At first glance, a printing company, florist, insurance broker, building supply store, and vertical farm might seem like they have little in common. But what unites these Welland businesses is their unwavering commitment to delivering something better for people. These companies prioritize people over profits.
Take Vision Greens, for example. They grow and deliver lettuce to stores like Commisso’s, Food Basics, Metro, Big Red Meats, and The Healthy Butcher, but their lettuce is anything but ordinary. The produce coming out of their vertical farm in Welland is grown using technology developed by NASA and the University of Guelph, and produces greens that are higher quality, more sustainable, more nutritionally dense and available all year long at an affordable price.
Through vertical farming, the facility can grow many times the amount of food per acre compared to a traditional farm. The produce need no pesticides or herbicides, and can always get the perfect levels of water, humidity, and light for growth.
However, for Vision Greens, selling lettuce is just one aspect of their mission. They want to change the world and create a more sustainable future. CEO Lenny Louis previously worked as GM of Tesla Canada, and his passion for sustainability led him to this venture. As Lenny puts it, “it was less about electric cars and more about moving the world towards sustainable energy. When a car left the showroom, there were fewer emissions in the world. It’s the same thing here.”
While Vision Greens is disrupting the industry, other businesses have had to adapt to changes in their respective fields.
Gerry D’Angelo runs D’Angelo Printing Co., a family-owned firm established in 1972. Initially, their company started with traditional printing presses, but as time went on, their customers began to demand more customizable and innovative printing requiring new technology. Despite Gerry’s investments in new machinery, it wasn’t enough to deliver everything he wanted to offer, so he invested in another company, M&T printing, to handle the tasks he couldn’t do in-house. This move allowed him to continue providing everything his customers needed.
What sets D’Angelo Printing apart from the competition is their strong relationship with customers. Gerry believes in making personal connections with each customer and making sure he knows exactly what they want. “I like to have a phone call with every customer for every order. This way, I not only make that personal connection, but I can make sure I know exactly what they want.”
They’ll meet every customer need, no matter what it is. Tight deadlines are no problem, nor are highly customized projects – and if it’s something they can’t do, they’ll find a solution for the customer. “No” is not in their vocabulary.
Goodman’s Florist treats their customers the same way, and many of them have been coming to the store for generations. 2023 marks the shop’s 100th year in business, and in contrast to the high-tech solutions of Vision Greens, Goodman still does things the same way, with a personal touch and attention paid to every customer and every order, no matter how big or how small. In fact, it’s even stayed in the same family. The great-great-grandchildren of the original founders, Nellie and Fred Goodman, work in the store today.
The same commitment to each individual customer has distinguished Build It Again Ron, the all-in-one home renovation store with locations in both Welland and St. Catharines. Owner Ron Mauro knows that people can renovate their homes with any of the big chain stores, but what sets the Welland firm apart is the personal touch.
“We keep everything local,” says Ron, “and we do everything we can to ensure the customer is happy. If a problem comes up, we always make sure it’s fixed.”
“One-stop shop” means exactly what it should at Built It Again Ron. Customers can get help with research, deliveries, and connections with contractors. The firm uses local couriers and contractors not just to support their community, but to ensure that there is accountability and assistance for their customers.
You won’t pay a premium for that local service, though. Ron and his wife Irene, who joined the firm as store manager in 2017, work hard to keep overheads low and deliver prices that are competitive with even the big chains.
Youngs Insurance Brokers also prides themselves on being a one-stop shop. The broker has carved out a niche through commitment and loyalty, and like Goodman Florists, many of their clients are generational.
Even though the firm has expanded to include seven offices across the Niagara region, they are still committed to the personal touch, and once president Sandy Valleriani is ready to retire, his sons are ready to take up the mantle.
— Sandy Valleriani, President, Youngs Insurance Brokers
The social conscience of each of these firms extends beyond their customer base. Each one gives back, whether it’s D’Angelo’s sponsorship of the 2022 Summer Games or support for Family and Children’s Services, Build it Again Ron’s gifts to Hope Centre and local shelters, Youngs’ annual gifts through the Give Back Ontario Foundation, or Vision Greens’ continual donations of produce to food banks and charities. It’s not a branding exercise for any of them, but a continuation of their commitment to the community.
In a world where the bottom line often seems to be the only priority, Welland-based businesses like Vision Greens, D’Angelo Printing, Goodman’s Florist, Youngs Insurance, and Build It Again Ron are refreshing reminders of the power of commitment to people. Whether it’s through sustainability, personalization, or community engagement, these businesses demonstrate that success can be about more than just profits.
— Lenny Louis, CEO of Vision Greens
In a world where the bottom line often seems to be the only priority, businesses like Vision Greens, D’Angelo Printing, Goodman’s Florist, Youngs Insurance, and Build It Again Ron are refreshing reminders of the power of commitment to people. Whether it’s through sustainability, personalization, or community engagement, these businesses demonstrate that success can be about more than just making money.
As we look to the future, all of us should remember the importance of prioritizing people and the positive impact it can have on both businesses and communities.
Valbruna ASW produced its first steel in 1918, and has been known as Dillon Crucible Steel, Atlas Crucible Steel, Atlas Steel, Atlas Speciality Steels, ASW Steel, and Valbruna ASW. It’s currently the only steel mill in Canada producing stainless steel, and one of the only mills in the world producing carbon, alloy, and stainless steel. Right here in Welland!