Congratulations to the Finalists for the 23rd Annual Oakville Awards for Business Excellence

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce and The Rotary Club of Oakville West are pleased to present the 23rd Annual Oakville Awards for Business Excellence (OABE) that will culminate in a Gala Dinner on Tuesday, March 27th at the Oakville Conference Centre. The finalists for this year’s awards were officially announced at the OABE Nominee Reception held on Tuesday, February 6th at the Holiday Inn Oakville – Centre.  

This year, the award recipients will be chosen from finalists in nine categories: Small Business of the Year, Bell Mid-size Business of the Year, RBC Royal Bank Large Business of the Year, Professional Services Provider of the Year, Franchisee of the Year, The Morris Mercanti Restaurateur of the Year, KPMG Entrepreneur of the Year, Young Professional & Entrepreneur of the Year (YPEG Award), and Oakville Hydro Conservation Leadership Award.

At the awards gala, the recipient of the Genworth Community Builder Award, Charity or Not-for-Profit Excellence Award, and Oakville’s Business Icon Award will be announced.

  • The Genworth Community Award recognizes a business that has, over time, demonstrated exemplary business practices and dedicated involvement in the community.
  • The Charity or Not-for-Profit Excellence Award honours a charity or not-for-profit organization which is highly regarded in our community and raises funds or provides services to improve the lives of people within our community.
  • The Business Icon Award recognizes a prominent Oakville business which is highly regarded in the business community.

“The Oakville Awards for Business Excellence received an overwhelming number of nominations from the Oakville community. The judges carefully reviewed all of the nominations and selected a list of 56 finalists” stated Ken Nevar, Chair of the Board, Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “I congratulate all of the finalists. It is truly an honour to be nominated by your customers and peers and to be recognized for your dedication, business practices, and community service.”

Working in partnership with The Rotary Club of Oakville West, the majority of funds raised from the Gala Dinner will be donated directly to the club’s local youth programs.

“Since its inception in 1995, the Oakville Awards for Business Excellence has raised almost $1,000,000 for our youth initiatives including the Oakville Rotary Education Awards, Camp Enterprise and the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards” said Lois Knepflar, President of the Rotary Club of Oakville West. “We look forward to a fantastic evening to celebrate business excellence, while supporting the youth in our community.”

The Finalists for the 23rd Annual Oakville Awards for Business Excellence are:

Small Business of the Year

A.S. Security & Surveillance Inc.

Addison Music Learning Centre

Akita Natural Skin Care Products Canada

Caju Multimedia Inc.

DCM Event Management

Expert Island

iCare Home Health

Innovative HR

Oakview Funeral Home

Painters Place

Preferred Muffler, Brake & Auto Inc.

Qi Tranquility Spa

Resultel Technologies Inc.

Speckles Art Studio

Wines Unlimited


Bell Mid-size Business of the Year:

Automacs Collision Inc.

Cameron’s Brewing Company


Florence Meats

JNB Auto Centre Inc.

Mico Systems Inc.


Total Tech Pools and Leisure Inc.


RBC Royal Bank Large Business of the Year:

Caravan Logistics Inc.

D’Orazio Infrastructure Group Limited

Glen Oaks Funeral Home and Cemetery

iFLY Toronto Indoor Skydiving

Naylor Building Partnerships Inc.



Professional Services Provider of the Year:

Bazar McBean LLP

Lakeshore Woods Pharmacy

Positive Accounting

The Milley Team (HollisWealth, A division of Industrial Alliance Securities Inc.)


Franchisee of the Year:

Liaison College (Oakville Campus)

Piper Foods Inc. (McDonald’s Restaurant)


The Morris Mercanti Restaurateur of the Year:

Bronte Sports Kitchen

La Parisienne Creperie

Oliver & Bonacini Café & Grill

The Pipes and Taps Pub


KPMG Entrepreneur of the Year:

Allie Ochs of Swiss Bionic Solutions

Ayse Kilic of Akita Canada

Dawn Porter-Schofield of Cornerstone Mediation

Jane Wilson of PoleFit Nation

John Thistlewaite of BCIS, Inc.

Matthew Zarrillo of Zarr Tech

Nicoletta Medeiros of Allure Laser Skin Studio


Young Professional and Entrepreneur of the Year (YPEG Award):

Derek Lee of Media Rez Studios Inc.

Dr. Denise Handscomb, ND of Abaton Integrative Medicine  

James Montague of James Montague the Event Planner

Morsal Haidary of Lash Out Lounge and Spa

Paul Ferri of Limitless Training Systems

Oakville Hydro Conservation Leadership Award:

Canlan Ice Sports Corp.

Iovate Health Sciences International Inc.

Mancor Industries

Oakville Honda

Pinty’s Delicious Foods Inc.


The Oakville Chamber of Commerce and The Rotary Club of Oakville West thank Platinum Partner RBC for their generous support of the 23rd Annual Oakville Awards for Business Excellence and Nominee Reception.

Event Details:

Date: Tuesday, March 27th

Time: 5:30pm – Registration & Reception; 6:30pm – Dinner & Awards Gala

Location: Oakville Conference and Banquet Centre, 2515 Wyecroft Road

Tickets: $125 per person; $87.50 per person for Nominees

Purchase tickets online or by emailing or calling the Oakville Chamber of Commerce at 905-845-6613.



Oakville Chamber partners with Canadian Chamber to launch 10 Ways to Build a Canada that Wins

A strong and prosperous Canada depends on business growth, but businesses are grappling with daunting challenges at home and abroad. To help them compete and grow, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to release 10 Ways to Build a Canada that Wins today. 10 Ways provides businesses, decision-makers and government with a series of clear priorities and objectives that, if addressed, will give Canada a competitive edge, improve productivity and grow our economy.

“While the global economy remains risky, there are still tremendous opportunities for business growth, but we need to work together to create the conditions to support business growth and build a more prosperous economy for all Canadians,” said the Hon. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “10 Ways identifies the ways in which business, government and others can work together to improve Canada’s public policy environment and create the conditions for businesses across the country to flourish.”

10 Ways touches on a range of key issues, including attracting business investment, supporting SMEs, and encouraging innovation and fixing Canada’s trade-enabling infrastructure.

“The Oakville Chamber is proud to partner with the Canadian Chamber again this year to release 10 Ways” stated Ken Nevar, Chair of the Board, Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve finalized a list of 10 important ways in which Canada’s policy environment can be improved to support development and growth for businesses not only in Oakville, but across the country.”

“We are looking forward to meeting with government officials to discuss our recommendations” added Drew Redden, President, Oakville Chamber of Commerce.

This annual list by the Canadian Chamber Network is particularly important given the growing pressures on businesses faced with uncertainty around the ongoing NAFTA negotiations, additional layers of regulation, rapid technological change and low capital investment. 10 Ways not only frames the necessary public discourse around the best ways to enable Canadian businesses to grow, it provides the Canadian Chamber of Commerce with the strategic direction for its policy and advocacy efforts throughout 2018, supported by the Oakville Chamber.

10 Ways to Build a Canada that Wins in 2018

1. Make Canada a Magnet for Business Investment
We need a policy environment in Canada that makes this country the preferred location for businesses to invest, employ, export from and grow.

2. Ensure a Globally Competitive North America
The growth potential of Canadian business depends not only rely on our domestic policy environment, but also on our access to business opportunities and capabilities across North America and around the world. We need to expand and streamline business access to resources as we eliminate barriers to trade. 

3. Make Canada an Agri-food Powerhouse
Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector has a strong and well-earned reputation. In order to make Canada a global leader in high-value food production and exports, we need a national vision and clear objectives for an agri-food cluster development strategy, a supportive regulatory environment and an increased capacity to export.

4. Develop Agile Workforce Strategies
Agile workforce policies are vital in ensuring Canadian businesses can acquire the skill sets they need to compete and grow. To this end, Canadian businesses need easy access to comprehensive market information and to programs and policies that support diversity and labour mobility. Our workforce must also have access to formative and life-long learning opportunities in essential skills and basic science, technical, engineering and business education. Only then can we attract the best and brightest from all over the world.

5. Make all of Canada an Export Gateway
Trade is the linchpin of the Canadian economy. We can enhance the competitiveness and growth potential of Canadian businesses by building on the gateways and corridors modeled to make strategic, sustainable and long-term improvements in Canada’s trade infrastructure. It is time for us to create a single, unified and efficient trade-enabling network.

6. Improve Regulatory Efficiency, Achieve Regulatory Alignment, and Ensure the Unrestricted Movement of Goods and People across Canada 
The elimination of trade barriers and unnecessary regulatory differences across Canada could add as much as $130 billion to Canada’s GDP by freeing trade and commerce within our own internal markets. Through incentives for regulators, we can concentrate on the big picture: nationally aligned standards and regulations that work for all, instead of a patchwork of regional rules.

7.Help SMEs Trade and Grow
Canada’s economic prospects depend in large part on the vitality and growth potential of small- and medium-sized enterprises. We can support our SMEs through tax policies that reward entrepreneurship, regulatory policies that take their reality into account and by giving them easier access to government contracts and international opportunities.

8. Provide Opportunities for Business Development to Support Self-determination for Indigenous Peoples
The economic and social benefits of encouraging greater and more inclusive participation by Indigenous peoples in employment and business development opportunities are shared by all Canadians. This includes a supportive tax and regulatory environment, access to new business opportunities, government programs that provide meaningful supports, and ready-access to education and training, leading to employment, apprenticeship and mentorship programs.

9. Make Canada a Global Innovator
Canada can retain its status as an advanced economy only if its businesses are world leaders in the development and application of new and advanced technologies. Canadian businesses need to be connected to the broadband infrastructure, research expertise and technology resources they require. Intellectual property and other regulatory regimes also have to be supportive and allow for easier R&D, development and, ultimately, commercialization.

10. Make Canada the World’s One-stop Shop for Green Resources and Technology
The application of new technologies and production processes is vital if Canada is to meet its goals for reducing carbon emissions and improving the quality of its environment while at the same time sustaining economic growth. This requires support for resource-based technology business clusters and the incentives and support programs Canadian technology companies need to be able to do business with global resource companies and engineering and procurement firms.

Read the report.

Oakville Chamber appoints new President

Oakville Chamber President Drew Redden

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the appointment of Drew Redden as its new President, effective February 5, 2018.

“We are very pleased to make this appointment” stated Ken Nevar, Chair of the Board of the Oakville Chamber. “Drew has a strong background in strategic communications and government relations and is passionate about our business community. We know he will continue building on the Oakville Chamber’s strong foundation.”

Drew brings a variety of public and private sector experience to the role at the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. Prior to joining the Oakville Chamber, Drew served as a Senior Advisor to a Cabinet Minister at Queens Park, and most recently a Manager of Public Affairs at a multi-national corporation where he was based in the Halton Region. In his past roles, Drew was engaged with Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade throughout the Province.

“I am very excited to join the award-winning Oakville Chamber of Commerce and have the opportunity to work with the staff, Board of Directors and volunteers of this impressive organization” said Drew. “I look forward to meeting with our members and the Chamber’s many community partners over the coming months as we set our priorities to build on the legacy left by John Sawyer. We will be focused on ensuring that the Oakville Chamber of Commerce remains a leading voice in the Chamber network across Ontario and Canada.”

Become an MNP Future Leader

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce is proud to be a partner of the MNP Future Leaders Program!

MNP Future Leaders ProgramAs an entrepreneurial firm built for entrepreneurs, MNP is proud to support our local business communities and young business leaders. They created the MNP Future Leaders mentorship program to recognize the importance of new and growing businesses – the lifeblood of our economy. They are committed to providing them with the support, advice and tools they need to succeed in a rapidly-changing business environment. The program is aimed at current students and recent graduates from their post-secondary institution partners including Ryerson University, Sheridan College and University of Toronto Mississauga who are seeking to start or actively involved in an entrepreneurial enterprise.

MNP has also partnered with key local stakeholders who share the same goal of supporting youth entrepreneurship in our business community including the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, Brampton Board of Trade, Mississauga Board of Trade, City of Brampton, City of Mississauga, and Metroland Media.

Winners will receive free monthly professional mentoring, guidance and advice from an experienced MNP partner for one full year and a personalized award acknowledging their accomplishment as an MNP Future Leader. They will also receive a year-long membership with their local board of trade or chamber of commerce. Member benefits include access to valuable resources and information on current industry trends and public policy issues, advocacy support as well as networking and growth opportunities.

Visit for more details about the program and to complete and submit an online application by the April 10, 2018 deadline.

Oakville Chamber to host Bell Let’s Talk breakfast

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce and their Young Professional & Entrepreneur Group (YPEG), in partnership with Bell Let’s Talk, will host Let’s Talk About…Mental Health in the 21st Century: Stigma, Reality & Hope on Wednesday, January 24th. The event, which begins at 8:00am at OE Banquet Hall & Conference Centre, will include breakfast and a keynote presentation from Dr. David S. Goldbloom, OC, MD, FRCPC, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

“We are pleased to be presenting our members with the opportunity to join in the important discussion on mental health” stated Ken Nevar, Chair of the Board, Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “Mental health conditions in the workplace are being diagnosed with greater frequency and disability claims for mental illness is the fastest growing claim type in Canada.”

This will be the fourth time that the Oakville Chamber has partnered with Bell Let’s Talk to host the mental health breakfast.

“Bell Let’s Talk is pleased to partner with the Oakville Chamber of Commerce again this year to lead the discussion about mental health,” said Lena Demarco, Bell’s Regional Director, Community Affairs. “We invite everyone to continue the conversation on Bell Let’s Talk Day on January 31.”

 “From a business perspective, the cost of mental illnesses to the Canadian economy is estimated at over $50 billion annually, with $20 billion of that stemming directly from workplace losses” added John Sawyer, President, Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “We encourage our members to ensure they facilitate a mentally healthy environment for their employees.”

For organizations looking to build a mentally healthy workplace, please visit for Working Toward Mental Wellness: A Toolkit for Employers. The site also lists a selection of resources to help employers assess their business, develop appropriate solutions and discover formal support.

The Government of Canada is updating federal labour standards.

Please find attached a survey from the Federal Government relating to feedback on the ongoing review of federal labour standards.

The main issues this survey addresses include vacation hours, break periods for meals, as well as newer concepts such as a “Right to Disconnect” (ie, be unavailable for work-related email or phone contact), and the various definitions of “Job Quality” related to employment.

We encourage you to take 5 minutes to complete this survey so that your views are shared with the federal government.  More information can be found here.

Popular Chamber President Retiring

John Sawyer, Past President, Oakville Chamber of Commerce

After 12 years leading the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, President John Sawyer is stepping down.  “the timing is right for both myself and the Chamber” said Mr. Sawyer. He want on to say; “We have built a truly outstanding team, we are at record membership and we are in a strong financial position. I will certainly miss it but am looking forward to the next chapter in my life.”

John has been recognized for his leadership by a number of organizations.  In 2014 the Chamber Executives of Ontario awarded John the James Carnegie Memorial Award for his leadership and work as a mentor to his colleagues in the Chamber network.   In recognition of his community service John was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal and the local Rotary Clubs named John a Paul Harris Fellow.  The Chamber Executives of Canada at their annual meeting last year named John the Chamber Executive of the year for Chambers with 1,000+ members.

Under John’s leadership the Oakville Chamber has grown to over 1,200 member companies that collectively employ over 42,000 people.  

Twice during the past three years the Canadian Chamber has awarded the gold medal to the Oakville Chamber in the annual national Chamber competition;  last year for producing the best Chamber video and in 2015 for building community partnerships.  The Ontario Chamber has also recognized the Oakville Chamber with awards for its programing and advocacy work.   The Chamber Accreditation Council awarded the Oakville Chamber Accreditation with Distinction.  In order to be accredited a Chamber’s governance and programing are measured against best practices across the Chamber network.  Accreditation with Distinction has only been earned by approximately 10% of the Chambers of Commerce or Boards of Trade in Canada. 

The Oakville Chamber annually hosts between 55 and 65 events per year.  Many of those events feature high profile business and political leaders.  Over the past few years the Chamber has hosted leading CEO’s, the Governor General, Prime Ministers, Premiers, Cabinet Ministers, Government officials, diplomats and celebrities who have visited Oakville to speak at Chamber events.  

“John will be missed.  He has done a remarkable job over the past 12 years and will be hard to replace” stated Ken Nevar, Chair of the Chamber’s Board of Directors.   “The Board has undertaken a rigorous search for John’s successor and we expect to be able to make an announcement in that regard in the coming weeks.   John has agreed to stay on until the end of March to help with the transition in leadership.” 

Details regarding a retirement celebration will be released at a later date.

Further Offset Measures Needed in Upcoming Budget to Keep Ontario Competitive

2018 Provincial Pre-Budget Submission

The Ontario Chamber Network calls for tax reform, smart spending to support Ontario businesses

Today the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, provided the Ontario government with 11 recommendations for the upcoming provincial budget that will help businesses manage costs and secure the province’s competitive advantage. The submission, presented to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, calls on the government to implement taxation reforms and smart infrastructure and transportation spending to maximize growth and benefit all regions of Ontario.

As the cost of doing business in the province continues to increase, and Ontario employers take on one of the largest wage increases in recent history, Ontario’s Chamber Network is recommending the government reinstate the scheduled corporate income tax rate from 11.5 per cent to 10 per cent. The submission also calls on the harmonization of the Business Education Tax across the province, as well as targeted reductions to the Employer Health tax.  

“Employers in Oakville of all sizes are feeling the pressure from rising costs, and more than ever our local business communities are lacking confidence in the future of Ontario’s economy,” said John Sawyer, President, Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “The recent minimum wage and labour and employment standard changes will cost Ontario businesses an estimated $23 billion over the next two years. We need more support for business and the government’s commitments made in last year’s Fall Economic Statement are simply insufficient.”

The pre-budget submission also recommends that the government create additional small business deduction tax brackets, as well as delay taxation on corporate income growth to overcome the scale-up challenge.  Currently, all businesses with an annual income of $500,000 or less are taxed at a flat rate. A bracketed taxation system would give startup and SMEs more room to grow. Currently in Ontario, 71 per cent of private sector jobs can be attributed to the activities of small and medium sized enterprises.

“Ontario needs a competitive taxation system, that encourages investment and minimizes red tape, must be in Ontario’s long-term strategic plan,” said Mr. Sawyer. “As the U.S. pursues tax reform that would lower their federal corporate tax rate by 15 per cent, and with the uncertain future of NAFTA, we must find ways to keep Ontario competitive.”

The Ontario Chamber Network also encourages members of the committee and government to consider how are we leveraging Ontario’s greatest asset—human capital.

The recommendations outlined in the Ontario Chamber’s pre-budget submission all come directly from Ontario’s Chamber Network through policy resolutions at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting.

Read the full submission and all 11 recommendations.

Read the Winter 2017/2018 Issue!

Read it online now.  

RBC Economic Outlook 2018

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce was pleased to present their members and the Oakville business community with the RBC Economic Outlook 2018. The event provided guests with the opportunity to hear from RBC’s Chief Economist Craig Wright, and Ipsos’ Canada Vice President Sean Simpson.

If you would like to obtain a copy of the presentation slides from the RBC Economic Outlook Breakfast 2018  please e-mail Kristen at 

Coverage of the event: