Forget the traditional flowers and gemstones for Valentine’s Day, says Cathy Nesbitt, who suggests a bouquet of worms, which boast five hearts each.
“A pound of worms is a better gift than a pound of chocolate,” the founder of Cathy’s Crawly Composters told the 200-plus amused guests at the Fire & Ice Gala as she picked up her custom-made glass ICCON Award Feb. 5.
Nesbitt, winning in the new Green Business Award category, was one of 10 members of the local business community honoured with a Greater Innisfil Chamber of Commerce (GICC) ICCON – the new name for the annual awards that acknowledge the “icons” of Innisfil.
With a couple of last-minute tables being added to the sold-out venue of OLG Slots at Georgian Downs’, host Glenn Coulson of Rogers Television presided over an evening that celebrated the town’s best.
“I’ve worked in the town for over 20 years and I’ve seen it grow,” third-term GICC president Heather MacDonald said during a later interview. “Watching the successes of the businesses going from small to large is thrilling.”
The chamber, which was established about 50 years ago, currently has approximately 200 members. Building on the popular large events that are perennial favourites, MacDonald has opted to increasing communications and value for members during her tenure.
A bi-weekly newsletter now provides up to-date chamber information and a new member value program (MVP) provides member-to-member discounts.
“It might be a free dessert at a restaurant or a 10 per cent discount,” explains MacDonald, who is the CEO of the Peoples Credit Union, which won the night’s Community Award. “It’s all about providing value for membership.” She also wants to support local businesses by having the chamber represented at all grand openings, anniversaries and special events.
With all the growth in the region, it makes choosing just one winner for each of the eight categories of ICCON Awards tricky. In this year’s batch, there were two ties, including for the top prize of Business of the Year.
Both Aqua Gem Investments Inc. and Spring Tree Farm Corporation, which have both been operating in Innisfil more than two decades, credited their staffs for the win.
Young Entrepreneur of the Year Tyler Downing, who incorporated Downing Roofing in August, may be new to the Innisfil business community, but he’s no stranger to his craft.
“I learned everything I know from my father,” said Downing after the ceremony. “He owns his own (roofing) company in Minden. I’ve been working for him since I was 12 years old.”
Now 26, Downing installs all kinds of roofs but says shingles are his meat and potatoes.
“I want to bring back integrity,” he said, showing a wisdom beyond his years. “I use new school techniques with old-school attitudes.”
Winning for New Business of the Year was Barry Bea of Hirus Inspection Services who got a laugh by telling the audience “the business is new but I’m not.”
Bea brings a 20-year career in construction and renovations to his home inspection company, which provides Certified Home Energy Audits as well. Bea is also trained in mould assessment by the International Association of Certified Indoor Air Consultants.
There was also a tie for the Service Business Award, which was shared by Lakeside Retirement at Innsifil, and Weedman.
The list of award-winners kicked off with MacDonald presenting the President’s Award to Patti Summerfield in thanks of her years of contribution to the GICC, including more than 15 years as a board member.
Accepting her award with a quiet grace, Summerfield said: “I do prefer to be the person behind the people.”
The 2010 winners also included Alcona Gas Variety & Car Wash, which took home the Retail Business of the Year Award and Iron Man Welding which was presented the Manufacturing/Industrial ICCON.
“Innisfil is fortunate to have so many great businesses,” said MacDonald, whose team received more nominations than normal this year. “It’s very hard to choose just one among them.”
The area’s growth has impacted the GICC directly. Last July it opened a new office on the corner of Yonge and Victoria Streets, and brought in Sandra Green as its first full-time employee.
For more information about the GICC, visit www.innisfilchamber.com or call 431-4199.
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