A Celebration 35 Years in the Making

Oct 27, 2018 | Chamber News

For the past three decades, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce (MCC) has celebrated the best of our province’s business community, and on Friday, October 26 that tradition continued. The 35th Manitoba Business Awards were presented in front of a record-setting crowd at the Fairmont Hotel, and hosted by Global National anchor and Manitoba’s own Dawn Friesen.

Thanks to the Fairmont Hotel who played host to our 35th celebration of Manitoba business.

Growth, Enterprise, and Trade Minister Blaine Pedersen provides a welcome from the provincial government to open the awards.

A record setting crowd prepares for a great night and celebration of Manitoba businesses.

Our host for the evening, Global National anchor Dawna Friesen, welcomes those in attendance.

Each year, the awards celebrate the diverse businesses that make up Manitoba`s growing sectors. With finalists representing all corners of the province, the awards also recognize the contributions of companies and individuals that make a lasting impact on our province.

We recognize and celebrate the winners of the 35th Manitoba Business Awards:

Lieutenant Governor Awards – Individual Presented by Bell MTS – Abdo (Albert) El Tassi)


Mr. Albert El Tassi accepting his Lieutenant Governor Award for his contributions to Manitoba.

  • A well-known Manitoba businessman and philanthropist who works tirelessly to promote understanding, tolerance, and respect not only in Winnipeg but globally. Albert has called Winnipeg home since 1969 when he started in the shipping department of Peerless Garments Ltd. As of June 2006, he has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of Peerless Garments LP, which is a garment manufacturer and importer carrying two main businesses: leather and cold weather garments. For over 45 years, he has worked closely with Department of National Defence staff working on the design and development of specialized garments for the military.

Lieutenant Governor Awards – Business Presented by Bell MTS – StandardAero


Bell MTS Vice President of Business Solutions Ryan Klassen (L) congratulates representatives with StandardAero with the Lieutenant Governor Award for a Company along with MCC board chair Paul Holden (R).

  • Founded in 1911, StandardAero has become one of the world aerospace industry’s largest independent maintenance, repair, and overhaul providers. StandardAero’s mission is to be the best to work for, the most trusted service partner and where custom solutions come standard.  StandardAero employs more than 6,000 employees, with over 1,300 working in Winnipeg. As StandardAero has become a truly international company, its solid roots in Winnipeg are now the backbone of the province’s important aerospace sector.

Outstanding Social Enterprise – Manitoba Museum (Winnipeg)


(L-R) Winnipeg Free Press publisher Bob Cox, Claudette Leclerc, CEO of the Manitoba Museum, MCC board chair Paul Holden.

  • The Manitoba Museum is the province’s largest, not-for-profit heritage and science centre. The museum is renowned for their vivid portrayal of Manitoba’s rich and colourful history, Planetarium shows, and interactive Science Gallery. The museum is also the province’s central repository of heritage materials and supplier of heritage services with over 2.8 million artifacts and specimens, including the internationally renowned Hudson’s Bay Company Museum Collection of more than 27,133 artifacts. The Museum’s collections reflect the heritage of Manitoba and other regions of the world. With nine interpretive galleries, the Planetarium, Science Gallery, and Alloway Hall, visitors of all ages can explore the interrelationship of people and their environment.

Finalists: Building Urban Industries for Local Development (BUILD) Inc.; NorWest Co-op Community Health Centre

Entrepreneur of the Year Sponsored by Taylor McCaffrey LLP – Blayne Wyton, Prairie Barnwood Ltd. (Morden)


(L-R) Jamie Jurczak, Partner with Taylor McCaffrey LLP, Blayne Wyton, Owner of Prairie Barnwood, MCC board chair Paul Holden.

  • Prairie Barnwood Ltd. (PBW) was founded by Blayne Wyton in 2008. It was during a trip to Ontario that the vision for PBW was born, to create handcrafted furniture from reclaimed wood. Working from his shop near Morden, the company dismantles old barns, wood structures, and old homesteads. More than just a business owner, Blayne is a strong voice and advocate for human rights and empowering woman, helping widows and orphans in Canada and abroad helping with humanitarian aid work, providing basic needs for people in villages in Rural India and helping raise money to buy land and build a farm to employee widows in India.

Finalists: Hillary Proctor, Leaf Landscaping Inc.; Karen Swystun & Fred Loewen, Waterford Global Inc.

Outstanding Small Business Sponsored by CPHR Manitoba – Sycamore Energy Inc. (Winnipeg)


(L-R) CPHR Manitoba Board Chair Janice Harper, Justin Phillips, CEO & Co-founder of Sycamore Energy, MCC board chair Paul Holden.

  • Sycamore Energy Inc. was founded in 2012 and is a vertically integrated renewable energy design and installation firm. Their owners have been involved in the renewable energy sector for over 12 years. Sycamore Energy Inc. team has over 30 years of residential, commercial and agricultural experience in the areas of solar photovoltaics, electrical, structural, design, and sales. Sycamore’s leadership is dedicated to finding creative solutions and has been focused on delivering exceptional value to the customer seeking to offset or eliminate their exposure to rising grid-tied energy prices. Sycamore Energy Inc. believes in working towards a clean, sustainable and independent energy future by providing access to electricity generated from renewables.

Finalists: Brockie Donovan Funeral Home & Cremation Services; The Sneath Group.

Outstanding Medium Business Sponsored by Rogers Communications Canada – Keystone Western Inc. (Grande Pointe)


(L-R) Karen Holden, Government Relations with Rogers Communications Canada, Keystone Western Vice President Dave Tardi, MCC board chair Paul Holden.

  • Celebrating over 25 successful years, Keystone Western Inc. is a quality provider asset-based logistics solutions company for TL and LTL dry van and open deck shippers throughout North America. Keystone also offers freight forwarding services, logistics audits, shipment lane costing and carrier optimization. Keystone’s success is driven by its proven consultative business approach, industry flexibility, unique corporate culture, and professional working environment, which drive both business and personal growth for its customers, employees, and investors. The success of Keystone Western has directed them away from being a basic provider of trucks and rates, to becoming a logistics consultant and business partner.

Finalists: Vomar Industries Inc. (Tank Traders); McNally Robinson Booksellers

Outstanding Large Business Sponsored by FastAir Executive Aviation Services – and 2018 MCC Business of the Year – SkipTheDishes (Winnipeg)


(L-R) Dan Rutherford, Director of Marketing and Business with FastAir, SkipTheDishes CEO and Co-founder Chris Simair, Paul Holden, MCC board chair.

  • SkipTheDishes was founded in 2012 by brothers Chris and Joshua Simair, who left their traditional careers to launch a prairie tech startup offering Canadians a better way to order restaurant food, through online delivery. The founding group also included another Simair brother, Daniel, and two university friends, Jeff Adamson and Andrew Chau. Skip established its Winnipeg headquarters in 2013 and is one of city’s largest private sector employers, with 2000 employees. The company now partners with more than 14,000 independent, local and national restaurants in over 115 Canadian markets coast to coast. Its rapid and continuing growth and success in tech innovation, job creation, and workforce development encourages economic development across the sector.

Finalists for Large Business: Hylife Ltd.; Westman Communications Group

Outstanding Long-term Achievement Sponsored by Winnipeg Airports Authority –  Barkman Concrete (Winnipeg)


(L-R) WAA President and CEO Barry Rempel, Barkman Concrete President Alan Barkman and MCC board chair Paul Holden.

  • For 70 years, Barkman has developed a name as an innovator and an industry leader in precast concrete manufacturing. What started as a small septic tank producing operation, is now a company that offers the most diverse, quality-tested precast product line for residential, commercial, and agricultural applications in Canada. Originally founded in Steinbach, Manitoba, Barkman currently employs over two-hundred people in three different locations. Barkman works hard to maintain a family-led atmosphere, which translates to their commitment to customer service. Barkman values integrity in its relationships, quality in its products and services, loyalty to its people, and innovation in its field.

Finalists: The North West Company; Triple E Canada Ltd.

Return to Work Award Sponsored by Workers Compensation Board – Federated Co-operatives – Winnipeg Distribution Centre (Winnipeg)


(L-R) Dan Holland of WCB, Jim Burkitt, Regional Logistics Director with Federated Co-operatives Ltd. and MCC board chair Paul Holden.

  • Federated Cooperatives Ltd. (FCL) is a different kind of business, focused on serving independent retail co-operative members with a core business model including wholesaling, manufacturing, marketing, and administration in four areas: agriculture, energy, food & home, and building solutions. The Winnipeg Distribution Centre – which serves 212 Co-op locations in 132 Manitoba communities – has made enormous strides in safety between 2011 and 2017. The FCL Return to Work program includes extensive group safety training and cross-training of all employees. Since the implementation of the Return to Work Program, FCL has reduced their rates and premiums by more than half; lost time due to injury has dropped 90% since 2017, and time lost claims reduction of 96%, setting a course as an employee health and safety leader working to achieve zero accidents.

Finalists: Actionmargurite, Gardewine Group LP

The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce would like to thank all our dedicated partners for their continued belief in the Chamber movement and extend our congratulations to all this year’s finalists.

All photos above courtesy of David Moder Photography.

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