CME Awards Program

Pioneer 2021

The Pioneer award will look back at those people who began a manufacturing business in Manitoba and nurtured it into a successful company. Most Manitoba companies are home-grown organizations and this award will recognize the key builders of our manufacturing community. Pioneer Award recipients will have launched a successful company that significantly increased employment in manufacturing. The business may have successfully been passed on to others but is still viably operating.



Ernest Guertin

Born in Verchères, Montreal in 1878, Ernest Guertin moved to Ste. Agathe Manitoba prior to the turn of the century. He later moved to Winnipeg to work, and subsequently purchase, P.D. Dodds artist supply store, renamed Western Paint. Ernest began reorganizing the company, focusing more on commercial paints, and acquiring Eaton Department Store as a customer. In 1908 Ernest oversaw the construction of a building on Charlotte Street – now Hargrave Avenue – where Western Paint remains today, celebrating its’ 110th anniversary.
With no children of his own, Ernest and his wife Louise acted as guardians to his late brother’s daughter, and imparted knowledge of paint manufacturing and entrepreneurship to extended family, leaving a longstanding legacy in paint distribution and manufacturing that has continued for four generations. Many of his family members carried on the paint tradition – from Guertin Brothers Paints, founded by Antoine Guertin Sr. and his brother Norbert Guertin out of their garage in St. Boniface, to Superior Finishes Inc, founded and run by great grandnephew Tony Guertin Jr.
Ernest was later decorated by Pope Pius XII with the order of Pro-Ecclesia-et-Pontifice for his outstanding and widely-recognized philanthropic work and used his success and wealth to contribute to society through sizable donations to St. Boniface Hospital, St. Boniface College, Sacré-Coeur School and church, as well as the University of Manitoba, which created a bursary in his name.


    Jan den Oudsten

    Jan den Oudsten’s business acumen and technical innovations significantly changed the international transit industry and put Manitoba on the map as an innovative leader. Jan began his career when he joined the family business, Den Oudsten Bussen B.V. after receiving his mechanical engineering degree at HTS Rotterdam.
    In 1986, Jan bought a floundering bus company in Winnipeg, Flyer Industries, which he renamed New Flyer Industries. As head of New Flyer, he recognized the need for improved accessibility for urban transit buses. He developed a new, low floor urban bus, a design which redefined European bus technology. Jan believes that management should lead by example. He was a “hands on” leader who was interested in his employees. He knew every employee by name and was greatly respected by those with whom he worked.


      Charles Balmer (Valmar)

      Charles Balmer, founder of Valmar Airflo of Elie, Manitoba was an accomplished inventor, designer, entrepreneur and business leader in the agricultural equipment manufacturing industry.

      Born and raised in Switzerland, Charles first came to Canada after graduating with a diploma in agriculture as a diesel mechanic trainee with Massey-Ferguson. In the early 1960s, Charles obtained his pilot license and became one of the first crop dusters in Manitoba. This pioneer role was the spark that inspired Charles to develop his own granular fertilizer applicators; believing he could build something simple that every farmer could spray on their own crops.

      Over the next five decades, Charles would lend his innovative, inquisitive approach and passion for all things mechanical to a series of entrepreneurial endeavors on his own and for established, multinational corporations. Over his career, Charles amassed 24 international, US and Canadian patents for his innovations, including the Valmar Airflo Granular Herbicide Applicator, AirSpread and AirMax boom-type fertilizer spreaders, and the Willmar AirRide high clearance, self-propelled sprayer.

      For more than 30 years, Charles led his own company, Valmar Airflo Inc, making a significant and long-lasting contribution to Manitoba’s manufacturing and agricultural industries. Charles passed away in September 2006.


        Emeric V Duha IX (The Duha Group)

        Emeric V Duha IX, with the support of wife Gwen and sister Margaret, championed Duha's booming expansion from a printing press in the family home in Osborne Village, setting the stage for the company's global success. Today, The Duha Group maintains a presence in nine countries over four continents.

        Emeric, known as Rick and EV to friends and colleagues, had an eye to the future. With the proliferation of printers in the 1950s, EV identified unique opportunities in a niche market - specialized colour-merchandising tools. The company soon expanded from Winnipeg with a second location in Gimli, focusing on colour cards, fandecksand colour systems.

        EV's dedication to the relentless pursuit of customer value, employee empowerment and teamwork developed the framework to help The Duha Group grow and compete globally.

        "My father started us down a path with a deliberate, focused plan to build a culture of excellence, innovation and a willingness to look at unconventional solutions. These tools help our customers bring life to beautiful spaces around the world. His passion lives on in our work today." - Rick Duha (X).

        Click here to view award video.


          Peter Barkman (Barkman Concrete)

          Alongside brothers Arnold and Edwin, Peter Barkman established Barkman Concrete Ltd in 1948. Although originally specializing in plumbing and heating, growing demand for concrete septic tanks led the Barkmans to expand into the concrete business. Today, Barkman numbers among the leading manufacturers of precast concrete products in North America, guided by Peter’s founding values of quality, integrity, loyalty and innovation. The company employs roughly 250 seasonal and full-time employees.

          Over the decades, Barkman’s growth can be attributed to its pursuit of new products and innovative technologies. In the 1970’s, Barkman expanded into precast concrete paving and landscaping products, followed by an investment in German equipment to produce interlocking paving stones and residential steps in the latter half of the decade.

          Peter Barkman’s most enduring legacy is his commitment to excellence through product quality and customer satisfaction. Every product is guaranteed to meet or exceed the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standards. The company uses only superior grade materials and employs stringent quality control measures throughout the manufacturing process to ensure a quality product every time and are protected by guarantee.

          Barkman Concrete continues to innovate, in line with a company focus on community and environmental stewardship. 

          Click here to view award video.


            Ernest Harry Price (Price Industries)

            Ernest H. Price, Professional Engineer, purchased the assets and rights to an agency business operated by Frank Chester, and named it Chester & Price in 1946. On June 24, 1949 it was officially incorporated as E.H. Price Limited. The company was originally conceived as a consulting/engineering firm. The organization first started out as a sales company, providing air distribution systems.  Price was the manufacturer’s agent for Hart & Cooley, Farr, and Maid-o-Mist, as well as its own line of fill & vent caps for oil furnaces.

            The Winnipeg plant was built in 1961 around the same time E.H. Price became the Canadian sales and manufacturing agent for Titus. The 20,400 square foot plant has had over 20 expansion equaling 250,000 square feet of production space.

            Ernie had retired, but was still Chairman of the Board when Ernie’s son Gerry, with a completed PhD in Mechanical Engineering & Applied Mathematics was recruited to become the new President. 

            Click here to view award video.


              Rob Stenson (Ag Growth International)

              Rob received his Bachelor of Arts in 1993 from the University of Saskatchewan and his Master of Business Administration from the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario, in 1995. While attending Western he became involved in Batco Manufacturing, a start-up manufacturer of agricultural equipment based in Swift Current, SK. Rob realized this segment of the agricultural industry was highly fragmented and he co-founded Ag Growth in 1996 as a vehicle to acquire complementary manufacturers. Over the course of his career, AGI made nine acquisitions and grew from one facility with revenues of $250,000 to a global leader in grain handling, storage and conditioning equipment with manufacturing facilities in Canada, the United States and Europe and 2010 revenues of $262 million.


                David W. (D.W.) Friesen (D.W. Friesen & Sons)

                David W. (D.W.) Friesen: businessman and church worker was born June 12th, 1879 in Schoensee, Manitoba.  D.W. Friesen moved to Lichtfeld, west of Altona, MB in the mid-1890s. 

                He bought a confectionery store and was made postmaster in Altona in 1907.  Retail book sales were added to the business in 1923, and a print shop and wholesale stationery supply in 1930.

                This business expanded to become one of Canada’s largest printing companies, D.W. Friesen & Sons.  D.W. sold the company in 1948 to three of his sons, David, Ted and Ray.

                The company was renamed Friesens Corporation in 1995. Now employee-held rather than family-owned, Friesens Corporation has more than 600 employees.


                  Harry Zoltok (Motor Coach Industries)


                  Harry Zoltok was born in 1905 in Bialystok, Russia. After the First World War, Harry migrated to New York. From there he travelled to Montreal, Canada and continued West until arriving in Winnipeg in 1928. In spite of the depression, Harry wanted to have his own business so in 1932 he founded, Fort Garry Motor Body and Paint Works, Ltd. In 1933 Harry Zoltok turned his Winnipeg repair shop into the laboratory for the future of coach travel. He sketched his first vehicle design, an 11-passenger body on a Packard chassis, on the factory floor. His small manufacturing company found itself on the cusp of a new mass transit industry. In 1941 Fort Garry Motor Body and Paint Works changed its name to Motor Coach Industries Limited (MCI) and later was acquired by Greyhound Lines of Canada with Harry continuing as company president. Harry continued to grow the business for 30 years until his retirement in 1971. Harry Zoltok was instrumental in moulding the company in its formative years. He accepted the challenge to build a coach that was durable, reliable and met the needs of the operator and MCI continues with that tradition today.


                    Abram A. DeFehr (DeFehr Furniture & Palliser Furniture)


                    Founder of A. A. DeFehr Mfg which became what is today DeFehr Furniture and Palliser Furniture. The company was founded in 1944 in his North Kildonan basement and grew over many years into an international company with plants in Canada, United States, Mexico and Asia. Products included a full range of residential furniture. At its peak the company employed over 3,000 people in Manitoba. DeFehr was known for providing opportunity for immigrants and refugees.



                      John J. Klassen (Monarch Industries Inc.)


                      John J. Klassen Founder of Monarch Industries Inc. In 1935, John J. grew the company from a small farm implement manufacturer to a full scale foundry and producer of Hydraulic pumps, valves and cylinders establishing Monarch as a leading business in Manitoba. At the company’s height in 1962 Monarch employed over 250 people.


                        John Koslowsky (Puratone)

                        Puratone started out in 1973 as the Niverville Feed & Farm Supply, a small feed retailer. The company quickly became a major animal nutrient supplier within Manitoba.

                        John Koslowsky the founding President led the growth of the company over the next 25 years as he focused on offering quality products geared to the specific needs of their clients. Encouraging his employees in his belief that serving their community with ethical values and integrity would be the key to long term success and viability of the company proved to be true.

                        Today Puratone has grown into a diverse world-class leader in the agribusiness.

                          Peter Pakosh & Roy Robinson (Versatile)


                          In 1947 two farm-reared businessmen, then brothers-in-law, Peter Pakosh and Roy Robinson teamed up to produce farm implements starting the Hydraulic Engineering Co. located in Toronto.

                          The two entrepreneurs complimented each other in their abilities; Peter as the builder and Roy as the salesman. Due to high freight costs cutting into profits, they eventually moved west to Winnipeg, both acknowledging this was a great move to serve their farm customers directly.

                          In 1963 the company name was changed to Versatile Manufacturing Inc., with Mr. Pakosh serving as the President and Mr. Robinson as Chairman. Over the next 30 years the two partners dedicated their time and efforts to building the company into one of North America’s largest farm machinery manufacturers.

                            About the Awards


                            CME seeks to recognize individuals and companies who have achieved notable success in initiating, improving or growing a manufacturing business in Manitoba.

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                            Gala Awards Dinner


                            Join CME at the 2021 Gala Awards on Thursday, April 15, to celebrate manufacturing and exporting excellence in Manitoba. Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, this virtual event is now FREE to members and beyond. Call us at 204.949.1454 for inquiries.