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Attitude is everything; innovative entrepreneur's philosophy is to work hard and have fun.

"Creative" and "tenacious" are the words our judges used to describe Bob Firth, the winner of the 1991 Entrepreneur of the Year Award sponsored by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

Firth is the owner and operator of Bar-B-Que Bob's and Turtle Beach Wear in Kenora.

The Manitoba native first became an entrepreneur 14 years ago when he purchased a restaurant in Falcon Lake, Man. He moved to Kenora in November of 1987 to take over the Kenora Husky Car/Truck Stop on Hwy. 17.

In the few short years since his arrival in the Tri-Municipal area of Kenora, Keewatin and Jaffray Melick, Firth has bought, started up and expanded three businesses and contributed much of his energy and talents to the community.

Under his management, Kenora Husky Car/Truck Stop's sales increased to $2.4 million in 1988 and $3 million in 1989. The number of its employees increased from 30 to 65 during the same time period.

Meanwhile, sales at the Husky restaurant increased from $430,000 in 1987 to $670,000 in 1989.

Husky Oil recognized this success by giving Firth its Image Award in 1988. In the following year Firth became a member of the Image Council, the highest award given by Husky Oil Marketing Company.

Despite this success and recognition, Firth sold the car/truck stop last November in order to concentrate his efforts on expanding his two other business ventures - Bar-B-Que Bob's and Turtle Beach Wear.

Firth opened Bar-B-Que Bob's chicken and ribs barbecue house in October 1989. He had renovated the existing restaurant that fall to increase its seating capacity from 46 to 125 seats and he built two volleyball courts on the lot the following summer.

The innovation and investment both paid off. Not only has Bar-B-Que Bob's become known as "home of the Big Bob Burger," but its sales have increased from $185,000 in 1988 when the restaurant was known as The Log Cabin, to $401,874 last year. The restaurant has hired 24 new employees for a total of 30, and sales are expected to reach $461,000 this year.

In addition, the restaurant has become the host site for a summer volleyball league and a series of weekend tournaments for youths, men and women.

Turtle Beach Wear began in 1988 when Firth designed his own line of T-shirts, sweat shirts and shorts. He opened stores in Kenora and Falcon Lake in December 1989 and later obtained a warehouse in Winnipeg as well as a network of suppliers and agents.

Today Turtle Beach Wear is distributed in retail stores throughout most of Canada, promoting the Lake of the Woods area from Toronto to Vancouver. Sales have increased from $27,800 in 1988 to $93,000 in 1989. They are expected to reach $200,000 this year.

Firth attributes the success of his business ventures to three philosophies. They are:

* to demonstrate a fun atmosphere and a good attitude from management on down

* to surround yourself with good people

* to work, work, work

His admirers describe Firth as an innovative, hardworking and high-energy person.

In business Firth is credited with maintaining a positive outlook and for being sensitive to the needs of his markets, and in the community he is known for his high degree of community involvement.

Under Firth's management, the Kenora Husky Car/Truck Stop was involved in a number of community projects such as the Kenora Library expansion fund and the Dan Park cancer fund.

Firth serves on several local boards and committees in the Kenora area, including the committee for skill development and the Youth Employment Services Board.

He is also a member of the Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association, the Lake of the Woods Tourism Association and the Kenora and District Chamber of Commerce.

Last year Firth was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Kenora and District Chamber of Commerce.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Northern Ontario Business Awards; Bob Firth, recipient of the 1991 Entrepreneur of the Year Award
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Nov 1, 1991
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