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____ Friday February 19, 2016 ____


Business Excellence

2016 Business Excellence Award Recipients Highlight Region’s Business Community’s Strength

Home Hardware wins Business of the Year

Kitchener – Last night the 2016 the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce and the Waterloo Region business community came together to honour the extraordinary contributions of the organizations and volunteers who were nominated for the 2016 Business Excellence Awards at its annual Gala. CTV’s Lyndsay Morrison acted as host and Master of Ceremonies for the evenings Gala celebrations.

Award Winners

Business of the Year (Over 50 Employees) Award
Home Hardware Stores Limited

Since 1964, Home Hardware has grown from the original, single hardware store in St. Jacobs to Canada’s largest Dealer-owned network of close to 1,100 stores spanning the country and generating almost $5.7 billion in annual retail sales.

Home Hardware is proud to employ nearly 18,000 Canadians nationwide, with 2100 staff at their distribution centres and corporate office, of that staff 55% have been with them for more than 10 years and an additional 20% have been employees for more than 25 years.

Home Hardware supports the local tourism and hospitality businesses with its Markets in the spring and fall of each year. Generating over $13 million for the local economy in the past 22 years, the Markets draw visitors from across Canada, occupies more than 3,000 hotel rooms and caters more than 8,000 meals. Home Hardware is committed to supporting local communities across Canada through several national charitable partners and in 2015 staff at the St Jacobs head office raised over $73,000 to support local community events and organizations.

Business of the Year (11-50 Employees) Award
S.G. Cunningham Limited

S.G. Cunningham began in 1976 as a three-person operation, has enjoyed steady, managed sales growth and now employs nearly 30 full-time staff members and at any given time may be managing up to 200 people on job sites. One third of employees are long-term and have been with the company for 10 years or more, and in 2015 the company was transitioned to a second generation of leaders, including one of a very few female presidents of commercial construction companies in Kitchener-Waterloo.

S.G. Cunningham is also at the forefront of implementing technology in the construction industry, using cloud computing software to keep office and on site staff connected, and using mobile apps for time tracking and job costing, as well as to track and manage project deficiencies and deliver real time feedback.

Everyone from the founder to summer students receive training programs and they have been awarded Certificates of Achievement for construction safety by the Ontario General Contractors Association for the past seven years, experienced no lost time injuries in eight years, and no WSIB claims in 40 years.

Business of the Year (1-10 Employees) Award
Gem Spa

In 2012, Gem Spa opened its doors with a small database of clients, dramatic growth in the past year, has lead to an increased number of full and part-time employees and they are preparing a second expansion into an adjacent building. Despite being located along the LRT construction route, sales have flourished by over $40,000 from the previous year. Gem Spa also tripled the retail end of their business, both in range of products and size of stock to include spa and beauty amenities and accessories. Many of the products are made in house, both for retail and treatments, creating the opportunity for customized experiences for their clients with allergies, vegan and organic preferences.

Employee Engagement Award
University of Waterloo

Training is key to the University of Waterloo fulfilling its strategic objective to “enable staff to fulfill their potential in a career at the University.” Each year, they provide hundreds of training opportunities for their 3000 employees, including two annual staff conferences and award-winning training programs that match the stages and varying needs of employees and their roles.

In addition to the training programs, Waterloo engages its employees in a number of other notable initiatives: a Staff Excellence Fund provides $250,000 each year toward projects and programs that promote excellence through cooperation, collaboration, and innovation; a Staff International Experience Fund which provides employees with international experience opportunities to broaden their professional perspectives on a global scale; Community initiatives where staff, faculty, and students regularly give back to the greater community.

The University has developed and recently won a national award for its university-wide Principles of Inclusivity program – a seven-part certificate that raises awareness, deepens understanding, and sets expectations relating to behaviours, actions and attitudes that support inclusivity in the workplace. Finally, in May 2015, University of Waterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur, made a bold commitment to gender equity that will reduce employment barriers for women at UW as he accepted an invitation from the UN Women’s HeForShe campaign that involves 10 Heads of State, 10 CEOs, and 10 University Presidents to advance gender equity globally.

Environment and Sustainability Award

Social & Environmental Responsibility is one of the four pillars of WalterFedy’s company values. A Sustainable Advisory Committee of staff has the mandate ‘To advocate for environmental practices for their company, customers and community.’ Their head office is LEED¨ Silver Certified under the Commercial Interiors program, and in 2015 they completed an energy audit to determine how equipment, system and behavioural changes would result in energy savings. Even though WalterFedy is currently performing above average, they are looking to implement three new measures, with four additional measures to be considered when the equipment requires replacement.

Internally, they have a composting program, all fluorescent lamps are recycled, coffee makers and water boilers are on timers to save power. An electronic waste program was introduced to encourage employees to dispose of old electronics at work, they track employees commuting to work based on an in house developed app, held a brown bag lunch regarding the Save On Energy program and incentives to promote with their customers, and weigh and track waste, recycling and composting.

Externally, WalterFedy works to incorporate sustainable materials and practices into every project and they are a Pledging Partner of Sustainable Waterloo Region’s Regional Carbon Initiative and have committed to reducing CO2 emissions by 40% from 2010 to 2020.

Health and Wellness in the Workplace Award
Libro Credit Union

Libro is committed to working with staff to help them become their best, both professionally and personally and offer a comprehensive set of wellness benefits to all staff, supporting physical and mental health as well as social and community well-being. Their on-site Wellness Program, provides all staff the opportunity for one-on-one consultations, an online personalized portal, customized wellness initiatives and group-based challenges. Eighty percent of their staff currently participates and the program annually provides Libro with the top health concerns and interests of staff, which dictates the focus of the programs and challenges introduced. Each branch has a "Wellness Champion", whose role is to be an advocate for the program and communicate new information.

Many employees take advantage of off-site lunch-hour yoga sessions, while others make use of the discounted rates offered by partner health clubs. Branches also arrange "meet and stretch" and "get up

and move" times where staff gather to do a few quick exercises throughout the day. To help employees achieve work-life balance, Libro provides flexible work hours and their Employee Assistance Program offers confidential, professional counseling and information services to all staff and their immediate families. Staff is encouraged to give back to their communities and groups of employees can be found serving hot meals at local soup kitchens, helping United Way with Days of Giving projects and sorting food at the local food bank.

Hospitality/Tourism Award
Grand River Raceway

Since its inception in 2003, Grand River Raceway has become one of North America’s most respected tracks in the horse racing industry and a major contributor to the local community and regional tourism market. In 2015, the track: welcomed more than 680,000 visitors and had an economic impact of over $53 million in total visitor spending, employed 218 people, and for the fifth consecutive year, was the top-ranked of 14 OLG Slots At Racetracks sites for the number of guests per machine.

During their 49 nights of live horse racing, they broadcast a 3.5 hour TV program to thousands of people across North America via satellite, and web steaming and include commercials provided by local and regional tourism boards, free of charge to promote upcoming events.

Finally, Grand River Raceway’s owner/operator, the Grand River Agricultural Society, donated more than $45,000 to improve various rural attractions and distributed $118,000 in cash and gift-in-kind donations, to local charitable initiatives.

Innovation Award
Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics

In just 15 years since its inception, Perimeter Institute has become a world-leading centre for research and innovation in theoretical physics. Perimeter researchers have made groundbreaking, seminal contributions to fields of physics including quantum information, particle physics, quantum fields and strings, strong gravity, and many more. The Institute is home to the largest single concentration of theoretical physicists in the world and more than 1,000 visiting scientists come to Perimeter for collaborations and conferences every year.

Perimeter's innovative design is purpose-made to encourage unexpected conversations and cross-discipline collaborations and is shaping the very science they do and helps get them closer to big breakthroughs at the most promising intersections of science. The innovation chain goes from theory to experiment to application to commercialization, and the Institute is a first link in that chain.

Meanwhile, Perimeter's innovative educational outreach programming reaches millions of people worldwide through classroom resources, teacher training, public lectures, publications, digital media, festivals and an archive of more than 10,000 free online lectures and seminars.

They don’t yet know exactly what breakthroughs will happen next, where this new knowledge will lead or what new technologies will follow. All they know for certain it that today’s physics is tomorrow’s technology.

Michael R. Follett Community Leader Award
Mary D’Alton

Mary D’Alton is a proud business leader, community supporter and long-term Chamber advocate.

Appointed general manager at age 30, she was up against a tough crowd when she arrived as many people didn’t believe a young woman could be in charge of an operation that had a staff of 300. She proved them wrong as the Waterloo Inn Conference Hotel turned into a local landmark and for decades it served as the go-to place for thousands of community, corporate, political, and social events and the general manager was there to warmly greet not only the guests, but the staff as well.

Her love of people extends beyond her career into the community where she has devoted countless volunteer hours to business, education, charitable, and arts organizations where she has participated on various boards and committees. She is currently Chair of the Board for the Hospitality Industry Training Organization of Ontario, Chair of the Waterloo Chapter of the International Women’s Forum and Board Member for Waterloo North Hydro, KW YMCA Foundation, THEMUSEUM and Drinksmart Ontario. Volunteer experience includes Past Chair of the following: Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association, Ontario Safety Service Alliance, Wilfrid Laurier University 100th Anniversary, and co-chair for the City of Waterloo Sesquicentennial. She has also been a board member for the: Better Business Bureau, CAA Midwestern Ontario, Waterloo

Wellington Local Health Integration Network, Zonta International, KW Community Foundation, St. Mary’s General Hospital, Waterloo Region Hospice, and KW Art Gallery to name a few!

She has won numerous accolades for her commitment to community betterment and has received the Order of Wilfrid Laurier University, Distinguished Governor of Laurier Award, Governor General’s Medal for Community Service, and is a recipient of the KW Citizen of the Year and the City of Waterloo Legacy of Leaders.

Non-Profit/Charitable Award
The Food Bank of Waterloo Region

In the past year, The Food Bank secured and distributed food for more than 6 million meals in Waterloo Region helping 34,000 individuals and assisted an additional 26,000 people in South Western Ontario through their Food Bank Distribution Services’ collaborative food sourcing and distribution. An increase of 300,000 meals from the previous year.

Changes to infrastructure and processes have ensured effective acquisition and distribution of food to increase the efficacy of the Community Food Assistance Network of 100 agencies and programs to better meet the current and future food needs of clients. The Food Bank also engaged the network in a facilitated strategic planning exercise to prioritize efforts for the next 3 years and led the implementation of Link2Feed, a secure cloud-based intake and reporting software.

The Food Bank increased resources dedicated towards food industry donor acquisition and in particular promoting the Ontario Farm Tax Credit program lead to 62% of their inventory being perishable product. They also developed a program to engage companies and provide an additional revenue stream, and grew corporate volunteerism by 60%.
Volunteers provided more than 23,000 hours, the equivalent of 11 full time staff and a newly implemented Volunteer Management software is making it easy for volunteers to select opportunities that best meet their availability & interests.

Finally, the best demonstration of the high value the community places on The Food Bank is that it is entirely community funded.

Volunteer of the Year Award
Laura Hewitson/Manulife

This year’s Volunteer of the Year is an advocate for this community in many capacities, through her committed volunteerism and her corporate role. She has been an active member of the Family Physician Liaison Task Force since 2009. Always there when needed, Laura has been quick to offer assistance to staff and has been involved with the successful planning and hosting of our annual physician recruitment weekend. With her warm and engaging manner she is always a favourite with the visiting physicians, and some of these physicians and their partners have continued to stay connected with her while they finish their residencies. Over time she has unofficially become the social coordinator for those residents wanting to check out the local night life scene!
Laura is currently the chair of the Business Excellence Awards Nominations Committee, where they provide support and guidance to the Chamber and make recommendations for Award recipients based on support kits received from nominees.
She has also been an active member on the Chamber Young Professionals Committee for the past 7 years, and has helped increase their awareness and attendance at events.
Her dedication, support, and positive attitude stand out as examples to all of us, and her commitment to making a difference not only within the Chamber but within the greater Kitchener-Waterloo community is to be commended.

Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award
Lina Shamoun – Artline Salon

Born in Iraq, Lina and her family immigrated to Canada in 1998 when she was 14. Participating in a Skills Canada hair competition in high school sparked her interest in hairstyling. She completed a two and a half year apprenticeship and founded Artline Salon in 2007 at age 23. With a strong passion for hairstyling and a commitment to develop talent, Lina has since trained 5 apprentices and 20 co-op students, and is now a judge for Skills Canada and Allied Beauty Association competitions.

Her business welcomes 90% repeat customers and has achieved 30% year over year growth, making her salon in the top quartile in Ontario. Known for advanced technique, skill, and creativity, Lina and her staff have received many awards in the highly competitive styling arena. She has represented Team Canada at OMC's Hair World five times and will be going again in 2016. Lina is also passionate about

giving back and started a bi-annual fundraiser called Hair United for local not-for-profits, is involved with The Food Bank, and Artline matches client donations to Operation Christmas Child. Lina has also greeted and translated for recent Syrian refugees.

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