“Pauw’s up” for the Fernie Fox Hotel, among the winners at Fernie’s Business Excellence Awards

13 local Fernie businesses and individuals were recognized at the Fernie Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence awards.

by Julie Matchett
The Fernie Fox Hotel scored two big wins at the recent Fernie Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards, held on October 23

There's nothing sly about the Fernie Fox Hotel and their two big wins at the recent Fernie Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards. — Photo courtesy Fernie Chamber of Commerce Facebook page

Fernie knows how to celebrate in style, even in the midst of a pandemic!

The annual Business Excellence Awards put on by the Fernie Chamber of Commerce were held virtually this year, like so many other communities across the Kootenays. But that didn’t stop the Chamber from putting together celebration kits for people to purchase and enjoy at home while watching the awards presentation on Zoom. Made up of a delicious charcuterie platter from the gals at the Chopstick Truck, handmade chocolates from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, award cocktails from Fernie Distillers and other goodies, the kits were a nice extra touch to help celebrate local Fernie businesses.

This year, there were 13 awards handed out at the virtual event, held on Friday, October 23.

Congratulations to the following winners:

Employer of the Year: Spa 901

Spa 901 provides “old school pampering” to its clientele, which is fitting given that the spa is housed in what was once Fernie’s circa 1908 schoolhouse. Now a place of retreat and relaxation, the 6,600-square-foot wellness centre comprises multiple treatment rooms and esthetic suites, a hot pool, sauna and relaxation lounges.

With a team of 19 passionate employees, the award-winning spa is continually evolving in its quest to provide the ultimate spa experience for guests. Co-owners of Spa 901, Laura Oleksow and Jessica Riley, shared an Influential Women in Business Award from Kootenay Business in 2015. Read the story here.

Laura Oleksow (left) and Jessica Riley

Laura Oleksow (left) and Jessica Riley, are co-owners of the highly-regarded Spa 901 and winner's of this year's Employers of the Year Award. — Photo courtesy Spa 901

Business of the Year: Fernie Fox Hotel

Winners of both the Business of the Year and People’s Choice Award, it’s clear that the Fernie Fox Hotel is worthy of kudos.

As an independent accommodation provider, the Fernie Fox Hotel strives to provide a higher level of service to its guests and offers standard facilities—such as a kitchen and covered BBQ deck for guest use—that are unusual in similar hotels. Located close to Fernie Provincial Park and trails, the hotel provides complimentary ski shuttle service to the Fernie Alpine Resort.

People’s Choice Award: Fernie Fox Hotel

Fernie residents know when they have a good thing—this year’s People’s Choice Award goes to Fernie Fox Hotel.

In addition to being a top hotel in the area, the accommodator is also a proud supporter of the community. Every year, the business allocates $25,000 to go towards local causes and events, including trail building, cultural events, youth sports clubs and student scholarships.

Sustainability is also a core value of the company. In 2019, they installed an electric charging station for the convenience of guests. They have also implemented many environmentally-friendly green practices at the hotel, such as replacing individual bottles of shampoo and conditioner with dispensers and creating a solid waste diversion program for guests and staff members.

New Business of the Year: Rooftop Coffee Roasters

“Good coffee for everyone” is the mantra at Rooftop Coffee Roasters, and as winners of the New Business of the Year award, the company takes that responsibility seriously.

Owners of Rooftop Coffee Roasters.

The New Business of the Year award went to Rooftop Coffee Roasters. Their popular coffee bar opened earlier this year. — Photo courtesy Fernie Chamber of Commerce Facebook page

Their coffee bar opened earlier this year and with a seasonal menu that is constantly evolving with different flavour profiles—both exotic and familiar—the company strives to satisfy the tastes of even the most discerning coffee nerd. Want good coffee at home? Order up a subscription box from the company and get a goodie-filled package of coffee and swag delivered to your mailbox every month. How cool is that?

Team of the Year: The Chopstick Truck

It’s always a team effort for the ladies at the Chopstick Truck, so it’s no surprise that the business won the Team of the Year award for 2020.

A staple at local festivals and events, the food truck is also available to cater weddings and corporate parties. Offering a mouth-watering and colourful selection of Vietnamese-inspired street food, the menu has proven to be a huge hit with locals and tourists alike.

Co-owners of the Chopstick Truck—sisters Sydney and Taylor Salvador—picked up the Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Fernie Chamber in 2018. Kootenay Business chatted with them about their success—read the story here.

Citizen of the Year: Lori Bradish

A born-and-raised Fernie girl, Lori Bradish is a self-professed party planner. Never the type to shrug off a chance to help in the community, Bradish has a long history of involvement in community projects.

Over the years, Bradish has volunteered her skills and know-how at numerous Fernie organizations and events, including the Fernie Museum, Griz Days, the golf course and Fernie Pride. No matter what’s happening in the mountain town, chances are Bradish’s friendly face has been behind it in some way. Kudos to this outstanding lady who is very deserving of the Citizen of the Year award!

Community Tourism Achievement Award: Fernie RV Resort

A business that strives to showcase the charms of Fernie to visitors is at the heart of the Community Tourism Achievement Award. In its third year of operation, the Fernie RV Resort has created a welcoming environment for the many tourists and campers who visit the area each year. Running year-round, the state-of-the-art resort is nestled beside the Elk River, with easy access to Fernie’s historic downtown area via a pedestrian-friendly riverside trail.

A new and popular addition to the resort are forestside “glamping” yurts, featuring comfy foam-topped beds, heat, electric service and Wi-Fi. Camp in style!

Entrepreneur of the Year: Fernie Catering Co.

Highly-sought after, Red Seal Chef Barrie Elliot is a staple in the Fernie food scene and is known for her unique and mouth-watering culinary creations.

Barrie Elliot is a sought-after local Red Seal chef and owner of the Fernie Catering Co.

Barrie Elliot is a sought-after local Red Seal chef and owner of the Fernie Catering Co. — Matt Kuhn photo

Her company, Fernie Catering Co., opened in 2017. With a food philosophy that incorporates using the freshest, in-season, locally sourced ingredients possible, she aims to create delicious and memorable dining events for every client. The company’s specialities include full-service multi-course and family-style dinners, charcuterie and harvest boards.

Spirit of Fernie Award: Tourism Fernie

As the official go-to source for everything the city has to offer, Tourism Fernie aims to market and sell the community under a unified Fernie brand. Local businesses, professionals and organizations pay a minimal fee to the membership-based non-profit, in order to be partners in Tourism Fernie’s marketing initiatives and promotions.

As winners of the Spirit of Fernie award, the non-profit organization is a vital contributor to the growth and success of the tourism industry in Fernie.

Community Leadership Award: Megan Lohmann

With a decade and a half of community involvement under her belt, Megan Lohmann deservedly walked away with this year’s Community Leadership Award.

Lohmann is head of Community Energy Management with the Community Energy Association, an organization working across western Canada to accelerate climate and energy initiatives. Passionate about designing and implementing high-impact initiatives through effective collaboration, she is a spokesperson and instrumental part of Fernie’s path to sustainability.

Chamber Business Legacy: Giv’Er Shirt Works

Home of legendary Fernie apparel and souvenirs, Giv’Er Shirt Works has been givin’ er in the mountain community since 2003.

Producing unique high-quality screen-printed and embroidered apparel for clients all over western Canada, the company also specializes in team wear, the cross fit market, race merchandise and custom designs.

Staff Christmas photo for Giv'Er Shirt Works

The staff at Giv'Er Shirt Works knows how to have fun! — Photo courtesy Giv'Er Shirt Works

Speaking of giving, the company is at the front of the line when it comes to supporting the community that has made them so successful. It’s no wonder they’ve scored the Chamber Business Legacy award for this year.

Outstanding Customer Service Award: Fernie Home Hardware Building Centre

When even customers from out-of-town are singing your praises, you know you have a successful company and great employees. As winners of the Outstanding Customer Service Award, the gang at the Fernie Home Hardware Building Centre are all deserving of this recognition. A family-owned and operated store, the friendly staff are always willing to go an extra step for their customers and they strive to offer up the best service every day.

Volunteer of the Year: Ev Eijsermans

From the day she landed in Fernie, Ev Eijsermans has been willing to lend a helping hand wherever it’s needed in the city. Originally from the Netherlands, Eijsermans gets as much of a rush from her community involvement as she does from one of her favourite Fernie pastimes—biking.

Over the years, she’s been involved with the Wapiti Music Society, the Fernie Mountain Bike Club and the Fernie Women’s Resource Centre. Most recently, she teamed up to raise money for the Elk Valley Suicide Task Force.  Eijsermans and fellow mountain bikers rode from sunrise to sunset on the longest day of the year to raise awareness for mental health, in an event dubbed the “Elk Valley Mental Health on Solstice 2020” ride.

Congratulations to this year’s Volunteer of the Year!

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