2016 IW Winners

Entrepreneur of the Year - Dryden

Margot Woodworth

Margot Woodworth

When it comes to business, Margot Woodworth’s greatest ally can also be her biggest adversary, and Mother Nature didn’t hesitate to remind her of that this past spring as she prepared for her busiest weekend.

Woodworth, who owns Evergreen Memories in Dryden, was preparing to ship out her tree seedling orders for Earth Day, when a flash storm knocked out internet access for two days, cutting off her primary mode of communication.

But, as with all the challenges she’s faced through her career, Woodworth handled it with her signature optimism and cheerfulness, assembling her team of dedicated workers, contacting clients, and making arrangements for local couriers to ferry the seedlings to their final destinations.

“Fear always holds you back,” said Woodworth. “If you start worrying about ‘This is not going to work out,’ or ‘What if I make a fool of myself,’ who cares? This is your journey and you really need to find this out yourself.”

Over the last decade, Woodworth has followed her own advice, and her instincts, as she’s built up the small seedling business into an international enterprise. Clients order her tree seedlings as gifts and keepsakes for large corporate events, weddings, memorial services, and more.

Woodworth admits she hadn’t even heard about Earth Day until a few years ago, until Honda requested seedlings to give out at one of its Earth Day events. It was a turning point for the company.

A second touchstone came in 2011 when Woodworth appeared on the reality investment TV show Dragons’ Den, where she struck a deal with investor Jim Treliving, of Boston Pizza fame. Since then, demand for her products has skyrocketed, and sales have followed.

“(Honda) just challenged us to come up with something,” she said. “Now companies all across Canada and the U.S…. are giving a tree, and it makes such a difference. That impact that a small company from Dryden, Ont., had, we’re making a difference in the giving of something green and that feels really good.”

Over time, she has added to her product line with seeded paper, wreaths, gifts, and jewelry.

It’s heartening to see a renewed interest in the environment for the naturalist from Germany, who emigrated to Canada more than 20 years ago, first working for the company before taking over full ownership.

An avid environmentalist and admitted tree-lover, Woodworth considers her employees family, and works alongside them to find balance between work and play.

She shares her love of the natural world with kids in community, visiting schools to talk about trees and their importance to the ecosystem. In an era where technology rules, Woodworth believes it’s important to immerse kids in nature’s beauty.

“When I think about youth and how it has changed with social media and being on a computer, they’re not being so connected to nature anymore,” Woodworth said. “I think we can do a lot more.”

She also donates trees for causes close to her heart — this spring, for example, she provided 500 trees to the Alzheimer’s Society to give out at their annual fundraising walk.

Woodworth believes that, whether it’s 3,000 trees dispersed at a corporate event, or 50 trees for a student studying sustainability in university, each seedling makes an equally important impact on the earth.

“To see, over the years, how many trees have been given out because of us is really incredible,” she said. “It really is.”

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