Hallmark CanadaHallmark Canada aims to help people emotionally connect with one another and build strong relationships for another 100 years and beyond. By Bianca Herron

Hallmark Canada has been helping Canadians express themselves for more than 100 years. Although the company’s core business is greeting cards, President Cindy Mahoney says Hallmark Canada is about much more than that. She adds that its product range also includes gift-wrap, keepsake ornaments, home décor, life celebration products and personal development activities. 

This year Hallmark Canada will celebrate its 101-year anniversary, an accomplishment the company does not take lightly. “Our Hallmark Gold Crown stores have also been a fixture in Canada for nearly 70 years,” Mahoney says proudly. “We’ve been an upstanding part of the Canada community.”

Mahoney attributes Hallmark Canada’s success to its innovation, noting that the company has developed a “test-and-learn” mindset over the course of its history. “We recognize that getting it right the first time is unlikely,” Mahoney explains. “Failure is a natural part of the process. As long as we fail fast and learn from our mistakes, we can move forward productively.

BrookstoneBy leveraging its key partnerships and employees, Brookstone aims to become an international product development brand. By Bianca Herron

Brookstone introduced itself to the world in 1965 in a small classified ad selling unique products in the pages of Popular Mechanics magazine. From that first consumer sales channel the specialty retailer went on to provide phone ordering and opened its first retail store in 1973.

Despite tapping into all of those channels, the Merrimack, N.H.-based company filed for Chapter 11 in 2014, and shortly after was acquired by the Chinese conglomerate Sanpower. Today, Brookstone is undergoing a transformation to become a product development company that is able to deliver more products to more people through more consumer sales channels.

This includes partnering with home shopping channels and expanding its presence overseas in China as well as Europe. “We currently have 76 stores in China,” CEO Steven Goldsmith says. “We’re also expanding in the United Kingdom right now and will continue that expansion. We want our brand to resonate elsewhere in the world and not just the United States.”

Foods For AthletesUsed by many serious and professional athletes, Foods for Athletes – BlackMP contains the minerals their bodies need for daily replenishment. By Janice Hoppe-Spiers

As the saying goes, “Never judge a book by its cover,” because you might miss out on something amazing and that is just the case with Foods for Athletes – BlackMP. BlackMP Living Water is black water because it is enhanced with USDA certified organic humic and fulvic minerals, SBO probiotics and electrolytes. Co-founders Darren Long and his son, D.J., says the color puts some people off at first because it is not what water should look like, but it’s the most refreshing water we have ever had and the benefits are being called dramatic.

“Humic and fluvic acids are full of trace minerals that we don’t even understand,” Long notes. “We met with scientists and asked them how the product was doing all of this and curing these different diseases. They called it a miracle product, but it’s not the product it’s your body. When you put the right stuff in your body it starts functioning right. Scientists are calling it the missing link or the mother of all molecules.”

Long is a former NFL and USFL tight end as well as a three-time All-American. In 1982, he led the NCAA with the most receptions by a tight end and was second overall in most receptions in a single season. He is a national speaker for athletic programs, corporations and small businesses, as well as the host of “Foods for Athletes,” a health and wellness radio show that airs worldwide. Long also co-hosts the BlackMP Living Water podcast.

Busy BeaverBusy Beaver’s CEO aims to re-energize the company with a new strategic plan. By Kat Zeman

After more than 50 years in business, Busy Beaver was one of the few surviving home improvement retailers in a market dominated by giants like Home Depot and Lowe’s. But even by its own reckoning, Busy Beaver had become “the forgotten brand.”

In 2013, Joe Kallen, an executive with an extensive background in retail and real estate development, purchased a majority of the company’s shares and became its president and CEO. Since then, his objective has been to recapture the relevance of the Busy Beaver brand as “your neighborhood home improvement center, priced and assorted to meet the needs of the value conscious do-it-yourselfers as well as the professional remodeler,” Kallen says.

Pittsburg-based Busy Beaver operates 18 home improvement stores in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia and employs more than 350 people. For the past four years, Kallen has been working to re-energize the company brand through the implementation of a new strategic plan that focuses on three pillars: engage, enhance and expand.

PharmacaPharmaca is focused on growth and escalating the customer experience. By Alan Dorich

When customers come to a Pharmaca store, they can be confident in the products it sells. “The people at the home office and those managing our stores have a passion for making sure we’re putting the best thing on the shelf,” President and CEO Richard Willis declares. “That’s what sets Pharmaca apart.”

Based in Boulder, Colo., the company’s locations sell both pharmaceutical medicines and alternative and wellness products. Founder Barry Perzow started Pharmaca 17 years ago, after traveling in Europe.

“He had the idea of combining a pharmacy with a retail store that would also sell alternative and wellness medicines,” Willis explains. Perzow bought a pharmacy in Boulder and followed it up by constructing the company’s first full-service location.

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Beacon BridgeBeacon & Bridge Market serves its communities and state by selling products from local suppliers. By Tim O’Connor

In a state known as the center of the auto industry, where American-made is a way of life for millions of blue collar workers, Beacon & Bridge Market replicates that homegrown pride on an even more local scale. The chain of convenience store gas stations purchases products from Michigan suppliers and manufactures whenever possible, keeping its spending in-state and helping fellow Michigan businesses grow.

“We pride ourselves on being a Michigan company,” Vice President Scott Nelson says. “We’re trying to carry as many Michigan-made products as possible.”

Benzer PharmacyBenzer Pharmacy’s new CFO introduced processes and technologies to improve operations and support accelerated growth. By Tim O’Connor

On the march to 200 stores, Benzer Pharmacy is creating a cohesive brand known for expert service from dedicated pharmacists. Going forward, the collection of independent retail pharmacies will all use the Benzer name, the same technology and standard processes. “We want to get the philosophy across the whole company,” CFO Bob Shatanoff says. “It’s one Benzer.”

Where large competitors try to be all-in-one retailers that sell groceries and greeting cards alongside prescription drugs, Benzer sets itself apart as a pure pharmacy dedicated to personal service. When customers enter the building, they are greeted by a pharmacist who knows their history and will take the time to answer any questions they have. “We don’t have a lot of brick and mortar,” Shatanoff explains. “We don’t want a 10,000-square-foot store. We want a 2,500-square-foot pharmacy with a pharmacist.” 

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