Local businesses that have made a considerable contribution to their customers and the community were given the recognition they deserve at the Maple Creek Business Awards of Excellence ceremony on February 6.
The evening began with a supper catered by The Star Cafe & Grill, followed by the ceremony, with Southwest TV News’ Carol Andrews serving as the mistress of ceremonies.
Sponsored by the Maple Creek Main Street Program Committee and the Maple Creek Chamber of Commerce, the business awards acknowledge businesses in the town and RM of Maple Creek that have made notable contributions to a healthy local economy and to making the community a great place to live and do business.
Mayor Barry Rudd opened by praising the Main Street Program and what it’s meant for the town.
“When the economy has ups and downs, we’re fortunate to have the tourism, we’re fortunate to have the agriculture and the businesses that are here,” he said. “We have new development, new store owners, people who are investing money in this town, and they’re the leaders also. In doing that, other people see it and they aren’t scared to do it.”
He noted that, whether the nominees win or not, they are still very much appreciated businesses in the community.
The Commercial Hotel was the big winner of the night, earning both heritage conservation excellence and business of the year. Although flood damage left the building vacant and unused for nearly three years, a group of investors from the local Filipino community worked hard to breathe life back into it. Much of the building’s character was repaired and retained. The Commercial Hotel is Maple Creek’s oldest surviving business outside of ranching, but was the “new kid on the block” last year with the re-opening of its bar and hotel.
Licadel Hotel Group has been completing renovations on the historic building for the past year and two months, and the community’s appreciation was very clear.
“The first award was already a huge bonus,” said Noy Lim, a stakeholder in the business. “We feel that the town, the people, are happy and appreciating what we’re doing.”
He said the honours will fuel the owners as they work their way through the final stage of renovations.
SARCAN Maple Creek was the winner of the Communities in Bloom excellence award. It has contributed to the reduction of wasteful activity at the landfill by ensuring recyclable material is diverted from it. SARCAN donates to CiB the proceeds from recyclable cans and bottles deposited in its after-hours beverage container bin. CiB judges have been impressed by the volume of recyclable material processed by the staff.
“It’s nice to be recognized for trying to keep our place clean and all the efforts that the staff put into it – especially with all the cardboard and paper and plastic that comes in,” stated Darryl Vilness, manager at SARCAN Maple Creek. “It shows that they care about their job and what they’re doing here.”
The tourism excellence award was presented to Ghostown Blues Bed & Breakfast, which offers a unique western experience for visitors to the Southwest that can only be found in Maple Creek. Not only has it served as a place for travellers to stay, but is also a destination for weddings, parties and other functions. Ghostown Blues has played host to a number of country and folk music artists since opening in the summer of 2011.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Heather Leppke, manager at Ghostown Blues.
She said the bed and breakfast has grown significantly in the past two years.
“We’ve had people come from Germany, Australia, England, all over to come and visit, and it was amazing to see how well-known we are,” she explained.
Alf’s Car Service was the winner of the customer service excellence award for going above and beyond to please customers, making each feel like a priority. One customer recalled having their truck towed to the business half an hour before closing. Because it was the customer’s only means of transportation and important to their own business operation, staff remained well after quitting time to finish the job.
Keith Stork, co-owner of the business, said their goal is to do the best job they can to satisfy customers, not necessarily to receive praise for it.
“We’re just trying to do the right thing,” he said. “We try to base our business on repeat customers and trying to get your regular customers coming back.”
Cypress Credit Union was the recipient of the community spirit excellence award for its work in enhancing the quality of life in Maple Creek. The business has sponsored the local junior golf program and the Sidney Street School safety patroller of the month award. The credit union has also served hot chocolate during Cowtown Christmas, hosted a barbecue to support the new playground equipment fund for Sidney Street School and provided for the local food bank. They are strong supporters of numerous sports and recreation groups and matched every donation towards the Southwest Integrated Healthcare Facility’s equipment fund, resulting in a $100,000 donation towards the facility.
Shelly Kay, manager of sales and marketing for Cypress Credit Union, said it’s the efforts of the staff that have made it all possible.
“That’s really who makes it what it is, because they say we should do this or let’s do that,” she explained. “We’re very proud.”
She added the peer support the Business Awards of Excellence displays is great to see.
“You see the nominees, but sometimes you don’t realize what everyone has done when it comes to a whole year,” she said. “They make our community strong. It’s so amazing, and it takes a community to bring the spirit.”
This was the second year the Business Awards of Excellence has been held, with 15 local businesses nominated. Next year, the Chamber of Commerce will be sponsoring it since the Main Street Program wraps up this year.