Applauding Creston’s influencers

We present an abbreviated Who’s Who of the Creston business community

Kitt Santano is the founder and owner of Swift Internet Services in Creston, B.C.

Kitt Santano is the founder and owner of Swift Internet Services in Creston, B.C. — Natalie Santano photo

Below are examples of Creston citizens who are having a positive effect on industry, the arts, food sustainability, small business and critical infrastructure. Creston is fortunate to have such people of influence working in many sectors. Our applause and appreciation go out to these people and others like them.

Kitt Santano

Kitt Santano of Swift Internet is a natural, self-taught entrepreneur. “I come up with ideas that make sense, and I make them happen,” he said. He founded Swift Internet in 2012 to provide the community with better, faster Internet service, and he and his five employees now serve about 1,550 customers. “We’re eccentric about customer service,” Santano said. “We believe the Internet is an essential service for communication.” Santano supports his community through the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce, donating computers to people who need them. Swift Internet also provides employment opportunities to youth and people with limited abilities.

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson, co-owner of Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery, actively supports a number of local initiatives. He is on the committee that worked at length on the Creston Valley Kootenay Lake marketing program, getting input and support from local businesses. The program’s new brochure highlights all of the businesses between Yahk and Riondel.

Bob Johnson, partner/owner of Baillie-Grohmann Estate Winery, believes in marketing his community as well as his business — Photo courtesy Bob Johnson

“I see a lot of value in marketing for our community,” Johnson said. “It’s really just good business sense—I help the community and the community helps me. I will be handling the hospitality portfolio for Creston’s first Gran Fondo in 2019, though it really hasn’t hit my plate yet.”

Andrew Darby

For Andrew Darby, just showing up at work puts him in a position of influence. Darby, who moved to Creston in April 2017, is the manager of the Royal Bank of Canada in Creston. He and his family love the community and want to help it to get discovered by the rest of Canada—but in a healthy, sustainable way.

Andrew Darby is the manager of the Creston branch of the Royal Bank of Canada — Photo courtesy Andrew Darby

Darby has committed to one year in the role of president of the board of directors for the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce, seeing that as a good way to support the business community to become increasingly strong and successful.

Brian Lawrence

As the current editor of I Love Creston magazine and former editor of the Creston Valley Advance newspaper, Brian Lawrence has been uniquely positioned to influence his community. His influence is widely dispersed through his work with the Footlighters Theatre and his board positions with the Creston Community Auditorium Society, Valley Community Services and the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Brian Lawrence contributes to the media, the arts and small business in Creston, B.C.

Brian Lawrence contributes to the media, the arts and small business in Creston, B.C. — Hayden Wolf photo

Jen Comer

Jen Comer managed the Creston Valley Farmers Market from 2010 to early 2018.  Her focus on food security and community development led to recognition of the market as Best Medium Sized Market for 2016 by the B.C. Association of Farmers Markets. For her influence on her community, Comer was recognized in this magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 list for 2017.

Jen Comer, former manager of the Creston Valley Farmers Market, supports food sustainability and agriculture in the beautiful Creston Valley. — Marie Milner photo

Justin Storm

In 2018 Justin Storm will celebrate his fifth anniversary as general manager of J.H. Huscroft Ltd., as well as his 35th birthday. His dedication to the practice of employing local residents, supporting his local community and being an enthusiastic ambassador for the Kootenay lifestyle make him very much an influencer in his region.

Justin Storm, general manager at J.H. Huscroft, is a passionate ambassador for the Kootenay lifestyle. — Photo courtesy Justin Storm

Ron Toyota

Creston’s mayor, Ron Toyota, listens to his constituents and devotes himself to supporting a positive, progressive path for the Creston Valley—if it’s good for his community, it has his backing. He’s open-minded, he listens and he looks for the good in every situation. Those characteristics are valuable assets in a community leader.

Ron Toyota, Creston's mayor, leads the town on a positive, progressive path. — Photo courtesy Town of Creston

Vern Gorham

In his role of manager of the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce, Vern Gorham is committed to the business community and the economic development of Creston. The chamber has undergone significant changes recently, and Gorham said that 2018 feels like a new beginning. “Last year was a year of charting a course for the chamber, and 2018 will be the year that we proceed with the plans we made in 2017, to bring more value to our members and to our community, including more interaction with the community and more chamber-sponsored events. Optimism and openness are our watchwords going forward.”

Vern Gorham is the manager of the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce. — Megan Keating photo

Marie Milner

Marie Milner is a writer and photographer for Kootenay Business magazine and several other publications. She appreciates the inspiration that she gets during her interviews and hopes to share that inspiration with you. View all of Marie Milner’s articles

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