Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award winners for 2015. (From left) Doreen Parcels and Bruce McEwen

Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award winners for 2015. (From left) Doreen Parcels and Bruce McEwen

Chamber honours outstanding businesses

It came up roses for Blue Grass Sod Farms and Nursery at the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Awards on Wednesday night. The 45-year-old Red Deer County-based firm was awarded Business of the Year for companies with more than 21 employees at the 34th annual awards gala at the Red Deer College Arts Centre. Key Agventures was Business of the Year in the 11- to 20-employee category and Platinum Homes and Developments in the one- to 10-employee category. It has been a growth year for Blue Grass, owned by brothers Bruce and Bill McEwen.

  • Oct. 22, 2015 5:02 a.m.

It came up roses for Blue Grass Sod Farms and Nursery at the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Awards on Wednesday night.

The 45-year-old Red Deer County-based firm was awarded Business of the Year for companies with more than 21 employees at the 34th annual awards gala at the Red Deer College Arts Centre.

Key Agventures was Business of the Year in the 11- to 20-employee category and Platinum Homes and Developments in the one- to 10-employee category. It has been a growth year for Blue Grass, owned by brothers Bruce and Bill McEwen.

They announced in May they were buying another long-time area horticultural business, Dentoom’s Greenhouses.

Blue Grass moved most of its retail operations to Dentoom’s high-profile site on Hwy 11A near Hwy 2.

Bruce said it was “humbling and exciting at the same time” to take home the award.

“Things have turned out well in Red Deer. It is a great place to do business.”

Bruce’s wife, Doreen Parcels, said when she’s asked why Blue Grass is so successful, she has no question what the answer is.

“Hard work is the secret of our business,” she said, in accepting the award. Days start at 6 a.m. and don’t end until after 6 p.m.

But that isn’t the only requirement. An understanding family and dedicated staff are also crucial.

Key Ag was started by owner and CEO Harv Schimke in 1981.

The Kubota and Husqvarna supplier has grown from one location and three employees to 24 staff at two locations.

In a video presentation highlighting the nominees, Harv said he couldn’t have done it without his wife and business partner of 46 years, Lois.

His business strategy is simple. “I always made it a rule in the past that I hire people better than me,” he said, crediting his staff for their contributions to his company and their community.

Platinum Homes and Developments has racked up an impressive list of awards from the Canadian Home Builders Association over the last eight years.

“I’m kind of speechless,” said Terry Loewen, who owns it along with business partner Sam Wong.

“Red Deer is a fantastic community. It’s a great place to do business,” he said, crediting his staff, wife and children and parents for helping make the company a success.

Loewen said he was looking forward to working with the Liberal government, but had some words of advice for the new regime in Ottawa.

Small businesses are crucial to the economic health of their communities.

“If you take small businesses and start taxing them they can’t do what they do best,” he said.

Other Business of the Year Award nominees were:

1-10 employees — SafeTracks GPS Canada Inc., Tiny Toes Castle Ltd.

11 – 20 employees — All Service Insurance Brokers Ltd., DLC Regional Mortgages

21 or more employees — Abbey Master Builders, Prime Boiler Services

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