Estevan’s business community took time out to honour itself Saturday night.
After a 15-year absence, the Estevan Business Excellence awards made their grand return with a gala ceremony at Spectra Place. More than 200 people were on hand for the event which was organized by the Estevan and District Board of Tourism, Trade and Commerce.
The evening turned to be a terrific time for one of the city’s oldest businesses as well as one of its youngest with Wilhelm Construction and Spectra Credit Union both capturing two awards.
Wilhelm Construction, which has been in operation for just three years, took home the prestigious business of the year award while the company’s owner, Nathan Wilhelm, was named young entrepreneur of the year. Spectra fittingly claimed awards in categories that have long been their hallmarks, winning the community service award and the prize for customer service.
Wilhelm said he was honoured and surprised to win the pair of awards, in particular the business of the year prize.
“To be in a room tonight with so many businesses that have been in Estevan for 25 to 50 years and to win the business of the year, I am truly honoured and shocked,” Wilhelm said.
“We started out three-and-a-half years ago and just thought we’d build a couple of shops and houses and we’ve gotten to where we are thanks to our people and the staff that is with us.”
While Wilhelm Construction has been in operation for three years, Spectra CU has over 50 years under its belt. The company has long been one of southeast Saskatchewan’s top corporate citizens and was recognized for that at Saturday’s ceremony in a building they bought the naming rights for after making a $1 million contribution to the facility’s fundraising efforts.
CEP Tim Schroh said community involvement is what Spectra is all about and he was humbled to accept the award.
“I want to thank my board for the vision and leadership, for putting together the foundation and for holding us accountable for community involvement,” said Schroh who added that he was also thrilled to see Spectra earn the customer service award as that is something they strive to excel in every day.
“This award means a lot me personally because it is our mantra. I can’t stand here without recognizing the 160 employees that we have. To them, this is their award.”
Also capturing one of the evening’s high-profile awards was Kelly Lafrentz who was named the business leader of the year. The owner of both Kelly Lafrentz Trucking and Border Tanks Rentals, Lafrentz is also active in the community as the reeve of the RM of Estevan.
“I am absolutely astonished that I won when I’m in the company of both Jim Wilson and Ray Frehlick who are both outstanding businessmen,” Lafrentz said.
The award for new business venture of the year went Trent’s Tire. Located on Estevan’s western edge, Trent’s Tire, which is owned by Trent Emmel, services all sectors with a specific focus on the oil, gas and agriculture sectors.