The best in local business in 2018

The Slave Lake & District Chamber of Commerce held its annual business awards gala on March 9 at the Legacy Centre. Awards were presented in a dozen categories, representing a broad sampling of the types of business operating in the area.

According to Chamber Manager Kimberly Hughes, about 570 people submitted nominations via the Chamber’s online system. Choosing the three finalists from all those suggestions must have been tough, but somehow the Chamber’s “secret committee” managed it.

The 12 awards made for 36 businesses in the running for honours – one reason the room was packed. Dinner was provided by The Fix.

The only winner not present to accept the award was Random Thoughtz, which won in the Commercial/Retail Business category, sponsored by Revolution Ford. Also nominated in that category were Southshore Hidden Treasures and Canadian Tire.

Chamber president Francesca Giroux says the event was a success from a number of points of view, including attendance, which was 175.

“It was great to see new awards this year, and over 570 nominations online,” Giroux says. “We have changed the focus from previous years and made sure that we are recognizing all three nominees in each category and encouraging them to participate in the event by giving each nominee a free ticket. It was great to see some businesses that have never been nominated in this year’s selection group.”

Crossfit Slave Lake was the winner of the Health & Wellness Business of the Year award, sponsored by Nash Giroux LLP. Pictured are Robbie Coté of Crossfit, centre, with Bonnie Nash, left, and Frankie Giroux of the sponsoring business. Other finalists in the category were Bodysculpt (Cindy Williams) and Bella Medi Spa (Desiree Jemima).
Herb Gehrling’s Heavy Equipment Repair is the winner of the Industrial Business of the Year award, sponsored by Boston Pizza. Frankie Giroux of the Chamber presented on behalf of the sponsor, to company owner Herb Gehrling. Other finalists in the category were Plains Midstream and LaCrete Transport.
Lesser Slave Lake MLA Danielle Larivee presents some opening remarks on the important role of businesses in the community. Pictured on the right is Chamber President Francesca Giroux.
Employee of the Year goes to Joel Blanchette of Apex Well Servicing, for his “outstanding contribution” to the success of his employer. That’s him on the left, with Marlene Commins of award sponsor Southshore Hidden Treasures and Frankie Giroux of the Chamber. Blanchette’s competition for the award came from Laura Properzi of Cast & Court and Kristine Winegarden of McDonalds.
Home-based Business of the Year went to Grace & Rhett. Owner Jen Knutt, centre, makes “heartfelt custom-made keepsake pieces.” Joy McGregor of Epicure, left, was the award sponsor. Also pictured in Chamber president Frankie Giroux. Also considered for the award were BB Waxing (Britney Whitney) and Jasmine’s Silver Icing (Jasmine Rebryna).
The Professional Business of the Year award goes to Larry Schimpf Law Office for its “outstanding friendly service” over many years. That’s Larry on the left, accepting the award from Frankie Giroux of the Chamber on behalf of award sponsor The Business Factory. Other finalists in this category were Jack Pine Dental Hygiene and Lakeview Optometry.
The final presentation of the night was the Spirit of Slave Lake award, recognizing special contributions to the betterment of the community. The winner is S.L.I.P. (Slave Lake Ice Patrol), the volunteer duo that keeps Slave Lake’s outdoor ice surfaces in good shape. SLIP members Leonard LeBlanc and Dick Carrell are second and third from the left. The award was sponsored by RE/MAX and presented by Katee Nelson, left, and Carmen Pearson, second from the right. Frankie Giroux of the Chamber is on the far right. The other finalists in the category were Vanessa Bjornson and Big Fish Bay.
Hospitality Business of the Year went to the Sawridge Travel Centre Café, over some stiff competition from Mary Brown’s and Toniroz. Café manager Vijay Dhyani is flanked by Kim Hughes of category sponsors Distractions, left, and Chamber president Frankie Giroux.
The Entrepreneur Under 30 award went to Ryan Burton of Rytrue Ltd., for his construction and renovation business, as well as community involvement. Presenting the award for Northern Lakes College is Bruce D’Sena, right. On the left is Chamber President Frankie Giroux. Other finalists in the category were Frankie Giroux and Jordan Pearson.
Employer of the Year goes to Slave Lake Chrysler and accepting it is owner Stefan Plouffe, who gave most of the credit to his team in his remarks. He’s flanked by Josh Friesen of Community Futures – the award sponsor – and Chamber president Frankie Giroux. Other finalists in the category were Health Within and The Brick.
Business Person of the Year goes to Bruce Allarie of the Allarie Group of Companies. Allarie is flanked by Colin Parada of award sponsor Whitecap Chevrolet Buick GMC, left, and Chamber president Frankie Giroux. Up against Allarie for the award were Dr. Terri Pukanich and Murray Broadhead.

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