Green with ivy

Plant-care business picks up one of Surrey’s annual environmental awards
BC Plant Health Care team – district manager Reid Hardman (left) and founders-owners Cliff and Melissa Hoegler: working hard to be innovative in its day-to-day practices

An award may not result in an uptick in business, but for BC Plant Health Care it is proof that its dedication to sustainable business practices over the past decade has made a recognizable impact.

The arboriculture company, which has 40 employees, won the Surrey Board of Trade (SBOT) 2012 Environment and Business Award for a medium-size business.

“[The award]  recognized everything that we’ve done thus far, and now we’re looking basically to one-up it,” said Reid Hardman, district manager for BC Plant Health Care.

Since its formation in 2001, the arboriculture and horticulture company has been at the forefront of sustainable business practices in its field by reducing its footprint in virtually all aspects of the business – from using captured rain water for all its plant-care services, to driving small, fuel-efficient vehicles (and hybrids, where possible) to buying only local materials and tools.

Hardman said the company has worked hard to be innovative in its day-to-day practices and to initiate change across the entire arboriculture and horticulture industry.

“To be recognized on that scale [by the board of trade] means a lot,” he said.

The event also included a large-business award, which went to construction and property management firm Lark Group, while the micro-greens technology company Urban Cultivator took home the small-business award.

Lark Group senior project manager Trevor Massey said he doesn’t expect their award to attract any new business. Like fellow winners at BC Plant Health Care, Massey said the award merely demonstrates that his company’s sustainable practices weren’t all for naught.

“It validates the team’s hard work within the company and the employees’ hard work for the things that they’ve done to date,” Massey said.

Over the past decade, Lark Group has incorporated various elements of the LEED certification program into its everyday practices, from minimizing energy and waste usage on all work sites to promoting the use of natural materials whenever possible. Massey said these have not always been the most convenient or cost-effective methods, but they have been the most sustainable and in the end, he said, their dedication has earned them more business.

“It’s a little more work on that front but I’d like to say, yeah, we’re going above and beyond,” Massey said.

For Urban Cultivator, the award caps off a highly successful year. The business has grown about 400%, by the estimates of Tarren Wolfe, the company’s CEO and president. Since last fall, Urban Cultivator has secured deals with several Four Seasons properties across Canada, along with Pita Pit and Extreme Pita.

It was featured on Dragons’ Den earlier this year, where Wolfe landed a deal for a 20% stake in the company. Last month, Wolfe said the company sold its first full condominium project in Mongolia, where all 114 units will include the Urban Cultivator domestic model in the kitchen.

With all this in mind, Wolfe said he wasn’t at all surprised that Urban Cultivator scooped up its award.

“What we’re doing here will drastically lower our carbon footprint, so I wasn’t surprised at all,” he said.

The winners trumped 17 other nominees. The board of trade’s environmental team judged each company on its innovation in environmental practices, operating cost reductions, development of new business opportunities and reduction of energy needs. Each company had to be a Surrey-based business or a member of the Board of Trade, and it had to demonstrate exceptional dedication to environmental leadership with their industry.

SBOT president Anita Huber-man said all three winners have shown exceptional environmental leadership in the Surrey business community by focusing on energy-friendly practices and remaining profitable at the same time.

“We’re talking about future generations living here in Surrey and in the world,” Huberman said. “The more role models that we have of businesses – small, medium and large – that are able to focus on the environment, be productive, make money and also think about our future, the more important it is from the board of trade standpoint.” •

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