Third annual Excellence Awards celebrates the love of business 

Wayne Katz wins Business Person of the Year

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOERN ROHDE/COURTESY OF THE WHISTLER CHAMBER - burning bright Pepe Barajas poses with his Rising Star of the Year award at the third annual Excellence Awards.
  • Photo by joern rohde/courtesy of the Whistler Chamber
  • burning bright Pepe Barajas poses with his Rising Star of the Year award at the third annual Excellence Awards.

Wayne Katz, in accepting the Business Person of the Year award at last week's Whistler Excellence Awards, shared a choice piece of advice often heralded by his mother.

"My mom used to say that no man is an island unto himself. I never got it," Katz said, to laughter from the audience.

"But a little older — OK, a lot older — and a little wiser, I get it. I would not be standing here if not for my exceptional management team."

It was a recurring theme throughout the night — a successful business is not built by one person, but by a dedicated team.

"To be the best you surround yourself with people that have the same aspirations that you do," said Pepe Barajas of Infinity Enterprises, who edged out Michelle Leroux and Julia Murray for the Rising Star of the Year award.

"People that are committed, people that are passionate, people that want to be successful... and most importantly, people that have courage."

This year's Citizen of the Year award went to Sue Adams, who has sat on committees and boards ranging from the Whistler Arts Council and Chamber of Commerce to the Whistler Healthcare Foundation and the Premier's Small Business Roundtable, to name just a few.

"Truly, I share this with so many people," Adams said in her acceptance speech.

"And I thank you very much for inviting me to join with you in the various good works that you do in the community. It's an absolute honour."

Anne Townley and Jessie Pendygrasse were also nominated for Citizen of the Year.

The first ever Whistler Champion of Arts and Culture award went to Joan Richoz, who started the Whistler Public Library in 1986 and has been involved with the Whistler Arts Council for more than three decades.

"I feel very, very privileged to receive this award, and I know I'm one of many, many people who are out there furthering arts and culture in Whistler," Richoz said.

Dragon's Den alumni and MC for the evening Bruce Croxon commended the Whistler Chamber of Commerce for organizing the event and for having such an award.

"It's so critical, no matter what community you're in, and sometimes I feel like we're fighting a losing battle with the arts and culture, but it starts at the local level," he said.

At the end of the night, Croxon said he was impressed with the event overall.

"This is the best one I've ever been at, and I've been at a lot of them," he said.

"Every person that got up, whether it was a presenter or a recipient, was 100 per cent comfortable up here, and that is so rare... that to me says something about a community where people feel that at home with each other, and that comfortable."

Other awards presented throughout the night went to Starbucks Village North (Service Excellence Award — Small Business), Ziptrek Ecotours (Service Excellence Award — Large Business), RDC Fine Homes (Sustainability in Action Business) and Prior Manufacturing Ltd., (Innovative Business of the Year).


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