SUMMERSIDE – Not many 11-year-olds can boast they spent their summer holidays raking in cash, but that’s exactly what Félix Thériault did last year.
The young boy from Stratford spent his summer peddling Gatorade and other drinks out of a cooler on wheels. Félix racked up over $2,000 in sales last summer, while taking home about $1,000 in profit.
On Saturday night, Félix received one of three francophone Young Millionaires awards handed out by RDÉE Prince Edward Island Inc. and the Acadian and Francophone Chamber of Commerce of P.E.I.
The best and brightest of Prince Edward Island’s francophone community, including Felix, were out in full force on Saturday night, at the 2014 Entrepreneurs Gala.
The event, held at the Centre Bell-Alliance saw the three young entrepreneurs honoured, as well as five provincial Laurier de la PME Awards handed out to Island businesses.
“Our winners represent the excellence of our Acadian, francophone, and bilingual businesses and co-ops on P.E.I.,” said RDÉE president Martin Marcoux. “They offer top-ranking services and products, either locally, provincially, nationally or even internationally.”
The Laurier de la PME Awards are handed out to honour small and medium-sized businesses and co-ops in five different categories – Processing/Manufacturing, Service, Retail, Micro-Business and Young Entrepreneur. The winners of each category will now begin preparing their nomination packages for the national level of the Lauriers awards, which will be announced in Moncton, N.B., on Nov. 22.
“We are confident that our five provincial finalists have what it takes to make it to the nationals,” Marcoux said. “It is quite a honour to be able to measure our businesses against the best in all of Canada.”
The night was especially sweet for Henri and Gloria Gallant, who won the retail award, after years of being nominated.
The married couple runs their business, HMS Office Supplies Ltd., out of Summerside, supplying much of the province with office supplies and furniture. In recent years, the Gallants came under pressure as more and more franchise stores opened around town, offering prices and inventory they could not match. To stay alive, the Gallant’s sharpened their focus on customer service, and have stayed alive.
“I live by Winston Churchill’s words,” said Henri. “You never give up, no matter what. We’ve managed to claw back. (Our business) isn’t all back yet, but it’s getting there.”
The award, while satisfying, did come with a bit of awkwardness for the Gallant family.
“A lot of our competitors here tonight are actually customers of ours,” he laughed. “But it’s so nice to have your work recognized by other people, and not just yourselves.”
Even with established businesspeople like the Gallants in the room, the youthful smiles of the Young Millionaires winners took centre stage.
“I didn’t even have to work everyday,” said Félix, with a humble-brag grin. “That’s what surprised me most.”
The 11-year-old, fluently bilingual kid has already begun planning for the upcoming summer.
“I’m going to start going to the beach and try to make twice as much money.”
Also announced at the gala was a new award issued by the French Chamber of Commerce of Canada. The award, highlighting an Atlantic Canadian company which excels at import-export business, will be presented at the Forum on Economic Immigration. The forum will take place May 26-28 at the Rodd Brudenell River Resort. The banquet will also feature renowned Albertan author Matt Adolphe as the keynote speaker.
The list of winners is as follows:
Gators on Wheels – Félix Thériault, Stratford;
Simply Sno-Cones – Michael MacEwen and Eliott Fraser, Stratford;
Stuie’s Beach Chairs – Stuart Lawther, Charlottetown;
Lauriers de le PME Awards
Processing/Manufacturing – Acadian Fisherman’s Co-operative Association Ltd., Abram-Village;
Service – Atlantic Roofers Ltd. (Jean Allain), Winsloe;
Retail – HMS Office Supplies Ltd., (Henri and Gloria Gallant), Summerside;
Micro-Business – Ron’s Construction (Ronald Arsenault), Urbainville;
Young Entrepreneur – OMD Construction & Consulting Ltd. (Jamie Caissie), Maximeville