Way to go N-Sci TechnologiesFriday, October 04, 2013 by: SooToday.com Staff
NOBA has become the largest annual gathering of its kind in Northern Ontario since it was first launched in 1986.
The NOBA event was co-hosted by North Bay Mayor Al McDonald and Northern Ontario Business Publisher Patricia Mills.
NOBA is an initiative designed to celebrate successful businesses and entrepreneurs throughout Northern Ontario.
The award evening provides the perfect occasion to acknowledge the efforts of those who create the opportunities that allow everyone to enjoy living and working in the North.
The event rotates annually among the five major cities in Northern Ontario.
There were 10 business awards presented: Company of the Year (three categories, based on size), Entrepreneur of the Year, Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Entrepreneurial Community, First Nations Business Award of Excellence, Innovation, Export and Judges’ Choice.
The Union Gas Essay Scholarship, worth $3,000, was also presented.
An independent panel of judges adjudicated more than 100 nominations from around Northern Ontario.
This year’s judges were: Barbara Ray, Secretary/Treasurer – RES Equipment Sales (Dryden), Dave Rector, Manager of Business Development – Rector Machine Works (Sault Ste. Marie), Ryan Siggelkow, Vice President – HLS Hardline Solutions (Sudbury), Luc Stang, President and CEO – Gin-cor Industries (North Bay), and the Union Gas Essay Scholarship Judge Dr. David Pearson, Professor, Laurentian University (Sudbury)
Company of the Year 1-15 Employees
Winner: N-Sci Technologies (Sault Ste. Marie) Sponsored by: Northern Credit Union
Born and raised in southern Ontario, Rob Reid hadn’t travelled north until landing a job one summer with Ontario Hydro in North Bay.
But the exposure to a different way of life influenced his perspective on business and helped shape his company.
N-Sci Technologies, an electrical and automation firm that specializes in energy projects is now celebrating its 10th Anniversary.
One of the company’s big accomplishments to date is getting approval from the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) to go ahead with a complex solar installation project that had stymied larger, international firms.
It was the first time a project of that scope had been approved in Ontario and it paved the way for similar installations across the province.
Over the last year, N-Sci has expanded its services into Alberta, and the company is now actively exploring the market to find ways to apply N-Sci’s Ontario-honed expertise in Alberta.
Reid has also cultivated a culture of community involvement at the firm, himself contributing his knowledge to groups like the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corp. to help businesses get off the ground.
Company of the Year 16-50 Employees
Winner: Cedar Meadows Resort and Spa (Timmins) Sponsored by: OLG
Entrepreneurs experience some obstacles when getting their businesses off the ground, but not many have had to face a challenge from an elk during rutting season.
Richard Lafleur, owner of Cedar Meadows Resort and Spa in Timmins, learned the hard way when he first added a wildlife tour to his 275-acre facility.
After some hiccups and proverbial fires to put out, Lafleur never gave up and the facility has grown into a destination spot.
It currently offers one of the few Scandinavian-style Nordic baths in Canada, which are known for their health benefits. Its spa offers infrared saunas, a cocoon-like spa jet, hydro massages and laser technology.
There are conference facilities available and the landscaped grounds offers a picturesque location for weddings, which can accommodate up to 436 people.
He has plans for the future, but he isn’t divulging anything yet.
He has no intention of keeping the facility stale and is always seeking new ideas to keep his guests coming back and attracting new ones.
Company of the Year 51+ Employees
Winner: Central Welding and Iron Works (North Bay) Sponsored by: BDO
When Gail and Stefan Thomsen decided to switch from teaching to becoming entrepreneurs in 1980, Central Welding and Iron Works in North Bay was a good fit.
As a high school shop teacher, Stefan was familiar with the work the small fabricator was undertaking at its 1,000 square-foot shop.
However, the couple had plans to expand the business and over the course of more than three decades, the business grew into a 100,000-square-foot facility.
Currently, it is the largest, privately-owned fabricator of steel bridges in Canada.
One of the largest projects the company has undertaken was a 2,000-tonne bridge in Arnprior that spans the Madawaska River.
Stefanie Bailey, the couple’s daughter, is responsible for Central Welding’s engineering and finance and her brother Erik oversees production and sales.
While her parents still own the business, Bailey and her brother maintain their focus on operational efficiency and striving to get better at what they do.
Entrepreneur of the Year
Winner: Jeff Fuller, Fuller Industrial Corp. (Sudbury) Sponsored by: KIA
After working with his dad at Abraflex for 14 years, Jeff Fuller started his own company, Fuller Industrial, which fabricates pipes and fittings, and interior rubber lining for pipes and tanks.
Today, Fuller sends its niche products all over the globe; up to 90 percent of its business comprises exports out of the Sudbury plant.
Fuller has a presence on every continent, and after making a name for itself in the mining industry is seeking the same success in oil and gas.
He credits growing up in an enterprising family with fostering the ambition that’s brought him to today.
Fuller said “finding great people to work for him is one of his biggest challenges”, so he appreciates his employees and their contributions.
Integrity, respect and honesty form his triumvirate approach to business, and all ideas are vetted through an employee charter of rights before they’re adopted.
The company is now offering value-added product lines alongside the pipes and coatings, which is increasing sales.
In the future, Fuller envisions the company doing more detailed engineering, isometric drawings, and scoping of projects earlier in the process, furthering its diversity.
Chalk it up to another goal met and conquered in Fuller’s ever-evolving career.
Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Winner: Frank Chartrand and Nico Taus, Bureau Group (Sudbury) Sponsored by: CIBC
Dare to be different. Seek out change. Push the envelope (always).
The first three items in Bureau’s manifesto speak to the ideology behind the Sudbury marketing firm. But they speak perhaps even more succinctly to the personalities behind it.
Frank Chartrand, 26, and Nico Taus, 25, were fresh out of the graphic design program at Cambrian College when they started the marketing and web-design firm.
Each had spent some time at local design companies until a drooping economy meant the firms could no longer afford to keep them.
Chartrand enrolled in the communications course at Laurentian University, while Taus considered moving to Montreal.
But then the duo started batting around the idea of starting their own venture.
The firm has grown by an employee a year, and its founders are discerning in their hiring process, preferring to work with designers whose design aesthetic fits with theirs.
Both former teachers of the design course at Cambrian, Chartrand and Taus have also hired successive Cambrian grads.
Their work has started receiving attention beyond Sudbury, which has resulted in jobs for clients across Canada and beyond.
Taus said Bureau is open to any project that feels right, and fits well with the firm’s business creed.
Winner: Millson Forestry Service (Timmins)
Tough times produce resilient people. And it seems to bring out the best in Millson Forestry Service.
Innovation, perseverance and a passion for growing the best trees possible and seeking out value-added opportunities has served the company of forestry practitioners well in weathering one of the worst spells in the industry's history.
With 60 full-time and seasonal employees, the Timmins-based company has done whatever it's taken to buffer itself against the cyclical nature of the industry.
When owners David and Sue Millson graduated from Lakehead University with forestry degrees in 1979, the big industry players didn't hire married couples. So they decided to go into business for themselves growing trees.
With more than 30 years under their belts, the Millson's are grooming the next generation to take over.
The company was restructured in 2007 to provide for succession planning for its younger partners.
“No business is complete if it doesn't have the next generation coming along to spur new ideas and take things in different directions,” said Millson. “You've always got to be re-inventing yourself in your business.”
First Nations Business Award of Excellence
Winner: Young Forestry Services (North Bay) Sponsored by: Ontario Power Generation
Brian Young didn't let misguided advice deter him from making his company a success.
Instead, it inspired him.
“I was told because I was Native, I would not succeed,” said the owner of Young Forestry Services. “I don't let anyone tell me I can't do anything.”
Since 1996, Young, and his wife Lorie, have been proving the early naysayers wrong.
The business, located on Hwy. 17 between Sturgeon Falls and North Bay, has grown from four to about 20 employees.
It moved from rented space in Dokis First Nation to its current location on a Nipissing First Nation-owned industrial and commercial park fronting on the highway.
Young started by undertaking contract silviculture work with some area forest management companies.
When lumber prices started to fall, and contracts for the company decreased, Young had to look for work in other areas.
“We did harvesting and cut firewood for a few years,” he said. “A few times we were ready to pack it in.”
Then, the company was offered an opportunity with Union Gas to do some work clearing right of ways.
The company recently completed a contract for Hydro One on Nipissing First Nation to clear brush along a transmission line.
A three-year contract with Union Gas will begin soon for clearing around pipeline markers throughout the province.
Entrepreneurial Community of the Year
Winner: Canadore College (North Bay) Sponsored by: Air Canada
Canadore College in North Bay has a simple approach – a strong business community means a very strong college.
“The business community employs our graduates and the stronger the economy, the stronger our partners are, and that is better for our graduates,” said college president George Burton.
With a vested interest in successful businesses and industries, Canadore has developed partnerships throughout the region it serves.
These ensure that the programs it offers are in line with the market place and the curriculum is meeting the needs of industries and remaining relevant.
Earlier this year, the college launched its Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Production (ICAMP) to help companies gain an edge in the marketplace.
When it opens this fall at its Commerce Court Campus, it will bring together manufacturing companies by providing leading-edge technology they might not otherwise have access to.
It will support the development of new products and processes, product and materials testing, development and commercialization of prototypes, refinement of existing processes, and the development of new businesses.
Judges' Choice Award
Winner: North Bay Computer Services (North Bay)
Yann Fleury is well known in the Gateway City as the Man with the Plan when your hard drive crashes.
Hustle, perseverance, a penchant for same-day service, and being a fanatic when it comes to customer service has been a winning formula for the owner of North Bay Computer Services.
Their coverage encompasses the North Bay area, including Sturgeon Falls and Mattawa, but their techs have ventured as far as Manitoulin Island, Timmins, Orillia and Elk Lake to handle wonky debit machines and servers.
His team has been successful in recovering data from busted-up PCs thrown from a getaway car and from a downtown fire.
Fleury's drive “to be the very best” started while growing up in his father's electronics store – J.C. Fleury – in New Liskeard. Fleury is quick to attribute his company's success to his team.
When recruiting for techs he wants kindred spirits who shared his same drive and enthusiasm.
Keeping 9-to-5 hours is not always in the job description, especially when a business' debit, ATM or server crashes.
Despite their hectic pace, the company sponsors sports teams and donates prizes and time for charitable causes and community events.
Their commitment to service was rewarded with a North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce award in 2012.
The company is now making moves to expand into Ottawa to handle servers for big business.
At 37, Fleury has no worries about spreading himself thin.
“I want to grow more, that's the plan."
Winner: KBM Resources Group (Thunder Bay) Sponsored by: EDC
Being adaptable, innovative and doggedly pursuing new opportunities has served KBM Resources Group well.
It was the downturn of the forest industry in northwestern Ontario that forced the Thunder Bay consulting firm to take stock and reassess the wisdom of putting all its eggs in one basket.
After watching the sector get beaten up for the better part of a decade, co-owners Laird Van Damme and Peter Higgelke decided they needed to branch out.
Incorporated in 1974 by founder Herb Bax, the roots of the 30-employee company have always been deeply entrenched in forestry.
Its early beginnings were focused on site preparation, planting, seeding and distributing reforestation equipment imported from Sweden.
The switch from skidders to light aircraft, and from diesel to aviation fuel, came out of necessity.
They hired a business development manager and have successfully transferred their expertise in forest management, aerial photography and mapping to clients in the mining and energy sectors.
The company also maps corridor for utility companies, works with First Nation communities on land-use planning projects, with renewable energy firms on siting wind and solar farms, and has partnered with engineering firms on mining projects.
KBM's retail store is also a revenue generator, selling prospecting and survey supplies including reams of flagging tape, GPS tools and satellite phones.
They're also making headway into the Iron Range of northern Minnesota as a distributor for Entac Emulsion Products, an environmentally-friendly soil binding agent for controlling dust in mines, road shoulders and tailings pond.
Union Gas Essay Scholarship
Winner: Jessica Serre (Kapuskasing) Sponsored by: Union Gas
It was through a pair of environmental studies courses in her last year at Kapuskasing District High School that Jessica Serre was inspired to write about her experiences for the Union Gas Essay Scholarship competition.
Her argument that younger generations need to take up the cause of environmental sustainability is compelling.
Serre is an advocate of her own advice.
Simple solutions she incorporates into her own life include shutting off water and lights when they’re not in use, switching to energy-efficient light bulbs, and growing her own food close to home to reduce transportation costs and emissions.
Last year, her high school won a $5,000 grant from the World Wildlife Fund to create a 48 foot by 48-foot school vegetable garden as part of her environment and resource management class.
Students started sowing seeds in the winter months, transplanted them outdoors in the spring, and now volunteer teachers and students tend the garden in the summer.
So passionate has she become about environmental sustainability, Serre has chosen it as her career path.
In the fall, she will enter the first of a four-year bachelor of science degree, specializing in environmental biology, at North Bay’s Nipissing University.
Full winner profiles and video vignettes will posted on www.noba.ca on October 4.
The winners were also profiled in a souvenir magazine and the winners television documentary will be aired on Eastlink TV on Thursday, October 10 and Saturday, October 12 at 7 and 9 p.m.
Mark your Calendars: 28th Annual NOBA – 2013 – in Sault Ste Marie
The 28th Annual Northern Ontario Business Awards 2014 will be held in Sault Ste. Marie on September 24 and 25, 2014.
For more information on NOBA, contact Kimberley Wahamaa, Operations Manager at 705-673-5705 or 1-800-757-2766 Ext. 320 or email inquiries to email@example.com