AMHERST, N.S. - An Amherst firm that has grown to become one of Atlantic Canada’s largest insurance brokers is the Business of the Year for the Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce.
Archway Insurance, formed in 1985 as Barnes Insurance under the partnership of Bob Barnes and Garry Stack, was recognized by the chamber as the top business with six employees or more during the organization’s business awards dinner on Oct. 17.
“We are so honoured and thrilled to have received this recognition,” Bill Munro of Archway Insurance said upon accepting the award from Elizabeth Cooke-Sumbu, representing the Amherst office of Nova Scotia Works. “We are a company that is built on, and believes strongly in, community involvement and support.”
In presenting the award, Cooke-Sumbu said the company has grown from one office in Amherst to 24 locations throughout Nova Scotia and New Brunswick with 150 employees. Despite this growth, he said, the company has maintained its family spirit with Mike Stack as CEO and his sister Gina McFetridge as company president.
Another successful Amherst company, Birkenshaw’s Tea Room, was presented the award for Business of the Year with five or less employees.
Since opening last December, Birkenshaw’s, run by Adrian and Eleanor Bradbury, has seen its business and customer base grow – thanks in part to its inclusion as one of the top 10 spots in Canada for afternoon tea by Chatelaine magazine.
It was the only tea room east of Montreal to receive the recognition.
“It has been an amazing 10 months,” Adrian said upon accepting the award. “We are major supporters of the town and the work of its development officer Rebecca Taylor as well as the CBDC. We have been fortunate to have had the support of customers who are now coming from across Canada.”
Access Labels, which recently completed an expansion to its East Amherst facility, was named the Exporter of the Year.
Created in 1993 with just two employees, Access Labels now has 38 people working for it with contracts across Nova Scotia, the Maritimes, the country and is now growing its presence in the United States.
“We’ve grown four times and we’re still growing,” company owner Paul Carr said after accepting the award from David Copus of Nova Scotia Business Inc. “The key to our success has been our people. The best advice I can give to someone is surround yourself with good people and you’ll be amazed at (how) well you’ll do. We have customers who have been with us from the very beginning in 1993. That there should tell you something.”
In February, a $1-million federal investment was announced that saw the company add a 7,500-square-foot warehouse and purchase a new press.
The community Non-Profit of the Year Award was presented to the Cumberland YMCA.
YMCA CEO Trina Clarke said the award shows just how far the organization has come from its fight to survive just a decade ago.
“When we were doing our business plan to ensure our sustainability the single biggest thing we kept hearing was the YMCA was doing a poor job communicating what we do and the wonderful programs we offer in the community,” Clarke said. “We’ve gotten a lot better at doing that and this award is a symbol of our pride. It’s OK to be proud and boast about what we’re doing.”