Tim Hortons, Loewen’s among top businesses

Duane Hicks

Tim Hortons was a “double-double” award winner at the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce’s 22nd-annual business awards last Wednesday evening at La Place Rendez-Vous.
The local franchise, owned by Gord McQuarrie, received two awards: Business of the Year (16+ employees) and Customer Services (Business).
McQuarrie was overwhelmed with emotion as he accepted the first award on stage from Chamber past-president Cathy Emes, who presented the award on behalf of award sponsor Tbaytel.
“I’ve been in retail in this community since I was 15 so I’ve got 45-plus years behind me,” McQuarrie told the Times in an interview Thursday morning.
“To be honoured in this fashion is huge to me,” he remarked. “It meant a lot last night,”
“To be quite honest, I was a bit emotional,” McQuarrie admitted. “It was damn hard to get to where I am today, and I am fortunate to live in the community that I do.
“I really am.”
McQuarrie, who won “Best New Business” at the first-ever Chamber business awards back when he first started Skates & Blades, said he’s also very fortunate to work with the staff he has–some of whom have been working at Tim Hortons since he opened the franchise here 15 years ago.
“The support of the community is number-one,” he stressed. “The support from my staff is certainly huge.
“And thank you goes out to the folks who nominated me for the award,” McQuarrie added. “It’s a wonderful honour. It truly is.
“To go from a bag boy at Safeway to where I am today, and still be at home, creating an opportunity for myself and my family and my staff and my friends, and everybody else–there’s a lot to be said for this community,” he noted.
Tim Hortons’ frontline manager Benjamin Sletmoen, meanwhile, received the Customer Service Award (Business) from Teresa Hazel, representing award sponsor The Westend Weekly.
“Thanks very much. I never expected to be up here,” he remarked.
“I want to be able to thank a lot of the staff that work at Tim Hortons, but I also want to thank everybody in Fort Frances and all the customers that come to our restaurant,” Sletmoen added.
“We really appreciate it.
“It was much-deserved for him because he’s our frontline manager, and he takes care of business and people really well,” McQuarrie noted.
Stratton-based Loewen Greenhouses & Landscaping was named Business of the Year (one-15 employees).
“We weren’t expecting this,” owner/manager David Loewen said after accepting the award from Katy Trimble of award sponsor 93.1 The Border.
“We’re happy to have been in business for the last 17 years.
“A big thanks to all of you, of course, for your support,” he added. “From Fort Frances to Rainy River, we sell our greenhouse products and landscape services.
Loewen thanked his family, including wife, Sara, and mother and father, Maria and John Loewen, noting his mother always had encouraged him to get into the horticultural industry.
“For the businesses here in the district, it is sometimes challenging, as we all know,” he conceded. “We live in a beautiful area but it is in some ways isolated from major markets.
“But one thing I really learned over the past 17 years is that we are in a wonderful country, as well,” Loewen added.
“We have lots of opportunities and privileges . . . we have the opportunities to dream, we have the opportunities to have vision.
“And so those of us who are still pushing, when it’s dark and hard, let’s keep pushing and make this district a better place to live,” he urged.
StyLush Salon was honoured with the New Business Award, sponsored by Rainy River Future Development Corp.
Alicia Anderson, who assumed ownership of the former Celeste’s Beauty Salon and adopted a new name for the business back on Feb. 1, thanked everyone for their continuing support.
“It’s a huge honour to be where we are from the former Celeste’s,” she said.
“Thank you very much everybody.”
RBC Royal Bank branch manager Pam MacKinnon was honoured with the Customer Service Award (Individual), sponsored by Good Impressions Printing.
Party Rock DJ Services was the recipient of the Home Based Business Award, sponsored by M.L. Caron Electric, while Diane Gibson of Gibson Design/Enchanted Events was named Business Woman of the Year, sponsored by the PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise.
Marty DeGagne (Sunset Dynasty Construction) and Jamie Davis (JD Plumbing Solutions) tied for the Small Business Trainer of the Year Award, sponsored by NCDS.
As well, two very special awards were given out this year.
Betty’s was honoured with the Test of Time Award–a new award introduced at this year’s gala–while the James Paul Award went to Brockie’s Jewellers (see related stories elsewhere in this edition of the Times).
The Chamber tried out a new process this year to determine the award winners.
Businesses and individuals were nominated by the public for the various categories last month. Several anonymous judges then reviewed the nominations and independently scored them, with the highest total scores determining the winners in each category.
Melanie Williams of Party Rock DJ Services was the emcee for the evening, entertaining the crowd of nearly 150 attendees.