Farmers’ Mutual earns Ian Spencer Award

Antigonish Chamber of Commerce honours local businesses

Richard MacKenzie

A bustling St. Ninian Place played host to the annual Antigonish Chamber of Commerce Business Gala Oct. 22 which included the presenting of the Antigonish Business Awards.

Receiving the Young Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by Mac Mac and Mac Law Offices, was Tera Keizer from Gold Dust Tanning Hair and Esthetics.

The award description noted it’s designed to “recognize youth who have excelled in the development and enhancement of the economic infrastructure and contributed to the prosperity and well-being of Antigonish through entrepreneurship. In addition, the award acknowledges that young entrepreneurs strengthen local networks, help build a spirit of entrepreneurship and contribute to the development of transferable skills for themselves and others in the community.”

Antigonish Chamber of Commerce 2015 Awards

Business Award recipients from the oct. 22 Antigonish Chamber of Commerce Business Gala included terry Piercey (left) and rose Murphy, owners of the Townhouse Brewpub and Eatery, tim McGrath from Tim’s Service Centre, Sid Taylor representing Antigonish Farmers’ Mutual insurance and Tera Keizer from Gold Dust tanning Hair and Esthetics. PHOTO: Jean Pearcey

Keizer, the esthetician at Gold Dust, noted the three-year old business has already dealt with a flooding situation, came through it and is still “going strong.”

She and her business partner are both from Sherbrooke and Keizer said they felt there was a need for their business in Antigonish. She talked about what they emphasize.

“A nice, clean environment to make it an attractive place for people to come,” she said. “It’s friendly, people have a fun time when they come here and it’s never a dull moment around here. We have great clients, a lot of fun and there is something for everyone in here … so it’s great.”

Taking the Bergengren Credit Union sponsored Outstanding Customer Service Award (Individual), from a nominee list of 13 people, was Tim McGrath from Tim’s (auto) Service Centre.

The award “puts the spotlight on employees who have demonstrated outstanding, ‘above and beyond’ customer service to their customers.”

“It’s a real honour … I was kind of shocked I received it,” McGrath said, acknowledging the quality people also in the running for the award. “It blew me away.”

As for his thoughts when it comes to customer service, McGrath said it comes down to valuing your customers.

“I try to do as much as I can for my customers because those are the people who keep my business open,” he said. “We will go the extra distance for our customers, definitely.”

The Townhouse Brewpub and Eatery was presented with the Emerging Business Award, as sponsored by RBC Royal Bank, from a list of five nominees.

“This award is designed to put the spotlight on a new profitable business showing excellence in some or all of the following categories; new or innovative product or service, quality of merchandise/customer service, job creation, growth potential, market served and community involvement,” the award definition read.

“We really owe a lot to the support of the community,” Rose Murphy, owner and operator of the Townhouse, along with partner Terry Piercey, said, noting the unique community investments which supported start-up costs.

“And so many great people becoming regulars and contributing in a lot of different ways like coming to play at the sessions every Sunday night or at jazz nights. We’ve been really overwhelmed with the response.”

As for the award, Murphy said it was a “huge honour.”

“And exciting … we didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “I think there are so many other excellent new businesses in town too.

“Starting small and scrappy without a ton of experience or money behind us, and then to not only have the business still going well but to have serious business people sort of recognize us and call us out for this award, is really amazing,” Murphy added.

The Ian Spencer Excellence in Business Award, as sponsored by CBDC-NOBL, was awarded to Antigonish Farmers’ Mutual Insurance Company from a list of five nominees.

The description for the award reads; “In recognition of Ian Spencer’s commitment to bridging the gap between business and the community, the Antigonish Chamber of Commerce annually recognizes a local business with this Award for Excellence in Business. Nominee businesses have demonstrated successful business practices and strong corporate responsibility and community service.”

General manager Bill Chisholm said they’re “very honoured” to receive the award.

“We have 13 staff, 13 agents and nine directors on our board so we’re not a large company,” he added. “Every one of those 35 people are very proud of this award. I would hope that our 8,000 policy holders are also proud because they, in fact, own our company.”

Chisholm noted a personal reflection on the gentleman the award is named after.

“This award means a little bit more to me. I always considered Ian Spencer a friend,” he said.

“The first year he taught business at StFX was my first year in the business program. He was a very good prof, a tremendous supporter of our community and just a good person. He was taken from us far too early. The name for this Chamber Excellence in Business Award could not be a better one.”