The master of ceremonies at this year’s Castlegar Business Excellence Awards was taken aback when he saw his name on the list of nominees for Business Person of the Year.
“Well, this is awkward,” said Dale Donaldson, owner of Mallard’s Source for Sports, as he read out the list of contenders.
It got even more awkward when Donaldson won the honour.
“It’s fantastic, and I appreciate the support of community, and especially from my staff,” he said. ” I don’t know what set me apart, I don’t think anything, really.
“I think virtually anyone in this room could have won this award. We have a lot of great business people in this community, men and women, and it’s just luck of the draw.”
Donaldson was being modest. He was honoured for his 34 years of living, working, and owning a business in Castlegar, and for being a ‘dedicated leader, contributor, and [embodying] the spirit of entrepreneurship”, according to the category description.
Donaldson was one of dozens of local business people to be honoured last Saturday night at the gala, held at the Community Complex, for their contribution to the economy of the city. Awards were given out for the best home-based business, best contractor, young entrepreneur, most green company, among others.
“We were overwhelmed, we had no idea we were even nominated,” said Karen Knegt of Mitchell Supply. Her family-owned company was nominated for a ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award. Mitchell Supply, in business for 65 years, was honoured for its dedication and contribution to the community.
Started as a coal delivery company, then moving to farm and feed supply, Mitchell Supply is an anchor in the city’s downtown. Knegt and her brother now run the business, the third generation in the family to do so.
“We think it’s our perseverance,” she said of the business’ longevity. “Our store burned down 1982, and my dad decided to rebuild right away. We’re committed to this community and it is important to us to be here and be a strong business.
“I’m overwhelmed, very thankful, and appreciative of the community for standing by us for 65 years.”
In presenting the award to Mitchell Supply, Mayor Lawrence Chernoff noted how the company recovered after the fire.
“It was down to ashes and out of the ashes rose what we see today,” he said. “It was decision time. Do you continue or don’t you continue?”
Deciding to continue, he says the company just got better.
“And it’s all about family,’ Chernoff said. “They sustain it, they come into the business, and they keep coming, taking the business over. It gives me pride in the community when I see people continuing their dedication to the community.”
“They are always there for the community and that’s why they are still in business.”
The winner of the Innovator of the Year award, Stacked Films, said he was honoured by the distinction. Steve Hall noted in his acceptance speech he was told they’d never make it in Castlegar, and he’s happy the company has recently gone international in its scope.
“The attitude around here was there’s no need for it, you can’t grow here, it’s not a big enough area to do this kind of thing,” he recalled. “We wanted to prove them wrong.
“And it doesn’t matter where you are, especially in this day and age, you can be located in an area and be able to do stuff all over the world.”
Hall said his company wanted to put its stamp on Castlegar – and beyond.
“We’ve been working with big producers for big productions,” he said. “We want to rule the world. That’s what’s next for Stacked films.”
The whole evening was a celebration of the growth and success of local businesses. The chamber staff received a standing ovation for their work in the community, and recent recognition as B.C.’s Chamber of the Year. Chamber president Tammy Verigin-Burke pointed to the decorative umbrellas hanging from the ceiling as a symbol for the chamber and its work.
“Our umbrellas give you shelter, to aid and assist you to thrive,” she said. “Our umbrellas are the strength that holds you up when times are challenging.”
With a new generation of entrepreneurs and a strong economy, Castlegar’s business are going into the future optimistically.
“I think the state of the business community has never been better,” said Dale Donaldson. “We have really strong retailers, a strong automotive sector, and a strong industrial base. Castlegar is a good place to do business, with a good tax structure, and a good complex that is being proposed.
“Our community can only move up from here.”
Business Excellence: Mother Nature’s
Customer Service Excellence: Mitchell’s Supply
Green Award: Selkirk College
Professional Services Award: Head 2 Toe Holistic Health Services
Contractor of the Year: KWS Contracting
Tourism Development: Doukhobour Discovery Centre
The Community Social Award: Castlegar and District Community Services Society
Home Based Business Award: Rest Assured Kootenay Floats
Manager of the Year: Kris Koop, Blue Barn Pet and Hobby Farm
Restaurant Award: Little Bear Golf Course
Young Entrepreneur: Natalia Pacheco
Innovator of the Year: Stacked Films
Business Person of the Year: Dale Donaldson
Lifetime Achievement Award: Mitchell’s Supply