Superior Glove Works Ltd. president Tony Geng says they are really proud of their community. The feeling appears to be mutual as the longtime Acton company was named the Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce 2006 Business of the Year earlier this week. Other recipients of the annual Business Achievement Awards were: Employee of the Year-- Dick Spear; Civic Pride-- MacKinnon Family Funeral Home; Entrepreneur of the Year-- Nancy Wilkes of Acton Optical and Junior Achievement Volunteer of the Year-- Virginia Hornby of CPI. Geng called the award a "tremendous honour." "We're very excited about it. It was a complete surprise. "We hope that we are good corporate citizens-- we try," said Geng. "We can't imagine being anywhere else than here in Acton." Superior Glove Works earned the award for its longevity in town-- it's set to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2010-- its link to the town's strong leather heritage and for what it gives back to the community. The company has been in Acton since 1910 when it was known as Acton Glove. The name was changed to Superior Glove Works in 1961 when Frank Geng, a tanner from Edmonton, moved to Acton and purchased the business. At 79, he is still involved but has cut back to a couple of hours a day, leaving the operation to his sons Tony and Joe (vice-president). Tony Geng says the company currently employs 65 people in Acton and 35 at its Newfoundland plant. Many of them, he said, are long-timers with the company that makes, or has made elsewhere, approximately 2,000 different styles of gloves, mostly sold directly to factories, industry and for medical and dental uses. He estimates the company sells hundreds of millions of pairs each year-- ranging from cotton, leather, to plastic and latex gloves mostly in Canada and the U.S., but also throughout the world. "We try to always stay ahead of the trends," said Geng, stressing the importance the company places on research and development. In one area of the Acton plant 300 robots are used to make seamless knit gloves-- one every two minutes. In a nomination letter from Acton BIA co-ordinator Josey Bonnette, it was stressed that Superior Glove participates in the community. "They donate gloves every year to the Town of Halton Hills Earth Day as well as the Downtown Acton Clean Up Blitz, including schools in the Halton Hills area," said Bonnette. She added the company also donated gloves to volunteers during the 911 crisis in New York, supports minor sports in Acton, Acton Leathertown Festival and was a large contributor
to the 3 Musketears Skateboard Park. The company has also been growing. It recently opened a warehouse in Edmonton and expanded its Acton plant by 16,500 sq. ft. Geng said it is set to grow by that much again this year.
Employee of the Year
Dick spear is used to hearing complaints from residents about potholes or their street not being plowed quickly enough. He admits compliments are rather rare in his job, but earlier this week he received a big one when he was named the Chamber's 2006 Employee of the Year. Spear, the Town's senior supervisor of Public Works, was thrilled to receive the honour. "I had no idea," said Spear, a 26-year Town employee. "Something nice is really good to hear." In his letter nominating Spear, Councillor Bryan Lewis called him a "great ambassador" for the Town of Halton Hills "who attends to details in a quiet professional manner." Spear's job is to oversee all the Town's public works from pothole repair to ditching issues to tree and road maintenance. "I can honestly say that I enjoy my job," said Spear, who worked himself up the ranks from labourer to his current job.
DICK SPEAR--Employee of the year
MacKinnon Family Funeral Home in Acton is the recipient of the Chamber's Civic Pride Award. "Bob and Margaret (MacKinnon) take great pride in keeping their grounds in immaculate condition," said Acton BIA co-ordinator Josey Bonnette in her nomination letter. "They decorate their establishment according to the seasons and during the Halloween season they even participate in the Acton BIA Halloween Haunted House by donating a coffin for use in the funhouse." She also said the MacKinnons are active in the Acton community. Bob said they were surprised to win the award. He said his wife is an avid gardener and they both take great pride in the funeral home, where they also live. He said they are making a big effort to keep the building looking good and this past year they had the bricks and woodwork at the front of the home repainted.
Entrepreneur of the Year
Nancy Wilkes knows how important word of mouth is, particularly in a small community like Acton. According to Ken Johnston, of Acton, who nominated Wilkes of Acton Optical as the Chamber's Entrepreneur of the Year, the talk he's heard about her around town has been nothing but positive. Wilkes opened the business at 8 Main St. N. in June 2005 saying the "time was right." She said business has been steadily building and she is doing better than she hoped. A licensed optician for more than 25 years, Wilkes
offers a wide range of glasses for men and women at her store and she has recently added contact lens fitting services. Both her mother and daughter help out in the store. "My knees went weak. I thought I was going to fall to the floor. It's such an honour," said Wilkes about the award win.
Volunteer of the Year
Volunteering with Junior Achievement has been a rewarding experience for Virginia Hornby, recipient of the Annual Junior Achievement (JA) Volunteer of the Year Award. "It's amazing to see the faces on these children," said Hornby, a JA volunteer for five years. "They were so interested, then to have them discuss it on the playground..." Hornby works for CPI, which sponsors the Junior Achievement program, and delivers all of JA's in-school programs including Our Business World, JA Dollars with Sense, Economics of Staying in School and the JA Titan program. While she was pleased to receive the honour, Hornby stressed "you don't really volunteer to be recognized like that, it's something you enjoy doing." The annual awards presentation dinner will be held March 22 at Glencairn Golf Club. Tickets for the dinner are $60 each and available from Halton Hills Chamber of
Commerce at 328 Guelph St., or by calling 905-8777119.