Riverfront Convenience takes home Business of the Year Award
On Monday, June 11, approximately 100 people came out to the Community Futures Winnipeg River (CWFR) Annual General Meeting and award dinner. The dinner was hosted by Lucy’s Catering out of Beausejour. And the meal was delicious – roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and all the fixings, followed by a Boston cream pie for desert.
The actual meeting followed the meal. They read the minutes from the last AGM and read financial reports. There were no nominations or elections.
That lead to the final portion of the evening – the awards presentations. What follows are profiles of the various category winners…
BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD
River Front Convenience
The recipient of the 2017-18 Business of the Year Award is River Front Convenience. Matthew Tardiff established the business in St. Georges in 2015 with assistance from CFWR. The business sells convenience items such as bread, milk, canned goods, chips and slurpees as well as ice cream and pizza. Pizza and ice cream have quickly become the best sellers at the store and pizza delivery is available Thursday to Sunday.
In 2017 Matthew moved the business to a larger location in the town of Powerview-Pine Falls. The move proved to be a good decision, as sales have significantly increased in the higher traffic area. Matthew and his wife Josée are currently employed full time in the business as well as 5 part time staff.
With the move to the new location, Matthew was able to add an eat-in area to the store, as well as picnic tables outside. Soup and sandwiches were also added to the menu along with salads, fruit and veggie trays for healthy options. Matthew is constantly changing the menu to satisfy customers. Gluten free food items such as chicken fingers and pizza are available and there are plans to bring in more healthy options in the future.
Matthew uses social media extensively to market the business and has an impressive following of 683 people. He frequently posts new items available in the store as well as specials and contests to attract customers. Reviews on the Facebook page for the business are all very positive showing that customers are extremely pleased with the business and the wonderful customer service.
As a longtime resident of the Powerview-Pine Falls area, Matthew is dedicated to giving back to the community. He often donates prizes to silent auctions in the area. He also offers a discount to emergency personnel such as police, firefighters and EMS if they come to the store in uniform.
Within a few short years, River Front Convenience has become a successful business in the Powerview-Pine Falls area, due to Matthew’s determination and perseverance. Matthew is currently working on expanding his ice cream flavors and treats, which will be available in the summer of 2018. He also has many other exciting things planned for the future of the business.
2017-2018 COMMUNITY INITIATIVE AWARD
North Forge East
The Community Initiative Award is given annually to a community organization in recognition of their outstanding efforts, initiative and commitment in undertaking a community-driven project focused on improving the social and economic well-being of our communities.
North Forge Technology Exchange is Western Canada’s largest business incubator program. It has existed in Winnipeg for four years as the result of the amalgamation of 4 programs – Assent Works, Start Up Winnipeg, Eureka Project and Ramp Up Manitoba. North Forge works with technology and innovative product based business start-ups, most of which are global businesses operating in Manitoba. North Forge offers entrepreneurship based programs and services which include a Fabrication Lab (rapid prototyping); ICT Lab (prototyping and commercialization); Legal Clinic; networking and training events; a mentorship program featuring subject experts; and funding/grant writing assistance.
North Forge East (NFE) became the first satellite office of North Forge and officially opened in the W.B. Lewis Center in Pinawa on January 12, 2017. This success was based on attraction and coordination efforts of the Pinawa Community Development Corporation (PCDC) and a partnership created between PCDC, the LGD of Pinawa, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), Canadian Nuclear Energy Alliance, and North Forge. NFE provides mentorship, training and support for entrepreneurs along with physical office space and meeting rooms. In addition to local services, NFE members also have access to all the labs, events, boardrooms, mentors and training opportunities in Winnipeg. Successful applicants embark on a six month Start Up Program that takes them from business concept to launch with support at every stage.
Since inception there have been 15 NFE business projects to date, of which 5 projects have made their first sales and delivered their products. NFE has held two Ramp Up events in Pinawa and Steinbach where 40 participants received training and hands on practice in business concept development, market validation and marketing pitches. Business networking and training events have been held in Pinawa and Lac du Bonnet. Three Lunch and Learn events have been held at CNL and a one day high school education program was held in Pinawa.
SELF EMPLOYMENT AWARD
Gran’s Bake Shop
The 2017-18 recipient of the Self Employment Award is Angie Arthur of Gran’s Bake Shop, located in the town of Lac du Bonnet. Angie established the business in May 2017 and completed her participation on the Self-Employment Program in October 2017.
Gran’s Bake Shop offers a variety of homemade cookies, cakes, cinnamon buns as well as dainty trays and coffee from Trail’s End Coffee in Elma. Homemade dog treats have also been added to the business and have been a real big seller.
Angie is a self-taught baker. Her style of baking is rustic, like what Grandma used to make. For more than 25 years Angie was president of the Lac du Bonnet Farmer’s Market and sold her baking at the market. Through her years participating in the farmer’s market, Angie developed a solid customer base and always dreamed of opening her own bake shop. In 2017 Angie was able to achieve that dream.
Angie’s first year in business was quite busy. She completed the 3 Day Business Planning Workshop as a component of the Self Employment Program and also the Food Handler’s Safety Course. To promote the business, Angie advertises in the local newspaper and has a Facebook page for the business which she regular posts on to engage with customers.
Angie has been very successful in making connections with other businesses in the area that now carry her products. Pennyweight Market in Beausejour, uses Angie’s cookies for their ice cream sandwiches. I Heart Coffee in Lac du Bonnet uses her baking to sell with their coffee. Black Bear Golf Course buys her cinnamon buns to sell in their restaurant. Also, during the winter, Angie sells baking to the Lac du Bonnet Arena for their hockey tournaments. Angie sees the importance of working together with other businesses, and looks forward to making more connections in the future.
Currently Angie is the only staff member employed with the business, but her grandchildren do come in to help when they can and her 8 year old granddaughter will now be selling lemonade at the bake shop on Saturdays, making it a real family affair.
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR AWARD
Robyn Emberly, Lac du Bonnet
Robyn is as an active leader, advocate and organizer of local children’s sports. Robyn’s volunteer duties in the community include Event Coordinator for LDB Minor Hockey, Treasurer/Secretary for LdB Minor Baseball, LdB rep for Beaujesour Skating Club, Manager for LdB Minor Hockey, Arena canteen volunteer, Blues Hockey timekeeper volunteer, Can Skate board member, and active volunteer for July Long Weekend Beer Gardens.
Robyn assisted others to get the Can Skate program reinstated in the community and stepped into the lead role when the main coordinator had to step down. Robyn leads by example in her volunteer efforts, and her three children are a shining example of that as they have been active volunteers teaching in the Can Skate program. This year Robyn has been a pivotal instigator for starting up local baseball for school age children. This involved recruiting board members, gathering information, and attaining donations for equipment. She continues to facilitate the start-up of the program which includes organizing teams, setting up schedules, recruiting players, booking diamonds, and keeping everyone informed.
Robyn works at the Lac du Bonnet Children’s Center where she is always willing to pitch in on organizing daycare and community events. A primary example would be when Robyn coordinated board and staff members to organize and host the 40th celebration of the Lac du Bonnet Children Center. The event included two amazing bouncy castles, an ice cream bar, game activities, face painting, balloon animals, and several happy families in attendance.
Robyn naturally devotes her time to children’s activities of all ages. Her dedication to community and growth is evident. Robyn’s efforts help parents give their children a chance to experience a variety of sports and healthy outlets to gain skills and self-confidence. Robyn’s efforts bring revenue to the clubs involved and helps keep them around to continuously benefit communities and families. Robyn helps to recruit other volunteers for the July Long weekend festivities which boosts tourism and supports small businesses in our community. Robyn’s dedication to the arena in a volunteer capacity enables it to run smoothly at less cost and she inspires others to volunteer creating more benefit.
Robyn has a commitment to community in both her professional as well as her personal life. Working at the daycare, she is a positive role model for the children and an outstanding mentor for her coworkers. She is never shy to lend a hand, insight or opinion in any situation. Robyn commits a lot of time and effort to volunteering in her community. When asked about it, she is very humble in stating,” Well I am usually here anyway so why not do something.” She freely gives her time and instils this philosophy in her own children. She has created a family of good community members for other little ones to look up to. Robyn is a shining example of an individual who is working towards our community’s future, but not treating it like work at all.