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Chamber honours cream of business crop

Business veterans and rookies were honoured Tuesday by the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce. Richard Peterson, the owner of two of the city's The Pita Pit franchise restaurants, won the Young Entrepreneur Award.
Winners of the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce 2006 Excellence Awards Tuesday evening (May 8). Sitting left is Richard Peterson (The Pita Pit), sitting right is Don Rastall (Rastall Corporation). Back from left are Robert and Mini Gregorini (Respect is Burning), Jeff Fuller (Fuller Industrial Corporation), Patrick Lehoux, John Giroux (Unitz Online), Michael and Claudette Skakoon (Skakoon Home Hardware), David Wood (David F. Wood Consulting Ltd.), Rob Hayden (Allied Health Management Group), Scott Lund (CTV), Jason Legault, Mike Graham (Unitz Online), Jodi and Mike Gribbons (Synergy Controls).

Business veterans and rookies were honoured Tuesday by the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce.

Richard Peterson, the owner of two of the city's The Pita Pit franchise restaurants, won the Young Entrepreneur Award. He opened his first restaurant when he was 18. Seven years later, the 25-year-old employs 40 people and boasts he is deft-free.

Peterson received one of 10 Business Excellence Awards at the gala dinner  held at the Radisson Hotel.

Debbi Nicholson, the president of the chamber, and the evening's master of ceremonies, said the winners represent examples of Sudbury businesses at their finest."

The evening was upbeat with many speakers expressing optimism about the business climate in the city, thanks in no small part to the current boon in mining and the mining service and supply sectors.

"The days of pessimism are over," said chamber chair Vicki Smith.

Chuck Smith of the Business Development Bank of of Canada, called the past 12 months "a bumper year," with lots of good news.

That good news was reflected in the success stories of the night's winners.

Don Rastall, president of Rastall Corporation,accepted the Company of the Year Award. Rastall is a major supplier of fasteners, mine supplies and tools for mining, forestry and construction industries. The company has been in operation for 31 years and employs 30 people. Many are long-term employees. Six years ago, the company overcame a huge challenge when the building on Lorne St. and its inventory was destroyed by fire.

Fuller Industrial Corporation won the Business Start-Up Award, which recognizes outstanding companies that have been in business three years or less. Fuller is the largest rubber lining facility in Northern Ontario and has 20 employees. The company has run two shifts for the past six months to keep up with demand. The president is Jeff Fuller.

Mike Graham, the president of Unitz Online, accepted the Entrepreneur Award. His company, which has 15 full-time and four part-time employees, was the first company in Canada to provide local telephone services over the Internet and related software. (See

The Chair's Award was presented to CTV Northern Ontario (formerly MCTV). The award recognizes the television station's commitment to the community in promoting special events and supporting charities.

Skakoon Home Hardware, which has been located in the Donovan for 10 years, received the Service Excellence Award. Owner Michael Skakoon told the audience the secret to its success was that staff are told to treat each customer as "the boss."

Rob and Mini Gregorini, owners of the Respect is Burning Supperclub and Anywhere Catering, won the Hospitality Award.

David Wood and Diane McLean, partners in David F. Wood Consulting, won the SOHO (Small Office Home) Award. While McLean offers Spanish translation services, Wood offers consulting in rock engineering. Customers include the Ministry of Transportation. CPR and mining companies throughout the world.

The Innovation Award was presented to Mike Gribbons of Synergy Controls Corporation.  It has grown from a two-person operation 13 years ago to a company with offices in Greater Sudbury, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay and Toronto. 

Located on Kelly Lake Rd, Synergy Controls provides automation products and web-based monitoring systems to a diverse cross-section of companies in the mining, steel, pulp and paper, water and waste, forestry, chemical, oil, life sciences, agri-products, power, food and  beverage and cement and aggregate industries.

The New Venture Award (for business three to five years in operation) was presented to High Shilhan, co-owner and managing partner of Allied Health Management Group. The company provides management services to health professionals. with clinics in Sudbury, Brantford, Sarnia and London. It has been rated the sixth fastest growing company in Canada.


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Vicki Gilhula

About the Author: Vicki Gilhula

Vicki Gilhula is a freelance writer.
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