Star-studded awards at Columbia Valley Chamber’s Business Excellence gala

The 24th annual Business Excellence Awards were held on October 19

Row of Business Awards, with stained glass star-shaped tops and wooden bases.

A two-artist collaboration led to the stunning design of this year's Business Excellence Awards. — Photo courtesy Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce/Facebook

Each year, a new artist is chosen by the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce to design and create the annual Business Excellence awards. This year, that honour went to two artists: Christi Ferguson-Huston, owner of Funky Junk Stained Glass & More, and Jim Scott, a local resident and carver. The collaboration, with its removable glass piece and bespoke base, is truly stunning!

The 24th annual Excellence Awards, held at the Radium Hot Springs Centre on October 19,  saw much food, laughter and connections shared. A total of 12 winners were recognized at this star-studded event.

Without further ado, here are the winners of the 2023 Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Awards:

Group photo of winners.

Congratulations to all the winners of this year's Excellence Awards! — Photo courtesy Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce/Facebook

Business of the Year (16+ Employees): Columbia Valley Freight

Columbia Valley Freight is all about creating connections. If you need an item hauled between Calgary, Golden, Cranbrook and all points in-between, this general freight hauling company is the one to call. Serving both commercial and residential customers, they offer quick and reliable transport, including “hot shot” services. Congratulations to the entire team at Columbia Valley Freight!

Business of the Year (1-15 Employees): DEVTEL Communications Inc.

DEVTEL Communications provides affordable, reliable, high-speed internet and phone services by people who actually live and work in the Columbia Valley. Established in 2006, the company is proud of its work connecting residents and businesses across the region, from Radium Hot Springs and Invermere to Canal Flats.

Non-profit Association of the Year: Invermere Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Shop

Since its inception back in 1977, the Invermere Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Shop has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the improvement and enrichment of health care in the Columbia Valley. Thanks to the hard-work and selfless dedication of volunteers, the association has been able to contribute funding towards the care, comfort, safety and medical needs of the community.

Log cabin with Toby Creek Adventures sign on building.

The Tourism Impact award went to Toby Creek Snowmobile & ATV Adventures. The company has been leading expeditions into the backcountry since 1996. — Photo courtesy Toby Creek Adventures/Facebook

Tourism Impact Award: Toby Creek Snowmobile & ATV Adventures

Since opening in 1996, thousands of visitors have enjoyed exploring the beautiful backcountry regions of the valley, thanks to Toby Creek Snowmobile & ATV Adventures. The company owns 36,000+ acres of incredible natural terrain, plus access to other local areas. Summer or winter, this tourism adventure company leads guided expeditions via snowmobiles, ATVs and mountain bikes.

New Business of the Year: SC2 Strength Training

SC2 Strength Training is headed by Shelley Kuhn. This fitness advocate, strength coach, movement specialist and personal trainer is dedicated to helping her clients feel strong and empowered. Congratulations to SC2 Strength Training!

Business Person of the Year: Stephen Gale, Radium Brewing

The idea for Radium Brewing originally started with two guys brewing beer in a garage. Encouraged by their home-brewing success, Stephen Gale, along with his business partner Jacob Houghton, first opened the business in June 2021. It was an almost immediate hit, even selling out of beer at times. Gale acts as the director of the company, with Houghton by his side as head brewer. The success of the company has truly been a team effort—huge congratulations go out to the whole group at Radium Brewing!

Youth Entrepreneur of Year: Landon Dales, River Craft

As a way to manage anxiety during a trying time, 14-year old Landon Dales started creating: little painted postcards, sewn hats and earrings out of clay. Fast forward three years and now Dales has created a thriving small business. A regular attendee at local craft fairs and markets, one will find custom crocheted items, unique plant hangers, bracelets and more at their stall. Congratulations Landon!

Stage and award area at gala celebration.

It was a full house at the 24th annual Business Excellence Awards, held at the Radium Hot Springs Centre. — Photo courtesy Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce/Facebook

Employer of the Year: Aisling Baile Inc.

Aisling Baile Inc. is a vacation rental and property management company. The beautiful Columbia Valley attracts visitors and tourists all-year long—the team at Aisling Baile Inc. makes it easy for property owners to market their quality vacation rentals. They manage the in-and-outs of real estate maintenance, from marketing and revenue management, to arranging cleaning and home-staging.

Employee of the Year: Kristina Hann, Blooming World

Blooming World caters to cannabis connoisseurs and, of course, the store is staffed with folks who are knowledgeable about the subject. Kristina Hann is one of those people. Born and raised in the valley, she loves nothing more than spreading her love for the green ganja. Congratulations Kristina!

Environmental Stewardship: Cleanline Automotive

Cleanline Automotive isn’t just another car repair joint—they do things differently here. For starters, the team jokingly refers to themselves as “Car-Huggers”—they take this name seriously though! Just like tree-huggers, these guys and gals love nature and they run their business the same way, by respecting nature. That means using eco-friendly solvents, cleaners and motor oil, offering green products and being environmentally-aware as a company. They are also hybrid and EV specialists!

Interior photo of Four Points Bookstore with award in foreground.

Four Points Books in Invermere took home the People's Choice Award. — Photo courtesy Four Points Books/Facebook

Community Builder: Black Star Studios

Black Star Studios is an all-encompassing art space—a place where one is free to create and imagine to their heart’s content. The business includes a working artist studio, workshop space and regular classes for all ages, creating everything from clay art figurines to paintings. There’s also an artist gallery on the premises that showcases the creations of over 70 talented Canadian artists.

Peoples' Choice/ Outstanding Customer Service: Four Points Books

This family-run independent bookstore opened in early 2022. It’s been a treasured addition to downtown Invermere ever since. From the hottest bestsellers to local hiking guides, there’s a book for everyone. Four Points also sells a wide range of gift items like calendars, stationery, puzzles, journals and games for all ages. 

Julie Matchett

Julie Matchett is a writer and content coordinator for KPI Media. She ranks as a 7 on the Introversion vs. Extraversion scale out of 100, which might help to explain why she chose a career of quiet contemplation as opposed to public speaking. View all of Julie Matchett’s articles

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