AIR MILES for Business celebrates Canada's outstanding entrepreneurs at the 2015 Small Business Achievement Awards

Congratulate Canada's rising small business owners recognized for their outstanding achievements in a variety of categories

TORONTO, Feb. 23, 2015 /CNW/ - Today, the AIR MILES® Reward Program is proud to celebrate the success of some of Canada's most outstanding small business owners at the second annual Small Business Achievement Awards.

This year's honourees are emblematic of the commitment, perseverance and dedication it takes to build an outstanding small business. The AIR MILES Small Business Achievement Awards are thrilled to highlight these tremendous winners across five key categories: Small Business of the Year, Start-Up of the Year, Innovation of the Year, Social Responsibility and Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Small businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy, accounting for about 41% of private sector GDP1. With nearly 1.2 million small businesses across the country employing more than 5.1 million Canadians, or roughly 48.3% of the entire workforce2, it is important to celebrate and recognize these hard-working individuals for their tremendous contributions.

The Awards were presented in conjunction with a half-day small business conference, which featured a keynote address from Dragons' Den "Top Game Changer" winner, Barb Stegemann. Barb is the CEO and Founder of The 7 Virtues and has opened as keynote speaker for Erin Brockovich, emceed for Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and is often invited to moderate panels and attend events as a delegate with world leaders, including Bill Clinton.

Honourees also heard from Sean WiseAssistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at Ryerson University;  Kelly Lovelltop motivational coach and youth engagement expert; Tim Wilson, head of Industry at Google Canada; Mia Pearsonco-founder of North Strategica leading communications agency and 2014 Small Business of the Year award recipient; and Ian Portsmouthpublisher of Canadian Business and PROFIT magazines.

"Events like these are very personal for me because I know first-hand that success in business requires determination and a little help along the way," said Barb Stegemann, CEO and Founder, The 7 Virtues.  "I got to where I am today thanks to the help of my mentors and I'm honoured to be able to give back to the small business community. It's wonderful to see organizations like AIR MILES encouraging and rewarding entrepreneurs for their hard work."

"It is so important to celebrate the amazing achievements of small business owners across Canada," said Rachel MacQueen, Vice President, Marketing, AIR MILES Reward Program. "Rewarding Small Business Owners and their teams for their tireless dedication is what AIR MILES for Business is all about. We have nothing but respect for our dynamic group of Award winners, wish them the best of luck in the future, and want to thank them for the impact their businesses are making every day."

The winners of each category will receive a personalized, one-on-one mentorship session from one of North America's top business leaders as well as other professional perks, such as a profile in Canadian Business magazine and 10,000 AIR MILES reward miles.

The distinguished winners of the 2015 AIR MILES Small Business Achievement Awards, and their business mentors are:

  • Small Business of the Year: Contingent Workforce Solutions - Mississauga, ON, Jeff Nugent; Managing Director
    Contingent Workforce Solutions (CWS) is an innovative process management platform that enables employers to hire, administer and pay the growing number of temporary and contract workers. The company has reached significant growth in revenue and recently launched its services in the U.S.

    Mentor: Rob McClean, Senior Vice President and General Manager Small Business Services, American Express

  • Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Spray-Net Inc. - Boucherville, QC, Carmelo Marsala, President
    Carmelo Marsala, 28 year-old founder and President, launched Spray-Net in 2010. A company that provides permanent exterior paint solutions, Spray-Net has restored and personalized thousands of homes and began successfully franchising its model in 2013.

    Sean Wise, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship, Ryerson University

  • Innovation of the Year: Livestock Water Recycling - Calgary, AB, Ross Thurston, President
    Livestock Water Recycling (LWR) specializes in innovative manure treatment technologies for livestock operations, and uses a patented water recycling system to clean and extract fertilizer nutrients from manure. LWR now have systems installed and operating throughout Canada and the US.

    Mentor: Bryan Pearson, President and CEO, LoyaltyOne

  • Social Responsibility: CitiGrow - Winnipeg, MB, David Gingera, Founder and President
    CitiGrow is changing the way North Americans access food. The innovative model of urban agriculture connects property owners, gardeners and food buyers to create sustainable urban farms. The company's vision is to grow better food, at a lower cost, in a way that is better for the environment.

    Mentor: Barb Stegemann, CEO and Founder, The 7 Virtues

  • Start-up of the year: KAI Innovations - Whitby, Ontario; Arjun Kumar, Chief Executive Officer
    KAI Innovations is one of the fastest growing healthcare information technology companies in Canada. In 2013, the company started with a $50,000 grant, which quickly multiplied to recurring revenue in a matter of months. In less than two years, the company crossed seven figures in revenue.

    Steve Murphy, Head of Canadian Commercial Banking, BMO Bank of Montreal

American Express Canada and BMO Bank of Montreal are proud sponsors of the Awards and half-day conference. For more details about the Awards, visit: To learn more about the benefits of AIR MILES for Business, please visit:

About the AIR MILES Reward Program:
Founded in 1992, the AIR MILES Reward Program is Canada's premier coalition loyalty program with more than 10 million active Collector accounts, representing approximately two-thirds of all Canadian households. The AIR MILES Reward Program allows Collectors to earn reward miles simply by doing their everyday shopping at more than 240 leading brand-name Sponsors, representing thousands of retail and service locations across Canada and leading global brands online. The AIR MILES Reward Program also allows Collectors to indulge in more than 1,200 leisure, entertainment, merchandise, travel and a range of accredited, environmentally-friendly lifestyle rewards. With AIR MILES Cash, Collectors can also have the flexibility to instantly redeem their AIR MILES reward miles in-store towards many every day and high value purchases like gas, grocery, drug store items and home improvement purchases at participating Sponsors.

1 Industry Canada, SME Research and Statistics - Key Small Business Statistics - August 2013,

2Startup Canada, Statistics on Small Business in Canada - 2012, with Industry Canada calculations using data from Statistics Canada-

®™ Trademarks of AIR MILES International Trading B.V. Used under license by LoyaltyOne, Co.


Image with caption: "AIR MILES for Business celebrates Canada’s outstanding entrepreneurs at the 2015 Small Business Achievement Awards (CNW Group/AIR MILES Reward Program)". Image available at:

For further information: For one-on-one interviews with these dynamic winners or mentors please contact: Joanna Leong, North Strategic, 416-723-1183,


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