A common theme echoed among the winners of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence awards last Wednesday, as winners observed the outstanding businesses that were in their categories and the relevance of the event efforts by the chamber.

Sean Davies of Maintair Aviation Services Ltd, took home the Business Person of the Year award along with the Game Changer award and called the recognition at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium “very humbling.”

“A wise person once said to me, ‘Hard work always pays off; it just might take time,’ and I think the recognition of the team that supports me and the businesses that I have is what makes it all work — but last night I guess it struck home and felt good,” he said.

Maintair has been providing check in and transportation services for cruise ship passengers and has become the only company in the Great Lakes that provides the all-encompassing service.

“We’re one-stop-shopping, which is unique to the Great Lakes and it’s a sales feature for the Port of Thunder Bay,” he said.

Davies said that it was “great to share the stage” on Wednesday with so many great companies.

“It’s great to see local businesses continuing to thrive and profit . . . and I really appreciate and am thankful for the work that the Chamber does in bringing us all together and noticing a ton of excellence. What it’s done has actually caused us to create a new company. We’ve spun the cruise ships out into a new company called Embark Port Services.”

Davies said they are going to continue to provide all the same services but are growing to match the need and the demand in the industry.

Gregory Heroux, owner of Sail Superior and captain of the Welcome catamaran, claimed the Small Business Excellence award and called the recognition “full awareness.”

“It’s really, really good to be recognized because there were so many nominees for that award,” Heroux said, after beating 10 other businesses for the honour. “To be recognized with them, and then actually to win means our tours are coming of age. It’s the full awareness of what this small little business does.”

The growing tourism sector in Thunder Bay has also impacted Sail Superior, which will expand its operations this season beginning in the middle of this month.

“There’s a real great business down the waterfront,” Heroux said.

When the Customer Service Award was presented to ITEC 2000 Equipment Inc., Kyla Jarvinen, the company’s business, employee and community relations manager, said the scream from the back of the auditorium “was me.”

“It was a fun night and it feels like a milestone for us,” Jarvinen said. “It’s just nice to get a bit of acknowledgement and give us a bit of perspective and yeah, we’re pretty proud of it.”

Jarvinen added that she wished all the nominees could have come on stage with them because they are all deserving of the recognition.

“This is a great way to celebrate all the local businesses that we have in Thunder Bay and it helps us all come together for a reason to recognize each other and help build some camaraderie between us all.”