In its third year, the Vancouver Business Journal’s Best in Business Awards have grown steadily from its 2013 numbers, which recognized companies and business professionals in nearly 50 categories and drew nearly 1,500 votes, to approximately 70 categories and 3,000 votes cast in 2015.
Across the board, categories have seen both first-time winners and veterans of the awards, demonstrating active engagement by readers to honor companies they’re loyal to and introduce the community to new favorites.
This year, Rusty Grape Vineyard won ‘Best Vineyard/Winery’ for the third year in a row. A popular spot with Clark County residents, owners Jeremy and Heather Brown have concentrated on bringing the relaxed, extended family feel from their travels in Italy to their establishment. It is this intimate approach that the Browns feel is the key to their success.
“The VBJ does a great job of getting the pulse on local businesses; what’s going on and what is ahead. Rusty Grape Vineyard has been in business for a while now (since 2006). I think the local business scene has seen us grow, but really it’s the relationships we make at Rusty Grape Vineyard – and continue to make – that really [define] Rusty Grape Vineyard,” said Jeremy Brown.
Brown went on to say that the entire crew strives to make every person feel like a guest in their home which, they believe, sets a welcoming environment for folks to want to return to and bring their friends to share in the experience.
After a year of planning and building out, the expanded Bleu Door Bakery in Uptown Vancouver finally opened its doors this past summer, but owner Bonnie Brasure credits her staff for garnering ‘Best Bakery’ for the second year in a row.
“I have an amazing team, with an attention to detail, that makes sure what goes out is spot on,” Brasure said. “We’re always changing and evolving and listening to our customers.”
She added that high quality, competing with herself and not other shops, and making smart business decisions along the way have contributed to the favorable reputation of Bleu Door.
In its first year as ‘Best Travel Agent’, USA River Cruises had great success marketing small ship cruising along the Columbia River and throughout North America.
“The American Empress being here [in Vancouver] instead of Portland [and] having passengers stay overnight in our city and shop our downtown area has been a great boost to Vancouver,” said Ashley Whitham, manager of marketing and promotions. “Local recommendations made from personal experience mean a great deal to our clients.”
Whitham also cited the close relationship they have with Visit Vancouver USA and the hiring of long-time travel colleague, Sue Collins, to take over their groups department, as factors in their 2015 success.
Commercial real estate
Coldwell Banker Commercial is no stranger to Best in Business. For the third year in a row, they took the ‘Best Commercial Real Estate’ (CRE) title, although 2015 found readers specifically naming Jim West of the Jenkins & Associates office in their vote.
Some might say that West entered the CRE profession at the worst possible time (late 2008), but West focused on what he could do rather than what was not feasible to most business owners at the time; leasing vs. owning business property. He also networked heavily with local chambers, the CREDC, other business associations and became a sponsor of local growth awards and business recognition projects.
“I think this [2015 award] is just an accumulation, kind of a compound interest, of being consistent in these efforts over the past seven years,” said West.
First time winner in ‘Community Outreach’, High 5 Media produces Hello Vancouver! – Vancouver’s only live community talk show and it’s this street level involvement that High 5 credits for their local familiarity.
“We just completed our second year (producing Hello Vancouver!) and it’s a show that keeps getting better and better; drawing a more engaged audience,” said Temple Lentz, partner and director of content. “We’ve been blown away every show and work hard to have the community feel ownership.”
Lentz also recognizes that personalized attention is vital to every campaign that High 5 designs and the hands-on community interaction they’ve developed through Hello Vancouver! gives them a clearer lens with which to view their clients’ needs.
High 5 Media was also recognized by readers of the VBJ as tops in video production.
View the rest of the winners of Best in Business here.