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Fernie Business Excellence Award Winners October 25, 2017

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On Tuesday, October 24th 150 Fernie businesses owners and their teams and community leaders gathered to celebrate excellence in Fernie and the Fernie Chamber of Commerce announced the winners of the 2017 Community and Business Excellence awards. Fourteen awards were handed out to individuals and businesses.

Guests heard from author and speaker Dan Pontefract. Pontefract spoke to the full house audience about aligning three crucial areas of purpose: personal, organizational, and workplace role. And that an organization centered on purpose will benefit every stakeholder from employee to society.

The evening ended with presentation of the awards.

And the winners are:

Citizen of the Year – Jeri Mitchell

Volunteer of the Year – Deb Harris

Spirit of Fernie – Elk River Alliance

Community Tourism Achievement – Island Lake Lodge

Outstanding Customer Service Award – Nevados

New Business of the Year – Coal Town Goods

Entrepreneur of the Year – Ryan Doehle

Fernie Chamber to address Housing Issue October 19, 2017

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The Fernie Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce it has received funding from the Rural Dividend Fund for an Employment Housing Connector Project. This project aims to connect landlords to employers and create stable accommodation.

In the 2016 Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) Survey completed by the Fernie Chamber, the most frequently cited critical issues for employees was the cost of living (92%) and housing (77%). This project is designed to build resources and capacity to address the housing challenges reported in the BRE.

Staffing surveys have also pointed to housing as a challenge to bringing on employees. In July 2017, a staffing survey found 60% of businesses had unfilled positions. Lack of housing was raised as a contributing factor to the shortage of workers.

This project is aimed at providing simple and effective tools for both employers and property owners. Many local business owners have noted they have unfilled jobs because candidates cannot find homes. “We have seen this challenge limit the hours of operations and affect the customer service levels provided. Creating more housing options in the community by matching property owners to long-term stable clients will give employers another way to secure the staff they need” notes Graeme Nunn, Fernie Chamber board president.

The Chamber will be working on the project over the fall and aims to be operating in spring for summer seasons. It will include templated contracts, website, and property management (contracted). For more information, please contact the Fernie Chamber of Commerce at 250.423.6868.

2017 Awards Finalist Announced October 7, 2017

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The Fernie Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce the finalist for the 2017 Community and Business Excellence Awards sponsored by CanAus Coal Limited and Trucut Ltd. There were 139 nominations representing 70 unique entries. Those entries have been judged by a volunteer panel of business people from Tofino to Toronto.

“Working at the Chamber, with the businesses of Fernie, we see local entrepreneurs and business owners building our community. We see them hiring staff, donating to causes they love, and dedicating hours to provide us services and products we love. The awards are a great way to recognize the success and hard work these businesses put in day-in and day-out to make Fernie a place we all want to live,” says Patty Vadnais, Executive Director of Fernie Chamber of Commerce.

And the finalist are:
Spirit of Fernie
Avalanche City Roller Derby
Elk River Watershed Alliance (Elk River Alliance)
Wapiti Music Festival

Community Tourism Achievement
Canyon Rafting Co
Island Lake Lodge
Stag Leap Running Co

Outstanding Customer Service
Healing Hollow
Super 8 Fernie

New Business of the Year
Cinch Homes
Coal Town Goods
Four Cubs Kit & Clothing Inc.
Sterling Detailing

Entrepreneur of the Year
Keegan Street – Rooftop Coffee Roasters
Ryan Doehle – ISOSCELES Business Solutions
Vanessa Whilms – Soar Studios

Team of the Year
Island Lake Lodge
Snow Valley Spa and Leisure
Tanglefoot Veterinary Clinic

Employer of the Year
Rockies Law Corporation, Fernie
Spa 901
Super 8 Fernie

Fernie Business of the Year
Fernie Brewing Company
ISOSCELES Business Solutions
Three Sisters Day Spa

People’s Choice Award
Kettle Black Bartending
Rooftop Coffee Roasters
Three Sisters Day Spa

Chamber Business Excellence
Rockies Law Corporation, Fernie
Super 8 Fernie
Western Financial Group

Community Leadership Award
Fernie Brewing Company
Park Place Lodge
Super 8 Fernie

Congratulations to the many businesses that were nominated and that have been selected as finalists. “There is great ingenuity and grit shown by Fernie businesses to succeed,” states Graeme Nunn, Board President Fernie Chamber of Commerce. “The finalists showcase just a small sample of the amazing businesses operating in Fernie and it is great to take some time this October to celebrate their work”.

There will be a VIP Reception for all finalists on October 17, 7-9pm at the Park Place Lodge. This reception is a chance for the finalists to come together and celebrate before the Business Excellence Awards Gala held on October 24.

This year’s Award keynote speaker is Dan Pontefract. We invite you to join us for this great evening celebrating the best in Fernie. Dan is Chief Envisioner at TELUS, a Canadian telecommunications company, where he heads the Transformation Office, a future-of-work consulting group that helps organizations enhance their corporate cultures and collaboration practices. Previously as Head of Learning & Collaboration at TELUS, Dan introduced a new leadership framework–called the TELUS Leadership Philosophy–that dramatically helped to increase the company’s employee engagement to record levels of nearly 90%.

He is the author of THE PURPOSE EFFECT: Building Meaning in Yourself, Your Role and Your Organization as well as FLAT ARMY: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization. A renowned speaker, Dan has presented at multiple TED events and also writes for Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Psychology Today and The Huffington Post. Dan and his wife, Denise, have three young children (aka goats) and live in Victoria, Canada. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Victoria. His next book, OPEN to THINK, publishes in 2018.

Chamber Reviews Proposed Federal Tax Reforms September 8, 2017

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Over 30 business owners filled the Chamber of Commerce Board Room on September 7th for a presentation from Gerald Price of GPI Chartered Professional Accountants on the proposed federal tax changes. The Fernie Chamber of Commerce offered this session to help business owners understand how the federal government proposed tax changes may impact their business.

Price gave an overview of the tax regulation changes released earlier this summer by the Liberal government. The proposed regulations include three key changes: 1) changes to income sprinkling or how corporations pay family members; 2) how businesses hold passive income within a corporation; and, 3) converting regular income into capital gains. According to Price, the third change will affect a small number of businesses. He has seen this strategy used two times in his 20-year career.

The regulations changes for income sprinkling come with some challenges. The rules are meant to restrict payment to individuals age 18 to 24 to the value of their contribution for work done at a reasonable market rate. A question arises from this – what is a reasonable rate and who is responsible for defining that rate?

The business audience had many questions for Price on the changes to holding passive investments inside a private corporation. Price noted the government has not released the draft legislation for these changes yet, only that discussions of alternate approaches to non-refundable tax be explored.

The holding of passive investments within a corporation is one way business owners prepare for the rise and fall of business cycles. One government assumption is that these funds are used as retirement plans for the owners and that the owner should pull funds out of the corporation to buy RRSPs to pay for retirement. Many question that strategy and are concerned about losing the option to keep passive investments within the corporation as a financial strategy to weather economic downturns or a bad season.

The Chamber of Commerce and GPI Chartered Professional Accountants encourage businesses owners to speak with a professional accountant for specifics on how the proposed changes will impact individual businesses.

The Liberal government is encouraging stakeholders to share their views about the proposal. Written comments can be sent to fin.consultation.fin@canada.ca. Business owners can share how the changes impact their business by writing our local MP – Wayne Stetski. The closest liberal MP is Stephen Fuhr, Kelowna-Lake County.

The Fernie Chamber of Commerce represents over 255 business in Fernie and the Elk Valley. Its mission is to strengthen commerce in the Fernie area and is guided by principles of membership, integrity, best-practices, business excellence, and non-partisanship. The Fernie Chamber of Commerce is a champion for business.

Fernie Community & Business Excellence Awards August 1, 2017

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The award nominations for the 2017 Community & Business Excellence Awards are now open.

Do you know an individual or business who goes above and beyond for our community? Well, now is the time to recognize everything they do for us.
The nomination period is from August 1 to September 11. Businesses are welcome to self-nominate. Wondering what the categories are? Check them out here.

These categories include, but are not limited to the New Business of the Year Award, the Spirit of Fernie Award, and the Volunteer of the Year Award.
Today’s feature award is the Employer of the Year Award.

Companies are recognized for their exceptional commitment to employees demonstrated through job creation, training and support, recognition and rewards, employee health and wellness and professional development.

The Chamber is excited to welcome Dan Pontefract as this year’s keynote speaker. Dan is the author of FLAT ARMY: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization and THE PURPOSE EFFECT: Building Meaning in Yourself, Your Role, and Your Organization. He is a renowned speaker and has presented at multiple TED events and writes for Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Psychology Today and The Huffington Post.

Nominate a great local business today!

Fernie Chamber Shapes BC Policy May 25, 2017

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The Fernie Chamber of Commerce received support from Chambers across the province with a call to manage and regulate the emerging short-term vacation rental business enterprises with a policy presented at the BC Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting and Conference this past May 25th to 27th in Victoria.

“We attend the BC Chamber AGM to make sure that our local businesses are represented at the provincial level,” said Graeme Nunn, Board President of the Fernie Chamber of Commerce. “The Fernie Chamber of Commerce is committed to growing the people who power our community, and presenting this policy is our opportunity to shape the BC Chamber’s business advocacy agenda for the upcoming year,” said Nunn.

The Fernie Chamber of Commerce co-authored this policy with the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce. At the AGM, Chamber delegates from across BC voted and passed the policy, among others put forward. The policy received strong support, passed, and now becomes official BC Chamber policy. The BC Chamber will advocate the policy to appropriate tiers of government.

“The Fernie Chamber of Commerce is proud to take this policy forward to our peers from across the province and get their input on this issue,” said Patty Vadnais, Executive Director of the Fernie Chamber of Commerce. “This policy champions the needs of our members and we appreciate the support from Chambers across the province to send this forward to the government.”

Vadnais noted that the BC Chamber is B.C.’s largest and most broadly-based business organization driving insights to government, industry, and throughout the Chamber network. “As a member of the preeminent business advocacy organization in B.C., our Chamber is able to punch above our weight in delivering advocacy wins for our community.”

The BC Chamber AGM and Conference is the largest annual business policy-building forum in the province.

Coworking and Business Accelerator Study April 27, 2017

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The Fernie Chamber of Commerce announced today their plan to launch a feasibility study for the creation of a Coworking and Business Acceleration Centre in the City of Fernie.

The purpose of the centre is to create a collaborative work environment for the 200+ Fernie residents who currently work from home, and entrepreneurs who own a secondary home in the community.

‘For communities like the City of Fernie, where much of the economic activity is driven by small business and community-based organizations, these types of facilities can act as a community hub and play an important role in economic development, through diversification and capacity-building,’ said Patty Vadnais, Executive Director, Fernie Chamber of Commerce.

Over the next three weeks Capasiti Consulting Inc. will connect with local small business owners, freelance workers, remote workers, community-based organizations and property owners to gather data on space requirements and availability. The study will also explore the types business acceleration services local entrepreneurs require to help grow their businesses.

The community is encouraged to add their voice to this important initiative by completing the online survey.

The survey closes May 5th, with the final report and recommendations to be delivered by the end of May.

The feasibility study is being funded through the Provincial Rural Dividend Fund. For more information, please contact the Fernie Chamber of Commerce at 250-423-6868.

Moments of Power January 26, 2017

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The Fernie Chamber of Commerce welcomed 74 participants to the Moments of Power 1-4 training sessions. Moments of Power was presented by Dr. Mark Colgate from the University of Victoria. It was a great session that taught attendees about customer service, coaching, and human behavior.

Momenrs of powder speaker

Participants enjoyed Dr. Colgate’s engaging presentation style and content presented. Chamber Executive Director, Patty Vadnais states “I have spoken to a number of people who attended the course and they have told me they are already implementing pieces of the session into their work environments”.

The course covered the 3 Rs of customer service – reliability, responsiveness, and relationships. Dr. Colgate then expanded on how the 3 Rs can be used to increase sales and customer loyalty. The four moments taught to the course were context, expertise, liking and problem solving.

Moments of power group

What people are saying about the course:

“A fantastic session put on by the Fernie Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Mark Colgate was an engaging, fun and informative speaker, who touched upon so many areas of Customer Service and how to improve upon them. As such, the session not only suited a variety of business types, but endless positions within – whether front of house, Manager or Business Owner. Pretty sure anyone and everyone would benefit from it!”
Abi Moore, Brand Manager, Fernie Brewing Company

“I was so impressed with the course, and am excited to implement some of the techniques right away and learn more about the others!”
Alicia Clarke, Owner, Grow Children’s Boutique

The Chamber of Commerce thanks Dr. Colgate for the great presentation and to event sponsors College of the Rockies, Super 8 Fernie, and the Fernie Ambassador Program. The next steps for the Chamber will be to help businesses build on the concepts from the course.

About Fernie Chamber of Commerce:

The Fernie Chamber of Commerce is a membership-driven organization representing over 260 business in Fernie and the Elk Valley. Its mission is to strengthen commerce in the Fernie area and is guided by principles of membership, integrity, best-practices, business excellence, and non-partisanship. The Fernie Chamber of Commerce is “The Voice of Business in Fernie.”

Fernie’s Ambassador program November 23, 2016

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The Ambassador program was conceived from a group of Fernie Chamber of Commerce members gathered in fall 2015. Volunteers from College of the Rockies, EK Employment, Park Vacation Management, Fernie Lodging Company, and Grow Children’s Boutique came together to develop a plan for delivering a customer service program that included teaching participants about Fernie.


The group set out with a couple of simple goals: One–teach residents and employees how to be visitor information specialists and two–educating people with customer service skills. Combined, these two goals would ensure visitors to Fernie would have a superior guest experience.

The Ambassador Program has a four-hour All Things Fernie course which covers local Fernie knowledge on trails, history, and what-to-do. Also included in the workshop is a section on customer service skills.

Course facilitator Christine Grimble reviews tips and tools that help Ambassadors provide an excellent customer experience to any guest. The program recently celebrated its first anniversary. In the past year there have been 11 All Things Fernie courses training 151 Fernie Ambassadors. We anticipate training another 100 in preparation for the winter season.

“It is imperative my staff is knowledgeable in what Fernie has to offer. The Ambassador Program equipped my team with destination knowledge and customer service skills to be able to go above and beyond for our guest. Improving the visitor experience is beneficial to everyone and this program is doing exactly that,” said Marina Pauw, Owner/Operator Fernie Super 8.

fernie-ambassadors-urban-settler“The business support to the program has been great,” said Patty Vadnais, chamber executive director. From the beginning, businesses like Super 8 Fernie, Fernie Lodging Company and the Grow Children’s Boutique have sent their entire staff, and send new staff as they are hired. Along with the profit driven motives of providing a better service, businesses owners are using the program as a team building experience. Momentum is starting to build for the program as more business owners understand what it is and how it can help their business.

“The Ambassador program was extremely motivating for the Fernie Hotel staff. It provided us with a wide range of knowledge about Fernie that has helped us engage and inspire our customers. Attending the course as a team encouraged us as Ambassador’s to elevate the service we provide,” said Alicia Denis, General Manager of The Fernie Hotel.

Along with the great training, participants also get access to discounts around Fernie. The volunteers creating the program noted that it can be expensive to try all the things in Fernie you want. Through the discount program, Ambassadors can experience more of Fernie for less. There are currently 15 businesses offering discounts and this list is growing.

Ambassadors access the discounts through the Fernie Ambassador Pass which is a mobile app available on iOS and Android.

The program has come a long way in the first year. The All Things Fernie and Customer Service session developed in partnership with the College of the Rockies, the development of a mobile app to give Ambassadors discounts around Fernie, and training 151 Fernie Ambassadors. The chamber looks forward to developing more offerings for the course in the future.

As we look around at other communities offering similar training programs, Whistler stands out among the rest. The Whistler Experience was showcased in Forbes magazine as a town that approaches customer service from a community level rather than on a business-by-business level. The article references Ben Franklin’s notion that all merchants and shops are connected. One shop owner maintaining her storefront would not be enough to entice shoppers to come in. Rather, businesses need to work together to present a clean street and not just a clean section. It is with this in mind, to raise the level of service across the community, that the Ambassador Program was designed.

Borrowing from the Whistler Experience, the chamber will be hosting Dr. Mark Colgate of Gustavson School of Business in January. The Whistler Chamber built the Whistler Experience in conjunction with the Gustavson School of Business. Using academic research on customer service excellence, Whistler and Gustavson created a training program that delivers.


The Fernie Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce that it will be hosting Dr. Colgate for a Moments of Power 1-4 session on January 18. Colgate’s expertise is in service excellence and coaching. He has taught many courses at undergraduate, postgraduate and executive levels in Victoria/BC, China, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. He was previously the GM of Customer Satisfaction with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Colgate is known for his down-to-earth presentation style. He has also consulted for many companies such as Toyota, TELUS, Whistler Blackcomb, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Sony, Schneider Electric, Kiwi Experience Tourism Bus Company and the BC Government.

“The Fernie Chamber of Commerce works to bring in quality sessions for our members. Getting Dr. Colgate into Fernie allows us to take advantage of education course typically only offered in larger centres,” said Vadnais. “I have had the chance to attend a session facilitated by Mark and can tell you that you do not want to miss this session. The content and his delivery style will improve your work efforts no matter your role in your organization.”

The session will be held January 18. More details at ferniechamber.com

The Fernie Chamber of Commerce represents over 265 business in Fernie and the Elk Valley. Its mission is to strengthen commerce in the Fernie area and is guided by principles of membership, integrity, best- practices, business excellence, and non-partisanship. The Fernie Chamber of Commerce is ‘The Voice of Business in Fernie.’

Fernie Business Excellence Winners October 25, 2016

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On Friday, October 21, 150 plus filled the ballroom at the Fernie Best Western to celebrate the best in Fernie and announced the winners for the 2016 Community and Business Excellence Awards sponsored by CanAus Coal Limited. The evening started with welcomes from MP Wayne Stetski, Mayor Mary Giuliano, and Chamber President Sheila Byers.

Fernie_Business_Awards_Kelsey Ramsden

Kelsey Ramsden, 2012 and 2013 female entrepreneur of the year, shared an inspiring message about Risk, the other four letter word. She inspired the audience to push through those little things holding you back. Following Ramsden key note, the awards were presented.


And the winners are:
Citizen of the Year
Laura Nelson

Volunteer of the Year
Karen Tse and Graeme Nunn

Spirit of Fernie
Outdoor Connections

Community Tourism Achievement
Fernie RV Resort

Outstanding Customer Service
Super 8 Fernie

New Business of the Year
Kettle Black Bartending

Entrepreneur of the Year

Marsha Churchill

Team of the Year
Mow and Snow – Landscape Team

Employer of the Year
A tie this year –
Ann’s Your Independent Grocer
Super 8 Fernie

Fernie Business of the Year

Isosceles Business Systems

People’s Choice Award
Three Sister’s Day Spa

Chamber Business Excellence
Capasiti Consulting

Community Leadership Award
Spa 901

Chamber Legacy Award
Evelyn Cutts

Fernie_Business_Awards_all finalists and winners

The Chamber of Commerce thanks the many businesses and individuals who helped organize and sponsor these awards including CanAus Coal Limited, Imagine Kootenay, Teck, Super 8 Fernie, East Kootenay Community Credit Union, FAR Summit Fund, Bridge Bistro, Island Lake Lodge, Nufloors, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Isosceles Business Systems, Castle on First, Soar Cycle Studio, Fernie Brewing Company, and Fernie Fix.

Congratulations to the finalists and winners. “The awards recognize the hard work put in day in and day out by Fernie business. It is great to take a moment and celebrate that effort and their success,” states Sheila Byers, Chamber Board President.

The Fernie Chamber of Commerce represents over 260 business in Fernie and the Elk Valley. Its mission is to strengthen commerce in the Fernie area and is guided by principles of membership, integrity, best-practices, business excellence, and non-partisanship. The Fernie Chamber of Commerce is “The Voice of Business in Fernie.”