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Whistler PROFILES of

Excellence xcellence 2017 — eDition —


Whistler PROFILES of

Excellence

“ Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

aristotle

What does the word “excellence” conjure up for you? Here in Whistler we often define our excellence through our surroundings and physicality, whether it’s the natural beauty of the place or achievement in sport. But beyond these attributes, Whistler is home to business leaders and professionals who excel in arenas that may surprise you. They all share what Aristotle describes in the quote above: a commitment to excellence, an attribute that is not born, but bred in training and repetition, in years of service to their profession and their community. These people are responsible for creating conditions for living and working in the best resort town in the world. We are very proud to share these Profiles of Excellence and hope you are inspired by these individuals who make Whistler home. Sarah Strother president, whistler publishing lp


Whistler PROFILES of

Excellence

Maggi Thornhill

Thornhill Real Estate Group

3

Tom Docking

Whistler Real Estate Lawyer

5

Sally Shureih

Lionsgate Laser Clinic

7

Bob Deeks

RDC Fine Homes

9

Shannon Byrne Susko

Entrepreneur/CEO Coach

11

Doug DeYagher

Scandinave Spa

13

Jay Paré

Caramba! Restaurant

15

Theresa Ginter

Nita Lake Lodge

17

Mike Walsh

Walsh Restorations

19

Dave Evans & Beau Craig

WRM Strata Management and Real Estate Services Ltd.

21

COVER PHOTO Front: Snowy winter sunset over Whistler; Pierre Leclerc / shutterstock.com Inside back cover: Brandywine Falls is a beautiful place to visit whatever the weather or season; Jennifer Treptow.

PUBLISHER Sarah Strother WRITING Alison Taylor PHOTOGRAPHY David Buzzard DESIGN Claire Ryan PROJECT MARKETING Susan Hutchinson, Amy Allen,

Kate Whitley, Tessa Sweeney

Published by Whistler Publishing Limited Partnership, a division of Glacier Media Group. 103–1390 Alpha Lake Rd., Whistler, B.C., V0N 1B1 TELEPHONE (604) 938-0202 | EMAIL sales@wplpmedia.com No reproduction in whole or in part without the express written permission of the publisher. © Whistler Publishing LP 2017

WHISTLER PROFILES OF EXCELLENCE 2017 |

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thornhill real estate Group

Maggi Thornhill

T

heir clients come from LA, New York, Vancouver, China, London, Hong Kong, Mexico.

They are people who could live anywhere in the world and yet, time and again, they choose to call Whistler home. A town with laid-back, rural charm mixed with urban sophistication, world-class amenities with lowkey style, and a massive backyard mountain playground that draws people together, Whistler has cemented itself as one of the premier places in the world to buy recreation real estate. And there’s little doubt that Maggi Thornhill has had a hand in that success. “We’re so lucky to sell it,” says Whistler’s No. 1 realtor and the driving force behind Thornhill Real Estate Group. “But there was hard work and risk involved in making it happen.” Hard work and risk. Not to mention, having faith that the world would see Whistler’s potential just as she did when she opened the doors to Thornhill Real Estate Group 10 years ago. Thornhill’s aim was to deliver a boutique level of service, staking her success on where she believed Whistler was going, not where it had been. She wanted to provide service that matched other premier resorts around the world, for clients she knew were going to come. The doors opened to an elegant office in Creekside in 2007 for Thornhill and son Max to work side by side.

It didn’t take long for their instincts about Whistler to pay off. In the last 10 years, Thornhill Real Estate Group has turned into a brokerage with 30 realtors. A second office opened in Squamish two years ago and there is a new satellite office in Whistler Village. Their timing, to say the least, has been impeccable. In the last few years the average single family house price has jumped by roughly $1 million. Every day Thornhill meets clients who are searching out the same things she fell in love with in Whistler when she first came with her family — a safe and healthy place to raise kids, a small town with big city influences, a lively community humming beneath the glossy resort. It’s the same now as it was almost 30 years ago.

“We’re so lucky to sell it. But there was hard work and risk involved in making it happen.”

True to form, Thornhill made a name for herself as soon as she arrived; her first sale in 1989 turned out to be the most expensive house ever sold in Whistler at $750,000. In many ways, that set the tone for her future career; the high-end market has always been her niche. There is, however, so much more to Whistler’s real estate business than those one-off multi-million dollar sales and the record-breaking headliners. If people love their home and take pride in where they live, whether it’s an original A-Frame ski cabin or an exclusive estate home, Thornhill can sell it. It’s that simple. The thrill of the deal is in helping people realize their dreams in Whistler. “It sometimes surprises me that I’ve

 Main photo: Maggi and Max Thornhill lead the team of 30 realtors at Thornhill Real Estate Group.  Right inset: Whistler’s top realtor, Maggi Thornhill, has been selling the Whistler dream for more than 30 years.

been able to live in this little town for almost 30 years,” she says with a smile and a nod to her roots growing up in Manchester, England. “I’ve never once had that feeling that I need to move on, that it’s too small. And that’s because… the world comes to us.”

325-2063 Lake Placid Rd. Whistler B.C. VON 1B2 604.932.1875 www.maggithornhill.com

Whistler PROFILES of

Excellence

whistler profiles of excellence 2017 |

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Whistler real estate lawyer

Tom Docking

T

om Docking knows why people want to live in Whistler and own a little piece of paradise; it’s the same reasons he had for moving back here after almost 40 years.

commercial work. But when it comes down to it, real estate law is what he likes best.

He points to the view beyond his office window in the heart of Whistler Village where, binoculars in hand, he can see people skiing down Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains on any given winter’s day.

As a real estate lawyer, Docking’s task is to advise on the transaction before a contract is finally signed, or implement the terms of a contract once it is unconditional.

“I realized that a corner office downtown was not what I wanted,” he muses of that fateful decision after being called to the Bar in 1980. In many ways, this is how it was always meant to be for the long-time real estate lawyer who has been enjoying this office view for the past four years. “It was time to come back,” he says of the 2013 decision, pointing to a photo hanging on his wall of him spreadeagled in the air, going off a jump on Whistler Mountain in the late sixties. This time, however, he wasn’t working for the Garibaldi Lift Company as a fresh-faced high school grad. Rather, Docking was bringing his 30-plus years of expertise as a real estate lawyer to one of the most infamous real estate markets in B.C. He calls the business of real estate law “happy work.” In the course of more than three decades, he has practiced all kinds of law — bank foreclosures, receiverships, buying and selling businesses and general corporate/

“You generally have a party that wants to sell and one that wants to buy; no conflicts!” he says. And when you’re doing “happy work,” it’s easy to come to the office.

With many different companies and individuals involved in every deal — the buyers, the sellers, other lawyers, the lenders, the realtors, the insurance companies, strata property managers — this can be an often confusing transaction that people only partially understand.

But he is willing to share this: “At the end of the day, why a business is successful is all about caring,” he says. “Caring is the number one quality; we care about each and every client.”

“Caring is the number one quality; we care about each and every client.”

“We deal with all of them and guide our clients through this maze,” he says. This is the third time Docking has started a law firm in a new town. His first move was straight out of being called to the Bar. Packing up the family and loading the U-Haul, he set up a practice with another lawyer in Cranbrook and stayed for the next 20 years, raising his four children with his wife of 45 years. Next came a short period of time in Cochrane, Alberta that was “too flat for us,” so they moved again and set up a law practice in Canmore for the next 10 years. The move to Whistler was a homecoming of sorts, a decision of the heart, to be closer to their children and grandchildren, old friends and the ocean.

Suite 338A - 4370 Lorimer Rd. Whistler, B.C. V0N 1B4 604.905.5180

Docking isn’t giving away any of the

 Main photo: Tom Docking has found a niche in real estate law, setting up his practice in Whistler, one of B.C.’s hottest real estate markets.  Right inset: Whistler lawyer Tom Docking in his Whistler office, with legal assistants Sunny Hsu and Adam Fraser.

secrets of his success to building up a clientele and a reputation.

whistlerrealestatelawyer.ca

Whistler PROFILES of

Excellence

whistler profiles of excellence 2017 |

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Lionsgate Laser CLINIC

Sally Shureih

I

n the often delicate subject of laser hair removal, Sally Shureih has a knack for making people feel at ease. That’s ultimately the secret to her long success in the business.

the family, Shureih decided to sell up and start all over again, moving west with her husband. She was 58 years old.

“But because we’ve been in the industry for 17 years, we know all the tricks to make it manageable,” she says.

Little did she know, it would not pan out as she had planned.

And don’t forget: A handful of sessions at Shureih’s hands means payoffs of a lifetime.

“We’re all little snowflakes; we’re all different,” says Shureih, of the thousands of people who have walked through her doors looking for her help.

Reputation is everything in the laser hair removal business and word of mouth is the name of the game. It was a bumpy 18 months — new home, new city, new business.

“They’re like my children. That’s why I go to work every day — to make a difference in their lives.” Her gentle exterior and soft English accent belie the grit and courage at the heart of the woman behind Lionsgate Laser Clinic, who had the conviction to sell her popular laser hair removal clinic in Ottawa and start from scratch in North Vancouver just a few short years ago. “I thought we were going to hit the ground running,” admits Shureih ruefully. That’s how it had always been. Her career in the business began 17 years ago after training as a certified laser technician in a doctor’s office in Ottawa. Shureih built up her reputation and client base over eight years there, gaining the experience and confidence to eventually go out on her own. In 2007 she opened the Ottawa Laser Clinic and didn’t look back. Shureih turned it into an award-winning business, drawing from the diverse population in the surrounding area. But love trumped all. After five years, with her three grown children on the West Coast, and a new grandchild in

“It’s hard reinventing yourself. I felt like: ‘Nobody knows Sally,” she says of the competitive North Vancouver market.

Until... she set her sights on the Sea to Sky corridor. Shureih remembers the fateful phone call from her daughter, an esthetician in Pemberton, telling her that people in Whistler’s small bedroom community to the north were asking about laser hair removal. It was just what Shureih needed to hear. One mobile laser machine and three months later and Shureih had 40 new clients.

“Oh, I know Sally,” they say here now, with a knowing look and a smile.

“...because we’ve been in the industry for 17 years, we know all the tricks...”

The next step was to open her doors in Whistler Village at the end of 2014. One year later, a new set of doors opened in Squamish. “The market here is amazing because you have this influx of my demographic, which I didn’t fully understand until I lived here,” she says of the women in their 20s to 30s who come every season to ski and snowboard. That demographic is stretching out now to women in their 40s and 50s; men are also beginning to jump on board, the short term pain worth the long term gain. Shureih doesn’t mince her words about the process; it’s a sensitive business.

 Main photo: Sally Shureih puts her clients at ease when they come to her laser hair removal clinic in the heart of Whistler Village.  Right inset: Certified laser technicians Alia Hawthorne (middle) and Elisha Duncan (right) are part of the team at Lionsgate Laser.

It hasn’t taken long to develop a name for herself, finding a niche in Whistler and the wider Sea to Sky corridor.

124-4338 Main St., Whistler 202-38142 Cleveland Ave., Squamish 2120 Dollarton Hwy., North Vancouver phone

778.835.5556

www.lionsgatelaser.com

Whistler PROFILES of

Excellence

whistler profiles of excellence 2017 |

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RDC FINE HOMEs

Bob Deeks

B

ob Deeks gave away his first Whistler house, quite literally, piece by piece. It was 20 years ago and Deeks was getting ready to build a spec house on the west side of the valley. There was, however, the matter of the existing ski cabin on the property — not worth much by anyone’s standards but recently renovated with lots of good nuts and bolts within. Deeks couldn’t bear to throw it all away so he put out the word and over one long weekend, a young, local guy came in with about 20 friends and meticulously tore it apart; the metal roofing was stacked up, the electrical wiring neatly rolled away, the flooring pulled apart and de-nailed. Windows, appliances, and everything else in between were carted up to storage in Pemberton, to live another day. Deeks was left with an empty lot and an epiphany of sorts. “It just opened my eyes to the fact that there was a better way to do certain things: we need to waste less and we need to throw less stuff out,” he says. “It made me more curious about what other opportunities there were.” A builder before his time? Perhaps. Or rather, a visionary on the cutting edge. In the last two decades, green building is slowly becoming the new paradigm in construction. RDC Fine Homes, with Deeks at the helm, has been at the forefront of that shift — learning, testing the waters, taking risks, and learning some more. It has been an ever-evolving, award-wining and exciting process… not without its

challenges along the way. But here’s what Deeks knows without a doubt: energy efficient homes are simply better homes. They last longer, feel better and perform well. In that regard, they’re worth every penny of the roughly five per cent premium on the bottom line. “If I look at what people are spending on automobiles to get a luxury component, they’re not spending five per cent; they’re spending 100 per cent more on a car to get luxury features,” he says. Why not the same for a home? “If we look at high performance houses having luxury features in terms of having better thermal comfort, better indoor air quality, and better durability, even if you don’t consider the energy efficiency, there’s enormous value there for people because you’re just going to get a place that feels better. That’s really what we sell.”

Earlier this year, RDC took home several Georgie Awards, including Best Certified Home - Production for a project in Squamish and Customer Satisfaction - Renovator. The Georgie Awards celebrate excellence in home building in B.C. You could say RDC is changing the game — one house at a time.

“...we need to waste less and we need to throw less stuff out.”

Not to mention, he believes it’s the right thing to do. Take one of RDC’s showcase projects set to complete in 2017 — an 8,000 square foot house on the shores of Green Lake. Typically, a house like that would be an energy hog. RDC has delivered a high-performing house that Deeks estimates will be around 65 to 70 per cent more efficient than a house built to standard building code. It is one of so many interesting projects that RDC has shepherded along the way, among them Whistler’s first Net Zero house built in the lead up to the 2010 Olympic Games, the first Built Green whole house renovation which won them

 Main photo: Leading the green building charge, Bob Deeks of RDC Fine Homes says energy efficient homes are simply better homes.  Right inset: RDC has multiple awards to its name including the latest –a Georgie for Best Certified Home - Production for Sky Pilot - Silver in Squamish.

their first Georgie award, and on the horizon, plans to build a Step Code demonstration house in Squamish.

#203-1390 Alpha Lake Rd. Function Junction Whistler, B.C. V0N 1B1 phone

778.835.5556

www.rdcfinehomes.com

Whistler PROFILES of

Excellence

whistler profiles of excellence 2017 |

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Serial Entrepreneur/Amazon Best Selling Author/CEO Coach

Shannon Byrne Susko

A

s founder and CEO in 1995, Shannon Byrne Susko was keen to grow her first company. With 100-hour work weeks for a few years, she became desperate for the “winning” formula. She was sure someone else had figured it out and written it down. So, for the next two years, she read four business books per week from the business thought leaders of the time, looking for the growth solution. Susko and her team learned lots of great foundational business frameworks from leaders like Jim Collins, Michael Porter, and Peter Drucker but they couldn’t find one framework that pulled it all together, offering a practical and prescriptive system to grow their company. Susko met Verne Harnish in 2000 who shared the Rockefeller Habits and his One Page Strategic Plan. The team implemented these habits and foundation tool, along with the tools of Jim Collins, Pat Lencioni, and Brad Smart. Susko found a rhythm and built a framework with her team to scale up her company over the next six years with a successful exit to a US-based company. She then co-founded her second FinTech company in 2008 and utilized the same framework for a homerun exit in 2011 where she was recognized as Dealmaker of the Year in Vancouver and placed in the Top 3 in New York. The Metronome Effect: The Journey to Predictable Profit, written by Susko, was released in July 2014. It has become an Amazon Best Seller in Entrepreneurship and is used as a text book at major business schools. When Susko was asked what motivated her

to write the book she said: “Everyone is asking: ‘How did you scale up two companies with successful exits in six years?’” This was her answer. She felt it was important to write down the prescriptive framework and share it with CEOs who wanted to commit to growth as she did. “I was desperate to grow my first company and do not want anyone to be as desperate as I was to grow their company,” she says. Her disciplined growth framework incorporates six key systems: the Cultural System, Cohesive System, Human System, Strategic System, Execution System and Cash System. Her book is a step-by-step guide for all leaders to ensure these systems and the team stay aligned for growth. Susko’s Big Hairy Audacious Goal is to impact communities throughout the world by sharing her Metronome Framework with growth companies and their CEOs. She has lived in Whistler for more than 25 years and now travels the world as a speaker, CEO Coach and co-founder of Metronome Growth Systems.

Among other things, Susko has been recognized as BIV/ACG Vancouver 2011 Deal Maker of the Year, Report on Business Magazine’s Canada’s Top 40 Under 40™ Award 2000 and the 2006 recipient of the Sarah Kirke Award for Canada’s Leading Women High Tech Entrepreneur. Susko wants to get in front of as many CEOs and leaders as possible to share her story, to share the Metronome Growth Framework and to make a difference to entrepreneurs in realizing their goals for their companies. No one knows better than Susko what it takes to grow a company, big or small, and have fun doing it too. – edited by Alison Taylor

Metronome Growth Systems is Susko’s third company, co-founded with two partners from her first two companies. This Cloud Platform supports CEOs and their coaches to successfully implement the growth framework with ease and visibility in order to focus their teams and growth of the businesses. Her second book will be released in the fall of 2017, focusing on the strategic system that every company requires to easily differentiate and grow their company. The “3HAG” – 3 Year Highly Achievable Goal – as Susko has coined it – is a practical strategic framework targeted for all businesses to build the

 Main photo: Serial entrepreneur Shannon Byrne Susko is taking her growth strategy framework called the “Metronome Growth Framework” to companies around the world, coaching leaders to create a “disciplined rhythm” within their organizations to help them scale up their businesses.  Right inset: A popular speaker, Susko travels the world sharing her story and her methods for successful growth.

confidence they need to realize their growth goals in 10-plus years (BHAG), 3 Years (3HAG), 12 months, and 90 days.

shannon@ceozen.ca 604.902.6632 www.shannonsusko.com

Whistler PROFILES of

Excellence

whistler profiles of excellence 2017 |

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Scandinave Spa

Doug DeYagher

W

histler didn’t really know what to think about the Scandinave Spa when it first opened its doors before the 2010 Olympic Games. In the high-energy, adrenalinfuelled resort, a Scandinavian baths experience seemed an odd fit. Who has the time to relax and rejuvenate in the mountains when you’re busy riding up and sliding down them? It took about two years to understand why. And now the Scandinave Spa is as much Whistler as skiing and mountain biking. “This is the perfect dessert for Whistler… if you think about it,” says general manager Doug DeYagher, who was lured here from the Sunshine Coast five years ago to run the spa. It was a homecoming of sorts — DeYagher grew up in Seton Portage, close to Lillooet. He knows just what it takes to have community buy-in and how it can make all the difference in business. In the last five years, Scandinave has grown from a Whistler afterthought to a bona fide destination activity in its own right. Scandinave’s outdoor/indoor spa concept centres around the centuries-old practice of hot and cold Scandinavian hydrotherapy, letting changing water temperatures work their healing magic. Spend 15 minutes in an Eucalyptus steam room or a wood-burning Finnish sauna then hit the Nordic waterfalls at 11 degrees to really feel alive. Next, be still in one of the

relaxation areas or laze in Hammock Heaven. And then do it all over again. There are no time limits. It’s just as wonderful as it sounds. But… is the cold plunge really necessary? “Do you know how many people ask me that?” smiles DeYagher. “That’s the whole experience of the Scandinave, that’s hydrotherapy. You don’t have to get in for more than 10 seconds and yes, you have to do it.”

He calls the whole experience “affordable wellness” as he points to the scene outside his office window — couples enjoying some child-free time together, twenty-year-old athletes easing their aches and pains, older people quietly contemplating the mountain peaks. The snow is falling softly around them, blanketing the surrounding spruce and cedar forest with fresh powder.

Speaking from personal experience, DeYagher says blasting cold water for the final 10 seconds of his shower in the morning simply changes his day.

“This is my favourite time to go,” muses DeYagher.

“Ever since I started doing it, my health has improved immensely,” he says. “It does work. I’m actually 80 years old!”

This could very well be Whistler’s best dessert. In fact, it may just be the icing on the cake.

“Where else can you spend a day with this kind of experience for $65?”

The physical benefits go hand in hand with the mental benefits. There is a no talking policy at the spa and part of the process is to find inner calm — soothe the body, the mind and the soul. It’s the kind of mindful rest that comes with practice. It could be as simple as watching the snowflakes fall or the flames dance in the outdoor fireplaces. Whistler has now fully embraced the Scandinave experience, making it one of the most popular activities to do beyond Whistler Blackcomb. Scandinave Whistler has grown into the busiest of the four Scandinave Spas, with other locations in Mont-Tremblant, Blue Mountain and Old Montreal. To accommodate this growing popularity, DeYagher has recently overseen an expansion that includes a new sauna and steam rooms, three

 Main photo: Scandinave General Manager Doug DeYagher calls the spa experience Whistler’s “perfect dessert”.  Right inset: Staff members Matt Hannigan, Keoni Smith and Martin Loose, stand amongst the baths with Doug DeYagher.

relaxation rooms, a multi-purpose/yoga room and, the requisite cold waterfall.

8010 Mons Rd. Whistler, B.C. VON 1B8 toll free 1.888.936.6681 local 604.935.2424

www.scandinave.com

Whistler PROFILES of

Excellence

whistler profiles of excellence 2017 |

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Caramba! restaurant

Jay Paré

T

here are unwritten rules in the restaurant industry no matter where you work in the world. Tradition demands: You have to pay your dues.

Typically, that comes in the form of long hours, late nights, temperamental personalities, and not much reward until you make your mark. Then, and only then, have you learned the ropes enough to go on your own. Jay and James Paré have played by those rules, spending years paying their dues in Whistler and beyond. Now, it’s finally paying off. For more than two years, the uncle/ nephew duo have been breathing new life into the old Whistler Village restaurant, Caramba! “We’ve taken Caramba! to another level and to see it succeed like that is a lot more rewarding as an owner,” admits Jay Paré. It wasn’t without its risks but Paré always knew he had an ace up his sleeve when the time was right to go on his own. That ace was his nephew James, the former executive chef at The Savoy in London, one of the most prestigious hotels in the world. Their time came in 2014. That’s when one of Whistler’s restaurant pioneers, Mario Enero, agreed to sell them Caramba!, a Whistler institution for 20 years. “We’ve kept the concept the same,” says Paré, of the wood-fire pizzas and the hearty pastas, cuisine he calls “European comfort food.”

But there’s definitely a flavour of The Savoy in there too — world-class touches subtlety woven through the menu with dashes of sophistication.

This is the beauty of their partnership: They know that without excellent service even the most extraordinary food would fall flat, and vice versa.

The change has brought new life and energy to the establishment. Locals are rediscovering Caramba! and visitors are coming in droves.

And they also now know that paying your dues can pay off in the long run; it just takes a little faith and a lot of hard work.

“I know Whistler and I think that helps — knowing the town, knowing the seasons, knowing what to expect and taking advantage of that,” says Paré. In many ways, it’s a story that comes full circle. When Paré first arrived in Whistler 34 years ago, it was Mario Enero who took a chance on the young kid from Montreal, just 18 years old. He started as a busboy in an upscale restaurant where Enero was general manager. Paré was hungry for more, working his way up — busboy to server, server to maitre d’, maitre d’ to assistant manager, assistant manager to general manager and learning along the way how to work a room, how to maximize seats and turn over tables and, most importantly, how to make people feel welcome in his restaurants. Meanwhile, his nephew was watching it all unfold and wanted to be a part of it. “Go learn how to cook,” Paré recalls telling James. “I’ve got the front end, you go learn the back end and that will be a good partnership.” James Paré’s career began in the staff cafeteria at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler and then the banqueting kitchen. He moved to Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle as sous chef for two and a half years and then made the big jump across the ocean where it didn’t take long to leave his mark at The Savoy.

 Main photo: The uncle/nephew duo, Jay Paré (right) and James Paré (left) are putting their experience to the test at Caramba!  Right inset: After working his way up through Whistler’s restaurant industry, Jay Paré now invites guests to dine at his own extablishment.

“We’ve taken Caramba! to another level and to see it succeed like that is a lot more rewarding as an owner”

12-4314 Main St. Whistler, B.C. V0N 1B4 604.938.1879 www.carambarestaurant.com

Whistler PROFILES of

Excellence

whistler profiles of excellence 2017 |

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Nita Lake Lodge

Theresa Ginter

T

here were two options, as Theresa Ginter saw it, when she was offered the role of hotel general manager of the Nita Lake Lodge at 29 years old.

something that Ginter is particularly proud of when she reflects on her whirlwind journey to the top.

“I would either be able to really make a big impact and move the business forward, make it a success, increase revenues and bring stability or, I would just fail miserably and fall flat on my nose and that would be that,” she smiles, remembering.

“We’re the only lakeside, full-service boutique lodge in Whistler,” says Ginter.

And so, feeling as though she had nothing to lose and everything to gain, she went for it, bringing a fresh-faced vision and mission to all facets of the lodge from the full-service spa to the lakeside Aura Restaurant and the more laid-back Cure Lounge and Patio.

The lodge offers free lake amenities for guests such as kayaks, canoes and paddleboards.

That was just over three years ago. In that time, the accolades have been rolling in. Nita Lake Lodge was voted the No. 1 Resort in Canada in the 2015 Conde Nast Readers’ Choice Awards and it is currently holding the spot as No. 1 hotel in Whistler on TripAdvisor. The 77-room boutique lodge, on the shores of Nita Lake, has gone from hovering at year-round occupancy in the 60 per cent range to this year’s target of 84 per cent. That target is well within Ginter’s reach. But she’s well aware that it’s a team effort that makes all the difference in Nita Lake Lodge’s success. Beyond the very compelling numbers, there has been a culture shift within the organization too, a sense that Nita Lake is an exciting and fulfilling place to work. That’s

Rather than seeing its location outside the village as a disadvantage, the team now celebrates this uniqueness.

“There’s just something really special about being close to the lake. It’s very calming and it just has such a different feeling than staying in the village.”

“For me, the whole idea of canoeing on a lake… it’s just very Canadian,” says Ginter, who came to Whistler from Germany 10 years ago, a temporary stop on a backpacking trip around the world.

“This is, hands down, a town where you can make a mark.”

Ginter started at Nita Lake in 2010 in the front office, quickly moving to front office and revenue manager and then to operations manager. Throughout that time the hotel was in constant flux. In late 2013 she became the interim general manager for a few months before the management company decided to take a chance on her. Ginter remembers her first meeting at the Hotel Association of Whistler — she was the only female GM at the table and she was also one of the youngest. She is now vice chair of that board and represents the hotel association at One Whistler meetings. Whistler, she says, is ripe with opportunity.

 Main photo: One of Whistler’s youngest hotel general managers, Theresa Ginter is raising the bar for women in the hospitality industry in Whistler.  Right inset: Left to right: Rhiannon Csordas, Joleen Kenney, Theresa Ginter, Nancy Steward and Samantha Royle.

“I hope that I can not only inspire young women, but also men with my story, to chase their dreams and work hard to achieve excellence and have exciting careers. If you can see behind the veil of Whistler being a town full of ski bums or party people, you will notice that Whistler has an amazing community of creative and successful people. You will need to work hard and not give up when you experience setbacks, but with the right attitude and motivation, there is a huge opportunity for young people to shine and have amazing careers within the hospitality industry and also other sectors.

2131 Lake Placid Rd. Whistler, B.C. VON 1B2 phone

888.755.6482

www.nitalakelodge.com

Whistler PROFILES of

Excellence

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Walsh restorations

Mike Walsh

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ike Walsh calls it one of the proudest moments of his career. A few months ago Walsh Restorations was awarded a Civilian Citation from the Whistler Fire Rescue Services. The award was in recognition of the company’s long-standing work with local firefighters, most recently teaching first responders about the hazards of asbestos in the workplace, something Walsh Restorations knows a thing or two about. Asbestos was pervasive in construction before 1990, in drywall filler, texture coatings, lino flooring and more. And the long-term effects from unsafe exposure are deadly. The Civilian Citation wasn’t handed out lightly; it’s been at least 15 years since the last one in Whistler. “It was so unexpected,” says Walsh. “We honestly couldn’t believe it.” Walsh Restorations has come a long way from its humble beginnings, on a hope and a hunch and a $5,000 credit card in 2002. During its second year in business, the catastrophic Pemberton bridge washout and massive flooding in the area really tested the company’s mettle as Pemberton buckled under the deluge of flood waters. Walsh responded by quickly hiring three dozen employees, buying a quarter million dollars in equipment and getting to the work of restoring people’s damaged homes. That’s one of the hallmarks of his company — fast, efficient service in the event of an emergency. Did Mike Walsh ever think it would

end up this way, running the largest restoration company in the Sea to Sky corridor, still locally owned and operated? “Not in my wildest imaginations,” he says. He makes no bones about it, the early years were tough. Though the phone was ringing off the hook, the company was hemorrhaging money, propped up by a successful spec home building business on the side. Four years in, Walsh had to make a decision. He brought in business partner Kuldip Kang. Walsh remembers telling him: “‘You have a business degree but you don’t have a business. And I have a business but I don’t have a degree. I know this is a good idea. I know it works.’ I had such fierce belief that this would work.”

“They’ve all gone on to do stuff way more exciting than I ever did,” says Walsh. “But I wanted them to know what it had taken.” Walsh is proof that hard work and faith can pay off, even in a place like Whistler. His advice? “Go for it. Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. This business was started on $5,000 on a visa so it can be done. Quitting is not an option.”

His instincts and his resolve paid off. Walsh Restorations’ red and white trucks are a part of Whistler’s construction landscape — harbingers of help when disaster strikes, usually in the form of water from failing water tanks, broken dishwashers and washing machines, and winter’s inevitable freeze/thaw pipe problems. Aside from the busy day-to-day work, Walsh is also prepared for a catastrophic event. The company owns double the equipment that it has ever used on the busiest day of the month. It sits in storage, at the ready should disaster strike. This success means Walsh Restorations continues to donate 2 to 4 per cent of gross sales to charities in the Sea to Sky corridor every year. The community means something

 Main photo: Business partners Mike Walsh (left) and Kuldip Kang have built up the largest restoration company in the Sea to Sky corridor over the past 15 years.  Right inset: The team at Walsh Restorations stays busy fixing up damaged homes.

to the company. This is the place where Walsh raised his four sons, teaching them the importance of hard work. All four have worked for Walsh Restorations at some point.

102-4369 Main St. Whistler, B.C. V0N 1B1 888.905.8802 www.walshrestoration.ca

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WRM Strata Management and Real Estate Services LTD.

Dave Evans & Beau Craig

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histler Resort Management (WRM) has written the playbook on resort-style strata management ever since it opened its doors in 1986. For three decades WRM has remained steady and constant in the face of evolving regulations and changing market dynamics. Its place is confirmed as Whistler’s largest strata management company by far, with a portfolio of 194 strata corporations, totalling more than 9,000 clients. “A lot of our clients really don’t fully understand the full scope of what we do on a daily basis,” says managing partner Dave Evans, of WRM’s unique marketplace. But one thing is certain — their clients know their Whistler properties are in good hands. WRM is proud of its deep-rooted connection to Whistler. That can make all the difference in the strata management business, knowing the town and its people inside and out. You can sense this connection in WRM’s large offices in Function Junction — busy, friendly, professional and filled with the requisite sense of humour that comes from juggling complaints and minor disasters. “We are now the only local strata management company in Whistler,” says fellow managing partner Beau Craig. “The other companies that are operating in Whistler are owned and run from the city.” That really means something, especially

for Evans and Craig who have recently transitioned from long-term strata agents to managing partners, allowing WRM’s former owners to step back from the dayto-day operations of the business. It was a role that appealed to both, in part because of the 35 employees that are the backbone of the company. Each strata agent, for example, has a portfolio of stratas, not unlike their own small business. They have autonomy and flexibility and stability — in other words, not your typical Whistler job. “The culture here is amazing,” says Craig. “This is the best team we’ve ever had. That was a big part of why we were interested, both of us, in buying into the business; the people who are here make the biggest difference.” After years in the business, nothing fazes Evans and Craig. No request is too random, no complaint too obscure. They’ve heard it all before.

That isn’t the only change on the horizon as Evans and Craig look to put their own stamp on this 30-yearold business, taking their resort-style strata management experience, honed in Whistler, throughout the Sea to Sky corridor. WRM has an office in Squamish and has seen significant growth in that area. The company has a home care division, offering services for absentee owners such as regular inspections which are required by insurance companies. It also offers long term rental management services. So while WRM’s core business remains the same — dealing with the parties, the pets, the parking — its future looks anything but boring. Those chapters in the playbook, however, are yet to be written.

As Whistler begins to come of age with buildings showing the wear and tear of their 30-plus years in a mountain environment, WRM’s role is subtly expanding too. Evans points to the $7 million restoration work in 2013 at one of Whistler’s iconic village buildings, the Carleton Lodge. WRM was engaged as the owners’ representatives during the construction process, acting as the eyes and ears on the ground, helping streamline the flow of information. It was a lot of hard work that paid off with a vibrant, fresh-faced building in the heart of the village. “The town is at the age where that type of project is going to be very prevalent in what we now do,” says Evans.

202-1410 Alpha Lake Rd. Whistler, B.C. V0N 1B1 phone

“That’s the kind of stuff that we’re actively

 Main photo: Beau Craig (left) and Dave Evans, on site at Kadenwood, are at the helm of Whistler Resort Management, Whistler’s largest strata management company, managing $2.8 billion worth of assets.  Right inset: WRM’s managing partners look to put their own stamp on this 30-year Whistler business.

involved in changing.”

604.932.2972

www.wrm.ca

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photographer

David Buzzard David Buzzard is an award winning Whistler commercial photographer and photojournalist.

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tarting as a newspaper photographer while still in high school, David moved to South Africa in 1994 to cover the end of apartheid, working for the Durban Daily News, Sunday Times, and Weekly Mail & Guardian newspapers. While he was the Durban photographer for the Mail & Guardian newspaper, it was awarded the British IPD Best International Newspaper Award, and the Missouri Medal for Distinguished Journalism. David’s photography was featured prominently in Michael Schmidt’s acclaimed book on post apartheid South Africa, Drinking With Ghosts: The Aftermath of Apartheid’s Dirty War. David is now a commercial photographer specializing in corporate portraiture, industrial, and food photography. In 2012, David returned to newspaper photography, working extensively for the Whistler Question, Pique Newsmagazine, and Squamish Chief newspapers. He has since won eight press awards, including two first place gold medals from the Canadian Community Newspaper Association in 2015. www.media-centre.ca

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Editor & writer

Alison Taylor Alison Taylor has been telling Whistler’s stories for the past 15 years.

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s a long-time reporter for Pique Newsmagazine, Alison won a Jack Webster Award for Science, Technology, Health and Environment in 2012 for a series of articles based on her feature “Healing Hands,” about the Whistler Health Care Centre. The Jack Webster awards are the top journalism awards in British Columbia. More recently, Alison has been awarded for her work by the Canadian Community Newspaper Awards. She is now a freelance writer and editor but her byline is often still found within the pages of the Pique, Whistler’s weekly newsmagazine. She loves telling Whistler’s stories, whether it’s about excellence in business, as highlighted within these pages, or mountain biking on local trails, skiing at Whistler Blackcomb or those everyday ordinary stories about life in a mountain town. alirobb@shaw.ca

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Whistler PROFILES of

Excellence

For enquiries regarding the next edition of Whistler Profiles of Excellence, please contact Susan Hutchinson at shutchinson@wplpmedia.com or by phone at (604) 938-0202.

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Whistler PROFILES of

Excellence

2017 — eDition —

Profile for Whistler Publishing

Whistle Profiles of Excellence 2017  

Here in Whistler we often define our excellence through our surroundings and physicality, whether it’s the natural beauty of the place or ac...

Whistle Profiles of Excellence 2017  

Here in Whistler we often define our excellence through our surroundings and physicality, whether it’s the natural beauty of the place or ac...