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Luckily, Rainone not good at golf - He spent spare time serving city

Skipper Manzutti Award winner Terry Rainone advises young entrepreneurs to 'work hard and learn everything you can. Listen to others and find a good mentor. Have a passion for what you do'
Terry Rainone, well-known longtime Sault businessman and winner of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce Skipper Manzutti award for business achievement.

The name Rainone is well-known in Sault Ste. Marie.

With the presentation of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Business Achievement Awards on March 25, Terry Rainone has achieved another honour for his family.

Rainone, a longtime construction company owner and developer, won the Chamber’s Skipper Manzutti Award for Business Achievement for 2022.

The award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated outstanding business achievement within the past year, or number of years. Winners of the award are recognized for exemplary entrepreneurial and community minded achievement. 

“I consider it quite an honour. It’s a prestigious award so I was very pleased,” Rainone told SooToday.

Born and raised in the Sault, Rainone’s grandfather came to Canada from Italy and worked at Algoma Steel, his father Mike involved in the trucking business, having launched Mike Rainone Trucking in 1946.

“He always used to tell me ‘stay in school and get a good education,’” Rainone said.

Rainone took his father’s advice and attended Algoma University, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics in 1973.

17 years later he received a Masters of Business Administration from Lake Superior State University.

Postsecondary 'collar and tie' education aside, Rainone has been very much a hands-on man.

“I was always around my father so I started driving a truck for him when I was 16, then I went to Brandes Construction and drove a payloader for them. I did that after school and in the summers. Then I started full time with my father in 1973,” Rainone said.

When the elder Rainone retired in 1980, Terry and a business partner started their own construction company. 

“I got into the construction business and branched out from what my father did, which was mainly trucks, and I got into the equipment and more diversified work.”

That long professional history of diversification includes working as the Community Development Corporation of Sault Ste. Marie & Area’s executive director from 1994 to 1996 and becoming a shareholder with Palmer Construction Group in 1995.

He became Palmer’s sole owner in 1999.

“We grew that to a fairly good size,” Rainone said.

Rainone sold Palmer Construction in 2014.

He put much effort into a property development company he started in 1998 with Jim McAuley.

McAuley was a local entrepreneur and one of the figures who brought the Soo Greyhounds hockey team into the OHL fold, acting for several years as the team’s president.

The company built the Heliene solar panel manufacturing plant on Allens Sideroad and purchased Bruce Street Storage.

Rainone amalgamated his various business interests last year and still owns residential and commercial properties in the Sault.

He is currently owner and president of Terrain Construction Management.

“I still do some work for Palmer Construction. I’m still involved with them on special projects. They’re part of the larger group of Pioneer Construction so I work on special projects for them.”

Rainone is also known for his long history of community service, having been a member of several local boards.

“I’ve always tried to give my time and volunteer for some organizations. It’s a fascinating diversion to see different organizations, to see how different things work.”

“It gives me an education and a focus on something other than construction. I’ve been in construction all my life and enjoyed it. When you enjoy what you’re doing it’s not work, but it’s always good to have a little diversion too,” Rainone said.

“I’m not a great golfer by any means, so I’ve had to find something else,” he said.

“I like working with numbers, so I was chair of finance at the hospital and chair of finance at the Davey Home and treasurer of the Community Development Corporation. I enjoy work like that.”

“A few years ago I was told there were some issues at the Davey Home and I was asked if I could go on the board and help out. There were five new board members appointed. I was there for a few years and became chair of the board and I think things are working well there, so it’s always good to contribute where you can to the community,” Rainone said.

The Sault Ste. Marie General Hospital and the Plummer Memorial Public Hospital formed a partnership in 1993, becoming Sault Area Hospital.

Prior to that partnership, Rainone sat on the General Hospital board.  

“I remember going to a meeting where we discussed merging the Plummer Hospital and the General Hospital. There was an executive from the Plummer and he said ‘they've been talking about this for a long time. This will never happen.’ I think it was less than a year after when we had the merger well on its way and it became Sault Area Hospital,” Rainone recalled.

Having been involved with SAH, Rainone - like everyone in the community and across Canada - is concerned about the troubles facing the health care sector.

“Especially as we’re getting older. We all need hospital care but I think we’re in good hands and hopefully the administration, the management, the government, I think everybody realizes healthcare is a big issue and there’s certainly attention being paid to it.”

He also still keeps an eye on the long term care sector.

“Hopefully I’ll be able to stay in my own home but there are lots of people that need long term care and we need to be there for them. We need to have those supports for them in our society.”

Rainone is a past President of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce.

As such, he cares for the Sault’s business community - especially in the downtown core - as that part of the city deals with alarming problems brought on by the opioid crisis.

“I have some investments downtown and I see what goes on downtown and it concerns me. It’s a problem not only in Sault Ste. Marie but across North America. I don’t know what the answer is but it’s very disconcerting,” Rainone said.

“I think our downtown as a whole is actually doing fairly well economically. Yes, we have some empty buildings but I think our downtown has always been resilient. I’ve seen downtowns in other cities that are a lot worse off than ours.”

“We look at Savoy’s, Stone’s Office Supply, they keep their stores up. I think our downtown’s doing well and it’s encouraging to see. We see what Joe Greco did with the I.D.A. in the old Davis building, and you have to say we’ve got a good, vibrant business community,” Rainone said.

He is still involved with the Community Development Corporation’s investment committee and does some hands-on work in property management.  

In fact, Rainone said he was sitting in an excavator breaking up the concrete foundation of a Bloor Street building that caught fire in Dec. 2022 while speaking to SooToday.

“I think the community is doing well. I think we’re in a good position. Algoma Steel has always been a big factor but it’s not our only factor and it’s good to see they’re doing well and other companies doing well. I think our biggest challenge right now is the problem on the streets downtown and that’s something we all need to work on.”

With such a long history in local business and community service, has Rainone thought of running for public office at the municipal level?

“Oh Lord, no,” he chuckled.

“We have a lot of good people on council. I was very good friends with John Rowswell and Joe Fratesi, Christian Provenzano, Donna Hilsinger. There’ve been lots of good people out there. Our current council is a good council. We have a good mayor and good council with some new faces, which is good to see. We just have to keep moving ahead.”

Rainone, 70, enjoys reading and getting away to Florida during the winter.

He is the married father of four daughters, two stepsons, one stepdaughter and grandfather of three.

The Skipper Manzutti Award is not the first Rainone has received from the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce, having won the Chamber’s President’s award in the 1990s.

“It’s very humbling. It’s nice to receive the recognition of others,” he said, adding that such awards inspire him to keep busy.

“I think the Sault is a good place to live, a good place to be from and a good place to come home to.”

Does Rainone have any advice for young entrepreneurs?

“Work hard and learn everything you can. Listen to others and find a good mentor. Have a passion for what you do,” he said, crediting his father and Jim McAuley as his own mentors.

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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