Congratulations to the 2023 BEA and Scholarship Recipients!

The Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce sincerely thanks all sponsors, guests and volunteers for their continued support and generosity in making the 19th Annual Business Excellence Awards Gala an incredible success!

Croatian-Canadians gathered to recognize and celebrate leadership, innovation and excellence within their business community as well as the many significant social and economic contributions made by the community to Canada.

The special guest at this year’s event was Violet Grgich, President and CEO of Grgich Hills Estate. The Chamber was proud to host her first ever visit to the Greater Toronto Area and second visit to Canada. Some 600 business leaders, entrepreneurs, professionals and other members of the community were in attendance to meet the special guest and enjoy in wines from Grgić Vina featured at the event (including Pošip and Plavac Mali), each of which contributed to making the evening one to remember.

A number of business awards were presented at the event including to: Tom Beroš of Net Electric Limited for “Large Business of the Year”, Miro Biskupović & MiR Construction for “Small Business of the Year”, each of Ana Radić, Chief Operating Officer of Choice Properties REIT and Ivan Oršanić, Canadian VP and Country Manager of Palo Alto Networks for “Executive of the Year”, Eric Tolić for “Entrepreneur of the Year” and Dr. Steve Hranilović, Dean of Graduate Studies at McMaster University, for “Professional of the Year”.

Dr. Ivan Hrvoić was the recipient of the “Community Achievement Award” and received a standing ovation for his contributions to the Croatian community in Canada as well as his support of a number of charitable projects and ventures for researching Croatian history and establishing historical truths in Croatia. Finally, Ronald Black, Chief Operating Officer of American Iron & Metal Co. was honoured with the “Friend of the Croatian Community Award” for serving as a catalyst and demonstrating considerable generosity as it relates to the Croatian-Canadian Scholarship Fund, which is jointly administered by the Chamber and the Croatian-Canadian Library.

Each award recipient was presented with a numbered and signed print entitled “Infatuation”, created by the evening’s featured artist, Nada Sesar-Raffay.

With one of the highest priorities of the Chamber being the youth in our community, scholarships presentations in the amount of $2,000 were made to three outstanding university students including Nikola Cubelić (University of Waterloo), Adriana Salamunović (University of Ottawa) and Jessica Smiciklas (Brock University).

The Chamber was honoured to host a Croatian-Canadian Art Exhibit organized by artist Tatjana Hutinec.  A portion of the sales from the exhibit as well as all proceeds from the silent and live auctions at the event were donated to the Croatian-Canadian Scholarship Fund.

One of the focal points of the evening was an inspiring fireside chat between Violet Grgich and Victor Dodig, President and CEO of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).

The discussion provided an opportunity for those in attendance to learn first-hand about Violet, the Grgich family history including her world-renowned winemaker father Miljenko “Mike” (who recently celebrated his 100th birthday) and noted philanthropist mother Tatiana, Grgich Hills Estate, their ties to Croatia, the history of Zinfandel, and the future of their wineries.

Philanthropic and social responsibility initiatives were also a focal point, addressing the importance of corporate social responsibility and giving back to the community, and demonstrating how businesses and individuals can make a positive impact on society.

The discussion also recognized the work ethic, drive, and perseverance required to attain success and served as motivation and an example for our next generations – principles that are applicable to all generations and across all levels of business.

“I believe that wine is part of a healthy, happy and long life. Wine brings people together and makes them happy, which makes my job extraordinarily fulfilling”, said Violet Grgich, whose name will be added to an impressive list of previous special guests at the annual event, which have included successful members of our community as well as prominent political and diplomatic representatives from Canada, the United States and Croatia, ranging from the Prime Minister of Canada, The Right Honourable Stephen Harper; the Premier of Ontario, The Honourable Kathleen Wynne; the President and CEO of CIBC, Victor Dodig; businessman and TV personality, Robert Herjavec; NHL Hall of Famer and Senator, Frank Mahovlich; the President of Jimmy Choo Americas, Tanya Golešić; and technological innovators Mate Rimac (Founder and CEO, Rimac Automobili/Rimac Group and CEO of Bugatti Rimac) in the automotive industry and A.J. Piplica (Founder and CEO Hermeus) in the aerospace industry, among others.

In addition to enjoying wine from Grgić Vina (Trstenik, Croatia) over dinner, guests had an opportunity to sample other Croatian wines imported into Canada by Croatia Unpacked as well as a Croatian style lager produced in Canada by Baka Beer.

Guests were also treated to exceptional musical performances by Mia Miličević (anthems), Ponosni Hrvati (tamburitza) and Thomas Šulug (piano) during the course of the evening. Even Violet Grgich picked up an accordion to play some of her favourite Croatian songs to close out the event.

“On behalf of the Chamber and members of our Croatian-Canadian community, I would like to express how grateful we are and to thank our valued friend and inspiring guest Violet for flying in and out of Toronto from California to share her remarkable achievements as well as those of Grgich Hills, and her parents, and for speaking about the future of the business and the direction of the wineries. The evening was truly inspiring and Violet’s willingness and extra effort to travel across the continent for the sole purpose of joining us for the event says a lot about her and her family values and was very much appreciated by those in attendance” –  Ivan Grbešić, an executive member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors.

A special thank you to the Burlington Convention Centre and Courtyard by Marriott Burlington for their ongoing hospitality and support as well as Magarac Productions for the outstanding audio visuals.

The Chamber is sincerely thankful for the following 2023 SPONSORS:

Platinum Sponsor CIBC
Diamond Sponsors Baka Gallery Cafe, Bell, MNP LLP, Stikeman Elliot LLP
Gold Sponsor Frendel Kitchens Limited
Cocktail Sponsor Choice Properties
Wine Sponsors Victor & Maureen Dodig, Ivan & Iva Grbešić, Jos & Tanya Schmitt
Award Sponsors Jones DesLauriers / Navacord, Krcmar Surveyors Ltd
Printing Sponsor Merrill Corporation Canada
Tourism Sponsor
Air Transat
Student Table Sponsors G.S. Die & Design Inc., International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, Masters Insurance, The Odan/Detech Group Inc., Winzen

Table Sponsors
Alpeza General Contracting Inc.
Altech Security Systems
Akadami Holdings Ltd.
Ashley Oaks Homes Inc.
Bisko Auto Sales
Burlington Convention Centre
Courtyard by Marriott Hotel Burlington
Croatian National Home
Croatia Norval S.C
Croatian Parish Folklore Group Sljeme
DALI Local 675 Interior Systems
GEM Systems
Grguric Architects Incorporated
Hamilton Croatia
I.T. Mission Inc.
Isaac Operations
JITSU Mfg. Inc.
KW Croatia Club
M & D General Contracting Ltd.
Medsport Ottawa
Milton Dental Clinic – Dr. Branko Radisic
MiR Construction Inc.
Modern Age Plastics Inc.
Mr. Rooter Plumbing
NBM Engineering Inc.
Net Electric
Nexgen Property Management Inc.
Nexus Group
Petrunic Group
Škara Family and Friends
Tolić Family
Wellness By Design
Whitehall Apartments Corp.

The Chamber gratefully acknowledges the support and contributions of The Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in Ottawa, Canada and Eurotrade Import Export Inc. to this year’s BEA.

BEA 2023 Recipients

BEA 2023 Program Book

BEA 2023 Photo Album

Photo Credits Walter Sudetic
Program Production Jeff Wilcox