Every month is both interesting and busy in our offices, but this October was especially busy. The Prime Minister ‘kicked’ off October by making the announcement on the 3rd that there would be a federal price on carbon in all provinces by 2018. ABEX was on October 22nd and the Chamber team was working almost 24-7 making sure the details were in place. While both ABEX and the announcement meant lots of work for our shop, the third big thing in October was an interview I did with Gavin Semple from Brandt for Prairie Manufacturer Magazine. It was a real pleasure to spend time chatting with Gavin. So these were my ABC’s of October- ABEX, Brandt and carbon.
First more on ABEX – we have just held our 33rd annual event and it continues to grow and impress with the depth and breadth of our nominations and our audience. There were 785 people who attended. The Finalists came to hold their breath, while friends, family and colleagues cheered them on. There simply is no better way to learn about new and landmark Saskatchewan companies than by attending ABEX. The business who went home with the most ‘sparkle‘ in their eye was the team from Hillberg & Berk, who received the Business of the Year ABEX. Rachel Mielke has done a great job in building her business to unbelievable sales in a very short period.
To all of the finalists and attendees, I say congratulations and thanks for building Saskatchewan. To all of our partners and sponsors, especially our presenting partner Conexus, I say a very BIG thank you for your continued support of business excellence. No ABEX is complete without our talented and dapper emcee’s. John Gormley and Paul Martin have kept us on time and on point for years- thanks gentlemen. This year’s Hall of Fame inductee was Prairie Mud of Estevan. Ray Frehlick has been a legacy operator in the oil patch for decades and is still doing well, despite the tough times within the sector. He is one of the Southeast’s finest citizen’s in that his name, or that of Prairie Mud, have been part of almost every fundraiser or community building initiative in the area. The Frehlick family’s belief in, and commitment to their community is incredible.
Another very solid recipient of an ABEX was Gavin Semple who received the ABEX Business Leader award. Most people in Western Canada know of Brandt and Gavin’s role in building the company, and his reputation for supporting his communities. He tells stories of his staff and his family with such pride, that it is easy to forget he has 2000 employees with sales in the billions. If a person met him at a grocery store, they would see him as a very friendly and approachable man.
He has achieved great things and retained his farm boy humbleness. Clearly, he is very deserving of the Business Leader Award.
And yes, Gavin has thoughts on carbon emissions and a potential carbon tax. I encourage you to read the article in the next Prairie Manufacturing Magazine published by Derek Lothian and partners out of Saskatoon. Gavin is clear that business is very concerned about the environment and its impact. In fact, he speaks of the engines on new equipment having the most efficient innovations available. If Saskatchewan wants to feed and fuel the world, we need to have these pieces of machinery in the fields.
So that was October. It was a very good month (except for the part when the feds imposed a new tax on Saskatchewan businesses). However, I am confident that we will withstand these new headwinds. Similar to the obstacles faced over the decades by people like Ray and Gavin, we too shall meet and beat the challenges and continue to grow this great province.