Cover Story

The 23rd Annual Biz X Awards

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The 23rd Annual Biz X Awards Tribute “We Are All Survivors”

Each year our award story begins by referencing how owning a business is never an easy job. Considering what we have all gone through in 2020 — and still are experiencing — this is an understatement!

Business owners must possess plenty of stamina in these times of uncertainty. The battle to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save our economy, has puts us all in a “fight to survive.”
The business world is often referenced as a “corporate jungle” — dangerous, challenging, unpredictable and at times, operating with no rules.

Throw in a global pandemic and “only the strong survive”! “Survival of the fittest” as Darwin theorized.

All things considered, “We Are All Survivors” was chosen as the official theme for the 2020 Biz X Awards.

It is appropriate in many ways.

No matter what the industry — finance, legal, construction, retail, digital, hospitality, real estate and more — entrepreneurs develop their own “survival kits” and have the guts to do whatever it takes to keep the cash flowing, the bills paid, the employees motivated and the customers happy.

To quote some of the lyrics in “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child: “I work harder, never going to give up . . . keep on survivin’ . . . I’m gonna make it”.

This perfectly describes the resilience of local business owners, top managers and self-employed individuals in Windsor, Essex County and Pelee Island. And “WE WILL SURVIVE” the biggest challenge yet — the coronavirus.

We all have that “survival instinct” just like the castaways in the CBS TV show, “Survivor.”

The 20 year old show is as popular as ever with its 40th season finale — “Winners At War” — featuring 20 previous winners and airing in mid-May. Elements of the successful series: the “Immunity Idol” (a Biz X Award maybe?); “Tribal Council” (our Judges); “tribes” (the award category); game challenges; the concept of castaways being voted off the island (their tiki torch then extinguished) and the “Sole Survivor” (final winner), somewhat relate to our awards’ process.

Throughout the Biz X Awards edition, you will see elements of this “survivor” and jungle theme. Editorial graphics feature tiki masks, torches and trees with references to TV shows/music and earthy colours (like brown and green) in the photo captions, whenever possible.

The mission of our annual awards edition is to honour the best in the biz that Windsor, Essex and Pelee Island has to offer.

This starts with the business owners and people who must “survive the test of time” and have been able to adapt to COVID-19 challenges by offering new products or services, or even changed the way they do business. For example; working remotely, moving sales online, adding curbside pickup and delivery services etc.

The loyal readers of Biz X magazine believe our nominees are the leaders in the local business community for exceptional customer service, selection, pricing and dedication to their companies/organizations. In short, they have the necessary “survival skills” needed to be successful in the current business climate.

The Awards recognize and honour the business professionals in the region who are constantly working hard to be #1 in their industries. Which businesses, organizations and people will receive the golden Biz X Award — the “pillars of success” — this year?

In 2020, our 23rd annual awards tribute, 206 nominees competed in 24 categories. This year, the online voting poll ran from September 16 until September 25 with over 30,000 votes coming in.
Our award history goes back to 1998, and to date, over 724 Biz X Awards have been handed out. Like every year before, the new batch of nominees are simply the best our region has to offer, and we congratulate every company, organization and individual listed throughout this entire cover story. In our view, all are exceptional business owners or top managers, but there can be only one winner of each category in the end.

These lucky recipients receive a plaque from The Trophy Boys (see accompanying graphic), to display in their place of business; promotion in our awards issue (print and digital) and an invite to our gala held in 2021 (due to gathering restrictions the 2020 gala had to be moved). As well, they are given the opportunity to record a thank you message, which will be shown on YourTV (Channel HD 700) in January 2021, on the “Plugged In” show.

Four main Award sponsors include: Motor City Community Credit Union; WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation’s Small Business Centre; St. Clair College Alumni Association; and Tecumseh Mall.

Let’s now fill you in on how a business or individual became a nominee or the overall winner of their category, by recapping the “laws of the jungle” (rules) for the Biz X Awards.

-Each year a list of award categories is published in the summer and September editions of Biz X magazine and online at: BizXmagazine.com. Businesses and people can be nominated by customers, suppliers, and Biz X readers, from late-July until early September, using an online form with a section for supporting evidence included. Only a single nomination is required to qualify for the voting poll, so everyone has a fair chance, especially if a small company.

-After the nomination period ended, nominees were made public on the Biz X website, when a voting poll in each category commenced from mid-September until the end of the month. People could only vote once per category, per IP address, (reinforcing the fact this is not a popularity contest). Individuals could vote in all categories if they wanted — or just one! Everything was totally confidential, with no one knowing who voted for who or how many votes a particular nominee had. The number of votes did not constitute an automatic win, and the voting results may or may not have had an impact on the judging process. Vote tallies are only a part of the overall selection process.

-The qualifications for nominees are simple. Businesses must be located in Windsor, Essex County or Pelee Island, which includes LaSalle, Lakeshore, Tecumseh, Amherstburg, Kingsville, Leamington and Essex Centre. For categories in the PEOPLE section, nominees must be 19 years of age or over and reside in Windsor, Essex County or Pelee Island.
-Companies can be nominated for more than one category; however, businesses/people are only allowed to win one award per year.

-National chains/franchises and non-profits are not eligible in most categories. Our mandate is to reward start-up businesses in our region and not national companies. However, exceptions are made in the PEOPLE categories as we do believe those individuals (working for national chains or working for a charity/non-profit) living in our area deserve to be recognized. Since this entire section (categories #8 to #13) is being judged on the individual and not the company itself, they can be included.
-No media outlets can participate in any of the categories.

-Nominees are given an opportunity to submit information online, answering specific questions set out by Biz X magazine, upon notification that they were nominated. Information from the nomination forms and online submissions, along with the voting poll results, is then reviewed by each Judge on his/her own time. All nominees are required to submit information online as it is a way to check the information a nominator has submitted on the website form. The information provided is also used to compile the write-up on the company or person in the annual awards edition should they be determined the winner. Judges also research each nominee at their own discretion. The Judges meet after the online voting poll closes, discuss their findings with each other and select the final winners during “Judgment Night” in October.

-To avoid any conflict of interest, Biz X full time staff members are not permitted to participate in the judging process. This is to ensure impartiality to all advertisers, suppliers, and friends. As well, Judges cannot participate on “Judgment Night” conversations or the final voting in any categories that friends, relatives, or their own business are being considered for. They also are not permitted to be involved in any part of the judging process if their own business or workplace is a supplier to a nominee or pays a nominated company for any services they or their business may need. There is an exception to this rule if a Judge has hired or worked with all nominees in the category. We consider him/her an expert in this industry with valuable input to offer and they are permitted to vote. As well, in large categories, such as #8 “Powerhouse Professional” — where certain Judges know multiple nominees and all Judges would have had to declare a bias as each knows at least one nominee — they are allowed to participate or there would be no voting Judges! Please note that any biases declared by Judges, are mentioned at the end of the write-up, if necessary.

-Businesses do not have to be an advertiser with the magazine to be nominated or to win. Every company, whether a Biz X advertiser or not, has an equal chance of winning. Once all nominations are in and the voting poll is closed (the end of September), companies may be contacted to purchase ads by Biz X Sales Associates to thank those who nominated and voted for them in the November/December awards issue. The Judges are unaware which companies advertise in this edition (or do not) when they make their final decisions and only see the completed awards issue at the same time the readers do. This ensures there are no biases or conflicts of interest. Judges do not know who the final winners are on “Judgment Night” as they voted by secret ballot and are not told the results. All those nominees who chose to advertise in the November/December issue had nominee badges in their ads and, just before the magazine went to print, for those who won, the nominee badge was switched to a winner badge (without the knowledge of the advertiser). The entire process is kept top secret with only a select few knowing the final outcome during the printing process of the magazine and no-one seeing the winner badge in their ad until the annual Biz X Awards Tribute is released to the public in mid November.

Cover story including nominees and winners continues on page 18

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Deborah Jones
Deborah Jones – Publisher of Biz X Magazine Deborah Jones graduated from the University of Windsor with an Honours Degree in Communication Studies and was employed at two other local magazines shortly after for a few years learning all she could about writing, advertising, public relations and more. She made the jump in 1998 to go out on her own to publish Biz X magazine and has worked in the publishing industry since 1990. In 2007, she earned the “Entrepreneur of the Year” award from the Windsor & District Chamber of Commerce. To date, she is the ONLY woman so far to receive this award. In 2013, she received one of the first “Windsor Women of the Year” awards from the Ladies Exclusive Alliance. Her most recent achievement is a “2016 Vocational Service Award” from the Rotary Club of Windsor Roseland. Deborah is proud to live in Windsor and truly cares about each and every business and strives to make Windsor Essex the best place to live, work and play.