The city’s business community was out and dressed to the nines on Saturday night for the Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Awards gala at the Highliner Inn.
The ball room was filled with business people from every commercial sector who paid $50 a ticket to wine-and-dine with peers and see which of the final nominees had been voted to win the annual awards.
“I’ve lived in a few communities, but truly, Prince Rupert is simply outstanding. The businesses that we have here not only support and encourage one another, but bring people in and help them grow stronger . . . I know that every single one of us makes a difference in our community,” says the evening’s MC Trish Dyck.
The nominees were selected based on nominations from the chamber members and the public for each category. When a list of nominees was assembled it was opened up to voting online on the Chamber of Commerce’s website. Then the chamber narrowed it down to the top 3 nominees.
“That’s who you will be hearing about tonight, because tonight we are going to announce the winners,” says Chamber president, Chad Cunningham.
There were only two rules for winning: no business could win thew same category they won last year, and no business could win more than one category in the same year.
“Why do we have those stipulations? We had a pretty open debate about it at the board. . . ultimately, what it comes down to is that we want to have a diverse group of winners, we wanted to give as many businesses as possible a chance to win an award this year,” says Cunningham.
The award for Rookie Business of the Year went to Power n Passion for Life, a business motivational coaching company run by the the night’s MC, Trish Dyck. The runners up for the award were Muskeg Press and Neat & Tidy Eco Cleaning.
Small Business of the Year: Industry, Manufacturing and Transportation was The Electrician, a small electrical services company that has been working on Prince Rupert’s homes, business and industry for close to 60 years. The runners-up were Adventure Tours and Papa Mobile Taxi.
Small Business of the Year: Hospitality, Tourism and Service was awarded to Pac 10 Tutoring, which was originally established in 2009 to provide Math and English tutoring for grade 8 to 12 students, but now helps students from preschool to university in math, English, science and trade-related courses. The runners-up were Kathy’s Hair Design and the Pioneer Hostel.
Small Business of the Year: Retail went to Mackenzie Furniture, the local furniture store which has been opening Prince Rupert for 89 years, making it the oldest retail operation in the city. The runners-up were City Furniture and Cowpuccino’s.
The Aboriginal Business of the Year award went to Rainforest Books, the independent book seller which has been open for eight years in an age where similar businesses have been struggling. The Runners-up were Pac 10 Tutoring and Raven’s Professional Piercing.
Chamber Member of the Year went to Community Futures Pacific Northwest, the development corporation which which works to develop business in the northwest by giving out loans to start new businesses. The runners-up were the Chamber’s incoming president, Jason Scherr, and TD Canada Trust.
The Volunteer Organization of the Year award went to the Prince Rupert Wildlife Shelter, which takes in hurt wildlife, nurses them back to health and releases them back into the wild; the shelter run by retired husband and wife team, Nancy and Gunther Golina. The runners-up were the Prince Rupert Rotary Club and the Salvation Army.
Excellence in Customer Service went to Homework, the quirky little shop in Cow Bay that sells kitschy clothing, decorations, jewellery and other knickknacks. The runners-up were the Crest Hotel and TD Canada Trust.
The Community Involvement Award went to Hawk Air which achieved their fundraising goals this year by donating flights to be raffled off as prizes for charities and community groups. The runners-up were Northern Savings Credit Union and Pac 10 Tutoring.
The Green Award went to Neat & Tidy Eco Friendly Cleaning which is by Tania Jordan, who was part of NWCC and the chamber’s rising star program before she started her cleaning businesses that use natural cleaning products. The runners-up were Eco Management and the Prince Rupert Port Authority.
The Business Newsmaker of the Year was Glen Saunders who was instrumental in the popular Paint Prince Rupert project which has given many worn-down buildings in the downtown a much-needed fresh coat of paint. The runners-up were the Prince Rupert Port Authority and Ridley Terminals.
The Business of the Year Award for 2012 went to the Crest Hotel which is 50 years old, still family-owned and the only hotel with a four-star rating north of Kelowna. The runners-up were Hawk Air and Ridley Terminals.
The last award, the Excellence in Innovation Award went to Vallee IT Solutions which is well known for their retrofitted ambulance that serves as a mobile computer repair shop. The runner-up was CityWest.