Neil and Darlene Kalawsky were recognized with a new Lifetime Achievement Award as Castlegar’s business community gathered Saturday evening for the Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards Gala. The awards are the culmination of a public nomination process followed by voting by chamber members.
The most prestigious award, which went to the Kalawskys, recognizes someone who has made a significant contribution to the Castlegar economy and community and has owned and operated their business for at least 25 years.
The Kalawsky family has three car dealerships and an auto body shop.
In 1989, they purchased the dealership at the corner of Columbia Ave. and 17th Street that is now Kalawsky Chevrolet Buick GMC. They added a Toyota dealership in 2001 which moved to its current location at 1530 Columbia Ave. in 2008. The family’s Hyundai dealership opened the following year. They are also tireless community boosters, with Darlene volunteering her time extensively, especially towards the city’s beautification.
The award was sponsored by the City of Castlegar and presented by Mayor Lawrence Chernoff who said “Anyone who knows them will tell you that Neil and Darlene are some of the hardest working people you have ever met. Their commercial success certainly reflects that. But they have also worked on trying to support growth and promote their entire community for decades.”
Neil received a loud round of cheers and applause during his acceptance speech when he explained Darlene’s vision of promoting Castlegar: “You need more than a few people to achieve that vision. Tonight I challenge every one of you to pick up Darlene’s vision. Let’s put Castlegar on the map!”
There was a tie for the Business Person of the Year Award. Both Rauni Naud of Sunlife Financial and Brian Bogle of Safeway took home trophies. The award goes to a dedicated leader whose personal conduct and that of their business is above reproach with regards to ethics, quality and service.
Winners of Castlegar’s Business Excellence Awards included:
Business Excellence – Lions Head Pub
Customer Service Excellence – Crumbs Bakery
Green Award – Communities in Bloom
Professional Service Award – Back in Balance
Contractor of the Year – ADM Electric
Tourism Development – Sculpturewalk
Young Entrepreneur – Andrea Ryman
Community Social Award – Castlegar Hospice Society