SUMMERSIDE, PEI – March 17, 2013 – Described as a person who has always known how to “break down walls” to make her place in the a business world predominated by men, Réjeanne Arsenault – owner of The Bottle Houses in Cape Egmont – is the first woman to ever earn the Distinguished Entrepreneur Award that is presented by the Acadian and Francophone Chamber of Commerce of PEI.
This award, now in its 10th edition, was previously presented to entrepreneurs who were retired or nearing retirement, with the intent of honoring their contribution over their entire career; it was essentially a lifetime achievement award. Of course, in the past, there weren’t that many female Acadians and Francophones who were entrepreneurs.
But this year, the award criteria were broadened a bit to include all people who have been in business for 25 years or more (including those near or in retirement). Arsenault fits perfectly in the new criteria since she is this year celebrating the 25th anniversary of ownership of her attraction.
The winner received her award, sponsored by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, during the 2013 Entrepreneurs’ Gala March 16 in Summerside.
The unique tourist attraction The Bottle Houses in Cape Egmont was built by the late Edward T. Arsenault from 1980 to 1984. Following his death in 1984, his wife Rosina took over the operation of the attraction. Réjeanne has been operating it since 1988; she incorporated the attraction the following year.
A first gift shop was added in 1984 and expanded in 1989. From 1992 to 1998, Réjeanne had the three bottle buildings rebuilt. Over time, Réjeanne has added a very large bottle at the entrance to the property, a scale-model reproduction of the Cape Egmont Lighthouse and a flower garden interpretative centre. Her beautiful flower gardens keep growing every year. Most recently, she added a new boutique and welcome centre, and she installed a charger for electric cars.
Over the years, about 50 people have worked at the attraction. During a normal summer season, she has four to six employees. With time, the business had seen a continual growth in its business figures. A large variety of media have come to the attraction to prepare reports for TV, various magazines and newspapers, school books, travel books and even Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.
Word-of-mouth advertizing without a doubt contributes to the increase in visitors from all over the world. The most recent example is a contact from a production team in the United Kingdom wanting to film the business because of the ecological and recycling perspective.
The business and its owner have already been honored with a number of awards, including the 2006 TIAPEI Operator of the Year; the 2005 Coup de coeur award from RDÉE Canada’s Lauriers de la PME competition; Attractions Canada’s 2001 provincial award for Developed Outdoor Site; and 1990-1991 Tourism Stakeholder of the Year Award from Evangline Tourism Association.
In addition to all of this, Réjeanne is also a part-time independent consultant who takes on a variety of contracts for researching and events coordinating.
Other finalists for the 2013 Distinguished Entrepreneur were Simon Arsenault from Northumberland Construction and Comet Construction in Abram-Village; Lise Buote from Blue Heron Enterprises and Blue Heron Construction in Rustico; Johnny Gallant from M&J Professional Saws of St-Timothée; and singer Lennie Gallant from Gallant Effort Productions of Rustico and Halifax. Réjeanne was also nominated in two other categories: 2013 Business Woman of the Year and 2013 President’s Award of Excellence.
CUTLINE 1: Award sponsor Geoff Allen, left, program officer with ACOA, presents the 2013 Distinguished Entrepreneur Award from CCAFLIPE to Réjeanne Arsenault, owner of The Bottle Houses in Cape Egmont. Martin Marcoux, a CCAFLIPE board member, helped with the presentation.
CUTLINE 2: Hubert Lihrmann, left, entrepreneurial board member with the RDÉE, presents a finalist certificate to Ronnie Arsenault, who accepted on behalf of his father Simon Arsenault, who founded Northumberland Construction and Comet Construction.
CUTLINE 3: Hubert Lihrmann, left, entrepreneurial board member with the RDÉE, presents a finalist certificate to Chris Buote, representing his mother Lise Buote from Blue Heron Construction and Blue Heron Enterprises.
CUTLINE 4: Hubert Lihrmann, left, entrepreneurial board member with the RDÉE, presents a finalist certificate to Johnny Gallant, owner of M&J Professional Saws.
CUTLINE 5: Hubert Lihrmann, left, entrepreneurial board member with the RDÉE, presents a finalist certificate to Tracy Gallant, who accepted on behalf of her brother-in-law Lennie Gallant.
For more information:
Raymond J. Arsenault
2013 Entrepreneurs’ Gala