Phil Jackman said he was “totally shocked” when he was called up before a crowd of more than 360 fellow Langley business people Thursday night to be honoured for all he does as a local business owner to help this community.
Jackman was crowned the 20th consecutive George Preston Business Person of the Year at the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce Celebration of Excellence awards at the Coast Hotel & Convention Centre.
While he was described as humble, quiet, and strong, Jackman was a man of few words as he walked up on stage to accept the accolades.
But as the reality of the honour began to sink in, the owner of Valley Traffic Systems shared with the Langley Advance a short time later the astonishment he felt at being singled out for the coveted honour.
“We don’t come for glamour, we come to help people,” he said, described by award presenter Paul van Koll, of Deloitte LLP, as a “humble saviour of many charities and organizations in Langley.”
“From his customers to his loyal staff, the same comment is consistently made, ‘Phil is always one of the first people to step up and help,” said event emcee Clay St. Thomas.
Working in the sign industry, Jackman explains how he saw a need for a traffic systems company and started Valley Traffic Systems in 1997.
Since then, his company has grown into the premier traffic management and traffic control provider in Western Canada, with a number of subsidiaries and 250 employees, and he provides work sites with everything from traffic management to excavators to hydrovacs, and backhoes out of his yard in Walnut Grove.
Raised nearby in Mt. Lehman, when he looked to settle down he moved back from Victoria to the Fraser Valley in 1985, and then to Langley in 1988 – where he’s remained.
“Through the growth of his company, Phil has never forgotten where he came from and he is constantly giving back to the community,” St. Thomas told the crowd, listing just a few of the organizations that have benefited from his generosity: local minor hockey teams, Cops for Cancer, Basics for Babies, Langley Animal Protection Society, Make A Wish Foundation, and most recently the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation, which received a $100,000 donation.
Asked about his big heart, the father of two shrugged it off, saying “it’s what you have to do… support the community… if you can do it, you should.”
Trevor Paine is his best friend and vice-president of finance for Valley Group. He was there to watch Jackman receive the award, and said it was a very fitting acknowledgement.
Family and community are the most important things to Jackman, Paine said. And having worked with the man for 13 years, he respects him as a business owner and community member.
“Phil has a heart of gold and never ever wants any recognition for the amazing things that he does,” St. Thomas elaborated. “It is our pleasure to acknowledge all that Phil Jackman has accomplished with his business and his philanthropy.”
Jackman was the 20th consecutive business person in Langley to receive this distinction.
The Celebration of Excellence awards night is designed to recognize and – as the name implies – celebrate the outstanding business practices of companies and individuals in Langley, said president Scott Johnston.
“We are all very excited to be celebrating 20 years of this amazing community event,” he told the sold-out crowd.
It all started more than two decades ago, with one award that was presented for the first time to George Preston of Preston Chev Olds Cadillac at the Langley chamber’s December 1989 dinner meeting.
The award continued being presented until December 1997, when the chamber expanded the award program and made it a stand-alone fundraising event.
That one award is now 10 award categories, and this year there were 95 different nominees.
“Thank you to everyone who has supported the growth of this important event over the years,” Johnston said.
Other award winners Thursday night were:
1. Community Impact Award (for-profit) was presented to Gus Hartl of the Aldergrove Credit Union.
2. Community Impact Award (not-for-profit) was presented to Debra Hauptmann and Jeremy Sutton of the Langley Care Society (operators of the Langley Lodge).
3. Environmental Leadership Awards was presented to Mike Will of the Otter Farm and Home Co-operative.
4. Service Excellence Award was presented to Doug Hawley of The Redwoods Golf Course.
5. Entrepreneur of the Year Award was presented to Taylor Byrom of Taylor Hart Designs.
6. U40 Business Person of the Year Award was presented to Notary Lilian Cazacu.
7. Small Business of the Year Award was presented to Tina and Troy Parker of Safeguard Martial Arts.
8. Medium Business of the Year Award was presented to Dana Matheson of C&D Logistics.
9. Large Business of the Year Award was presented to Ewen Dobbie of Dowco Consultants Ltd.
10.George Preston Memorial Business Person of the Year Award was presented to Phil Jackman of Valley Group of Companies (including Valley Traffic Systems).
• Stay tuned for more on all of the winners of this year’s Celebration of Excellence awards.