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2021 Business Achievement Awards Winners

The Brandon Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2021 Business Achievement Awards!

Business Person Of The Year – Gus Vasilarakis
Lifetime Business Builder Award – Bob Jenkins
Community Impact Award – Rocked Community Fitness
Outstanding New Business Award – Chez Angela Bakery & Café
Business Excellence Award – Small Business – A&L Cycle
Business Excellence Award – Large Business – Joe Beeverz Canadian Pub

*New Awards this year

Outstanding Young Entreprenuer – Matt Berg
Top 4 Under 40 – Danielle Adriaansen, Parker Easter, Hailey Jefferies, Jordan Ludwig

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF OUR RECIPIENTS!

BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR AWARD - Gus Vasilarkis

Image of BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR AWARD - Gus Vasilarkis

BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR | This Award recognizes 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.

Gus Vasilarakis emigrated from Greece in 1979. On his first day in Brandon, he started working in his
uncle’s pizza restaurant and later attended his first Brandon Wheat Kings Hockey game. Both of
those things would play an important role for Gus right up until the present day.

After working is several restaurants, Gus and family launched Pizza Express in Brandon in
1982. Gus sold the restaurant and opened a pizza express in Winnipeg, eventually opening a second
location. The business thrived in the face of stiff competition. But Brandon’s draw was strong for the family and they sold both
locations and returned to the wheat city in 1998 and 1999 they purchased their original Pizza Express.

Quality of food and service has been a hallmark for Vasalarakis and Pizza Express and they are grateful for the support of their many customers. Gus’s son Tony now works in the business and will look to carry on the tradition of quality and
great taste of this three generation restaurant.

LIFETIME BUSINESS BUILDER AWARD - Bob Jenkins

Image of LIFETIME BUSINESS BUILDER AWARD - Bob Jenkins

LIFETIME BUSINESS BUILDER | This award recognizes those who have successfully achieved, toiled and contributed to Brandon’s success through a lifetime commitment to business and community service. Recipients of this award are determined by the Selection Panel and are not part of the nomination process.  The Awards Nomination Committee is responsible for managing the overall search by identifying potential nominees according to the criteria.

Born in 1944, Leslie Robert “Bob” Jenkins was the second oldest of five children to Fred and Eleanor Jenkins and bounced between Alberta and Manitoba before landing in Brandon. After meeting Beverly (Hoy) at a local dance, the pair would marry in 1966. The following years brought the couple two children, Tammy, and Mark. Bob worked at Christie’s for several years before he took a
risk and bet on himself. In 1971 he founded Jenkins Business Supply, selling office and janitorial supplies. Bob always
found a way to put the customer first and get a job done. “If someone came in the store and saw a desk that they liked,
even if someone who worked there was using it, they would take it right out from under them and sell it” noted by his
wife and echoed by Paul Crane, who became a business partner and close friend of Jenkins.

Over time, Jenkins recognized an opportunity in the flooring market, and shifted toward it. He began travelling to the United State with Paul Fouillard from St. Lazare, where the duo would load up a semi-truck and bring carpet rolls back home. “Bob wasn’t happy with the normal supply chain in the carpet industry, so he went directly to the carpet mills and improved his
costs, which he was able to pass those savings on to his customers,” Crane said.

Marketing became a passion of Bob’s as he found ways to set Jenkins apart from its competition. “He was so innovative, and he always enjoyed different marketing ideas and did things that were off the wall” Mark Danielson said. The Jenkins sign hung crooked for years, a trick that Bob learned through his travels. “People used to stop in and tell us about that sign
all the time,” Bob said with a smile- just weeks before his passing.

Bob donated back to the community he lived in and was particularly fond of helping the underprivileged. At the time of his passing, Bob was working with the Samaritan House and felt good about helping people out, when he could, and will be missed dearly by his family — wife Beverly Jenkins, daughter Tammy and husband David, their children Sarah (Jon), Katie (Devon), son Mark and wife Bobby-Jo, and their children Grace, and Maddy — and his many friends. We honour Bob’s years of hard work, and dedication for all that Bob has done for the community of Brandon. With that, we are privileged to bestow this Lifetime Business Builder award to Bobs close family.

COMMUNITY IMPACT AWARD - Rocked Community Fitness

Image of COMMUNITY IMPACT AWARD - Rocked Community Fitness

COMMUNITY IMPACT AWARD | 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.

Rocked Community Fitness believes that fitness and nutrition should not be complicated. They have worked to build a community that unites and empowers people to become the strongest, healthiest versions of themselves.

Rocked Community Fitness is inspired by their members to get in the community. They have ideas and causes that they support and rocked works to help with fundraising workouts and increasing awareness about those causes.

Prior to the pandemic, they offered free outdoor community workouts for anyone who wanted to participate which is just one more example of how important community is to the business.

Rocked Community Fitness feels that when people feel good and work hard together, they do good things together.

OUTSTANDING NEW BUSINESS - Chez Angela Bakery & Cafe

Image of OUTSTANDING NEW BUSINESS - Chez Angela Bakery & Cafe

OUTSTANDING NEW BUSINESS AWARD | 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

Chez Angela is writing the story of great baking in Westman, but “great” is not just about the quality of food.
They think that being “great” means being part of the community, lifting others up, supporting local growers and producers, and having great relationships with their staff.
They believe that when customers trust them enough to bring them to their table, to share them with their neighbors and to call on them for their events, it is their responsibility to in turn pass on that honor to those who grow the food in our community and those who transform it into wonderful things in thier bakeshop.

BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARD - SMALL BUSINESS - A&L Cycle

Image of BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARD - SMALL BUSINESS - A&L Cycle

BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARD – SMALL BUSINESS | 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.

A&L Cycle started in 1936 on the corner of 3rd and Rosser Ave (across the street from the present location). It was originally called Lacey’s Bike Shop. In the 60’s, two men named Alex and Larry purchased the shop and named it A&L Cycle. The Wirch family purchased the store in 1982 and Cam with his wife Colleen have been operating it for the past 30+ years. Recently they have taken on their son Tyler and James Treloar as owners.
A&L Cycle has been growing over the years and have changed their product mix to include bicycles and accessories, running gear, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards, cross-country skis and snowshoes an well as a complete line of fitness equipment and accessories. They have a complete parts and service department that can service any items that they sell. The large, well displayed store is a great non-intimidating place to see and test out new products.
The store connects with the community by running a variety of clubs and events for it’s customers. This includes weekly road bike rides, a mountain bike club, gravel road rides as well as ski and snowshoe events and running groups.
A&L Cycle has achieved Partner Plus Status (highest recognized level of dealership) with Trek Bicycles for the past 10 years.

BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARD - LARGE BUSINESS - Joe Beeverz Canadian Pub

Image of BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARD - LARGE BUSINESS - Joe Beeverz Canadian Pub

BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARD – LARGE BUSINESS | 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.

Joe Beeverz Canadian Pub originated in Brandon, Manitoba in the spring of 2011. With a unique and diverse menu and a welcoming atmosphere, Joe Beeverz quickly became Westman’s go- to spot for classic Canadian Pub fare.
As Joe Beeverz nears it’s 10 year anniversary we have much to celebrate as we look back on our accomplishments such as setting the Guiness Book of World Record for world’s largest poutine (1949 lbs) and being recently awarded with top honors in Manitoba for “Best Poutine” and placing 4th in the nation. Aside from those feats, we are happy to say that we have managed to grow into 2 more locations (Yorkton,Saskatchewan and Riding Mountain National Park,Manitoba) and flourish in a region where local restaurants are often dwarfed by national brands.

Joe Beeverz is Manitioba made, proudly Canadian and fiercely independent.

YOUNG ENTREPRENUER OF THE YEAR - Matt Berg

Image of YOUNG ENTREPRENUER OF THE YEAR - Matt Berg

YOUNG ENTERPRENEUR OF THE YEAR | This award recognizes outstanding achievement by an individual aged 18-40 who is either the Director/Owner of a new or existing business and has successfully built or built-up the organization. The nominee must have ultimate control over the entire endeavour with all risk of success or failure lying in their hands.
* Nominees must be 18 – 40 years of age (at the time of the nomination).

Matt was born in Brandon and raised in a small rural town just 20 kilometers North. Working as a landscape labourer in Highschool, Matt developed a love for the outdoors and the creative freedoms that landscaping offered. He purchased Livingstone Landscaping in 1999 as the sole employee to pay his way through university.
Matt graduated with a degree in Business from Brandon University, focusing on Finance and minor in Economics. He completed the Prairie Horticulture certification program by Distance Ed from Olds College, Red River College, University of Winnipeg, and ACC. Matt also taught Landscape Design at our local Assiniboine Community College to pass on industry knowledge to those interested in landscape design.
In 2020, Matt was one of the founding partners of their sister company Livingstone Outdoor, a landscaping retail supply store and greenhouse set to open in spring 2021. Today, the two companies employ ninety-five staff members and operate interprovincially in MB & SK.

WESTMANS TOP 4 UNDER 40 - Danielle Adriaansen

Image of WESTMANS TOP 4 UNDER 40 - Danielle Adriaansen

WESTMAN’s TOP 4 UNDER 40 | This award recognizes outstanding achievement by an individual under the age of 40 who works in a leadership role in any size organization from the private, public or non-profit sector. The ideal candidates will be active and engaged in work and community, a creative problem-solver, disciplined in performance, and generous in spirit; a real contributor to the fabric of our community.
* Nominees must be 39 years and younger (for the entire calendar year for which they are considered). This award is open to Chamber and non-Chamber members and their employees

Danielle Adriaansen’s career was off to a quick start following a commerce degree from the University of Manitoba’s Asper School of Business (‘09) and Web Design diploma from Assiniboine Community College (‘11). While a student, Danielle became a silver medalist at the 2010 Skills Canada Competition and was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Silver Medal upon graduation.
As she was finishing her college studies, Danielle began working at the City of Brandon, bringing them into the most pronounced digital and social media era. In late 2013, she was enticed to work at Assiniboine Community College as a marketing and communication specialist. A little more than two years later, she became the Director of Public Affairs, leading the college’s recruitment, marketing, and communication teams, earning a seat among the college’s senior leadership team where many members were 20 years her senior.

In addition to being part of the steering committee that saw the rebirth of Habitat for Humanity in Brandon, Danielle has been a long-serving volunteer with the Art Gallery of Southwest Manitoba. She has served as the organization’s board chair since 2019.

Committed to lifelong learning, Danielle began her MBA studies in 2018 and graduated earlier this May.

Last August, Danielle was asked to serve as interim Vice President International in addition to her role as Director of Public Affairs. She recently undertook the college’s next generation of international strategy to help lead Assiniboine through its pandemic recovery and has recently been reappointed to continue in the vice president role through to mid-2022.

WESTMANS TOP 4 UNDER 40 - Parker Easter

Image of WESTMANS TOP 4 UNDER 40 - Parker Easter

WESTMAN’s TOP 4 UNDER 40 | This award recognizes outstanding achievement by an individual under the age of 40 who works in a leadership role in any size organization from the private, public or non-profit sector. The ideal candidates will be active and engaged in work and community, a creative problem-solver, disciplined in performance, and generous in spirit; a real contributor to the fabric of our community.
* Nominees must be 39 years and younger (for the entire calendar year for which they are considered). This award is open to Chamber and non-Chamber members and their employees

23-year-old Parker Easter was born and raised in Brandon, MB. While currently in law school at the University of Calgary, he is also the Founder and CEO of Brandon-based company ReNu Hygienics, a soap recycling start-up dedicated to creating hygiene access and protecting the planet.

As the son of Carleen and David Easter, Parker already had a leg up; having two loving parents prompt to make sacrifices – he was privileged. It was early in this childhood when he began to recognize his dismay for inequality of all kinds. Always going out of his way to befriend the ‘new kid,’ Parker found himself with a diverse friend group that would open his eyes to the many harsh realities of the world. But being an eternal optimist at heart and equipped with the guidance of his father’s entrepreneurial success, he knew he could change it. His belief in the power of entrepreneurship and his desire to provide for the most vulnerable led him to found ReNu Hygienics during his final year of undergrad.

Parker holds an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration from Brandon University where he was selected Valedictorian of the 2019 class. In his valedictory address, following a couple of inappropriate jokes, he shared two stories of individuals who inspired him throughout university where despite the bad cards dealt to them, succeeded nonetheless. Parker holds fond memories of his countless hours spent with the Enactus Brandon and World University Service of Canada programs at BU and credits them for empowering his ongoing advocacy efforts.

Following graduation, Parker took a gap year to work on the company and take on a solo-backpacking trip to South-East Asia, which in hindsight, was his best decision yet. Parker is a brother and an uncle and is determined to show thanks to his family for all they have sacrificed. His ambition is to help effect positive purpose-driven innovation through entrepreneurship and the law. The starting point is a plastic-free bathroom routine for everyone.

WESTMANS TOP 4 UNDER 40 - Hailey Jefferies

Image of WESTMANS TOP 4 UNDER 40 - Hailey Jefferies

WESTMAN’s TOP 4 UNDER 40 | This award recognizes outstanding achievement by an individual under the age of 40 who works in a leadership role in any size organization from the private, public or non-profit sector. The ideal candidates will be active and engaged in work and community, a creative problem-solver, disciplined in performance, and generous in spirit; a real contributor to the fabric of our community.
* Nominees must be 39 years and younger (for the entire calendar year for which they are considered). This award is open to Chamber and non-Chamber members and their employees

If Hailey Jefferies has her way, an ancient bean will be a key ingredient in the modern food movement. The fava bean – which archeologists recently found on a menu in the remains of a restaurant in ancient Pompei! – offers terrific opportunities to the agriculture and food sectors of Manitoba. Hailey is bringing that opportunity to life.

Under Hailey’s leadership, Prairie Fava was awarded the “Start-up of the Year” in 2019 by the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce. Hailey, alongside her husband Cale Jefferies, established Prairie Fava as a dynamic link between fava bean growers, food processing and manufacturing companies, and the end consumer. As the “fava bean company”, the company is committed to value-added development of fava from “seed-to-farm-to-fork”.

Prairie Fava has secured sales of whole fava, fava flour and fava splits from food manufacturers and processors across North America & Japan. In 2020 Protein Industries Canada announced the exciting project of $19 million dollars with Roquette Canada and Prairie Fava. An incredible opportunity for Prairie Fava to collaborate with a global leader in protein.
An eternal optimist and tenacious leader, Hailey views fava as a means to spur and grow farming businesses both in Manitoba and across the Prairies. Working with partners across the industry, she’s investigating the nutritional and culinary advantages of fava, an innovation that will directly benefit consumers and help farmers ride the tide of ever-changing global markets. in the future.

To help contribute to the industry’s growth, Hailey sat on the boards of Manitoba Pulse Growers and Pulse Canada and is a voting member on the Prairie Grain Development Pulse and Specialty Crops Committee.

WESTMANS TOP 4 UNDER 40 - Jordan Ludwig

Image of WESTMANS TOP 4 UNDER 40 - Jordan Ludwig

WESTMAN’s TOP 4 UNDER 40 | This award recognizes outstanding achievement by an individual under the age of 40 who works in a leadership role in any size organization from the private, public or non-profit sector. The ideal candidates will be active and engaged in work and community, a creative problem-solver, disciplined in performance, and generous in spirit; a real contributor to the fabric of our community.
* Nominees must be 39 years and younger (for the entire calendar year for which they are considered). This award is open to Chamber and non-Chamber members and their employees

Born and raised in Brandon, Manitoba – a real homegrown Brandonite, Jordan Ludwig is the president and driving force behind Brandon Business Interiors, a commercial furniture and design office based in Brandon, Manitoba. Educated at Brandon University, Jordan started his volunteer career as the chair of the local Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship team inside the BBA faculty, helping to create programs that are still in use in the Enactus curriculum today.

Shortly after graduation, Jordan began working with the family business and became involved with the Brandon Chamber of Commerce at a committee level; while keeping busy with his long haired friends cofounding and establishing the Westman Ultimate Disc League. Jordan has since volunteered his time and efforts with Westman Dreams for Kids on their golf tournament committee, helping raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for kids in Westman; co-chaired the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign, served as Chair of the Brandon Family YMCA Board, and Chair of the Brandon Chamber of Commerce.

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. Growing and evolving with the local and global economy, BBI supplies 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 they operate as a small business, they have a large footprint with loyal clients in Southwest and Northern Manitoba, Winnipeg, Eastern Saskatchewan and into Northwestern Ontario. Integral to their 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.