Company Logo Friday, November 02, 2001

Waterloo Region hands out business achievement awards

Ron DeRuyter, RECORD STAFF

WATERLOO REGION -- Home Hardware is Waterloo Region's business of the year.

The St. Jacobs-based chain received the honour last night at the Waterloo Region Business Achievement Awards dinner sponsored by Junior Achievement of Waterloo Region.

Home, a dealer-owned co-operative established in 1963, has successfully integrated the former Beaver Lumber chain into its operations and continues to grow through boom times and down times, said Rosemary Trakalo, Junior Achievement's executive director.

The company has annual sales of almost $3 billion, and employs more than 22,000 people at more than 1,000 stores across the country.

Home and its dealers support several charitable causes including the Special Olympics, Asthma Society of Canada and Tree Canada Foundation.

"For Canadians, Home Hardware stores are more than just the local hardware store, but rather a part of the community and part of their lives," said Trakalo.

Five other companies received awards at the dinner, held at the Four Points Sheraton in Kitchener.

Reid's Candy & Nut Shop was named retailer of the year.

The Cambridge business has grown steadily since Cathy and Tom Drew-Smith bought it from founders Hugh and Isabelle Reid in 1971, said Trakalo.

In addition to selling chocolates, nuts and candies from its store on Ainslie Street, Reid's ships gift orders across the country and supplies hospital gift shops across the province.

Tech Capital Partners received the new business award.

The Waterloo firm, launched in January, provides venture capital financing to technology companies in Waterloo Region that are in the early stages of development.

Partners Tim Jackson and Andrew Abouchar also offer start-ups "the help they need, be it recruiting, a management team, clarifying strategy, financial planning, working through management issues or just being a sounding board of their ideas," said Trakalo.

Agribiotics Inc. was named small business of the year.

The Cambridge firm makes bacterial products that are applied to soybean seeds to boost the yield without the need for chemical fertilizers.

It was launched in 1997 by John McIver and his daughters, Alison and Hannah McIver.

"In just four years, Agribiotics has grown from a business run in the basement of the family home to a 10,000-square-foot fermentation facility," said Trakalo.

The award for excellence in technology went to Northern Digital.

The Waterloo company makes motion measurement systems for a wide range of applications including computer-assisted surgery, robot tracking, parts inspection, biomechanical research and aeronautic design.

Trakalo said the 20-year-old company is a leader in innovation and exporting, and serves as "an outstanding model" to established businesses and young entrepreneurs.

M&M Meat Shops received the award for corporate citizenship.

The Kitchener-based company and its 325 stores are well-known for their support of charities, particularly the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada, said Trakalo.

Collectively, they have raised more than $5 million for research into inflammatory bowel disease.

"Although they view themselves as a small corporation, they recognize how important it is to give back to the communities in which they are located, and to encourage their employees and franchisees to do likewise," said Trakalo.

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