Business Champions Shine

Local Business Stories Unfold at Gala Event

Celebrating the best of South Kootenay businesses was centre stage at the Business Excellence Awards Gala, which recently showcased the region’s professionals and their community impact.

Back by popular demand, the Trail & District Chamber of Commerce event, held at Fruitvale’s new Ryder Pavilion, highlighted businesses nominated and awarded for their accomplishments and leadership.

“I was surprised and honoured; even to make the top five felt like a win,” says Ona Stanton of Business Reach Marketing, recipient of the Business Person of the Year award. “To be nominated among respected business owners who’ve made such big contributions within our community felt like a huge honour. To win is just validation that what I’m doing is making a difference.”

Stanton is a social media and marketing strategist who helps South Kootenay businesses connect with their community online. Connection through social media has been indispensable for many, especially when gathering in person was not an option. In fact, to respect social distancing guidelines, last year’s awards were delivered to recipients’ workplaces, with the presentations captured via video and shared on the Chamber’s social media channels.

Fowler Photography

Ona Stanton of Business Reach Marketing was awarded Business Person of the Year at the Trail & District Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Awards Gala.

“Business owners and managers were excited to come out and meet in person, as this was our very first in-person event for a couple of years,” says Executive Director Erika Krest.

Anticipating some possible apprehension about a large gathering in close proximity, the Chamber took the event outdoors, which created a new dynamic.

“I’ve heard from businesses that the new cocktail-style party provided business owners and managers the opportunity to really mingle and network,” adds Krest. “Some were even doing business with each other, with the format giving them the opportunity more than the usual sit-down dinner would have.”

The Business Excellence Awards provide a platform for the community to weigh in and recognize those who have gone above and beyond in 12 different categories. Black Press powers an online nomination and voting process before the nominees are narrowed down to a top five for each award; the winners are then announced at the gala, where everyone comes together to celebrate.

And they weren’t disappointed. Vintage Pour Mobile Bar mixed three signature drinks, while Premier Chef Services packed flavour into tasty appetizers. The Chamber’s silent auction offered some hidden gems and the event aesthetic was elevated by Danielle Peet of Wild Smile Events and garnished by Chamber Executive Assistant & Membership Manager Marlene Noel’s attention to detail.

The gathering not only put a spotlight on both up-and-coming entrepreneurs and community mainstays, but also the Chamber’s Pillar Sponsors, who presented the beautiful locally-designed award plaques.

“Being involved in the gala offered us the opportunity to connect with fellow businesses and celebrate all of the businesses in the Chamber community,” says Farren Westlin of Ralcomm LTD. “We loved being part of the gala presentation! It was fun; it gave us the pride and excitement of being included. Recognizing the success of people and businesses speaks to a proactive community that cares and celebrates greatness.”

Photo: Fowler Photography

The Chamber anchors many of the small and medium-sized businesses that make up the majority of the economic region. The value of acknowledging the hard work, expertise, and dedication that these businesses show day after day is vital. Many local business people appreciate the Chamber’s dedication to celebrating their colourful and varied stories.

“It’s funny; one of the first thoughts that came to mind was ‘thank you for seeing in me what I don’t always see in myself,’” says Stanton, who says she felt humbled by the recognition from her community. “When I read my nomination, it said, ‘her dedication to her region is amazing; Ona is a champion at bringing businesses together.’ That brought tears to my eyes to hear someone describe me that way because, you know, what better way to be known?”

See the full list of the 2021 Trail & District Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards winners here.


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