Thirty years of excellence and good fun.

Author:Atkins, Michael
Position::President's Note
 
FREE EXCERPT

This is what is known in golf parlance as a "gimme." Last month we celebrated our 30th anniversary of the Northern Ontario Business Awards. What follows is a portion of my remarks from that evening. Please don't report me to the plagiarism police.

As you know, this is our 30th anniversary. We are humbled to be here, more or less in one piece and full of the same enthusiasm we have enjoyed with so many of you for so many years.

We have hosted more than 15,000 people over the years at these dinners and celebrated hundreds of winners. It has become a part of our life.

Back in Thunder Bay in 1987, Jack Masters was the mayor, David Peterson was the premier and a featured speaker, and the entrepreneur of the year was Richard Fahlman, who quit his job as a travelling salesman in Regina, sold his house and cars, and bought Anderson's Lodge in Sioux Lookout. Thirty-eight years later, he sold this extraordinary camp to his managers who run it to this day.

Other winners included Harvey Cardwell, who started Robin's Donuts in Thunder Bay; Dr. George Duncan, who launched Accuras say Laboratories in Thunder Bay; and Chuck Carter, who was the chairman and chief executive officer of Great Lakes Forest Products. My old friend, J.J. Hillsinger from Sault Ste. Marie, was one of our first judges.

There was one uninvited guest: a chicken. The man inside the costume was protesting prices of the Ontario Egg Marketing Board and wanted the premier to do something about it.

We never saw that chicken again.

Six years later, in 1992, we were in Sault Ste. Marie. Frank Dottori was president of Tembec, had bought Spruce Falls Pulp and Paper that year, and won executive of the year. Vic Prokopchuk was entrepreneur of the year with his innovative cable company in Atikokan, and our own Rachel Proulx from Sudbury was one of the judges. At the back of the hall, half the audience was pretending to pay attention to us but were actually watching the Toronto Blue Jays on a silent TV screen at the back of room. The Jays beat Atlanta and we all got drunk.

In 1997, we had the largest turnout of any awards program before or since in North...

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