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Business awards handed out at Chamber gala

Event at the Pavilion at St. Eugene Resort was sold out, and the 75 nominees for 11 awards was the most ever
Left to right: Krystal Porter and her brother Rob Porter of Just Liquid Sports (winner of three awards

Barry Coulter

For the Cranbrook business community, the annual Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards evening is the social event of the season.

Awards were handed out Saturday, April 11, at the gala event held at the Pavilion at St. Eugene Resort. The event was sold out, and the 75 nominees for 11 awards was the most ever, according to Chamber Executive Director David D. Hull.

The ceremony was modified to an extent from previous years, with different award categories designed to accurately reflect the cross-section of the Cranbrook business community. The nomination process leading up to the awards was also modified to make it more comprehensive.

Pictured clockwise from top left: Mike Hambalek, Business Person of the Year. Frank Sandor, the longest standing business owner at the event. Celeste Mullen of Golden Life Management, Business of the Year 16+ Employees. Kya Dubois, of Sink N’ Ink Tattoos, New Business of the Year. (Barry Coulter photos)

"The staff, in consultation with Chamber volunteers, came together in a collaborative manner to align the awards to reflect the makeup of our business community", said Chamber president Dave Struthers. "The addition of the nominees being interviewed by a three-person jury panel was very well received. It put a lot of legitimacy to the awards by removing less than subjective public voting."

Almost 250 Chamber members and guests were in attendance. D'Arcy Kennedy and Kyla Cornish served as Masters of Ceremonies, and were their usual madcap selves. Local band Canadian Crossfire rocked the house during the intermission, halfway through the presentations.

Top, left to right: Kim Levie and Gwen Noble (of Community Connections Society of Southeast BC, Non-Profit Organization of the Year), and Leo Baggio, Jim Pattison Broadcast Group. Right: left to right: Jonathan Foubert and Ryan Johnson  of Cranbrook Auto Repair,  Professional Services Excellence Winners, and Rick Jensen, Columbia Basin Trust. (Carrie Schafer/Through my Eyes Photography).

MC D'Arcy Kennedy conducted an interesting exercise at one point in the evening. Asking all independent business owners to stand at once, he then had them sit down in increments, depending on number of years in business. The last businessman standing ended up being Sandor Rentals' Frank Sandor, in business for 40 plus years.

The event was the first under the direction of new Cranbrook Chamber Executive Director David D. Hull, who praised the volunteers who made it possible, as well as the spirit of the local business community.

"The entire Business Excellence Awards, culminating in a great gala evening, would not have been possible without the effort and dedication of over 40 volunteers and an extremely hard working Chamber staff," Hull said. "This was my first Business Excellence Awards and I am so impressed. Cranbrook has a very engaged business community and it really showed with BEA 2015."



At left: Business Service Excellence Award, presented by Kelly Shellborn (Koocanusa Publications) to Darcy Giberson of Signal Collision (Centre). Right: Barry Coulter (left, Black Press) and Chad Jensen (Baker Street Professional Centre, Business Newsmaker of the Year). Carrie Schafer/Through my Eyes Photography.

2015 Business Excellence Awards Recipients

• Hospitality & Tourism (Sponsored by College of the Rockies)

Presented by D’Arcy Kennedy and Kyla Cornish to Rob Porter, Just Liquid Sports

• Non-Profit Organization of the Year (Sponsored by Jim Pattison Broadcast Group)

Presented by Leo Baggio to Gwen Noble and Kim Levie of Community Connections Society of Southeast BC.

• Retailer Excellence (Sponsored by Tamarack Centre)

Presented by Lisa Morello to Rob Porter, Just Liquid Sports.

• Business Services Excellence (Sponsored by  Koocanusa Publications)

Presented by Kelly Shellborn to Darcy Giberson of Signal Collision

Melissa Hambalek (Initial Designs, Young Entrepreneur of the Year) and Chad Jensen (New Dawn Developments).Carrie Schafer/Through my Eyes Photography.

• Business Newsmaker of the Year (Sponsored by Black Press)

Presented by Barry Coulter to Chad Jensen, representing Baker Street Professional Centre

• Professional Services Excellence (Sponsored by Columbia Basin Trust)

Presented by Rick Jensen to Ryan Johnson and Jonathan Faubert of Cranbrook Auto Repair

• Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Sponsored by New Dawn Developments)

Presented by Chad Jensen to Melissa Hambalek of Initial Designs

• New Business of the Year (Sponsored by Community Futures East Kootenay)

Presented by Diana J. Scott to Kya Dubois of Sink N’ Ink Tattoos

• Business Person of the Year (Sponsored by Banking Association of Cranbrook)

Presented by Mary Blair to Mike Hambalek of Caliper Machine & Hydraulics

• Business of the Year 1–15 Employees (Sponsored by Downtown Business Association)

Presented by Kya Dubois to Rob Porter of Just Liquid Sports

• Business of the Year 16+ Employees (Sponsored by St. Eugene Resort and Casino)

Presented by Cheryl Cheveldae to Celeste Mullen of Golden Life Management