Top Royal City businesses recognized

Chamber of commerce hosts annual Celebration of Business Excellence awards

They're some of the Royal City's keenest, brightest businesses and business leaders, and now they've got the hardware to prove it.

The New Westminster Chamber of Commerce held its annual Celebration of Business Excellence awards, Wednesday night after picking the winners out of 32 nominees in eight different categories.

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In the Best New Business category, Donald's Market at the River Market on Westminster Quay took top honours. Judges said the store earned high marks for its selection, customer service, prices and their customer appreciation program, ONE.

Other nominees in the category were Amber's Choice, Dublin Castle, Karmavore - The Vegan Store, Lavender House Bed & Breakfast, Maritime Travel, Okonomi Sushi and Sunquest Mobility.

The Best Home-Based Business award went to Hyack Interactive, a boutique marketing and consulting firm that offers social media, writing and editing, strategic planning and digital marketing services. Founders Jen Arbo and Briana Tomkinson are also publishers of the popular New Westminster blog Tenth to the Fraser.

"This project was founded out of a desire to improve access to information about New Westminster online. Through this initiative, they have driven foot traffic to local businesses and promoted local shopping," organizers said in the award speech.

Hyack Interactive beat out Glenn Duxbury & Associates Building Inspection & Consulting, Great Spots! Recreation Properties Ltd., Kirkley Carswell Art Furniture and Little Sunflowers Daycare.

Vancouver Circus School, also at the River Market, can boast to being the Best Small Business in town. The father-andson-owned business offers a variety of fun classes for all levels of skill and ability.

"This family business is a testament to passion and persistence. The Circus School continues to expand, build new partnerships throughout the Lower Mainland and beyond, grow its membership, and offer new programming for its members," organizers said of the school during the award presentation.

Also nominated for Best Small Business were Go Thai Restaurant, Greens and Beans Deli Café and Urban Phoenix Wellness Spa.

Dye & Durham Corporation beat out Dynamic Health & Fitness and the Paddlewheeler Pub for Best Large Business. The business, founded in 1874 in Ontario as a small printing press specializing in legal forms, has been operating in New West since 2008.

"Its list of achievements is too lengthy to attempt to summarize here," organizers said. "Suffice it to say that Dye & Durham has been, and continues to be, a leader in the development of new technologies and the delivery of legal support services and education to law firms, government and non-government organizations."

The Community Spirit award went to the host of the awards gala, the Inn at the Quay.

Judges said the award was not for its success in business or 1,400 satisfied customers per month but rather for the generous spirit the business shows to its neighbours in New West.

"It consistently exhibits exceptional commitment to the community in a variety of ways, including participating in the Royal City Rotary Club, Tourism New Westminster, and the New Westminster Food Bank," organizers said.

Beyond that, the Inn also contributes to the Purpose Society's annual Christmas hampers, Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation, B.C. Children's Hospital, FraserFest, Monarch Place, Union Gospel Mission, and Last Door Recovery.

STC Creatives was also nominated for the Community Spirit award.

The British Columbia Automobile Association earned recognition as having the Best Customer Service in town.

"The New Westminster branch is renowned for its customer service credentials as well as its generosity in the community," organizers said. "It has been voted the Best Insurance Agency 12 years in a row, including 2010 and 2011, by the Royal City Record."

Jaser Painting & Heritage Restoration, One Source Productions and Thornebridge Gardens were also nominated.

Gordon Hobbis of Cap's Bicycle Shop got the nod for Business Person of the Year.

Hobbis took over the business started by his father in Sapperton in 1940 and has seen it flourish and form partnerships over the years.

"Gordon continued the family tradition and continues to offer outstanding customer service and good value while specializing in quality bicycles, parts, accessories and repairs," organizers said, adding that Hobbis is also highly involved with local associations, festivals, charities and recycling.

Also on the business person of the year nominee list were: Eric Pattison of Pattison Architecture, Bart Slotman of Westminster Centre, Donna Tays of RE/MAX Advantage Realty and Stella Zvijerac of In Style Hair Studio.

The chamber also presented law firm Cassady & Company with recognition in honour of its 100th year in business in New Westminster.

Nominees for each category were based on submissions from the public and business community. Once nominations were complete, the nominees were asked to fill out a questionnaire. All the questionnaires were judged and scored by a team of independent judges, and the chamber tallied the scores to pick the winners.

Chamber president Andrew Hopkins offered congratulations to all the night's winners and nominees.

"Overall, I think it was a great success," he said. "They won based on their New Westminster presence. I think they're well-deserved and the 100-year award for Cassady & Company was quite an accomplishment."

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