2018 Kawartha Chamber Awards of Excellence Recipients
The Kawartha Chamber of Commerce & Tourism presented their annual Awards of Excellence tonight at Lakefield College School. Chamber Board President, Tonya Kraan of Strexer Harrop & Associates, congratulated the recipients as well as all who were nominated. With over 80 nominations there was a lot to celebrate.
Citizen of the Year
Sponsored by RBC
2018 Recipient: Cindy Windover, Windover Plumbing
Cindy has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to this area, both as a business person and community motivator.
As an employee, she has supported and encouraged her employer’s involvement in various community initiatives. As the co-owner of a local business, contributions are made to many fundraising initiatives. Cindy manages the administrative side of the business including apprentices and has been an advocate for improving this certification process.
One nominator noted, “She has an endless supply of energy to help organize and advise in many groups, setting an outstanding example for all of us.”
Another says, “She is very active in advocating for and building affordable housing.” In addition to being a Steering Committee member, Cindy was the Volunteer Coordinator for the two Habitat for Humanity builds in Lakefield and has recently joined Habitat’s Board as a rural community representative. As a Steering Committee member for the Abbeyfield Society, the goal is to provide affordable housing for seniors.
For eight years, Cindy has been a Planning Committee member for the Lakefield 5K run which raises funds for local not-for-profits. Two years ago, she joined the Steering Committee for the Lakefield satellite of Youth Unlimited.
The Kawartha Chamber’s Membership & Programs Committee and Awards Gala Committee has valued Cindy involvement for seven years, and she has been a voice at the Board table for four years including a term as President. She also represented business on the Accommodation Review Committee regarding the closure of Lakefield High School.
In her current role with Selwyn Outreach, Cindy is increasing awareness in the area regarding Internet safety and the local opioid crisis. Her passion for the community and tireless effort is inspirational. As one nominator says, “If everyone did one tenth of what she does, there would be no more volunteers needed!”
Commercial Development or Renovation
2018 Recipient: Jack’s Lake Lodge Cottage Rentals
Constructed in the 1950s, two cottages were demolished and rebuilt complete with magazine quality interiors, patio and campfire pit. One is wheelchair accessible. Both were winterized, providing much needed year-round accommodation in Apsley to help boost the local off-season economy. A third was extensively renovated while retaining the ‘old school cabin’ charm that many guests seek. The fieldstone boulder shoreline aesthetically helps to prevent erosion.
Lock Stop Café
The aging, vacant building was retrofitted to give the space new life as a coffee shop, bistro and mini marketplace for local artisans. New flooring, lighting, fresh paint and décor complete with a comfy sitting area around a propane stove have transformed the interior space creating a community gathering spot. Outdoors, a new metal roof, spruced up deck, and new planting beds lined with armour stone vastly improve the curb appeal on Buckhorn’s main street.
The Cozy Home
This vacant, Lakefield storefront was extensively renovated to create a unique boutique shop. The entrance was redesigned, walls removed, and custom-made displays added to provide more functional and aesthetically pleasing retail space. Floors were replaced. Orange slat walls were removed, and thousands of holes were puttied. The new colour palette, lake themed bench, wall art and planters present a welcoming vignette in downtown Lakefield.
The Regency of Lakefield
In place of a rough parcel of land, there now stands a 24-unit townhome condo complex and a beautiful 73-unit retirement residence with luxury finishes throughout. Landscaping uses native plants and trees complete with walking trails and access to the creek. Raised beds make it easy for seniors to garden. Recommended aesthetics and finishes for senior-friendly living were selected and the colour scheme taken from the natural environment.
Customer Service Excellence
Sponsored by CIBC
2018 Recipient: Logan Tree Experts
In a rough and tumble industry, they offer a professional, courteous and experienced team that strives to understand clients’ needs. Employees understand that customer care is key to a job well done. Most clients come from referrals and a no pressure approach is used to educate them on options. A client notes, “Once again, it is a pleasure working with you: professionalism, excellent communication, timelines, directness…I can’t say enough good things.”
Happenstance Books & Yarns
Their philosophy is, ‘friends will support friends,’ so they aim to get to know customers as they would a friend. This has increased sales and provides customers with exactly what they want. With a reputation for helping customers they assist with knitting challenges no matter where the yarn was purchased and provide free delivery to those who can’t get to the store. “I cottage nearby. Whenever I’m in town, going to Happenstance is a highlight…,” says a Facebook review.
The Regency of Lakefield
They strive to create a sense of warmth and friendliness before, during and after move-in date. This is achieved by staff adjusting themselves to the personality of the potential resident or family member. They listen carefully to resident’s needs and provide a personal touch. A family member notes, “The care, attention and support all members of the staff have given my mom have been exceptional. Everyone has gone out of their way to make her feel welcome.”
Village Pet Food & Supply
It’s a family business with a team atmosphere. Although they never meet some of their pet customers, they make sure the pets come first. Staff work hard to match the right product to the specific needs of the pet. Suppliers provide training monthly. Customer service comes from the heart. They allow customers to try-before-committing and there’s a genuine money back guarantee. Purchases are carried to the car and when needed, delivered to the home for free.
2018 Recipient: Vetterview
The concept was created while completing a thesis on celebrity endorsement. A gap in the market was realized and despite no web development experience, the founder launched the platform to streamline the influencer marketing process and open it up to businesses of all sizes. Under their own initiative, over 21,000 influencers from all social platforms have listed. Vetterview has over 300 million global followers. The United Kingdom’s government has deemed them to be, “a unique disruptive technology of exceptional global potential.”
A proven staple in providing local news and information they have achieved success in a highly competitive industry. Rather than relying on outdated advertising models, they developed a suite of ‘branded journalism’ products and services to help promote local businesses while informing readers. More than 40,000 social media followers are leveraged to market their advertisers. Website traffic has had an annual increase of 37% over each of the last eight years.
This small, sustainable farm south of Buckhorn uses a vertical hydroponic system to grow most of its lettuces, greens and herbs. The technology uses 90% less space and 95% less water compared to conventional growing; and there is no need for heavy, gas run machinery. Live lettuces are sold with their roots, so last longer. With sales at the farmgate, farmers’ markets, and a pop-up market at Catchacoma Marina for cottagers, fresh produce doesn’t travel far.
Thirteen Moons Wellness
A safe space to heal from loss, recover from health issues, recharge from work and family stress; it is the only retreat centre in Canada that offers women-only programs and overnight retreats. Programs are nature based and holistic with simple ways that are more accessible and transferable when clients return to their busy lives. Creative and delectable plant-based dishes are served. A Phoenix composting system transforms human and kitchen waste into compost.
Lifetime Achievement Award
2018 Recipient: Audrey Von Bogen
After cottaging in the area since 1975, Audrey moved here full-time in 1994 and has been an inspiring community advocate ever since.
Spending three terms in municipal politics as Councillor, Audrey also chaired the Police Advisory Board and Fire Committee, and was Vice-Chair of the Kawartha Region Conservation Authority during her tenure.
Numerous community initiatives have benefited from her longstanding involvement, including the following.
Audrey has volunteered for 25 years for Community Care at the local level and served on the Board at the County level, the Finance Committee and the Elder Abuse Committee.
For five years, she served as Chair of the Buckhorn Regional Health Centre Foundation and actively fundraised for many years prior to the construction of the Centre.
A volunteer with the Beautiful Buckhorn Foundation for 20 years, Audrey served 10 years as President. This group fundraises for as well as plants and maintains the striking geraniums throughout Buckhorn. They have also fundraised to repair the iconic Buckhorn Buck and organized Christmas parties for area children.
Volunteering for 20 years at the Buckhorn Community Centre, Audrey served on the Board for ten years, two of which as President.
Serving as a volunteer and Board member of the Buckhorn District Tourist Association for 22 years, Audrey acted as President over the past year and helped to rejuvenate the organization.
As her nominator notes, “If there is a cause, she will be in the middle of it.”
Audrey has co-owned Shambhala B&B for close to 15 years and her home baked muffins are a highly sought-after treat! While the B&B is elaborately decorated for Christmas, Audrey holds a high tea over December and January. Last year, she hosted almost 400 people, many of whom are from out of the area.
2018 Recipient: Peterborough Humane Society
For over 50 years they have connected pets with their perfect people. About 1300 animals are received each year. They work with Societies across Ontario and around the globe; partnering this year in the Korean Meat Market rescue, the nearby golden’s rescue and with Northern Dogs. In the past year their volunteer base has increased over 90%, adoptions are up 25% in six months, monthly donors have almost doubled and social media averages 3000 views per post.
Managing a team of 887 volunteers they delivered services throughout the Peterborough region to almost 7400 clients last fiscal year. They provide in-home support, accessible activities away from home, tools and equipment to keep people safe at home and transportation to appointments and activities. They purposefully pursue change rather than waiting to adapt to change; so, they consistently seek out strategic partnerships to help make this happen.
Cuddles for Cancer
For six years, cancer patients, veterans, homeless or anyone in need of a cuddle has received a handtied fleece blanket. Over 4000 have been delivered around the world. Help advancing their cause has been achieved with many strategic partnerships such as WE Charity, legions, schools and the Diana Award. The new Cuddles Drop in Centre has provided much needed space for volunteers to help make blankets. With its success they plan to open others out-of-province.
Outstanding Business Achievement
2018 Recipient: Lakefield Foodland
With a mantra of, “Retail is Detail,” they know that, “If we don’t take care of the customer, somebody else will.” A small store but with big variety, they stock 3,000 more SKUS than the average Foodland including locally supplied, gluten free and organics. Open 24 hours a day for 362 days a year, they can see as many as 25,000 customers in a summer week. They rank 5th in annual sales volume out of 145 Ontario Foodland stores. A comprehensive benefit program is provided to 100 employees. Many local charities benefit from their generous donations.
Caring and compassion are key with a mission to keep seniors, people with physical or mental challenges or those recovering from illness; living independently and comfortably in their own home. Client focused care addresses each person’s needs, be that in-home health care, home maintenance or fresh meals delivered to the door. New services have tripled their client base. With a staff of 175, they offer above average wages and flexible schedules to maintain work-life balance. They have a long history of supporting local organizations with their fundraising goals.
Salon Sorella & Day Spa
Their mission is to “make a difference;” with how guests look and feel, by supporting the community with donations, and by providing the team with education, health benefits and an RRSP. They take pride in providing a friendly space – a beverage for guests, a relaxing scalp massage and heated towel during a shampoo and privacy for treatments. Work schedules accommodate family time. Sales growth exceeds the industry benchmark. They were the first salon in the Kawarthas to become a Green Circle Salon to recover and repurpose beauty waste.
Retailer of the Year
2018 Recipient: Trinkets & Treasures
Sales have increased 20-25% in each of their almost 12 years in business. With over 8000 followers on social platforms, this engagement has been a huge part of their sales growth. Daily posts and weekly storefront window changes keep people interested and showcase their extensive inventory of unique gifts and home décor. Handmade products of seven local makers are stocked. Planning or participating in numerous community events is a mainstay.
Happenstance Books & Yarns
With exceptional customer service and hand selected inventory they have managed to survive and prosper, despite the convenience of online shopping and deep discounting by chain stores. Eye catching window displays draw people in and “shelf talker” cards provide short descriptions to entice customers to pull books for a closer look. Customers can access over 4 million titles on their website for direct order. Sales consistently meet or exceed the previous fiscal year.
Recently celebrating 10 years in business they provide women with honest opinions and helpful suggestions. Specializing in wardrobe consultation, sales steadily increase each year with last fiscal increasing 24% and 39% for the first six months this year. A creative window display attracts customers. Social media, community fundraising fashion shows and special events including double credit days and men’s shopping days increase awareness of their offerings.
Service Sector Excellence
2018 Recipient: The Regency of Lakefield
“Providing rural seniors with an assisted living choice in a small community is so important for their long-term health,” notes the nominator. Pricing is very competitive and suite sizes are generous. Transitioning to a seniors’ residence can be traumatic for some so it’s managed with sensitivity. Staff take pride in making the residents’ lives comfortable with lots of fun thrown in! One 91-year-old resident is thankful she is spending the last of her years, “enjoying life to the fullest at the Regency.”
Kawartha Lakes Construction
During 30 years in business they have finetuned their design process to make it as stress-free and enjoyable as possible for clients. A design schedule lets clients know what should happen each week including their decisions needed to start construction on time. A complete paper plan leads to a detailed budget. A fixed cost contract is prepared before construction begins. A third-party surveying company contacts clients after each phase of the process for feedback.
In a challenging industry they faithfully deliver local news and happenings, taking pride in printing accurate information. The team covers as many stories as possible but stay away from sensationalism. All clients – advertisers, readers or those needing printing services – receive friendly and efficient assistance. Despite increasing costs; advertising and subscription rates remain very affordable. They have always been about community and support many initiatives.
2018 Recipient: Lang Pioneer Village Museum
In its 51st season they attract 20,000 visitors annually to experience living history interpretation, events and educational programs. Worldwide visitors have an economic impact of $4-million. The 25-acre site is home to over 30 historic buildings, a First Nation encampment, thousands of artifacts and the new Agricultural Heritage Building. 75% of Google and Trip Advisor reviews are 5-star and 25% are 4-star. 200 volunteers assist with delivering ‘unique to Ontario’ experiences.
Greenbridge Celtic Folk Festival
World class talent draws attendees from across Ontario and outside Canada. The stunning venue has a man-made lake and bridge. An authentic Irish pub was built in the ‘Ireland’ area of the grounds and the stage was designed with a nod to Cape Breton kitchen parties. Patrons of all ages can attend workshops including a Cape Breton Chef demonstrating how to clean and prepare lobster, or a fiddle lesson with Festival creators Natalie McMaster and Donnell Leahy.
Indian River Reptile Zoo
Since its inception in 1999, this registered charity has grown from a small, not-for-profit to a 37-acre theme park featuring hundreds of live reptiles, geothermally heated crocodilian ponds, a “Croc-Walk,” over 50 life-size animatronic dinosaurs, a nature trail and new this year, 18-hole mini golf. 95% of the reptiles are rescued animals. Exhibits focus on the environment and the role reptiles play in our ecology. ‘Satisfaction guaranteed, or money refunded,’ is their policy.
Young Professional Award
2018 Recipient: Emily Wilkins, Adventure Outfitters
While not the original game plan, Emily is now part owner of a business that has been a local mainstay for over 30 years. Her duties include selecting and displaying stock, managing staff, and all marketing decisions. Essentially the day-to-day management of the business.
As an ideas person, Emily encouraged the redesign of the retail space, opening it up and making sales areas easier to navigate. E-commerce capability has expanded on the website. While others weren’t sure, Emily felt rental customers would pay for the convenience of delivery and she was right – bookings have doubled each year. With some product manufactured on site, she increased visibility of the ‘made here’ aspect and shares this story by offering factory tours. All have contributed to sales increasing about 20% over last year.
It was a challenge coming in to a well-established business and quickly moving to full responsibility; there was much trial and error learning. While staff management was a steep learning curve, Emily has implemented more effective training methods, adjusted scheduling to better support staff, and put more work into the hiring process to find remarkable people who make all the difference. Emily greatly appreciates the support that she has had from more experienced business people.
Learning how to keep everything afloat in the busy summer months has been very rewarding. Emily now prepares as much as possible in the slower season. Some maturity and documented protocols have also helped her to stay calm when the pace gets hectic.
Emily offers this advice for other young professionals, “It is very important to pay attention to your own mental health and stress levels as this can translate to business health. A lot of youth don’t think about this. They access lots of business-related resources to develop those hard skills but may not think about mental health resources and support.”
The judges were very impressed with how Emily has grown. Initially uncomfortable with the decision-making role, she now shows confidence in all areas and the business is better for her involvement.