Chamber celebrates Best in Business

   Reefer Repair and Coffee Matters were among the big winners at the Best in Business Awards held last week by the Mount Pearl - Paradise Chamber of Commerce during a gala evening at the Reid Community Centre.
   Mek's Salon of Paradise won the Best New Business Award, which was sponsored by RBC’s Mount Pearl and Paradise branches. GG landscaping, Novelty Engravers Plus and Ooh La La Pet Spaw were the other nominees.
   The Community Spirit Award for Mount Pearl went to Mount Pearl Dental, while Body Quest took the Community Spirit Award for Paradise. The awards are given to businesses which support community activities such as amateur sports, arts and culture, education and charities. In the Mount Pearl division, Marks, Munn Insurance, Newfoundland Power and Young Drivers of Canada were also nominated.
   The Employee Equity Award went to Coffee Matters, which has stores in Mount Pearl, Paradise, Conception Bay South and St. John's. Sponsored by Reddy Killowatt Credit Union, the award goes to a business that has demonstrated a commitment to the principles of employment equity and a spirit of inclusion, particularly for persons with developmental disabilities.
   Co-owner Scott Hillyer and his staff, who joined him on stage, were clearly delighted with the honour.
   "Employee equity to us is very important," said Hillyer. "And it's not just words. To me it's about caring and understanding. More importantly it's about giving a person or individual the same rights and privileges or opportunities as everyone else."
   Hillyer said his passion for employee equity developed when he was much younger and working in a restaurant where a fellow employee, a young man with Down's Syndrome, was working as a dishwasher. "He was always so happy to come to work, and always did a great job," said Hillyer.
   When he started to grow in his own carer and manage businesses, Hillyer said, he looked for chances to hire people with developmental disabilities. "As a dad and as a business owner, I see the importance of two things: independence and the need of each individual to feel needed and wanted. This leads to huge individual self-worth."
   Hillyer said from the many discussions he's had with employees provided through the Vera Perlin Society, he knows that they feel proud to earn their own money and want to feel needed and appreciated.
   Coffee Matters employs six people referred by Vera Perlin, making it the biggest employer in the province of the society's clients.
   As an example of the high quality workers the society recruits, Hillyer pointed to employee Megan Hounsell, who started with Coffee Matters four years ago. "She started in our downtown store and she would get the bus to work every morning, whether it was snowing or stormy, she never missed a day," he noted. "When I opened the store in Mount Pearl, she came to me and said, 'Boss, can I please move to the Mount Pearl store? I can walk to work.' I said, 'Yes Megan, that was part of my plan.'"
   Hillyer saidHounsell told him the other day that before she got hired at Coffee Matters, she had gone to many places looking for work, but people thought she wasn't capable and that the rejections and lack of faith didn't make her feel good. "But she said, 'All I needed was someone to give me patience to show me what to do and I'll understand it.' Well, here she is, next month she will be with us five years," said Hillyer.
   Another young girl, now a former employee, said Hillyer, came looking for a job even though she couldn't read and could only count to five. "I thought okay, there's a challenge for me, how am I going to get this girl to work?' Hillyer recalled. "I said, 'Well, what else do you know?' She said, 'I know my colours.' So I took the recipe book - and everything we do is in very large large batches - I reduced everything to five ingredients and started colour coding: An orange measuring cup was one cup, blue was flour, red was half a cup and from there we started doing recipes... Two weeks later she was baking chocolate chip cookies, tea buns, rice crispie squares and biscotti. She taught me something - you just have to adapt and work with the skills that we're given."
   Hillyer said he does a lot of speaking on behalf of the Vera Perlin Society. "For anybody here, I challenge you: If you're looking for great employees, you'll get nobody who will be as loyal and as dedicated and as willing to show me more than they do. When I walk into my stores, it's 'How are you today?' There are no people complaining, they're just so glad to be able to come to work."
   Coleman's Supermarket, Costco and Dicks & Company were the other companies in contention for the award.
   For the Graphic Design Award, four companies were in contention: the Graphic Arts & Sign Shop, Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union, Staples and TC Media. It was sponsored by Epic Engagement & Consulting and went to Graphic Arts & Sign Shop.
Brenkir took the Innovation Award sponsored by the BDC. Newfoundland Power, Reddy Killowatt Credit Union and Shred Guard were the other nominees.
Reefer Repair won the award for Outstanding Business of 25 Employees or less. It was sponsored by TD Bank. The other nominees included Ches’s Fish & Chips, Ohh La La Pet Spaw, North Shore Roofing, Pinnacle Office Solutions and Winsor Coombs.
   The Award for Outstanding Business of 26 employees or more went to Steelfab Industries of Paradise. It too was sponsored by TD Bank. The other nominees included Akita Equipment and Auto Transport, PF Collins, PricewaterhouseCooper and Rosemore Homecare.

Posted on November 25, 2015 .