It won’t be that long (trust us) before this year’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards night comes around—even though Friday, October 18, 2019 may seem like it’s in the distance.

But just like that birthday or anniversary gift that “you’ll get to,” there’s no time like the present when it comes to nominating the companies or individuals that are deserving of an award in one of the 16 categories that make the Outstanding Business Achievement Awards our signature event, which is now in its 30th year.

Our thanks continue to go out to Libro Credit Union, our title sponsor. Pictured are Cathy Thompson (far left) and Jamie Carson (both of Libro), and Shirley de Silva at the launch of the nomination process that took place in May at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia (where the October 18, 2019 event will take place).

Nominations officially began in early May and nominations are flowing in.

Even so, there is a deadline for nominations—FRIDAY, AUGUST 2, 2019.

Our suggestion? Don’t leave it to the last minute to submit your nominations. The online form can be accessed HERE.

Read More

Nominations for the Chamber’s 30th annual Outstanding Business Achievement Awards night are now open!

The Sarnia Lambton Business Achievement Awards (OBAAs) is the most recognized industry gala with a single focus on celebrating business success.

The OBAAs, which celebrate incredible innovations and achievements, is unique in its engagement of a broad range of industry sectors and sizes from across the province. We will be celebrating this year on Friday, October 18 at the Imperial Theatre in Sarnia.

Tickets are now available. Click HERE to buy online.

This week we’re wrapping up our series of articles intended to explain in some detail each of the 15 categories for which businesses and individuals can be nominated.

Nominations can be done online. Just CLICK HERE to get started.

This week we present the details of the last three categories.

Business Leadership (Individual)

Certainly, companies are essential to the vitality of the community. But so are individuals and we recognize individual leadership as part of a dynamic that can’t be overlooked. Our purpose in celebrating one outstanding Business Leadership winner is to bring forward the very best example that exists in our community today.


  • Commitment to developing the business community by offering expertise and leadership
  • Commitment to self-development
  • Commitment to enhancing the image of Sarnia Lambton.

Customer Service (Individual)

Picking one individual that stands out when it comes to delivering customer service may be a tough order but that won’t keep our judges from making the call. We all want to be the best at what we do, and recognition in the form of a Customer Service award is something that goes hand in hand with the goals of the Outstanding Business Achievement Awards.


  • Individual who go above and beyond the job and/or consumer expectations
  • High-quality service from beginning to end – the amount and quality of assistance given to customers
  • Individual behavior or activities that help improve morale and public relations

Member of the Year (Individual)

Every year, the Chamber’s selection of Member of the Year is one of the most anticipated moments of the Outstanding Business Achievement Awards. This year will be no exception as the competition heats up. Chamber Members have a well-deserved reputation for setting high standards.


  • The volunteer must have demonstrated exceptional leadership skills through selfless contributions, leading to significant local achievements or highly successful events.
  • Contributions should be above and beyond the nominee’s normal job/occupation.
  • The nominee must have shown responsibility or demonstrated leadership qualities while being creative and using their own initiative
Read More

It may seem like one of those “distant” events, but Friday, October 18 isn’t really that long off.

Which means now that tickets are available for the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Business Achievement Awards night, now would be a great time to pick out your seats!

Ticket sales can be purchased now by CLICKING HERE or by calling or visiting the Imperial Theatre box office. Details on hours of operation can be found at

Our continuing thanks go to Libro Credit Union for their lead sponsorship of this signature Chamber event.

Read More

With the nomination period well underway for the 2019 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards, we continue our series highlighting the various categories under which you can put forward your favourite business (or individual).

The Sarnia Lambton Business Achievement Awards (OBAAs) is the most recognized industry gala with a single focus on celebrating business success.

Now in its 30th year, this year’s OBAA will take place on Friday, October 18 at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia.

Nominations can be done online. Just CLICK HERE to get started.

This week’s feature categories are Business of the Year and Social Responsibility

Business of the Year

Of all the businesses in our region, there is ONE that stands out as driving value—for its customers, employees, community and beyond. That’s what the Business of the Year category is all about, celebrating excellence across the board. We all know companies that provide leadership in their niche category. But it’s the well-rounded organization that has delivered on a promise of excellence that this category seeks to recognize.


  • Commitment to demonstrating excellence in products or services
  • Defining what it means to go beyond the expected.
  • Generating exceptional measures of value to the community and its team members.
  • Commitment to enhancing the image of Sarnia Lambton

Social Responsibility

It takes more than economic vitality to make our community a strong place to live and work. An organization also has the obligation to act for the benefit of society and the economy. This award recognizes the value that such an enterprise generates. Our recognition of excellence and innovation among those organizations that deliver on a promise of generating social responsibility is part of what makes us all stronger.


  • to act for the benefit of society/community
  • maintain a balance between the economy and ecosystems
  • take a stance on important social issues

Next week’s feature categories: Entrepreneur of the Year and Business Leadership (individual)

Read More

Planet Fitness is now open at 1337 Exmouth Street and representatives of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber were there on Monday to welcome one of its newest members.

The 24/7 facility, which features an extensive array of exercise equipment, is located in space once occupied by a grocery store, near the intersection of Lambton Mall Road and Exmouth.

Welcoming Planet Fitness to the community were Gail Ann Bondar, the Chamber’s manager of Membership Engagement and Services, along with Shirley de Silva, president and CEO (pictured with Sarah Wilson, Planet Fitness marketing manager).

The Planet Fitness Sarnia manager is Arianna Noctor.

Read More

In this edition of 5 Minutes for Business, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce hops in its time machine and takes us back through all the interprovincial trade inefficiencies and hopelessly outdated promises made by Canada’s Premiers that are obstructing the liberalization of alcohol trade.

With Council of the Federations meeting once again in a few weeks, the Premiers will talk tough or announce a new plan or promise to improve interprovincial trade. Sadly, given their poor record removing these trade barriers, we do not need to take our time machine into the future to know that we are just going to get more of the same.

Nevertheless, the stakes are too high for us not to continue to fight for more constructive solutions to Canada’s internal trade malaise. The Canadian Chamber, which counts the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce among its members, is calling for a full review of the Canada Free Trade Agreement in its federal election platform, Vote Prosperity.

Read more in this month’s Five Minutes for Business:

Buckle up, let’s hop in the time machine and take a spin back to July 2017. Canadians are celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, and businesses are trying to decipher the new Canadian Free Trade
Agreement (CFTA) that had just been enacted following two years of federal-provincial-territorial negotiations. The result of these negotiations was an agreement that was, in their words, not ours, “a comprehensive set of rules that will help achieve a modern and competitive economic union for all Canadians.”

As the CFTA was coming into force, there were signs this comprehensive set of rules was not all it was cracked up to be. During the CFTA
negotiations, provinces and territories could not agree on opening up Canada’s archaic interprovincial alcohol rules and specifically excluded them from the agreement. Instead, they announced the creation of an alcohol beverages working group to assess options for liberalizing trade in alcohol.

Okay, back in the time machine we go. It is July 2018 in beautiful Saint Andrews, New Brunswick, where premiers are meeting to consider the
recommendations from 12 months of negotiations by the working group. At this time, the provinces are only three months removed from the Supreme Court ruling in R. v. Comeau, which upheld that provinces and territories have broad constitutional authority to enact trade-restricting legislation.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce was an intervener in this case and argued before the Supreme Court for a modern interpretation of our constitution that would guarantee free trade among the provinces and territories. Fresh off the Supreme Court’s ruling preserving internal trade restrictions that the provinces had argued for, surely they would be eager to demonstrate to businesses and consumers that they were ready to take action on their own terms to liberalize alcohol trade, right? Wrong.

During its year of meetings, the alcoholic beverages working group could not agree to ease the rules limiting the amount of alcohol Canadians can bring across provincial borders or to allow for direct-to-consumer alcohol purchases between provinces. Instead, premiers agreed in principle to increase personal exemption limits when crossing provincial/territorial boundaries.

They also “directed ministers to consider options to increase consumer choice and access to alcoholic beverages, and ensure that any proposed changes be done in a socially and fiscally responsible way.” As Canadian Chamber President and CEO Perrin Beatty outlined in an op-ed with the
Canadian Vintners Association afterward, this progress was not a policy breakthrough for consumers or for Canadian wineries.

Next stop in our time machine is December 2018 in Montreal, Québec, where the premiers are meeting yet again to demonstrate “progress” in
reducing interprovincial trade barriers. A meeting only five months after the last must surely mean there was a big breakthrough in alcohol negotiations, right? Wrong. At the meeting, premiers reiterated that provinces and territories were moving to address personal exemption limits for individual transport and announced they were “developing an action plan to enhance trade in alcoholic beverages.” Their
announcement also confidently stated that, “premiers have tasked responsible ministers with overseeing the timely implementation of this

Here we go, back in the time machine to a few weeks ago. It is May 2019, and the federal, provincial and territorial internal trade ministers are meeting again to unveil more “progress” on alcohol trade. Surely, this is finally the moment we would get a glimpse of what “timely implementation” of a plan to liberalize alcohol trade would look like, right? Wrong.

Instead, ministers announced that governments had agreed to adopt the “action plan” alluded to in the previous meeting. The action plan includes a potpourri of bold commitments such as “developing an online bilingual information hub” for alcohol manufacturers, provinces and territories working “to make basic information on pricing policies for alcoholic beverages publicly available” and a “technically-focused working
group to assess the feasibility of direct-to-consumer sales.”

For those less familiar with the dialect of internal trade speak, “action plan” translates loosely to “we cannot agree to anything major and will continue to kick this can down the road until our next meeting and next action plan.”

You might not have seen any news coverage of the May 2019 meeting because there was barely any. Why should consumers and businesses pay
any more attention to the perpetual promise machine that is interprovincial alcohol negotiations? Why should we have any confidence in CFTA if, after years of negotiations, our governments still cannot agree to let us order a case of wine or beer from out of province? Because the stakes are too high.

In the face of overwhelming bureaucratic inertia and a lack of political leadership, the business community will continue to propose constructive
solutions to Canada’s internal trade malaise. As part of our 2019 Vote Prosperity election platform, we are calling for a full review of the
CFTA to establish an agreement that allows for
actual free trade in this country.

From July 9 to 11, just a few weeks from now, the Council of the Federation will meet in Saskatoon for its annual meeting. Undoubtedly, premiers will
talk tough or announce a new plan or promise to improve interprovincial trade. Sadly, given their poor record removing these trade barriers, we do not need to take our time machine into the future to know we are just going to get more of the same.

Five Minutes for Business is a regular feature on issues of interest to the business community. The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is a member of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Read More

Size matters, but so does having a local presence in the business of mortgage lending.

As the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce “Member of the Month” for June, Sherwood Mortgage Group, part of the Mortgage Architects Planning Network, has both covered.

With some 54 agents in all, Sherwood Mortage Group has been in the community for nearly 10 years—established locally since August 2009—with two agents supported by administrators.

Lead by Erin Hamilton, Sherwood Mortgage Group has a focused team of two agents in Sarnia-Lambton, supported by two administrators.

Erin is pictured (middle) with Shirley de Silva—left—and Gail Anne Bondar.

Sherwood Mortage Group specializes in providing comprehensive information and advice around mortgage, with professionals staying on top of the latest guidelines and rules in an ever-changing industry.

Congratulations to Sherwood Mortgage Group, part of the Mortgage Architects Planning Network, for being selected as the Chamber’s “Member of the Month.”

Read More

With the nomination period well underway for the 2019 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards, we continue our series highlighting the various categories under which you can put forward your favourite business (or individual).

The Sarnia Lambton Business Achievement Awards (OBAAs) is the most recognized industry gala with a single focus on celebrating business success.

Now in its 30th year, this year’s OBAA will take place on Friday, October 18 at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia.

Nominations can be done online. Just CLICK HERE to get started.

This week’s feature categories are Inclusivity and Agri-Business of the Year.


Celebrating what makes us different is important for many reasons, not least of which is that those differences are what makes us stronger. As a forward-thinking champion of inclusive principles, the employer selected will be living out an attitude that recognizes how important it is to build momentum in this area. Showing how inclusivity can be part of a competitive advantage is just part of what this award category demonstrates. The key is to drive respect, value and support through activities that take place on a daily basis.


  • Clearly demonstrates leadership and commitment through recruitment initiatives that focus on reaching the broadest possible talent
  • Provides access to mentoring tools and programs, including ones that support inclusivity including support for accessibility initiatives and assistive devices for those with disabilities, new immigrant employees, women in leadership, those who identify as LGBTQ, and members of visible minority groups.
  • Leadership programs built on a solid foundation of inclusion and accessibility training.
  • Ensures programs for employees from diverse backgrounds stay current on networking opportunities, customer products, services and programs targeted to diverse groups, including community activities, donations and volunteer opportunities.
  • Create/support initiatives to meet or exceed accessibility standards for premise design and IT development for both employees and/or customers
  • Builds a workforce that reflects the diversity of the customers and communities we live in and serve.


Sarnia-Lambton remains one of Canada’s most diversified regions as defined by its mix of industrial and agricultural sectors. For those engaged in driving value through agri-business, this award is an opportunity to celebrate both the success and passion for growth and excellence in the agricultural sectors.


  • significant achievements as a senior leader in building, rejuvenating or expanding a business in the food, agribusiness or beverage sectors;
  • developed and communicated a clear vision and direction for sustainable growth and prosperity at both a corporate and industry level and;
  • Regarded as a good corporate citizen and demonstrates social commitment.

Next week’s feature categories: Business of the Year and Social Responsibility.

Read More

On Friday, June 21, Sarnia-Lambton Member of Parliament Marilyn Gladu will host a #338Conversations Sarnia Lambton as part of a “call to action” for parliamentarians and Chambers of Commerce to become mental health champions.

Co-facilitating this 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. event, which will take place at the Sarnia Riding Club, is Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

Keynote speaker at the event will be Louise Bradley, president of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, with Bruce Hein, owner of Express Employment Professionals, also speaking about mental health and the workplace.

There will be particular emphasis on ending stigma and workplace bullying.

In Canada, some half a million people miss work every week due to a mental health problem or illness. If employees are bullied, harassed, overworked, poorly managed or otherwise ill-treated, they aren’t at their most productive.

The #338Conversations initiative hopes to build mental health champions and to bring workplaces up to standard.

By taking concrete steps to build a culture of inclusion and empowerment—one that values diversity, encourages independent thought and ties job functions to organizational goals—companies will improve the psychological health of their employees while boosting the bottom line.

This is also happening across Canada’s parliament and the 338 Members from across the nation and the Mental Health Commission of Canada has been showing great leadership on providing invaluable tools to assist in this transformative process, along with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

“Creating space for positive discussion on mental health issues at work will result in a better workforce and better communities across Canada,” said MP Marilyn Gladu. “I’m pleased to be joined by Shirley de Silva in providing leadership to assist in helping improve this ongoing dialogue.”

Business leaders from the community are warmly invited to join the discussion on Friday, June 21.

To RSVP, please contact Gail Ann Bondar at the Chamber, by email or by calling (519) 336-2400, extension 2.

Read More

Organizers of an Age-Friendly Sarnia Expo event, which takes place on Thursday, June 13 at the Sarnia Arena, are hoping to build momentum for creating and maintaining a community that appeals to everyone, regardless of their age.

The event, which is being held as part of the City of Sarnia’s Age-Friendly initiative, runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and is free to attend.

There is an age-friendly website outlining a full list of initiatives at

There are some 100 vendors registered to provide information in areas as diverse as housing, volunteer opportunities, employment, finance, health, transportation, outdoor spaces, communication and inclusion.

Parking and shuttle services will run from the Starlight Casino Point Edward, Clearwater Arena and Canadian Tire and Sarnia Transit Service is FREE for seniors on that day.

Parking at Sarnia Arena is reserved for accessible parking only. Complimentary coffee and treats will be provided throughout the day.

Read More

Partners and Sponsors