5 inspiring local businesses

27 Sep

We have it pretty good here on Vancouver Island. Aside from the fact that we have the best weather in the country, natural wonders that defy adjectives and a capital city that draws raves from visitors and locals alike, we also have talent in abundance.

Fortunately for those of us living here, a lot of that talent is entrepreneurial and finds its expression in some inspiring businesses.

Here are a few that impress me, for their drive, their innovation, and their ability to live up to their brand promises.

Island Savings Credit Union (Duncan)

Island Savings waves of kindness

Most customer service-focused businesses talk a good game. Island Savings lives up to the talk in spades. This year I became a client of this Duncan-based credit union and discovered just how good and welcoming a financial institution can be. Since 1951 Island Savings has been a pivot in the communities it serves. This year they took it up another notch with their Waves of Kindness campaign and total rebrand.

Bottom Line: Tops in customer service.

Hoyne Brewing Co. (Victoria)

Dark Matter from Hoyne

Brewmaster Sean Hoyne spent 13 years building the brewery at Canoe Club before going it alone with Hoyne Brewing. The result is a breakthrough addition to an already star-studded local brewery scene. In his first 2 years, he’s gotten rave reviews and put instant classics into local shops and bellies, including The Big Bock, The Hoyne Pilsner and my personal favourite, The Dark Matter, which he describes as the elusive unseen fabric upon which our universe is embroidered.

Bottom line: Innovative products, creative packaging, user experience 🙂 

Contech Enterprises (Victoria)

Contech Enterprises products

Long before it was imperative to have environmentally-safe products for pets and pests alike, there was Contech. Among its many astonishing innovations is a Mountain Pine Beetle Repellant that uses Verbonone, a synthetic pheromone, to tell the destructive little pest that the tree it’s about to chow down on has no nutritional value. Twenty-five years into their business of “thrilling our customers with better products to build a better world”, Contech just keeps getting better. It was voted Technology Company of the Year at the 2012 VIATeC Technology awards.

Bottom line: Company values, market-leading innovations.

D’Ambrosio Architecture + Urbanism (Victoria)

The Atrium 800 Yates St.

Photo from Archflip.com

With so much old architecture in Victoria, the newer buildings can tend to get over-looked. That is, until you walk into the D’Ambrosio-designed The Atrium at 800 Yates St. It’s a stunning first impression, with its elegant waves of hemlock and soaring 7,000 sq. ft. glass skylight. The Atrium is the jewel in the crown of a local architectural firm that has been creating award-winning sustainable designs for 20 years. But there’s a + to Franc D’Ambrosio’s company, which is their work in urbanism. So that intuitively-designed waterfront walkway you are on is just as likely to be from the minds of this inspiring creative collective.

Bottom line: Creative products, sustainable practices.

Wildplay Element Parks (Victoria)

Wildplay Nanaimo bungy jumper

I am not about to catapult myself over a 600-foot ravine no matter how much you try to cajole me, but for people with a less-pronounced yellow-streak, there is Wildplay Element Parks. Starting with a purchase of the Bungy Zone in Nanaimo 7 years ago, Wildplay is now exploding all across Canada, using degrees of knee-weakening thrills to introduce groups to the benefits of outdoor experiences. They’ve just opened their newest park in the Yukon, with the Wildplay staples of  aerial adventure obstacles and zip lines. Hard to imagine a more exciting business than one that makes you pee your pants and experience personal growth at the same time!

Bottom line: Brand experience, innovative products.

 

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6 Responses to “5 inspiring local businesses”

  1. maureen September 27, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    Great post, Doug…love all of them. The architecture especially. My personal beef has always been the amount of lazy, derivative faux-victorian twee that passes for building design. And Contech – brilliant minds, almost every product in the “why didn’t I think of that” category. And not priced out of range. Oy.
    Ah, sweetie, thank you, it’s so nice to be excited again…

    • Doug Brown September 27, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

      Great minds think alike/fools seldom differ….nice to know we are on the same page Moe. Perhaps we should finally meet over a Hoyne beer?

      • maureen September 27, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

        Love to. Once you’re settled into the new desk, I’ll take you out for coffee or a 2 martini lunch you ad guys always have…

  2. Doug Brown September 27, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    2 martini lunch! Now that brings back fond memories of more temperate times. 🙂

  3. Tom Benson November 13, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    OK…so I’m daft. I am just seeing this after you told me how daft I am. Awesome and thanks for recognizing WildPlay. I really appreciate it.
    Manzeimers has set in…

    • Doug Brown November 13, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

      Man, it’s all about the Dark Matter! Ha!

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