Thomas Weller – 40 Under 40 Business Achievement of Niagara 2011 Winner!

I’d like to take the opportunity to give a Shout Out to Tyler of Tyler James Photo, who was the Official Photographer for the 2011 40 Under 40 Awards Gala. This was my first time meeting Tyler, and I was very happy with both his personality and his style. Great job Tyler  – and thanks again for the pics!

When I first received word – in 2010 – that I was nominated to be one of the recipients of the 2010 40 Under 40 Business Achievement Award of Niagara – I was absolutely thrilled!  Aside from being on winning teams and recognized for group efforts over the years, I hadn’t won nor have I been nominated to win anything of the caliber of a Business Achievement Award!

I was nominated by somebody in Niagara, who had felt that I deserved a nomination because of my business successes within the first year of being in business. Along with contributions to the Community of Niagara through the work I did while being a freelance media photographer mixed with the year of having a store-front photography studio in St. Catharines.

It turned out that I didn’t win last year’s award in 2010…and despite not winning – I finally felt that I was on the road to success with the nomination – and for the fact that I was asked to be the 2010 40 Under 40 Photography Partner and Official Photographer for the Gala event. Fantastic stuff!!  Of course that only gave me a taste of what was to come…

This Spring of 2011, I was asked by the nomination committee for the 40 Under 40 Awards, to submit my nomination form again for this year’s awards. The committee felt that I still deserved recognition for all of the hard work I had put into my business during Year Two! Of course I was thrilled!   But, as any business owner, who has been through their fare share of trials and tribulations – and believe me I have – I wasn’t sure if I wanted to send in my nomination form to be considered one of this year’s winners.  At first, I almost felt that I didn’t deserve it!  I kept getting stuck in my head over the closing of my photography studio, and for the fact that there had been times of making good money at the business, and times of not making good money.  But when it comes down to it really – does money define success?  What defines success?  When I first started up my business – I had visited a peer in the photography field and a 2010 recipient of the 40 Under 40 Award – Photographer Bryan Caporicci.  He had given some very kind words of advice – including asking me “How do you define success Tom?”.  I started thinking hard on what Bryan had to say.  Money and having a studio really do not define success.  It is about tenacity, perseverance, commitment, the strive to always do better, and the effort shown to the people around that you actually mean business.

So with that said, that is what I put forth. Regardless of all of the pitfalls happening around me – lack of business during certain times, the closing of my St. Catharines photography studio, and any other trial & tribulation of opening up a business in a crazy financially depleting economy – I still pushed through and kept doing what I love doing best – taking photos and capturing memories for people in my community and other communities at that!

It was the final night that this year’s submission forms for the 40 Under 40 were due. I was still not too sure if I wanted to submit my nomination form….but I did! I took a couple of hours to write it up – making sure to detail as best as possible about everything we had done well with over the last year.  Once it was completed, I was amazed.  Just like time flies when you are having fun, my own business accomplishments, once placed on paper before me, added up VERY well – and looked amazing to say the least! I was shocked at how much we had actually done over the last year to two years of being in business.

I sent my nomination form in, and just in time for the due date & time too!  Within a week or so later, I received the call that I was to be one of this year’s 40 Under 40 Award recipients.   My first reaction over the phone (and I shouldn’t type it out entirely out of respect for my audience) – so I will type it like this…this was my reaction and picture me saying this with some high tension in my voice…”OMFG!!”.  Apparently my reaction on the phone was the best ever heard in the last eight years of the 40 Under 40 Awards.  I couldn’t help myself from “swearing” – I was so excited!  How fantastic was that – to wake up to find out that you are one of the chosen few leaders in business of Niagara…..?  I still say OMFG to this day.  I doubt I will quote myself in my acceptance speech, however I felt this was all worth mentioning here on the blog.  I may be a business professional, but I am a human…and OMFG…thank God for that. 🙂

I have never won an award solely for myself…at least not since Grade School.  I think I won some track & field honourable mentions or at least some participant ribbons.  In the mid-80’s I was on the winning City Junior “Niagara Falls Celtics” basketball team. We won a trophy – but I’m not sure where that trophy is now, nor do I remember if my name was on it.  In 2010 however, as part of the creative team at Renaissance Salon in St. Catharines – we had won two first place awards through the International Goldwell Salon – for two photos that I photographed for Renaissance – and that was fantastic – and still is!

With this 40 Under 40 Award Win – I’m finally very proud with myself and with my achievements.  I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of loved ones, friends, fans, the business community, and all of my clients.   My photography business has seen decline, and has seen a lot of growth. I have made errors in judgement, and I have made some very wise business decisions. I have met a lot of fantastic people, and a lot of people who have been very helpful and supportive of my business.  Perhaps this award is the first of many – one can only hope so – and I do!

I want to thank everyone for all of your support over the last two years. I will continue to strive to be always better at what I do – and that is because I love what I do. I love my business, I love my community, and I love photography. Weller Photography has plans of much transition over the next two years. We hope to reach further into the Niagara Community, and we also hope to reach even further than the Niagara Region and into other communities who have taken notice and liking to the work that we do.

I am extremely excited about the future of Weller Photography and all the fantastic opportunities that are out there. I plan on chasing quite a few more… 🙂

Tonight is the Night – May 11, 2011 – when the Business Community of Niagara honours us 40 business owners that are under the age of 40! Special thanks to the Business Link, and to the Community of Niagara for this honourable recognition!

Congratulations to all of the Winners of the 2011 40 Under 40 Business Achievement Award of Niagara!

From the Business Link website:

The Business Link will be celebrating the achievements of Niagara’s top 40 Under Forty winners May 11, 2011 at the Quality Hotel Parkway Convention Centre in St. Catharines. Jack Peets, Co-host of the 105.7 EZ Rock Morning Show, is the MC for the evening and will highlight the achievements of these 40 incredible individuals.

The 40 Under Forty Business Achievement Awards give recognition to Niagara’s next generation of business leaders. These 40 individuals are under 40 years of age and consistently make their mark in business and contribute regularly to their respective communities.

2011 Winners
Tara Adams — Snap Niagara
Merri-Lee Agar — Decadence Body & Wellness Spa
Blake Belcher — By Request: Entertainment Specialists
Cassandra Best — Giant FM
Adam Bosak — RBC Wealth Management
Mike Boucher — Deloitte & Touche LLP
Travis C. Braun — T. C. Braun Construction
Natalie Chaumont — BEC
Mario De Divitiis — Leadership Niagara
Michael Distefano — BTB Mortgage Solutions
David Duncan — IDWS
Curtis Fielding — Fielding Estate Winery
Heidi Fielding — Fielding Estate Winery
Nick Golia — Upper Canada Consultants
Jeff Guarasci — Project SHARE of Niagara Falls
Ian Hill Dilts — Piston Hydraulic Inc.
Missy Hirons — Scotiabank Convention Centre
Alexandra Hlinyanszky — Pan Café
April Jeffs — April Jeffs Lakeside Studio/Mayor Wainfleet
Jessica Kemp — Freedom 55 Financial
Justin Larsen — Link Wireless
Patrick Lostracco — RBC Dominion Securities
Karen Marquardt Wyers — Radar Property Management
Kirsten McIntosh — Absolutely Flawless Salon
Murtaza Najmudin — The Foot Clinic
Jeffrey Neill — Durward Jones Barkwell & Company LLP
Jason Newton — Newton Financial
Charle Peck — Certified Coach Practitioner
Jason Pizzicarola — JP Design
Matheos Psarakis — Social Ease Dance Studio
Laura Ricciuto — Kaizen Marketing
Natasha Secord — Beyond Montessori School
Dave Shaw — Advanced Office Solutions
Shane Tiley — First Ontario Credit Union
Natalie Tokar — Niagara College, Research & Innovation
Arie Vrugteveen — Retire-At-Home Services
Andrew Ware — Meridian Credit Union
Thomas Weller — Weller Photography
Adam White — JMR Logics
James Wong — Coffee Culture

A sincere thank you is extended to all who took the time to nominate these outstanding individuals. Without your efforts, these people may not have received the recognition they deserve. We look forward to a great evening of networking and celebration. For ticket information please call 905-646-9366 or visit

Sponsors for The Business Link’s 8th Annual 40 Under Forty Business Achievement Awards are:

Corporate Sponsors — Heart of Niagara Hotels, Meridian Credit Union
Platinum Sponsor — McLaren Press
Gold Sponsor — Niagara College
Silver Sponsor — Brock University Faculty of Business
Bronze Sponsors — BEC, Reuter & Reilly Insurance, Marten Sheppard Fraser Barristers & Solicitors, The Co-operators, Symetric, Brock Office Automation, Sugar & Spice Retreat Spa and Hub International
Wine Partners — Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery and Between the Lines Family Estate Winery
Photography Partner — Bryan Caporicci Photography

Proceeds of this year’s event will go towards The Business Link Bursary’s at Brock University and Niagara College to ensure the entrepreneurial spirit lives on in Niagara for years to come.

Source: Business Link Niagara

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