West Point-based H.F. Stewart and Sons Ltd., picked up the West Prince Chamber of Commerce’s Lifetime Business Achievement Award during the business organization’s inaugural Business Excellence Awards Gala Thursday at Mill River Resort. The award is sponsored by MRSB.
Brothers, Sandy and Stephen Stewart run the company started by their father, Harvey, 28 years ago. In accepting the award, Sandy Stewart described their father as their role model. “He taught us what hard work is all about,” said Sandy. He thanked family and employees for the opportunity. “We love getting up every day to do what we’re going to do.”
“We do it all in West Point, population of 110 people,” added Stephen Stewart of a manufacturing shop that exports approximately 70 per cent of its finished product.
Tignish Co-operative Association is the inaugural winner of the Chamber’s Business Excellence, sponsored by CBDC West Prince Ventures Ltd. The award seeks to recognise a business viewed by its peers as being a leader in business excellence and has a long track record of community involvement and support.
General Manager Darren MacKinnon said his cooperative is humbled by the acknowledgement but said it attests to the support of the community, employees and customers. He said it is always good to listen to the pulse of the customers because they are the reason for the business.
You Move Physio received the Grant Thornton Emerging Business Award for businesses in operation for less than five years and displaying outstanding business performance and exceptional promise. Owner Amy Irving gave credit to her staff. “We love coming to work every day,” she said. “Everybody plays a key role in the team.”
Recognized as the Chamber ambassadors of the Year, an award sponsored by the West Prince Graphic and the towns of Alberton and O’Leary, were Maxine Rennie, Geoffrey Irving and Dean Getson.
Janet Ogilvie, owner of Green Gable Alpacas in Port Hill said it was New Year’s Day two years ago when she made a commitment to get internet savvy. At the Chamber’s Awards Gala she walked off with the Innovation P.E.I. Social Media Marketing Award.
“What started as something very foreign, very difficult to do,” she told the Gala crowd, “has grown into telling stories. What I’ve learned is, that's what our clients want. I had opened myself up and shared.”
She said she had a visitor tell her she already knew all about of Green Gable Alpaca, because of what she had shared.
She encouraged business people to take the leap. “It feels awkward at first, but you will find your voice.”
In announcing the award category, Dean Getson made reference to a social media event happening in West Prince, the Christopher Cross Requests. “Man, oh man, what an initiative.”
The Key Murray Law Community Impact Award, which was open to any West Prince business or organization, was won by Community Hospitals West Volunteer Program.
Program coordinator Andrew Ramsay, said there are 200 volunteers already registered with the program and volunteering at the hospitals and manors in Alberton and O’Leary. It is the only Health P.E.I. program that incorporates both hospitals and long-term care volunteer opportunities and the only one with an online volunteer answer system.
Ramsay confided that, in explaining the volunteer program, he hopes the Chamber’s Gala will be a means to drawing more volunteers.
Besides recognizing business excellence, Thursday’s Gala also raised $900 in support of Chamber bursaries for two graduating Westisle Composite High School students. Students from the school volunteered during the event.
Lt. Gov. sees Chamber Gala as boost for community
Speaking at the West Prince Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Business Excellence Awards Gala, P.E.I. Lieutenant Governor Antoinette Perry highlighted a linkage between that event and the Neighbour to Neighbour event she attended across the road two weeks earlier.
“Now that was an example of people working together and celebrating the culture,” she remarked.
Directing her attention to the business people in the room, she congratulated the organizers, volunteers and sponsors of the gala. “This energizing and enthusiastic event, which, in my opinion, serves to invigorate the whole West Prince community: Neighbour to Neighbour, community to community, culture to culture.”
The Lieutenant Governor commended the Chamber’s executive director and board members for their tireless efforts in rejuvenating the West Prince Chamber.
She remarked on the significance of the awards gala. “My gut feeling just walking in here tonight, I said, ‘Wow, is this going to be a boost for this community! I’m so happy to celebrate it with you.”
And she expressed optimism. “I have no doubt, at all, that tonight’s event will prove to be a springboard for further growth in West Prince communities. Thriving businesses just have a way of attracting new residents and businesses, enhancing and enriching the lives of residents.”