Spooky Hal­loween

20th an­niver­sary SCBEX Awards rec­og­nizes Swift Cur­rent’s best

The Southwest Booster - - FRONT PAGE - SCOTT AN­DER­SON SOUTH­WEST BOOSTER

Ten win­ners were saluted dur­ing the 20th an­niver­sary edi­tion of the Spirit of Swift Cur­rent Swift Cur­rent Busi­ness Ex­cel­lence Awards.

The an­nual Swift Cur­rent and District Cham­ber of Com­merce awards were handed out on Fri­day night to hon­our the en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit and im­pact of Swift Cur­rent’s di­verse busi­ness scene.

Ger­ald Braaten, who was the Board Pres­i­dent for the first SCBEX Awards in 1999, was im­pressed with the legacy of the awards over the past two decades.

“It’s great to see. I think the Cham­ber’s evolved, and it’s like ev­ery­thing else in the world you have to change and adapt. They’ve done some great things,” Braaten said at the con­clu­sion of the awards evening.

“I was priv­i­leged to be the pres­i­dent 20 years ago when we launched it. The board at that time was ex­cited. They’ve made a lot of changes over the years, and I think its con­tin­ued to bring the busi­ness com­mu­nity to­gether. I’m re­ally pleased. Just be­ing here tonight was a priv­i­lege again. You just see the con­tin­ual ca­ma­raderie, and the net­work­ing and the en­thu­si­asm that’s go­ing on out there.”

Ten win­ners were saluted dur­ing the 20th an­niver­sary edi­tion of the Spirit of Swift Cur­rent Swift Cur­rent Busi­ness Ex­cel­lence Awards.

The an­nual Swift Cur­rent and District Cham­ber of Com­merce awards were handed out on Satur­day night to hon­our the en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit and im­pact of Swift Cur­rent’s di­verse busi­ness scene.

Ger­ald Braaten, who was the Board Pres­i­dent for the first SCBEX Awards in 1999, was im­pressed with the legacy of the awards over the past two decades.

“It’s great to see. I think the Cham­ber’s evolved, and it’s like ev­ery­thing else in the world you have to change and adapt. They’ve done some great things,” he said at the con­clu­sion of the awards evening.

“I was priv­i­leged to be the pres­i­dent 20 years ago when we launched it. The board at that time was ex­cited. They’ve made a lot of changes over the years, and I think its con­tin­ued to bring the busi­ness com­mu­nity to­gether. I’m re­ally pleased. Just be­ing here tonight was a priv­i­lege again. You just see the con­tin­ual ca­ma­raderie, and the net­work­ing and the en­thu­si­asm that’s go­ing on out there.”

Ag Growth In­ter­na­tional claimed their first SCBEX Award by win­ning the Spirit of Swift Cur­rent Large Busi­ness of the Year.

AGI was launched back in 1996 by the lo­cal trio of Rob Sten­son, Art Sten­son and Gary An­der­son. The com­pany be­gan as a mod­est agri­cul­tural equip­ment man­u­fac­turer, and they have grown over the years by ac­quir­ing other busi­nesses and pur­su­ing new ven­tures in the fer­til­izer, seed, feed and food sec­tors.

AGI Swift Cur­rent now boasts over 160 em­ploy­ees and they man­u­fac­ture ma­chin­ery which is used both lo­cally and in mar­kets over­seas.

BATCO-REM Gen­eral Man­ager Tom Firth said a growth agenda has been key to their suc­cess.

“Our com­pany as a whole, AGI, is al­ways look­ing for growth. I think it is es­sen­tial to any busi­ness to grow. If you don’t have a growth plan your busi­ness will fail,” Firth ex­plained shortly af­ter re­ceiv­ing the award with his lo­cal man­age­ment group.

“The in­vest­ment that we have been able to pull into the City of Swift Cur­rent in our fa­cil­ity we’ve up­graded into ma­chin­ing cen­tres of our own, we’ve up­graded a lot of our equip­ment within the build­ing to be­come more com­pet­i­tive. And those are the things that are al­low­ing us to op­er­ate at the peak per­for­mance that we do at our fa­cil­ity.”

He added that when the busi­ness came to a busi­ness cross­roads a few years back, it was de­cided that Swift Cur­rent re­mained an ideal fit for their con­tin­ued suc­cess.

“Back about five years ago AGI had to make a crit­i­cal de­ci­sion. They had out­grown the fa­cil­ity that they had in Swift Cur­rent. Of course at that point in time they could have said ‘you know what, what are our op­tions to go to a larger cen­tre. Maybe that would in­crease our staffing pool. Maybe we wouldn’t have to trans­fer goods quite as far.’ But in any of those de­ci­sions, what it re­ally comes down to is what we re­fer to as tribal knowl­edge - and that’s your staff. When you move a busi­ness out of the com­mu­nity you lose that. And we’ve seen busi­nesses try to move be­fore and its been ex­tremely un­suc­cess­ful. And so it was a mat­ter of say­ing how do we sur­vive and grow our busi­ness in a smaller com­mu­nity. And so whether or not that’s go­ing ex­ter­nally, try­ing to help bring new peo­ple into the com­mu­nity, which we’ve done and very suc­cess­fully as we’ve con­tin­ued to grow. Also the amount of train­ing we do with peo­ple in or­der to again fa­cil­i­tate the need to up­grade peo­ple to give us that op­por­tu­nity to grow in­ter­na­tion­ally. And those are the types of things that we still find are ac­ces­si­ble within Swift Cur­rent, so its given us the op­por­tu­nity to grow.”

Small Busi­ness SCBEX win­ner Garry Koebel from The Sput­ter­gotch Toy Com­pany spoke of the im­por­tant re­la­tion­ship lo­cal busi­nesses have with the com­mu­nity. Th­ese busi­nesses pro­vide a re­turn to the com­mu­ni­ties they work in while fac­ing com­pe­ti­tion from on­line and larger re­tail busi­nesses.

“We get asked that a fair bit,” he ad­mit­ted. “Re­gard­less of what plat­form a busi­ness op­er­ates on, whether its on-line, whether its a mom and pop shop like ours, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween a small busi­ness and the com­mu­nity re­ally can’t be repli­cated. It’s a re­cip­ro­cal type of thing. Busi­nesses are de­pen­dent upon the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion to sup­port them. But what the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion also needs to re­al­ize is that the qual­ity of life that they have also de­pends on those busi­nesses re­turn­ing back.”

Koebel said it is im­por­tant for peo­ple to re­al­ize this re­la­tion­ship just when they are en­ter­ing the vi­tal Christ­mas sea­son for most re­tail­ers.

“Maybe you might be able to save a cou­ple of bucks on-line,” he said. “But you also have to think of the sup­port that is be­ing lost for your com­mu­nity in con­duct­ing busi­ness that way. I think it’s very im­por­tant for peo­ple to re­al­ize that, more than ever, shop­ping lo­cal is that much more im­por­tant. And to sup­port man­u­fac­tur­ers and any other busi­nesses that you can sup­port within your com­mu­nity is para­mount.”

“Non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions have an aw­ful lot of very valu­able projects to do. And those projects won’t come to fruition un­less they get sup­port. And a lot of that sup­ports comes from the small busi­ness com­mu­nity.”

As a pre­vi­ous SCBEX win­ner in the New Busi­ness cat­e­gory, he was pleased to be rec­og­nized in the Small Busi­ness cat­e­gory where a record 22 busi­nesses were nom­i­nated.

“It re­ally kind of hits you the amount of tal­ent, how en­tre­pre­neur­ial Swift Cur­rent is as a city. To be in­cluded in that group and to be sin­gled out like this evening to win an award for it, it is kind of be­yond what we ever thought when this crazy idea of ours came to fruition eight years ago.”

An­other win­ner on Fri­day night was Olea Oil and Vine­gar Tast­ing Room, owned by Amanda Leibel and Brigitte Price, who won the SCBEX for Start-up/new Busi­ness.

The opened their doors back on Oc­to­ber 7, 2017 and their store boasts a se­lec­tion of over 50 flavours of olive oils and bal­samic vine­gars.

“It’s such a spe­cial­ity prod­uct. You are kind of go­ing out on a limb start­ing some­thing like that. But it’s been great. And now we’re adding more prod­ucts, more Saskatchewan prod­ucts, more Swift Cur­rent prod­ucts that peo­ple are mak­ing. And peo­ple are re­ally en­joy­ing that,” Leibel said.

They also re­flected on the chal­lenges of a fledg­ling busi­ness in the com­mu­nity.

“When you run a busi­ness you al­ways have your ups and your downs,” Price said. “You try to look at what your num­bers were last year to this year and it’s very in­con­sis­tent. Your week to week is in­con­sis­tent. Your month to month is in­con­sis­tent. This Fri­day is good, last Fri­day was bad. It varies. There’s no rhyme or rea­son to re­tail. You just stick it out and away you go.”

SCOTT AN­DER­SON/SOUTH­WEST BOOSTER

Large groups of in­di­vid­u­als en­joyed a scare this Hal­loween sea­son at The Haunt­ing of Lil-sur-mur. Groups of vol­un­teer scar­ers have toured groups through the haunted town at Springfeld for the past two week­ends, and a fi­nal time on Hal­loween. They had raised over $5,000 dur­ing the first two week­ends, with pro­ceeds to be di­rected to lo­cal char­i­ties. The at­mos­phere of the haunted town was made even more sus­pense­ful thanks to the sup­port of Lost Val­ley Horse Ranch who pro­vided an erie wagon ride to the haunted town.

Liv­ing Sky Casino was for­mally pre­sented their SCBEX Mem­ber Busi­ness of the Year SCBEX Spirit of Swift Cur­rent Award. Cham­ber Board Chair­man Doug Ev­jen pre­sented the award to Liv­ing Sky Casino em­ploy­ees Raul Ro­jas, Carol Hussey, Jackie Fis­cher, Diane Lan­ti­can, Vicki Field and Casino Gen­eral Man­ager Trevor Mar­ion.

MNP Swift Cur­rent was in­ducted into the SCBEX Hall of Fame at the 2018 SCBEX Spirit of Swift Cur­rent Awards on Oc­to­ber 26. RM Coun­cil­lor Mark Care­foot and Swift Cur­rent Mayor De­nis Per­rault pre­sented the recog­ni­tion to Al Light­foot (Of­fice Man­ag­ing Part­ner), Randy Hilde­brandt (Busi­ness Ad­vi­sor), Ger­ald Braaten (Part­ner - Prin­ci­pal), Derek Wiebe (Part­ner), Sher­rie Mil­lar (Part­ner), and Jeremy Ron­deau (Part­ner).

Ag Growth In­ter­na­tional was se­lected as the Large Busi­ness of the Year SCBEX Spirit of Swift Cur­rent Award win­ner. Cham­ber Board Chair­man Doug Ev­jen and MLA Everett Hind­ley, rep­re­sent­ing award cat­e­gory spon­sor Sask­tel, pre­sented the award to Bar­bara Reilly, Pat Luepke, Re­nee Rude, Tom Firth and Brant Stock.

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