Congratulations to the Business Person of the Year Finalists

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Our nominees are all about being adaptable, resilient and positive about the future.

Like every year, in February 2020 Business Pulse was preparing for our annual Business Person of the Year event, honoring Whatcom County’s most successful and innovative businesses and leaders across four categories. Unfortunately, that was the plan. Then the rest of 2020 happened and the event was sidelined … until now.

Each of these companies and leaders were recognized recently and had their moment in the spotlight.

Below are the nominees, with updates on the following pages on how each of them adapted to the challenges of the past year.

Start-Up of the Year

Lost Giants Cider, a Bellingham-based cidery, restructured its staff team and focused on online sales, curbside orders, and supplying other businesses with their craft cider. Though the company does not know when it will open its taproom, it expects growth in 20211.

Paw Partner, (formerly Pawslove) a technology provider for pet-focused businesses, thrived despite the pandemic and the accompanying economic restrictions. How? Old-fashioned customer service and reaching out directly to clients.

ProShop USA, a manufacturing software platform, nearly doubled its staff and grew revenue by 60% — along with making diversity and inclusion a focus of its growth and strategy.

SixSigmaTV.net rebranded, becoming “Lean Revisions.” Owners Jeff and Mason Gray continue to work with companies across the region to become more efficient and profitable.

Small Business of the Year

Echo Tech Solar installed its 1,000th solar energy system and has strong momentum going into 2021.

Simple Box Storage Containers instituted a profit-sharing model that invested employees in the business’s success. The company plans to keep the system in place, even when the pandemic ends.

Tidal Vision’s seafood-waste polymer continued to be in strong demand, resulting in 100% growth — even during a pandemic.

VanderYacht Propane grew in 2020, which allowed the company to keep its entire staff and continue to serve a four-county region.

Business Person of the Year

Stephen Bates, owner of Hempler Foods Group, helped his company navigate the pandemic and continue to be an important employer in Whatcom County. Bates and his team expect growth in 2021 and beyond.

Eddie Hansen helped lead his Natural Way Chiropractic practice through the pandemic by strengthening communication and being well-prepared. As a result the practice was able to serve patients for most of 2020.

Jennifer Kutcher, CEO at Whatcom Educational Credit Union (WECU), helped serve her community by offering crisis loans to individuals and funding $36M worth of PPP loans, helping to preserve 5,000 county jobs.

Murry Park, president of Trans-Ocean Products, grew his team in 2020 while implementing health and safety protocols to help keep his staff safe.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Marty Maberry, co-owner and chair of the board at Maberry Packing, continued to be a shining example of Whatcom County business leadership. By implementing structural change within his company and empowering leadership, Maberry helped the business continue to grow and play an important role in the region’s agricultural industry.