Business Excellence Awards

23rd Annual Business Excellence Award Nominations Are NOW OPEN!



Click here for the 2018 Nomination Form


Congratulations to the 2017 Business Excellence Award

On September 27, 2017, the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce honoured the best in local businesses and business persons at our 22nd Annual Business Excellence Awards Gala at the Jubilee Pavilion. Congratulations to this year's recipients, Don Lovisa - Durham College; Business Person of the Year, Oshawa Centre; Business Excellence, Mitchell Caron - Winmar Durham; ENGEN, Abilities Centre; Innovation, Parkwood Estate; Civic Pride and 2Co. Design Build; New Enterprise.



Don Lovisa
Durham College
2000 Simcoe St. N., Oshawa|

As president of Durham College, Don Lovisa helps fulfill the college’s vision: the student experience comes first. Each year, he takes pride in watching thousands of students graduate, armed with valuable skills that will allow them to launch rewarding careers.

Under Mr. Lovisa’s leadership, the college has thrived, realizing a significant growth in students, learning spaces and reputation. Enrolment increased from 7,000 when he took over the helm in 2008 to more than 11,000 last fall, making it the fastest-growing college in Ontario. It’s also one of Canada’s Top 50 Research Colleges, is among Durham Region’s largest employers and is regularly recognized as one of the Greater Toronto Area’s Top Employers.

Durham College has undergone a campus revitalization of nearly $140 million in renovations and new building. Mr. Lovisa helped bring together all levels of government to invest in the new Centre for Collaborative Education. A legacy project tied to the college’s 50th anniversary this year, it will bring together local, Indigenous and global community groups and members of key business sectors to meet the needs of students and the community.

Since Mr. Lovisa established a sustainability committee in 2010 to fulfill his personal commitment to address the college’s environmental footprint, Durham College has launched numerous initiatives and earned several prestigious environmental awards, including Gold in the Green College category at the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics Awards of Excellence in 2016.

Durham College understands it has a significant role to play in the social and economic well-being of its communities and contributes time, expertise and financial resources to numerous partnerships with community groups.



Oshawa Centre
419 King St W, Oshawa |

Last fall, Oshawa Centre unveiled a $230-million expansion and renovation that ushered in 60 new retailers and amenities that include a 1,000-seat food court, two full-service restaurants, 250 underground parking spots, interactive directories and complimentary Wi-Fi.

The expansion and redevelopment created 2,000 full-time and part-time jobs. That includes 1,000 constructed-related jobs generated by the project, which received LEED Canada Core and Shell certification with the Canada Green Building Council. That translates to a healthier work environment for tenants, improved air quality, more daylight, reduced waste, and reduced energy and water usage. OC’s living wall is a form of botanical art and further reflects its commitment to sustainability.

Owned and managed by Ivanhoé Cambridge, OC attracts more than nine million visitors annually. As part of its commitment to providing the best shopping experience, OC conducts research and in-depth analyses to better understand its customers. Guest Services offers complimentary strollers, wheelchair rentals, year-round gift wrapping and a new SMS texting program.

OC has partnered with a mobile app company to help connect jobseekers to retailers. Farmers’ Market Fridays were established in 1959 and support local farmers while providing a resource for Ontario-grown produce and products. A complimentary walking club boasts more than 200 registered members.

OC supports numerous local, non-profit organizations and offers complimentary space for displays and setups. Its annual golf tournaments have raised more than $570,000 for Lakeridge Health Foundations over the past 25 years. It donated $20,000 to Hearth Place from last year’s holiday season gift-wrapping proceeds and $52,000 to United Way from gift-wrapping proceeds and fundraising events over a five-year period.


| ENGEN Award |

Mitchell Caron, WINMAR Durham
240 Rolson St, Oshawa |


The property restoration specialists at W INMAR Oshawa/Durham know firsthand that disasters like fires and floods can leave a trail of devastation and disruption in their wake. That’s why WINMAR is committed to helping residential and commercial clients regain their footing, working with them through the insurance process to project completion.

WINMAR specializes in water damage, fire and smoke restoration services, mould inspection and removal, smoke and fire damage restoration and disaster recovery, as well as construction, renovation and demolition services. It’s certified by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, an internationally-recognized industry voice and resource.

As a supporter of Habitat for Humanity, WINMAR regularly donates material and furniture to ReStore building supply stores to support Habitat initiatives. The Salvation Army, The Denise House, Feed the Need in Durham and Simcoe Hall Settlement House are among other organizations that have benefitted from WINMAR’s commitment to community.

The majority of the services WINMAR provides are completed by in-house employees, allowing it to provide turn-key services. It has invested in renovations and improvements to its Oshawa location. Its work in restoring buildings illustrates its commitment to the environment. Whenever possible, it restores rather than replaces building materials and building contents, diverting waste from landfills and reducing the need for new materials and the energy required to create them.  

As technology continues to transform the way it delivers its services, WINMAR provides regular training for its employees to ensure their skills remain current. It also encourages employees to undergo cross-training so they better understand the business, a practice that benefits the entire organization.



Abilities Centre
55 Gordon St., Whitby |

Since opening its doors in 2012, the Abilities Centre in Whitby has become an internationally-renowned, innovative community hub that delivers sports, health and fitness, arts and culture, leading-edge research, education and life skills programming in a welcoming environment.

The centre boasts more than 4,000 members. It has hosted provincial, national and international sporting events, including several Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games events. Its management team and staff believe they’re ‘never at the finish line’ because they continue to be innovative in programs and classes.

The centre strives to be a model for inclusion in Durham Region and works with local businesses on inclusive employment practices and how to improve accessibility. It has formal partnerships with 75 local organizations in the medical, educational and community sectors. The centre and its staff have earned numerous awards, including the Ontario David C. Onley Award for Leadership in Accessibility.

The centre hosts a program designed to improve the employment futures of young adults with autism, while another program is designed to meet the needs of adults with disabilities who are no longer eligible to receive services from the secondary school system. This year, the Abilities Centre launched a program to support athletes in high school and post-graduation as they strive for success at provincial, national and international levels of competition.

Its environmental efforts include switching to LED retrofit lights and cleaning equipment with cloths that can be washed and re-used. The centre has identified two challenges that it’s working hard to overcome: the public isn’t fully aware it’s a not-for-profit organization and believe it’s a facility only for people with disabilities.



Parkwood Estate
270 Simcoe St. N., Oshawa |

The Parkwood Estate is an Oshawa landmark that celebrates its 100th anniversary in September. The Parkwood Foundation operates the estate as a museum and heritage garden, showcasing unique architectural and landscape architectural features, and the life, times and accomplishments of R.S. McLaughlin, founder of General Motors of Canada.

The National Historic Site connects the community to its automotive industry roots, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of how the McLaughlin family and their philanthropy shaped the Oshawa community, and the role GM played here.

Excellence in customer service and creating exceptional visitor experiences are driving forces. Some filming for the Hannibal TV show took place at the estate so when a member of the Hannibal Fan Club inquired about arranging a visit, Parkwood went above and beyond to create an unforgettable experience.

Parkwood recently opened several spaces previously unseen by the public and created a Servants’ Tour and an Art Tour, and converted the floor of one of its buildings to create a bridal suite for brides getting married at Parkwood. It has earned numerous accolades. Parkwood was named one of the 150 Gardens/Garden Experiences to visit in Canada in 2017 by the Garden Council of Canada and is a finalist in the Attractions Ontario, Ontario Choice Awards.

As part of its commitment to community partnerships, Parkwood is a satellite location for Durham College’s horticulture program. Its reimagined gift shop creates opportunities for artisans and students in Durham College’s entrepreneurship program to sell their wares. As part of its commitment to the environment, Parkwood uses green cleaning supplies that are gentle on its artifacts and the environment.



2Co. Design Build
1628 Charles St, Whitby |

2Co.Design Build is a boutique-style design firm that offers interior design and home renovation services as well as home furnishings and décor. It has grown exponentially since opening its doors in January 2015 with about 500 square feet of office space. By year’s end, it added 350 square feet of studio space and this fall will open a 5,000-square-foot showroom.

This innovative company has created systems to manage challenges unique to its industry, which include keeping track of the hundreds of details needed to complete a successful renovation project. It holds weekly meetings to review its project portfolio and to plan and develop strategies for growth.

2Co.Design Build is active in the community. As part of its longstanding relationship with Station Gallery in Whitby, for instance, it decorates a home featured on the Holiday House Tour. It relies on local businesses for things like signage and vehicle wraps, and also uses local tradespersons and woodworkers. It seeks out and supports vendors that offer Canadian-made products.

It has provided items for auctions and fundraisers in support of such organizations as Simcoe Hall Settlement House, Lakeridge Health Foundations, Special Olympics Ontario, Big Brothers Big Sisters of South-West Durham and Camp Maple Leaf. It offers co-op opportunities for local high school students interested in pursuing careers in interior design.

2Co.Design Build donates items from renovation projects that can be reused and also donates discontinued fabric samples to local schools and art programs to divert them from landfills. Its commitment to staff development includes its participation in National Kitchen & Bath Association online courses and seminars on paint colours.


Episode Two: The One Where The President Visits

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