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Mattawa's Gin-Cor big winner at NOBA Awards

Luc Stang knows what it takes to become one of the most trusted names in truck manufacturing. Quality, continuous improvement and a strong focus on health and safety are the core values that led to a massive expansion in 2012 and a tripling of their dedicated workforce over the past three years

Mattawa company Gin-Cor has been named "Compay of the Year" at the Northern Ontario Business Awards, held in Timmins Thursday.

Gin-Cor Industries is celebrating 35 years in business and builds vocational and severe service trucks including snowplows. Luc Stang, CEO, Gin-Cor Industries, credits his employees for the win.

"All our locations are in small communities like Mattawa and have a low turnover rate and strongest loyalty of employees. And in places like Mattawa we have people that are accustomed to adversity and challenges and finding solutions to any problem put before them whereas in larger urban areas they may not have the same tenacity and willingness to push through various elements that may be a little more challenging and instead just seek employment elsewhere because they have more choices available to them."

And Stang explains that being in the north is good for product development.

"The employees understand the harsher conditions of northern Ontario. You get extreme cold and harsh conditions so it forced us to make a product that is more robust, more resilient that meets those conditions and in doing so the products more than exceed the norms of maybe the Toronto market. There's a lot to be said for the north being a proving ground. The staff that we have in the north have to be resilient in their own a jack of all trades and be able to make do with very little with regards to tooling or finding solutions to repairing things and getting them up and running.

"A lot of our employees come from the forestry sector where you don't have services on every street corner so they have to weld their own product, repair or machine something. It's that kind of diverse skill set that allows business to really flourish and develop a robust workforce."

Stang previously won a NOBA award for Entrepreneur of the Year.

The Awards will be held in North Bay next year.

Northern Ontario is one of the most robust business regions in the country and home to some of the most forward-thinking business leaders on the globe. For 31 years, the Northern Ontario Business Awards program has celebrated this entrepreneurial spirit and the winning achievements of the best companies, individuals and economic development initiatives.

“Our purpose is, and always has been, to recognize excellence, to build confidence in our ability to overcome obstacles unique to Northern Ontario by celebrating the people who do it,” said Michael Atkins, president of Laurentian Publishing and Northern Ontario Business.

“But our purpose is also to build a culture of enterprise, get to know each other and have some fun.”

The quality of the awards program is underwritten each year by a respected panel of judges from across Northern Ontario. They are asked to look at all aspects of business performance, from customer service and community involvement to human resource management and future planning. This year’s judges were: Tom Laughren, director of corporate responsibility with Tahoe Canada (Timmins); Paul Reid, business development officer with the City of Greater Sudbury (Sudbury); Pat Dubreuil, president of Manitou Gold, Ctrl2Market, Magpie Relay and Let’s Roll ‘ideation” Consulting (Dubreuilville); and Tom Palangio, president of WipWare (North Bay).

NOBA has become the largest annual gathering of its kind in Northern Ontario since it was launched in 1986. These awards have served to heighten the visibility and influence of business in the North and bring peer recognition to the business leaders who create prosperity and economic growth. This year the Northern Policy Institute's State of the North Conference coincided with the event.

“The decision to align the State of the North event with the Northern Ontario Business Awards was one that made sense from many perspectives,” said Charles Cirtwill, president and CEO of the Northern Policy Institute.

“Both organizations play an important role in bringing together decision makers and community leaders across the North to both discuss trends and forecasts, and celebrate the successes of businesses in Northern Ontario."

The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) schedule their board meetings to coincide with this respected event.

The 2017 Northern Ontario Business Awards program was co-hosted by Timmins Mayor Steve Black and Northern Ontario Business vice-president and publisher Abbas Homayed. Eastlink TV will showcase the winners in a television documentary on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017 at 8 p.m.

2017 NOBA Winners

Company of the Year (51+ Employees) 
Winner: Gin-Cor (Mattawa)

Sponsored by: OLG
Luc Stang knows what it takes to become one of the most trusted names in truck manufacturing. Quality, continuous improvement and a strong focus on health and safety are the core values that led to a massive expansion in 2012 and a tripling of their dedicated workforce over the past three years. 

Company of the Year (1-15 Employees)
Winner:  Radical Gardens (Timmins)    
Sponsored by:
Some fresh, local ingredients and a commitment to hard work led Radical Gardens to the forefront of a food and cultural renaissance in Timmins. Launched by Brianna Humphrey in 2014, the one-of-a-kind organic garden-farmers market-restaurant is increasing awareness of local food production and creating a true appreciation for quality.

Company of the Year (16-50 Employees)        
Winner:  Ramakko’s Source for Adventure (Sudbury)    
Sponsored by: Air Canada
Answering the call of the great outdoors is what took Ramakko’s Source for Adventure from a small bait and tackle shop back in the '80s to a major retailer of sporting equipment today. Brian Ramakko credits his growth to a great team and one cardinal rule: “know your customers’ needs."

Entrepreneur of the Year
Winner:  Walter Siggelkow (Dowling)
Sponsored by: Kia Canada
Walter Siggelkow, president of Hard-Line Solutions, saw more than a business opportunity in remote control technology. He recognized the potential to make mining safer. With an ongoing focus on research and development, he weathered even the toughest economic climates with customized products and service to meet unique customer needs.

Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Winner: Jeff Greco (Sault Ste. Marie)
Sponsored by:  Village Media
Jeff Greco, president of Cavera Inc., was poised to become a software engineer in a larger centre outside the North after completing his education, but it wasn’t long before he was drawn home to Sault Ste. Marie by the quality of life and a unique business opportunity. Today, Cavera Inc. is filling a niche market, serving small to medium businesses with his boutique digital marketing agency.

Innovation Award
Winner: Rudnicki Industrial Inc. (Thunder Bay)                
Sponsored by: The Fortin Foundation
Mike Rudnicki is not an engineer by trade, but he has the mind of one. An inventor, problem solver and mentor to budding entrepreneurs, his creative approach to challenges resulted in the diversification of Rudnicki Industrial and a catalogue of his own, homegrown niche products. 

First Nations Business Award of Excellence 
Winner:  Attawapiskat Enterprises (Attawapiskat/Timmins)
Sponsored by: Ontario Power Generation
Attawapiskat Enterprises saw a shining opportunity for economic development on the James Bay coast that would lead to business and job creation. The corporation signed an impact benefit agreement with DeBeers Canada in 2005 and the corporation now oversees three First Nation-owned companies that employ 120 workers.

Entrepreneurial Community of the Year 
Winner:  Northern Ontario Mining Showcase Committee (Temiskaming Shores)         
Sponsored by: Huntington University
The Northern Ontario Mining Showcase provides a stage to the world for small to medium-sized Northern companies that serve the mining industry. As one of the largest exhibitors at the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference, the showcase provides exposure, networking opportunities and valuable business leads.

Judges' Choice Award
Winner: The Bucket Shop (Timmins)        
Sponsored by:  CIBC
The Bucket Shop is in the midst of their fourth major expansion in 2017. They attribute their success to a committed, close-knit workforce and their focus on growing client relationships based on mutual trust and respect. This family-owned Timmins company is now expanding into major export markets.

Export Award
Winner: Fuller Industrial (Sudbury)        
Sponsored by:  Export Development Canada
From the beginning, the owner of this company knew he had to take a global approach and tap into the export market. Fuller Industrial has spent decades building a reputation overseas as a go-to company for rubber lining and carbon steel pipe fabrications. Today it has sales on virtually every continent.

Union Gas Essay Scholarship
Winner:  Sarah Yeo (Thunder Bay)         
Sponsored by: Union Gas
Living in northwestern Ontario and feeling a true connection to the environment, Sarah Yeo believes the classroom is the place to start when preparing for the changes green energy will bring. Sarah is studying Applied Life Sciences at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay with hopes of being accepted into the Northern Ontario School of Medicine in her hometown.

The 32nd annual Northern Ontario Business Awards will be held in the Gateway City. For 2018, NOBA travels to North Bay to recognize the important contributions of business to our economy and our communities. For more information on NOBA, contact Sharon Bowes, marketing manager, at 705-698-2845, toll-free at 1-800-757-2766, or by email at

With files from Northern Ontario Business.