2016 Winners Overview

Above & Beyond

Above and Beyond is an award first created 12 years ago. It was an award that recognized an organization, business or individual who went, as the title suggests, beyond what would normally be expected. It could take the form of an exceptional service, positively showcasing our community or, helping others to succeed.

The nomination committee reviewed the many submissions and decided upon the one that more than met the criteria. While this year’s winner has been around for just over 40 years, it was only in the past few years it emerged as the agency it is today. The nature of our winner meant that people from all across the region and indeed, across Canada and beyond have, at one time or another, been treated to its hospitality.

Interestingly enough, there was an event, just a couple of years ago that prompted the CEO of the agency in question to enthusiastically pronounce — “Hit it outa the park”, a comment that reflected, in part, the amazing job done by our winner and as a result, close to 200 delegates became Cornwall ambassadors as they returned to their communities.

By now, you probably have a good idea who our winner is but let me recount just a few more occurrences that made this winner an appropriate choice. In collaboration with local educators and prominent business people, it is working to enhance its profile as an advanced education facility. It sheltered many from remote areas who were forced out of their homes due to climate disruptions.

Our winner has invested literally millions in upgrades that has resulted in it becoming an absolute jewel in eastern Ontario. More recently, it brought together event coordinators from across the eastern Ontario region to give them a chance to showcase the facility. From all reports, these coordinators were most impressed. Our winner has hosted all manner of events and conventions that have put Cornwall on the map as a first class destination. As I make this announcement, it will likely come as no surprise when I say —

The 2016 Above and Beyond winner is — the NAV Centre, General Manager Kim Coe-Turner and National Marketing & Sales Manager, Sylvia Marino We invite Ms. Marino and Ms. Coe-Turner to accept the award.

Team Cornwall Ambassador

The Ambassador of the Year award is sponsored by Team Cornwall. Well over 300 of Cornwall area business professional community are members of this award winning concept. Armed with their distinctive cards, they act as Cornwall ambassadors at business meetings, conventions or, even on vacation.

This year’s ambassador has a passion and that passion led to an exploration of the possibilities of making it a reality in Cornwall. It began in California over 40 years ago and although it began in a small way, the concept grew to a point where the annual conventions were attracting over 100 thousand fans.

Our winner set out to find out more, and armed with his Team Cornwall cards, he visited similar conventions in cities across North America. Once all the necessary background was put in place, our winner, and his partner started to plan a local event. When it was over, the two had succeeded in bringing a major event to Cornwall.

Thousands gathered at the Benson Centre and along with the throngs of people, there were collectibles for sale and a large roster of special guests — actors, role players and artists from various genres.

Our winner, with his travels abroad, welcoming guests of renown, and showcasing our community, became a fitting recipient of this year’s Team Cornwall Ambassador award. Modeled after the hugely popular ‘comic-con’ events that are held around the world, please welcome the founder of Cornwall’s version — C.A.P.E.. (Cornwall Area Pop Expo). The Chamber is pleased to note that the 2016 event is already being planned.

The Team Cornwall 2015 Ambassador is Randy Sauvé from Fantasy Realm.


For those of you that may not know, the Breakthrough award is not always presented. It occurs when a local event or, committed people accomplish something that is out of the ordinary and yet, benefits the entire community. It could be something that showcases our community, something new that positively impacts us all.

Such is the case with the event that captured the attention of the Awards Nominating Committee and led it to make the choice it did. Ironically, it was a twist of fate that created a unique opportunity for some folks in Cornwall and they were quick to capitalize. The event in question has been around for 20 years and attracts some big names. There is cash on the line and more importantly for Cornwall, significant economic spinoffs.

But lets go back to that twist of fate. There is a community, well known to all of us, that played host to this event virtually since its inception. But two years ago, that community had the misfortune of an equipment malfunction and organizers, scrambling to salvage the event and all that it stood for, looked to our community.

As we are so good at doing things like this, Cornwall immediately stepped up. You can imagine the mad dash as the local organizing committee scrambled to secure sponsors and raise the necessary funds to support the event itself. But true to our community — the challenge was met and the event went off without a hitch. Now comes the best part.

Event organizers were so impressed with Cornwall, the local committee, the City, and the overall success of the event that they decided that Cornwall would become its permanent home. Now — I’m guessing you have it figured out by now but — here is one last tidbit.

Estimates revealed that, because Cornwall will now host the event each year, the community gains somewhere between $300 and $500 thousand dollars annually in economic spinoffs and it’s a wonderful way to once again showcase our community.

Ladies and gentlemen — I give you the 2016 Breakthrough award winner — The Shorty Jenkins Classic Curling Competition – John Dilabio to podium.


Our 2016 Business of the Year is a firm that has been a part of Cornwall’s business and industrial park for just under 20 years. From relatively small beginnings, it has grown to become one of the largest firms of its kind in North America, a lofty claim but one our community is proud to say is a fact.

Its growth was steady as it worked to position itself in its market. Along the way, it was forced to endure various downturns in the market and in particular, the 2008 global recession that saw its sales cut by almost half. Undaunted, the firm worked with and more importantly, supported its employees as it fought back and re-established itself in its sector.

The adversity caused by the global recession did not go unnoticed. It was recently featured in an article published through the Ministry of Economic Development and Growth. The article showcased the firm’s leadership in retaining all its employees, maintaining salaries and providing no-interest loans to anyone who needed assistance. It’s little wonder employee retention hovers around 97%.
Today, it continues to grow and flourish. It now has an employee complement of 40 and its sales have eclipsed the $5 million mark.

Just over three years ago, our Business of the Year took another step forward. When a new and expanded site became available, its company President jumped at the chance and bought a 38,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in Cornwall’s Business Park. Ironically, the buildings original occupant was in the same sector as our winner so the transition was made all the easier.

Along with the current team, the President has a new acquisition — his daughter Fiona, who will take over the market development operations. This year we have a most fitting winner and I am pleased to announce the 2016 Business of the Year — Laminacorr – Guy Robichaud, President.

Economic Impact

The Economic Impact award was created some six years ago. It evolved from the former Industry of the Year award as one that better reflected both Cornwall’s business as well as industrial sectors.

The Economic Impact award goes to a firm that has made a significant investment in the community, one that positively impacts the economy of Cornwall and the surrounding region. Occurring during the current year, it results in meaningful growth and in some cases, an enhanced image for the community.

One of Cornwall largest firms in terms of employee numbers, our winner boasts more than 50 years in the community. A privately held firm, this year’s Economic Impact award winner enjoys a market that spans the entire NAFTA corridor with sales in excess of $100 million annually.

Interestingly, and according to the recently retired owner and former President of the firm, its philosophy has never been to attempt explosive growth. Its approach has always been to look for better and more cost effective methods of manufacturing its products. Once accomplished it positioned itself as the acknowledged best in the business.

Our Economic Impact firm’s commitment to the area has also stemmed from the environment in which it operates. It notes what it considers to be a stable workforce and the availability of the services essential to its operations. Because of its Cornwall location, it also enjoys immediate access to New York State and beyond to the heavily populated markets of eastern North America.

It was many of these factors that led to this firm’s choice as the Economic Impact winner but there was one additional event that put it over the top. This past year, our winner, with support from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and growth, has invested close to $10 million dollars in a major expansion. An interesting bonus to all this was the fact that last year, its retired owner was the recipient of the prestigious Lifetime Business Achievement award.

The Economic Impact award for 2016 goes to none other than Morbern Industries – Jacques St. Denis: President.


Here is a tidbit of information just in case some of you are unclear as to what an entrepreneur is. Entrepreneurs are amazing and gutsy people. These are the ones who take a leap of faith to set up, create, and operate a business and by doing so — take on greater than normal financial risks.

This year’s entrepreneur is just one for those people. Our winner, although having a secure and likely, a well paying job in one of Canada’s major sectors, wondered if a love for superb client service could be enhanced in another venture. After a period of wondering if an idea would work and what would happen if it became a reality, our winner made the plunge.

It paid off. A year later, our winner has firmly become entrenched in Cornwall’s Pitt Street business community and joined with a number of merchants who have been bitten by the entrepreneurial spirit. As some of the neighbouring businesses have done, our winner selected a specific target market and focused all efforts there.

Now we get a hint of who this year’s Entrepreneur is. A unique shoppe with vintage furniture that contrasts a group of flat screen TV’s. Specific to the male crowd both old and young, the decor is tailored to that demographic and I must say — enormously comfortable. Oh — did I mention that while clients — the older ones are being groomed and in some cases, coiffed, they have the delightful chance to savour a frosty craft brew.

Please welcome our 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year … Kings and little ones – Josh Casselman.

Lifetime Business Achievement

In terms of business excellence awards, the Lifetime Business Achievement is a most prestigious one. It is bestowed upon someone in the Cornwall area business community who not only have made a mark in the world of commerce, they have enhanced the community as a whole. It is someone who has experienced business success and has been recognized as a leader and role model.

This year’s selection for the Lifetime Business Achievement can thank family members for pioneering what became a flourishing and highly successful business, or should I say business-ES because the family and the selected winner have launched and successfully operated a number of firms throughout the region.

Actually, this year’s winner is not a HE … it is a THEY and so, let me give you a bit of background on each one. To begin, we have a successful business professional, CEO, active community leader, consultant … and philanthropist. His business background includes degrees in Engineering and an MBA. A principle in a fuel distribution giant, a partner in a Canadian emerging technology fund and founder of a high tech firm right here in the city.

He was a driving for the St. Lawrence River Institute, a globally recognized research centre on environmental studies, and is its former President. Moreover, he, along with his wife headed up the incredibly successful hospital fund raising campaign.

Now we have the other successful business professional who holds a commanding profile in the logistics sector, a firm that goes back 50 years. With holdings in Cornwall and beyond, this co-winner (and the father before) were prominent in the logistics sector long before Walmart and Shoppers Drug Mart gave Cornwall a profile as a centre of distribution.

Cornwall’s waterfront has seen a dramatic re-birth over the past number of years s the old Cotton Mill property is undergoing a major revitalization. Our co-winner has been a key player in converting what was an abandoned mill complex into a vibrant commercial and residential gem.

By now you’ve guessed the winners but let me make the official announcement. The two, 2016 Lifetime Business Achievement awards go to — brothers Bill and Tom Kaneb. Unfortunately, Tom was unable to join us and so — Bill, along with sister Lisa will be accepting the awards.

Small Business

Earlier this evening we gave out the Entrepreneur of the Year award as you’ll recall, we spoke of a leap of faith, financial risk, and more. That could also aptly apply to this year’s Small Business winner as there are a number of parallels between Kings and Little Ones and this year’s small business.

Like the Entrepreneur, our Small Business winner enjoyed a long career in a stable, well paying profession. However, having dabbled in what would become a full time business for over 10 years as a hobby, our winner recently launched the endeavour as a full time vocation. Mind you, even though it began as a bit of a hobby, our winner, nonetheless, spent much time and used his knowledge to assist and mentor others.

We have to give our winner credit for believing he could succeed as the investment in the business was a significant one. To begin, there was the need to acquire specialized equipment that came at a very high cost. Then, there was the challenge of finding a suitable place to house this equipment. Finally, and because of the nature of our winner’s enterprise, there were all manner of regulations to meet and red tape to suffer through. Undaunted, our winner fought through it all and today, the business is both flourishing and growing.

Happily for our winner, the product, so carefully crafted, is one with universal appeal. In fact, it is part of a sector that is exploding across Ontario and beyond. While not yet widely available at a retail level, you can find our winner’s products at many local establishments.

The owner of the company that has captured the Small Business award offered an interesting observation when he noted that although firms such as his were abundant in Cornwall at one time, there hasn’t been one for over 100 years.

That fact alone makes this year’s choice a particularly good one. The 2016 Small Business of the Year award goes to — Rurban Brewery – Andy and Karen Rorabeck.

Tourism Excellence

There are a number of hidden gems in the Cornwall area that raise our profile, feature local talent, and attract visitors. Some of them are major attractions or events while others, while smaller in size, are nonetheless significant when it comes to showcasing the area and the talented people who live here.

These activities are happening across the region, at various times, throughout the year and tonight, we celebrate one of them. This particular event surfaces each fall. Coordinated by a minimal number of dedicated volunteers, the event has swelled to more than 50 participants in locations across the United Counties.

To say the event showcases talent would be an understatement. Cornwall and the United Counties have been blessed with both home grown and imported gifted folks for many years. Some have permanent locations while others locate at various spots throughout the region. Regardless, their collective talents should be the envy of other regions across the province.

It is interesting to note that one small group of talented folks, who are an integral part of this years award, winner played a colourful role as the Cornwall Chamber hosted the hugely successful Ontario Chamber of Commerce annual convention two years ago. Not only did this group earned rave reviews from delegates from across the province, their legacy can today be found at the Chamber’s downtown Cornwall offices.

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. The 2016 Tourism Excellence award goes to — Apples and Art Studio Tour — volunteers Jacqueline Milner, Richard Salem and Heather Smith to accept the award.

Citizen of the Year

In preparing the notes leading to the announcement of this year’s Citizen of the Year, the selection committee was struck by the scope of our winner’s contribution to the community. To begin, close to 20 agencies, individuals and events have been touched by our winner. That touch has included personal involvement, financial commitments, and organizations focused on helping those in need.

As is often the case, this year’s Citizen of the Year is not a Cornwall native. Coming from afar, our winner and family arrived in the City close to 25 years ago and set up what would become a thriving business, one that provided outstanding services to literally hundreds of people. Even though our winner was pleased with the success of the business, the community and its needs beckoned. And so, our winner embarked upon a humanitarian journey that would see hundreds more receive a myriad of benefits. Not only that, there were all manner of agencies throughout the Cornwall area that were blessed by our winners dedication, commitment, and generosity.

We probably won’t give our winner away when we mention the Cornwall Community Hospital, Victims’ Services, the Celebrity Walk, Big Brothers – Big Sisters — these are but a very few of a huge number of the organizations who benefitted from our winners generosity. Funding … support … involvement and a huge abundance of care for the community that welcomed our winner and family those many years ago.

Now — as I go on, many of you will say to yourselves — aha! I know who our new Citizen is but please — don’t give it away as our winner will be named shortly. But here are some facts that will help you to zero in on just who our winner is.

The Children’s Treatment Centre. When our winner learned that oftentimes, children who attended the Centre for the first time were understandably shy and feeling somewhat anxious. Our winner, upon being informed of these children’s anxiety, volunteered to help in the planning, decorating and furnishing three rooms at the Centre to create a warm and comfortable environment for them.

Later that same year, our winner helped the Centre to add a new dimension to its many treatment programs. Once again, our winner volunteered to assist in the planning and supervision of the contracting firm that carried out extensive renovations to the Centre itself. Not only that — our winner covered all of the costs of those renovations.

The Cornwall Community Hospital has also reaped the benefits of our winner’s generosity. The health centre’s Paediatric unit has all kinds of colouring books, crayons and teddy bears and our winner also picked up the cost of renovating the solarium.

Upgrades to Koala Place, bursaries to Big Brothers Big Sisters, Gifts of Christmas to families in need, Small Moments of Joy, Helping Hands, Diabetes Association camp sponsorships, riding lessons for children with autism — the list goes on and on.

Our winner provided Christmas food for needy families with volunteers from a foundation that has gained international renown. That foundation, launched 13 years ago, has helped children from foreign lands with support for education and to help rebuild communities affected by natural disasters. Our winner is no stranger to the Chamber of Commerce — and now we find out who that person is.

In 2009, our winner was honoured with the Cornwall Chamber’s prestigious Dr. Garth Taylor Humanitarian Award. She is the founder of Rachel’s Kids and the recently launched The House of Hope. An absolutely amazing individual and one Cornwall loves and respects — the 2016 Citizen of the Year is none other than Dr. Rachel Navaneelean.

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