By Soraya Mangal and Sara Sterling
Each year the Markham Board of Trade seeks out nominations for outstanding businesses to be recognized at the Business Excellence Awards (BEAs). The awards serve to celebrate the “best of the best”. While boasting over 1500 tech companies, Markham is indeed a leader in the technology sector, however is well represented in many other sectors.
The 2018 awards highlighted a wide variety of both new and established businesses. In addition to the eight established categories, new in 2018 the Board of Trade added four “Under 40” awards as well as established a new partnership with the organization TechConnex, who provided 2 awards specifically targeted to tech super-stars.
The Board of Trade received nominations in each of the eight categories (see sidebar for list of categories). A group of volunteer community and business leaders evaluated the nominations through interviews and meetings, then decided on the 3 finalists in each category, and ultimately the winners.
Anthony Roman Award
This special award is given to an inspirational leader from the community who has gone above and beyond in not just their business and industry, but in the community itself by giving back to charity and getting involved personally in the future of Markham.
In 2018 this honour was bestowed on Shakir Rehmatullah of Flato Developments, Inc., and to call him a developer / philanthropist is an understatement. Whether it be the new Shakir Rehmatullah Cancer Clinic at Markham-Stouffville Hospital or his continued support of the Flato Markham Theatre, Rehmatullah builds communities in big ways.
Mayor Frank Scarpitti recently paid tribute to Rehmatullah by saying: “Shakir believes in giving back so that services and facilities like Markham Stouffville Hospital will actually not only touch people’s lives but make their lives better.”
New Categories, New Winners
The new Food Service and Hospitality Award, sponsored by long-time community supporter Louie Belcastro of Classique Cuisine, was won by the Hilton Toronto Markham Suites – recognizing their excellence in service, innovation and creativity in the industry. Other finalists included Aji Sai Restaurant and Shanghai Shikumen Fine Cuisine.
Genson Navaprajah, the Hilton’s General Manager, was delighted to be recognized by the business community. “We strive to provide the excellent level of service that our have come to expect from us, we were thrilled to be recognized for those efforts with this award. With the support of Hilton marketing channels and a AAA 4 Diamond rating – the sky is the limit for this award winner.
The Business Employer of Excellence Award is presented to a company that invests in their employees, as well as providing a culture that nurtures, recognizes and rewards excellence. In 2018, the finalists were Bluewrist Inc., Change Connect and Teqtronix International Inc., with Change Connect taking home the award.
Change Connect is in the business of big change and big ideas, helping companies take their business further strategically, culturally, and technologically. They offer customized solutions for small to mid-sized businesses with a focus on Sales Transformation to help them work more efficiently and effectively. They help businesses reconfigure their sales compensation structures to align with company objectives, implement sales training program, revamp sales hiring process, and provide scalable change management for specific sales needs.
One of the more heavily contested categories was Community Relations and Cultural Enrichment. This category recognizes a company that has made an exceptional contribution to community building and to enriching Markham’s cultural vibrancy and livability. Finalists in this category included Finalyson Hospitality Partners Inc., Lee’s Badminton Training Centre and Wilson Vukelich LLP – all amazing community contributors.
Finlayson Hospitality Partners Inc., was declared the winner with their dedication to the community shining through at the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Markham Stouffville Hospital. The Family Room provides families with a comforting place to be while their children are at MSH, and hosts 12,000 visits per year.
The Donald Cousens Conservation and Environmental Leadership Award is presented to an organization that is a leader in environmental conversation and sustainability measures. This year’s award attracted three amazing finalists: Commercial Air Compressor Ltd., Markham Stouffville Hospital and Sunny Crunch Foods Ltd..
By going beyond provincial standards to diagnose and prescribe the best plans to cut energy use, Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) was the winner of this category. With a green roof planted with wild flowers, reducing air replacement in ERs when not in use, and replacing LEDs with smart technology, MSH is clearly a leader in conservation and the environment.
Markham is full of entrepreneurs, and the Entrepreneurship category highlights some great ones. This year’s finalists were Ecoideas, LUG Canada Inc., and Hunt Design Associates Inc, with LUG taking first place.
LUG Canada is a 13-year-old Markham-based success story. First with luggage belts and passport holders, LUG is now known for their trend setting bags – over 50 styles and 600 skews. Their first big break came 12 years ago when they were selected by Orpah and featured in O Magazine. When they sold 7,000 units in 6 minutes on QVC, America’s shopping channel, their popularity exploded, and they have been a household name ever since.
The Global Business Excellence Award celebrates companies that have achieved business success in markets outside of Canada. Finalists included Book4Time, CallEngine Inc. and LEA Group Holdings Inc. The winner was Book4Time, an innovative software solutions company in the spa industry.
Their core business of bidding large enterprises since inception in 2004 is what landed Book4Time their first major client in 2008, Red Door Spas by Elizabeth Arden. Their current roster boasts global chains like Clarins Spas, Hilton Hotels and Resorts and Sands Hotel and Spa. Book4Time outsources 97 per cent of their product to 70 countries around the world with an admin office in Buffalo and fully staffed tech support in Manila.
The High Quality and Service award recognizes a company that provides exceptional quality and service to their customers. Finalists in this category were Atlas Global Healthcare Ltd., Food for Tots, and Unionville Montessori Private School, with Food for Tots pulling ahead as the winner.
Approaching their 25th year, Food for Tots supplies meals and snacks to over 450 child care centres. From their new, state-of-the-art kitchens, they make over 10,000 hot meals and supply 32,000 snacks, everyday! Using only the freshest and most wholesome ingredients, they prepare everything onsite.
Innovation category showcases companies that foster a culture of innovation in technology, manufacturing or marketing. In 2018, our finalists were Acculogic Inc., FA Enterprise System Inc., and our winner, Iris Technologies Inc.
Markham based Iris Technologies Inc. is Canada’s largest and fastest growing VOIP carrier. They are poised to compete with the big 3 in the telcom field. Founded in 1999, it is a multi-vertical company with interests that include home phone, internet, fax, virtual office services, SIP trunking, and hosted PBX.
Congratulations once again to all the finalists and winners of the 2018 Business Excellence Awards!
As we move into the Spring of 2019 the Markham Board of Trade has already begun to seek nominations. This is a great opportunity for you to support that local business who provided you with excellent customer service, that went above and beyond for you personally or your company, that is “award-worthy”. It takes just a few moments to complete a nomination and every one is reviewed carefully by the committee.
The list of finalists from these awards demonstrates the sheer talent, amazing level of service, and high quality that companies from Markham offer not only Canadians, but citizens globally. Let’s celebrate them together this November at the Markham Board of Trade Business Excellence Awards on Thursday November 28th at the Hilton Toronto Markham Suites.