ACOC recognizes business community at Business Excellence Awards



By Ron Giofu


In what was the largest Business Excellence Awards (BEA) yet, the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) recognized some of the top business owners and operators in town.

“It’s a record-breaker tonight,” said ACOC board member Dan Gemus during last Friday night’s BEA’s. “We have over 220 people seated.”

There were 11 awards handed out with ten of the winners not knowing they had won until their name was revealed during the ceremony.

“It’s a huge honour to be recognized by your community, your clients and your peers,” said Gemus.

ACOC board president Carolyn Davies said it was “exciting to see so many dynamic businesses” and that the Chamber is trying to foster economic growth in Amherstburg.

“It has been a very busy year for the Chamber of Commerce,” said Davies.

The winners of the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce’s (ACOC) Business Excellence Awards gather for a group photo after the April 27 awards banquet at Pointe West Golf Club.

Davies said the ACOC partners in community events, holds networking events, works with town administration, holds quarterly meetings with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and focuses on directly supporting local businesses.

The ACOC plans to host all candidate nights in advance of the Oct. 22 municipal election, she added.

Currently, the Chamber has 158 paid members.

“The Chamber of Commerce’s strength is in its members and its focused planning,” said Davies.

Davies also endorsed the town’s recent takeover of the River Lights Winter Festival, believing the festival will grow and prosper with the town’s resources behind it.

The award for Excellence in Customer Service went to Pittao’s AutoCare, with Mark and Heather Pittao thanking their staff and customers as well as the ACOC for the award.

The Fort Fun Centre captured the Most Attractive Improvement Award for the total redesign of what was the former Verdi Club. Co-owner Brad Hearn commented that they appreciate “everyone who comes to visit us.”

The Customer Service/Community Involvement Award was won by Amherstburg Chevrolet Buick GMC, with dealers Scott Elliott and Mike Bezzoubkin accepting the award and pledging to continue to give back to the community.

The Growth and Expansion Award went to Lights Sound Action Entertainment Services, with thanks given by Mike Chase when he accepted the award.

The Investing in a World Class Workforce Award was won by Amherstburg Home Health Centre with owner Luigi DiPierdomenico thanking not only the ACOC, but family, friends, supporters and the medical team that works out of the Sandwich St. S. facility.

The Eighteen 12 Poutinerie captured the Excellence in Food Service Award. Owner Shannon Pelletier said they want their employees to enjoy coming to work and for their customers to feel welcome and at home when they go there.

The Welcoming Accessibility Award was captured by Amherstburg Community Services (ACS). ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo said the staff is happy to carry on the legacy that began 45 years ago. They have over 100 volunteers that help offer the various programs that ACS provides.

“We love what we do,” said DiBartolomeo.

The Business Legacy Award was presented to Paul and Sharon Jones, former owners of the Towne Shoppe. Paul said Amherstburg has been a great place to run a business and is also a great place to live. He added their thanks to their customers and staff, and pointed out they have since sold the business to Mackie Jones.

The New Business of the Year Award was won by the G.L. Heritage Brewing Co. Co-owner Jen Desjardins-Grondin thanked those who helped them launch the Howard Ave. craft brewery and noted they are extremely proud to be in Amherstburg.

The Business of the Year Award was won by Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery. President Steve Mitchell said they are excited for what lies ahead for Amherstburg and that the area’s wine industry will also boom as it is surrounded by six million people.

“I’m really excited about the prospects for Amherstburg,” he said.

The Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce Director’s Choice Award was given to the Amherstburg Freedom Museum this year. Board president Monty Logan accepted the award, pointing out museum attendance increased 35 per cent in 2017.

“It’s an honour for the museum to be recognized for the work we do in the community,” said Logan. “We truly appreciate the support Amherstburg has shown us. We are proud to call Amherstburg home. We feel loved.”

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Two Amherstburg businesses win Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber BEA awards



By Ron Giofu


Two businesses from Amherstburg captured Business Excellence Awards (BEAs) at the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce Awards.

The Dan Gemus Real Estate Team won the Professional of the Year category, beating out naturopathic doctor Meighan Valero and AM800 radio host Lisa Williams.

“It’s such an honour to have received the ‘Professional of the Year’ award. Being nominated with Dr. Meg Valero and Lisa Williams an old co-worker of mine at AM800 was amazing! Both of them so deserving in their own rights.”

Gemus said he was “humbling” to be nominated.

“It’s all still a bit of a blur,” he said.

Dan Gemus, surrounded by his real estate team, won Professional of the Year” at the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards. (Submitted photo)

Gemus added he is thankful for his friends, family, team and clients for the honour.

The award was presented last Wednesday night at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts in Windsor.

Wolfhead Distillery won the award for New Business of the Year, with other nominees being Exodus Escape Rooms and Thrive Benefits Group Inc.

Larry Girard, executive chef and vice president at Wolfhead, said they had no idea they were going to win the award.

“It’s a great feeling of achievement,” said Girard. “It was an important award for us.”

Girard, who is partners with Tom and Sue Manherz at Wolfhead, credited the staff and said they empower their employees at Wolfhead.

“Our team carries the ball for us,” he said.

Larry Girard and Sue Manherz from Wolfhead Distillery accept the New Business of the Year Award. (photo by John Liviero,

Girard added that most of their products, upwards of 85 per cent, is local and said “we can’t expect them to support us if we don’t support them. The only way we can be sustainable is if everyone supports local.” On the restaurant side, everything is free and on the alcohol side, they are piling up awards including eight at the recent competition in California.

Smashed Apple Catering Inc. was the third finalist from Amherstburg. However, Iron Kettle Bed and Breakfast won in the Tourism and Hospitality Award. The other nominee was Food & Beverage (F&B).

The complete list of award winners was:

Mid-Size Company of the Year Award – Sponsored by RBC Royal Bank

Baron Championship Rings


New Business of the Year Award – Sponsored by EPICentre, University of Windsor

Wolfhead Distillery Inc.


Believe Windsor Essex Award – Sponsored by WFCU Credit Union

Michael Schlater, CEO, Domino’s Pizza of Canada


Innovation Award – Sponsored by Union Gas

Inspire HUB Technologies Inc.


Small Company of the Year Award – Sponsored by Families First

Forest Glade Tecumseh Veterinary Professional Corporation


Pillars of our Community Award – Sponsored by Motor City Community Credit Union

Transition to Betterness


Young Professional of the Year Award – Sponsored by Libro Credit Union

Dr. Abby Jakob, Optometrist/Owner, EYES Optometry


ATHENA Award – Sponsored by BELL

Pat Soulliere, President, Soulliere Financial Group


Tourism & Hospitality Award – Sponsored by Caesars Windsor and OLG

The Iron Kettle Bed and Breakfast


Professional of the Year Award – Sponsored by TD Bank Group

Dan Gemus, Owner/Broker of Record, Dan Gemus Real Estate Team


Entrepreneur of the Year Award – Sponsored by St. Clair College

Vince Schiller, Owner/President, Southwestern Manufacturing


Large Company of the Year Award – Sponsored by BMO Bank of Montreal