Two contrasting Thunder Bay businesses have found a recipe that resonates with the public: pastries and desserts served with a smile, and providing a service to address mental health issues.
Those are the standout features of Bay Village Coffee, and Sullivan + Associates, recipients of the inaugural Thunder Bay Entrepreneur of the Year awards.
“A total shock,” an enthusiastic Gary Mack said of receiving the award. “Thank you to our amazing team at Bay Village and to our customers. It’s been an incredible year we’ve had. We’re just blown away.”
Bay Village Coffee topped the voting in the Innovators category. A partnership between Mack and Alan Forbes, their shop at 221 Bay St. was opened in June 2018 after a whirlwind of activity.
Taking the plunge into an unfamiliar business venture after years in other fields, the duo are surprised by their early success. A second shop just recently opened at 18 Court St. N.
As well, Forbes notes, rather than being viewed as competition, other coffee shops reached out to them to offer their support.
“They’re seeing us as being friends in a movement,” he said. “The support from the rest of the community has been amazing.”
Bay Village Coffee has also been active in staging various fundraisers to benefit non-profit groups.
Sullivan + Associates Clinical Psychology garnered the most votes in the Originators category, for businesses that have been established five years or longer.
“Now is the time when I cry,” Jennifer Sullivan said jokingly as she accepted the award.
“Entrepreneurship is one of the bravest, most wonderful things you can do,” her husband and partner, Trevor, added. “Truly it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and I appreciate anybody else that does it.”
“We really have the greatest of respect for anyone who chooses the entrepreneur’s route,” Jennifer said. “It’s incredibly difficult, but you learn a tremendous amount along the way.”
Jennifer is chief executive officer, clinical director and clinical psychologist at Sullivan + Associates. Trevor is a registered psychotherapist and managing director.
Sullivan + Associates opened in 2007 and assists people who are dealing with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, grief and post-traumatic stress.
They have a staff of 17 full-time employees and 28 associates.
Dozens of Thunder Bay businesses that participated in the Entrepreneurs initiative were feted by The Chronicle-Journal at a gala event Wednesday at the Community Auditorium.
“We are pleased so many business owners were involved in this program and attended our event,” The Chronicle-Journal general manager Hilda Caverly said.
“We believe celebrating entrepeneurship is a worthwhile endeavour and we hope they all found value in this.”
More than 100 businesses were featured in a glossy 132-page magazine distributed in early August. Copies are still available at The Chronicle-Journal office.
“This is about the people behind the business,” said Frank Augruso, The Chronicle-Journal’s director of advertising.
“This gala event is a way to honour them and their contributions to making Thunder Bay a better place to live and work.”
In the Innovators category, honorable mentions went to iFind Thunder Bay and Impact Promotions/Uniform Pros. Among the Originators, Thunder Bay Harley-Davidson and Melizana Restaurant were also recognized for their success.
Online voting took place to Sept. 6 and was conducted through Sencia Canada Ltd.