Local companies recognized as industry leaders in small business 

Four enterprises make semi-finals for Small Business BC Awards

click to enlarge PHOTO BY NATALIE LANGMANN - big things Clara Edwards, a carpentry apprentice with Murphy Construction Corp., has completed level two of the program.
  • PHOTO BY Natalie Langmann
  • big things Clara Edwards, a carpentry apprentice with Murphy Construction Corp., has completed level two of the program.

It's well known that small businesses and the hard-working people who run them have been instrumental in the Sea to Sky corridor's success.

It should therefore come as little surprise that several area businesses are semi-finalists in the prestigious Small Business BC Awards.

The awards—which will be held on Feb. 21—honour business owners who make significant contributions to their local communities and global economy.

Pemberton-based Murphy Construction Corp. is leading the field with three nominations; the company is one of 10 finalists in the Best Apprentice Training, Best Community Impact, and Best Employer categories.

The recognition comes after a busy year in which the firm won a BC Economic Development Association (BCEDA) award for its ongoing collaboration with Lil'wat Nation, and worked on a number of high-profile projects, including the gondola barn for the new Blackcomb Gondola and the new Ts'zil Learning Centre in Mount Currie.

On the apprenticeship front, the company currently boasts 20 carpentry apprentices, all of whom are from the Lil'wat Nation.

"The community really believes in structured education and the right pathways," said company CEO Graham Murphy.

Upcoming Murphy projects include a multi-family housing project in Pemberton and a major development in Whistler's Function Junction neighbourhood.

In Oct. 2017, Whistler approved a Lil'wat Nation development plan that includes a gas station, three mixed-use buildings containing office and commercial space, as well as 18 units of employee housing on a large lot that sits adjacent to Highway 99, just west of Alpha Lake Road.

"Construction is so seasonal in the corridor. It's difficult to find year-around work for some companies," said Murphy. "We are in a unique position right now where there isn't a day where we are not working."

Whistler builder RDC Fine Homes is also a semi-finalist in the Best Apprentice-Training category.

"We really see value in having our staff with that professional designation," said company president Bob Deeks.

Deeks said RDC—which won four Canadian Home Builders' Association of British Columbia Georgie Awards in the last two years—currently has a dozen apprentices.

He said the company makes a concerted effort to support them through the certification process on staff.

"We do as much as we can to support our staff that are involved in (the apprenticeship program)," said Deeks, noting that the organization pairs each apprentice with a mentor.

"We are also, as aggressively as we can, pursuing money from (grants) to help subsidize the time (apprentices) are away to help offset the tuition costs and any living out costs they have."

Whistler Cooks also received a nod for its commitment to apprentices. According to Alistair Cray, director of finance and human resources, the company is relatively new at offering apprenticeships and sees it as a way to attract and retain staff.

"The labour market for the culinary world is so tough in B.C. at the moment," said Cray. "This is just one way we're trying to engage with staff, keep people in the industry, and help them grow their career."

Cray also said offering apprenticeships aligns with the company's human resources brand—"to live, work, and learn."

Helping young cooks learn through their apprenticeship fits so well into that," said Cray.

Squamish's Marwick Internet Marketing, a digital marketing firm, also received a nod of approval, nominated as a semi-finalist in the Best Immigrant Entrepreneur category.

As semi-finalists, the companies will have to present a detailed application to a panel of judges who will be tasked with cutting the list in half. From there, finalists will pitch the judges on why their companies should win.

Winners will be granted a $1,500 cash prize, access to Small Business BC's educational resources and experts, and (of course) bragging rights.

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