Penticton Western News

Penticton chamber award has helicopter instructor flying high

Ironically, the company run by the 2012 Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce business leader of the year has very few local customers.

However, in the three decades Jan Rustad has been at the helm of HNZ Topflight (formerly Canadian Helicopters School of Advanced Flight Training) other area firms have cashed in big time.

Acknowledged as an international front runner in mountain-flight instruction, between 200 and 300 pilots annually attend classes here to learn or upgrade their skills.

That alone represents a $10 million-plus injection into the local economy.

Also, last year HNZ opened its new, $5 million, 20,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility at the Penticton Regional Airport.

“I am very honoured and humbled by this nomination and award,” said Rustad, who was recognized at the chamber’s 25th annual business excellence awards at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre Saturday. “To be recognized on the local level means people believe I’ve made a significant contribution in developing a prosperous company in Penticton.”

His philosophy in achieving that is simple.

“A great leader is a great leader as a result of a lot of other people believing in what that person is doing,” said Rustad. “It’s about the family in your life — they come first — and how well they support you. It’s about your staff, that you treat them well, encouraging and guiding them in moving your dream forward.”

And his advice for young people starting out in business: “You must believe in what you are doing and have a dream and be the best at it.

“Follow the paths of your dreams and believe in them and don’t give up. There are going to be setbacks but believe in yourself — the power of one is an incredible force.”

According to chamber president Cameron Watt, those were exactly the qualities the selection committee was looking for in making its choice.

“Jan is a tremendous leader and in this particular case was a natural fit,” said the president. “He never loses sight of the fact he’s in Penticton. It’s not all about his business, it’s all about his community.”

Meanwhile, it was Global Spectrum emerging as the 2012 business of the year.

“Global was chosen based on overall business, they do a tremendous business and a tremendous service,” said Watt. “We have a building (South Okanagan Events Centre) here I don’t think gets the recognition it deserves, but now with a staff so well prepared and so professional, it is now being utilized and generating dollars in town.”

General manager Dean Clarke of Global believes the award represents a solid vote of confidence in the company.

“It certainly is nice to be selected by our peers and gets the message out that we want to be involved in the community,” said Clarke. “There were some missteps in the beginning but we’ve certainly put our best foot forward in the last few years. Having our staff recognized for all their efforts, yeah, it means a lot to us.”

Combining the tools from corporate headquarters with local expertise, he feels has given Global a competitive edge in the Okanagan entertainment market.

Other major award winners from the evening included: young entrepreneur (under age 35), Max Picton;  new business, Grape Escapes Wine Tours; retailer excellence, Grant King Men’s Wear; industrial business, Waycon Manufacturing Ltd.; service excellence, Nurse Next Door Home Healthcare; hospitality and tourism, Hoodoo Adventure Company; community booster, Penticton Golf and Country Club; and young citizen of the year, Cheline Lacroix.


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