Mel-Bex Awards returns and recognizes longstanding Melfort businesses

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald The Mel-Bex Awards returned on Saturday, March 23 at the CJVR Performing Arts Theatre in the Kerrry Vickar Centre; award winner included back (L to R) Raianne Maga (RJ's Urban Garden Cafe), Junior Citizen of the Year Josey Hovdestad and Richelle Rogers (Realty Executives Gateway Realty); front (L to R) Don Neher (Golden Grain Bakery) Jeff McAuley (George Home Hardware), Ena McAuley (George Home Hardware), Gisele Dube (Dress Well with Gisele) and Ken Madraga (Melody Motors).

The return of the Mel-Bex Awards saw two longstanding Melfort businesses recognized with two of the major awards.

Melody Motors walked away with the Business of the Year (16 employees and over) Award, with George Home Hardware received the Heritage Award at the Melfort Trade Alliance Chamber of Commerce (MTAAC) Awards Gala on Saturday, March 22.

Ena McAuley, who owns George Home Hardware along with her husband Jeff McAuley, said the award showed the impact the business has made in Melfort.

“To me what it means is people recognize and appreciate the fact that we’ve been a member of the community as long as we have, and are part of the business community,” McAuley said.

Saturday’s ceremony took place at the CJVR Performing Arts Theatre in the Kerry Vickar Centre.

McAuley said that there was a strong group of contenders for the Heritage Award.

“Everybody’s been here for a long time,” she said. “I don’t think there should just be one winner. I think everybody deserves to be acknowledged because business isn’t easy, and if you can do it for as long as we have, it’s hard.”

McAuley said what keeps George Home Hardware going is that it is a team effort.

“It’s not just Jeff and I going to work every day,” she explained. “It’s our staff, it’s the customers that support us, it’s a number of things you know. The community is why we’ve been here as long as we have been hands down.”

Melody Motors general manager Ken Madraga was surprised to win a Business of the Year Award. Like McAuley, Madraga said there were many businesses who could have won the award.

“There are so many good businesses out there and there’s a lot of success that’s happened since COVID,” he said. “We’ve noticed it, and you notice it in the community. There were many very good nominees.”

Madraga said Melody Motors has held its own over the last several years, despite challenges brought on by COVID. He was pleased to see the business’ efforts recognized.

“We’ve been in business for over 60 years, but to be able to win that award, we just continue doing what we do,” he explained. “We’ve learned an awful lot over the years, especially through COVID, as to what really drives our business.”

Madraga said people are the most important part of running a good business, and that means being committed to customer service.

“That’s why I’m really proud that they were recognized for doing such a really good job for the Melfort community,” he said.

The other major award winner was another longstanding local business Golden Grain Bakery who received the Business of the Year (15 employees and under).

Melfort MLA Todd Goudy, Prince Albert MP Randy Hoback and Melfort Mayor Glenn George all provided greetings. There was also a speech by Lloyd Muntain, president of the MTACC.

The event was emceed by business owner Amanda Perrot, when the Gala needed to be extended she held a panel discussion with all of the award winners who were present. MTACC executive director Cal Gratton presented the awards that did not have a sponsor.

The Property Appearance Award was presented to Dress Well With Giselle and the Community Involvement-Non-Profit Award was presented to the Melfort and District Museum. The Community Involvement-Business/Corporate Award was presented to Realty Executives Gateway Realty.

The Customer Service Award was presented to RJ’s Urban Garden Cafe.

Junior Citizen of the Year Josey Hovdestad received the award from Gratton and electrified the crowd with her speech.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Melfort Junior Citizen of the Year Josey Hovdestad made a speech at the Mel-Bex Awards Gala on Saturday, March 23 at the CJVR Performing Arts Theatre in the Kerrry Vickar Centre.

In a unique twist, Citizen of the Year Kerrie de Gooijer was curling in the Farmer’s and Friends Bonspiel at the Melfort Curling Club and could not attend. She did pass on a speech to Gratton to read to the audience. She was recognized for her work chairing the Curling Club Revitalization Committee.

Both Madraga and McAuley were happy to see the Mel-Bex Awards return after seven years. Madraga appreciated the fellowship with other business owners

“What I really appreciated is seeing so many familiar faces because when we’re working, we’re working and we don’t see everybody every day. I see them when I’m able to take time off and I’m going to go to their stores on the weekends and things like that too,” Madraga said.

McAuley noted that it was great to have them back because of a strong Chamber of Commerce.

“I am very happy that the Mel-Bex Awards are back. I give huge kudos to the Trade Alliance for their strength. I think they are doing an amazing job. Being a former board member and former president myself I know how much work it is, and I’m so glad that this opportunity is back to recognize businesses,” McAuley said.

The evening concluded with a performance by comedian Kelly Taylor.