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Surrey’s Business Person of the Year is a ‘visionary leader’ in hydrogen energy

Dr. Paul Ghotra among award winners at gala event Thursday evening, Nov. 9
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Dr. Paul Ghotra at the 2022 Surrey Business Excellence Awards when CIMtech Green Energy won for Business Excellence (11-40 Employees category). This year Ghotra was named Business Person of the Year. (Photo courtesy Surrey Board of Trade).

Eight winners of Surrey Business Excellence Awards were announced at a gala event in Guildford on Thursday evening, Nov. 9.

The 2023 event, hosted annually by Surrey Board of Trade, returned to a Sheraton ballroom filled with more than 450 people including emcee Mark Madryga.

A highlight of the night was Dr. Paul Ghotra being named Business Person of the Year.

Founder and CEO of CIMtech Green Energy Mfg Inc., Ghotra is described as “a visionary leader and strategic thinker,” according to a biography.

“Under his leadership, CIMtech has thrived. The company specializes in manufacturing electrolyzers and hydrogen fuel cell assemblies, drawing from over 20 years of experience in the hydrogen energy sector. Paul’s visionary leadership propels CIMtech’s innovation and excellence, firmly establishing the company, and Surrey, as a pivotal player in the green energy and manufacturing sector.”

Back on Track Recovery was a double winner, for Business Excellence (1-10 Employees) and also Corporate Social Responsibility. The latter award was created to recognize a business working “to improve the lives of their employees and to enhance the civic environment in which they operate, through environmental, social and governance principles.”

Big Dig Excavating won Business Excellence (11-40 Employees), and Lotus Terminals won the category for Business Excellence (41+ Employees).

Other awards went to UNITI for Not-for-Profit of the Year, Safe Sweat Fitness for New Business of the Year and Janine Cindy Santiago-Nagi (Sun City Optics), Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

The event’s presenting sponsors were Rogers Business, TD Bank and Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

• RELATED, from 2022: Environmental researcher named Surrey Business Person of the Year at 450-guest gala.

Posted below are biographies of Thursday’s award winners, as submitted by Surrey Board of Trade.

Business Person of the Year: Dr. Paul Ghotra, CIMtech Green Energy Mfg. Inc.

Sponsored by Hamilton Duncan

“Dr. Paul Ghotra, the Founder and CEO of CIMtech Green Energy Mfg Inc., has led a distinguished career spanning over three decades. With a background in manufacturing engineering and precision mechanics from India’s leading technical university and BCIT, Paul is a visionary leader and strategic thinker. Under his leadership, CIMtech Green Energy Mfg Inc. has thrived. The company specializes in manufacturing electrolyzers and hydrogen fuel cell assemblies, drawing from over 20 years of experience in the hydrogen energy sector. Paul’s visionary leadership propels CIMtech’s innovation and excellence, firmly establishing the company, and Surrey, as a pivotal player in the green energy and manufacturing sector.”

Business Excellence Winner with 1-10 Employees: Back On Track Recovery Ltd.

Sponsored by Abbotsford International Airport

“Back On Track Recovery was founded in 2012 to provide a safe and nurturing home where people struggling with addiction, homelessness, and mental health challenges can come together and pursue a better life through recovery. Currently, Back On Track is working on opening a new facility for women called The Castle, which will offer first and second-stage housing for up to 18 women. Its Fortress community is safe-stage housing for men and, simultaneously, the headquarters for Back On Track Recovery. What started as a single rented home in Newton has now grown to have supported over 3,000 clients and operate eight separate homes where residents can transition after early recovery and begin to return to the workplace or pursue their educational goals.”

Business Excellence Winner with 11 – 40 Employees: Big Dig Excavating Ltd.

Sponsored by FortisBC

“Big Dig Excavating is a family-operated business in Surrey that has served the Metro Vancouver area since 2017. They possess over 70 years of combined operating experience. Big Dig builds on safety, quality, reliability, integrity, communication, and respect. Based on these values, they take pride in providing excavation services, reliable heavy equipment rentals, landscaping and snow removal. Some of the major contracts that they collaborate on include YVR and the Broadway SkyTrain Station. The company boasts an A+ rating and accreditation by the Better Business Bureau and their customer testimonials are a point of honour. Big Dig has expanded its client base by including private contractors and municipal contracts and aims to extend its operations into the Interior, particularly Kelowna and Kamloops.”

Business Excellence Winner with 41+ Employees: Lotus Terminals Ltd.

Sponsored by MNP

“Lotus Terminals Ltd. is an asset-based transportation and freight management enterprise, operating since 2012. They are your one-call freight management solution for local and worldwide needs. Their team of experienced and caring professionals work out of the state-of-the-art, ten-acre facility that features various freight handling equipment with heavy weight capacities of over 100,000 pounds, overhead cranes, laydown areas, reefer plugs, and a government-certified 80-foot platform scale. Their freight management services now include intermodal rail shipping services across North America, servicing all major ports, rail terminals and more. They also offer flatbed trucking equipment for full truckload and less than truckload dry van needs, including oversized, over-dimensional and overweight freight.”

Not-for-Profit of the Year: UNITI

Sponsored by Manning Elliott

“UNITI, formed by the collaboration of the Semiahmoo House Society, Peninsula Estates Housing Society and The Semiahmoo Foundation, has been a cornerstone of the Surrey and White Rock communities since 1958. Their dedicated work directly impacts 500 individuals with intellectual disabilities or acquired brain injuries and provides quality, affordable housing to 250 tenants. With a team of over 300 staff members and numerous dedicated volunteers, UNITI operates in various services and departments, including community inclusion, inclusive housing, employment, and more. Guided by its overarching mission, UNITI ensures that people with disabilities lead self-directed lives in the community at a reasonable cost while upholding their rights and individual choices. Their combined annual budget of nearly $20 million reflects their commitment to making a meaningful impact, holding the highest accreditation level from the Council on Accreditation.”

New Business of the Year: Safe Sweat Fitness Ltd.

Sponsored by KSW Lawyers

“Founded in 2021, Safe Sweat Fitness is a revolutionary hybrid fitness studio measuring 2,700 square feet, pioneering a unique approach to fitness with private workout spaces called FITsuites. This innovation allows members to focus on their mental and physical well-being in a distraction-free environment, free from the anxiety of public gyms. Each FITsuite is meticulously equipped with cutting-edge fitness gear and recovery technology. Members reserve their FITsuite through the Safe Sweat app and have the flexibility to exercise individually, with a friend, guided by a trainer, or access to a digital fitness library. They can even personalize the ambiance, adjusting lighting, airflow, and music. This unique approach fosters consistency among members, improving mental and physical wellness making Safe Sweat a transformative fitness experience.

Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Janine Cindy Santiago-Nagi, Sun City Optics

Sponsored by the KPU Melville School of Business

“Janine Santiago-Nagi arrived in Canada 13 years ago. She studied instrumentation and automation engineering. After working in the oil and gas industry for five years, Janine decided to follow her mother’s footsteps and transitioned from an engineer to an optician. In October 2018, she acquired Sun City Optics, a reputable eyecare practice in Kamloops, serving the community for 15 years. The clinic offers expert guidance and vision services, especially for newcomers to Canada. The commitment to exceptional care and continuous learning has earned Janine recognition. Sun City Optics was selected as a finalist for Canada Eyecare Practice of the Year in 2021 and 2022. In March 2022, Sun City Optics expanded to a second location in Surrey. Indeed, Janine’s dedication and expertise continue to impact her community positively.”



Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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