The ten top small businesses in BC were announced last night as the winners of the 12th Annual Small Business BC Awards, at the Pan Pacific Vancouver.
The competition was fierce, and the winners had to prove their excellence among a group of over 460 nominated businesses. The winners were selected following an intense five-month process that involved online voting, applications and a Dragons’ Den style pitch to a judging panel.
12th Annual Small Business BC Award Winners
Premier’s People’s Choice: Julie’s Edible Bouquets, Quesnel
Julile’s Edible Bouquets creates beautiful edible bouquets made of chocolate covered strawberries, fruit, cookies, candy, marshmallows, veggies and now cake pops. So much more than flowers! Named Quesnel’s Home Based Business of the Year, Julie Giesbrecht is a strong member of the Quesnel business community.
Best Company: Nonna Pia’s Gourmet Sauces Ltd, Whistler
Nonna Pia’s Gourmet Sauces Ltd, a family based business, began manufacturing Infused Balsamic Reductions 5 years ago when Norm Strim, a Red Seal chef, decided to make these Infused Balsamic Reductions to emulate the aged balsamic vinegars he experienced while traveling Modena, Italy.
In the last six months Nonna Pia’s has grown from retailing in 358 stores, primarily in BC, to over 1,600 stores Canada wide. They now plan to focus on selling their product in the US, where they have already secured their first deal.
Best Community Impact: Mealshare, Vancouver
Mealshare is an innovative new social enterprise that is changing how restaurants can run a triple-bottom-line business.
Restaurants across Canada simply add the Mealshare icon to their menu, and for every item that is bought a meal is provided to someone in need. Buy one, give one. It’s that simple.
Since launching in July of 2013, Mealshare has grown from 4 partner restaurants in two cities, to over 140 partner restaurants in 30+ communities across Canada.
Best Concept: Soil Mate, Kelowna
Soil Mate is founded on the importance of local food and drink. They believe that it is essential to all aspects of health, community and sustainability that we reconnect with the origins of our food and drink, and understand how and where it is grown, and by whom. Their message is simple: know your farmer, know your food.
Community is at the centre of everything Soil Mate does. They want to educate and foster the connection between consumers and their local farmers, raisers and producers. The aim is for communities to become as self-sustaining as possible, and reconnect people with the options within their local area.
Best Emerging Entrepreneur: Float Space, Kelowna
Float Space is the first and only commercial sensory deprivation centre in the greater Okanagan Valley, offering a premiere floatation rest experience. Float Space is a modern sanctuary for physical and mental wellbeing, a temple for personal development, and a hub for creativity and performance enhancement.
Most of us have become accustomed to living with a residual level of stress. Floating reminds you what it means to be truly relaxed.
Best Employer: Origin Gluten-Free Bakery Ltd, Victoria
Origin Gluten-Free Bakery captured the gluten-free market in Victoria with perfect timing, exceptional customer understanding and a high quality product. Origin makes gluten-free products that include healthy alternative grains, creating a niche product within a starch-dominated niche market. It began as a fresh baked goods stall in Victoria’s Bastion Square Market in the summer of 2009, operated solely by Tara Black and Marion Neuhauser. In the winter of 2010 they opened the doors to Victoria’s first 100% gluten-free bakery, offering fresh baked goods from eclairs to breads, five days a week. In the fall of 2012 they opened our second location in the Westshore. They were awarded the “Top 10 Businesses to Watch” by Douglas Magazine in 2011 and “Best New Business on the Westshore” by The Westshore Chamber of Commerce in 2014. Going into their sixth year of business they have grown to a staff of 24, service over 30 wholesale accounts and have graduated 3 apprentice’s as Red Seal Certified Bakers.
Best Immigrant Entrepreneur: Infinity Enterprises Group Ltd., Whistler
IEG is the parent company of three successful businesses; The Mexican Corner Restaurant Inc, La Cantina – Urban Taco Bar Inc and Clean Perfect Services Inc, with plans to invest in a food manufacturing plant in the greater Vancouver area.
Owner, Pepe Barajas, was recently been recognized by the local community for the “Rising Star of the Year” Award– Seen as one of Whistler’s entrepreneurs to keep an eye on.
Best International Trade: Target Marine Hatcheries, Sechelt
Target Marine Hatcheries, a small BC sturgeon farm on the Sunshine Coast, is dedicated to protecting wild sturgeon species, the environment and providing a safe, healthy product. The team was determined to produce a sustainable caviar and by 2014 were recognized as certified organic by Global Trust, recognized by Ocean Wise and recommended BEST CHOICE by SeaChoice and Seafood Watch.
Northern Divine is the only caviar in the world that is certified organic and does not use added hormones or antibiotics – certifying process took over ten years to complete.
Target Marine exports Northern Divine caviar to the EU, Japan, Australia and the US. New to the market, the brand is gaining world recognition as one of the best in the world for sustainable caviars and is being used by Michelin star chefs.
Best Online Marketer: Vonbon Children’s Apparel Inc., Vancouver
Vonbon was created by a pair of stylish sisters and thoughtful gift givers, who were sick of buying traditional baby wears. They saw a need for premium, eco-friendly goods that represented their modern tastes for both mother and child.
Designed and crafted in Vancouver, BC, each product is certified organic, using only water-based inks and made in small batches. Each pattern is designed by the VONBON team and purposefully created to mix and match to make the style uniquely yours.
Best Workplace: Mel’s Mainstreet Pizza & Pasta, Enderby
Mel’s Mainstreet Pizza is a cornerstone of the Enderby community. With its clients and employees at the top of mind, they deliver exceptional homemade food, using fresh and local ingredients.
They proactively participate in community building and development endeavors, including their Thanksgiving Dinner for those in need, which served 120 people in 2014.
Two New Categories and Great Opportunity
This year, the first-ever Best Emerging Entrepreneur Award and Best Immigrant Entrepreneur Award were handed out to recognize a young individual who contributes to the social, cultural and economic well-being of their communities, as well as an outstanding new Canadian who has started a successful business in BC.
“The Small Business BC Awards are all about celebrating hardworking entrepreneurs, the people who make small towns and big cities thrive,” said Premier Christy Clark, who with support of the Province of British Columbia sponsored the Premier’s Prize of $1,500 cash to the winners of all 10 award categories.
Winning a Small Business BC Award can serve as a launching point for many small businesses, offering recognition, raising awareness and creating opportunities for exposure.
“We are extremely proud to help showcase the diverse talent and tremendous determination that exists amongst BC’s entrepreneurs. We congratulate the winners of the Small Business BC Awards and hope to see even more businesses recognized for their success next year,” said George Hunter, CEO of Small Business BC.
You can find out more about this year’s SBBC Award winners at sbbcawards.ca.