The Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce forged ahead with celebrating the local business community, the nominees and award winners during its virtual awards ceremony on Oct. 22, despite some technical difficulties.
As the evening progressed the glitches were worked out and as Jeff Hanger commented on the chat, “Just like Ponoka, it’s getting better all the time.”
Master of ceremonies Darcy Stingel also kept things going with his humour and facial expressions during the Zoom conference.
“Especially with the specter of the pandemic still hanging over. this is not the way we wanted to do things — believe you me — technology and us don’t mix, but it wasn’t in the cards,” said Stingel.
“To succeed in business you need vision, conviction and an abundance of fortitude, and I’m sure that this past year put all of you through extraordinary tests,” said mayor elect Kevin Ferguson in his address.
“Which is why more than ever, we need to acknowledge that local businesses are the engine that drives our economy and in a free and democratic society, it is the local businesses that sit as our cornerstones.”
Chamber president Barry Grant also gave a few words.
“Back when the decision had to be made, there was heightened controversy with regards to COVID and vaccinations and unfortunately the committee had to make a decision,” said Grant.
“The best of you are here tonight as evidenced by your business award finalist designation,” said Grant.
A video message was shown from MP Blaine Calkins and a letter was received from MLA Ron Orr.
Due to technical issues, there was no audible sound on some of the videos shown, however, the chamber stated the videos would be sent out at a later time.
Lux Salon and Boutique won the Small Business of the Year award.
“I’m just beside myself,” said owner Shalaine Stebner, adding they just reached their one year anniversary of opening.
“My success is nothing without everybody else. All the people coming through my door — it’s amazing. It’s you guys who make us what we are.”
Tantec Electronics won Medium Business of the Year.
“I have to say ‘Wow, here we go again.’ We’re shocked. Thank you again,” said owner Jim Tangjerd.
Large Business of the Year was awarded to Sommer Home Hardware Building Centre.
The winner of the Agricultural award was Heartland Feeds.
“To kind of echo, congratulations and salute to all the businesses that have had the challenges through COVID. This is amazing and greatly appreciated, thank you,” said Georges Uebelhardt, co-owner with wife Kasey.
Industrial Business of the Year went to Phase 3 Electric.
“Set the phasers to stunned, am I right? A little Star Trek joke for the Trekkies out there,” said Stingle.
“We’ve been in business for 25 years, we hope to be around for a lot longer,” said Bruce Ordze, adding a shout out to their staff.
“We’re blessed with an amazing group of people that are just generally just great to work with.”
Ponoka Family and Community Services was named the not-for-profit of the year.
The second annual Inger Laing Memorial Business Person of the Year was awarded to Diane Rose of Rose Creations Ltd.
“As the months and days and weeks pass away without Inger, I think we can all reflect on what a wonderful human being she was and the efforts to love, to dedication to volunteerism, to leadership, role modeling that she brought to Ponoka. She was Ponoka, for everyone here,” said Stingel.
“If you’ve ever had the opportunity to have met Inger in the past, you know that her legacy is one that is indelible on the soul of Ponoka.”
“I’m speechless,” said Rose.
“Truly everybody is a winner in all this,” she said.
“Always when I was a little girl, I thought ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be great to be a wedding planner?’ But as I sit here at my desk right now, it’s surreal. And you know what? I got that ‘wow factor’ like I give to everybody else their wow factor.”
Josh Schumacher of Tantec Electronics won Customer Service Person of the Year, which is an award that is voted on by the public.
“It’s great, I’m truly honoured,” said Schumacher, adding the other nominees, and other staff he works with. are just as worthy of the award as he is.
The chamber’s shop local Passport to Christmas program kicks off Nov. 12 and Almost Midnight Madness is being held Nov. 19.