellar (Citi Financial), Russ Ling (Taggs Source for Sports), Shelly Matias (RBC), Neila Booth (Northwoods Gallery & Gifts), and Chris Dittaro (Lakewood Tire).
“I didn’t even know that. Isn’t that exciting?” said an elated Neila Booth, who hadn’t yet seen the list of nominees when interviewed last week.
“That’s really nice,” she added. “I am very, very honoured.
“When someone takes the time to nominate you, then you know you’re doing your job, right?”
Booth noted several Northwoods’ staff will be in attendance tomorrow evening, including Penny Flatt, who is among the nominees for Employee of the Year along with Don Larson (Ed Kaun & Sons), Gord Watson (Ed Kaun & Sons), and Rochelle Mosbeck (CIBC).
“It’s all good,” said a surprised Flatt, who admitted she isn’t used to being among those in the spotlight.
Entrepreneur of the Year nominees include Dale and Elizabeth Fortes (Boston Pizza), Cecile Lavigne (Squeek E Klean), Randy Hogan (Hogan Hockey), Todd Moxham (Cater 2 U), Badiuk Equipment, Lindsay Hamilton (Little Beaver Snow Cultural Centre), and Monique Dufresne (The Lawg Caybun Restaurant).
“I was surprised. I am very honoured to be nominated, for sure,” said Moxham.
“I’ve been working hard at this business, and to get a little recognition here and there is nice,” he added.
“I was very surprise to be nominated.”
Moxham, who has been running his business here since 2008, caters events ranging from weddings and banquets to lunches, meetings, and parties.
“I’ve built up quite a client list now, and have been busy every day,” he noted.
Safety Award nominees include Union Gas, the Rainy River District School Board, and Gingrich Wood Craft Inc.
Mark Caron (M.L. Caron Electric), the Valley Adult Learning Association (VALA), Strachan Trucking, and BDO Canada LLP are up for the Small Business Trainer of the Year award.
“We wish to thank the Academy. We have our speech all made up,” joked Barb Duguay of VALA.
On a more serious note, Duguay said she and the rest of the VALA team “were kind of shocked to be nominated” because VALA doesn’t really fit into most of the business award categories.
“Whoever nominated us and saw the category [Small Business Trainer of the Year] must have said, ‘Oh, VALA fits into the category, and this is how they’ve assisted and helped me reach my goals and find employment.’
“We’re really happy to be nominated,” Duguay stressed. “We’ve worked really, really hard in the last 10 years. . . .
“We’ve made some moves, and just keep growing, and the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities has really, in the last five years, moved more towards workplace/workforce training,” she added.
To give an example, Duguay explained VALA and Super 8 have been working with 16 working women to upgrade their training and move into new positions.
Finally, nominees for the Tony Beyak Memorial Volunteer of the Year include Joelle Blanc, Doug Cain, Allan Bedard, Bill Krukoski, and Joan Allison.
Tickets for the gala, which cost $45 each, are available at the Chamber office on Scott Street.
Cocktails are at 6 p.m., with dinner at 6:30. There also will be a silent auction.
Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce president Harold Wilson will emcee the evening once again.