Business Excellence Awards 2016




Employer of the Year

 This category recognizes the business that goes above and beyond for their employees. This company stands out from the competition by demonstrating outstanding leadership in the workplace. They value employee health and safety, on the same level that they value productivity and customer service. They have the ability to recruit and retain employees, and provide education/professional development opportunities. Non-profit organizations are not eligible.


Award Recipient: Elmsdale Lumber Company Ltd.

Elmsdale Lumber Company (ELCO) is a fourth-generation, family owned and operated sawmill established in 1917 and located in Elmsdale. They take pride in offering quality products and on-time deliveries and their consistent production quantity makes it possible to enter into sales contracts with the confidence that they will consistently meet the pledged delivery dates.

ELCO considers its most valuable asset to be “Team ELCO”.  The management team’s mandate is to foster a culture that promotes employee inclusion, satisfaction, and safety.  A commitment to life-long learning continually improves the teams’ skill set.  This approach has realized a strong employee commitment to the economic success of ELCO and a foundation for continued employment for generations to come.

Award Presented by:



PROTx Services Inc.

Dan Purcell owns PROTx in Elmsdale. He has been a business owner for almost 20 years and is aware every day that his employees truly are the business. He knows it is their efforts, skills, and personalities that will dictate the success of the business. Each of his team members were selected for their skill base, their ability to collaborate with the rest of the team, and to contribute to the community.

Dan’s business model ensures the team has opportunity to grow through professional development and that they feel that their input is welcomed and encouraged. PROTx is thriving because both employees and clients know they are valued.


Tim Horton’s – Enfield

The Tim Hortons in Enfield opened its doors in December 2014. They employ 35 team members.

The team takes great pride in getting to know their guests by first name and having their orders ready as they approach the counter. They strive to make each and every guest experience the best it can be. This drive comes from creating a caring and compassionate working environment for its employees. The manager, supervisors, and owners all provide regular positive feedback about job performance and are patient and willing to work with staff to help them through their day.

They also encourage the team to give back to the community through programs like Timbit soccer, Timbit Hockey, Community Clean Up Program, Smile Cookie Program, and Tim Horton Camp Program.

Marketing Champion

A company that recognizes the value of marketing and has successfully developed and executed an integrated marketing campaign to help promote their business, products, and services. Non-profit organizations are eligible.


Award Recipient: Sweet Spot Chocolate Shop

Nestled in the heart of Elmsdale, Greg and Nancy’s approach has always been to use only the finest, freshest ingredients; and to make their candy in small batches, which is no doubt why the Huffington Post named the Sweet Spot Chocolate Shop one of the best chocolate shops across Canada.

They have grown the Sweet Spot Chocolate Shop from a small store in Elmsdale to a shop that now sells their chocolates across North America. With their increased popularity they are now in the midst of their fourth expansion in 10 years.

Nancy and Greg understand the importance of marketing and has taken the company to a new level by completely redesigning their logo and website. By adding a shopping cart to their website they now sell their products all across North America. They also have a consistent and active presence on social media.

Award presented by:



Catering Unlimited

Founded in 1996, Catering Unlimited has catered to hundreds of events such as weddings, corporate events, private events, fundraisers, birthdays and anniversaries. They provide all the products, bar and also arrange any rentals.

Catering Unlimited was the first of the Nova Scotia caterers to have a website back in 1996. Over the years the site and has evolved and proven itself a powerful marketing tool. Catering Unlimited also advertises on event and industry websites, uses social media ads and posts consistently, belongs to a number of organizations and attends a number of networking events. More recently they have created two of their own pop-up restaurant events. In addition they support the local Weekly Press by using the newspaper to run local ads, and donate to many local non-profit groups.


Coldstream Clear Distillery

Coldstream Clear Distillery offers a quality lineup of vodkas, rums and liqueurs made with genuine ingredients and water from a natural spring deep beneath rural Nova Scotia.

Riley Giffen is the general manager and manages the marketing, supply chain, and sales. He’s also responsible for their stand out branding, customer experience, and distillery design.  With him at the helm Coldstream has gained a significant following by producing the top quality social media content and selling at multiple local farmers markets, events, and expos.  Two of his products are also sold at 25 different Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. stores across the province. They also offer visitors the opportunity to visit the distillery and learn the fascinating process of creating world-class spirits. While there, visitors can taste test products, and discover unique cocktail ideas.

Green Leader

A business that has committed itself to running its business in a green, environmental, and sustainable way or a business that has invested in or launched a new “green” product or service. Non-profit organizations are eligible.


Award Recipient: Windmill Holstein Inc.

In an effort to make their farm more sustainable and environmentally friendly the owners of Windmill Holsteins installed a bio-gas plant on their farm in 2014. In doing so they became Nova Scotia’s first full dairy farm with a power-producing digester.

Now they produce their own electricity. The electricity is generated from methane they collect from organic waste on the farm. Besides the 500 kilowatts of electricity the cows make every hour from their waste, the system produces bedding material for their cattle, liquid fertilizer for their 300-hectare farm, and enough energy to heat the entire farm. Also, with the additional nutrients from the created waste they no longer need additional fertilizers for their crops.

Award presented by:



Withrow’s Farm Market

Withrow’s Farm Market Limited has operated a family-owned business in the East Hants area since the mid-seventies. Their first market opened on their farm in Center Rawdon, then expanded into the Elmsdale and Mount Uniacke areas in the mid-eighties.

Withrow’s stands for local and sustainability. Their goal since the beginning has been to provide farm fresh local produce to their local customers, while supporting the local agricultural industry in their community and province.

Over the years their business has grown to include garden centers at their Belnan and Mount Uniacke branches, a giftware and deli section at Belnan, as well as their Rocky Knoll Farm Meat Shop. Local artisans, producers, and business owners provide some of the giftware they offer in their shop and they pride themselves in helping budding gardeners “green” the environment.

Innovation / Technology

A company/entrepreneur that has shown creativity and innovation in adapting, developing or utilizing either a new technology to advance their business, or developed a product that has met a need in the community in an impactful way. The product, service or process must have had a positive impact on the business or industry. Non-profit organizations are eligible.


Award Recipient: Municipality of East Hants 

In 2014, the Municipality identified innovation as one of its core values to support service delivery in the community.   

Through two platforms, East Hants Open Data as well as their participation in SmartCities, they will help to give businesses in East Hants a significant edge in the technology sector. In fact, their Interactive Open Data mapping portal was the first of its kind to be implemented at a municipal level in Nova Scotia.  

They’re also looking at new ways to improve rural broadband access and connectivity and focusing on improving online services. Their “What Goes Where” online service helps users learn to properly recycle and search individual collection schedules.  For the 2016 Municipal Election, for the first time electors could find out electronically whether they were on the electors list and where to vote.  

Award presented by:



Windmill Holstein Inc.

In an effort to make their farm more sustainable and environmentally friendly the owners of Windmill Holsteins installed a bio-gas plant on their farm in 2014. In doing so they became Nova Scotia’s first full dairy farm with a power-producing digester.

Now they produce their own electricity. The electricity is generated from methane they collect from organic waste on the farm. Besides the 500 kilowatts of electricity the cows make every hour from their waste, the system produces bedding material for their cattle, liquid fertilizer for their 300-hectare farm, and enough energy to heat the entire farm. Also, with the additional nutrients from the created waste they no longer need additional fertilizers for their crops.

People’s Choice in Customer Service

This category recognizes an individual who has shown consistent, outstanding, ‘above and beyond’ customer service to customers. Members of the community can nominate who they believe represents the best of the best in customer service in East Hants.


Award Recipient: PROTx Services Inc.

PROTx Services first joined the East Hants community in April 2015. They provide premium core services of physiotherapy, massage therapy and chiropractic from their office in Elmsdale. Their focus is to provide the best possible therapeutic care in a positive and professional environment.

Their professional team offers a combined 40+ years of experience. This experience, along with a caring and compassionate approach, allows clients to meet and exceed their treatment goals. Clients are able to see multiple therapists under one roof who integrate their skills to best support the client.

Customers shared with us that they are very accommodating, go out of their way to make sure their appointments are on time, and the staff is very personable.

Award presented by:



Karen Lewis

Karen Lewis has been involved in the fitness industry for 26 years and more specifically in the East Hants area since 2000. She has been employed with Strides Health and Fitness Club for many years as a personal trainer, fitness Instructor, and customer service associate at the front desk.

She’s known for her optimism and sense of humor and is considered very knowledgeable, energetic, and motivating for her clients.

Karen says it is the journey of educating and interacting with many people of all ages that keeps her excited about her job and that being in a position to share information has been very rewarding.  She enjoys being physically active and sharing her knowledge to help her clients.


Steamie’s Vape Shop

Steamie’s Vape Shop was founded in September 2014 and opened their doors on October 3, 2014. They are a vape shop providing customers with a safer alternative to tobacco products.

John and Marsha Kaczmarek are the owners and operators of this store and take pride in educating customers about the safe use and options of the devices. They strive to ensure all customers are educated on safe and correct use of their products to ensure that they are successful in their endeavor to give up tobacco products. Their variety of products allows every customer to choose an item that fits their needs and preferences.

One nominee said, “John treats everyone like they are the most important person coming into his store.  He educates and advises appropriately to each and every customer he has in”.

Community Booster

This category recognizes a business or organization that is a strong supporter of East Hants & Districts many festivals, community organizations, sports groups and events. Considerations include enthusiastic promotion of community projects & donations of products or services to community events. Non-profit organizations are eligible. Charitable registration is not necessary.


Award Recipient: Scotiabank

Scotiabank has been a pillar in the East Hants community since 1992. Scotiabank and its employees are proud to give back through their Volunteer Matching Program and Employee Volunteer Program.

The Scotiabank Employee Volunteer Program provides donations to community organizations where individual employees have been active volunteers. In East Hants, they have supported a variety of sports teams, Home and School associations, community events, and charitable causes.

Through the matching program in 2016 alone Scotiabank in Elmsdale has matched over $75,000 in funds raised by a variety of community organizations.

Award presented by:



Elmsdale Guardian

John MacIntyre and Andrew Buffett have owned Elmsdale Guardian for the last 10 years. They are in the pharmacy wellness business offering a variety of products, including cosmetics, skin care, confection, seasonal products, etc.

Elmsdale Guardian is a proud community supporter that supports many events, teams and causes such as:  H.E.R.H Graduation Bursary, East Hants Sportsplex golf tourney, Shubenacadie Hay Days, East Hants & Districts Chamber Business Excellence Awards, Lions Club events, East Hants Skating Club, Shubie/Stewiacke antique cars shows, Dale King Memorial Golf tourney, East Hants Stingrays (swimming) club, Milford Meltdown, etc. The owners and staff are especially proud of their $100,000 commitment that they made to the East Hants Sportsplex.


100 Women Who Care

The first 100 Women Who Care East Hants meeting was held October 6, 2015. Since then Betty Hirtle-Gordon and Mindy LeBlanc have lead this exciting group that was inspired by the 100 Women movement sweeping across Nova Scotia.

The way it works is simple. Each woman or team of (up to 4) women donates $100 at four meetings per year. With their personal or team registration they are eligible to nominate a local non-profit organization that they think is worthy of a donation.The three non-profit organizations that are drawn from a pool make a short five-minute presentation at a meeting. Then the women in attendance vote for who receives the collective donation.

In just over a year 100 Women Who Care East Hants has facilitated the donation of more than $30,000 to four very deserving organizations, with all funds remaining in East Hants.

Young Entrepreneur

This category recognizes a person who is under the age of 40 and has demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit. Considerations include leadership & vision, dedication & hard work, resilience, and initiative & innovation.


Award Recipient: Michael Blois, ExploreGore

Michael Blois is passionate and motivated to build adventures and experiences unlike any other. Since 2007 he has led the construction and execution of multiple outdoor adventure events on his land in Gore. Under his umbrella company, ExploreGore Michael has built three business pillars:

  1. Ultimate Obstacle Adventure (UOA) Events: UOA runs three obstacle adventure events (MudCraft 2014-2016, The Milk Run 2016-2017 & NovaStrong 2017). MudCraft is Atlantic Canada’s first homegrown obstacle adventure run, receiving rave reviews from over 500 participants who have attended each year. The Milk Run is a new dairy farm fun run designed to show off everything amazing about dairy farming. The third event, NovaStrong, will be the new main obstacle event in 2017 that will replace MudCraft.
  2. The Empire Trails: Gore is becoming known to have the best Mountain Biking trail systems in Eastern Canada.  There are over 20 kilometers of trails designed for all skill levels and ages. Michael also heads the long running annual Mountain Bike Festival known as Gorefest.
  3. Courthouse Hill Farm:  Michael is a permanent vendor at the Halifax Seaport Market every Saturday and Sunday, where he sells products from his family’s farm and Agri-Adventure tickets.

Michael’s events and business stand out among others because of the attention to detail that goes into building, organizing and execution. He has big plans to continue the growth of his business in each area and put Gore and East Hants on the map as a major adventure destination.

Award presented by:



Jill MacDonnell, Surreal Shine

Jill MacDonnell owns Surreal Shine, a residential cleaning company serving East Hants and surrounding areas. They offer environmentally-friendly cleans, basic cleans, deep cleans, and more! They supply everything needed to get the job done and pride themselves in providing the highest level of service to their customers. They continually educate themselves with new techniques and products to meet their clients’ needs.

Jill started Surreal Shine earlier this year but has been dreaming of owning her own successful cleaning company for as long as she can remember. One of the reasons she made the leap recently was to be a positive role model for her three young children.

While Surreal Shine is only five months old through Jill’s dedication she is now able to offer local employment opportunities and intends to continue expanding.


Riley Giffen, Coldstream Clear

Riley Giffen comes from a long line of distillers. While studying chemical engineering at Dalhousie University, he gained a deep understanding about the process of distilling and decided to give it a go as a business.  Now Riley serves as general manager of Coldstream Clear Distillery, managing all of the marketing, supply chain, sales, and overall business development.

Part of his business acumen comes from years of working with his parents bottled water business. Not even two years after founding the distillery and Coldstream brand, he has already outgrown his original operations on his parents’ property and is about to open a new retail and distillery location at Mastodon Ridge in Stewiacke. Riley has been instrumental in establishing their branding, social media content, and sales which has made Coldstream Clear stand out in the market.

Tom Parker Chamber Member of the Year

Chosen by Chamber Board of Directors. This category recognizes an outstanding East Hants & Districts Chamber Member for his or her dedication and hard work, involvement with the business community through the Chamber and volunteer work with regard to recreation and community improvements.


Award Recipient: Sheila Bianchi

Sheila has dedicated countless hours to the Chamber and to business in our community. She joined the Chamber four years ago and jumped in with both feet.

During her entire time with the Chamber she has been on the Board as either a Director or a 2nd Vice President.  She has lead sponsorship on the Gala Events committee for the last three years, and been an active member at on the Finance committee, and has recently joined the HR committee.  She’s grateful for the opportunity to give back to the East Hants area and to help grow the Chamber’s awareness.

Award presented by: 



Beth McNeill

McNeill’s Shell has been a member of the Chamber since it was founded in 1986. When Beth started working for McNeill’s in 1994 she attended many Chamber events representing the company.  She then joined the EHCC board for 6 years and during that time she was also the liaison for the Chamber with the Hants Regional Development Agency.  Beth was the Chamber’s events “person”, taking on the role of chairperson when the committee was formed. She was instrumental in expanding the categories for the awards banquet and along with the Chamber office manager managed the banquet for 2 years.

Beth returned to the Board as an executive director in 2014.  Over the years she has sat on many committees and most recently have been involved with the education committee and the Think Local First committee.

The award recipients were announced at the Business Excellence Awards Gala at the beautiful Oakfield Golf and Country Club on Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

Gala Partnerships

It takes many dedicated partners to support a wonderful evening of celebration.  We thank the following for their committed support for the 2016 Gala:

East Coast Credit Union
Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)
Halifax International Airport Authority (HIAA)
Burchell MacDougall Lawyers
Caldwell Roach
Guardian Elmsdale
Elmsdale Vision
English Law
Leno’s Stop Shop
Municipality of East Hants
RBC Elmsdale
The Mortgage Group (TMG)
Theriault Financial
McNeill’s Shell
Paul Darrow Multimedia
Sweet Spot Chocolate Shop
Oakfield Golf & Country Club
Park & Fly
Tracy Ashley Communications
groundSOUND Inc.

Member Services


Over 90 businesses & organizations participating this year! A-mazing!Be sure to get out that day with your postcard and get it stamped by at least 6 participating businesses! Pick one up that day or print yours off at a list of participating businesses that day visit ... See MoreSee Less
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TIME TO TIDE FEST AGAIN 👏Have you heard? After a two-year hiatus, East Hants will once again play host to the largest homecoming event in the community. JULY 15 & 16Tide Fest 2022 brings back many of the fan-favourite events of years past, including music, the East Hants Sport Heritage Hall of Fame, youth ball hockey, washer toss, adult soccer, and more!Details at tuned for announcements! ... See MoreSee Less
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📣 CONTEST 📣 CONTEST 📣 CONTEST 📣💥 Visit at least 6 participating Open East Hants Day businesses on May 28th for a chance to win! 💥 2 prize draws of $150 value each of participating businesses products and services. Winners' choice!! 💥 To print off your contest card please visit:💥 Or collect them that day from participating businesses while quantities last. 💥 Enter more than once! ... See MoreSee Less
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Open East Hants Day 2022! Bigger than ever with 4 Pop-Up Market locations and over 90 businesses and organizations participating so far! Here are the businesses participating outside the pop-up markets so far. For the full list visit: registered yet? Go to: ... See MoreSee Less
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Come check out what East Hants has to offier on Saturday, May 28th! Participating businesses will be showcasing their products and services and maybe offering samples, contests, and specials that day! To see who is participating and what they are offering please visit: created by 6 Lock Productions ... See MoreSee Less
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