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International Bridge, Sault Airport managers among winners at Chamber awards; Kristina from KRUSH honoured as young entrepreneur (3 photos)

Bridge administration recognized for their innovation, Sault Airport won in Business of the Year (10 to 25 employees) category; Koprash feels blessed to be successful business owner at 23
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In a labour force which is more entrepreneurial than ever before, Kristina Koprash was one of the winners whose star shined a little brighter at the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards, held at The Machine Shop Saturday. 

Koprash, owner/operator of KRUSH Clothing Boutique for women, won the Chamber’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

“This truly means a lot, especially when I started my business at 18,” Koprash said in a brief award acceptance speech.

“Now, at 23, I’m proud and also feel blessed to be able to work with beautiful women every single day, and my goal is to always make women feel beautiful. I’m very happy to be able to do that,” said Koprash, who also operates KRUSH Men’s.

Other winners included the International Bridge Administration, recipient of the Chamber’s Innovation Award.

Part of that innovation, said Peter Petainen, International Bridge Administration general manager, lies within the bridge staff’s ability to work wisely with the money the public pays in bridge tolls, which is the bridge’s sole source of income.

“We’re on a fixed budget and we operate like any other business, we’re always looking at the bottom line to see what’s going to benefit the public, and in this day and age we have to stretch every dollar, and it’s the bridge staff that come up with ideas on how to save and make the bridge last,” Petainen told SooToday.

“The staff we work with are an amazing group of people,” agreed Marcus Eidenier, bridge facilities asset manager.

“We came in $2 million (USD) under budget (for the new bridge administration building on the U.S. side), and we came in 50 per cent less on the paint products we used for the Canadian arch, and we’re carrying that forward into our plan and we figure in the next 10 to 15 years we’ll save about $19 million,” Petainen said.

Apart from partial closures necessary for maintenance, the bridge, opened in 1962, has never had to close for any weather related purpose, accidents or other reasons, Petainen said.

The Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corporation (SSMADC) took the Business of the Year Award (in the 10 to 25 employees category) 

“I think what we’ve done is reorganize the entire operation to make it work for us as a company, making sure that our staff are properly trained and we have the ability to give a service to the city of Sault Ste. Marie with the safest, up to date aircraft that we possibly can, along with other services that we offer through other companies, such as our tenants (such as JD Aero),” said Jerry Dolcetti, SSMADC board of directors chair.

“We’ve been able to do that, and each year we’re getting better at it and we’re growing,” Dolcetti said.

“We’ve had amazing growth, closing in on 215,000 passengers a year. We’ve got a great organization and a very supportive board of directors with no political interference which is very key for us, we can do what we need to do in order to make the airport a success,” said Terry Bos, SSMADC president and CEO.

“It feels very good to win tonight,” Bos said.

This year, more than 200 nominations were received by the Chamber for 21 different awards.

  • Barry Nanne received the Volunteer of the Year Award
  • The Community First Awards for outstanding customer service went to CC Communications (up to nine employees), Dr. Floreani, O’Toole and Dool Orthodontists (10 to 25 employees) and ARAUCO (over 26 employees)
  • Downtown Business of the Year Award went to Stone’s Office Supply
  • The Diversity Award went to Sault College
  • Customer Service Award (for an individual) went to Marlene Hemy of The Water Tower Inn
  • Business of the Year Awards went to OC Hair, Bath and Body Inc. (up to nine employees), Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corporation (10 to 25 employees) and Tulloch Engineering (over 26 employees)
  • Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award went to Kristina Koprash/KRUSH
  • Customer First Award for business, non-profit or agency went to Quattro Hotel & Conference Centre
  • The Innovation Award went to the International Bridge Administration
  • The Leader in Accessibility Award went to the Sault Ste. Marie YMCA
  • The Safe Work, Sound Business Award went to Wardlaw Heating & Cooling
  • Indigenous Business of the Year Award honours went to Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services 
  • Rising Star New Business Award, Paint Nite Sault Ste. Marie
  • Community Non-Profit Business of the Year Award went to Sault Ste. Marie YMCA
  • Beyond Borders Award, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie 
  • Employer of the Year Award, Pinchin Ltd.
  • President’s Award went to Darrell Boissoneau
  • Paul Dalseg Community Achievement Award, La-Na Fragomeni
  • Sherry Berlinghoff won the Skipper Manzutti Award for Business Achievement