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January 2013

Three young locals up for Island’s Top 20 Under 40 career achievement awards

By | News

Alberni Valley locals Mike Lange, Gord Groves and Maggie Hodge-Kwan are all nominated for Vancouver Island’s Top 20 Under 40 Business and Community Achievement Awards.
Three Alberni Valley residents are among the most recent list of Vancouver Island’s most successful individuals under 40 years of age.

Nominees for the next Top 20 Under 40 Business and Community Achievement Awards were announced late last week, recognizing those who have shown professional success and responsibility at a relatively young age.

Included in the 100 nominees from the 2013 submissions are Quality Foods manager Gord Groves, Mike Lange, co-owner of McGill Engineering, and Maggie Hodge Kwan from Port Alberni’s public library. The local nominees were in the West Island division of the awards, which also includes Jennifer Steven, owner of the Eagle Aerie Gallery in Tofino.

Ken McRae is one of the West Island division’s three judges. He said nominees were selected based on the personal drive they demonstrated in their chosen professions.

“One of the main things is how ambitious they are, how they got there and how much effort they put into getting there on their own,” he said.

Putting effort into Quality Foods stores has taken up most of Groves’ life. His 19 years with the company began as a high school student, when he worked filling grocery bags and store shelves at a branch in Qualicum Beach. The 36-year-old recalled learning about the grocery business from his first boss.

“It was a great job, I got to work with great people. I enjoyed the social aspect of it, and I had a great boss,” Groves said. “[He] was one of the owners of Quality Foods, and he just really mentored me right off the bat. He’s pretty much made me what I am today.”

Over time, this progressed to a management position at a Quality Foods in Nanaimo before taking charge of Port Alberni’s larger store two and half years ago.

Lange grew up in Port Alberni and took over McGill Engineering with Brad West last spring after a 10-year history with the company. Projects the 32-year-old engineer has worked on include a subdivision in the Tseshaht First Nation, a new church currently being built near the West Coast General Hospital, a car wash on Gertrude Street and the replacement of water mains for the Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District. Lange and West bought the company from Alan McGill, who operated in the Alberni Valley since 1987.

“We do have competition still in Parksville and Nanaimo…but we are local, and I think

that a lot of people respect that,” Lange said. “The longer you’re here, the more you’ve done work and more you know about everything that happens in Port Alberni.” Hodge Kwan came to Port Alberni twoand-a-half years ago to oversee customer services and youth programs at the local branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library. The 25-year-old has worked in libraries since she was a teenager growing up in Lethbridge, Alta., and frequented them as a child.

“I feel like I’ve benefited so much from using libraries in my life, and I want other people to experience those benefits as well,” she said. “They’re moving from a space to just pick up books and pick movies to a space where people can gather, can talk about different issues, literary or not, and can spend time with their families.”

The West Island division’s judges interviewed each of the local candidates, assigning them grades and comments. These will be assessed by another panel of judges in Nanaimo who select 20 winners for a gala event on Feb. 15 in the Comox Valley. McRae said the evening can provide positive exposure for the young award winners and nominees.

“There’s lots of big business people there,” he said. “They’re looking at what future leaders we have on Vancouver Island, so it’s good exposure for those people.” 250-918-9800

© Alberni Valley Times