A key part of the success of the member-owned Otter Co-op has been its involvement in the community over the past 94 years. The co-operative has throughout its existence supported community organizations and projects that have made a difference in countless lives, from youths to senior citizens and everyone in between.
One of those key organizations has been the Chamber of Commerce, starting with the Aldergrove Chamber in the 1970s and ’80s, then the Langley Chamber of Commerce when the Aldergrove Chamber amalgamated with the Langley Chamber in the late ’80s.
Otter Co-op’s General Merchandise Manager Bev Dornan has been a board member of both the Aldergrove and Langley Chambers over the past 30 years and says it’s been a rewarding experience for both the Otter Co-op and herself personally.
“Otter Co-op is not in the urban centre, but the Chamber has helped bring a focus on us with people who might not normally have ever shopped here,” said Dornan.
“It’s been a way to get out and connect with the greater community, to connect with like-minded souls and to drum up new business for the Co-op.”
Over the years Dornan has served as the Chamber’s Vice President and President, a role which Otter Co-op’s General Manager Jack Nicholson will step into as the Chamber’s President in the coming year.
“The Chamber is the voice of our community, it advocates on our behalf,” said Nicholson.
“It provides a great networking opportunity, enables members to create good relationships with business partners, from landscapers to lawyers, while also providing personal development through meetings and special events.”
Dornan agrees: “It changed who I was, gave me more confidence for public speaking. The Chamber’s governance training was very helpful, helping me develop business skills. It gave me contact with people I would not normally meet in everyday life, and led to me successfully seeking two terms on Langley Township council.”
Over the years Otter Co-op has also won five Langley Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards, more than any other Chamber member. These awards include Business of the Year in 1998, Business of the Year in 2007, Business of the Year in 2014, Service Excellence in 2001 and Community Impact For Profit in 2014.
Dornan notes that the 1,100-member Langley Chamber has successfully led campaigns to maintain and expand the Aldergrove-Lynden border crossing and the inter-municipal business licence.
The latter resulted from “a big push by the Langley Chamber,” said Dornan. It enables small businesses which rely on mobile sales across municipal boundaries to purchase just one special business license that is recognized by neighbouring municipalities.
“It’s a big savings to small businesses,” said Dornan, adding that small businesses also benefit from the Chamber’s group benefits plans for employees of small businesses which could otherwise not afford employee benefits.
The national and provincial Chambers of Commerce also provide members with access to all levels of government, bringing the business consensus to government’s decisions and priorities.
“We work to make our community a better place,” said Nicholson.
Members of the Otter Co-op’s Board of Directors with the Chamber of Commerce awards.