Leading entrepreneurs in the East Kootenay

These ambitious business leaders make an impact on their East Kootenay communities

Owners of Fernie Distillers sitting beside a table with a bottle on it

Jillian Rutherford and Andrew Hayden are the successful owners of Fernie Distillers. — Photo courtesy Fernie Distillers

The East Kootenay region is a vast pool of entrepreneurial talent. The business leaders who choose to live and work here do so because they love the people, the lifestyle and the unique business opportunities available to them.

While it's by no means an exhaustive list, we wanted to highlight some of the top business leaders making an impact on the East Kootenay. All of these entrepreneurs have earned awards from their local chambers of commerce, due to their exceptional performance and support for their communities.


- Photo courtesy birr

Jillian Rutherford and Andrew Hayden, Fernie Distillers - Fernie, BC

Award: 2019 Chamber of Commerce Awards - Entrepreneur of the Year

Bio: Owners of Fernie Distillers, Rutherford and Hayden are making a name for themselves in the East Kootenay. 

Rutherford comes from an engineering background and is proud to be one of few female distillers in the country. Hayden has experience working in the beverage industry and with consumer packaged goods. Their combined skill set makes for a competitive, well-rounded, knowledgeable team.

Business: Fernie Distillers

Learn more: Read more about Fernie Distillers.


- Photo courtesy Golden Dental Centre

Dr. Shane Van Biezen, Golden Dental Centre - Golden, BC

Award: Kicking Horse Country Chamber of Commerce Community Excellence Awards - Professional Services Award

Bio: Dr. Shane Van Biezen is the proud owner of the Golden Dental Centre.

Dr. Van Biezen has won chamber awards for his professional services and is known for his charitable work. He enjoys volunteering and has travelled to Central America with the Change for Children organization, bringing dental care to those who would not otherwise have access to it.

Business: Golden Dental Centre


- Chris Cutler photo

Mike Gray, Horsethief Creek Pub & Eatery - Radium Hot Springs, BC

Award: 2019 Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards - Entrepreneur of the Year 

Bio: Mike Gray owns the Horsethief Creek Pub & Eatery and has added his personal flare to the establishment, ramping up business substantially. 

Gray is renowned for his community work, and he serves as a village councillor and a member of the local chamber of commerce board of directors.

Business: Horsethief Creek Pub & Eatery

Learn more: Check out this article on Mike Gray and Horsethief Creek Pub & Eatery.


- Marie Milner photo 

Frank Sandor, Sandor Rental Equipment Ltd. - Cranbrook, BC

Award: 2020 Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards - Business Person of the Year

Bio: Owner of Sandor Rental Equipment Ltd. since 1970, Frank Sandor is an inspirational leader and an asset to his community.

He came to Cranbrook in 1968 with $30 in his account, and now he owns one of the region's most successful enterprises.

BusinessSandor Rental Equipment Ltd.  


- Photo courtesy Bird's Eye Boutique

Tara Morgan, Bird's Eye Boutique - Invermere, BC

Award: 2019 Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards - Retail Excellence

Bio: Entrepreneur Tara Morgan sums up her job title as "chief dreamer, finder and gatherer" at her business, Bird's Eye Boutique.

Morgan sells quality resale clothing and accessories, as well as some handmade jewellery and leatherwork created by herself and her partner. 

BusinessBird's Eye Boutique

Danielle Cameron

Danielle Cameron is a writer and web editor for several publications and has been practising as a Certified Herbal Practitioner since 2005. View all of Danielle Cameron’s articles

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