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Co-op students make a difference in the community

Co-op student Nick Head (right), works alongside Director of Marketing Nicki Reich (left) at Used.ca

There’s no doubt about it; the Used.ca office is full of wonderful surprises. From the bright purple walls to energetic staff, the online buy/sell/trade business is all about creating space for communities to blossom, an attitude that has connected them with the University of Victoria’s co-operative education (co-op) program. Over the past five years, Used.ca has hired over a dozen UVic co-op students. UVic’s co-op program connects talented students with employers all over the world, giving them a chance to gain hands-on experience relevant to their studies. In turn, employers benefit from innovative, energetic employees with knowledge in 50+ disciplines. “We always seem to find the right student for the right time,” says Used.ca Director of Marketing Nicki Reich. “Each student comes to us with their own set of skills and strengths, and they always impress us!”

Last summer, Used.ca welcomed commerce student Nick Head as a marketing assistant, and his background in information technology was extremely valuable to the company. “By understanding both the business and technology sides of Used.ca’s operation, I worked on projects that influenced both marketing and development, such as changes to the mobile app,” he says. “At the end of each term, I’m amazed by how much I’ve learned from our students,” says Reich. “We mentor them in the early days of their careers and, in return, they help us become better leaders.” This profile was written in the summer of 2019. Co-op students continue to be available to support employers as the community responds to COVID-19. Contact us to discuss flexible options that may make it easier to continue to hire during this time.

Students like Nick bring real-world skills relevant to your workplace. Co-operative Education Program and Career Services uvic.ca/employers 250.721.6616

Co-op and Career Services camosun.ca/cecs 250.370.4181

Hire a co-op student today.

Congratulations to all the finalists! By Chamber CEO Bruce Williams and Board Chair John Wilson Thank you for joining us in our celebration of Greater Victoria business. It hasn’t been an easy year, but we made it and we have better days ahead — thanks in large part to the inspirational efforts of our award finalists. It’s never easy for our independent panel of judges to select a winner, and that was especially true with the incredible candidates who were nominated for all of this year’s awards. On behalf of the Chamber’s Board of Directors and the Greater Victoria business community, thank you! Over the past year, our vocabulary has changed as we define our situation: COVID. Respirator. Vaccine. Sanitizer. Social distancing. Face coverings. Dr. Bonnie. Zoom. Cabin fever. I love my kids but… Restrictions. One of my favorite words is pivot, which has become vastly more important than its previous use in boardrooms. It’s part of a new lexicon of hope we have created at The Chamber. This spring, we are “taxiing together along the Recovery Runway.” At the end of the runway, we will lift off. The lifting of our economy, of restrictions, of our doubts and fears, our spirits and mental health and our opportunities. The pivot needed to get us moving along the runway has been driven by “Pivot Pilots,” people and organizations who inspire through their innovation, adaptation, understanding and resilience. We all need to learn from our finalists, and roll up our sleeves, get immunized and get to work helping the economy and the business world bounce forward. Last June, when I took on the role of Chamber CEO, I was often asked if the timing felt daunting. Of course, it did. Did I lose faith in the future of The Chamber? Not for a second. The strength of our organization lies in our purpose, principles and people. Those people are our Chamber members, our board, committees and our dedicated and talented staff. The collaboration among us represents a powerful pivot along this Recovery Runway.


Another powerful pivot we made at The Chamber was to establish an echelon of membership above what was already in place. The commitment of these Champions has stabilized The Chamber’s capacity to do the work we do, which is now more important than ever. All Champions (Big Wheel Burger, CHEK Media Group, CIBC, Kinetic Construction, Knappett Projects, Mike Geric Construction, MNP, RBC, Seaspan, Spinnakers, TELUS Business, and University of Victoria) are Pivot Pilots and we thank them for their leadership. Living in Greater Victoria, we have the good fortune of enjoying Canada’s most favourable climate surrounded by some of the planet’s most spectacular land and seascapes. Let’s continue to express our gratitude through our determination to get through this challenge calmly, safely and with kindness. Once again, on behalf of our Board Chair John Wilson, I want to thank everyone who took time to nominate a business for this year’s awards. To our finalists, you are truly exceptional and an inspiration to everyone doing business in Greater Victoria. It’s been a long journey, and we are all wanting a change of scenery. Let’s keep the faith that we will get there, and that we’ll do it together.



What does Chamber local mean to you?

Board of Governors’ Message

Read the stories from Chamber Members. Learn More

#ChamberLocalVicBC victoriachamber.ca/covid-19-initiatives

Celebrate the awards with a special Dinner Menu by Food for Thought Catering

DAN DAGG, CHAIR, BOARD OF GOVERNORS On behalf of The Chamber’s Board of Governors, I am thrilled to honour Frank Bourree with the inaugural Governors’ Award of Distinction. Frank continues to champion Greater Victoria and his work has made a huge difference to our region’s economic prosperity and strong employment numbers. Frank is an ideal candidate for the first year of the award, which pays tribute to business leaders who are actively helping add vibrancy and resilience to Greater Victoria’s business community. Inside, you can learn more about Frank and his life and career, and why he continues to devote his time and energy to helping others. Through hard work and perseverance, he was able to overcome challenges and find success in business — success he attributes in part to giving back through his longstanding connection with the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce as well as many other community organizations that make life better for all of us.

For more information on menu options and details on placing an order visit: victoriachamber.ca/business-awards



That’s a timeless message, but especially significant as we turn to the future and seize the opportunity to bounce forward from the struggles of the past year.


Frank Bourree


AWARD FINALISTS 7 COMMUNITY BUILDER Accent Inns Inc. Imagine Studio Café

8 NEW BUSINESS Dumpling Drop Pilothouse Digital


Moduurn Vancouver Island South Film & Media Commission

10 B U S I N E S S O F T H E Y E A R ( 1 1 - 3 9 E M P LOY E E S )

Orca Masonry TUTTI Delivery

11 B U S I N E S S O F T H E Y E A R ( 4 0 + E M P LOY E E S )

CHEK Media Group Seaspan Victoria Shipyards

12 O U T STA N D I N G WO R K P L AC E Brentwood Bay Resort Pacific Coast Health Services

13 I N N OVAT I O N Rockland Scientific Inc. StarFish Medical

14 O U T STA N D I N G C U STO M E R SERVICE Current Taxi Thrifty Foods

15 S U STA I N A B L E B U S I N E S S P R AC T I C E S Cascadia Seaweed Mike Geric Construction

16 N O N - P R O F I T O F T H E YEAR Our Place Society Victoria Rainbow Kitchen Society

17 E M E R G I N G B U S I N E S S PERSON Brandon Laur - The White Hatter Personal Protection Systems Jarid Taylor - Brandigenous

18 B U S I N E S S P E R S O N OF THE YEAR Adam & Daisy Orser, Root Cellar Village Green Grocer Ian Tostenson, BC Restaurant & Food Services Association

19 PA ST L I F E T I M E AC H I E V E M E N T A N D CHAMBER MEMBER OF THE YEAR WINNERS 20 G OV E R N O R S ’ AWA R D O F D I ST I N C T I O N W I N N E R Frank Bourree, Bourree + Associates

22 C H A M B E R M E M B E R OF THE YEAR John Espley, Connection Skills

John Espley

MEET THE JUDGES GEOFF DICKSON President and CEO Victoria Airport Authority CHRIS HORBACHEWSKI VP, External Relations University of Victoria KIMBERLEY HUGHES General Manager Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort TONY JOE Director Victoria Dragon Boat Festival NICOLE SMITH CEO Flytographer TUNE IN LIVE Saturday, May 15 6 pm on CHEK TV, Facebook, and YouTube. Scan the barcode for details and links.







Weeknights at 5 and 6 with Stacy Ross and Joe Perkins


Engage your remote team with a live and interactive game show. quizthis.ca







Accent Inns Inc. has been in operation for 35 years with eight hotels around BC across two brands, Accent Inns, where there is a duck in every room, and Hotel Zed, where they are rebels against the ordinary. Their newest Hotel Zed location in Tofino, built through the pandemic, brings the addition of their first restaurant, Roar. When most hotels were downsizing through the pandemic, Accent Inns’ approach was not only to spread good, but also to keep the business strong. Over the past year, they have made good happen by responding to the pandemic with love and not fear. When times looked the bleakest, they started asking, “How can we help?” This past year, they have poured themselves into several community initiatives including supporting frontline workers, working with local Indigenous communities and supporting patients requiring cancer treatment.


Imagine Studio Café Founded in 2014, Imagine Studio Café, is a non-profit sustainable café providing inclusive employment for many who may otherwise face barriers due to mental health, addiction, homelessness, suicide, and crime. A welcome place for those needing a little more encouragement. Providing an experiential and transformative learning space, the café is designed as an internship business program for all cultures and abilities. The intercultural team rotates through all aspects of the café, bridging business development, access to knowledge, life and social skills, coaching and development, thus improving everyone’s quality of life. Participants proudly learn to grow food and to cook from scratch, serving fresh, traditional, organic and culturally inspired cuisine, made from the heart. Together as a community, there is the talent to thrive, the courage to grow and the belief that, of course, WE CAN!

The right plan starts with the right nancial partner We’re member-owned, so you get more than a nancial advisor - you get a partner that puts you rst.







Our Members Dumpling Drop Are Economy Builders South Island Prosperity Partnership members are business, government and community leaders who bring ideas and energy to the table to champion smart economic growth in our region.

They know we are stronger when we work together.


Dumpling Drop was born in spring 2019, after Toom — Tarn’s mother — received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Toom’s neurologist recommended adopting a repetitive, fine-motor activity to help manage symptoms, at which point Tarn knew exactly what to do. Together, they began rolling dumplings, as they had done during Tarn’s childhood in Thailand. Toom enjoyed the routine so much that the overflow inspired them to share their cooking broadly. After initially serving a weekly pop-up for lunches, Dumpling Drop has grown to a storefront business in Victoria’s historic Chinatown. The fusion of Chinese-style, hand-rolled dumplings with Asianinspired fillings and ingredients local to Victoria, renders a unique dining experience; whether the buyer is picking up a bag of frozen dumplings at one of 14 wholesale locations, or popping by the restaurant for take-out.


Pilothouse Digital Established in 2019, Pilothouse is a Victoria-based digital advertising agency that has grown from a small team on Government St. to a company of 90+ employing 70% of their talent locally. Pilothouse’s revenue tripled in the last year and brought in income to the Victoria economy from around the world. Pilothouse is committed to nurturing a workplace culture that encourages and supports its employees and creates opportunities for young people to become leaders in the industry. This is born out of a strong belief that when one wins, we all win, and that each win should be recognized and celebrated — along with a chance to learn from failures in an open and collaborative environment. From digital media buyers, talented designers, brilliant funnel builders, to expert copywriters, the Pilothouse team is equipped to handle any client needs.





the City of Victoria

BUSINESS OF THE YEAR (1-10 EMPLOYEES) Moduurn Moduurn provides fully branded online ordering solutions for food and beverage businesses of all sizes, from full scale enterprise to the smaller independent operators. What makes Moduurn unique is a company objective to help restaurants become more successful. The goal is JOSE ALBIS AND ALEX COOK to help the operator increase sales volumes, increase profit margins and increase customer loyalty. Locally the proudest moments in 2020, came from the support of local operators and guests as Greater Victoria has approximately 150+ locations using Moduurn’s solution and knowing that the team made a difference to their business. Moduurn was also able to make a difference nationally working with companies such as Shell, Westjet and Blenz Coffee as well as integrating with DoorDash cutting delivery fees down to 15% or less.


Vancouver Island South Film & Media Commission


is Open for Business Now, more than ever, our economy is a local one. Victoria’s diverse restaurants, vibrant storefronts, boutique shops and services that have attracted thousands of visitors each year are the very same local businesses our residents love. The Business Hub is here to support your business and help you respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. With programs like Build Back Victoria, we can help you safely navigate challenges and connect you to the right resources for your business. Learn more at victoria.ca/bizresources.

Connect with our Business Ambassador today: 250.361.0629 | bizhub@victoria.ca

Established over 40 years ago, the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission (VISFMC) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to market and promote the locations, skills and creativity inherent in the CRD to the global film industry. VISFMC offers a full range of services to producers and KATHLEEN GILBERT, VICTORIA companies interested in filming TIMMIS, ANDREA RODGERS AND in the CRD. Productions are BRIAN GLOBUS assisted through every stage: acquiring locations, crew, accommodations, office space, warehouse space and parking. As the liaison with local business and government, VISFMC helps solve problems when they arise. $50 million in direct spending across over 20 productions occurred in 2020 through the office’s efforts. VISFMC also works to support local producers to tell Vancouver Island and Canadian stories.




Newport Realty



Orca Masonry was born in June 2019 with a mission to provide top quality concrete and masonry services to members of the community who need a problem solved or a dream fulfilled by extraordinary people. The name Orca was chosen as it represents kindness, strong family bonds and community, which is what Orca Masonry builds. Orca crafts community by taking money from each chimney project to support aboriginal youth in care. They also build spaces for family. Experienced installers come to work every day with the skills and talent to transform challenges into usable spaces — like patios, walkways and driveways. Orca Masonry, wants you to love where you live.


TUTTI Delivery Founded in 2017 in Victoria, TUTTI started as a small food and beverage delivery company with the goal of building a delivery service that brings communities together. The vision was to provide local restaurants with an affordable delivery option that keeps profits in their pockets while offering incredible customer service, and a reliable team of couriers. TUTTI connects people with a network of locally owned businesses, including restaurants, liquor and grocery stores, and service outlets. Using state-ofthe-art technology developed inhouse, they have created a seamless connection between their merchant app, driver app, and user app providing an uncompromising user experience. The app has positively changed the way communities connect by catering to comprehensive delivery options while offering lower rates for both merchants and users. TUTTI truly brings communities together!




Chard Development

BUSINESS OF THE YEAR (40+ EMPLOYEES) CHEK Media Group CHEK’s employee-owners know about stepping up in a crisis. In 2020, as a news organization delivering trustworthy information day and night, seven days a week they brought Islanders closer together and put a special focus on supporting local businesses, charities and nonprofits as the Island made its ED BAIN AND JEFF KING way through the pandemic. CHEK supported hundreds of local businesses through The Upside with Ed Bain and Jeff King, through Think Local campaigns and an online portal for “things that are open.” Special events such as Rock for Relief Living Room concert in support of the Rapid Relief Fund helped to raise millions of dollars to support the community as well as assisting other non-profit organizations throughout the year to help them with virtual fundraising events.

VICTORIA’S COMMUNITY BUILDER Chard Development is one of Victoria’s most dedicated developers having delivered close to 1,000 homes to Victoria residents. “We are proud to be a catalyst for positive forward momentum. As we continue to build new communities, one thing remains the same. We make good on our promises and stand proudly behind the product we deliver.” – Byron Chard, Chard Development’s President and CEO



Seaspan Victoria Shipyards As the largest private ship repair and conversion operation on Canada’s West Coast, Seaspan Victoria Shipyard (VSL) plays a pivotal role in delivering mission-ready vessels for government and commercial fleets in Canada and around the world. Due to the skill and dedication of a talented team, Seaspan maintains a reputation for high-quality, ontime delivery of projects. There is pride in being an integral part of the Canadian Navy frigate and submarine maintenance programs that allows the Navy to sail with well-maintained ships to protect and defend our country. 2020 was an exceptional year. Despite the pandemic, Seaspan adapted and maintained safe working conditions, never closing the gates. The team made a meaningful impact — not only on customers and the local economy, but on the wider community that Seaspan is so proud to be a part of.


Register today to preview before sales start in May. 1 BEDS FROM THE LOW $400s | 2 BEDS FROM THE LOW $700s



Register today to learn how to own for less! BRAND NEW HOMES FOR UP TO $70,000* LESS THAN MARKET VALUE





Ralmax Group of Companies

OUTSTANDING WORKPLACE Brentwood Bay Resort Congratulations to all Nominees and Recipients of the 2021 Greater Victoria Business Awards. We are proud to celebrate the passion and resiliency of Greater Victoria businesses and their employees.


Brentwood Bay Resort is a AAA rated Four Diamond, boutique resort operating in the beautiful Saanich Peninsula. This extraordinary property has 35 guest rooms, a community pub, a stunning dining room, spa and marina. The business also operates an art gallery and leadership training centre. The Resort has a reputation for their healthy organizational culture, and they have been recognized for their unique approach to leading people. The pandemic has put their culture to the test, and upon reflection, it is this established culture that has supported this business in their responsiveness to COVID-19, their ability to pivot to new ways of doing things, and their capacity to support the well-being of every employee.


Pacific Coast Health Services Pacific Coast Health Services offers a wide range of home care services that can be customized to meet each individual’s specific needs.

Champions of Victoria’s employment lands and the working harbour. Responsible industry creating jobs for today and future generations.



But care starts with the workers, and Pacific Coast has made it a priority to connect with staff in the field, who often work in isolation. “On-Call” is always there 24-7 for employees and safety is a priority. Employees dealing with stress or financial hardships find an open door. Thrifty Food cards find their way to where they are needed and, with a Director who is also a therapist, staff can rely on someone being there for them. You will find these professional caregivers providing hourly, or aroundthe-clock care, wherever a client may live — at home, in a retirement residence, or within a long-term care community.






Rockland Scientific Inc. Rockland Scientific is a Victoria-based innovation powerhouse with a mission to expand research of oceans and climate. Rockland designs and produces specialized technology for measuring turbulence in our oceans, from the surface down to the ocean bottom at 11,000 m. Data from these systems improves our understanding of ocean mixing and its relation to climate change. Founded in 2005, at the University of Victoria, by Professor Rolf Lueck and Dr. Fabian Wolk, Rockland has strong ties to the Victoria economy. Rockland collaborates with research institutions like UVic and Ocean Networks Canada, and involves local suppliers in the manufacturing of electronic and mechanical sub-assemblies. From their operations in Victoria, Rockland scientists and engineers supply research systems to customers in over thirty countries.




StarFish Medical StarFish Medical is Canada’s largest medical device design and development company with facilities in Victoria and Toronto. Founded in 1999, StarFish helps medtech innovators throughout North America overcome challenging technology obstacles to create breakthrough products that improve health and save lives. “Empowering Innovation” is a company philosophy. StarFish is the client’s development partner in furthering the technology, manufacturability, usability, and regulatory aspects of prototypes, technologies and ideas with a goal of commercializing and manufacturing successful medical devices. 2020 projects included designing devices that injected gene therapies into the brain, improved breast imaging for early cancer detection, used RF energy to detect fatty tissue in the liver, and updated a 30-year old ventilator at the request of the Prime Minister as part of Canada’s response to COVID-19.





Innov8 Digital Solutions


The new standard in office technology.


Current Taxi is the premium car service provider in Victoria and the only allelectric taxi fleet in BC. Offering safe and efficient door-to-door services and a convenient app to order, track and pay for your ride, Current has changed the game of taxi services in Victoria. Current is 100% committed to providing outstanding service and bringing a higher standard of taxi service to Victoria at the same rates as the competitors. After just 100 days in business, the world shut down. As well as immediately implementing increased safety measures, Current provided free rides to our health care heroes, delivered food and supplies and even did a diaper drive. Current is proud to serve this community as a locally run business.


Thrifty Foods Congratulations to the 2021 Nominees Outstanding customer service is a

pillar of our business; we are honoured to present the final nominees.

Best of luck to all nominees of the 2021 Greater Victoria Business Awards.

innov8.ca | 250.384.7243 14


Since first opening their doors in 1977 in Victoria’s Fairfield neighbourhood, Thrifty Foods has established itself as a food ‘experience’ retailer that operates 27 retail locations throughout Vancouver Island, Salt Spring Island, and the BC Lower Mainland. To this day, Thrifty Foods continues to leverage and grow its unique brand position in the markets they serve with a particular focus on a differentiated customer-focused shopping and brand experience. They continue to drive growth through various product innovations, committed to offering the communities served a vast assortment of products from across BC. Their customers continue to let them know that the service experienced in the stores and the programs delivered day in and day out — to support the various communities served — remain significant contributing factors as to why Thrifty Foods is consistently voted Greater Victoria’s favourite place to shop for groceries.




Camosun College

SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS PRACTICES Cascadia Seaweed Founded in 2019, Cascadia Seaweed is growing — alongside their First Nation partners — to be the largest North American provider of ocean-cultivated seaweed, a climate-positive crop requiring only the sea and sunlight to grow. As the world population marches to 11 billion, MIKE WILLIAMSON Cascadia feels a AND BILL COLLINS responsibility to develop nutritious and delicious food that also makes a positive impact on the environment on a variety of levels including opening up some exciting business opportunities. These opportunities include supplimenting agrifeeds with seaweed to eliminate bovine methane emissions; creating plastic alternatives with seaweed; and, improving human health with the use of Nutra and pharmaceuticals.




Mike Geric Construction Mike Geric Construction is a familyowned development company that builds communities with sustainable design, innovative building technologies and beautiful, livable indoor and outdoor spaces. Founded as a custom home builder more than 50 years ago, the company is now known for their multifamily developments that focus on sustainability. In 2020, Mike Geric Construction started construction on the first mass timber condo building in Victoria. Mass timber has been gaining a strong following around the world because it provides an opportunity to build taller buildings with a renewable material that captures and stores carbon. Tresah, a 12-storey building, is one of the first of its kind in Canada and will lead the way for significant industry learning and progress in the adoption of this sustainable building technology.

Stephanie McMahon Snuneymuxw First Nation, Bachelor of Science in Nursing – Camosun Alumni


You always belong here Share your story at 50.camosun.ca




Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island

NON-PROFIT OF THE YEAR Our Place Society Island kids need you Island kid June


From its humble beginnings as a simple refuge, Our Place has grown from a singular inner-city community centre to 10 locations employing 200+ staff who operate a continuum of needed services for Greater Victoria’s most vulnerable. The charity welcomes and uplifts the lives of people struggling with homelessness, mental health challenges, moderate to severe substance-use issues, the working poor, and impoverished elderly. This past year, as complex new challenges faced this community, Our Place ensured continued service of 3 daily meals, increased paramedic outreach support and stepped up in a bold way to manage 3 hotels while continuing its transitional housing shelters. They also continued delivery of employment programs for people with barriers and long-term treatment for people struggling with addictions.


Victoria Rainbow Kitchen Society

Join us as champions for the health of every Island family by donating to the Kids First Fund today! islandkidsfirst.com

For over a decade, the Victoria Rainbow Kitchen Society has been providing barrierless access to anyone experiencing food insecurities in the Capital Region. Through food rescue, the Rainbow Kitchen is able to process, create and serve tasty and nutritious weekday meals, or re-allocate goods to fellow community partners, helping share vital goods to isolated communities each week. During COVID-19, the Rainbow Kitchen has seen a 100% increase in the demand for their essential services. They have been able to adapt, accommodate and evolve these programs in order to address this growing need which has been intensified by the pandemic. The Rainbow Kitchen remains steadfast in its mission of ‘filling the belly and feeding the soul’ for many years to come.






THE WHITE HATTER - PERSONAL PROTECTION SYSTEMS Brandon actively facilitates educational programs designed for students, parents, teachers, and businesses on the topics of privacy, security, digital literacy, and online intelligence gathering. Every year, The White Hatter donates time to help youth and their families deal with online challenges including mental health and has been credited with 211 successful interventions of youth who were considering selfharm or suicide because of an online incident. In response to the growing need for mental health support, his business created a free app that contains over 35 emergency resources for youth to connect with, if they find themselves in mental wellness crisis. In the last two years, Brandon pioneered the construction of a live broadcasting studio to reach more youth and families.


Jarid Taylor BRANDIGENOUS Brandigenous is a custom-branded merchandise company operating on Songhees First Nation land in Victoria. With a rooted philosophy of quality vs. quantity, and respect in utilizing natural and sustainable resources, Brandigenous operates with purpose and social responsibility in mind when cultivating products for clients. With over 10 years of experience in the industry, owner Jarid Taylor self-funded Brandigenous and began operations in 2018. From inception, a local and national customer base rapidly grew, primarily via referrals from existing clients and via strategic marketing campaigns. Brandigenous’ niche is working with local and national customers in the Indigenous sphere; but also, with any customer looking to engage with an Indigenous business and transition to a more thoughtful buying process.

USING YOUR CAREER AS THE CURRICULUM. Higher Education. Boldly Different. BeBoldRRU.ca

Felix,RRU Graduate




Canadian Tire

BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR Adam & Daisy Orser ROOT CELLAR VILLAGE GREEN GROCER The Root Cellar is an innovative destination market for extraordinary food experiences, and has been providing Victoria with locally sourced produce (and all of the good things that go with it) for 13 years. With deep roots in food sustainability and an unshakeable stance that everyone deserves access to fresh, healthy food; The Root Cellar is merely the vessel for delivering Daisy and Adam’s values and passion. This is what’s in the air when you’re shopping to live music, and why customers will leave excited about the impact of their shopping dollars, the local farmer they’ve supported, and the knowledge of how to eat a mangosteen.


At Canadian Tire, we love to help our community grow through our support of Jumpstart and other local charities and community groups. We thank you all for your support during this past year and hope to see you in our stores soon!


Ian Tostenson

BC RESTAURANT & FOOD SERVICES ASSOCIATION In March 2020, the $15 billion-dollar restaurant industry was effectively shuttered, due to pandemic restrictions affecting over 14,000 businesses and 190,000 employees. Backed by a dedicated and effective team, Ian built an advisory team to guide the reopening of the province’s restaurants and developed the first industry restart plan aimed at gaining back consumer and business confidence. Thanks to these efforts, BC was one of the only provinces in Canada to allow indoor dining. With partners, Ian also succeeded in advocating to government for improved wholesale liquor pricing, sale of alcohol with pick-up and delivery and an expanded province-wide patio program. When reflecting on the past year, Ian is proudest of how nimble, responsive and impactful the food industry has been in such challenging times.



PAST LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT WINNERS The Lifetime Achievement Award, honours individuals who, throughout a lifetime, have made an extraordinary contribution to the Greater Victoria community building good business and great community. This award is in recognition of their positive influence, resourcefulness, vision and in some cases pure determination that they have shown over the years. In 2021, the award was renamed the Governors’ Award of Distinction.





McCreadie & Tait

Dodd’s Furniture and Mattress





Charman Pacific Realty Ltd.

PAST CHAMBER MEMBERS OF THE YEAR The Chamber Member of the Year Award honours an individual who is an advocate for member businesses, is a volunteer and participates on The Chamber’s board or committees and who helps foster relationships between The Chamber and the community.


TELUS Community Board

Max Furniture







Camosun College & University of Victoria

Heart Pharmacy Group

(formerly Talentcor)





Royal Roads University

Keith Dagg Consulting Inc.







Accent Inns

Cedric Steele & Associates





Berwick Retirement Communities

Thrifty Foods





Oak Bay Marine Group

Chew Excavating

Agilus Work Solutions

2018 AL HASHAM Maximum Express Courier, Freight & Logistics

H2 Accelerator (formerly Hot House Marketing)

LEARN MORE ABOUT PAST WINNERS Visit The Chamber website for more details and subscribe to BizNews for exciting announcements coming soon!

> victoriachamber.ca/business-awards 2021 BUSINESS AWARDS



A knack for being in the right place at the right time Over a long and distinguished career, Frank Bourree says he’s had a knack for being in the right place at the right time.

Frank Bourree

This year, the recently retired Bourree found himself once again in a unique spot as the perfect candidate for the first ever Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s Governors’ Award of Distinction.


“I am deeply honored and humbled to be selected,” says Bourree, who was Chair of The Chamber’s Board of Directors from 2014-15, and currently serves on the Public Policy and Advocacy committee. “I know many wonderful hardworking business people I respect and look up to who also are very deserving of this recognition.” Bourree has been a Chamber member for more than 40 years. Over that time, the connections he’s made and the network he’s built through The Chamber have helped to grow his business. “It’s my belief that every business should be a member of The Chamber,” he says. “The Chamber does so much for the community that not everyone is aware of.” Bourree is still active in Greater Victoria, serving as current chair of the South Island Prosperity Partnership. But he is best known as co-founder of GT Hiring Solutions and Chemistry Consulting Group. Before Bourree and business partner Christine Willow sold the companies in 2019, they had grown GT Hiring Solutions, which offered employment services to people in need, to nine offices employing 130 people. On four occasions, the company was named one of the best places to work by BC Business magazine. The pair also turned Chemistry Consulting, which helped the tourism industry use statistics to tell its story, into into a premier provider of tourism and human resource industry research and reports. Bourree’s start in business began at a young age, but without a little luck and a lot of perserverance — his life could have been much different. His family suffered tragedy and relocated several times before he chose to leave home while still a teenager. For five years, he survived by couch surfing at friends and living on the street in Vancouver. Hungry and in need of food, he took a job at a restaurant and worked six nights a week while completing high school. The restaurant’s company, Controlled Foods (now the Earls Group), moved him into a manager role and then promoted him to area manager in Edmonton, where he looked after seven restaurants. In 1981, the company rewarded his hard work by sending him to the Island to manage 10 restaurants. “They also owned 52 A&Ws, which they were selling to focus on the Earls concept,” Bourree says, recalling his luck of being in the right place at the right time. “Because of my position, I got first right ... to buy six A&Ws when they were put up for sale.” He purchased the six Island A&Ws in 1983 before adding four more. “After 10 years, I sold all 10 restaurants,” he says. His next career step was as an independent consultant for the firm that eventually became known as Grant Thornton LLP. “I learned early that consulting was very unpredictable, with revenue some months and none the next,” Bourree says, adding that his background in the hospitality industry and his true love of people led him to specialize in tourism. After consulting for


an industry association, he helped create the Destinations Tourism Employment Program. “This program evolved and delivered service to the unemployed across BC,” he says. “And it provided my consulting practice with stable revenue in which to grow and build the business.” Over 11 years of running the program, Bourree says it helped connect unemployed British Columbians with more than 80,000 jobs. “Going back to school I got my designation and was made a partner at Grant Thornton in 1996,” he says. In 2006, the firm was looking to move away from its outsourced HR business and offered Bourree the practice — just as a large contract with the BC government was coming to an end.


Times Colonist

Congratulations Frank

“Again, the right place at the right time,” Bourree says. “My business partner Christine Willow and I won the next contract and that built our company, GT Hiring Solutions.” As well as a distinguished career in business, Bourree has not forgotten his past. He’s served on boards of many non-profits and charity organizations that helped disadvantaged people, especially those experiencing homelessness. Looking back, Bourree says the death of his father at a young age was a major influence. “I always was motivated and inspired by trying to make sure my dad would have been proud of me, so I worked extra hard and found myself getting offered more opportunities,” he says. He also became a dad himself at the age of 18 so he needed to work to provide for his young child. He would go on to have a total of seven kids in a blended family. “I firmly believe that one should focus a balanced life on family, business and community service,” he says. “I hope I have been a good role model for my kids and my staff, and that I’ve demonstrated that a positive attitude and perseverance will take you anywhere you want to go.”

Partners Frank Bourree, Christine Willow and Charles Shier celebrate a business award

Frank throwing first pitch at Chamber HarbourCats mixer

Frank in Business Matters during his term as board chair

(Photo from Oct 1, 2020 TC)

And a big thanks for all you do for this community!

Frank and his wife Jane at a fundraiser






Connections the key to building a good community If you know John Espley, you know he’s always ready to help. The 2021 Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce Member of the Year has dedicated his professional life to connecting businesses in a community as well as to the community. “My true core value is all about helping others, but I’ve always understood that business plays a major role in making community success possible,” Espley says, adding that he finds the work extremely satisfying. “I have also been lucky to have had many opportunities to work with not-for-profits and help them understand business, and, in some cases, help them think more like businesses in cases where that can help them achieve their goals.” Rose Arsenault, Branch Manager for Agilus Work Solutions, nominated Espley for the award. “John is always positive, always sharing information about the organization. He believes in the value of being a member and is always singing the praises of Chamber activities and advocacy efforts.” Espley is an Islander “through and through.” His family lived in Tofino when he was born, and he graduated from high school in Saanich. Along the way, his parents owned several small businesses, including food operations where he worked as a server and cook and, eventually, as a manager. “Being around small business since I was a teen, I think I was always aware of the chamber movement, but my first serious connection was when I began in sales,” Espley says, recalling the start of a long and happy relationship with The Chamber. “There have been so many experiences — lifelong friendships, connections all over the province and knowledge are the key things I continue to take away from The Chamber.” Espley has served on a number of Chamber committees over the years, including as chair of the Board of Directors in 2010. “Being on the board and a committee chair was a life changing experience,” he says. “I learned so much about governance.” Being a Chamber member has been rewarding for Espley on a personal and professional level. As with any type of membership, the more you put in, the more you get out. “The networking sessions have been the real key,” Espley says, acknowledging that meeting people through The Chamber has been vital to his career. His current title is Chief Connector at Connection Skills, a consulting company he recently founded. His specialty is building professional relationships that are vital for anyone working in sales or who is negotiating business. He’s also dedicated to being a mentor and knows first-hand the value of having someone who can show the way forward. Espley says mentors must possess a love for helping people as well as a desire to constantly learn new things. The payoff is watching others succeed, and knowing you played a role. “I have always had mentors and they have helped me learn and choose the several paths I have taken,” he says. “From my father (teaching me about) the outdoors to many different business people. I have found those individuals that I wish to emulate and

learn from and then connected with them. I still have several mentors I discuss things with.” One of the skills he says is critical to being successful is developing the ability to stay on task. “You need to learn how to focus,” Espley says about overcoming the challenges that come with being in business. “Understanding the big picture and then understanding how to plan. It’s a learning curve and mentors are great for helping you get there.” Over the course of his career, Espley says the drive to help others and contribute to community has always been more important than chasing dollars. His measure of success involves great life experiences and the strength of his loving family. “Without community we are all alone. Alone, which is fine for short periods but not a way to live,” Espley says, explaining why connecting with others is so important to living a good life. It’s a message that rings especially true during these pandemic times, when the future feels uncertain and many businesses are struggling to adapt and survive in a world much different than it was before COVID. Now more than ever, Espley’s skills are in high demand to help ensure all businesses have an opportunity to be part of the expected economic boon. “Think about it. The community gains by having more businesses that serve it,” he says. “Many life-changing supports and technologies have all been developed by business people. Even a computer betters itself by learning from previous programs and making changes and adaptations. People are no different. We can and should all learn from each other. By sharing our experiences, hopefully others will not only learn, but find ways to improve and create better experiences that contribute even more to society’s success.” After all, it’s those connections to a community that drive all of us to help when our community needs us.


Air Canada

LEADING THE WAY Congratulations to the winners

LA VOIE DE L’EXCELLENCE Félicitations à tous les lauréats John Espley with last year’s Chamber Member of the Year Rose Arsenault.

Rahim Khudabux, John Espley, Natasha Dilay and guest connect at a mixer.

As Chamber Chair in 2010, John Espley speaks to media.


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Profile for Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce

2021 Greater Victoria Business Awards Program  

Congratulations to all of the incredible businesses who were nominated and the finalists of this year's Greater Victoria Business Awards. Fr...

2021 Greater Victoria Business Awards Program  

Congratulations to all of the incredible businesses who were nominated and the finalists of this year's Greater Victoria Business Awards. Fr...

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