The 2019 ABEX Awards, presented by Conexus Credit Union, brought together a wide range of businesses from across the province at TCU Place in Saskatoon on October 19. Saskatchewan’s bourgeoning tech sector was well represented with ten companies chosen as ABEX Awards finalists.
JNE Welding Ltd. took home top honours of the night with the ‘Business of the Year’ Award, sponsored by the David Aplin Group, as well as the Priority Focus Award for Indigenous Engagement, sponsored by Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority. In 2015, JNE Welding welcomed two First Nations partners into equity ownership and has prioritized Indigenous economic development, employment and community engagement.
“There are many fantastic businesses who were finalists at this year’s ABEX Awards, but JNE Welding stood out because of its forward-thinking corporate strategy. We’re so pleased to honour their efforts with this ABEX award,” said Steve McLellan, CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce.
O & T Farms Ltd. was inducted into the ‘Saskatchewan Business Hall of Fame’ for the longevity of its business and for marketing its patented, innovative and proudly Saskatchewan products worldwide. This award is proudly presented by Conexus Credit Union.
“We are really excited to induct O & T Farms into the Saskatchewan Business Hall of Fame. They are leaders in animal feed around the globe and have been a cornerstone business in our province since the 1980s,” said McLellan.
The Roger Phillips Chamber Builder Award was presented to John Hopkins, CEO of the Regina and District Chamber of Commerce, for his commitment to the city of Regina, and for his significant contributions to the Chamber network in Saskatchewan and across Canada.
McLellan cited his colleague’s dedication and professionalism as part of the reason Hopkins was chosen. “John and I have worked together in the Chamber world since 2007. He is recognized as a leader in the Chamber network across Canada, and it is an honour and a privilege to present this award to a peer and friend.”
Wayne Clifton, founder and CEO at Clifton and Associates Ltd., is the 2019 ABEX Business Leader of the Year, sponsored by the University of Regina. Wayne has received numerous awards throughout his career and is known across western Canada for his ability to bring together stakeholders from government, the community and environmental activists.
“Wayne is a pioneer in the engineering industry and his expertise is sought after by his peers, as well as professionals in the provincial and federal government. Wayne has been instrumental in building the engineering industry in this province,” said McLellan.
The 2019 ABEX Awards honoured Wally and Colleen Mah as the Community Leaders of the Year. This award, sponsored by SaskEnergy, recognizes an individual or individuals who have made a positive contribution to Saskatchewan communities through volunteerism and philanthropy.
Said McLellan, “Wally and Colleen Mah are dedicated to improving the lives of Saskatoon residents. Their philanthropical efforts have made a considerable impact in Saskatchewan and have opened the door for new and innovative ways to help those in need. We are so pleased to honour them this evening for their generosity and lasting work in the community.”
2019 ABEX Winners
The Award for Innovation, sponsored by Saskatchewan Polytechnic
Sperling Silver Distillery - Regina
Sperling Silver Distillery is Saskatchewan’s first combined craft distillery, cottage winery and microbrewery. Sperling Silver has innovated a unique dual-filtration process which has contributed to it winning “Canada’s Best Vodka” at the New York International Spirits Competition in 2018. Through a combination of innovative and refined production techniques, Sperling Silver Distillery has shown the world that some of the very best spirits are made right here in Saskatchewan.
The Award for Service, sponsored by World Trade Center Saskatoon at Prairieland Park
CRAVINGS – maternity – baby – kids - Saskatoon
CRAVINGS is a one-stop shop for everything from belly bump to big kid! In 2006, the modern store for babies and mamas launched with overwhelming success. In 2020, CRAVINGS will be expanding for the fourth time since its inception. CRAVINGS is fulfilling its mission to support and empower growing families by providing a curated selection of must-have products, expert knowledge and consistent service excellence.
The Award for Export, sponsored by Prairie Manufacturer Magazine
Temple Audio Design Inc. - Warman
In 2009, Ryan Dyck was asked to build a guitar effects pedalboard with unique features, and so the Temple Audio pedalboard was born. Its creative design approach has had a tremendous impact on the music industry. With a focus on keeping manufacturing local, Temple Audio continues to generate employment locally as it ships products around the world.
The Award for Community Involvement, sponsored by Cogent Chartered Professional Accountants LLP
Spotlight Sport & Corporate Wear - Humboldt
Spotlight Sport & Corporate Wear is a promotional product distributor with in-house apparel customization capabilities. Spotlight launched the “We Are Humboldt Strong” fundraising campaign after the Humboldt bus tragedy. Spotlight sold over 12,000 t-shirts and other items and were able to donate over $304,000 to the Humboldt Strong Community Foundation.
The Award for Priority Focus, sponsored by the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA)
JNE Welding Ltd. - Saskatoon
JNE Welding Ltd. is a 60% First Nations owned business that has prioritized Indigenous economic development, employment and community engagement. JNE welcomed two First Nation partners into equity ownership in 2015 as a strategy to further the growth of JNE Welding and Indigenous economic development in Saskatchewan.
The Award for Young Entrepreneur of the Year, sponsored by Cameco
Chelsey Harder, Passions Beauty Studio - Warman
Chelsey Harder began her entrepreneurial journey in 2009 when she founded Passions Beauty Studio, which has evolved into a high-end boutique. She then established The Barber Corner in 2017 and is the co-owner of a luxury hair care brand, Prime Hair Brand, which is actively distributed in salons across Canada.
The Award for Growth & Expansion, sponsored by PFM Capital Inc.
Vendasta - Saskatoon
Founded in 2008, Vendasta provides a platform for more than 14,000 partners to sell digital products and services. Over the past five years, Vendasta has seen impressive growth of over 600% in monthly revenue. Vendasta is also focused on the team for the future, ensuring that Vendasta and Saskatchewan continue to attract and retain talented individuals to help Vendasta become the global leader in technology and business development.
The Award for Marketing, sponsored by Handy Special Events
Escape Manor - Regina
Escape Manor is an immersive entertainment company that opened its doors in Regina in 2016. Since then it has locked up over 100,000 guests who have participated in exciting physical and mental puzzle challenges during corporate or private bookings. Escape Manor has enhanced the experience through an experiential marketing strategy, setting Escape Manor apart from its competitors.
The Award for New Venture, sponsored by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Trade & Export Development
Greenwave Innovations - Regina
Greenwave Innovations Inc. provides much needed data-driven solutions for Saskatchewan businesses that want to be more sustainable and energy efficient. Greenwave’s electricity, natural gas and water conservation initiatives are helping businesses and individuals save money and become leaders in sustainability.