Throughout the pandemic, the Central Alberta Co-op Ltd. kept making community donations and never laid off anyone who wanted to keep working.
“If there wasn’t work at the gas bars, we would move them to the food stores, or to the Home and Garden Centre, recalled Central Alberta Co-op CEO Rodney Perigny. “We kept doing what we always did — supporting our community.”
The company that’s operated in the area since 1937 was recognized, in part, for this kind of commitment with a 2022 Business of the Year Award, presented on Wednesday night by the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce.
Perigny was thrilled, saying “It was exciting just to be nominated… you never see your business in that light, so I am extremely happy.”
He thanked Co-op’s 730 employees at 18 outlets for their loyalty, dedication and hard work over the last 2 1/2 years at a ceremony attended by 300 people at the Red Deer Polytechnic’s Arts Centre.
On Thursday morning, Perigny noted many of Co-op’s employees are also big volunteers and contributors to the community, “so I’m happy for the team,” he said, of the award recognition.
Other winners at the Chamber’s 39th Business of the Year Awards were The Red Deer Mechanic in the Small Business of the Year category and Hello Beautiful Bridal Boutique for New Business of the Year.
Recovery Lab won Emerging Business of the Year, while Central Alberta Humane Society picked up the Non-Profit Award category.
And Donna Purcell QC Law received the Business Leader of the Year Award.
Purcell said on Thursday that she felt honoured just to be nominated in the same category as Peavey Mart and KCB Cabinets. “I learned you have to be prepared to fail to succeed, so I accepted the nomination… I was quite shocked and very pleased with the recognition.”
Among her community involvement is spending half her time doing pro-bono legal work for clients. Purcell is also pushing to expand the use of digital services to improve access to justice and the courts. “We have to use the tools we have,” she said.
Scott Robinson, CEO of the chamber, feels excitement was palpable at the 2022 Business of the Year Awards ceremony, the first fully in-person awards presentation since 2019, following some distanced events.
“People needed to celebrate after a tough time,” Robinson added.
And judging by many of the thank-you speeches, he believes company owners are feeling especially grateful to employees for helping their businesses persevere during COVID, and now rebound — and even thrive.
It can be hard to keep good people in difficult times, he added — but by being flexible and empathetic to staff needs, business owners are being rewarded with dedication. “If you find a way to work with (employees), then they pay that back through loyalty, commitment, and passion for the work they do,” Robinson added.
Eighteen finalists from more than 92 nominees were selected by an independent adjudication committee, comprised of local business leaders for this year’s celebration of business excellence. The businesses were initially nominated by the public.
Some of the categories were “re-branded” for this year’s awards, and Robinson believes the changes were well-received.
The Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce aims to help build a vibrant community and an innovative, sustainable environment for growing businesses.