Recognizing Local Business Excellence at the (Virtual) Outstanding Business Achievement Awards

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SaultOnline/ONNtv would like to congratulate both the recipients and nominees of this year’s Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Business Achievement Awards.

It was a celebration of innovation, creativity, leadership, and entrepreneurship, albeit a virtual one, as the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce (SSMCOC) handed out its Outstanding Business Achievement Awards on Tuesday evening in an online presentation.

“Given that our in-person Chamber Awards gala has always been one of the premier business events of the year, this year’s virtual event marked a significant change for us, but one that is indicative of the unique year-and-a-half that businesses everywhere have endured,” says Michael Stone, President of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce. “As much as we are celebrating success, achievement and entrepreneurship, this year we are also celebrating how businesses have been able to innovate, persevere, and improvise. We are celebrating what businesses mean to our community; everyone is more conscious than ever of the important role that businesses play in job creation, in supporting the local economy, and in providing us the goods and services we rely on in a time of crisis.”

The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce was proud to welcome Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation (OLG) and TD Bank Group as sponsors for this year’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards.

Award nominations were collected from a call for nominations from the Chamber membership and the public in late 2020 / early 2021. Those businesses, agencies or individuals standing for nomination were required to respond to a series of questions to demonstrate why they, or the business, met the criteria for the specific award they were nominated for. These submissions were then considered by the judging committee.

The judging committee is drawn from the Chamber membership and previous award recipients. These members form a group of individuals with exceptional integrity and business experience across a wide variety of sectors. The nominee submissions are vetted against the judges’ background and areas of expertise and any conflicts of interest are managed by reassigning the judging of that award category to another committee member. Submissions are assessed through a numeric scoring process and measured on the nominee’s ability to demonstrate their qualifications against the award criteria.

The recipients of this year’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards were:

SalDan Construction Group was awarded this year’s Safe Work, Sound Business Award sponsored by Workplace Safety North. The Safe Work, Sound Business Award recognizes a business that uses a safe work management system, participates in workplace and / or community injury prevention programs and has outstanding injury-free frequency and injury severity performance.

Wardlaw Heating & Cooling Inc. was presented with the Employer of Year Award sponsored by Employment Solutions. This award recognizes an employer who has created cultures and communities, through every aspect of their business.

Stephen Dufour of Bell Media Inc. – CTV Sault Ste. Marie was awarded the Customer First Award (Individual) sponsored by Smyl’s Highland Ford. This award recognizes an individual who continuously raises customer service to new standards of excellence and is a role model for others in customer service.

Sault College was presented with the Diversity Award sponsored by the Algoma Workforce Investment Corporation. This award recognizes a business or organization that embraces, celebrates, and applies holistic inclusion and participation of a diverse people, making the workplace a better environment in which to work, and the community a better place in which to live, work and raise a family.

The Community Investment Awards highlight outstanding community service by a business or agency. The recipients of these awards contribute to the well-being of the community through initiatives such as sourcing products and / or services locally, retailing or utilizing local products, employment growth, and supporting the community through charitable activities.

The Community Investment Award (up to 9 employees) sponsored by Tenaris was presented to the Algoma Conservatory of Music.

The Community Investment Award (10 to 25 employees) sponsored by Tenaris was presented to the George Wellington Esquire Club.

The Community Investment Award (26+ employees) sponsored by the Community Development Corporation of Sault Ste. Marie & Area was presented to the Joe Ruscio Professional Corporation.

OC Beauty / Iso-San Medical was the recipient of the Innovation Award sponsored by PUC Services Inc. This award recognizes a business that has successfully incorporated a new idea, device, or method, or has utilized the application of better solutions to meet new requirements, internal needs, or market needs.

Tony Cavaliere of Kapptive Studios was presented with the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award sponsored by EAZY Express. The Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes the outstanding achievement of young entrepreneur(s) between 18 and 39 years of age. The award is given to an individual responsible for the success and growth of a Sault Ste. Marie-based company, who exemplifies the qualities of effective leadership, innovatively applies know-how, demonstrates excellent potential for growth, appreciates the importance in social, cultural, and environmental awareness, and has demonstrated commitment to the wider community.

Queenstown I.D.A Drug Mart & General Store was the recipient of the Downtown Business of the Year Award sponsored by SK Group Inc. In support of the City of Sault Ste. Marie Downtown Strategy, as well as the strategic plan of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce, this award recognizes a business that is invested in the downtown business community and contributes to downtown Sault Ste. Marie. This award honors their commitment to running a business in the heart of our city and their role in creating a vibrant downtown.

The Beyond Sault Ste. Marie Awards recognize businesses in any industry for excellence in the development of export markets for their products or services, through implementing a new export strategy that has positively affected its bottom line. Beyond SSM considers businesses that have succeeded in expanding outside of Sault Ste. Marie as well as exporting goods and services.

The Beyond Sault Ste. Marie Award (1 to 49 employees) sponsored by Bell was presented to Sylvan Automation Ltd.

The Beyond Sault Ste. Marie Award (50+ employees) sponsored by Bell was presented to Algoma University.

Health & Safety Professionals Inc. was awarded the Customer First Award (Business, Non-Profit or Agency) sponsored by Rivercity Motorsports. This award showcases a business or non-profit that places the customer experience at the heart of their business strategy and builds a sustainable culture of customer service within their organization.

Gencity Consulting was the recipient of the Indigenous Business of the Year sponsored by Tenaris. This award recognizes a business which is operating, or being managed, with a minimum of 51% ownership by an Indigenous person or group. To be considered, the business has distinguished itself by fostering growth, innovation, marketing strategy and consumer excellence, while showing leadership and dedication to the preservation of culture, values, and identity.

Algoma Family Services was awarded the Community Non-Profit Business of the Year Award sponsored by Dumanski Office Interiors / Compass Imaging. This award recognizes and rewards excellence and innovation among non-profit organizations resulting in significant social impact within Sault Ste. Marie and the Algoma district.

Kapptive Studios was presented with the Rising Star New Business Award sponsored by KPMG LLP. This award recognizes a business that has been in operation for no less than 1 year and no more than 3 years and has demonstrated strong potential by way of growth, innovation, and leadership. Additionally, the business has demonstrated a culture of risk-taking and trailblazing and has positioned itself to achieve similar successes in the future through new or innovative products or services, quality of merchandise / customer service, job creation, growth potential, and market served.

Barbara Nolan, Sault College Elder-in-Residence / Cultural Advisor & Indigenous Student Counsellor was awarded the Indigenous Professional of the Year Award sponsored by Algoma University and Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig. This award is presented to a person who has made an impact in the Indigenous, Metis and Sault Ste. Marie communities and in so doing so, serves as an inspiration to us all.

YesYouCan Employment was presented with the Leader in Accessibility Award sponsored by Ergo Office Plus. This award recognizes an organization that shows leadership in integrating and providing accessible and barrier-free working conditions for employees and accessibility in customer service. This business or organization values the contributions of persons with disabilities, promotes the development of an inclusive workplace culture and is compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

The Chamber presents three Business of the Year awards based on business size: To be considered, a business will have distinguished themselves by fostering growth, innovation, marketing strategy and consumer service excellence in their sectors.

The Business of the Year Award (up to 9 employees) sponsored by RBC was presented to Hogan’s Homestead.

The Business of the Year Award (10 to 25 employees) sponsored by Algoma Office Equipment was presented to Cavera Inc.

The Business of the Year Award (26+ employees) sponsored by Superior Auto Group was presented to S. & T. Group.

In addition to this year’s individual award sponsors, the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce would like to thank presenting sponsor OLG and sponsor TD, as well as community partners Sootoday.com, Rolling Pictures, Soo Blaster and the Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Sault Ste. Marie. The Chamber would like to thank the judging committee members for sharing their time and expertise. Special thanks go to event emcees, Jasmyn Rowley & Tim Murphy, as well as Jay Case, Greig Nori, Frank Deresti, and Sheldon Jääskeläinen for musical performances.

All proceeds from ticket sales to the advance screening of the Outstanding Business Achievement Awards will be donated to support the work of the Algoma Vaccination Support Council (AVSC). Founded by the SSMCOC and STRIVE YPG, the AVSC working group is comprised of local businesses, organizations, and community stakeholders, and has identified the goal of increasing vaccination literacy, information dissemination about local vaccination efforts, and providing support wherever possible, such as food and beverages for vaccination clinic staff and volunteers, transportation for those unable to secure transportation to vaccination clinics, and management of rapid screening test kit distribution to Sault Ste. Marie and area small businesses.