Business Briefs 

Black joins The Affinity Group

Sandy Black, formerly vice president of Retail Operations for Intrawest, has left the company to become a partner in The Affinity Group.

Black joins Scott Carrell, Charles Grooms and Jon Dietrich at Affinity, which now has 11 businesses in Whistler with the recent acquisition of the two Mr. Whistler’s and two Cold Coyote stores.

The Affinity Group’s other businesses include Affinity Sports, Advantage Ski Rentals and Moguls Coffee.

"We now have 11 very strong locations, with focus in five key resort disciplines: ski and snowboard rentals, accessories, clothing, logo wear and of course great coffee," Black said.

Carrell, who started Affinity Sports and Advantage Ski Rentals with Grooms three years ago, said with Black leaving Intrawest after seven years to get into the retail business, the new partnership seemed logical.

"Rather than Sandy competing with us, it made sense for him to come and work with us," Carrell said. "Sandy is a passionate guy and we end up with a stronger group, adding value to the company."

The group acquired the Mr. Whistler’s and Cold Coyote stores from Dave Davenport, who founded them in 1989. Davenport still owns the Skitch store in the village as well as Mountain Crests Inc., which does custom stitching and embroidering.

"I’m excited. I think Sandy will do a very good job," Davenport said. "He’s got exactly the right level of excitement and expertise to take it to the next level."

Black said he is evaluating each of the four new stores but he likes the business they do.

"Mr. Whistler’s is a great addition to the group. They’ve got a great staff," Black said.

Origin goes interactive

Origin Design and Communications Ltd., Whistler’s largest design, communications and advertising agency, has launched its redesigned Web site (www.origindesign.ca), coinciding with the creation of a new multimedia division.

Origin entered into Web design and development in 1999, but the launch of Origin Interactive signals a new emphasis on this area. Origin Interactive services include Internet/Intranet site planning, design, development and programming; e-commerce; kiosk creation; e-cards; banner ads; and direct e-mail.

In adding these services to its existing design and print services, Origin intends to facilitate integrated marketing communications for clients.

"With Internet marketing producing significant revenue returns for businesses, more and more of our clients are looking at redesigning their existing Web sites or, in some cases, creating a first Web site," said Danielle Kristmanson, president of Origin. "During the past five years, in the initial wave of Web site development, businesses frequently used one agency for print and another for Web. This created both branding and design problems for companies," Kristmanson said. "They just didn’t get a consistent ‘look’ and ‘mood’ for their print and Web marketing – they weren’t integrating their strategies."

Richard Smith heads Origin’s interactive division and manages a team of programmers and designers contributing to the Web.

"Interactive marketing is so much more powerful than just throwing up a Web site," Smith said. "Clients are seeing statistics that show them so, and responding to that."

Origin has also brought on Stacey Shelby as its new account manager.

"This is also a new position for Origin," Kristmanson said. "Stacey has a strong background in Internet and traditional marketing strategies, so she can ensure our clients are integrating their communications by sending a consistent look and message across all mediums."

Shelby is currently completing a post-graduate certificate in Internet Marketing from UBC.

Chateau wins Ethics award

The Fairmont Chateau Whistler received an award for Leadership in Ongoing Corporate Social Responsibility at the Ethics in Action awards ceremony last month.

Of 30 nominees, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler was one of four finalists. The award reflects the hotel’s commitment to operating ethically in terms of social, economic and environmental business practices. Among the initiatives taken by the Chateau Whistler are: the Natural Step Framework, the Adopt-A-Shelter program and the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Foundation.

The Natural Step is an environmental sustainability program. The Adopt-A-Shelter program sees the hotel donate supplies that would otherwise be discarded to those in need. As well, events such as the Mother’s Day Brunch in the Wildflower Restaurant donate partial proceeds to the hotel’s partnered shelter. The Fairmont Chateau Whistler Foundation was created to make a positive and significant difference within the communities of Whistler, Squamish and Pemberton.

The Ethics in Action awards program recognizes businesses and individuals whose corporate actions and decisions make a positive impact on their communities through makind social responsibility a part of their daily lives.

Paradata expands again

Whistler-based company, Paradata Systems Inc., is expanding again and gaining further recognition.

Paradata has joined forces with Pacific Online Inc., a Web host to thousands of domains for customers around the world. Paradata will provide its online payment expertise to Pacific Online customers, including the Westin Hotels, Government of Canada, YWCA and United way, making for quick and easy one-stop-shopping.

Paradata was recently awarded Best Application Of Web Technology by the B.C. Technology Industries Association. Paradata’s Merchant Integration Kit was selected from over 35 applicants for its unique utilization of Internet technology, its easy instalment and use and high quality of service.

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