Alair Homes was a big winner at the 2020 Nanaimo Business Awards as the company was recognized as the best Large Business during the award ceremony, hosted online Saturday. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Alair Homes was a big winner at the 2020 Nanaimo Business Awards as the company was recognized as the best Large Business during the award ceremony, hosted online Saturday. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Event was virtual, recognition was real at Nanaimo Business Awards

Online event praised Nanaimo businesses and organizations for excellence in 21 award categories

And the winner is…

The 2020 Nanaimo Business Awards might have been attended and hosted virtually, but the awards and recognition were nevertheless real.

The event was hosted online Friday. Kim Smythe, Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce CEO, was live from the Port Theatre stage, comedian Steve Patterson co-hosted from a studio in Toronto and nominees in 21 business award categories watched online.

As with so many ceremonies and events forced to shift to virtual presentations online by COVID-19 restrictions, the Nanaimo Business Awards found ways to adapt to the virtual format through pre-show preparations.

“We got lots of compliments,” Smythe said. “The winners were all really happy. They were all tricked into giving their acceptance speeches without knowing that they’d won, so that was kind of fun.”

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Alair Homes was the winner of the Large Business award category, which honours an outstanding business with 60 or more employees and in the past year demonstrated the capacity for sustainable growth, engaged in innovative business practices and achieved continued business excellence in its field while making a positive impact on the community, according to a press release.

Stu Hopewell, COO of Alair Homes, said at the ceremony that the company wanted to express appreciation across the board.

“We wouldn’t be here without our trades suppliers, our valued staff here and of course our clients,” he said. “Without them we wouldn’t be able to do the things that we do.”

Recognized for the same criteria, Woodgrove Centre won the Mid-Size Business category and Longwood Brewery was recognized as the winner in the Small Business category.

The New Business award went to Axe and Grind, recognizing it as the start-up business in operation for one year or less that has achieved outstanding performance and results.

Mahle House Restaurant and Drip Coffee Social tied as winners of the restaurant category, Page’s Resort Group received the Hospitality Operator award, and Harbour Air was recognized as top Tourism Operator.

Quintessential received the nod for the top Retailer award, Habitat for Humanity for Development and Design and the Builders and Trades award was presented to B. Gallant Homes.

Tim’s Automotive Repair and Used Car Sales received the Automotive award, recognizing it as Nanaimo’s body or repair shop demonstrating exemplary customer service.

Island Saving received the Financial Services award, Nanaimo Magazine and Voyager won took home the Creative Service award and Mosaic Information Technologies took the Technology category.

The Arts and Entertainment award went to Nanaimo Museum, the Health Care Service category went to Nanaimo Child Development Centre, Coastal Community Credit Union was recognized with the Corporate and Social Responsibility award and the Social Enterprise category went to Coco Café.

B.C. SPCA is this year’s Not-For-Profit Organization Award winner and Nanaimo Association for Community Living is Nanaimo’s Inclusive Employer for 2020.

Julie Bevan, former executive director of the Nanaimo Art Gallery and now the city’s manager of culture and events, was presented with the Above and Beyond award, which recognizes a social services staff person who most exemplifies excellence by being a role model for others, inspiring people to work collaboratively and creatively and for promoting a respectful, collegial and supportive work environment.

To learn more about the 2020 Nanaimo Business Awards, visit the Great Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce website at

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