North Bay well represented at NOBAsFriday, October 04, 2013 by: Mark Pare The best Northern Ontario business has to offer was on display at Nipissing University Thursday night.
For the 27th time, the NOBA Awards were handed out to winners in ten different categories and a $3,000 scholarship was up for grabs as well.
The city seems to be doing alright, based on the number of awards that went to businesses in the community, four to be exact. Mayor Al McDonald says it’s wonderful for local businesses to get recognized because a lot of times, they don’t get to tell their story.
“A lot of these companies don’t even do business in North Bay,” he said, “They sell their products around the world so tonight, we’re able to recognize those individuals and really tell their story through the media here tonight.”
McDonald says it’s business and industry that creates wealth and this ceremony is also an opportunity to showcase the city and what it has to offer.
“Anytime you can expose your city to future leaders or leaders of industry and captains of industry, it’s a great sign,” he said, “We have an opportunity here to host them in this library to show off Nipissing University and I know they’ve been here for a couple days so they get to see what our city is all about as well.”
McDonald co-hosted the awards gala at the Robert J. Surtees Athletics Centre with Northern Ontario Business Publisher Patricia Mills.
Winners from the Gateway City include Central Welding and Iron Works (Company of the Year with 51+ employees), Young Forestry Services (First Nations Business Award of Excellence), Canadore College (Entrepreneurial Community of the Year) and North Bay Computer Services (Judges’ Choice Award).
Central Welding and Iron Works owners Gail and Stefan Thomsen started the business in 1980 and through the years, their 1,000 square-foot shop grew into a 100,000 square-foot facility. It has grown to become the largest, privately owned fabricator of steel bridges in Canada.
Now, the couple’s son Erik works for them along with their daughter, Stefanie Bailey. Erik says there is no better person to learn from then his dad.
He says they are very thankful for the city nominating them and explains why he thinks they received the award.
“I think that we do a lot of work in Northern Ontario, we’re all from Northern Ontario and we employ a lot of people from Northern Ontario,” he said, “We love it here and the North really supports us and I think that’s what got us the award.”
As for Young Forestry Services, manager and part owner Lorie Young says they’ve been in business for 16 years and although it started off slow with small logging contracts, they never gave up and six years ago, got a contract from Union Gas to do pipeline maintenance.
“Once we got those contracts (from Union Gas), everything just seemed to explode,” she said, “We were doing really good work and our name got out to people like TransCanada pipeline, GoldCorp and we started getting these different contracts from these different companies and it’s all over Ontario, we’re all over Ontario so our signs were all over the place so we became very well known within this industry.”
Young says it means a lot to be honoured for this award at such an early stage in their business.
“We put a lot of hours and a lot of weekends and all of our hard work is paying off so to be recognized for this time and effort that we put into our business and for outside businesses to recognize us, it means a lot.”
Young also offers a message to native businesses to be successful.
“There are lots of opportunities out there,” she said, “There are a lot of businesses that are willing to help native people, but you also have to produce the work. You have to know what you’re doing to be able to succeed so don’t take any negative comments seriously and if you have the drive to do it, just go and do it, that’s what we did.”
Canadore College President George Burton attributes the award to the people of the college and their hard work. Burton says it’s quite the selection process the committee has and they are humbled to be selected.
“The college establishes it’s contribution by development through partnerships with the community and businesses within the community and our approach at Canadore is to help businesses solve their issues.”
At the same time, Burton says that he goes by a very simple philosophy.
“A healthy, strong business sector means a healthy, strong college simply because as businesses expand, so do the opportunities for our graduates to obtain meaningful employment,” he said, “And by keeping that close connection with companies, we’re assuring that we’re closing the skills gap that’s quite prevalent in the news today.”
North Bay Computer Services has been in business since 1997, when it was under it’s original name Computer Services N. The business was incorporated with it’s current name in 2010. Owner Yann Fleury says the award is perfect for him to grow outside of North Bay.
“When I go to Sudbury, it’ll be easier, people can see we’re not just a new company and we have a background so it’ll make them feel a lot better and this should be a great to take over other towns for sure.” he said.
Fleury already has a location in Ottawa but would like to expand to places such as Timmins and Sault Ste. Marie. He says North Bay has been awesome for his business because everybody local supports local “big time” and he is giving back to the community.
“We sponsor a lot of local teams, we do a lot of donations, we want to give back cause they’re giving us so much that it’s my turn to give back.” he said.
McDonald says cities can’t create employment but it can bring that environment so businesses and industries can be successful. He says he’s positioning North Bay so that when the global economy starts to take off from it’s current down-turn, they’ll be ready to go.
“That’s why you’re seeing all that infrastructure spending that we’re doing at the Airport Business Park, down Pinewood Park Drive,” he said, “We’ve reduced industrial taxes by 66 per cent, we’re reducing commercial taxes by a percent for 20 years so we’re trying to make it really competitive here, as well as try to run our city in a very efficient manner.”
Full List of Award Winners
-Company of the Year (1-15 employees): N-Sci Technologies (Sault Ste. Marie)
-Company of the Year (16-50 employees): Cedar Meadows Resort and Spa (Timmins)
-Company of the Year (51+ employees): Central Welding and Iron Works (North Bay)
-Entrepreneur of the Year: Jeff Fuller, Fuller Industrial Corp (Sudbury)
-Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Frank Chartrand and Nico Taus, Bureau Group (Sudbury)
-Innovation Award: Millson Forestry Service (Timmins)
-First Nations Business Award of Excellence: Young Forestry Services (North Bay)
-Entrepreneurial Community of the Year: Canadore College (North Bay)
-Judges’ Choice Award: North Bay Computer Services (North Bay)
-Export Award: KBM Resources Group (Thunder Bay)
The Union Gas Essay Scholarship was awarded to Jessica Serre of Kapuskasing.
The 2014 Northern Ontario Business Awards will take place on September 24-25 in Sault Ste. Marie.