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Monday, 31 October 2016 08:00

Brooks Chamber of Commerce honours the best in the biz, including a Duchess company

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Eusebia and Ryan Kiedrowski celebrate Rykie Images and Events being recognized as the Brooks Chamber of Commerce Rural Business of the Year at a banquet Oct. 22. Eusebia and Ryan Kiedrowski celebrate Rykie Images and Events being recognized as the Brooks Chamber of Commerce Rural Business of the Year at a banquet Oct. 22. Photo contributed

The Brooks Chamber of Commerce honoured its best Oct. 21 during its annual Business of the Year Awards Gala at the Heritage Inn which also featured high-profile Calgary Flames executive Brian Burke.

One of the winners was Duchess small business RyKie Images and Events which got the nod for Best Rural Business. It was a huge thrill for the photography company’s owners.
“There was something like 50 city and county businesses nominated in 11 categories, so it’s a huge compliment to even be in that group of elites. It was a total surprise that we won,” explains Ryan Kiedrowski, co-owner of RyKie. “This year, the Chamber changed how the selection process worked in that people could choose via online survey. This not only assisted the selection committee at the Chamber, but allowed the general public to have a voice. Of course, we promoted the link on social media — partly in the hopes people would vote for RyKie Images and Events, but to raise the number of votes for all nominees.”
Kiedrowski says the business itself was conceived during a time of personal transition as he was getting out of the media industry and pursuing other employment. He has always enjoyed creating art, and thought this might be a good time to explore more of a business application as well.
“Ultimately, the dream would be to solely rely on RyKie Images and Events to carry the burden of providing for our family, but we’re not quite there yet — especially in this economy,” he adds acknowledging the importance of his wife and their partnership. “Eusebia gave this company its first name — RyKie Rural Photography. She’s been the voice of reason and a major component of this business and its success. I’ll admit, Eusebia is far smarter than I am.
“She’s even been behind the camera herself on a few occasions, most notably during the 2015 ASAA 1A Girls Basketball Provincial Championship that we shot. Without her support and guidance, the company would not be successful at all.”
Besides hard work, Kiedrowski says the willingness to take a chance on some different projects contributed to RyKie’s success.
It’s not the number of projects which helped, it’s what they took on. He says the diversity of projects was interesting.
“We had a number of weddings booked from a year or two previous occurring then, plus things like the basketball championships being held in Rosemary, the FLO Fashion Show, and the Theory of a Deadman concert,”  he explains. “Family and portrait work was still going well. A couple of weddings that truly stick out from last year were a demolition derby wedding where the couple not only held the ceremony before the event took place, but the groom and groomsmen competed in all the heats that day.
“Another themed wedding we were fortunate enough to shoot was a Halloween ceremony in eastern Saskatchewan. The reception was comprised of all attendants (bridal party included) in costume. We wanted to shoot their formals at an actual haunted house near Indian Head, but the timing didn’t quite work. I surprised the couple later with some creative enhancements, combining their group images with some shots of the house I took on my way home.
“We’ve also had an excellent client in Spin Nightspot, who has hired several times throughout the past few years. Covering an event in a nightclub is fun and challenging. From a technical perspective, the lighting is constantly changing, moments happen in an instant, and there are no redo’s. I think that’s why it’s a genre so many artists are intimidated by.”
Besides RyKie, Kiedrowski is also a full-time employee of the Brooks and County Immigration Services where he serves as an employment counselor.
“It’s actually not too difficult to balance the two. The flexibility of owning a business means I can set the hours of operation to fit my schedule,” explains Kiedrowski. “I’ve always had multiple jobs, and it’s nice to switch gears between the two. When you do, it often offers a different perspective on an issue you’ve been tackling instead of constantly brooding over it.”
Kiedrowski is grateful to have won the Rural Business of the Year and says being part of the Chamber’s gala evening was extra special after having often been there as an observer.
“It is amazing to see how dedicated they are through this and other events they put on throughout the year. They are certainly a strong voice that promotes local business, and their hard work is greatly appreciated by the community,” he says about the Chamber. “This year, we’ve expanded our product line through partnerships with a few amazing printing companies. We do have a few tricks up our sleeve before 2016 ends. RyKie Images and Events has secured a partnership with a major website developer as an ambassador for their brand. We’re only one of two such ambassadors in Canada.
“We’ll also be expanding our education series by offering some classes at a major post-secondary institution. Details are still being finalized, but the target is this winter with topics geared toward those just starting out; hobbyists that just want to learn more about their gear.”
Other Brooks Chamber of Commerce Business Award winners
• Agriculture Spirit — Bow Valley Genetics;
• Business Diversification — Tim Hortons;
• Business of the Year (Fewer than 20) — Duffy’s Fun Centre;
• Business of the Year (More than 20) — SPEC Association;
• Community Spirit — Brooks Early Learning Academy;
• Customer Service — Roxanne Lawrence-Chinook Credit Union;
• Eco Brooks — Steaming Cup;
• Employer of the Year — Medicine Hat College, Brooks Campus;
• New Business of the Year — Edo Japan;
• Oil and Gas — Torq Well Service.

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor