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Best and brightest of business feted (13 photos)

Collingwood Chamber of Commerce business excellence awards were handed out on Thursday night

While there are many stories of interesting businesses and people in Collingwood, one story stood out among the rest this week.

Taking home two of the 10 awards for two different businesses at the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce business excellence awards were Craig Ashton and Guy Laporte, owners of the Craigleith Manor Bed and Breakfast (Accommodation and Tourism award) as well as Collingwood Flowers & Home Decor (New or Renovated Business award).

The sold-out event took place at Bear Estates at Living Water Resort on Balsam Street and was hosted by John Eaton of 95.1 The Peak FM and Shane MacLaughlin, president of the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce.

The story of Ashton and Laporte’s business journey started in 2014 when they decided to leave Toronto and look for a bed and breakfast to run.

The duo looked at six to eight communities and ranked them according to factors such as the arts scene, the business scene, and the tourism draw.

“Collingwood was the only community that had a 12-month-a-year tourism business,” says Laporte, citing the numerous positives of the community including festivals, ski resorts, waterfronts, bike races and charity events.

“Collingwood is a very easy community to do business in... it was a joy to deal with city hall. They were helpful and accommodating,” says Laporte.

Laporte and Ashton have managed to grow the bed and breakfast over the past four years to a point where now they are full 12 months a year and have seen about 3,000 guests. They have also been honoured by being named one of the Top 25 bed and breakfasts in Canada for 2018 by Trip Advisor.

In 2017, they decided to expand their business pursuits by purchasing and renovating Collingwood Flowers & Home Decor. Ashton currently runs the flower store, while Laporte runs the bed and breakfast.

“Hands down, this town has it going on,” laughed Laporte. “They have a really smart tourism strategy – a plan for tourism.”

The award winners were decided by nominations being sent in through the website or mail from Dec. 2017 until mid-March. Four judges ranked the nominees and their rankings were added together to determine the winners.

Trish Irwin, CEO of the chamber, was also recognized for organizing the event despite a knee injury.

The evening concluded with MacLaughlin applauding all the businesses who took part in the event this year.

“Every person who is here and was nominated was because they did an excellent job serving their customers,” he said.

For more information on the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce, click here.


2018 Business Excellence Winners

1. Small Business Owner of the Year Award
Sponsored by: TD Canada Trust Bank
Winner: Darcy MacLeod – Brick House Home Inspection Services

2. Innovative Business Award
Sponsored by: Centre For Business
Winner: John Eaton and Melanie Case, Talk of the Town – 95.1 The Peak FM

3. Customer Experience Award
Sponsored by: Collins Barrow SGB LLP
Winner: Janet Auty-Carlisle - Arbonne

4. New or Renovated Business Award
Sponsored by: Walker Aggregates Inc.
Winner: Collingwood Flowers & Home Decor

5. Service, Industry and Trades Award
Sponsored by: RBC Royal Bank
Winner: The Crate Escape

6. Accommodation and Tourism Award
Sponsored by: Allstate Insurance Company Collingwood
Winner: Craigleith Manor Bed & Breakfast

7. Not for Profit Organization Award
Sponsored by: Alta Vista Planning Partners
Winner: Hospice Georgian Triangle

8. Restaurant or Food and Beverage Business Award
Sponsored by: ACE Transportation Group
Winner: Memories Restaurant & Bar

9. Volunteer of the Year Award
Sponsored by: Balmoral Place Retirement Community
Winner: Karen Fawcett - Georgian Triangle Humane Society

10. Collingwood Chamber of Commerce Business of The Year Award
Sponsored by: OLG
Winner: Reliabuild