Back in 1978, when the Nuraney family first came from North Vancouver to Langley to check out a rural A&W drive-in as a business opportunity, from his perch in the back seat young Nick thought the drive would never end.
Forty years later, the family is not only still involved in operating the Langley A&W restaurants, but Nick – now owner of nine stores – was singled out for this week for recognition as an outstanding Langley entrepreneur.
He was crowned the business person of the year by the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce Thursday night before a crowd of 300 at the Cascades Casino.
“It feels a little overwhelming,” Nuraney told Black Press just moments after being presented the award during the chamber’s 22nd annual Business Excellence celebrations.
“I think my heart is beating like crazy. It was an honour to be nominated and then when I won, I just couldn’t believe that I won,” Nuraney said.
He drew some chuckles from the crowd as he recalled that inaugural journey to Langley.
“I remember driving out with [Dad] the first time, and it felt like hours and hours to get out to Langley. We came off the #1 Highway and all it was was farmland. And finally, we got to a traffic light at Fraser Highway, and I thought ‘oh my God, there’s civilization…’ At that time, I didn’t know what he thought… I joined him in business a few years later, and then I saw his vision. He saw Langley as a growing community. He saw it as a community of people who help each other. He saw it as a community of people who get behind each other. And he saw that as the future… Our businesses grew the way Langley has grown. Langley has grown exponentially. Our businesses have grown exponentially.”
While Nick’s father was the one to take over the popular Langley drive-in all those years ago, Nick stepped in early on – first as a summer employee – to help out his dad. He recounted how his mother was worried about Dad’s health and wanted Nick to back him up.
“I started it as a part-time job, and I just loved the business so much. I loved the customers and I loved the staff I was working with. And like the old phrase used to be, ‘you must have root beer in your veins,’ and it just stuck with me, and I’ve just enjoyed every day going to work,” Nuraney said.
He took over the business from his father 25 years ago with two franchises and has been growing it ever since, currently owning six restaurants in Langley, two in downtown Vancouver, and one in South Surrey.
And Nuraney isn’t done growing the business yet, he said, telling a room packed with fellow entrepreneurs that the company has plans to build more restaurants. He envisions A&W equalling or outstripping McDonald’s in size one day – and is anxious to be part of that effort.
Like his father before him, he’s proudly pointed out that among his now 200-plus current employees are his own two kids. They are part of the business, working in the stores – between going to school, that is.
When called up to the podium to accept his award, Nuraney said he was still a little shocked by the win.
“I truly can’t believe I’m up here tonight,” he said. “I mean the nominees tonight are some exceptional people.”
He said he accepted the accolades not just for himself, but for all the young people who work in the restaurants through the years. He als accepted it on behalf of his father and his family. And, he accepted it on behalf of all his current staff and “everyone who supports our business.”
The chamber has been recognizing an outstanding local business person for 22 years (since 1989), “when it was first presented to George Preston of Preston Chev Olds Cadillac in the backseat of a Chevy Cavalier in the Wal-Mart parking lot. I made up that last part,” said event emcee and JRfm morning host Clay St. Thomas – explaining some history of the award.
“George truly was the epitome of a community leader, contributor and successful business operator. So in the honour of the spirit of George Preston, and the example he set for new business people, his dedication to the community, and his outstanding business ethics, the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce named the award in his memory.”
St. Thomas went on to explain that as an employer, Nuraney and his team have earned several awards and have been recognized nationally and provincially for diverse hiring practices, employee scholarships, training and staff development.
“Nick is a principled gentleman who epitomizes traits such as compassion, honour, and friendship,” the co-emcee said. “He quietly lends his financial support, volunteer time, and business expertise to causes that are important to the Langley community and that have a real impact.”
Thursday night, Nuraney was one of 11 business operators recognized by the chamber, receiving this distinguished George Preston Memorial Business Person of the Year award.
There were 95 nominees in the 11 different categories, explained chamber executive director Colleen Clark.
“Everyone is a winner,” she added.
“These people work really hard every day… they’re out there in the community doing really, really good work, and it’s just nice for them to have a night out, a great meal, and receive a little bit of recognition for what they do everyday in our community,” Clark said.
• Other 2018 Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence award recipients:
1. 2018 Community Impact (For-Profit) Award
• Presented by: Shaulene Burkett, Advertising Manager of the Langley Times
• Recipient: Duolynx Design and Print
• Represented by: Katy Mayrs and Kerri Lucas-West
If you are working on an event, charity, or program in Langley, Duolynx Design and Print is always one of the first to step up and sponsor. They strive to champion change for the better in our community. The list of community events and programs that they support, donate to or impact is long some of the key initiatives are Mayor’s Wives Tea, Power of the Purse, Laps and Tiny Kittens, Walnut Grove Secondary Dry Grad and the Township Firefighters Calendar just to name a few. Community is the key ingredient to their success as small business owners.
2. 2018 Community Impact (Non-Profit) Award
• Sponsored by: TD Canada Trust
• Presented by: Andrew Swan, Janet Ingram, Sonia Hollinger, account managers – Small Business
• Recipient: Langley Hospice Society
• Represented by: Shannon Todd Booth, Kathy Derksen, and Nancy Panchuk
Since 1983 the Langley Hospice Society has been providing compassionate care and support in our community. Annually Langley Hospice Society provides information, training and support for more than 5,000 individuals. The services the Langley Hospice Society provide are priceless. The care given to the dying in their precious last days or weeks: the support given to the family as they walk that journey with their loved one: and the continued support provided to family members afterwards, no price tag can be attached. We are so very lucky to have this organization operating in our community.
3. 2018 Environmental Leadership Award
• Sponsored by: Port of Vancouver
• Presented by: Naomi Horsford, manager of municipal executive liaison
• Recipient: Cascadia Windows & Doors Ltd.
• Represented by: Mike Battistel
Langley’s own Cascadia Windows was the first manufacturer in North America to design and launch a Passive House International Certified window, Cascadia’s new product, the Universal Series has received world wide attention, and is now enabling commercial and large-scale residential buildings to achieve higher energy efficiency. Cascadia is one of three finalists for the Canadian Green Building Council’s Product of the Year.
4. 2018 Service Excellence (Retail/Service) Award
• Sponsored by: Aldergrove Credit Union
• Presented by: Michelle Burrows, Aldergrove branch manager
• Recipient: Servcomm Communications Ltd.
• Represented by: Tony Cave & Cam Leighton
If you are looking for great Telecom Business Solutions with unmatched customer service, look no further than Servcomm Communications. Customers are guaranteed to be impressed with call backs and priority solutions when problems arise. This team goes out of its way to make sure that your business communications are up and running even when you can’t be. Service is part of our name! Our business philosophy is to become a telecom partner with our customers!
5. 2018 Service Excellence (Food/Beverage) Award
• Sponsored by: Envision Financial, A division of First West Credit Union
• Presented by: Leanna Napolitano, business banking advisor
• Recipient: Bella Cibo
• Represented by: Marzia Molatore
The key to good customer service is building relationships with the customers and Bella Cibo does just that. Marzia is hands on with her clients, teaching and encouraging people to create good food and be hand on while doing it. Her classes are fun and interactive, and the outcomes taste fantastic! The company goal is to bring back home-made to the table and support local farmers and local products. Through her work in the community Marzia does just that.
6. 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year Award
• Presented by: Brad Kiendl, vice-president with Ashdown Capital
• Recipient: Lilian Cazacu of Lilian Cazacu Notary Corporation
Ten years ago, Lilián Cazacu decided to move to Canada to make a better life for himself and his family. Arriving unable to speak English and armed with his legal degree and a passionate desire to give his newly-created family a better future, Lilián soon discovered that his degree was not accepted in Canada. Not to be deterred, he figured out the solution and Lilián Cazacu Notary Corporation was formed. Since the beginning, Lilian has been involved in every aspect of his company, while continuing to grow, provide excellent customer service and be involved in the local community.
7. 2018 U40 Business Person of the Year Award
• Sponsored by: KPU
• Presented by: Marlyn Graziano, vice-president of external affairs
• Recipient: Kendall Ballantine of Central Park Farms
Kendall left Corporate Canada in 2015 to open Central Park Farms, with a goal of helping further develop the local food movement in our community, a goal she is very passionate about. Kendall sits on the Board of the Langley Community Farmers Market society to further develop a local food hub in the community as well as supporting our local youth in their dreams to open their own farms. Kendall is a regular speaker at workshops and conventions regarding social media and small farms, recently creating Farm Fresh Marketing –which will assist the small-scale agriculture sector in marketing their products and services.
8. 2018 Small Business of the Year Award
• Presented by: Shaulene Burkett, Advertising manager of the Langley Advance
• Recipient: Erikson’s Daylily Gardens & Perennials
• Represented by: Pam Erikson
Erikson’s Daylily Gardens offers a unique tourism experience but so much more that just a garden! Starting in 1987 with a bare acre of land, Pam and Tom Erikson changed that by 1992 and opened the garden for tours and a small variety of plant sales. Now the gardens are packed with plants and they also have a private 30-acre farm where they grow a multitude of their stock. Erikson’s is the definition of a Small business, turn key, husband and wife team, providing amazing customer service and fantastic products and experiences, while supporting many local charities and events.
9. 2018 Medium Business of the Year Award
• Sponsored by: BDO Canada LLP
• Presented by: Kristine Simpson, partner, not-for-profit and education industry leader, and vice-chair of the BC Chamber of Commerce
• Recipient: Jelly Digital Marketing & PR
• Represented by: Darian Kovacs
At Jelly Marketing they are a high-energy team of go-getters, storytellers, and experts in all things digital who work tirelessly to get your business, product, and message seen and heard by the right people. While social media, PR, and digital advertising are the pillars of our business, it is our unique ability to combine the trio that enables us to provide comprehensive amplification for your brand. Team Jelly creatively pushes the boundaries of what’s possible to help you achieve the best results for your business. Jelly goes out of its way to support our local community taking a lead with investing in local charities and businesses, so they too can thrive.
10. 2018 Large Business of the Year Award
• Sponsored by: Business Development Bank of Canada
• Presented by: Louise Fogharty, vice-president of the South Fraser area
• Recipient: Otter Co-op
• Represented by: Mike Will
Otter Coop is a $223-million cooperative that has been in Langley for 96 years. They believe in strong local investment and community building, through programs such as the $250,000 in community donations they were associated with and the 5.9 million returned to the community in cash and equity. When you shop at Otter, you support local and feel at home here.
Otter has 350 employees and if you asked any one of them they would say that it is a team effort. From great customer service to amazing products and unique items you can almost always find it at Otter Co-op.