by Stephen Dafoe
The Morinville & District Chamber of Commerce held their annual awards ceremony Thursday evening with a sit-down dinner expertly catered by the Green Bean and served by Sorentinos, live entertainment with music throughout a variety of eras, and the Chamber’s annual Awards presentation.
Chamber awards were presented in nine business categories this year in addition to a couple of special municipal awards, the First Nations business award, and recognition a number of long service awards presented to local businesses for longevity in Chamber membership.
More than 200 business owners and employees attended the evening gala, a return to Chamber tradition from last year’s lunchtime award ceremony.
Breaking from tradition this year, the Chamber did not identify this year’s nominees – only the final winners in each of the award categories. Winners were showcased on screen with a video profile of the business sponsored by Elysha’s Cleaning and the Morinville News.
Large Business of the Year
Large Business of the year, sponsored by Pleasant Homes, was presented to Sturgeon County-based Eco-Flex Rubber Solutions, a company who turns recycled tires into rubber mats ranging from small home use mats to rig mats used in the oil and gas industry.
Owner Alan Champagne told Morinville News that after years of selling dairy beds around the world, 15 years ago the company purchased a press from Goodyear Aerospace and began making the world’s largest recycled mats.
The company now has a plant in Russia, California, and Florida, with plans to open another in Georgia.
Medium Business of the Year
Medium Business of the Year, sponsored by Total RV Servicing, was presented to Sturgeon County-based Mountain Meadows Food Processing, the manufacturer of No Nuts golden pea butter, an award-winning peanut butter substitute spread sold across Canada.
Co-owner Carryl Caruthers said the product contains none of the 11 known allergens. The product line has expanded to four flavours – original, extra creamy, chocolate and cinnamon.
Small Business of the Year
Small Business of the Year, sponsored by Morinville Physical Therapy, was presented to ATB Financial in Morinville. ATB representative Alicia Sero said people often assume the bank is for transactions only; however, they do offer full-service banking six days per week.
New Business of the Year
New Business of the Year, sponsored by Jiffy Lube, was awarded to three area businesses: Fable Gardens, Meadows of Morinville, and Deb’s Greenhouse.
Deb’s Greenhouse is a full-service seasonal garden centre located west of Morinville on Highway 642.
Owner Deb Fosse said buying the former Fred Flowers location in Sturgeon County was a good one for her family.
“It kind of hit every mark we were looking for – a new business located closer to the city with more potential for sales and a larger reach of customers, and great schools here in Morinville,” Fosse said. ”
Fable Gardens is a separate business to Fable Daycare. Builder and Developer Robert Chauvet said Fable Gardens is a tourism component to the multi-million dollar development that opens in May of next year and includes not only the gardens at the unique building but will also include a renovated Parish Hall that will be used for weddings.
“For me, it was about putting up a building that would be the last of my construction career, which has been over 50 years mainly in Legal and Morinville,” Chauvet said. “I wanted to leave something unique and something different.”
Chauvet said he has been lucky enough to have been associated with people who have made he and his wife’s dream possible.
Meadows of Morinville
Meadows of Morinville, the third of the New Business winners was recognized for being a unique alternative to condominium living and a concept that is bringing the manufactured home park into the 21st Century.
President and CEO Mark Huchulak said the park when completed will be home to 154 families.
“We’ve really tried to make this community a high-end place for people to live,” Huchulak said. “We’ve done some really interesting work with landscaping, fencing, lighting – all the different types of amenities.”
Home Based Business of the Year
The Home-based business of the year, sponsored by Morinville Shell, was presented to RS Yard and Lawn Maintenance Ltd. The Sturgeon County-based enterprise specializes in lawn and yard care as well as snow removal.
Owner Rick said the company started in Morinville serving Fort Saskatchewan and North Edmonton, but eventually grew to provide sufficient work in Morinville and immediate area.
“The town has treated me quite fine, and I’m glad to provide my service to them,” he said. “That was my sole purpose for starting, and now 50 plus seniors and others don’t need to worry about their yard work and going out in the cold weather.”
Business Integrity Award
The Business Integrity Award, sponsored by Servus Credit Union, was presented to Sturgeon County-based High Q Greenhouses.
The company located west of Morinville has been active in working with other growers to provide flowers to areas hit by tragedy, including Slave Lake, High River and Fort McMurray.
Additionally, High Q Greenhouses owners Michiel and Ina Verheul, assisted Fred Flowers owners a couple of years ago by running their centre when there was a family illness.
Business Legacy Award
The winner of the Business Integrity Award, sponsored by St. Albert Gazette, was HIS Trucking owners Jon and Esther Bucher.
The company began some 40 years ago in Sturgeon County hauling grain for farmers but have been working with Champion Petfoods for the past decade-plus hauling the company’s fresh regional ingredients, including salmon from British Columbia.
Bucher said his success is in the people he gets to work with. “I guarantee you, I have some of the best people there ever was,” he said. “I’m surrounded by just unbelievably good people and they come from the area. That’s one reason why we’re successful – surrounding myself with really good people who are more concerned about my business than I am.”
Youth Services Award
The Youth Services Award, sponsored by Morinville Sobeys, was presented to Jared Loseth of the Morinville Farmer’s Market.
Loseth told Morinville News that working in customer service is a good experience for young people, particularly those who wish to work in business in the future.
“Everyone needs to interact with people,” he said. “Doing so in a business orientation is a great way to get experience. It is just a good life lesson that can help in so many situations.”
Community Spirit Award
The Community Spirit Award went to the Sturgeon Community Resource Network. Based out of Gibbons, the organization coordinates a variety of services for those in need.
Alexander First Nations own business award went to Nolan Arcand of Spearpoint Construction.
Other nominees listed in the program but not identified by their nomination category included Elysha’s Cleaning Services, Capital Vision Care, Premium Food Services, McLeod Creek Timber Framing, Alexander First Nation, Sturgeon County, Kalco Farms, Atlas Premium Home Development, Morinville Bottle Depot, and Higher Grounds Espresso Bar.
Over the next week, the Morinville News will have profile videos on tonight’s winners published online daily from Sunday through Thursday.