In good hands

I had to chuckle as Highlander publisher Heather Kennedy presented the Highlander of the Year award to rival Haliburton Echo and Minden Times publisher David Zilstra at the chamber awards ceremony Friday night.

The fact one of our local papers was the presenter; both publishers had been nominated for the prestigious award; and Zilstra won spoke to me on a few levels.

Zilstra will be 60 this coming year, while Kennedy is a millennial. Looking around Sir Sam’s Ski/Ride Oct. 20, I saw a lot of County politicians and businesspeople who have been around awhile, but I also saw a lot of young people. The face of business is changing in the Highlands.

Let’s look at some of these young entrepreneurs, many of whom are women. Rebecca Neave, for example. Rebecca is an aesthetician at Beauty Basics. Her bio on the company website says she’s the one working morning, noon and night to get people in for appointments. “We have looked for her off switch but we have yet to find it.” On top of her work, she has three kids. Pretty dynamic.

Young professional of the year, Sarah Dollo, is another of the shining lights. She had a pipe dream of bringing a pilates studio to Haliburton County. She said it’s been surreal to watch it grow. She, like many others, teamed with Shay Hutchings to find a home at the Wellness Hub.
Then, there’s Jenn Emmerson. She’s in the medical cosmetic services’ game with B.A.O. Beauty Clinic.

Sweat Social Fitness and Health was named new business of the year. Chelsea Adamson and partner moved from Alberta with a dream. With help from HCDC, that dream came true and it’s another of the Wellness Hub staples.

I also found the nature of the businesses interesting. A lot of them are about health and wellness. They are geared to making people feel, and look, better. I find that trend interesting.

Let’s look at some of the other winners.

Places for People is deserving for their innovative social housing bond campaign. Haliburton County Chiropractor and Rehabilitation have been around for awhile and have become part of the fabric of the Highlands. Boshkung Brewing Co. has long been a success story. It was nice to see Abbey Retreat Centre get the nod for not for profit of the year. They have been quietly toiling hard to offer free cancer retreats to those with a diagnosis and their carer for a few years now. They are finally getting noticed, and being recognized for their fine work.

Business woman of the year, Brandi Hewson, has been hard at if for nearly 15 years and had some great advice for the younger entrepreneurs. She said people tried to talk her out of business but she stuck with it.

The team from Kennisis Lake Marina were recognized for their innovation and creativity, turning what was once just a marina into a hub of social activity.

The unflappable Trevor Chaulk won again for Chaulk. He’s rebranded his business this year and was one of the first to trial a four-day work week.

And, finally, it was lovely to see Sylvia Holland awarded for a lifetime of business achievement at the Wind in the Willows spa.

The list of winners is impressive. The list of nominees equally uplifting. While there’s no doubt we have our challenges – from housing to health care – our business community is in good hands.

Get The Highlander in your inbox every Thursday