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2020 Business Achievement Awards Winners

The Brandon Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2020 Business Achievement Awards!

 

Business Person Of The Year – Robert Ritchot
Community Impact Award – Brad Munn
Outstanding New Business Award – Greenstone Building Products
Business Excellence Award – Small Business – Brandon Business Interiors
Business Excellence Award – Large Business – Christie’s Office Plus

 

About the Recipients

 

BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR – ROBERT RITCHOT

Recongizes a business person that exemplifies outstanding business practices and achievements, that demonstrates leadership, vision, and the creation of economic growth, while contributing to the community.  This award recognizes individuals who are at the peak of their career.

Robert Jason Ritchot is the father of Boston Ritchot, stepfather of Cody Chornoby and husband of Kimberly Thomas-Ritchot.

In 1971 he was born to Rita and Dan Ritchot in Winnipeg MB where he lived with his two sisters, Roxanne and Michelle.  They stayed in St Adolphe, just south of Winnipeg before moving to Brandon, where “Bobby” was enrolled at St Augustine’s Elementary in the first grade.  Early years mirrored that of many, grudgingly attending church and school during the days, soccer or hockey in the evenings and filling in the remaining waking hours avoiding chores and playing with neighbourhood friends.  Nearing junior high, after it became abundantly clear that team sports were not paving a path to success, now “Bob” spent most days dreaming about becoming a track star and BMX hero.  The hunt for the latter lead to his first job outside babysitting and newspaper delivery.  As a 13-year-old with very little income and even less ability to manage what did come in, he negotiated an agreement with a generous owner of the well-respected local bike and ski shop, A&L Cycle & Ski.  The deal was simple, a shiny new-to-him Diamondback Pacer 500 BMX for services rendered.  He worked Monday to Friday 4:00 – 6:00 and another eight hours on Saturday until the debt was satisfied.  Somehow, he was able to convince management that his continued employment was mutually beneficial and throughout his tenure, which spanned the seventh to twelfth grade, he learned a considerable amount about small business.  His passion for BMX riding lasted into his mid-teens and resulted in the creation the A&L Freestyle Team, which consisted of six teenagers, a collapsible eight foot quarter-pipe and a travel van which regularly blasted Def Leppard’s Pour Some Sugar On Me as it delivered the daredevils from one small prairie town to another.  Life was good.

After graduating from Sacred Heart Junior High, he spent a year at Vincent Massey before transferring to Neelin High School, where he met many good friends, including one of his best, who introduced him to snowboarding.  Winters were far more palatable when each day could be spent hiking up and flying down various hills in the north end of the city.  The passion for summer days on a BMX was replaced with winter evenings on a board.  Post High School graduation and enrolment into Brandon University, that passion for the slopes became a convincing devil on his shoulder, which lead to his dropping out of BU to hop on a bus west and focus on becoming a professional snowboarder.  After three years of tearing through the snow and beating up his body, the need to change course was evident.  To cap off his time out west, he and a friend prepared for a journey and hopped on mountain bikes to begin the trek from Calgary AB to Big Sur CA. The plan was to return home to drop off personal belongings and wish farewell to friends and family before hopping on a boat to Japan to teach English. Unfortunately, the trip to Japan has yet to occur but fortunately, that is primarily due to the start of his first small business.  Eight Ball accessories was created after he found a demand for jewelry and other items, he made from a German Molding Clay.  He found moderate success, selling directly to end consumers as well as a number of retailers.  Once again, life was good.  After two years, building the brand throughout Manitoba, Bob was approached by another high school friend, interested in creating a company, any company, together.  The two friends did their best to scour all markets with an attempt to identify any supply / demand imbalance that they could help correct and noticed that the Liquid Paraffin Candle train was about to push forward.  The two were convinced that the need to manufacture and distribute unique candles existed so thought it best to address that reality. Wax, Wick and Flame was born of that exercise and it too, realized moderate success; enough to provide Bob with his first home and garage / warehouse, on 13th St.  After the end of the second year with Wax, Wick and Flame, Bob met his soon to be wife, Kim and her son, Cody.  In time, Kim and Cody joined him in his home on 13th St and while Cody studied to get out of grade one and Kim to become a CPA, the two grown-ups opened B.O.B. HEADQUARTERS at 416 10th St.  The days were long for everyone involved but the results were worth it.  Although BOBHQ was only one retail location, Bob’s experience with distribution influenced his decision to do the same with the smoking accessories and general gifts sold in their small store.  That division of the company started out relatively soft, revenue wise but picked up considerably over time.  During that period, their child together, Boston was born in August of 2000, ten years after Cody opened his eyes for the first time. A wide enough spread that the two always got along.  Once again, life was good.

Approximately ten years after the founding of BOBHQ, another good friend of Bob’s expressed an interest in starting a company together but, similar to the time prior to Wax, Wick and Flame, neither had a business plan.  After a few, unsatisfying attempts, the opportunity to acquire an existing local business presented itself and, upon careful analysis, they concluded that the it was worth pursuing.  The pair, along with their spouses, purchased Pillow Talk Adult Boutique, changed the name to Smitten and, after some time, relocated to a property that Kim and Bob had purchased years earlier on 18th St.

Bob has always been fortunate in his ability to attract and retain good people in business and recognizes that it is because of those great people that he is able to focus on new endeavours rather than be forced to micro manage.  This has allowed him to identify opportunities.  In 2016, he and Kim made their first investment in a US distribution company in Texas, Windship Trading and in 2017, worked with a private investment fund, who helped facilitate the merger between BOBHQ and Windship Trading with the simultaneous acquisition of another, similar distribution company in Florida.  Although the operating identities in Canada and the US remained BOBHQ and Windship Trading, respectively, the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada introduced an entirely new market to the recently formed parent company, Humble & Fume Inc and with it came the introduction of another operating identity, humble+fume.  This subsidiary was formed to service Government accounts and Licensed Cannabis Retailers and because market penetration was strong in that regard, a decision to leverage those relationships was made.  Because the humble+fume team had the ear of those buyers and category managers, it seemed to make sense to create Fume Labs, another subsidiary under the Humble & Fume Inc umbrella responsible for the processing of cannabis biomass to create such products as vaporizing cartridges, cannabis edibles, beverages and topicals.

Today, of all the businesses he has either founded or cofounded, only the first, Eight Ball Accessories, has been dissolved.  He is still very happily married to his wife Kim, Cody is doing amazingly well in his career and life in general, in Revelstoke BC and Boston has almost completed her first year at Brandon University, destroying her father’s attendance record.  For Bob, life is still pretty good.

 

COMMUNITY IMPACT AWARD – BRAD MUNN

Recognizes an individual or business for outstanding community service to business and community endeavors and have contributed to the well-being of the community as a whole.

William Bradford (Brad) Munn was born on a CAF Base in Marville, France.  At the age of four, Brad and his family moved to Brandon.

Brad was educated in Brandon, graduating from Neelin High School.  He furthered his education at Brandon University, the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg.

Beginning in 1983, over 3½ decades ago, Brad began his professional career in real estate sales, management, and development.  He currently sits as an advisor on the Manitoba Real Estate Association Global Business Council.  He is Past President of the Brandon Area Realtors. He is also Past Director of the Manitoba Real Estate Association, and the Manitoba Real Estate Association Advisory Board. In 2019 he was the recipient of the Brandon Area Realtors Award for Realtor of Distinction. Brad is also one of the former Owners as well as Managing Partner of Royal LePage Martin-Liberty Realty where he is currently still one of their Top Producing Realtor’s.

Brad gives praise to all his partners, associate partners, sales agents, and administrative staff for making Royal Lepage Martin-Liberty Realty the hugely successful company it is today.  Royal LePage/Martin-Liberty employs a workforce of over 77 people throughout Brandon, Western Manitoba, Eastern Saskatchewan and continues to be a proud supporter of The Brandon Chamber of Commerce.

Although Real Estate is his livelihood, Philanthropy is his Passion, particularly children, at-risk moms, and animals.

Brad proudly supports the following:

Bridges of Hope, Dominican Republic – Director

Cities Church – Elder, Leadercast

CURE International of Canada – Director

Humane Society

Munn’s Dog Houses (His son Zach’s charity)

Pawsitive Communities (His daughter Farran’s charity)

Royal LePage Shelter Foundation – Manitoba Award Winner

WMCA Kids Club

YWCA Women’s Shelter

Brad and his wife Miriam married in 2017 and together they have four married children along with a total of seven grandchildren ranging in age from 2-9 years old.

As a man of Faith, Brad is a devoted member and Elder of Cities Church where a number of like-minded people are committed to making Brandon an even better place to live and raise families.

Blessed with so many great business partners in our community, Brad believes it all about relationships and adding value to people.  He is truly grateful to the families in Brandon who have been so generous with their time and money in support of these and many other charities.  Through his involvement with Cure International, Brad has been able to travel to many parts of Europe, Africa, United Arab Emirates, and the Dominican Republic but there is no other place he would rather call home than Brandon.

 

OUTSTANDING NEW BUSINESS AWARD – GREENSTONE BUILDING PRODUCTS

This award recognizes the accomplishments of a business owner who has succeeded through innovation and risk-taking or achieved success in introducing new products or services or growing an existing product line through a unique approach.

Greenstone Building Products manufactures high efficiency green building envelopes for homes and businesses. We are a proactive and economical approach to carbon-neutral building. ICE (Insulated Composite Envelope) Panels are an engineered combination of EPS insulation and steel stud framing. The unique manufacturing process and connection details eliminate thermal bridging, the number one cause of energy loss in conventional construction.

Our mission is to lead the way in building envelope technology by producing healthy, economical and sustainable dwelling spaces.

The Greenstone story begins when Ed Dornn was brought a sample of a new building product in 2014. Vetting new products was not unusual for Ed, President and Founder of Excel-7 Ltd., a General Contracting firm with over 20 years of history pioneering innovative building products. This product piqued his interest almost immediately. There wasn’t anything like it on the market and it seemed to address many of the major building envelope concerns our industry is currently facing. It was worth some investigation.

This investigative journey took him from Northern Ontario to Southwest Virginia where Ed met the inventor and learned the product had been bouncing around the world for the last 30 years. Panels have been made in Russia, China, Guam, Mexico, Alaska, and other areas of the United States, and for the U.S. Army.

Although the product had been in the market for 30 years, none of the testing data was accredited or completed in accordance with a recognized testing standard. This detail may have flown under the radar in other jurisdictions, but we knew from industry experience, would not fly in Canada.

It was evident that there was an opportunity for a builder’s perspective to be applied to the development of this product. In 2015 we signed on as partners with Greenstone Structural Solutions Inc. and founded Greenstone Brandon Plant Ltd.

Over the next 3 years we designed a state-of-the-art production facility in Brandon with a certified test laboratory and got to work modifying, testing and understanding the strengths and liabilities of our new product, Greenstone ICE Panels. These years had their challenges. We learned our partners, who we thought had the same long-term vision we did, did not. With the help of luck and lawyers, we finally found ourselves standing alone, free to focus on building our team and executing our vision.

Today, we consider ourselves lucky to have a diverse, creative and passionate team to face every hurdle on our yellow brick road. As a group, we are determined to defy the status quo, which has resulted in Greenstone projects being completed in almost every major city in Western Canada, on all three Canadian coasts, in the USA and in the Caribbean. We believe Greenstone is perfectly positioned to change the way people think about sustainably building and are excited to see what the future will hold.

 

BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARD – SMALL BUSINESS – BRANDON BUSINESS INTERIORS

Honors a business with fewer than 15 employees that demonstrates continual business excellence through positive business growth, exemplifies superior customer service and embraces an outstanding commitment to quality.

Brandon Business Interiors is a small business capable of big things – never shying away from a project that stretches their abilities and applying the lessons learned to subsequent opportunities. BBI was started in 1991, by Bob and Penny Ludwig, along with two local partners, offering a standard range of office and common area seating, filing cabinets and office desks manufactured by Canadian companies, to the small and medium sized corporate market in Brandon.

As the local market and broader economy changed, they’ve branched out to supply products to three distinct target markets (Corporate Spaces, Hospitality/Dining, and Health Care), sourcing products from across Canada, the United States, UK and Asia. While the operate as a small business, they have a marge footprint with loyal clients in Southwest and Northern Manitoba, Winnipeg, Eastern Saskatchewan and into Northwestern Ontario.

Integral to our growth strategy is their ability to effectively communicate the value proposition of the BBI brand – more than just a distributor of furnishing products to their target markets, they aim to redefine the way that office interiors are designed, built and maintained over time – resulting in more efficient real estate utilization and contributing to more effective and innovative designed spaces.

Brandon Business Interiors has longstanding and collaborative relationships with local and regional interior design firms and the design and engineering teams from their manufacturing partners – allowing them to stay on the cutting edge of furnishing products available in the market; matching unique products to client workspaces and workflows.

BBI has built their business by engaging end users in the design process – truly trying to understand the requirements of each client space and recommending quality products and fair prices. Each BBI transaction – from single chair deals through to multiple-staged office renovation projects start and end with a discussion with one of our team members – not a web form or an order desk, but a person who cares about the end result of the project. We’re proud of our ability to be “old fashioned” in the sense that we see the value in the conversation and understanding client needs before making recommendations.

Presently, they are working on (and very excited about) introducing an architectural wall and acoustic ceiling product that promote health in the built space – from ergonomic products and accessories to massaging and heating chairs for chemotherapy patients. Our longstanding experience in the industry and marketplace also provides us an ability to think outside of the box and recommend custom products tailored to clients unique and individual needs.

Truly a “family business”, Bob has passed the operational reigns on to his sons, Jordan and Dylan, but still maintains a corner office. If you need to reach him, his fax number is 204.726.3375.

 

BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARD – LARGE BUSINESS – CHRISTIE’S OFFICE PLUS

Honors a business with more than 15 employees that demonstrates continual business excellence through positive business growth, exemplifies superior customer service and embraces an outstanding commitment to quality.

Christie’s Office Plus was founded in 1881 in Brandon, Manitoba and has expanded from its roots in servicing the educational markets across Western Canada to a full-service office and educational supplier. Christie’s Office Plus currently has locations in Brandon, Winnipeg, and Red Deer.

The office products division of the company supplies a full line of traditional office products and furniture, computer consumables and peripherals as well as break room, janitorial and sanitation supplies. The educational division adds most of the supplies found in today’s classrooms including furniture, art and craft supplies, and teaching aids.

Our trained professionals provide industry expertise and ongoing product support to help with your day-to-day challenges. We are currently stocking over 6,000 items bought directly from the manufacturer and with our membership in Canada’s largest purchasing buying group; Christie’s can provide competitive pricing.

Christie’s Office Plus offers a complete range of products and services and combined with industry experience will source any product fitting your needs. We recognize purchasing must be a trouble free, pleasant experience if we expect long-term relationships with customers.

MISION, VISION, VALUES

Mission

Build relationships through trust and integrity to offer customers our best possible service, selection, quality and value.

Vision

To grow and prosper along side our customers and employees one relationship at a time

Values

  • Performance – to achieve and reward outstanding results
  • Passion- to be excited by what is possible and driven to make it happen
  • Partnership- to employ teamwork and processes as the foundation of all our working relationships
  • Personal Integrity & Trust – to practice the highest ethical standards, to be honest and open with our employees and customers
  • Professionalism – to look, talk, write, act, and work in a professional manner

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF OUR RECIPIENTS!