2020 Business Excellence Awards

 

Thank you to everyone who put forward their nominations for the 2020 Business Excellence Awards. We have a fantastic list of finalists and voting is now OPEN!

The 2020 award recipients will be selected from Chamber members in good standing. If you don’t see a name on the list they may not meet an eligibility requirement, but we will be contacting ALL nominees to congratulate them on their business excellence over the past year.

VOTE NOW

Writer’s Block Solutions

Have you ever stared at a blank page, contemplating how to best describe what your business is up to or how to share a story that engages your audience? You’re hardly alone!

Writer’s Block Solutions works with you to produce fresh, unique content that is useful, relevant, and well-written. Using storytelling to engage your community both attracts new prospects and keeps your business top of mind for your existing clientele.

In a time when communication and connection have become so important, here’s some information about member – Writer’s Block Solutions:

What do you do at Writer’s Block Solutions?

We create original, compelling content for businesses and individuals. Our backgrounds in journalism and English help us produce polished, professional writing that is authentic to our clients’ desired messaging and voice. We specialize in producing engaging and informative articles for websites, newsletters, and blogs, as well as developing copy for website and social ‘About’ sections. Our team is very experienced in creating and distributing press releases, such as for businesses announcing news or promoting events. Another specialty of ours is delivering Q&A features that are generally packaged as ongoing series’ and used to elevate a brand and, in turn, build a following and community. Often our original work is pushed to social platforms to drive engagement with meaningful content. We also provide support by proofreading or copy editing large documents, and by refining website copy and making over LinkedIn pages. We are interested in building ongoing relationships with our clients to support their immediate needs and help them reach their larger goals over the longer-term. We are open-minded, creative, and committed professionals who love to work with all kinds of companies; however, our sweet spot is working with business associations, social and economic organizations, innovative tech companies, lifestyle and adventure publications, as well as animal, environmental, and sport-affiliated organizations. We align with companies and organizations that promote their services and expertise by putting their clients’ or members’ stories in the spotlight.

What inspired you to start your business?

After exiting the newspaper industry, I worked in various communications positions, including technical writer/media for an engineering firm and annual giving coordinator in the non-profit sector. I found that no matter what type of job I was taking on in the communications realm, I always excelled at the media and marketing part of the job. In the early days, I complemented my work with assignments from friends or former colleagues; eventually I realized the West Kootenay region could benefit from my skills. After completing the Self Employment program through Community Futures over two years ago, I launched my company and joined forces with my long-time friend and talented editor, Kyla Girling. With Kyla located in Delta, BC and Writer’s Block Solutions headquarters in Rossland, BC, it’s natural that we are primarily focusing our services in the West Kootenay and Lower Mainland; however, we are also expanding our services to BC’s Okanagan region.

What does your writing process look like?

While each project varies, our general process for producing content involves the same steps:

  • Prewriting – confirm best format(s) and draft outline
  • Researching – undertake investigation and analysis, gather information
  • Interviewing – contact subjects and conduct interviews via the preferred method
  • Writing – put the words to paper, as the saying goes
  • Revising – submit draft copy for feedback, complete fact-checking, and make edits
  • Publishing – polish final content and deliver and/or distribute for publishing

How can businesses benefit from a professional content writer?

Using storytelling to engage your community both attracts new prospects and keeps your business top of mind for your existing clientele. We work with you to produce fresh, unique content that is useful, relevant, and well-written. High-quality content is key; business people from all fields are learning the value in hiring a professional to get the job done. Often our clients are great writers but don’t have the capacity to take on another project; at times, we even support media and marketing teams. Some other clients have little to no experience with media and marketing, but provide expert services that we turn into engaging copy. Because it’s often difficult to share or promote your own story, that’s where we come in: we love to tell stories and can’t wait to hear yours.

How do you ensure your customers leave satisfied?

We take great care when onboarding our clients; taking the time to develop a plan both parties agree to and setting reasonable expectations benefits both parties. Because we are naturally curious professionals, we ask our clients many questions before recommending the type of services that we feel will benefit them most. We always provide a timeline and deliver our services on time. We are true professionals and our deliverables are well researched, fact-checked and high quality. We invite our customers to review what we produce for them and are open to feedback, edits, and changes when requested. Staying open-minded and flexible makes us easy to work with, and we like to engage with others who operate the same way.

If there is anything you’d like to add?

We recognize that COVID-19 may have disrupted many businesses at this time; our thoughts are with those who have had to make difficult decisions for their companies. We have spent the past few months supporting our clients with internal and external operations messaging. We have also been fortunate to continue with projects that have highlighted business community innovators who have adapted and pivoted during the pandemic. We have found that more than ever, communication is vital. While the economy further opens up over the summer and into the fall, we are all moving forward with caution and new experiences under our belt. Many lessons were learned the past few months, and we look forward to a bright future supporting our clients with copywriting and editing that will strengthen their relationships, open a dialogue, and build a community that supports their efforts.

Little Oasis Equine Matters

At Little Oasis Equine Matters (LOEM) horses are the teachers— participants develop and improve their social skills by working with peers and horses on objectives such as trust, communication, and leadership.  Leah Hope and her human staff of Equine Assisted Learning Facilitators, create an environment where participants utilize experiential learning to effectively navigate social situations.  They read the non-verbal ques from the horses, thus gaining honest insight about themselves. The teaching philosophy at LOEM is a refreshing departure from the norm. In many learning environments, Leah says, people are taught to focus on the negative, to consider only what went wrong and never repeat that mistake. Instead, students at LOEM are much more likely to encounter a “What went right?” or a “What worked for you?” after performing an exercise.  Staff focus their efforts on acknowledging the positive and guiding students to come to their own conclusions about strategies for social interactions that work.

There are often misconceptions about who can benefit from Equine Assisted Learning (EAL). The truth is it is something that anyone can use, especially in an age where communication is shifting to online avenues. About ninety percent of communication, the non-verbal aspect, goes unpracticed when in digital forms. “People are disconnected,” Hope says, “there’s less and less face to face.” A fundamental aspect of EAL addresses this non-verbal communication. Horses don’t speak, so participants must interpret their equine partner’s reactions through their body language like ear position, and at the same time, being aware of how their own body language impacts the horse. Horses are prey animals so participants learn how to recognize when they are acting predatory which can be applied to human-human interactions when emotions are heightened.  

The curriculum is a building block style, with clear objective based exercises.  The main focus of LOEM programs in the past has been children. This program includes lessons on peer pressure, conflict resolution, effective communication, problem-solving and more. LOEM’s adult program develops similar skills to the youth program but tackles these issues in an age-appropriate manner, including lessons like teamwork, boundary-setting and assertiveness. While LOEM will continue with their Youth and Adult Programs that focus on individual and life skills development, their future lies in their expansion into their leadership development program called Going Beyond the Boardroom. The organization of a herd of horses resembles that of a human office, thus participants will learn when and how to assume a leadership role by interacting with horses and their co-workers.

No matter your age or experience, consider a program with Little Oasis for your staff/leadership needs and they will surely have something to teach you. While facilitators learn about who you truly are through your interactions with the horses, you will make discoveries about yourself and how you can best navigate the world around you. Horses, after all, make some of the best teachers.

Threads

For quality clothes in Trail BC, Threads is the place to go. “Threads started with a simple idea: offer remarkable clothes in an aspirational space with exceptional service” according to owner Nic Klassen. This goal has certainly been attained; their authentic labels are complemented by a storefront designed with natural material and custom furniture, so customers feel at ease surrounded by local influences and helpful staff. The Threads team’s holistic view of retail elevates the business beyond a simple clothing store, creating a shopping experience unlike anything the Kootenays has seen before.

The owner describes all collections carried by Threads as unified by two qualities: an effortless appeal and a focus on fit. These pieces are selected from brands that mirror Threads’ passion for craftsmanship and design. Some may even go as far as to describe Nic as obsessed with quality goods and clothing. Customers can only benefit from this kind of passion; no stone goes unturned when staff search for the best labels in the world, so shoppers can feel secure in the knowledge they are getting the best of the best when they purchase from Threads.  

“Threads sweats the small stuff,” Nic claims. Naturally, the level of detail and care put in their clothing selection is also put into their storefront. The Threads staff take pride in offering unparalleled customer service, cleanliness, and unique interior design. At Threads, people will want to stay awhile— long enough for their team get to know you and help you find your personal style.

Although Threads has already become one of North America’s premier fashion boutiques, the company is constantly pushing boundaries. “I will never stay stagnant.” Nic hints at big plans for the future. “I will expand upon my reach and will bring the unique blend of fashion, culture, and passion that Threads has become known for with me. So, keep your eyes and ears peeled for what’s next!”  With helpful staff, a stylish storefront, and an excellent selection of premium clothing and accessories, a visit to Threads is destined to end in customer satisfaction for anyone looking to add quality pieces to their closet.

Rossland Telegraph

The Rossland Telegraph is a locally owned and operated, independent publication providing local, provincial and national news items in addition to opinion pieces and columns meant to provoke thought in readers. Notably, Sara Golling, editor of The Rossland Telegraph, writes a “Council Matters” report for Rosslanders who want complete and accurate coverage of decisions by their City Council, minus the “click-bait” headlines.

The Rossland Telegraph was founded in 2008 by Adrian Barnes, a local author, with his friend David Livingston. Soon the Telegraph expanded as “Lone Sheep Publishing” with four online franchises: the Trail Champion, the Castlegar Source, The Nelson Daily, and the Boundary Sentinel. Sara took over the Rossland Telegraph in early 2015, at Barnes’s request.
Though the original partnership no longer exists and the publications are now each independently owned and operated businesses, Sara says the publications continue to use an updated version of the original platform and enjoy a close relationship, so you’ll find some articles shared among the five publications. “I always report on Rossland Council, because I think community members should have the opportunity to be well-informed about our local government,” Sara explains. The other stories published are meant to be relevant or interesting to residents; as the editor, she states, “I try to publish items that I think people need to know, or articles that encourage people to think about the important issues facing us today.”

Readers of the Rossland Telegraph can access the excellent content by visiting the website, liking the Facebook page, and by subscribing to a free weekly reminder newsletter featuring four of the week’s new articles. (Look for the “Virtual Paperboy” at the bottom of the page.)

Known for “detailed and non-opinionated reports on City Council meetings” and interesting editorials, the Rossland Telegraph is an excellent resource for Rossland residents hoping to become more informed about the region and province. Sara also wants people with an interest in news media, writing and being an editor to know that she’s old and getting older all the time, and looking for a suitable successor to take over the Rossland Telegraph. Sara invites anyone interested to get in touch.

Kootenay Gateway

At Kootenay Gateway in Rossland and Nelson, Natasha, Ian and their team strive to enhance the Kootenay experience for tourists and residents alike. Kootenay Gateway offers year-round services through Mountain Shuttle & Kootenay Mountain Biking. The summer months can be spent exploring trails in Rossland & Nelson through use of their daily shuttles, biking tours, and lessons.  And if you are looking to ride the iconic Seven Summits Bike Trail in Rossland, Kootenay Gateway Mountain Shuttle will help you get to the trailhead. In the winter, take advantage of their snowshoe and fat bike tours, experience their out of this world Forest Fondue tour or simply catch their shuttle to the ski hill, hockey game, home from the bar or around the area. Keep in mind that their local art & souvenir store is open year-round and filled with items by local artisans everyone will love, they are proud to be building a store with keepsakes sourced locally and not from abroad.

Kootenay Mountain Biking makes mountain biking accessible to both beginners and enthusiasts, locals and tourists, from 4 yrs old to 80 years old.  They offer lessons, summer camps & kids programs to develop your skills so that you can enjoy their guided tours or take advantage of their shuttle service to get you to out on the trails. Kootenay Mountain Biking’s Coaching/Guiding team consists of Natasha and her husband Ian Lockey, 2014 Paralympian, with combined over 25 years of coaching experience, Travis Hauck Canadian National XC champion with over 6 years’ experience plus an experienced group of keen coaches who love sharing biking with others! With their team they coach the first time little rippers up to World Cup downhill racers as well as adults looking to get started, get more skills or compete at an elite level.  Kootenay Mountain Biking also runs the local Cycling BC Iride program, which brings biking into the schools to give every child an opportunity to get confident on a bike and experience the joy of pushing through ‘I can’t’ to ‘Look at me go!’ Natasha acknowledges that the more skills you have the more fun mountain biking becomes, but don’t let that stop you; “Biking, it confronts our common perceptions because it is easy to say ‘I can’t’ in life but … on a bike but you don’t really have a choice,” Natasha explains that biking can cause you to examine the limits of what you can do.  If you want a similar experience in the winter, get out into the forest with one of Kootenay Gateway’s snowshoe or fat bike experiences, or catch their shuttle to or from the ski hill, airports, and other events. Whether you’re coming in from the Spokane, Kelowna, Cranbrook, Castlegar, or Trail airports they’ll get you when you need to go. Residents can also access their services for transport from weddings and Christmas parties so everyone can have a safe and fun time.

Kootenay Gateway began with BettyGoHard— a women’s progressive action sports community which has since evolved into BettyGoHard Leadership, a roadmap to bringing your weekend warrior into your everyday.  ‘It’s about having fun’ Natasha explains, ‘when Nike says Just Do It , and we do, and it isn’t fun we assume it is us, that we are doing something wrong.  What if by assessing where your balance lies, as in your intention behind ‘Just doing it’ you adjust your perception and not only do you start having fun, you also get better. “Whether it’s starting snowshoeing for the first time, going for your first mountain bike ride or stepping into a new career it’s about appreciating that you’ve taken that first step … and by you doing that you show yourself that it is possible.  By following our passions we inspire ourselves and others to step into possibility” Natasha says. The lack of photos of women in action prompted her to start taking groups of girls on rides to take pictures while they have fun. This evolved into wine & cheese bike rides, then women & kids coaching programs; ultimately beginning Kootenay Mountain Biking (KMB). With KMB came the need to transport people and bikes, sparking Mountain Shuttle. Lastly their store, Kootenay Gateway came to be, arising from need souvenirs from the region and an office space. 

Natasha calls that process of bringing items into the store an “odd organic process.” When the physical storefront of Kootenay Gateway opened, she took on some of the artists and artisans who had sold out of that location under the previous owners. Now, she gets clients several ways: sometimes searching online for local artisans, sometimes it’s by recommendations of customers, and other times she stumbles upon works local artworks and contacts the artists herself.  ‘The best is when artists reach out to us’, says Natasha, ‘it is such an honour to represent these artists and celebrate the talent in the area’.  She encourages any artists looking for a place to share their art to please contact the store.  The unifying factor in all her stock is that is almost entirely made in BC.    

If you want to know more about what the Kootenays has to offer, Kootenay Gateway has all the tools for you to explore. Whether you use their mountain biking and snowshoe services to get into nature, their shuttle services to get you out to the trails or ski hill, or want to discover what the region’s talented artisans, Kootenay Gateway provides an awesome experience.

Social Curve Media & Web Management

Social Curve Media & Web Management specializes in helping small businesses expand their online presence.  They offer social media management, website design, and live event coverage at prices small businesses can afford, with easy to manage websites that any business owner can use. A mutual desire for a business with flexible hours and a commitment to putting their families first is what brought Leanne Mulder and Angela Leonard together to create Social Curve. It was a natural fit for Leanne, who completed courses in copywriting and social media marketing to join forces with local artist Angela, who had ample creativity and experience designing websites, creating a business with all the tools to help your small business expand online.

Leanne & Angela’s unconventional start is what allows them to help small businesses effectively. Since their expertise is more experiential rather than from formal education, Social Curve offers its services at lower prices than traditional web design and marketing firms. While traditional web designers may be able to build beautiful, complicated websites, Angela says that’s not what most small business owners need: “What we want to do is build websites that are easily manageable to pass them on to the small business owner that doesn’t have the time. Everything is set up, so it is really easy for them to go in and make changes if they need to.” Owners get exactly what they need in a website designed by Social curve— stylish design, functionality, and simplicity. Better yet, their web design service includes one year of support so you can continue to make changes as you learn all the things an incredible website can do for you.

An online presence can help new and established businesses to reach a new clientele. For new business digital marketing is a cost-effective way to get your name out there and gain customers whereas established businesses can expand their existing clientele. It is easy for owners of established businesses to believe that an online presence is unnecessary since they’ve done well without it, but Social Curve believes there is always room to grow. Angela remarks that as new businesses open up, more people are drawn to the region: “The first thing visitor will do is google ‘where’s the best cup of coffee in Trail?’ and see that your website or Facebook comes up,” she says. It’s not just visitors who will find your business online— locally, businesses can expand their reach by tapping into the younger generation. “The younger generation is going to find your business online,” Leanne adds, “their first instinct is to google it.”

It isn’t enough just to have a social media presence, Leanne explains, you must create good content that is current. That is itself is basically a full-time job. “Things come in and out so fast,” says Leanne, “For a small business you have to jump on the bandwagon of what is trending and get your business known. Even Facebook itself is always changing— the algorithm changes so frequently but it’s important to know what it’s favouring so that your content can get shown.” Angela understands how this can be intimidating for small business owners, “I’m an artist. I do paintings and at the end of a long paint session, I don’t want to write a blog, or think up of some content for my social media accounts. So, I know it’s the same for the small business owners in this town; you want to do the business you love… the website thing is just hanging over your head because you have to go home and do that too so that’s exactly what we offer— we’ll do that for you.”

The goal at Social Curve is not to rapidly grow their business into a massive operation, rather, Leanne & Angela strive to offer personalized and dedicated service to the clients they decide to take on. They offer free twenty-minute consultations to prospective customers, and one-year support after building a website. If you’re looking to expand your business through online marketing, or just hoping to remove arduous task of updating social media from your shoulder, Social Curve is an excellent choice for your website, social media, and live event coverage needs.

Secure by Design Technology


Secure by Design is an internet service provider and website hosting company based out of Nelson, serving the Kootenay region. Since 2008, Kirk and his staff have been fulfilling small business and home owner’s broadband internet access, website hosting, email consulting, fiber optic and cable broadband, and PC and network security needs with high customer satisfaction, as evidenced by their many Kootenay Business Best in Business Gold Awards for internet service provider.

Kirk credits their exceptional customer service for their success: “We don’t just treat customers like a number,” he states, “regardless of your computer skills we treat customers with respect.” Kirk acknowledges that the tech community can be alienating to people who are less technologically inclined, so at Secure by Design they make a point to recognize that all customers have a different comfort level so they try to provide service in a manner that makes sense to you.

At Secure by Design customers won’t face any billing surprises. Unlike bigger companies, deals don’t change weekly, neighbours can expect to pay the same for comparable service, and you won’t be forced to enter into a convoluted contract. “I think I’ve only changed my rates once in the ten years we’ve been open,” Kirk remarks.

Secure by Design understands the needs of small business owners since they are a small business themselves. They are excited to have started offering new fibre optic internet plans to businesses in Trail and Rossland since August 1st: 250 mbps for $75/month, 500 mbps for $125/month and 1000 mbps for $175/month. All plans are the same speed for both uploads and downloads. For those who don’t speak internet language— that’s fast. With knowledgeable, friendly staff and a dedication to internet security in all their services, customers can’t go wrong choosing Secure by Design for their internet service provider and website hosting needs.

 

 

 

Business Reach Marketing & Social Media

 

Business Reach Marketing & Social Media is a growing business helping Kootenay businesses expand into, and enhance, social platforms & digital marketing.

Ona Stanton took a year off in 2017 and inspired by a webinar on social media and digital marketing, spent the year and beyond training in the field.  Ona started Business Reach Marketing & Social Media in 2018, filling a gap she had noticed in the Kootenay region. It was the perfect job, combining her education (Bachelor of Management) and her seventeen years of professional office experience with her passion for digital marketing.


“I had five criteria about my ideal job,” Ona said, when asked about creating her business, “I wanted a flexible schedule, a business that could be taken anywhere, with opportunities to earn income, to grow the business, and to help people”. Her desire to help will certainly leave customers of Business Reach Marketing satisfied as Ona offers personalized support and innovative ideas to guide her clients through the social media ‘landscape’.

“Businesses, and social media, are built on connections.” The Social Media Strategist credits making community connections for her entrepreneurial success. Anyone seeking to expand their business onto a digital medium and increase their ‘business reach’ will not be disappointed with Business Reach Marketing & Social Media’s customized social media solutions and strategies.

 

Hall Printing

Hall Printing, operating in Trail and Nelson and everywhere in between, are proud of their continuing ability to provide their award-winning professional printing services for West Kootenay businesses and residents. From beautifully designed books to single page documents, Hall Printing continues to be a leader in their field.

Owner Ingrid Hope has been steering this valued community-minded business for 14 years and has worked for Hall Printing for a total of 28 years. Throughout this time, she has been dedicated to fulfilling the needs of her clients. “We are proud to offer the services we provide for the West Kootenays,” Ingrid stated during my visit and tour of their Trail facilities, “and although we are very proud to have served the region for 99 years, I like to point out that I haven’t worked here for that whole time”. All kidding aside, I was amazed by the diversity of Hall’s printing capability and the high level of professional results that they achieve with everything they do. Printing is a complicated and diverse profession, with all kinds of complex equipment and creative thinking being required. Hall Printing, under the leadership of Ingrid and with the assistance of the 14 employees who work at their facilities, continues to be a valuable business asset to our region.

The overall impression I received from my visit was that if you have printing needs – you have only to contact Hall Printing to have them satisfied to the highest possible degree. Great work Ingrid, and thanks for your time and the tour! We all look forward to having Hall continue to be the stalwart business leader they are within our business communities, and our communities in general, for at least another 99 years.

Ed Attridge, Executive Director, Trail and District Chamber of Commerce