Republica co-owners Rick Masana and Hiro Tsujimoto were on hand in Vancouver

WHAT’S IN STORE: Republica wins with just the right mix of caffeine and corporate initiative

Hiro Tsujimoto and Rick Masana are still reeling in disbelief, overjoyed by their triumph at the Small Business of BC awards this past week.

“We just won!” Tsujimoto boasted on Facebook minutes after returning to their seat after accepting a trophy and accolades during the awards ceremony at the Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel.

“We just won the small business BC award for best international trade 2016. What an honour! Still speechless…” added Masana, Tsujimoto’s partner in the Fort Langley’s Republica Coffee Roasters Inc.

A few days following their win, as the news finally began to sink in, Tsujimoto shared his appreciation for our interest in their award.

“What a couple of weeks it has been,” he said. “The best international trade award for 2016 means a lot to our business, and ourselves, and we plan to showcase our many clients and customers with our award in the next coming weeks.”

The duo, and their staff, won the award for the work they all do – not only as a locally owned and operated artisan coffee roasteria – but as a wholesaler.

Today, with 11 staff, Tsujimoto and Masana operate a wholesale operation out of a warehouse on 98th Avenue in Walnut Grove that accounts for about 70 per cent of their business, and a retail outlet in the Fort Langley village – that was opened three years ago – accounts for about 30 per cent of the growing operation.

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In the months to come, Tsujimoto and Masana  say they’re planning to capitalize on the momentum created by this provincial award, and work to increase their presence both in the provincial and national realm.

In winning this award, they received a cash prize of $1,500 and a trophy.

“At the moment, the trophy has been travelling back and forth from our warehouse, to the shop, to employees, and to our various clients,” Tsujimoto explained, noting it will eventually find a permanent home in the Fort Langley store.

“We owe this one to all our loyal customers in and around Fort Langley,” he added.

Republica was one of 10 businesses from around the province that was recognized at the Feb. 25 event.

Chef Stephan Schigas, owner of Blacksmith Bakery on Church Street in Fort Langley, was among the other local companies shortlist in the province’s best employer category. But they didn’t make the final cut last Thursday. The 13th annual Small Business BC Awards ceremony attracted more than 500 attendees, who witnessed Republica being honoured.

Haylee Braun and Ashley Beanland staffed the JD Farms booth at last weekend’s Pet Lovers Show at the Tradex in Abbotsford.


Turkey farm goes to the dogs

A visit to this past weekend’s Pet Lover Show at Tradex in Abbotsford provided me a chance to speak with many like-minded dog owners and all-around animal lovers.

It allowed me to watch many demonstrations, buy many a new animal products, and meet a few hundred exhibitors flogging their pet wares.

It also provided me the chance – along with a few thousand other event visitors – to meet up with Haylee Braun and Ashley Beanland from Langley’s own JD Farms.

This duo was staffing the JD Farms dog food booth. While I knew before that there’s a long list of products available boasting the JD name, I have to admit my surprised in learning they’ve crafted a raw food and treats featuring – yes, you guessed it – turkey.

Recognizing that farms are forced to diversify if they hope to survive, hats off to the JD team for coming up with food items for the four-legged members of our family.


Pancakes with purposeKeeping with the subject of local businesses that are serving up food, beverages, and so much more – let me tell you about IHOP’s national pancake day and a new partnership for Township 7 Vineyard and Winery that will both aid sick children.

First off, I’m putting a call out to all the pancake lovers out there, encouraging them to datebook March 8 to help raise money for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Visit the Langley Bypass IHOP on that day, and you can receive one free short stack of buttermilk pancakes from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

All they ask is that guests leave behind a voluntary donation to BC Children’s Hospital Foundation. Not much to ask, indeed.

Leading up to National Pancake Day, participating IHOPs have also been selling “Miracle Balloons” for $1 and $5. Guests who buy the $5 balloons will receive a $5 discount coupon that can be used at their  next visit to IHOP.

Now, if flour, eggs, and buttermilk aren’t really to your liking, but you’re a bit of a wine aficionado, then Township 7 might have a fun way for you to help sick kids.

They’ve just partnered with Ronald McDonald House BC (RMH BC), and announced that for the first time ever the sick kids’ charity will be the sole beneficiary of all the winery’s fundraising events throughout the year.

That means money raised during the winery’s popular Easter egg hunt, Father’s Day Wine & Swine, and grape stomp – for instance – will help the kids.

Similarly, Township 7 will also be assisting RHM BC with its fundraising events, including the 2016 golf tournament and gala dinner.

Township 7 has, in the 15 years since its founding, had a long history of giving back to the community. The winery has supported a wide variety of local and national non-profits with numerous events at its South Langley and Naramata Bench tasting rooms, private label charity designated wines, winemaker fundraising dinners, as well as through charity campaigns at the BC Liquor Distribution Branch.

“Throughout history wine has brought families together and been used to celebrate new beginnings. We are proud to support a fantastic charitable organization like Ronald McDonald House BC and Yukon, which has a notable history of keeping families connected and providing a magical home away from home for sick children,” said Trevor Allen, the assistant general manager for Township 7.

“The team at our Okanagan and Fraser Valley wineries have always been enthusiastic about our charitable events and we look toward a bright future with Ronald McDonald House BC and Yukon.”

“We depend on community support to serve our families, and we are pleased to partner with such a community-minded organizations Township 7,” said Richard Pass, RMH’s chief executive officer.

“We look forward to an exciting year ahead with many new opportunities to work together.”

Spiritual evolution?

There’s a spiritual evolution taking place in Langley’s business community, said Keith Knight, executive director of the Canadian Christian Business Federation.

“There is a passionate desire to connect one’s faith to one’s work in order that they can become stronger citizens within the Langley community,” Knight said, explaining that a new Langley chapter of the Christian federation was launched in Langley last week at Ricky’s Restaurant.

It’s a national association of Christian men and women involved in business, and the local chapter is the first of what Knight “hopes” will be several chapters across the region.

“When business and professional leaders go through the process of connecting their faith to their work or profession, it changes their entire perspective on work and it also transforms them into community-minded citizens, determined to ‘give back’ to the community,” he said.

The Canadian Christian Business Federation has been around for more than 30 years, but it has only been in the Lower Mainland for the past five years.

There are other chapters in Abbotsford, Chilliwack, and Courtenay.

The Langley group will get together – initially monthly – to talk about business and leadership issues from a biblical perspective, Knight explained.

“They talk about topics such as developing a purpose and passion for their work, the importance of courage and risk-taking, human resources and the notion of stewardship.”

The next monthly meeting is at Ricky’s on Thursday, March 17 at 7 a.m. To reserve a spot, people can contact Rhonda Davison at   Further information is also available at .


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