Niche organizations with community focus won big at the third Business Excellence Awards, held on Feb. 28 at the Blue Ocean Golf Club in Sechelt.
The Friday event marked the third awards ceremony since 2017, following a hiatus in 2019. The Gibsons, Sechelt and Pender Harbour chambers of commerce co-hosted the event, which his open to all businesses.
Winners in seven of the 10 categories owned businesses that specialized in fitness, food and music, most of them directly serving the Sunshine Coast community.
The large audience was treated to the offerings of Plethora Fine Foods, the winner in the Young Entrepreneur Award category, which goes to a business owner under the age of 40 who has been operating for less than three years.
Another new and local food company also took home an award, this time in the Sustainability Leader category. Ginger Jars purchases past-its-prime produce from grocers and farmers on the Sunshine Coast and transforms them into products such as soups and sauces. “This started out as a vanity project and then turned into a community project, so we hope it keeps growing within our community,” said Tim Bedford, who accepted the award with his business partner, Stephanie Heinz. Earlier this month the pair won in the Best Community Impact category at the 2020 Small Business BC Awards.
Women also dominated the awards this year.
Seven of the 10 businesses were either women-owned or had at least one female business partner. That included Gillian Morrison, personal trainer and owner of GM Fitness in Gibsons, who took the Female Entrepreneur Award. “I love this community and am so, so grateful, and it just goes to show that being an entrepreneur is so much work but it is so worth it,” she told the audience after accepting the honours.
The other sports venture to earn an award was Trail Bay Source for Sports, which took the Large Business Award of the Year.
As for music, two businesses from opposite ends of the Coast took top honours. The Clubhouse Restaurant, which operates out of the Pender Harbour Golf Club, was recognized for its Sunday jam sessions that have grown in popularity. “We’re hugely surprised and honoured to be here,” said Mike Gojevic, who runs the restaurant and venue with his wife Arletha. “People are starting to discover there’s more going on at the golf course than just golf.”
Another husband and wife team that runs a venue on the Lower Coast were also recognized for their community contributions. Vineet Miglani and Nidhi Kamboj took home the Community Impact Award. As with the owners of Ginger Jars, it was a big week for Kamboj and Miglani – at the Small BC Business Awards they took top honours in the Best Immigrant Entrepreneur Category. “We were not expecting to win that award, we were happy to get nominated,” said Kamboj. “Then this happened.” They purchased the Gibsons property in 2017 and that year started a daycare on the property, followed by the launch of the event space, High Beam Dreams, in 2018. In 2019 they opened a fair trade store. Kamboj told Coast Reporter they managed the three-stage transition by holding to their dream.
“The most important thing is, just believe in yourself,” said Kamboj. “We both had doubts when we were starting out, and how the community is going to take it, but as we went along and finished things in stages, that’s when we learned how important this thing was for the community and why they were supporting us.”
The winners in all categories were:
• Midway Power Line Services Ltd., Legacy Award
• Plethora Fine Foods, Young Entrepreneur Award
• Sidestix Ventures Inc., Innovation Award
• High Beam Dreams, Community Impact Award
• Ginger Jars, Sustainability Leader Award
• GM Fitness, Female Entrepreneur Award
• Emerge Design, Outstanding Workplace of the Year Award
• Hooray Truffles, Small Business of the Year
• The Clubhouse Restaurant, Medium Business of the Year
• Trail Bay Source for Sports, Large Business of the Year