Mark Begg, the owner of the Home Hardware stores in Crysler and Maxville was the guest speaker at the North Stormont Breakfast Connections, which has become an extremely popular networking opportunity for businesspeople in the United Counties, held at North Stormont Place in Avonmore. Tinkess Photo

AVONMORE – Since its inception, the Breakfast Connections program has become quite popular. On a regular basis, it provides an opportunity for local people involved in business and government to get together, network, share ideas, listen to relevant speakers, and share a meal without a large commitment of time.

The Breakfast Connections program is supported by the Cornwall Business Enterprise Centre, usually in conjunction with the municipality and/or Chamber of Commerce in the area in which it takes place. Shauna Baggs is a small business consultant with the Cornwall Business Enterprise Centre. She says she is pleased with how successful they have become.

“They are very successful,” said Baggs, “They seem to be growing too. There seems to be a group of people that come to most of them, and I feel that group is growing.”

Part of the attraction might be the cost of breakfast (free), but it takes much more than that to convince busy people to carve two hours out of the most productive part of their day. If you want to find a way to get to know other business people, to share ideas, and solve problems, then this is an excellent way to do so.

Having interesting guest speakers doesn’t hurt either. At this event the speaker was Mark Begg, the owner of Home Hardware in Crysler and Maxville. Begg spoke about his business, but from the perspective that in smaller communities at least, it is about so much more than making money.

“To me owning a business is much more than making money,” said Begg. “It’s important to me that what I do has an impact on my community. Why is that important to me? I think it’s because I was influenced by two people that really made a difference in my life. Number one, in that one I didn’t have much choice. I was going to work for dad at Home Hardware. That’s just what I was going to do as a student. I kind of loved it. I really enjoyed it.

“As a second person that had such a significant impact on my life is this man who is Mike Delaney. For those of you from the Avonmore area, you’ll know Mike Delaney was the owner of Delaney Bus Lines, a company I worked for, for 17 years before getting into the hardware business. And Mike was an incredible, genuine, brilliant, a family man like no other, and community supportive. And those things have stuck with me the entire time I was with Delaney Bus Lines and have continued to stay with me in my new venture and as a Home Hardware store owner.”

Begg said that one of the things he started doing when he was with Delaney Bus Lines was, he started working with a business coach. And one of the questions that was always asked was why are you doing what you do?

“I really liked the values and the ideals exhibited by Mike and his company,” said Begg. And in the work I did with my business coach, he said, you know, we need to put these undefined values you’re living into words, and we came up with Delaney Bus Lines build a supportive community by creating a family experience for each person that we serve.

“Community, serving, and family, and those things continue to ring true for me today.”

After a short Q and A session the meeting began to break up, but you could see people gathering into small groups, and then going from one group to the other, sharing business cards. Networking in the most analogue sense, but maybe when you include a face rather than a screen in the conversation, you get something no electronic device can offer. Maybe that is why people keep coming back.

The next Breakfast Connections is scheduled to take place in South Stormont on June 20. Check the Business Enterprise Centre website ( for information on when registration opens.