2012 Entrepreneurs’ Gala honours five deserving winners
SUMMERSIDE, PEI – March 18, 2012 – A former road construction contractor, a garage operator, a holistic health practitioner, a funeral co-op and a young community leader were honored Saturday, March 17, as “marvelous examples for the next generation of entrepreneurs” and as people who have “discovered the secret of entrepreneurial success”.
The Acadian and Francophone Chamber of Commerce of PEI (CCAFLIPE) presented its brand new blue and clear trophies to these five award winners, before a record crowd of 148 people, during the 2012 Entrepreneurs’ Gala at the Centre Belle-Alliance in Summerside that the Acadian. Fourteen nominations – another record for the evening – had been received for these awards.
Wellington Esso (owner Donnie Arsenault) won the top award of the night – the 2012 President’s Excellence Award – for its exceptional service that is always delivered with a smile. Also nominated for this award were Mermaid Marine Products (owner Patrick Villeneuve) of Charlottetown and Deva Forestry (owners Marcel and Gerard Arsenault) of Abram’s Village.
Alyre Arsenault, retired founder of the well-known AJL Contractors Ltd. of St. Philippe, earned the 2012 Distinguished Entrepreneur Award for his lifetime achievement. Henri Gallant from HMS Office Supplies of Summerside was also nominated in this category.
Denise Arsenault of Stratford, co-owner of the Health Within Holistic Centre and former owner of Atlantic Isle Gourmet Pasta, was named the recipient of the 2012 Business Woman Award for her numerous accomplishments. Artist Anne Gallant from the Art Gallery of Anne Gallant in Kensington and Charlottetown consultant Paula Gallant were also up for the award.
Evangeline Funeral Co-op, celebrating the 25th anniversary of its funeral home in Urbainville, received the 2012 Co-op of the Year Award for the excellent quality of its service. The Abram’s Village Handcraft Co-op and the Coopérative de développement culturel et patrimonial de Mont-Carmel were also in the running.
Sylvain Gallant, a well-respected young man from Abram-Village, took home the 2012 Young Enterprising Person of the Year Award for his vast community involvement and contribution, especially for this work with youth. Also nominated were Josée Arsenault of Urbainville and Ginette Arsenault of Mont-Carmel.
During her welcoming remarks, CCAFLIPE spokesperson Jeannette Arsenault directly addressed the finalists. “You always strive to improve yourselves to better serve your client. You keep making special efforts to ensure that he is happy because you know that his satisfaction has to be your No. 1 priority. You know that he is the one who is paying your salary, who is feeding your family and who is putting a roof over your head.”
Arsenault therefore noted she was happy to see that “you have found the secret to entrepreneurial success and that you share it with us every time we buy a product or service from you.”
She suggested that all those who are considering become entrepreneurs should observe the way the 14 finalists treat their clients and the public in general. “If you use the same client-based approach that they use, you are practically guaranteed to succeed,” she concluded.
Martin Marcoux, president of RDÉE Prince Edward Island (the provincial francophone economic development council that is the CCAFLIPE’s parent organization), also paid tribute to the finalists for the remarkable quality of their products and services.
“You are a marvelous example for the next generation of entrepreneurs who will be coming along as well as for today’s entrepreneurs who see you performing in such a professional way! I want to congratulate you and to thank you personally for your devotion, your efforts and for your entrepreneurial spirit.”
The 2012 edition of the Gala, formerly known as the Entrepreneurs’ Banquet, included several new facts and changes, undertaken to make the event even more professional and entertaining. Its co-ordinators, Raymond J. Arsenault and Helen Bergeron, were also its co-hosts.
In the past, the winners’ names were announced in advance. This year, only the nominee list was unveiled ahead of time. Winners were announced only when the envelope was opened during the gala.
The 2012 Entrepreneurs’ Gala was made possible thanks to financial contributions from its main sponsors, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the Province of Prince Edward Island, RDÉE Prince Edward Island, CBDC Central PEI, Evangeline Credit Union and The Co-operators (Mike Bradley Insurance Services Ltd.) Secondary sponsors were the Baie Acadienne Development Corporation, the Royal Bank of Canada, Pro Max 2000 and the French Chamber of Commerce of Canada, Atlantic Network.
CUTLINE: Five companies and individuals were rewarded for their efforts during the 2012 Entrepreneurs Gala, organized by the Acadian and Francophone Chamber of Commerce of PEI, Saturday evening. Award winners were, from left, Adrien Arsenault, manager of the Evangeline Funeral Co-op (Co-op of the Year Award); Linda Perry, representing Wellington Esso (President’s Award of Excellence); Edward and Chuck Arsenault from AJL Contractors Ltd., representing their father Alyre Arsenault (Distinguished Entrepreneurs’ Award); Sylvain Gallant of Abram’s Village (Enterprising Youth of the Year Award); and Denise Arsenault, co-owner of Health Within Holistic Center (Business Woman of the Year Award).
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Raymond J. Arsenault
2012 Entrepreneurs’ Gala
WELLINGTON ESSO – Donnie Arsenault had worked as a mechanic for several years when he opened an Irving garage at the corner in central Wellington in 1982. In 1991, he bought another garage on Sunset Drive and moved his business there, from then on selling Esso products. This new garage, which offers the services of a licensed mechanic, is called Wellington Service Station. In 2003, right next to his garage, Arsenault built a convenience store and gas bar, which he called Wellington Convenience Store. He also sells propane, operates a bottle exchange and sells Bakin’ Donuts coffee at a drive-thru window. He also sells used cars through D.A. Auto Sales; last year, he moved this service to the building that once housed his wife’s Coolers Dairy Bar. He renovated this building to offer office space rentals. The overall business, which is simply known locally as “Donnie’s”, provides work for nine full-time employees and about 20 part-time employees. Many of the convenience store’s employees are students. Donnie makes it a duty to train his employees so that they adopt his philosophy that the customer is always right. He insists on a polite service, delivered with a smile. The company is definitely a family business: his wife Christine, his son Jordan and his brother Gerald all work there. The company is currently considering the possibility of adding a car wash service. Arsenault is celebrating his 30th anniversary in business this year!
ALYRE ARSENAULT – After working for several years in the field, Alyre Arsenault founded AJL Contractors Ltd. in St. Philippe in 1958. For 30 years, he successfully operated this well-known business, doing jobs all over the province. His specialties were road construction, preparation of construction sites and installation of water and sewer systems. He therefore had to buy and upkeep an array of large vehicles, including trucks, bulldozers, loaders, maintainers, paving machines, etc. In the wintertime, he would always get snow plowing contracts. Throughout his career, Arsenault was renowned as an honest businessman of great reputation who always did a great job. From his family of 10 children, three (Stephen, Edward and Chuck) have followed in his footsteps and are now co-owners of the business. Stephen has been the company manager for the past 25 years. Today, the company provides work for five people year-round and for 25 to 30 people seasonally. Among the company’s recent contracts are improvements to the Island Waste Management Facility in Day’s Corner, the construction of a dam at Parson’s Pond in North Granville and the preparation of the site and the construction of the parking lot at Clark’s Toyota in Summerside. The company has won the PEI Road Builders’ Association’s workplace safety award.
DENISE ARSENAULT – Born in Massachusetts, Denise Arsenault studied to become a dental hygienist. She worked in that field both in the United States and on PEI after moving here in 1980. As soon as she arrived on PEI, she began taking training in holistic health to take care of the physical, mental and spiritual health of her family. From 1988 to 2007, she was owner-operator of Atlantic Isle Gourmet Pasta in Charlottetown. Among other things, her business operated the cafeteria at the Carrefour de l’Isle-Saint-Jean and, in its final years, it managed the restaurant at the Charlottetown Airport. In 2005, Arsenault was the provincial winner and a national finalist in the Lauriers de la PME awards competition. Four years ago, Arsenault formed a business partnership with Judy Archibald to establish the health Within Holistic Centre in Charlottetown to provide holistic health services such as massage therapy, shiatsu, reiki, reflexology, acupressure, acupuncture and allergy antidotes. The centre employs eight naturopaths by contract; several others also lease space. The centre, which also offers workshops and courses on various themes related to holistic health, will soon begin to deliver some of its services at the health centre in Wellington. In the Charlottetown centre, a small shop also sells various natural health products. Arsenault personally teaches reiki, karate and yoga. She will soon be certified as a life coach, a hypnotherapist, a neurolinguistic programming practitioner and an “emotrance” energy treatment practitioner.
EVANGELINE FUNERAL CO-OP – In the past, people from the Evangeline area had to go to Summerside to obtain funeral services that were fairly expensive. Co-operators from the area decided to establish their own funeral co-op and, in 1987, built their funeral home in Urbainville. In just a few years, the home had been completely paid off. What makes funeral co-ops so special is the fact that all of the work, except embalming, hairstyling and management, is done by volunteers. Families in mourning are served by their own neighbours. All of this provides for an incredibly supportive atmosphere. The co-op can therefore also provide better prices. Since its establishment, the co-op handles an average of about 22 funerals per year. Its territory extends from Richmond-Evangeline to Grand River, Lot 16 and Miscouche. Following the sudden departure of its manager for health reasons, the co-op faced severe management challenges. However, a few months ago, it hired a new manager – Adrien Arsenault, who had volunteered at the home since its establishment. The co-op, which now has about 1,000 members, is considering building a major expansion to its home as it celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
SYLVAIN GALLANT – This humble 21-year-old, who completed two years of study at Université Sainte-Anne, is profoundly devoted to our youth. He has served as both president of Jeunesse Acadienne and provincial coordinator of the Jeux de la francophonie canadienne. Since 2010, he is co-chair and volunteer host of the Coopérative du Village des Sources L’Étoile Filante, which organizes personal development camps for youth. He has been highly involved with the Jeux de l’Acadie, including as assistant chef de mission for the 2011 Finals, vice-chair of the PEI Regional Committee responsible for the leadership sector L’Académie Jeunesse, as well as coach for various sports at the games. In 2008, he was named both Student of the Year at Evangeline School and Young Acadian of the Year at the Acadian Festival. A few days ago, he returned home from a three-month stay in Benin, Africa, after spending three additional months in Quebec, through the Canada World Youth program. In Africa, he got to work, literally in a dirt-poor community, for a food bank, a community farm and a school. He is the son of Roger and Jeanne Gallant of Abram-Village.