The Trail and District Chamber of Commerce held its third annual Business Excellence Awards gala on Saturday night. Winners of 11 categories were revealed, including Business Person of the Year, AM Ford Sales dealer principal Dan Ashman. (From left: chamber director Gord Fischer; Business Person of the Year, Dan Ashman; and chamber president, Doug Jones)

Greater Trail businesses shine at chamber awards

The Trail and District Chamber held its third annual Business Excellence Awards on the weekend

Seasonal flavour added local shine to a soiree celebrating all the excellence in substance, service and style that businesses from Rossland, Trail and the Beaver Valley have to offer.

After 33 years of first rate business and giving back to the community through volunteerism and charitable works, Dan Ashman dealer principal of AM Ford Sales, was awarded Business Person of the Year.

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“I am honoured and also humbled,” Ashman told the Trail Times. “I look after the business, my staff and customers regionally … and it’s an honour because it’s not just Trail, it’s the Lower Columbia Region, representative from Rossland to Salmo,” he added.

“And I’ve always said it’s ‘sales’ that sells first and service that sells the rest.”

Fifty businesses were up for a Business Excellence Award this weekend during the Trail and District Chamber of Commerce’s third annual event, this year held in the Fruitvale Memorial Hall.

Ten winners were named and one “secret” award presented during the gala that featured a seasonal menu by Chef John Premier, of Rossland’s Premier Chef Services. Chef John’s four-course menu highlighted vegetables like heirloom tomatoes, mixed greens, red curry squash, fresh herbs and cabbage – all sourced from mere kilometres down the road at Earthy Organics on Columbia Gardens Road – so the meal itself echoed the Chamber’s mission of shopping and showcasing the stellar tastes of “local.”

Even for the third course, duck two ways, the chef forewent the more traditional port cherry glaze, and kept the menu neighbourly by making a savoury plum sauce with fruit picked from a Rossland tree.

“When it comes to vegetables and produce, the fresher the better,” Chef John said. “So the more local the fresher it is, and John (John Abenante, owner Earthy Organics) just does amazing things at his farm … I like to support him as much as possible, and organic, local, delicious, you can’t go wrong there.”

As 180 guests dined and were serenaded by Kootenay talent in the Clinton Swanson Trio, chamber president Doug Jones introduced local business leaders who named the winners in 10 categories and presented trophies hand crafted by “Mofab” also known as Moustache Metalworks of Rossland.

Besides Ashman taking home Business Person of the Year; Selkirk Security Services was named Employer of the Year; and Kenny White of Kenny White Contracting was presented with the Emerging Entrepreneur Award.

After working nine years as a carpenter for Teck Trail Operations, White took a leap of faith and left that job to start his own contracting enterprise.

Brooke White said her husband spent all his spare time outside of work, including weekends, building his own business.

“It probably sounds corny,” Kenny White said. “But I had to follow my passion.”

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Other chamber nods included a Customer Service Award to Red Pair Shoe Store of Rossland; the Retail Service Award to Fruitvale’s Country Roads; John Abenante’s Earthy Organics received the Go Green Award; MIDAS Fab Lab a Community Impact Award; the Tourism Award to the Trail Smoke Eaters; and Scott Emery, City Centre Chiropractic, for Excellence Under 40.

David Abenante of Elite Physiotherapy was given two top honours, the Professional Service Award and the “Secret” Award, which acknowledges a business that received the most overall votes and the most favourable comments.

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“We are honored to be recognizing some of the best businesses in the Lower Columbia,” said Executive Director Audry Durham, mentioning the chamber added 70 new members this year. “These businesses have been the foundation for our communities and are a big part of what attracts newcomers to our area.”

Following the chamber’s first time “Healthy Lifestyles Expo” in the spring, the fall focus has shifted to weighted concern recently brought forward by the small business community.

“Our first Business Luncheon was a sold out event and it was evident one of the biggest issues our members are facing is the proposed Small Business Tax Changes,” Durham said. “We are ramping up our advocacy efforts around Greater Trail, the province and the country as Chamber of Commerce and Boards of Trade are working to gather their member’s feedback on what is said to be the biggest change to small business tax in over 50 years … The Federal Government’s proposed tax changes, currently being discussed in Ottawa, could see major changes for small businesses across the country.”

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