I found it a little intimidating being in the company of such greatness last week, during the Best of the Best awards celebration in Walnut Grove.
Okay, maybe I wasn't so much intimidated, as I was in awe. There were some pretty impressive and inspiring people in the crowd.
I know that feeling was shared by guest speaker Angie Quaale, owner of Well Seasoned gourmet food store and the former chamber president.
In fact, she said it perfectly: "Truly, I am in awe of all of you and the work that you do to build your businesses and to build our community."
Well said, Angie. "You guys make Langley what it is!" she elaborated in her keynote address to the crowd of award recipients who gathered under tents - avoiding the rain - at The Redwoods golf course last Thursday.
A well-recognized and lauded entrepreneur in her own right, Quaale applauded the 125 other business owners - many in attendance - who were selected by Langley Advance reader as the Best of the Best.
Each year for the past 16 years, the Langley Advance has held the annual survey, allowing readers to vote for their favourite local businesses.
"You make me as a businessperson in Langley better at what I do," Quaale said, adding that the community is a better place to live and work because of people and businesses like those recognized at the ceremony.
She expressed gratitude to this newspaper, as well, for recognizing the entrepreneurs in Langley, noting it builds community and motivates others to excel.
"If it wasn't for your restaurants and your hotels, and your real estate offices here in Langley, everyone would just live here and leave Langley to work all day and it would be a complete ghost town."
But it is not. It is a thriving metropolis, with thriving businesses, and a thriving economy.
"I really appreciate the work you guys do to be good neighbours in our community," Quaale added. "Your businesses and your efforts to be the best at what you do really does make a difference."
While I don't want to single out one winner as being better than the others, I didn't have time to chat with everyone. I did, however, visit briefly with Bozena Pappas of Kosta's Greek Restaurant.
She and her husband Kostas have been in business on Fraser Highway for 13 years, and in keeping with what Angie said, they believe what has keep them in business all these years - and a winner of the Best of the Best awards for 11 years running - is their fresh food and primarily their customer service (literally knowing many of their customers by name and knowing food allergies and preferences).
Likewise, Matthew Purdy of Toy Traders, said his 18-year-old business is all about people - not only his 30-plus staff (many who have been with him for more than a decade) but the "thousands of customers who support us."
It's those people he credits with helping Toy Traders earn Best of the Best accolades repeatedly through the years.
@ Copyright 2013