There was something hopeful in the air for local business with the hosting of the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Awards last Saturday. The event attracted leaders and the rank and file of the island’s business community. Awards up for grabs at the red carpet event held at the Johnsons Centre included: Service Excellence, Youth Entrepreneur of the Year, Goods Exporter of the Year, Service Exporter of the Year, Excellence in Human Resource Development, Marketing Excellence, Corporate Leadership, Corporate Social Responsibility, Excellence in Energy Conservation (Green Award), Idea of the Year, Business of the Year and the prestigious Lifetime Achievement award.
After cocktails, photo ops, and quite a bit of elbow rubbing, guests were seated and then welcomed by Chamber President Martin Dorville. The evening’s proceedings moved quickly into the presentation of the first award for the night, Service Excellence. The winner was eMagine Solutions Inc.
Breaking the flow of things for a moment was Tropical Shipping making a special presentation of US$15,000 to the Youth Business Trust. The ball was back in motion after that, with the presentation of the Youth Entrepreneur of the Year award, “an award near and dear to our hearts”. An elated Johannes Dujon accepted it on behalf of Eco Caribbean. Dujon thanked “the most high for planting this idea into my spirit” but acknowledged he “couldn’t haven’t done it without the support of partners UNDP, ECA, and the Ministry of Agriculture”. He thanked everyone, “especially the farmers”, then dedicated the award “to all the young dreamers in Saint Lucia and the wider Caribbean”.
Next the General Manager of Cool Breeze Jeep/Car Rental presented the award for Goods Exporter of the Year. An easy choice: there was only one qualifying submission – SMJ Beverages St Lucia. Company representative Sam Augier thanked the Chamber for recognising their efforts, and the various government ministries that had provided assistance along the way, plus other partners in the soft drink industry which he described as “really a partnership thing”.
Nominees for the Service Exporter of the Year award were FDL Consulting and eMagine solutions Inc. FDL Consulting emerged victorious. Competing against Automotive Art and Saint Lucia Distillers, Windward and Leeward Brewery Limited would be the next winner of the night, in the category of Excellence in Human Resource Development.
For the fourth time in five years, the Marketing Excellence Award went to Bay Gardens Resorts. Peter and Company Distribution and Wavemaker Photography had also been nominated in that category. Highlighting how much marketing had changed over the years, a Bay Gardens representative said: “It’s not just about big budgets, it’s also about capturing the attention of different target audiences. People don’t talk to brands, they talk to other people.”
A ‘LATE Airline’ skit by Stacy Giddens served as intermission, during which the actress paid tribute to Jamaica Kincaid’s novel “My Brother”. Afterward the award for Corporate Leadership went to a company described as “visionary, responsible and aggressive”: Windward and Leeward Brewery, the only qualifying nomination in the category. Accepting their second award for the evening, managing director Sebastian Sanchez said: “This award is not for me, it is for the people of WLBL.”
With sustainability at the heart of his thank you message, Sanchez spoke about how hard the company had worked to turn things around in recent times. With 40 years of existence in Saint Lucia, Sanchez commented, “Let’s ensure we can celebrate another 40 years.”
Best in Corporate Social Responsibility went to Cool Breeze Jeep/Car Rental, competing against 1st National Bank and Coconut Bay Resort. In her acceptance remarks, Andrea Faucher, the company’s General Manager, thanked the company’s Managing Director and owner, Mr Stephen Abraham, who she described as the driving force of the company. “You inspire us to do more,” she said. “Thank you to the staff who always go above and beyond. Our business is not just to provide car rental services but to help people the best we can.”
The presentation of the Green Award for Excellence in Energy Conservation was next, and the winner was Green Haven Fresh Farms, an organic integrated farm. Just as Green Haven’s representative made his way off the stage after collecting his award, he was called back for another, this time for Idea of the Year. The other nominee in that category was Bay Gardens Resorts with its island Wi-Fi initiative.
After a short break for entertainment the next stop was the Prime Minister’s Award for Innovation. Securing its third award for the night, Green Haven Fresh Farms came out on top, competing with Algas Organics and J.E. Bergasse.
The coveted Lifetime Achievement Award presented by members of the Chamber in collaboration with the Office of the Prime Minister went to founders of Du Boulay’s Bottling Company Limited: Dunstan and Tony Du Boulay. Annually the award is presented to a person who has demonstrated dedication, perseverance, resilience and a high commitment to the development of Saint Lucia. At his turn at the podium Dunstan Du Boulay shared: “Let me just say how deeply honoured Tony and myself are for this award which we graciously accept with utmost pride, joy and humility.”
In the words of the Lifetime Achievement winners, success was “no bed of roses” but they’d found a way to continuously rise above it all.
All the nominees for the night were eligible for the Business of the Year award but Green Haven Farms, eMagine Solutions Inc, and the Windward and Leeward Brewery were the ones who made it into the finals. After much deliberation the judges settled upon the night’s big winner, Windward and Leeward Brewery. Capping off the event on a hopeful note, the company’s representative expressed commitment to ensuring the business stays alive, and continues to grow with Saint Lucia in the coming years. That amid very challenging times for local businesses on the island!