Otter Co-op CEO Jack Nicholson was award Ernst and Young’s entrepreneur of the year award in the consumer products and services category on Oct. 3, 2019. (Sarah Grochowski photo)

Otter Co-op CEO Jack Nicholson was award Ernst and Young’s entrepreneur of the year award in the consumer products and services category on Oct. 3, 2019. (Sarah Grochowski photo)

Otter Co-op CEO takes home prestigious ‘entrepreneur of the year’ award

Jack Nicholson has risen through the ranks of Otter Co-op since working as baker in 1990

Langley’s Jack Nicholson took home this year’s Ernst and Young (EY) Pacific region Entrepreneur of the Year award in the consumer products and services category on Thursday.

EY finalists gathered in Vancouver, at the annual awards gala, where an independent panel of judges announced winners in each category.

Nicholson – CEO of Otter Co-op – was one of them, chosen amongst seven others in the category.

Nicholson credited his victory to the “hard-working” team at the company’s first retail operation in Aldergrove.

“The ceremony was amazing,” he described, with 137 tables of eight or 10 EY stakeholders and award nominees in attendance.

Nicholson did not expect to take home the award, and did not have a speech prepared for the occasion. So, he spoke from the heart.

“The co-op system offers so many educational opportunities no one knows about,” Nicholson told the Aldergrove Star.

Nicholson started working in a co-op bakery at the age of 22 in Drumheller, Alta.

There, he was given the opportunity to further his education by taking management courses to be able to operate the bakery.

Nicholson was offered journeyman training in subsequent years for co-op deli management and grocery management positions.

He eventually moved from Saskatchewan to Langley in 2010, and has since taken over as CEO.

The entrepreneur has journeyed up the co-op ranks to oversee a $6.4-million expansion of Langley’s retail centre last year, and has led a network of nearly 400 employees across the Lower Mainland and Interior since 2011.

READ MORE: Langley entrepreneurs make the shortlist

Currently, Nicholson is on the lookout for company employees he can promote from within.

“I’m always looking to push people within our organization – even those who may not feel they’re ready” but excel when given the opportunity of additional training and education, Nicholson said.

“That’s what I love about the co-op system,” he esteemed.

Nicholson was chosen as a finalist in July for the EY award, amongst 41 others across nine categories, explained EY director Lui Petrollini.

“Unstoppable entrepreneurs are resilient and courageous, and show strong leadership by creating a business culture where risk-taking is rewarded,” Petrollini said.

“They’re innovative thinkers who capitalize on market trends and disrupt traditional industries. And they’re doing it all while maintaining strong business integrity and extended community engagement.”

RELATED: Otter Co-op’s CEO top of the class

There were initially 1,200 nominees throughout the nine categories.

Last year, Nicholson also won the Deloitte/Business in Vancouver’s B.C. CEO award in the large company category.

He is also president of the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce and the Aldergrove Rotary Club.

Nicholson did not expect to take home the award, and did not have a speech prepared for the occasion. So, he spoke from the heart.

“The Co-op system offers so many educational opportunities no one knows about,” Nicholson told the Aldergrove Star.

Nicholson started working in a Co-op bakery at the age of 22 in Drumheller, Alberta.

There, he was given the opportunity to further his education by taking management courses to be able to operate the bakery.