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JA Business Hall of Fame, Powered by ATB, Introduces the 2024 Laureates

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Maintaining a proud 44-year legacy of celebrating the pioneers and innovators of Alberta’s business community, the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame, powered by ATB, is thrilled to announce the inductees for this year and will officially welcome them as Laureates during the June 12, 2024, gala.

Attendees can look forward to a program that honours these standout leaders, highlighting the influential work of JA and creating networking opportunities between budding entrepreneurs and seasoned advisors. This event represents a rare chance to experience a gathering of wisdom, expertise, and motivation all in one venue.

The Laureates represent a group of extraordinary individuals who have reached impressive heights in their respective careers, exhibit exemplary leadership qualities and are devoted to giving back to their communities. This year’s inductees are Mary Cameron, Ralph Hutchinson, Drew Schamehorn and Teresa Spinelli.

Mary Cameron, Principal, Ozone Advisory Group

Ozone Advisory Group focuses on elevating boards to become high-performing entities. It emphasizes the importance of combining culture, critical thought, risk assessment and catalyst to challenge traditional notions of board effectiveness and encourage organizations to reach new heights.

Darren Rawson and I launched the Ozone Advisory Group in 2018. We had both been approached numerous times to sit on private company boards. We realized we couldn’t keep saying yes, so we created Ozone to assist companies in setting up their board or help them elevate their board to a higher performance. Our philosophy was to help companies achieve their purpose through excellent governance.

I chose to work at the board level after a career of leading organizations at the executive level. I was a Deputy Minister in two provinces and had been a CEO in three different companies. As the lead executive, it is an all-encompassing role. At the board level you can still have tremendous impact, work with interesting people and help companies achieve their goals but with better work/life balance.

Personal career highlights include my Habitat for Humanity board journey from chair of Habitat Edmonton to chair of Habitat Canada to chair of Habitat for Humanity International and then being re-elected for a second term as chair, which is highly unusual.

Being VP of Nu-West Group, the third largest builder/developer in North America when I was 29 (the youngest and the only woman), was also a highlight.

As CEO of WCB, we achieved one of the lowest rates and had amongst the leading benefits in Canada. We changed the culture to reinforce and stabilize the worker/employer connection rather than have WCB in the centre.

Becoming an Hon. Lt. Col of the Loyal Edmonton Regiments, learning about the military and assisting in raising the understanding of the value and challenges and importance of the military to our community and society was another milestone.

In my 60s, I co-founded Ozone to assist organizations to improve governance and achieve their goals. By improving results for non-profit organizations, private companies, crowns and publicly traded companies, our communities benefit. Creating environments that empower people to grow and discover and shine are my most rewarding experiences.

My leadership style is a collaborative team approach. I like making a difference and having a bold, productive, creative team.

Community involvement has always been part of my life. I started volunteering in my first job in an industry association – The Urban Development Institute. I chaired Winter Cities and was involved in the board that secured funding for the creation of Winspear. Our community is more than business. It is arts and culture, and education. We are best when all of these elements of society are thriving.

I was surprised when I learned I was becoming a Laureate. I know many of the past recipients. Many of them are my heroes. I am honoured and humbled.

Cameron looks forward to continuing to elevate companies and organizations through Ozone and growing its Just for Chairs program, where they work with chairs to make them even more effective. She also looks forward to sharing time and adventures with her husband and best friend, Alan Skoreyko while enjoying their children and grandchildren.

Ralph Hutchinson, Chairman, Tacada

Tacada is a real estate company with a long-term commitment to family generational engagement. Founded on the principles of passionate entrepreneurship, win-win relationships and corporate responsibility to the community, the company focuses on optimizing capital for real estate development.

We build shelter in its various forms and believe that “what we do matters.” Whichever cities we work in, we are contributing to the community.

I’ve been a serial entrepreneur since age 10. In 1971, I went to work for Nuwest Homes in Calgary and later in Edmonton; an amazing training ground. In 1993 I started Daytona Homes, which re-branded as Tacada.

My leadership style is created by my experiences and observations. I’ve seen leaders give jobs to others and then sit on their shoulder and tell them what to do. I don’t like that. You need to offer guidance but also let your team make mistakes. Respecting that your employees have personal lives and making sure they have a sense of belonging in the company is important. I recognize drivers and they are an important part of our business. Sometimes you go through many people to find a driver for a certain core of the business. I learned that lesson from Eddie Bean, the founder of Crystal Glass. I asked him, “What is the most important thing in business?” He said, “The drivers.”

The opportunities Edmonton presents are endless. It is a relatively safe community filled with prosperity, innovative people and opportunities in business and community life for folks that want to spend the time helping others.

I often feel that we haven’t done enough in the community, partially because when you give, you can give money or time or enable others to give time and money. One of the problems I always had was giving time. We are very fortunate to build the businesses and therefore give money and empower our staff, friends and associates to give time and money to contribute to the community in their own right.

When I learned I was a Laureate, I was deeply honoured. Many of the people in the Hall of Fame have inspired and mentored me and my family. A number have been on our advisory board. I am truly humbled to be in this league of entrepreneurial Laureates that have developed passion, philanthropy, integrity and pursuit of excellence for the community.

Hutchinson is engaged with life and has an attitude of gratitude. He looks forward to continuing to add value to his family, business and community while helping those around him have and experience their best lives. As he eyes succession, he knows the family business is in excellent hands and is excited for the next generation of ownership.

Drew Schamehorn, President, Elite Promotional Marketing

Elite Promotional Marketing offers a wide variety of products for branding and marketing. They also provide services like screen printing, embroidery, engraving, dye sublimation, graphic design, and digital marketing. Elite has been recognized with the Consumer Choice Award for 12 consecutive years.

I had originally purchased the Alberta Trophy and Gift shop in the early 1980s and then purchased and moved Elite T-Shirt beside it in 1988. I realized early on that if we were going to grow the original business, I had to add new product lines as well as new services.

Elite T-Shirt originally only did screen printing, but we grew through the acquisition of existing businesses who offered services such as embroidery and cut-and-sew. As crested apparel was in its infancy during that time, there was not really a business model to follow; we grew our business by paving the way.

For the first 12 years we operated the two businesses independently then merged them together under one roof in 2000 and rebranded as Elite Sportswear and Awards. In 2017 we re-branded again to Elite Promotional Marketing.

Having been on many boards and campaigns throughout my years in business I know the importance of giving back to the same community that has been so generous to us. From having joined Kinsmen in 1978 and throughout the years I have worked on United Way Campaigns, Pilgrims Hospice, Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation Hockey and the AAHA Marketing Board to name a few, the fellow board members and volunteers whom I have worked with have helped immensely in defining the person I am today.

While having owned our business for over 44 years, I certainly cannot take all the credit for the success of Elite. We have over 100 staff, and about 15 of those team members have been with us for over 25 years – some have been with us for 10 or more years. I am very proud of the longevity of so many of our loyal employees.

When I received the call telling me that I was a Laureate, I found myself asking, “Why me?” Knowing many of the past Laureates, many of these winners were champions of business, not just in Edmonton but leaders in their respected industries across Canada. To say this is very humbling would be an understatement. Without the support of my wife Sharon and our four children as well as the many remarkable mentors and partners, none of this would have been made possible.

Schamehorn looks forward to a future well-planned succession as he approaches another milestone birthday, knowing the work he loves will always be there for him.

Teresa Spinelli, Owner, Italian Centre Shop

The Italian Centre Shop is a family run grocery store specializing in authentic Italian and European groceries. With locations in Edmonton and Calgary, it offers a diverse range of departments including a deli with meats and cheeses from over 30 countries.

The shop was opened in 1959 by my father Frank Spinelli. I took my first steps in the pasta aisle! When my brother and father passed away just three years apart, the business ownership came to me in 2000. Since then, alongside my team, The Italian Centre has expanded from one store with 30 employees to five locations. We have over 700 employees and sales exceed $110 million.

For me, it’s not about selling salami. For me, it’s about people. The reason I get up in the morning is because I want to grow people. Our people matter the most. I hold a departure from traditional hierarchical norms with the idea that each team member holds a dual role: their primary responsibilities and the role of an idea contributor. This approach has fostered a culture of continuous improvement, empowering employees at all levels and removing barriers to innovation beyond senior management. Our organizational structure reflects this with equitable participation across all levels, from the top tier of leadership, including the Mastermind Group (leadership team), to store managers, department managers and team leads. I want each team member to feel valued and empowered. This leads to a more motivated and engaged workforce, ultimately driving the success and sustainability of the company.

Beyond being a grocery store, Italian Centre Shop is a cultural hub that connects communities through food and meaningful cultural experiences. This vision goes back to Frank Spinelli’s philosophy of “mangia oggi e pago domani” (eat now; pay tomorrow). Giving back has always been an important part of our identity. Italian Centre exists to create community through food and cultural experiences.

I am thrilled and deeply honoured to be named a JA Laureate. The recognition from my peers holds immense significance, symbolizing acknowledgment and validation of hard work and the appreciation of efforts to make a positive impact in the community and beyond.

Spinelli’s next steps include expanding the Italian Centre Shop (ICS) with another location in Calgary and exploring possibilities for growth beyond provincial borders. Her focus remains on continuing to grow the business, which in turn will positively impact more people and communities.

Celebrate the Laurates at the Gala

Enjoy an unforgettable evening at the JA Northern Alberta Business Hall of Fame gala on June 12, 2024, at the Edmonton Convention Centre. This occasion serves not just as a commendation of outstanding achievement but also as a wellspring of motivation for JA’s Company Program students. Every Laureate will also receive acknowledgment on the Wall of Honour, currently showcased on the second floor of Manulife Place in Edmonton. Be sure to join this event that unites industry pioneers, trailblazers, and forward-thinkers. Save the date and see janorthalberta.org/business-hall-of-fame for tickets and further details.

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