2019 Business Achievement Awards

We are pleased to present the 2019 Business Achievement Awards recipients:

Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Michelin- 

The Small Business of the Year award is presented to a small business that has demonstrated an ability to remain viable and to grow despite the challenges faced by smaller businesses in our economy. This business is known for innovative thinking and good customer service.

The recipient of the 2019 Small Business of the Year award goes to Brenda Kennedy of Our Turn to Cook.

Our Turn To Cook is a unique meal service reflecting the changing needs of today’s busy consumers. Owned and operated by Brenda Kennedy, Our Turn To Cook supplies prepared meals kits to individuals and families of up to six persons. Since opening its doors in New Glasgow, the business has moved to a larger space on Provost Street, and now has a dine-in area and a delivery service.

Brenda began the business with her own money, a desire to succeed and faith that hard work and ingenuity would win the day. She had no experience as an owner of a food service business. She tells us she was down to her last $1400. Talk about pressure to succeed! She now has three employees and a rapidly growing business.

Brenda believes in supporting the community that buys her products. She sends food daily to Viola’s Place to help individuals in need, and has also partnered with the Palliative Care Unit at the Aberdeen Regional Hospital to provide a “healthy helping hand.”

We are very pleased to recognize Brenda Kennedy and Our Turn To Cook as the 2019 Small Business of the Year.

 Large Business of the Year award, sponsored by the Municipality of Pictou County.

This recognition award is presented to a large business that is a significant contributor to the Pictou County economy. The award recognizes this business as a key employer which has shown consistent growth and good management and has been willing to take strategic business risks to remain a stable and sustainable enterprise.

The recipient of the 2019 Large Business of the Year award is Sullivan Fuels Ltd. 

Sullivan Fuels is one of Nova Scotia’s largest fuel companies, with seven locations across the province and 73 employees. Established in 1957, current owners, sister and brother Emily and Wade Sullivan are the third generation of the family to operate the business.

Wade and Emily represent a new generation of entrepreneurs in our community. They have brought new ideas and energy to the business. Over the last few years they have expanded its reach, including the purchase of Hankin Fuels locally, as well as businesses in Whycocomagh, Sydney River and Halifax. They also created the Nova Gas service station brand and acquired Caper Gas distributions in Cape Breton. In 2017 they responded to a desire by consumers for multi-functional and cleaner fuels for home heating and began distributing and servicing propane province wide, a service that continues to grow.

Yet with the growth of the business across the province Emily and Wade are determined to operate with a family oriented, small business feel, putting customers and community first.

When so many family business owners today struggle with succession planning when retirement comes, the Sullivan’s have figured it out and are so glad they did.

We are very pleased to recognize Wade and Emily Sullivan and Sullivan Fuels Limited as the 2019 Large Business of the Year. 

New Business of the Year award, sponsored by Northern Opportunities for Business Limited

This recognition award encourages new businesses with great potential, to stay the course, with the support of the overall business community. It recognizes the effort it takes to meet the challenges and overcome the difficulties of the first three years of operation for any new enterprise.

This year we have 2 Recipients. 

Our first recipient of the New Business of the Year award is Cathy Munro of Bramble Hill Farm.

Bramble Hill Farm is making a name for itself across the province with its popular micro-greens business. Micro-greens are basically baby vegetables that can be used in salads or added in a variety of ways to any meal.

The business is owned and operated by Cathy Munro who began her journey simply to provide fresh, healthy, organic food for her family. Today, the business is proud to be growing for the community, offering fresh salad options year round.

Located in Greenhill, Pictou County, Bramble Hill currently employs 5 persons and sells at the New Glasgow Farmers Market, the Truro Farmers Market, and at more than 16 stores in Northern Nova Scotia, as well as supplying fresh product to a number of restaurants, caterers and resorts, on a weekly basis. Cathy maintains a supply of about a half million plants at her greenhouse. Each tub of salad mix sold contains more than 400 tiny vegetable shoots.

Micro-greens, human health, and a desire to do something good for friends and neighbours – a winning formula.

We are very pleased to recognize Bramble Hill Farm as our one of our 2019 New Business of the Year. 

Our second recipient of the New Business of the Year award goes to Tabitha Coleman of Tabitha & Company.

Tabitha & Company offers a multi-functional and timeless handmade leather collection that is growing in popularity far and wide. Owned by craftsperson Tabitha Coleman, the business was established just over a year ago, crafting unique leather goods such as handbags, purses and leather accessories.

Tabitha works from home selling her products at craft shows and pop-up shops, in addition to a growing on-line business.

Tabitha was mentored and trained by well- known craftsman Paul Marcella and credits her family, friends and organizations like Northern Opportunities for Business with playing key roles in starting her business.

Her positive attitude and passion for her craft are reflected in her goal to create mindfully made quality products that continue to bring joy to her clients.

We are very pleased to recognize Tabitha and Company as second recipient of the 2019 New Business of the Year.

 Barrie MacMillan Entrepreneur of the Year award, sponsored by the Grant Thornton. 

This recognition award is presented to a business person or persons whom have created and grown a successful local business enterprise based on a willingness to take risk, to continue to build on every success and demonstrated good management practices.

The award is named in honour of Barrie MacMillan, long time Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce. 

The recipient of the 2019 Barrie MacMillan Entrepreneur of the Year award is Joyce and Bruce Winmill of R. H. Winmill Electric.

Winmill Electric is a well- known Pictou County refrigeration, electrical and plumbing business, which has operated from River John since 1974. Operated by a family of entrepreneurs, the business has grown and changed with the times over the last 45 years, most recently with their award winning heat pump sales and service offerings.

The company’s success rests largely on its reputation and ability understand customer needs and to consistently supply quality products and services.

But the real key to their success has been their employees. Currently, the business has a staff of 15 persons, all dual tradesmen. The company values the provincial apprenticeship programs and has had over 25 journeymen trade qualifiers over the years. Currently four apprentices are employed with the company.

Joyce and Bruce Winmill are true examples of how an entrepreneurial spirit can grow a successful, valued business and offer much needed jobs in rural Nova Scotia.

We are very pleased to recognize R. H. Winmill Electric as the recipients of the 2019 Barrie MacMillan Entrepreneur of the Year. 

Export Achievement award, sponsored by Nova Scotia Business Inc.

This recognition award is presented to a local business that has entered into the export market to sell goods and or services. It recognizes the vital importance of exporters to the growth of the Nova Scotia economy.

The recipient of the 2019 Export Achievement award is James MacKay of MacKay Meters. 

MacKay Meters Inc. has gained global recognition in the parking industry by providing customers with impeccable service and an array of innovative products that are recognized as leading edge technology.

In their 60 year history, this local family owned business has sold its products in over 40 countries and has more than 500,000 fully electronic parking meter mechanisms and 3,000 pay stations in service worldwide…all manufactured at the company’s plant in Abercrombie.

Headquartered in New Glasgow, MacKay Meters has expanded over the years, with a research and product development office in Halifax and sales and services offices in Scarborough, Ontario; St Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec; Victoria, British Columbia; and Sunrise, Florida. The business is also supported worldwide by distributor offices.

MacKay products include state-of-the-art multi-space pay stations, single space meters, wireless credit card meters, systems for monitoring meters remotely, data intelligence applications, and various other parking related products.

MacKay’s approach is a master class in delivering customer satisfaction, applying technological innovation and having the courage to take on the world.

So when you travel, look at the name on parking meters in the places you visit. You may be surprised what you find!

We are very pleased to recognize MacKay Meters Inc as the recipients of the 2019 Export Achievement Award. 

Community Partners award, sponsored by Sobeys.

This recognition award is presented to an individual, organization or business that has actively partnered with the Chamber of Commerce to make Pictou County a better place to live and work. It celebrates the belief that we can prosper if we can encourage a culture of collaboration within our communities.

The recipient of the 2019 Community Partners award goes to Margie Grant-Walsh of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pictou County and Michelle Ward of Kids First.

This past summer the Chamber of Commerce undertook a unique research study to determine the economic impact of our County’s non-profit sector. In doing so, the Chamber reached out to two of the most respected non-profit leaders in our community, Margie Grant-Walsh, Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pictou County and Michelle Ward from Kids First, as advisors to the project.

Thanks to them, the Chamber was able to focus on the most relevant issues of importance to the sector and to avoid the many pitfalls that naturally come with projects of this nature. It was a team effort and the results will be a real eye opener when the Chamber releases the final report in the next few weeks.

This project is a first of its kind undertaken by a rural Chamber of Commerce in Nova Scotia, in an effort to clearly understand and value the non-profit sector, which is so vital to our economy, and our communities. It has also provided important insights into the exhausting worklife and passion for community exhibited by non-profit sector employees and volunteers like Margie and Michelle.

We are very pleased to recognize Margie Grant-Walsh and Michelle Ward as the recipients of the 2019 Community Partners Award.

Leadership in Business award, sponsored by MacMac&Mac.

This recognition award is presented to a business that is a leader in its sector and a significant contributor to a stable local economy. This business strives to be the best in class in all that it does from employee relations and customer service to exceptional financial results.

The recipient of the 2019 Leadership in Business award goes to S.W. Weeks Construction. 

As it nears its 50th year of operation, Weeks Construction continues to be one of the leading businesses and employers in Northern Nova Scotia. With over 200 employees, the company manages extensive quarry and road construction operations, and is known for the high quality of its work in crushing aggregate, asphalt production, highway road construction, private paving work and water and sewer projects.

The company is active province wide, playing a leadership role in the Nova Scotia Road Builders Association, and in the promotion of workplace safety.

The family business was begun in 1971 by Scott Weeks, who along with his wife Audrey set the tone for the company’s high standards of work quality and workplace safety, along with a love of community. Perhaps best known for their support of local sports, including the Weeks Junior “A” Crushers hockey team, the Weeks family was one of the original founders of the Aberdeen Health Foundation, which continues to contribute to the well- being of all residents in our region today.

Now operated by brother and sister Stephen and Susan Weeks, the company has a bright future, dedicated to business success and quietly helping out community along the way.

We are very pleased to recognize S.W. Weeks Construction as the recipients of the 2019 Leadership in Business Award. 

Business Engagement award, sponsored by the Paper Excellence/ Northern Pulp.

Consistent with the challenges put forward in the provincial “Now or Never ‘Ivany’ Report”, this recognition award reflects the willingness of members of the business sector or community at large to move out of their comfort zone and take positive action to move the economy forward in a unique or unexpected way.

The recipient of the 2019 Business Engagement award goes to The Hemlock Group.  

Good things happen in our community because good people step up to lend a hand, people with passion and determination. Tonight we are honouring a group of such people, The Hemlock Group, eleven individuals who came together in 2013 to lend a hand in finding ways to maintain and upgrade Trenton Park, recognized as one of Pictou County’s hidden treasures.

Working with the Town of Trenton, the group utilized their diverse talents, skill sets and connections to achieve a restoration and sustainability plan for the park. Specifically, the group undertook the challenge, in partnership with the Town, to raise the required funds to get the work done.

Their determination paid off six long years later with the announcement in August of financial support from all three levels of government in the amount of $3.8 million, enough capital funding to accomplish the plan. Work on the Park upgrades will begin over the next number of months.

Like the Wellness Centre, DeCoste Performing Arts Centre, our libraries and other local assets, Trenton Park plays a key role in encouraging a healthy lifestyle and in enhancing our ability to attract professionals, employees and businesses to Pictou County.

We are very pleased to recognize The Hemlock Group as the recipients of the 2019 Business Engagement Award. 

Women in Business award, sponsored by the Centre for Women in Business.

This award recognizes some of the unique challenges faced by women in business, either as business owners or within organizations. The award celebrates women who have been successful on the business front while contributing to community improvement and striving for a successful work/life balance.

The recipient of the 2019 Women in Business award goes to Sherry Blinkhorn of Blinkhorn Real Estate. 

After a number of years as an award winning real estate sales professional, Sherry opened her own agency in 2005 and has never looked back. Highly respected among her peers in the industry, Sherry and her team focus on professionalism, integrity and client service as a formula for growth and success.

Coming from humble beginnings and a difficult childhood, Sherry has dedicated her life to helping others in need through her community volunteering and her work in the mental health field. She is the past president of the Canadian Mental Health Association, has served on the Board of Directors of the Nova Scotia Schizophrenia Society, has been a trainer for the Pictou County Help Line and served on the boards of Directors for the East Pictou Canadian Cancer Society and Roots for Youth.

Sherry currently volunteers for the local Palliative Care Society, the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia and co-facilitates the “Family Matters” program for mental health. She even found time to travel to New Orleans to help re-build homes after Hurricane Katrina.

She has received numerous awards in her professional life and for her dedication to community, most recently receiving the prestigious Volunteer Vision Award from the Nova Scotia Mental Health Foundation. She was the first…and only woman…to receive the Chamber’s Business Leader of the Year Award.

Sherry Blinkhorn is a true role model for all of us and particularly, for women in business. Pictou County is fortunate to have her as part of our community.

We are very pleased to recognize Sherry Blinkhorn as the recipient of the 2019 Women in Business Award. 

Diversity in Business award, sponsored by the NS Works- Career Connections.

This award recognizes modern workforce demographics where inclusion policies and practices are essential to attracting and retaining an engaged and innovative workforce, focused on the success and growth of the business. The award recognizes employers who have made significant progress in making their workplaces inclusive, respectful and attractive to a diverse group of employees. 

The recipient of the 2019 Diversity in Business award goes to Glen Haven Manor.  

Glen Haven Manor is one of the largest long-term care facilities in Nova Scotia with 201 beds, one respite bed and 20 enriched housing units. The facility has 300 employees in one of Nova Scotia’s most challenging sectors.

The strategic priorities of the Manor’s leadership and staff are re-defining quality long term care in our community through innovation and a belief that diversity in the workplace is critical to success.

Glen Haven’s staff and residents come from across Nova Scotia, as well as England, Scotland, India, Nigeria and Syria. The welcome messages at the facility entrances are written in six languages and throughout the year the diversity of residents, staff, community and country are celebrated through the presentation of foods reflecting various heritages. Multi-generational families are a large part of the team. Opportunities for training and advancement are made available and staff are encouraged to accept new challenges. There has been 100% retention of newcomer employees.

Innovative employee recruitment strategies and working with partners, like the Atlantic Immigration project, local employers, and even some international organizations, have paid dividends in an industry that often struggles with recruitment and retention.

Glen Haven’s mantra is to be innovative, diverse, inclusive, compassionate and to always to strive for excellence. It is a winning formula.

We are very pleased to recognize Glen Haven Manor as the recipients of the 2019 Diversity in Business Award. 

Special Recognition award, sponsored by RBC.

This recognition award is presented to a true champion and leader in our community. It is presented to an individual or organization that has made a special contribution to the Chamber, to our economy and to our community. 

The recipient of the 2019 Special Recognition award goes to The Bennett Family. Accepting the award is Richard and Peter Bennett. 

This year’s award is presented to the family of Richard and Nancy Bennett and their son Peter Bennett, long time members of the Chamber of Commerce and owners of Stright-MacKay, well known supplier and exporter of marine supply products located in New Glasgow. Tonight we recognize the dedication of this family, for their support of individuals in our community with mental health challenges.

In 2006 Richard and Nancy established the Sandbar Mental Health Endowment, through the Aberdeen Health Foundation, as a gift to the community. The endowment funds mental health programs, as well as education and mental health outreach programs.

One of the primary recipients of Sandbar funding has been New Hope, an outpatient program for persons living with mental illness. Recently, with funds contributed directly from the business, the family purchased its second vehicle for New Hope, as access to transportation makes it possible for New Hope participants to become more fully engaged in our community.

Our sincere thanks to the Bennett family for their on-going acts of compassion and kindness in our community. We are pleased to present them with the 2019 Special Recognition award. 

Lifetime Achievement award, sponsored by The Advocate.

This award is presented to an individual in our community who has demonstrated long term success as an entrepreneur and business leader with a commitment to community service over the many years of a successful career. Essentially, this individual, through a keen sense of business management and a dedication to community improvement has helped create a better place for all of us to live and work in the years to come.

*This is not an annual award, and is only presented when exceptional candidates emerge among us.

The recipient of the 2019 Lifetime Achievement award goes to Frank Sobey.