Sara Hodson, founder and president LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic in South Surrey, is the winner of the 2017 Business Person of the Year Award presented by Surrey Board of Trade. (submitted photo)

Exercise clinic boss named Surrey’s Business Person of the Year

Sara Hodson and others celebrated at annual gala hosted by Surrey Board of Trade

SURREY — Eight of the city’s best businesses were celebrated Thursday night (Nov. 2) during Surrey Board of Trade’s annual Business Excellence Awards gala, held once again at Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel.

The Business Person of the Year award was given to Sara Hodson, founder and president of LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic in South Surrey.

Hodson “lives to maximize her clients’ health, in spite of their health issues, and has fun while doing it,” the board said in her biography. “LIVE WELL’s three pioneering clinics (two in Surrey) specialize in helping sedentary people with health conditions such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease, and overhaul their lifestyle by offering medically-designed customized fitness programs, nutritional counselling, goal-setting and habit formatting.”

The Young Entrepreneur of the Year award went to Raveena Oberoi of Just Cakes Bakeshop.

Safe Software Inc. took home the Corporate Social Responsibility Recognition award, which was created to recognize a business working “to improve the lives of their employees.”

The New Business of the Year award went to Forte Law, which works to help employees and employers solve work-related legal problems.

Pacific Community Resources Society, which has been around since 1984, won the Not-for-Profit of the Year award.

Also honoured during the Academy Awards-style dinner were GroupHEALTH Benefit Solutions (41+ Employees award), Safetech Scaffold Ltd. (11-40 Employees) and Sew Kool Embroidery and Screen-Printing (1-10 Employees).

The list of award finalists was announced in early October.

• READ MORE: Surrey Business Excellence Awards finalists announced, from Oct. 3, 2017.

Global TV’s Jay Janower emceed the event, sponsored by BDC-Business Development Bank of Canada, TD Bank and Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

“The Surrey Board of Trade focused on the strength and innovation within every entrepreneur to take an idea and use it as the foundation for building a business,” said Anita Huberman, the board’s CEO. “They are inspirational – from the very small business to the large business to the not-for-profit service organization to the very innovative student entrepreneurs.”

• READ MORE: Fitness buff named Surrey’s Business Person of the Year for 2016.

Bios of each of this year’s Surrey Business Excellence award winners, as submitted by Surrey Board of Trade:

Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award: Raveena Oberoi, Just Cakes Bakeshop Ltd.

Sponsored by the Destinationone Consulting Inc.

Raveena Oberoi has made cakes and pastries from her home kitchen since she was 16 years old. She continued making cakes while attending university, which helped pay for her tuition, rent, and other expenses. After graduation, from UBC, Raveena travelled to Paris, France where she learned from the very best in the industry how to create authentic French pastry deserts. Upon her return from France she began her inception of her new business. Just Cakes Bakeshop specializes in custom, scratch made custom cakes for all occasions, as well as artisan French-inspired pastries. Raveena delves into the world of pastry, creating bold flavours and designs with her edible art.

1-10 Employees Award: Sew Kool Embroidery and Screen-Printing

Sponsored by the Port of Vancouver

Sew Kool Embroidery and Screen-Printing was founded in 2005. Sew Kool supplies and customizes apparel to meet customers’ needs. A large portion of their business is in customizing for local sporting goods shops, as well as creating corporate apparel and uniforms for local businesses. Their operation has diversified over the years to offer many techniques and equipment to serve their customers including embroidery, twill applique, wide-format printing, heat press, numbering, graphic arts, sublimation and screen-printing. In just over 10 years, Sew Kool has grown from a home-based business to a busy operation with 10 employees.

11-40 Employees Award: Safetech Scaffold Ltd.

Sponsored by Abbotsford International Airport

Founded during the peak of the “leaky condo” crisis, Safetech has become a popular scaffold supplier in the Lower Mainland. They have built a reputation for being one of the scaffolding companies of choice for high visibility projects where innovation, commitment to safety, and excellence in customer service are key to success. Safetech serves Vancouver, the Lower Mainland, and Southern BC. They carry a large inventory of scaffold equipment, providing scaffolding for all residential, commercial and industrial construction applications. Safetech has developed a proficiency in engineering and design, project planning, and providing custom access scaffold solutions. With their associated CWB certified fabrication shop and in-house engineering staff, custom scaffold solutions are another way Safetech is leading in the industry.

41+ Employees Award: GroupHEALTH Benefit Solutions

Sponsored by MNP

GroupHEALTH was founded in 1982. The business is privately owned, and is comprised of 4 operating entities, including GroupHEALTH Benefit Solutions, with 177 employees at their corporate headquarters in South Surrey. GroupHEALTH offers employee benefits and related services to over 4,000 organizations across Canada, including over 40 in Surrey. Their client-centric culture, first-of-their-kind products, services, and cutting-edge technology have helped drive growth of over 250% in the last 5years. GroupHEALTH’s unique solutions allow Canadian businesses to access an expansive marketplace of group insurance coverage and service options through a central sales, service and systems hub.

New Business of the Year Award: Forte Law – Employment Law Solutions

Sponsored by: Century Group

The team at Forte Law helps employees and employers solve work-related legal problems, from hiring to firing and everything in between. Community integration is a founding principle. Forte Law brings highly specialized legal advice to local businesses and people living and working in Surrey. All of Forte Law’s lawyers and staff live locally, and are happy to have left behind long commutes to Vancouver. Their team is actively involved in local sports, arts, charities, community, and business events. Their lawyers work with clients to solve their workplace legal issues so that they can move on with their lives and businesses. Forte Law drafts employment contracts, negotiates fair severance packages, and helps both employees and businesses deal with issues of workplace harassment and managing disability in the workplace. Forte Law is on track to have served 200 clients by their first anniversary on November 1, 2017.

Not-for-Profit of the Year Award: Pacific Community Resources Society

Sponsored by: Copytek Print Centre

Pacific Community Resources is an accredited, not-for-profit society serving Lower Mainland communities since 1984. The agency provides alternate education, employment, addiction counselling and prevention services, housing support, and cultural enrichment for children, youth, adults and families. They partner with individuals, businesses, agencies and all levels of government to ensure access to effective, high-quality community resources for people who are often vulnerable or marginalized from society. Pacific Community Resources is committed to community-based research, advocacy, and community development to identify service gaps and strategies to address social problems such as poverty, child abuse, mental health, substance abuse, violence and homelessness.

Business Person of the Year Award: Sara Hodson

Sponsored by the Law firm of Hamilton Duncan

Sara Hodson is the Founder and President of LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic in South Surrey, delivering clinically supervised exercise and education to prevent and treat chronic disease. Sara lives to maximize her clients’ health, in spite of their health issues, and has fun while doing it. LIVE WELL’s 3 pioneering clinics (two in Surrey) specialize in helping sedentary people with health conditions such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease, and overhaul their lifestyle by offering medically-designed customized fitness programs, nutritional counselling, goal-setting, and habit formatting. She and her staff work in the emerging field of ‘Exercise is Medicine’, to help people live healthier, more active lives while reducing the burden of chronic disease on the health care system.

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