Chocolate Industry

Magna Founder Frank Stronach Among Aurora Chamber Prize Winners

Abuse Hurts, KTI Limited, Chocolate & Co., Carruthers and Associates also won Business Excellence Awards Gold

If all that glitters is gold, Aurora businesses shone at the platinum level as the Aurora Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Business Excellence Awards.

Held at the Royal Venetian Mansion on Wednesday, September 21, with an All That Glitters is Gold theme, three finalists in the categories of Hospitality, New Business, Corporate Culture, Maker, Family Business, Professional Service and Non-Profit had their moment in the spotlight and the chance to tell their story to their peers, elected officials and even Magna founder Frank Stronach, who was one of the evening’s keynote speakers and is the evening’s winner himself.

This week and next, we’ll be sharing the stories of the winners in each category in the order presented.


First, there was the nonprofit category, which recognized “the valuable contributions of nonprofit organizations to our community.”

Nominated alongside the Canadian Mental Health Association of York Region and South Simcoe and Rose of Sharon Services for Young Mothers, category winner Abuse Hurts and Founder Ellen Campbell know firsthand the value non-profit organizations.

Personally touched by their mission, Campbell set out to make a difference.

“Our agency provides support to agencies across York Region and even further south,” she said in a video presentation alongside her fellow nominees. “What we do is support women and children, and sometimes men, coming out of violent situations. We provide clothing and household items, products and toiletries, sometimes furniture, and we offer support for really everything from shelters to women’s pregnancy centers. We also support men and this is our main program called Delivering Hope.

“Before COVID, we served about 8,000 women and children and sometimes men each year. A big part of our fundraising comes from Corus Entertainment fundraising, which has a big event for us every Christmas, and general donations only. We are not a government agency because we lobby for legislative reform and we do not take government funding. We have a store here called Delivering Hope Boutique where you can get amazing deals: $10 for everything and no woman walks in and only buys $10 of stuff. It’s one of our main fundraisers, and then just general donations.

Accepting the honor on behalf of the organization, which was founded more than 30 years ago in its basement, Campbell, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, made a brief but moving statement.

“Thirty years ago I was lined up in the psychiatric ward because of my abuse and I was going to kill myself,” she said. “Thirty years later, here I am. Thanks.”


Next, the Company Culture Award, which “recognizes a company whose policies and practices promote a culture that values ​​innovative solutions that make it a great place to work, with an emphasis on innovative recruitment, retention, culture and talent management”.

This year’s award went to KTI Limited, which was nominated alongside CP Flexible Packaging and CUBE.

In their video presentation, distributors of natural gas, water and electric utility industry products said that in their time in Aurora over the past 35 years, they have grown to 100 employees of a family business of ‘three or four. ”

“We have tried to maintain the base of this family culture in our company and to extend it over the past 35 years so that each of our employees today takes this base forward and helps our customers to provide solutions based on this. “, they said. “I think the people at KTI value the family culture we have built, a culture of trust and honesty, a culture of transparency and community, and above all I think we like to have fun and enjoy what we do, and try to make sure this extends to each of our activities.We offer many benefits to our employees: the typical health and well-being benefits, but we are very flexible in the way we work, with a modified work from home schedule, plenty of holidays and a very flexible relationship with the company.We try to treat employees like family and make it clear to them that if they have a problem, question or s they need help, we are there for them and this extends to the whole organization.

“We really appreciate the community culture here at KTI. We strongly believe in giving back to our communities across the country. We are strong believers in supporting children’s hospitals and charities, local Rotary programs…we are truly here to make sure we leave this planet a better place than where we left.


The evening took a sweet turn when the New Business Award was presented. The nominees in this category were Gabby’s Plant Rescue, Holiday Inn Express and winner Chocolate & Co, a chocolate and gelato store on Yonge Street in Brookland.

Opened in November 2020 at the height of the pandemic, Chocolate and Co. manufactures everything on-site with an emphasis on “quality ingredients, sourcing ingredients, just,” in the words of company founder Clayton Dixon, “to give everyone the best experience I can.

“I’ve always loved chocolate and loved it so much that I couldn’t find many truffles that I had tasted in my youth, so I decided to make some, so it’s more of a European tradition” , said Dixon. “It’s not an easy thing to master, so after 20 years of doing it, doing it, you realize you have something that very few people have experienced unless they’ve traveled to the foreign.

“When I turned 50, it became that critical moment: do it now or just keep it as a hobby. Obviously I want to be that store where people like to go, so we spend the energy extra to paint the windows and people tell us how much their kids love to see what the window paints are going to be next When we had the Street Festival we weren’t there to sell products we basically did free face painting.

“We believe it is important to be part of the community. In Aurora, people notice that you work very hard and try to do something special. Just to be different and be part of that special something people notice. It’s really great to be recognized, and thank you very much.


Another Yonge Street company, Carruthers and Associates, took top honors in the professional services category, nominated along with Julien Laurion of Big Tuna Realty and Foundations BTS.

“We help our customers with their planning. We’re helping them plan for their future today,” said Jennifer Walker of Carruthers; that is, working with individuals and their own plans for retirement, education, for themselves and their children, for their estate planning. We also work with business owners and that has really been a big factor over the past few years of COVID as we have helped business owners treat their employees fairly and fairly, helped them with their benefits and helped them with their own succession planning.

“Being part of this community has been a truly wonderful way for us to establish ourselves. We have been involved with many charities including the Able Network, Margaret Bahen Hospice, Aurora Cultural Center, many opportunities including the two chambers of Aurora and Newmarket. We’ve been invited to speak at different charities, at different events, and we welcome more opportunities to become more and more grounded in this community. It’s important that we give back. As we have established ourselves, we have given back to those around us, including our customers and colleagues.

“We are delighted to be nominated for this award. The recognition is still great and it also helps us spread our news and news from all the charities we work with. It’s a great opportunity to get involved in the community, to be recognized by this community and to transmit all this message.

NEXT WEEK’S CATEGORIES: Hospitality (Tie: Frank’s Organic Garden & Hurst Bakery); Manufacturer (BUNN); and family business: Omar’s Shoes.