Two South Okanagan finalists in business awards

SO Country Internet Radio, out of Penticton, and Oliver’s Firehall Brewery have both been named as Top 5 finalists.

Two South Okanagan businesses are off to the finals of the 2015 Small Business B.C. Awards.

Two South Okanagan businesses are off to the finals of the 2015 Small Business B.C. Awards.

SO Country Internet Radio, out of Penticton, and Oliver’s Firehall Brewery have both been named as Top 5 finalists in the Premier’s Choice category of the annual award competition.

For Dennis Walker, who started SO Country when Giant FM changed their format and terminated all the on-air staff, it’s all about the fans.

“That’s what got me into the Top 5, I am quite certain. This whole effort has been listener driven,” said Walker. “It is loyal listeners that have followed me over from Giant FM to here, that have stuck with me.”

The top prize, $1,500, a one-year all-access pass to Small Business B.C.  education resources and experts and business mentorship, would be helpful to Walker, since he went into independent radio without a lot of business background.

Walker said it’s a broadcaster’s dream to be independent, but the reality is it’s a lot of work. He likens it to a student dreaming how wonderful it would be if school closed permanently. .

“Then when it happens, it’s not quite what you think. Thirty-four years in the business and I have never sold advertising,” said Walker, adding that the prize would help put him over the top.

Sid Ruhland of Firehall Brewery, on the other hand, started out with a business degree, though he admits he’s surprise to find himself operating a brewery.

“I knew from the get go that I would be starting some kind of business in my life,” he said. “At the same time, I was home-brewing and developing a passion there. I never dreamed that would be my business, because to me, starting a brewery was something outrageously expensive and unachievable.”

Ruhland said making it to the Top 5 shows they are doing something right.

“We are constantly trying to increase awareness about us as a business and a player in the craft beer market,” said Ruhland. “It’s showing that people are recognizing our brand and our business in a positive way.”

The other finalists in the Premier’s Choice category are Game Quest (Prince George), Julie’s Edible Bouquets (Quesnel) and Nonna Pia’s Gourmet Sauces (Whistler). Unlike finalists in other categories, they are not required to do a final Dragons’ Den-style speech to determine the final outcome.

Winners will be announced on Feb. 26, 2015 in an awards ceremony at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver, where 500 small business owners, government representatives and other key business influencers will gather to recognize the winners.

“The SBBC Awards provide a platform to showcase the impact that small businesses are having on their communities and the contributions they’re making to the economy and to celebrate the dedicated entrepreneurs who built them,” said George Hunter, CEO of Small Business B.C.

More information on the Small Business BC Awards can be found at



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