Biggest Quesnel business celebration ever

Quesnel’s business community celebrated the local economy in a way never seen before.

This year, the Business Excellence Awards presented by the Chamber of Commerce had 39 nominations more than last year. “That is a record,” said executive director Kathy Somerville of the 129 names on this year’s nominee list.

When it came time to announce the grand award, Quesnel’s Business Person of the Year, there were 17 in the running and Somerville said “the number of nominees in this category tells me there are some successful business leaders in this community and we should be very proud.”

The envelope was then opened, and Marlo Logging owner James Godsoe was the lucky winner.

“I don’t know how a logger could ever win this award,” Godsoe joked. “I never thought I’d get nominated. First time ever. I don’t know how I’m in the same field as these guys (the other nominees). They’re all in town, dealing with people.”

What wasn’t lost on the public, and Godsoe’s business peers, was the lengths he has gone to retain his staff, and the efforts he has put into looking out for the community at large. When pressed on what it is he values about his company’s position, he reluctantly, shyly listed, “I employ people. I give back to the community whenever I can. I sponsor hockey and rodeos, among other things. We are helping those who are less fortunate for Christmas. I want give back. I work hard and we’re doing good. I want to actually give a hand up to people who aren’t doing well.”

Moreover, he went beyond the call of duty to help the wildfires in and around Quesnel by directing his heavy equipment and water trucks. He was proud to have contributed in this way.

“The challenges facing business today are daunting,” said small business owner and city councillor Debra McKelvie, representing City Hall at the event. “You’ve been called out by your peers for your dedication to excellence.”

Chandra Lawlor won two awards, making her the only multi-nominee to have received a trophy for Home Based Business. She was nominated for Business Person of the year.

“Huge night. Shock. Pure excitement. Nervous,” Lawlor said, listing her feelings after hearing her name called as a winner. “This is amazing, that my customers nominated me and then people voted for me. This is a huge deal to me. It has been a phenomenal week, of so many wonderful things happening.”

This week, her company TL Designs became the official merchandiser for the Lhtako Quesnel BC Winter Games.

“I’ve been expanding. I just got a new machine that arrived on Wednesday,” she said. After two 12-hour shifts, TL Designs is now able to do things that were previously impossible. “I’m absolutely excited. It’s a direct-to-garment printer and it does transfers as well. It allows me to do so much more with it. I’ve wanted to get it for a long time. It’s really expensive, so I was hesitant, but when we were awarded the BC Winter Games contract, that was the push I needed to step out there to get the machine.”

She also hired a web designer local to improve her online presence. “If there is somebody local, I will use them if I can,” she said.

Regional District representative Mary Sjostrom, also a veteran of local small business, emphasized that “as long as we support each other,” the local economy could weather these recent fiscal storms.

“That’s what we need to do in Quesnel – support them and they will shine,” agreed Somerville, excited about all the startup businesses entering the local business picture.

“I’m just so happy, because I love what I do. I’m fortunate,” said Godsoe about being in business in this community, starting with Marlo when he graduated 33 years ago, and eventually bought the company. “I’m 100 per cent staffed. I’ve got good guys, so I’m taking care of my guys. I’m grateful for them. I’ve got 20 people.”

Just when Lawlor thought things couldn’t get any better, she was even called as the winner of a door prize.

“My cheeks are hurting from all the smiling tonight,” she said.

Next week’s edition of The Observer will have a full photo gallery of the complete Business Excellence Awards winners’ list.

They are, in order of the night’s events:

Home-Based Business: TL Design

Social Leadership Award: Tony Goulet

The Best Improvement: Downtown Tirecraft

Agriculture Excellence: Kosters’ Farm & Garden

Jessica Goodman: Outstanding Customer Service

Quesnel Community Living Association: An Employer that is Diverse and Inclusive

The Sage Mule Co., New Business of the year.

Billy Barker Days Society: Excellence in Tourism

Business of the Year (10+ Employees): TIE between Richbar Nursery Golf & Gardens and Aroma Foods

Business of the Year (Less Than 10 Employees): Clayton’s Funeral Directors

James Godsoe, Marlo Logging: Business Person of the year.

READ MORE Annual awards: More than 100 nominees

READ MORE The 2023 Business Excellence Awards will be presented by the Quesnel Chamber of Commerce.

Chandra Lawlor (right) accepts the award for Home-Based Business of the Year (presented by College of New Caledonia’s Gayle Campbell) for her TL Designs merchandising company. She was also nominated Business Person of the Years. (Frank Peebles – Quesnel Cariboo Observer photo)
Quesnel & District Chamber of Commerce executive director Kathy Somerville (Frank Peebles photo – Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel & District Chamber of Commerce board president Rick Wittner (Frank Peebles photo – Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

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