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ABEX wins

Two Humboldt businesses claim provincial business awards
Dr. Lorraine Forster (right) and her husband, Dr. Zenon Forster, with the Young Entrepreneur of the Year ABEX award from the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce she won on October 30 in Regina.

They've brought home the top businesses awards in the province.
Dr. Lorraine Forster of Prairie's Edge Development Corporation and Diamonds of Detroit, both Humboldt-based businesses, won Achievement in Business Excellence (ABEX) awards from the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce (SCC) at a ceremony in Regina on October 30.
This was the second time Forster was listed as a finalist in this category, but the first time she claimed a win.
Her company was also up for the Community Involvement award.
The ABEX award for Young Entrepreneur of the Year is awarded to an entrepreneur between the ages of 18-35 who has achieved success in the start-up and operation of a new or existing business. Eligible candidates must offer a product or service, have served at least 10 customers, have an original concept, long term goals, strategies to meet those goals, and have demonstrated innovation by adapting to marketplace challenges.
Forster, the SCC notes, is responsible for successful business ventures like Prairie's Edge Development Corporation, and Humboldt Veterinary Services P.C. This year, she also partnered with Patti Durand of Humboldt to create Prairie View Properties, an acreage housing development just outside of Humboldt.
Her recreational development projects, Water's Edge at St. Brieux and Lucien Lakes, "provide unique, family-friendly and affordable serviced lakefront lots for the construction of recreational and retirement homes," the SCC stated.
Winning, "feels fantastic.... It was a fantastic weekend and evening... it's still sinking in," Forster told the Journal on Monday.
Despite being named a finalist for this award for the second year in a row, Forster had no expectations of winning.
"I hoped.. but there was such fantastic competition. There were nine finalists in that category, so I really was relaxed."
When she won, she was "pleasantly surprised," she laughed, which made it all the better.
Bringing home the ABEX was "very exciting... It's sitting on our mantel," she said.
It will also mean good things for her business, she feels.
"It's recognition that really substantiates (what we're doing)," she said.
It's also given her Prairie's Edge projects great exposure, she feels, which she hopes will mean more people will think of them when considering buying a lake home.
"I couldn't be more pleased," she said.
The award has also inspired her to do more to foster entrepreneurship in young people, she said.
At the ABEX dinner, Forster was asked to be involved with an entrepreneur club at the University of Saskatchewan College of Veterinary Medicine, something that wasn't around when she attended school, and she is likely to take them up on the offer.
Diamonds of Detroit won the Marketing award after being listed as a finalist in the category four previous times.
But becoming a finalist doesn't get old, noted Michelle Bankowski, owner of Diamonds of Detroit, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this fall, after the finalists were announced last month.
"It's nice to know, after 25 years, we've been able to maintain and even improve customer service,'" she said. "Being able to keep up a standard is always easier said than done... We're especially proud of it, especially going into our 25th anniversary."
The Marketing award, according to the SCC, goes to a business demonstrating exceptional performance in marketing. The jury evaluates the success of a marketing program, giving consideration to the nature of the product and the relative size of the business.
Diamonds of Detroit's marketing campaign, "Quality comes in a burgundy box," shows the business' commitment to excellence, along with honesty and integrity, and has made the company a trusted source for jewelry, the SCC noted. Their attitude of quality service "has resulted in many new customers, and repeat customers because of positive word of mouth. The company offers expanded jewelry lines, excellent customer service, and professional salesmanship appealing to all demographics," the SCC stated.
Winning the award, Bankowski said she feels "very humbled and very, very proud."
One woman told her, "It must feel good, after 25 years, you're still relevant," Bankowski related.
"And that is so true," she smiled. "I couldn't have said it better."
Starting off a business with a bang is one thing, Bankowski indicated, but to keep going, and to keep the interest, passion and love for your business alive is another thing completely. It's rather tricky to do, she feels.
"I still enjoy what I'm doing. I feel really good," she said.
Bankowski said she really didn't expect to bring home the ABEX award this year.
"We were up against some pretty fine competition," she said. "It was a beautiful surprise for our entire family and staff.... I love marketing, so this is a great award to receive."
Marketing, Bankowski feels, is an important element of business.
"You have to brand yourself," she said. "I love that aspect of the business."
This is the second ABEX award for Diamonds of Detroit - they brought home the Customer Service award in 2003.
Another great part of the win for both Bankowski and Forster was having a large contingent from Humboldt on hand at the ceremony.
A total of six Humboldt area businesses and individuals were up for ABEX awards this year.
Reel Attractions was up for the New Venture award, which was won by EXIT Realty Fusion from Regina.
Prairie's Edge Development Corporation and the RBC Royal Bank, Humboldt branch, were both up for the Community Involvement award, which was claimed by Border Line Feeders Inc. from Ceylon.
Discovery Ford was a finalist for the Growth and Expansion award, won by the Mosaic Company out of Regina.
And Colin Tamme of Koender's Manufacturing in Englefeld was also up for Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, which Forster won.
"It was nice to have so many Humboldt people there to share it with us," said Bankowski.
"It was fun to be part of the Humboldt conglomerate there," Forster said.
Everyone there was recognized for their successes, Forster noted,
The Humboldt and District Chamber of Commerce (HDCC) had a huge congratulations for the ABEX winners and all of the finalists from Humboldt.
"Our Chamber was well represented at the Awards ceremony in Regina on Saturday and we are proud of the accomplishments of our business community," noted DonnaLyn Dyok, HDCC executive director.
Jay's Moving and Storage, located in over 400 locations in Saskatchewan, was named the Saskatchewan Business of the Year.
Approximately 750 people attended the 27th annual ABEX awards dinner in Regina.

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