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What goes well with eggs? Well, business awards of course.
Smiths Falls and area’s business community rose and shone early to attend breakfast awards hosted by the Smiths Falls & District Chamber of Commerce at their annual general meeting held at the Lombard Glen Golf & Country Club on Tuesday, Nov 28.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION TO GEMMELL’S FLOWERS HONOURS THEIR 85 YEARS IN BUSINESS
Gemmell’s Flowers, which has been in business in Smiths Falls since 1932, was honoured with an award for their longtime operation in town.
The founder of Gemmell’s Flowers, Donald Gemmell found himself unemployed during the Great Depression of the early-'30s, after the brokerage firm he worked in, closed down and he left a job in a drugstore since the $8 per week pay wasn't enough to sustain himself. His passion as a young man for growing vegetables and flowers, lead him to purchase a small bit of land in 1931, which is now the current location of Gemmell Garden Center. In the spring of 1932, Donald started selling his vegetables door to door in his old car that he had purchased for $50. Then in the fall of 1932, his father gave Donald a lot upon which he built a house and a 450-square-foot greenhouse — this was at 52 Church St. and the humble beginnings of Gemmell's Flowers. The Church Street location officially opened its doors on Valentine's Day in 1933.
“It was truly a family business with his wife Lillian, and Donald's sister and parents all helping to make up arrangements,” said presenter and chair of the chamber, Kristine Fair. “Even on their wedding day, Donald and Lillian cut their celebrations short to do up arrangements for the funeral of a prominent Smiths Falls citizen.”
In 1954, their son Ron joined the business at the young age of 17 when sadly, Donald had a heart attack and was unable to work. Ron had to quit his schooling in order to keep the business going alongside his mother and aunt. Donald passed away in 1979 after 46 years of marriage to Lillian.
Ron married Janice in 1965 and she started working by his side in the shop. In 1979 the shop moved from its original location to the downtown core, and in the mid 80s it was moved to its current location on Beckwith Street.
In 1988 the business became a third-generation affair with their then teenaged daughter, Debbie, joining her parents in the store. Even though he's now in his 80s, you will still see Ron in the shop on Beckwith Street or driving the van to deliver their bouquets.
Ron Gemmell, Janice Gemmell and Debbie Campbell received the award given by the chamber for their 85 years in business.
Janice spoke on behalf of the recipients, thanking the chamber for the award and the community for their years of support.
“I hope we continue on,” she said. “We don’t know what the future brings but we’ll just take one day at a time and enjoy what we’re doing.”
BUSINESS PERSON(S) OF THE YEAR
Chris and Leigh Craig, of RCL Automotive Tire Discounter Group were recognized at Business Person(s) of the Year.
The Business Person(s) of the Year Award is given each year to an entrepreneur, or entrepreneurs who have demonstrated not only business excellence but also a commitment to the community and the people who live in it.
Chris and Leigh have come a long way since opening a modest two-bay location 11 years ago. Known for high quality work and exceptional customer service, RCL Automotive Tire Discounter Group has grown to a full-service shop with four bays, several employees and an affiliation with the Tire Discounter Group,” said presenter, Sean Lawrence, vice president of the Smiths Falls & District Chamber of Commerce. The Craigs are known for supporting many local charities and events, including the Smiths Falls Community Food Bank, the Gerry Lowe Memorial Rink, Smiths Falls Civitan Club, and the Lombardy Karting and Lombardy Agricultural Society among other.
“This weekend we saw them adding to the thousands of pounds of food donated to the Build A Mountain of Food Campaign,” said Lawrence.
“If you come to our shop you will be treated like family, you won’t be treated like just a customer number,” said Chris in his acceptance speech. “We look after everybody the best we can.”
Chris said he and Leigh opened the business with the philosophy to treat their customers how they would want to be treated — and have continued on with that same mentality.
BUSINESS OF THE YEAR
Canopy Growth Corporation was awarded this year’s Business of the Year Award — given to a strong and growing company that has been involved in the community and strives to make Smiths Falls a better place to live.
“From its inception in 2013, Tweed/Canopy Growth Corp. has led the Canadian cannabis sector with integrity,” said presenter, Barbara Black, president of the chamber. “The company has pushed the dialogue on cannabis forward and have created something uniquely Canadian.”
Black said that despite their fast growth and international success, Canopy Growth can still be counted on to participate in our small town community.
“Charitable giving is part of the corporate culture — walking in to the lobby, you can often find employees competing in contests for charities like the food bank or the Salvation Army Angel Tree, or out in the community donating their time,” she said. “And the Tweed Front Yard Shindig brings people together for a full day of music right here in Smiths Falls.”
Among their corporate contributions, Tweed donated $10,000 to the victims of the Pearl Street Fire and their golf tournament this year raised over $120,000 split between the Smiths Falls Food Bank, the Station Theatre and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“We are so pleased that Tweed chose to open business in Smiths Falls,” said Black.
Mark Zekulin, president of Canopy Growth Corp., was on hand to accept the award.
Zekulin said at the time Canopy approached the town and its community about setting up a cannabis plant in Smiths Falls — it wasn’t normal.
“As a community, it took a lot of courage and foresight to welcome us, and support us, and we’re very, very thankful for that,” he said.
Zekulin said that the company will continue to grow and do what they can to help the community.
COMMUNITY APPRECIATION AWARD
Garry Beep Dalgleish, of RE/MAX was awarded this year’s Community Appreciation Award – an award given to someone who shows exceptional community participation. They give selflessly of themselves and have made a significant contribution to the community through his or her leadership and involvement.
Dalgleish is a founding life member of our Smiths Falls Kinsmen Club and a driving force behind the Sports Person of the Year awards, Special Olympics golf tournament, Lombardy Fair Beer Gardens, Gordon Pipe Band Beer Gardens, Kinsmen Santa Clause Parade post parade warm-up at the Kinsmen Hall, the Family Day celebration event at Lower Reach and numerous other events held at the Kinsmen Hall each year.
Dalgleish is also the key organizer for the Monday Kinsmen TV bingo. Most recently, Dalgleish was instrumental in gathering and gaining agreement from our local service clubs to find common ground and work together on last month’s Oktoberfest fundraising project.
Currently, he has volunteered to man a Salvation kettle not just once for the RE/MAX office but also two additional shifts for the Kinsmen Club as well.
In his acceptance, Dalgleish said the work he does require co-operation between all members of the community and the businesses.
YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR AWARD
Ryan Holland of Holland Valley Construction was awarded this year’s Young Entrepreneur Award — an award given to a businessperson who has shown perseverance and excellence in business and has also supported the community.
The Young Entrepreneur Award is given out by Valley Heartland and presented to Holland this year, by Tina Stevens, general manager of Valley Heartland.
“Holland Valley Construction provides small-town service and competitively priced quality products, Holland Valley Construction and Holland Valley Kitchen and Bath Centre are committed to ensuring smooth progress and great attention to detail,” said Fair. “With quality products and exceptional service, Holland Valley plans on serving Smiths Falls and the community for years to come.”
“The whole mentality of being able to do it on your own — it’s impossible,” said Holland, thanking Valley Heartland and members of the business community for their support.
IMMIGRANT ENTREPRENEUR AWARD
Haerishton Lima, of Lanark Veterinary Clinic, was awarded the Immigrant Entrepreneur Award — an award given by the Local Immigration Partnership Program (LIPP) and given to a businessperson who was born outside of Canada and who runs a successful business in the Smiths Falls area.
Lima arrived in Smiths Falls knowing that he wanted to be an entrepreneur. He spent many years validating his veterinary license for Canada and training in all aspects of clinic work. Through hard work and persistence, within eight years he was able to purchase not one, but two veterinary businesses.
“(Lima) gives back to this community as well, regularly donating both his time and money to residents of our area — both two legged and the four-legged kind,” said presenter Paulina Anderson of the LIPP committee. “Last year, he purchased an expensive life-saving machine so Baby Everley could come home from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, he hosts rabies and microchip clinics and has volunteered his time and expertise to fix feral cats and help local rescue groups. We are glad he chose to immigrate to Smiths Falls and to build his business here.”
Prim Singh, who won this award in 2015 with his business Wonton Crunch, presented Lima with his award.
“Being an immigrant is a challenge by itself, and being an entrepreneur as you all known is very challenging, especially in small town Ontario,” said Lima. “I hope the award like this allows people to see through our thick accents and maybe our dark complexion to the hardworking person who is here to help the community.”
Brian Paquette, of Café Whim, was awarded this year's Aesthetics Award — an award that highlights a business which has gone above and beyond to beautify, refurbish, or renovate the business and/or its surroundings.
“The use of modern features, in combination with the use of heritage pieces, has resulted in a chic new space where townspeople and tourists alike gather,” said Mike Fletcher, the chamber’s treasurer, who presented the Paquette with the award.
“We’ve been very lucky to be in this town for six years and like any entrepreneur putting in the grind and many, many hours,” said Paquette in his acceptance speech. “If we’re talking about the menu of Café Whim and its loud mouth voice on Facebook, I’ll definitely take all the credit. But truthfully the real credit for the esthetics award has to be given to my landlords … and my lovely wife …”