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Chamber recognizes a lifetime of achievement

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer


The Upper Ottawa Valley Chamber of Commerce honoured two pioneering brothers Saturday presenting Daryl and Dwayne Blimke with the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Lifetime Achievement Award, given to an individual in business for more than 25 years who has demonstrated leadership, vision, and has proven to be a positive role model, climaxed the chamber's ninth annual Business Achievement Awards gala at the Germania Club in Pembroke.

The entrepreneurs behind Laurentian View Dairy in Deep River were honoured for operating a landmark business that has endured for over 68 years, while innovating in both the dairy and restaurant industry. The milk producers were praised for their dedication and long hours which ultimately led to the dairy gaining an excellent reputation well beyond the borders of Renfrew County.

Receiving the award from chamber president Brian McInall, Daryl Blimke said he was humbled and appreciative. He recalled the early days when his father first established the dairy and pasteurizing plant from scratch having no money or equipment in the beginning. His late brother, Dwayne was being recognized posthumously by the chamber.

"We are so appreciative to our supporters, our families and our employees," he said. "We've got some great memories and I thank you very much for the opportunity and the award."

Laurentian View Dairy was founded in 1945 in Chalk River but eventually moved to its current location in Deep River. A major fire in 1985 nearly finished off the popular dairy bar and restaurant, which became a favourite destination for travellers as well as local residents.

"The fire was devastating but from that the place was rebuilt and came back bigger and better than ever," Blimke recounted. "It was so supported by the area and it became an institution really. It just thrived."

Accepting the award on behalf of her late father, Tammy Blimke described Dwayne Blimke was a "kind, generous gentleman," who would be remembered for a trademark laugh which encapsulated the love he had for his family, friends and the business. His work ethic was boundless, she noted, adding he was still running things right up until he died in 2006. Terryick Blimke described his father and uncle Daryl as men who let their actions speak louder than words. They put in 17 hour days at the dairy and would often deliver milk to families who couldn't afford it.

"We only hope that this business that our family created would be part of the Ottawa Valley history and I think I know tonight that my father and my uncle achieved this," he said.

The chamber also named Bob French as the Citizen of the Year recognizing his volunteerism with the Rotary Club and the Renfrew County Unit of the Canadian Cancer Society, where his leadership was instrumental in starting up the highly successful Relay for Life. He graciously acknowledged his fellow nominees, Jayne Brophy and Chris Hinsperger, saying, "We we are all leadership volunteers in this wonderful Renfrew County."

Delivering a message that you can live life to the fullest and still give back as much as you can, French said the Rotary Club came about as a not-for-profit organization that served as a middle ground between charity and business.

"Responsible businesses help build healthy, sustainable communities," he said. "I call it capitalism with a conscience."

A shocked Hélene Grondin couldn't believe it after she was announced as the Chamber Member of the Year. The accountant was praised for chairing the chamber's annual golf tournament while committing her time and energy to several other events.

"What I love about the chamber is the chance to meet a lot of great people," she said.

The Renfrew County Child Poverty Action Network (CPAN) received the Community Organization of the Year Award beating out Family and Children's Services of Renfrew County and the Options Skilled Trades and Career Fair Committee. CPAN coordinator Lyn Smith said this award belongs to all volunteers and businesses who strive to eliminate poverty among lower income families.

"The theory I go on is that we are all snowflakes, unique and fragile, but together we can be an avalanche for children," she said.

Emma Leavey, of Pick-It Fence, received the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award edging out Kendra Johnson, of Crossfit Poise, and Ashley Brazeau, from Vibe Marketing. A past two-time nominee, Leavey said she appreciates the moral support she has received from the chamber, the community and her customers.

Winning the New Business of the Year Award, Victoria Cleary, of VC Athletic Therapy and Bracing, said they have been busy treating everyone from the soldiers at Base Petawawa and members of the Pembroke Lumber Kings to young children hoping to be star athletes one day. The other nominees were Dianna Hokum, from Steele Industrial Supplies, and Ashley Brazeau.

"We love what we do and because of you we are able to do it," an overwhelmed Cleary told the chamber audience.

104.9 MyFM came away with the Medium Business of the Year Award beating Norm Carroll, of Frank Carroll Financial, and Gabriele and Hans Feldtanzer, of Quality Inn and Suites. The chamber praised the radio station for supporting charities with airtime, while providing extended coverage of junior 'A' hockey and events around the region.

"We very much believe in local radio and in our local communities," said MyFM general manager Marc Poirier. "It's real honour to serve everyone in the community and we're just happy to give back."

Marianhill received the Large Business of the Year Award. The other nominees were John Birch, of Canadian Tire Pembroke and Rick Fleming, of Calabogie Motorsports. The 2012 Feature Award-Skilled Trades Employer Award went to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. The other nominees were Cute-Rite Family Hairstyling and Valley Automotive. Glen MacGillivray, of Glenergy, won the Small Business of the Year Award. The other nominees were Cheryl Jordan, from the Country Cupboard, and Frances Lemke, of Co-operators Insurance.

Shelley Rolland-Poruks Citizen, of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, and Jon Pole, from MyFM, were the masters of ceremony for the evening.

Sean Chase is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist

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