It's probably fair to describe Langley's Business Person of the Year as a man who allows his actions to do the talking for him.
Phil Jackman of Valley Traffic Systems Inc. offered only a smile and a few brief words of thanks to a packed ballroom at the Cascades Casino Coast Hotel & Convention Centre on Thursday evening, as he accepted the George Preston Memorial Award for 2016.
There were, however, plenty of words shared in praise of Jackman, by both his customers and staff.
"Phil, I've got a great story about you here; you're going to have to stand here and take it," said emcee Clay St. Thomas, as he prepared to read from a bio that outlined Jackman's business roots and his numerous charitable contributions to the community.
"Phil can be best described as the quiet, humble saviour of many charities and organizations in Langley," and is "always one of the first people to step up and help,” St. Thomas said.
Jackman started Valley Traffic Systems in 1997, as a small, alternative traffic control company and since that time has grown the business into the premier traffic management and traffic control providers in all of Western Canada.
Over the years, he has consistently given back to the community through contributions to minor hockey, Cops for Cancer and Basics for Babies, Langley Animal Protection Society and Make a Wish Foundation, among other charities.
Most recently, he made a $100,000 donation to Langley Hospital Foundation.
"Phil has a heart of gold and never ever wants any recognition for the amazing things he has done.
"That is to do with the squirming you see in front of you now," quipped St. Thomas, who was joined in his emcee duties by his JRfm morning show co-host, Karen Daniels.
Altogether, there were 79 nominations in 10 categories for the 20th annual Business Excellence Awards, presented by the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce.
Among the awards handed out on Thursday evening in front of 360 guests, was the U40 Business Person of the Year.
That distinction went to Lilian Cazacu, of Lilian Cazacu Notary Corporation.
Cazacu, a husband and father of four, explained to the crowd that he is relatively new to Canada.
Although he spoke only briefly of his life before he came here, he told the gathering that his choices then were either to starve or to steal. Instead, he chose a third option — immigrate.
“I’m happy that this country gave me an opportunity,” he said.
However, Cazacu’s law degree, masters and PhD, weren’t sufficient to allow him to work as a lawyer in Canada, so he began anew, earning a second masters degree to became a notary.
Two years later, he runs a business that employs five people.
The 2016 Small Business of the Year award went to Tina and Troy Parker, a mother-son duo who together own Safeguard Martial Arts.
As she accepted the award, Tina explained how the pair came to be involved in martial arts.
She recalled a day, two decades earlier, when she arrived to collect Troy from his preschool, only to discover her “little cherub had single handedly, systematically taken it upon himself to bite every single teacher.”
In desperation, she took him to a newly opened martial arts school, in an effort to channel his love of biting into something more productive.
“And guess what,” she said. “He doesn’t bite any more.
“Fast forward 20 years and several black belts later for both mother and son,” she said, the two “are now business partners, who own the very same martial arts studio that cured the biting game.”
Through their studio, the Parkers and their fellow instructors aim to educate to protect, help build strength from weakness and power from insecurity, while promoting confidence and self esteem in both children and adults, said Tina.
Recipients of the 20th annual Business Excellence Awards are:
• Community Impact (for profit) - Aldergrove Credit Union
• Community Impact (not for profit) - Langley Care Society
• U40 Business Person of the Year - Lilian Cazacu - Lilian Cazacu Notary Corporation
• Environmental Leadership - Otter Farm & Home Co-operative
• Service Excellence - Redwoods Golf Course (Doug Hawley)
• Entrepreneur of the Year - Taylor Byrom - TaylorHart.Designs
• Small Business of the Year - Safeguard Martial Arts Inc. (Tina and Troy Parker)
• Medium Business of the Year - C&D Logistics (Dana Matheson)
• Large Business of the Year - Dowco Consultants Ltd. (Ewen Dobbie)
• George Preston Business Person of the Year - Phil Jackman - Valley Traffic Systems Inc.