Winners 2018


Alyssa Andres, Founder | Mind Body Lab |Author | Junior Neuroscientist

Educated through Harvard Business School, and a current phD student studying integrative medicine and quantum physics at Quantum University, Alyssa Andres strives to be a pioneer of better outcomes in the healthcare community. Alyssa is the founder of the Mind Body Lab: an alternative medical practice in Victoria, BC, which specializes in brainwave optimization. Alyssa’s passion for helping others is fueled by years spent volunteering with the BC Cancer Agency, the BC Cancer Foundation, and BC Children’s Hospital. Alyssa spends her spare time representing her country competing at the world level with the Canadian Women’s Inline Team.

Amber Zirnhelt, Manager Long Range Planning & Sustainability – Campbell River

Amber is a registered professional planner and sustainability practitioner with more than 13 years of management experience in both the local government and non-profit sectors. Amber’s diverse local government experience includes managing community planning and development services, as well as award winning downtown revitalization initiatives, environmental programs, climate action, urban agriculture, and solid waste. Amber regularly facilitates workshops and is a guest speaker for conferences, post-secondary institutions, schools, and community organizations.  Amber is the founder and Chair of Ride Like a Girl, a BC based not-for-profit organization that provides mentorship opportunities and bursaries for young mountain bike athletes. Amber is also a motivational speaker with the National Esteem Team and an active volunteer with Kid Start, Vancouver Island University Master of Community Planning Program, and the Loran Scholar Program.

Andrea Dershen, Founder & Director GoodLife Juice Corp

Andrea was born and raised in BC and graduated from VIU with a Bachelor of Arts in Business.  After opening a successful café chain in Beijing, China, then working in the wellness industry in New York City, Andrea returned home to launch Good Life Juice. Her company was the first to manufacture cold pressed juice on Vancouver Island and under Andrea’s enthusiastic leadership has experienced tremendous growth since its inception in 2014. Andrea’s compassion for her community’s health and well-being is apparent in the time and money she has donated to local cancer groups, mental health initiatives, and the local homeless community. Andrea is proud to offer opportunities to people with disabilities, and create a safe and empowering work place for her staff.

Britt Chalmers, General Manager Middle Beach Lodge

Britt grew up on Vancouver Island in Nanaimo. Leaving to attend Simon Fraser University she received a BA majoring in Political Science.  Traveling the world for a few years Britt eventually ended up back in School in Edmonton Alberta where she received her Commercial Multi Engine and IFR pilot’s license.  However, the draw back to the island was too strong and Britt gave up flying to move to Tofino which she has made her home for the past 9 years.  Britt is currently the General Manager of Middle Beach Lodge

Christian Arbez, Director of Marketing Thrifty Foods

Christian started his career at Thrifty Foods in 1998, Christian’s team of direct reports had grown from 2 to 15.  Over the course of years managing the Online Shopping program at Thrifty Foods, he grew program revenues by a rate of 50%, in addition of reducing the cost per delivery by introducing various program efficiencies without negative impact to Thrifty Foods’ Online Shopping customer experience. In 2014, Christian was promoted to the Thrifty Foods Leadership team to the position of Director of Marketing for Thrifty Foods.  Christian now leads a team of 25+ employees in the role of Marketing.

Erin Tallieu, Owner & Managing Partner Motherload Transportation Services Inc.

As Owner & Managing Partner of Nanaimo’s Motherload Transport, Erin’s perseverance and talent for business is truly inspiring. When Erin’s mother launched Motherload in 2001, she forged new ground in what was, and still is a male-dominated industry. After her mother’s passing, Erin continued that journey. Fuelled by grit and determination she carved a place for Motherload in the vastNorth American freight industry. Over the past 16 years, Erin has shaped Motherload into a transportation industry powerhouse with a reputation for exceptional service. Driven to honour her mother’s legacy of hard work and care, she not only doubled annual revenues but also nurtured a positive, close-knit corporate culture within her all-female team. As Motherload Transport continues to thrive, Erin extends herself by serving her beloved island community; advocating and volunteering for many local charities and organisations. As a business leader, mentor and friend, Erin approaches life with heartfelt enthusiasm and warmth, her ‘sky’s the limit’mindset infusing all that she does.

Geoff Urton, General Manager Strategy & Innovation B.C SPCA

Over the past decade, no one individual has had a greater impact on improving the lives of animals on Vancouver Island and across Canada than Geoff Urton – and all through strategic partnerships with the business sector. Geoff’s nationally awarded work has set new benchmarks for not-for-profit government relations, and forged an innovative model for business and NGO collaboration that has created win-wins for major Canadian food retailers and animal industries in setting new national expectations for the humane care of animals. Geoff is proud of his dedicated community service to influence the health and wellness of children and families. At home in Victoria, he is known for turning anything possible into a game with his unbelievably fun wife and kids.

James Flawith

President | Precision Tree Services Ltd.
Vice President | LifeBiz Enterprises Corp.
Vice President | Flawith Family

James has a passion for family, the Comox Valley and building purpose-driven businesses. When not working to eliminate child pedestrian accidents withLil Worker Safety Gear, he works to maintain power system resiliency and public safety as Precision Tree Services Ltd’s President and Lead Arborist. After work he keeps busy wrestling his 2, 4 and 6-year-old sons around the Flawith house in Comox. James is a member of the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce and actively supports awesome local charities like YANA. James is the definition of professional and is a caring, dedicated leader with strong family values.

Kiyomi Schulz, Creator and Visionary | House of Kiyo 

Kiyomi is an Entrepreneur, Educator, Cyclist and the creator of House of Kiyo.After spending over 2 decades in the beauty industry, Kiyomi knows the importance of mentorship and education. Her frm belief in professional and personal development, supports and inspires her team to not only show up in the most positive way at work, but in their personal lives andthe community too.Kiyomi supports numerous local charities including The Nanaimo Child Development Centre, Haven Society, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Heart and Stroke Foundation, BCSPCA and others with her #KIYOKICKBACK campaign.In between running her 2 locations and leading her growing team of 35, Kiyomi also sits on the Industry Advisory Committee for the Hairdressing Program at VIU and the board of the local cycling club, MIVA, where shewas awarded volunteer of the year for 2017.

Kris Trudeau, Owner & Designer | Halftone Pixel Website Design 

Kris is a Comox Valley business owner with a strong commitment to the community. As a website/graphic designer for over seventeen years, progressing to business owner was a natural move—and she brings experience and successful practices from which her clients can grow their business. Heavily involved in the Comox Valley community, Kris is a member of the CV Chamber of Commerce, Young Professionals and the Rotary Club of Comox Valley. She is thrilled to be serving on the board of the Comox Valley Community Foundation and is a mentor to students and other business owners. Kris has been recognized through various awards and nominations including: Three-time, Reader’s Choice for Best Website Designer, finalist for Best New Business and one of CV’s 2015 Top 40 Under 20. One of Kris’s most notable achievements has been the publishing of her novel, TimeShift, a 480-page, action sci-fi thriller.

Kyara Kahakauwila, Councillor |District of Metchosin

Kyara became the youngest elected woman in Canadian politics, winning a seat on the District of Metchosin Council in 1999.  She served 3 consecutive terms and was Deputy Mayor to two mayors.  Elected Chair of the WestShore Chamber in 2009, she was instrumental in changing the culture to encourage businesses to support the community to have the community support its local business; a philosophy that remains strong to this day.  She was elected to the BC Chamber Board of Directors; she resigned her position having re-entered politics in 2014, being elected back to Metchosin Council. Kyara has served on numerous community boards including the Jeneece Edroff Society, creating Jeneece Place; the Capital Region Music Awards Society, bringing the Western Canadian Music Awards to Victoria; Visions Gala and Co-Chairing the “Tip A Fool” steering committee. Kyara has helped grow L.A. Limousines Inc. from 6 cars in 2000 to 20 cars today.  She developed Luxury Wine Tours Inc. adding another layer of client experiences to her and her husbands’ company. She is a mom of two teenage boys and has been known to run soccer practice when the coach was unavailable.

Melissa Burke, Owner & Director | VI Kidz Company Childcare Group Ltd.

Melissa founded VI Kidz Kompany Childcare Group Ltd in 2004 and is the current Director. She oversees operations of six licensed child care facilities in Nanaimo which provide programming to children ages 0-12 years. She was appointed to the Provincial Child Care Council in 2014 and is passionate about impacting the lives of children and families in British Columbia. She does ongoing volunteer work with the Canadian Cancer Society and caregivers that are supporting a loved one through cancer. She is passionate about encouraging a bright future for all children and families in the Nanaimo community and the province of BC

Mike De Palma, Owner | Flintstones Home Improvements

Born in Victoria, Mike began his construction career at the age of 16, where he quickly learned that working in construction came with its challenges. More often than not, vagueness, unpredictability, and an emphasis on a quick completion, rather than quality, prevailed. As a result, Mike built a construction company with a focus on quality, attention to detail, being forthright about potential issues, and creating positive relationships at work and in the community. Mike’s top professional achievement has been building a team around him that treats the business as their own, and the relationships that this has created.

Natasha Wilch, Owner | Symphony Rehabilation

Natasha moved to Nanaimo in 2014 with her son and husband.  She started Symphony Rehabilitation in 2015 with her massage table, her car and a vision.  Today Symphony is expanding into its new standing location, servicing the Nanaimo area both with clinicand mobile services.  Symphony also launched their Telehealth services this past fallto BC, Alberta and the Northwest Territories–eliminating geography as the barrier to individuals wanting to improve their health. Natasha is passionate about what she does and is always looking at how she can serve. Locally she mentors her team, provides education sessions to support groups, teams, parents and educators and has several projects in the works to streamline mild TBI care and education for Nanaimo.  When not working on her passion projects Natasha can be found enjoying time with her family.

Scott Gurney, Owner | 17 Black Events

Born and raised in Campbell River, Scott graduated high school in1996 and travelled extensively for several years. In 2000 he headed southto pursue new opportunities, and has enjoyed the good fortune to live, learn, start a business and raise a family here in Victoria. With a focus on continued growth –personally and professionally,  Scott is excited to be expanding his business across Canada with a dedicated focus on genuine relationship building, face-to-face communication, integrity, quality, community, and philanthropy.

Tony Harris – Car Dealer | Developer | Entrepreneur | Philanthropist

Tony, a sixth generation Nanaimo resident, is a serial entrepreneur who is active in philanthropy; he graduated from the University of Western Ontario & Babson College. Tony is a car dealer, real-estate developer, and early-stage investor; he’s an executive with the Harris Auto Group, Developer of LEGASEA in Departure Bay, and Chairman & CEO of Canutra Naturals – a Hemp Health & Wellness company. In 2017 Harris Mazda, where Tony is Managing Partner, won Vancouver Island Automotive Business of the Year and DealerRater Canadian Dealer of the Year. Tony is on the Board of the Nanaimo & District Hospital Foundation and Honorary Chairman of the Tom Harris Charity Classic. Tony and his wife Leslie have two young children.


Trina Legge, Registered Veterinary Technician | Paws Around Town – Victoria

Trina is a Registered Veterinary Technician, also certified in canine physical rehabilitation. She is a dedicated volunteer to the Vets For Pets Victoria program and is the Vancouver Island Project Coordinator and board member of the Canadian Animal Assistance Team (CAAT). Paws Around Town Victoria is Trina’s mobile canine fitness company, also offering in home pet sitting for medical needs. She likes to join her friends in games nights, painting, hiking and camping, tasting local wines and spirits, but loves to sink into the couch at the end of the day with her partner, dog and two cats!

Tyler Cody, General Manager | Osprey Electric Ltd.

Tyler was raised in South Nanaimo (Chase River!) and moved to Parksville for his tween years due to bullying. He used to stutter. He grew up building houses with his father all over Nanaimo/Parksville. He was a carpenter/GC by trade. His father at very young age instilled in him a sense of relentless work ethic, can do mentality, love of music, stone cold integrity, and the pride of providing for our family no matter what. Any success Tyler has in his adult life is surely a result of his example growing up.  Tyler married very young at 20 to his wife Melissa Cody. After returning from volunteer work he pursued an electrical apprenticeship in 2004 and completed his red seal in 4 years. Soon after in 2004 they had their first son Noah, followed by Nathan and Finnley.

Vatslav Govorov, Owner | South Nanaimo Panago

Vatslav was born in Novosibirsk, Russia. He moved around the world with his parents before settling in Nanaimo. After graduating from high school, he attended VIU and later UBC. At the age of 23, he started my short-term rental business in downtown Vancouver. At 24, with the help of his father, he purchased 4th Street Panago. At 25, he began his first land development project consisting of ten residential lots. He is now looking forward to opening a second Panago location in Ladysmith, BC scheduled for June, 2018

Will Duggan, Owner | Creative Woodcraft Ltd.

At age 13, Will started as a labourer at Creative Woodcraft. His entrepreneurial drive and passion for woodworking enabled him to excel at various positions in the shop, and eventually purchase the business in 2011. The company now operates out of an 11,000 sqft shop, with 30+ employees. Under Will’s leadership, Creative Woodcraft has grown to be one of the leading cabinetry providers on Vancouver Island, for everything from residential kitchens and bathrooms, to a full range of commercial and institutional customers. Will contributes to local community through various Rotary projects. He enjoys family time, fishing, curling & trials motorbiking.