Winners 2014




2014 Top 20 Winners

Alison Belbin is the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? franchise owner on Vancouver Island and the founder of the local landfill diversion initiative, Full Circle: Turning Consumer Goods into Community Good. Alison also volunteers her time to the franchisor’s Recruiting Advisory Panel, is a member of HEAT (Hoarding Education and Action Team) in Victoria, Assistant Coach for the U12 Girls Tier 3 Rep Highlanders soccer team in Ladysmith and is a seven-year affiliate photographer with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. Alison and her husband Grant live in Nanaimo with their three children, ages 13, 11 and 7.

Angela Zumbo is celebrating 10 years in the mortgage industry. Having purchased The Mortgage Centre – Your Island Mortgage Team in 2012, Angela has since grown her team of Mortgage Professionals. She has earned several honours including the Comox Valley Small Business Association’s ‘Business of the Year’ and ‘Innovation’ awards, and was named ‘Top 40 Under 40’ by the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce. Angela grew up in the Comox Valley and is passionate about giving back to her community. She is this year’s President of the Comox Valley Women’s Business Network, is a member of several community associations, and supports many local non-profit organizations.

Mazzei Electric Ltd. is a family owned and operated business that has been operating on Vancouver Island for 20 years. The Company President is third-generation electrician Ben Mazzei who began working for Mazzei Electric in 2002.  Mazzei Electric specializes in residential, commercial and industrial installations and services and provides extensive commercial experience, timely troubleshooting and analytical skills, as well as vast experience in repair and maintenance. The company takes on a wide variety of projects from residential services to large scale commercial projects and everything in between.  Mazzei Electric services all of Vancouver Island, including remote First Nations communities.

Binda Thind was born and raised in Nanaimo and has been the General Manager of Future Shop at this location for the past six years, joining the company shortly after completing his degree at V.I.U. in 2002. Binda was promoted to Sales Manager in Courtenay within his first six months of being hired, and rapidly moved his way up to General Manager. After being promoted to General Manager in Nanaimo, the location went from struggling sales to making history by finishing #1 overall “Best of Canada” for the last year. Much of this success has been due to strong connections within the community. Binda has formed lasting partnerships with several local charities and organizations and Future Shop is dedicated to assisting these groups wherever possible. Some of the highlights would be sponsoring an entire class set of iPads for Oceanside Middle School along with extensive annual fundraising through staff enrolment and store events for the United Way. *Binda also works with other organizations and events such as: the Boys and Girls Club, Nanaimo Dry Grad, Edgewood Foundation, Parksville BeachFest/Sandcastle Competition and the John Howard Society.

Chris Cathers, resident of Nanaimo is a proud father of five, his two kids Hudson and Arabella, and three businesses: Evolution Business Media Group, Van Ventures Ltd, and Cathers Developments. Married to his wife and partner Ember Cathers, CPA for the past five years. Chris has been very active as an entrepreneur and in the community having been involved and on boards and committees in many organizations such as the Mid Island Metis, Boys & Girls Club, Young Professionals of Nanaimo, Junior Achievement, Leadership Vancouver Island, and Vancouver Island University to name a few. His company Evolution Business Media Group, which is located downtown Nanaimo is in its third year of business has grown to employ six people where he services small to medium sized businesses with all their marketing online and offline needs. Recently just launched a new online business news site called Cathers Developments has been in business since 2004, buying/ selling, renovating, and building residential and commercial investment properties. Van Ventures Ltd. going into its third year currently provides mini van campervans to tourists. Starting this year he is branching into offering adventure/ cultural sightseeing tours and is working on expanding the rental business into locations into Hawaii and California.

Christina’s career with Colliers International began in December 2010 as a Market & Research Analyst in Victoria, British Columbia. As a result of her excellent performance in brokerage, Christina was offered the role of Analyst | Valuation & Advisory Services for the Colliers Victoria office and started her new position in August 2012. Christina was quickly promoted to Associate Appraiser in
2013 where her learned skills and education has enabled her to prepare commercial property valuations, carry out property inspections, and mentor with experts in her field. Christina is now the sole representative for Colliers Valuation & Advisory Services on Vancouver Island. She of a national team to deliver real estate tax consulting services. From a business perspective, she is key in fostering relationships and building market intelligence through ongoing networking with industry professionals.

Due to his many successes, Derek was offered partnership this year with the largest accounting firm in Northern Vancouver Island with a staff of 30 people.  In addition to his achievements in his career, Derek holds several community positions in a number of executive boards and service clubs.  He has a passion for volunteering and a commitment to his community, whether it is serving as a treasurer or director or mentoring young adults.  He is currently the Vice-Chair on the the Board of Directors of the North Island College, a Director and Treasurer of Community Futures Strathcona Regional District, a Board Member of John Perkins Memorial Housing Society, and the Membership Chair on the Board of Directors for the Rotary Club of Campbell River.

During this time he has demonstrated business leadership in the continued expansion of Jim’s Clothes Closet from a single location retail store to a multi-location recognized brand in the mid-Island region. He has been an integral element in the expansion due to his extensive industry knowledge and experience, leadership, and clear vision related to the innovative use of business information technology and social media. Drew is also a fellow real estate investor. Drew has achieved an enviable real estate investment portfolio at a young age through perseverance, resourcefulness, and a inherent strength in knowing that his actions are the result of sound, and proven, business decisions. This experience has given Drew the confidence to pursue other
goals for his family, his business, and communities on Vancouver Island. Drew has been involved in several community minded events and organizations for the betterment of the region in which we work and live. His contribution to these organizations demonstrates a higher level of understanding that success can be a goal for, and achieved by, everyone in successful communities.

I am a 36 year old married father of 5 year old twins. I am a lawyer practicing civil litigation in Duncan.  I was the Vice President of the Cowichan Valley Bar Association 2009-1010 and President in 2011.  I am a member of the Trial Lawyers of British Columbia. I am currently a member of the Young Professionals of Cowichan whose goal is to improve social and business networking as well as community involvement. I am the Chair of the Cowichan Wheels Association.  The CWA raises money and awareness for local people with spinal cord injuries and improving access in the community.  For the last 10 years our annual fundraiser has raised over $75,000.00 for spinal cord research and improving access in the community.  Funds raised have helped purchase rugby chairs for local users, a lift for the local pool, bursaries for students with a disability, a boardwalk in a local park and so on.  I am an organizer of the local wheelchair rugby club, which is my sport of choice as a quadriplegic. In 1999 I became a quadriplegic after a car accident.  I went to law school afterwards with the goal of helping others who had been injured.  I now run a successful personal injury practice.

James Edwards is Coast Salish and a member Snaw-naw-as (Nanoose) First Nation.  He was born in Victoria and grew up in Nanooose Bay.  After leaving high school in grade nine he worked in a variety of jobs in the construction and hospitality industries before deciding to continue his education.  He completed his high school upgrading through the Adult Basic Education program at Malaspina Univeristy College before completing his first and second year studies at Malaspina. James has a varied background, leading up to his current role. He received his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Physics from the University of Northern British Columbia. Following that he obtained his Graduate Certificate in Project Management from Royal Roads University. He also has a Masters of Business Administration in International Business from Carleton University.  He now calls Port Alberni home, along with his wife of 16 years, Taira, and their two boys, Caiden and Blake. His parents own and operate a small farm in Beaver Creek and both his brother and sister’s family live in Port Alberni. He has family up and down the Island from Victoria and Port Renfrew to Port Hardy. He is the current Executive Director of Huu-ay-aht First Nation, a Nuu-chah-nulth Nation located in the Barkley Sound, close to Bamfield. In this role, he leads a team of approximately 35 staff, under the direction of the Huu-ay-aht chief and council. His current work with the Huu-ay-aht includes taking an active role in the potential Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility and the Port Alberni Transshipment Hub (PATH).  He has worked as a contaminants technician for the Canadian Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fishery Commission (CCRIFC) studying fish health in the Kootney region. In Yellowknife, as an environmental scientist and project manager, he worked for the Federal Government managing a major environmental reclamation project while closely working with the ministry of transportation to ensure that ice roads were built and maintained. He worked in Ottawa as a human health scientist focused on public health and contaminants research, and then as a project director for the Department of National Defense where he managed the reclamation of bomb sites across Canada.

Jason Cole has bridged the gap between people and nature for more than a decade. Committed to the non-profit sector, he is the Director of Programs with Power To Be Adventure Therapy. With an extensive background in wilderness education-based program design and implementation, he focuses on youth at risk and individuals living with a disability. As Jason has developed his career from a programmer to manager, his legacy can be seen in the thoughtful practitioners he mentors and the partnerships he fosters. He volunteers his time extensively to causes ranging from child and healthcare initiatives, to environmental stewardship.

Having been involved in various aspects of the tourism and hospitality industries for more than 16 years, Jenn Houtby-Ferguson is a seasoned Sales & Marketing professional with a proven track record in leadership, strategic planning and facilitation. Jenn has received awards for Tourism Employee of the Year and for Creative Contributor by the YPN. Jenn also holds a CMP, a CMM, one of only 65 CMM’s in Canada and successfully completed the MPI’s Train the Trainer Program and is accredited to teach the prestigious Global Certification, one of only 3 in Canada. She participates on different boards, is involved in several community groups.

John is a natural leader & entrepreneur with a background in international marketing, branding & internet marketing. John launched his personal real estate business on Vancouver Island in 2008, and has achieved rare success in an exceptionally competitive marketplace. He has grown his business into a thriving firm, Cooper McLintock & Associates , which includes a senior partner, six employees, and is currently ranked asone of the Top 100 RE/MAX Teams in Western Canada, a region with more than 3000 teams. Cooper McLintock also ranks within the top 1% of VIREB REALTORs for 2014 sales. In 2013 John represented more home buyers in Nanaimo than any other realtor on the planet. John also founded the international networking group, Elite Agents, and has served his community on the board of the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association (DNBIA) since 2009, where he was elected president in 2011, and is currently serving his third term as President.

Kama teaches Skills Training Employment Program and rebrands Port Alberni from Worst Place to Live (according to Moneysense Magazine) to Heart of Vancouver Island–an affordable, attractive community for young professional families. “Kama is one of the most effective connectors and instruments of change I have ever had the good fortune of knowing. [She is] a compelling candidate to champion the accelerating social media presence in the Alberni Valley” (Ben West).  Named UNICEF BC Educator of the Year, Kama worked in Rwanda with smartwater and Kenya with Red Rose Tea. Interviewed include: Elle Canada Magazine, CTV, and CBC Radio.

Kristen is President of Axis Heating & Cooling Ltd. Kristen was promoted to branch manager in 2007 when she and her husband moved to the Comox Valley. They then purchased the business in 2013. Kristen has succeeded in a highly technical and challenging male dominated business sector. Her knowledge of the HVAC industry and her customer service skills have earned her company many accolades from clients and the unwavering support of her staff.  Kristen is a member of the CV Women’s Business Network, the CV Chamber of Commerce, and TECA (Thermal Environmental Comfort Association) and Axis has a consistent A+ rating through the BBB.  Kristen was a recipient of a Top 40 Under 40 and her business was in the top 3 finalist for Small Business of the Year in 2014 through the Chamber of Commerce.  Kristen strongly believes in supporting local businesses as much as possible. She has designed and implemented a thank you and referral gift certificate for her clients. These gift certificates are redeemable at 6 downtown Courtenay stores in an attempt to send shoppers downtown. Kristen and Axis are supporters of many local charities and she regularly donates to money and auction prizes to support the many great organizations of the Comox Valley, where she is very proud to call home. Her 2nd generation, family-owned and operated business has grown steadily, thanks in part to her amiable nature and customer-centric approach. In addition to designing and installing heating, cooling and water purification systems for a growing number of clients, she and her partner and husband also keeps busy raising two young children.

Matt Peulen is co-founder of Metropolitan Capital Partners and Canadian Lighthouse Capital, Matt brings leadership, investment expertise, and business support to both roles. Matt consistently goes above and beyond in his business dealings, developing mutually rewarding relationships based on trust and respect. He is skilled at managing many different perspectives and at finding a workable solution for everyone involved. He is highly regarded as a bridge-builder in the business community in and around Victoria. A devoted husband and father, Matt carves out a considerable amount of time to sit on the Board of Directors for both the Saanich Peninsula Hospital Foundation and Victoria Epilepsy & Parkinson Centre’s.

Rahim is the GM and Owner at Max Furniture, a furniture store he co-founded with partner Al Hasham in 2008. Max Furniture specializes in Canadian Made Furniture located in Victoria BC. Rahim is also a partner in a small bookkeeping business, as well as,  Sound Equipment and Photo Booth rental business. Before getting into business Rahim attended the University of Victoria and graduated with a Sociology Degree and a Minor in Business.  Rahim is able to help many charities and local non for profits through his role at Max Furniture. He is a very large promoter of shopping local and helping the Vancouver Island economy grow. He wants to sustain great business practices so his business can hire even more employees and help build a stronger future for young entrepreneurs in Victoria.


In 2011, at the age of 28, I was approved by Original Joe’s Franchise Group to become the owner/operator of Original Joe’s Nanaimo, becoming one of the youngest franchisees in the company. After a lot of hard work and long hours Original Joe’s Nanaimo opened on February 21, 2012. Nanaimo became a very successful location and was very well received by the community of Nanaimo and surrounding area. Due to the success of this I was able to pursue and open Original Joe’s Duncan in just over one year of Nanaimo. Original Joe’s Duncan opened on March 23, 2013. I believe it is one thing to open a restaurant and another to be a successful restaurateur in this industry. In the future, I plan on furthering my company by adding more locations on Vancouver Island.  With both Original Joe’s Nanaimo and Duncan I am involved heavily with different sponsorship, charities, and fundraising events with the goal of keeping it local and giving back to the community.



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