The Brockville & District Chamber of Commerce is very pleased to announce Mr. Larry VanderBaaren as the second of two recipients of the 2023 Lifetime Business Achievement Award.
BROCKVILLE CHAMBER ANNOUNCES LIFETIME BUSINESS ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
The Brockville & District Chamber of Commerce is very pleased to announce Mr. Larry VanderBaaren as the second of two recipients of the 2023 Lifetime Business Achievement Award. The Chamber has previously announced Mr. Joe Hudson as the other recipient. Two awards are being given this year to address a backlog of worthy candidates.
Mr. VanderBaaren is being posthumously recognized as he very sadly passed away on November 26, 2021. Previous recipients of this award include Paul Fournier, Hunter Grant, Gord Brown, David Beatty, Bob Runciman, Al Smith, Dave Sheridan, Don Green, Sherri Simzer, John & Steve Mazurek and Dave Jones.
Since 2017, this award has been sponsored annually by the 1000 Islands Community Development Corporation. Recipients are chosen by an independent committee of judges following review and assessment of multiple criteria including community involvement, mentorship, economic impact, job creation, volunteerism, longevity and personal/corporate generosity.
Mr. Larry VanderBaaren was universally respected as a highly successful entrepreneur, dedicated community leader, caring volunteer and generous philanthropist. With deep roots in the local area, he and his family spearheaded and supported countless causes of great significance. As founder and President of Hendrix Restaurant Equipment, Mr. VanderBaaren built a commercial giant that is now spread out across Canada.
In 1980, Mr. VanderBaaren and his father, Henk, started the business in a small Brockville basement office steadily building a customer base through hard work and personal relationships. The company eventually grew to be one of the largest foodservice and equipment dealers in all of Canada, employing 500 people in nine locations and three distribution centers nationwide. In 2016, Hendrix merged with Russell Food Equipment to form Russell Hendrix Foodservice Equipment making it the market leader in the industry, over four times larger than its next biggest competitor. Mr. VanderBaaren acted as CEO of the new company.
Highlights among many awards of distinction include Hendrix Restaurant Equipment being recognized as one of Canada’s best managed companies in 2012 and as Brockville & District Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year in 2005. As a fitting tribute to cap a very impressive career, Mr. VanderBaaren was inducted into the Canadian Foodservice Equipment & Supply Industry Hall of Fame soon after his retirement in 2019. He was widely acknowledged as a “titan” of the industry by colleagues and competitors alike.
Remembered by all who knew him as a generous, kind and humble gentleman, Mr. VanderBaaren strongly believed in giving back to his community. He sat on multiple boards and committees, including Brockville General Hospital and Brockville Country Club, and he was active in mentoring young professionals, coaching youth sports teams, and contributing to countless charitable causes.
He and his family expressed passionate support and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Brockville General Hospital, believing it to be the cornerstone of our community. This was highlighted by a $200,000 gift to the recent “Under One Roof” hospital expansion campaign. Other organizations of special importance include multiple youth sports teams, YMCA of Eastern Ontario and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Leeds & Grenville.
Following his passing, Mr. VanderBaaren’s family donated $20,000 in support of palliative care services at Brockville General Hospital and established the Larry VanderBaaren Memorial Fund so that he might continue to make an impact in the community. This fund, managed by the Brockville & Area Community Foundation, will provide long term assistance to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Leeds & Grenville.
The 1000 Islands Community Development Corporation sponsors this award annually and is actively involved in the recipient selection process. The corporation’s Executive Director, Mr. Tom Russell, stated that “Larry was a wonderful soul who left us far too soon. His impact will be felt both locally and nationally for many years to come. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had the privilege of calling him my friend and I’m thrilled to see him honoured in such a meaningful way. His was a life of consequence and one that we should all be very grateful for.”
Brockville & District Chamber of Commerce President, Mr. Orlando Spicer, noted that “Mr. VanderBaaren did so much to build our city into a beautiful place to live, work and play. He was an unwavering supporter and champion of countless worthy causes and we will always remember him fondly.”
Mr. VanderBaaren will be celebrated during a special ceremony following the Chamber’s Annual General Meeting and breakfast at the Brockville Country Club on Thursday, March 30th.
Those interested in attending can RSVP at the Chamber of Commerce website www.brockvillechamber.com or call 613-342-6553 by March 16th.
The Brockville and District Chamber of Commerce represents more than 300 members and has been the community’s business advocate since 1906. Our mission is to support and grow business to build a strong economic community through proactive leadership in advocacy and relevant programming.