20 March 2013
Friesens founder wins Pioneer Award
WINNIPEG—David W. Friesen, founder of Friesens Corporation, will be posthumously honoured by the local business community with a Pioneer Award at the 2013 CME Awards.

The awards are put on by Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, a group that promotes and facilitates networking for Manitoba manufacturing business leaders. The Pioneer Award celebrates "individuals who began a manufacturing business in Manitoba and nurtured it into a successful company."

Friesen was born in Schoensee, Manitoba on June 12, 1879. In 1905 he moved to Altona, a predominantly Mennonite town in Southern Manitoba, where he opened a confectionary store that would eventually grow to become one of the country's largest book printers.

In 1923, the store expanded with the purchase of book shop. In 1933 it installed its first letterpress machine and three years later acquired the town printer. In 1948, Friesen sold all of his business interests to his three sons, Dave, Ray, and Ted. He passed away in 1951 at the age of 72.

In an interview with PembinaToday, Ted Friesen spoke on the honour. “Imagine my amazement when I casually opened the newspaper and saw my father’s face staring back at me, with the announcement that, after all this time, he’s up for an award," he said. “I don’t know if he ever received an award for anything in his lifetime,” he added.

The company expanded throughout the 60s and 70s, securing a large share of the yearbook printing market and moving into full-colour art and educational books. It made headlines in the 2000s printing books for the wildly popular Harry Potter franchise, including a 2004 100% post-consumer waste printing of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Friesens is now employee-held rather than family-owned, and operates out of a 250,000 sq. ft facility with over 500 staff.

The 2013 CME awards will be handed out at a gala dinner on Thursday, March 21 in Winnipeg.
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