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Thursday, 27 October 2016 04:47

Two Swift Current businesses earn prestigious provincial recognition

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Standard Motors was one of two businesses from Swift Current to win a provincial Chamber of Commerce award Oct. 22. Standard Motors was one of two businesses from Swift Current to win a provincial Chamber of Commerce award Oct. 22.

With the Swift Current Chamber of Commerce having just honoured its best businesses Oct. 14 with the Spirit of Swift Current Awards, it’s fitting that some more city businesses were honoured provincially Oct. 22.


The 2016 Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce ABEX awards were handed out at a posh gala at TCU Place in Saskatoon and two Swift Current businesses — Black Bridge Brewery and Standard Motors — collected hardware.
Standard Motors earned the Community Cornerstone Award which “celebrates a small enterprise which has a long-standing history within a community, while showing great pride in and support for the local community, and serving as an unofficial ambassador for it. These businesses exemplify the concept of corporate social responsibility and/or mentoring at the grassroots level, and have worked to make an impact in the greater business community.”
For Mark Plewis, partner and fixed operations manager at Standard Motors, it was truly an honour to earn the accolades.
“The ABEX nomination in and of itself was quite special. To have other local businesses and individuals, who are our customers and peers consider us community cornerstones is very humbling. but rewarding as well. To then win the 2016 Community Cornerstone Award, which was the only award reflecting popular vote, speaks to the support we have in southwest Saskatchewan, and is something we are very proud of and excited to share with all of our staff — past and present,” Plewis explains. “The award reflects their contributions to our community every day at Standard Motors.”
For Black Bridge Brewery owners Clayton and Kari Stenson, the recognition is another feather in the cap of the married couple who have worked hard to create a highly successful and western Canadian recognized business.
The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce’s Achievement for Business Excellence Award for New Venture “goes to a new business venture which has been in existence for three years or less and which has shown positive performance in terms of current or expected profitability, job creation and/or entry into new markets. Nominees are judged on financial criteria as well as the nature of the new venture and its impact on job creation and market expansion, also taking into account the relative size of the new venture.”
It was an honour for Kari to accept the recognition. It was the second time they were nominated for the award.
“I think no matter what award you are given, it is always a surprise. We have been working hard everyday to bring a product that we are proud of to Saskatchewan and the award shows us that our dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed,” she explains. “Personally, it is a reminder that what we have accomplished in two short years is successful and that we should be proud of that. Our staff has been a huge part of the brewery and they are all a part of this award as well.”
There is a lot to learn in a short period of time. To get established and create a workflow or routine, they have been working extremely hard to get that initial business foundation completed while trying to keep up with ever-changing regulations and innovations in marketing.
“Our day-to-day challenges vary. We see them ranging from process and procedure changes in the beer making to working along side government officials to help encourage change in regulations affecting our small industry. It is always changing and never a dull moment around here,” she says. “The biggest challenge of brewery operations is you need to always look ahead, what new beers to make, new innovative procedures and equipment. It doesn’t really allow for time to reflect, but we are much more confident in our business decisions and I feel that in a way speaks to our accomplishments over the two years in operation.”
Standard Motors’ administration have made a lot of solid business decisions in the past, including being a contributor to the city.
Standard Motors’ provincial Community Cornerstone award means a lot to company administration because wanting to be a part of Swift Current’s well-being is critical.
“Our dealership has always had a history of being philanthropic within our community and in the southwest, so in a way — it’s a part of our culture and identity,” explains Plewis. “We have many requests for support, and we review all of them as a management team monthly, and it’s always amazing to see how someone in the dealership is somehow involved in it typically.”
According to the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce’s statement on the winners: “Standard Motors, in operation since 1910, is a fourth-generation owned and operated family business serving a good portion of the southwest area of the province. The company’s reputation for community involvement has become the cornerstone of its character, serving as a reliable partner for many community events, organizations and causes. Standard Motors regularly puts into action its belief that financial support is an important business responsibility which is essential to developing the kind of community where people want to live, work and play.”
According to the provincial Chamber, this particular award was different in that it is the only ABEX category to have the winner decided via online voting which opened in July.
This added to already an impressive list of accolades earned by Standard Motors including the SCBEX nomination 2016 Large Business category; SCBEX Hall of Fame Award 2015; SCBEX Heritage Award; SCBEX Community Involvement Award; naming of the Lyric Theatre Lobby “Leon and Marnie Plewis Lobby”; Centennial Plaque from the City of Swift Current Council and Citizens; General Motors Triple Crown Award; Time Magazine Quality Dealer of The Year Award: Jim Plewis; Multiple General Motors awards: Grand Master Technicians and Guild awards to name a few.
Plewis says they try to get involved in a variety of different projects and not focus on certain causes or genres such as sports for example.
He adds they try to engage and support community growth initiatives such as Market Square, City Centennial Celebrations, the Lyric Theatre, and the minor sports initiatives, but also many of the Doctor Noble Irwin Healthcare Foundation initiatives such as the construction of the long-term care facility, as well as the Cypress Hill Regional Hospital.
“We support lots of annual functions, however as our city and surrounding community changes so do the needs typically, so there are always new areas, especially as the city expands and new families become part of our community,” Plewis explains adding it’s not always a monetary contribution. The Plewis family and the Standard Motors staff volunteer and help around the city. “Sometimes its volunteering time or just supporting an initiative. We always support our staff in coaching or mentoring or belonging to a community organization, as there is invaluable merit in supporting the kids of our community as well as those in need.”
Mark points out he coaches minor hockey, lacrosse, and soccer as well as being a youth leader at his church. His brother and business partner Ryan is a city councillor as well as an active board member with the Swift Current Broncos.
How does Standard Motors top this provincial accolade? Mark says it’s not something they are thinking about.
“As I mentioned, it is ingrained in our culture, so we don’t think about ‘matching’ what we did,” Plewis explains. “We don’t give to get accolades or recognition, but because we believe in our community, and its vision of growth, and because as its where we live work and play.”
In 1984, the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce introduced the ABEX Awards to honour outstanding achievements in business excellence.

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor