Dr. Renee Ferguson of Mountain View Veterinary Hospital was selected as the recipient of the chamber’s employer of the year award for 2020. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Dr. Renee Ferguson of Mountain View Veterinary Hospital was selected as the recipient of the chamber’s employer of the year award for 2020. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Resilient Langley businesses lauded for their COVID twists

Langley chamber of commerce held its annual business award, but morphed it into a ‘community edition’

A chamber awards night in Langley Thursday didn’t focus so much on business as much as on local heroes of 2020, and some of the positive and heartfelt moments involving local community leaders who have gone above and beyond amid the pandemic.

Before a virtual crowd of some 100 people, the chamber presented its 24th annual business excellence awards, but this year’s ceremonies and even the categories were different – because of COVID.

The 2020 Business Excellence Awards given out Thursday night reflect the year of changes Langley has faced, explained president Brad Kiendl.

“In a chaotic time, there have been moments of calmness and clarity,” Kiendl said.

“The pandemic allowed some great things to happen like reconnecting with old friends, spending quality time with family, taking up a new hobby, getting creative with your business, taking a step back from every day busy life, and wearing pajamas to a Zoom meeting be acceptable,” he elaborated.

The awards night, Kiendl added, “is about the amazing people, businesses, and organizations in Langley. Together, let us celebrate all the positivity that has happened this year.”

There were six categories this year, each reflecting the challenges that have arisen due to the pandemic.

One winner has been in the chamber spotlight in past, as recent as last year. That’s Kim Snow of Kimz Angels.

In 2015 and again in 2019, Snow received the chamber’s award for community impact by a non-profit. This award lauded Snow and her team of angels who have been working in the community for 25 years to help people who are homeless and in need of assistance.

This year, she garnered the chamber’s frontline hero award.

“Kim is hands on and gets the job done,” said the emcees. “Kimz Angels are people helping people, simple as that. We are all working together to make this world a better place, one small act of kindness at a time,” Snow said, overwhelmed by the recognition.

Reiterating her team’s slogan: “Team work makes a dream work,” Snow said, honoured to be among a group of frontline heroes endeavouring to make that difference.

RELATED: Panic buying depletes supplies of disinfectant wipes distributed by Langley homeless assistance agency

One award, that hails back in part to the more traditional awards given out by Langley’s chamber, was the 2020 employer of the year award.

This year, that award went to Dr. Renee Ferguson at Mountain View Veterinary Hospital, but specifically spotlighted her efforts during the pandemic.

Those who tuned in for the virtual awards ceremony heard how Ferguson put her staff and client’s health and well-being as a top priority during the height of COVID-19, implementing procedures to keep the business functioning and able to service her clients needs while maintaining the safety of staff.

The nominators in particular lauded how Ferguson kept her team together and alleviated any anxiety about potential wage loss.

In addition to the pivot with her business, the doctor still went above and beyond to provide veterinary support to many of the local animal rescues, making sure even those furry friends were safe during this pandemic.

The new 2020 collaboration award went to Joseph Richards Group. It was presented to CEO Ryan Moreno, lauding him and his team for stepping up to support fellow small businesses.

JRG offered the use of its parking lots at all 25 locations for pop-up plant sales for Langley’s Darvonda Nurseries when they learned much of their bedding plants and vegetable starters were not going to be purchased by the normal national box store and shipped across the country.

RELATED: Cancellations of plant orders prompt advent of pop-up garden shops

Likewise, JRG also partnered with Krause Berry Farms to promote and sell their products, and locally sourced gift basket collaboration with other local businesses.

RELATED: U-pick returns to Langley – with physical distancing

Also new this year, the chamber presented an outstanding support award, which was given to Adult Cognitive Wellness Centre.

When the adult day program was unable to open in April, the staff designed an evidence-based virtual socialization and cognitive stimulation program for persons living with dementia.

Despite significant revenue loss, owner Massi Bakhshian continued to pay her staff so they can provide free, and what she called “desperately needed” support and respite during the pandemic.

Another new category in this year’s list was for an inspirational leader, that award went to Roslyn Henderson, the executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Langley.

She’s been at the helm of the non-profit for almost three years,. And while recognized for her leadership throughout that time, it was Henderson’s efforts amid the pandemic to keep the mentorship programs going and her team supported that earned her the chamber award.

Well Seasoned owner and operator Angie Quaale was honoured with the most innovative award for 2020.

When COVID-19 struck, Quaale pivoted.

Like so many other entrepreneurs, she immediately worked on new ideas for how to keep her business going and trying to keep her staff employed, with some impressive results.

As well, working with her team, she developed a program to feed frontline workers at Langley Memorial Hospital, and recreated her classroom experience to online and Facebook Live events.

Even now, the awards audience was told, the team at Well Seasoned: A Gourmet Food Store is working on different ways to keep the business growing and continuing to support the community at the same time.

“Congratulations to all of the nominees and recipients of the 2020 Business Excellence Awards: Community Edition,” Kiendl said.

“So many businesses and organizations have been through such varying circumstances this year and have shown resilience and strength. I am thrilled that we were able to showcase a few of them. I would also like to acknowledge the work of our GLCC team in bringing these awards to our community, this was not business as usual and they have again provided us with a fantastic event.”

Chamber CEO Colleen Clark said that in planning these awards, the intent of this year’s modified event was to tell stories of those who are fighting to survive and to spotlight those who have also helped others along the way.

“Langley is a special community, giving, charitable, and supportive, we are so pleased to be able to acknowledge just some of these situations,” she said.

“As everyone has said, this is not a normal year, not business as usual, and we are so proud of our Langley business community for their adaptability and determination to succeed,” Clark concluded.

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FULL LIST OF NOMINEES: Shortlist of Langley chamber award winners revealed

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LINK TO WINNERS AND SPONSORS

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Angie Quaale and her team at Well Seasoned won the most innovative award. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Angie Quaale and her team at Well Seasoned won the most innovative award. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Kim Snow of Kimz Angels took home the chamber’s frontline hero award. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Kim Snow of Kimz Angels took home the chamber’s frontline hero award. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Roslyn Henderson is executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters Langley. She was given the inspirational leader award. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Roslyn Henderson is executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters Langley. She was given the inspirational leader award. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

The team at Adult Cognitive Wellness Centre earned the outstanding support award for 2020. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

The team at Adult Cognitive Wellness Centre earned the outstanding support award for 2020. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

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