Brandon Chamber honors city’s best businesspeople

Six awards were presented at the Brandon Chamber of Commerce’s 136th Annual Gala at the Keystone Centre Thursday evening.

A Tim Hortons franchise owner with eight restaurants in the Westman region was named this year’s Business Achievement Award Business Person of the Year at the 136th annual Brandon Chamber of Commerce Gala last Thursday evening.

The city’s business community gathered in the Manitoba Room of the Keystone Centre to see a total of six awards presented to area entrepreneurs. Rhonda Pardy was named Business Person of the Year for her professional accomplishments and support to the community through her chain of Tim Hortons franchises.

article continues below

Pardy and her husband, Craig, opened their first restaurant on 18th Street in Brandon followed by a second along the Trans Canada Highway six months later. Today, the chain includes locations in Virden and Neepawa, Man., and Moosomin, Sask. Following Craig’s death in 2016, Pardy continued the operation and will add a ninth outlet this year.

In the community, Pardy has served as a board director for the Assiniboine Community College and the Helping Hands Soup Kitchen. She and her company have also sponsored Timbits hockey and soccer programs throughout the Brandon area and supports the Tim Hortons Children’s Foundation camps, Helping Hands Soup Kitchen, United Way, Brandon Christmas Cheer, the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair, the Brandon Wheat Kings, the Virden Rodeo, the Brandon Regional Health Authority Foundation, the Tamarack Golf Tournament, Operation Red Nose, the Brandon Santa Claus Parade and the Kiwanis Car Derby.

This year’s Business Achievement Award for Community Impact was handed to Ray Brownlee, a long-time managing partner for a Century21 real estate franchise in the city. He was handed partner status after 22 years in the industry, and his operation won the Canadian Franchise of the Year Award in 2008.

Brownlee’s community involvement included volunteer work for Services for the Handicapped, Easter Seals, Manitoba Westman Region Special Olympics and the Canadian Diabetes Association.

Powder coating specialists, Ion Coating, were named the Outstanding New Business for 2019. Owned by brothers Leland and Taylor Kirton, Ion Coating opened in 2015 based on a reputation built by Leland for his work through the previous few years.

Today, the company is known throughout North America for its powder and ceramic coating, particularly in the automotive industry.

The Business Excellence Award for Small Business was handed to G.T. Smith and Sons Electrical, while the Large Business honor went to Guild Insurance Brokers.

G.T. Smith and Sons Electrical has a history in Westman reaching back a century, when Guy Thomas Smith began operations by bicycle in Brandon in 1918. Meanwhile, Guild Insurance Brokers was established in Brandon in 1990 and has since expanded to locations throughout southwestern Manitoba. The company employs 60 people who provide a variety of insurance products and policies for automobiles, personal and commercial lines, farm, rental, travel, marine and life.

Finally, the Lifetime Builder of the Year for 2019 was Ron Helwer, owner of Shur-Gro Farm Services in Brandon. Helwer’s company employs about 140 people at 13 branches operating in the province. He has been involved in the industry since 1952, working with his father at the family’s Massey Harris and fertilizer dealership.

Helwer won the Brandon Chamber of Commerce’s Business Person of the Year Award in 1986. He also earned a variety of honors from agricultural organizations throughout Canada and was inducted in the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2014.

In his service to the community, Helwer has been involved with the Brandon Chamber of Commerce, the Manitoba Provincial Exhibition, the 1979 Canada Winter Games, the Brandon University Foundation, the Assiniboine Community College, YMCA, the Brandon Hospital Foundation, the Murray House Cancer Center, The Dome Building, and the Kidney Foundation of Manitoba.

Incorporated in 1883, the Brandon Chamber of Commerce now consists of more than 800 delegates representing more than 600 businesses from the full gambit of sectors and sizes.

© Copyright Westman Journal