Business Person of the Year award winner Charan Sethi with his wife Raj (second from right) and Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman (left) and Indra Bhan, COO, Membership & Corporate Relations, at a previous Business Excellence Awards event hosted by SBOT. (submitted photo)

Whalley-area developer named Surrey’s Business Person of the Year

Charan Sethi among winners at 2019 Surrey Business Excellence Awards gala

Charan Sethi, a developer who has built up Whalley over the past two decades, is Surrey’s Business Person of the Year.

Sethi, president and “Chief Visionary Officer” of Richmond-based Tien Sher Group of Companies, was among award winners at the 2019 Surrey Business Excellence Awards, held Wednesday evening (Nov. 13) at Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel.

The 21st annual gala was hosted by Surrey Board of Trade, with winners announced in seven award categories with the help of event emcee Keri Adams.

• RELATED STORY, from Sept. 25: Finalists named for 2019 Surrey Business Excellence Awards.

Sethi’s company has become a “one-stop shop for real estate developer clients, streamlining services such as assembling, rezoning, designing, selling and servicing new home projects,” according to an awards biography.

“In 2001, Charan took the first step into the development industry creating housing affordability solutions through innovative mid­sized, vertically integrated developments. Charan purchased 12 acres in Whalley. Through his efforts, Whalley has been recognized as the Historic Whalley District, promoting Surrey as a centre for arts and culture, and working hard to preserve Whalley’s history.”

Among other achievements, he is said to have given birth to the “micro-suite” in Surrey, “which allowed for a down payment as low as $6,000. The BALANCE building was B.C.’s first-ever for-sale micro-suite building.”

Sethi is now building the 46-, 37- and 35-storey Flamingo Block towers in the area, along with a six-storey building that will add 1,119 homes to Whalley, “transforming the intersection of 108 Avenue and King George Boulevard,” where the Flamingo Hotel once stood.

• RELATED STORY, from June: Surrey’s former Flamingo Hotel goes out with a bang.

In the Business Excellence category for companies with 41-plus employees, the winner was Cloverdale Paint Inc., founded in 1933 in Surrey and now an employer to more than 1,000 people. “Cloverdale Paint differentiates itself from the competition by building consumer awareness and levering the company’s position as the largest ‘Canadian-owned’ manufacturer of coatings in the country,” a bio notes. “Cloverdale Paint recently launched a new and innovative exterior house paint called Guardian, which is less sensitive to humid and wet weather conditions. Cloverdale Paint donates to the Surrey Memorial Hospital which helped create the Cloverdale Paint Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Stabilization Unit.”

• RELATED STORY, from 2018: Brushing up on history: A Surrey paint company marks 85 years in business with new lab.

The Business Excellence winner in the 11-40 employees category was Zenterra Developments Ltd., a multi-family developer and builder focused on housing affordability for families. “Their community amenity contributions from (projects) have resulted in several new parks in Surrey,” says a bio. “Their two key community initiatives include a collaboration with the Surrey School Meal program that helps 20 different schools and the ‘Zenterra Green’ program that focuses on growing Surrey’s tree canopy.”

Beta Collective won the Business Excellence award among companies with 1 to 10 employees, for being “Surrey’s first and only coworking space, a collaborative workspace in the heart of Downtown Surrey. They are a hub for community impact, providing a flexible and affordable work environment for small businesses, non-profits, and entrepreneurs who are passionate about making a difference in the world around them.”

The Not-for-Profit of the Year award went to Kids Play Youth Foundation, founded in 2015 to help keep kids away from the lifestyle of drugs, gangs and violence, “by reinforcing a sense of belonging and self-worth in vulnerable youth. Run entirely by 700 volunteer members who spearhead over 120 projects and 200 events, Kids Play has impacted over 65,000 youth through their free programs and have provided over $60,000 in scholarships and bursaries to students in the Lower Mainland.”

Arcade Party Truck Ltd. won the New Business of the Year award for its mobile video game arcade, in operation since January 2018. “Owner Hari Gill, raised in Whalley, has always wanted to give back,” says a bio. “He is committed to employing youth from all over Surrey and keep them out of trouble with a fun, paying job. Arcade Party Truck has been part of the Surrey Fusion Festival, Surrey Canada Day, Tree Lighting Festivals and many other community events in Surrey.”

The Young Entrepreneur of the Year award went to Hassib Sarwari of Afghan Kitchen, located at Grandview Central in South Surrey. “Hassib and his family moved to Canada from a war-torn Afghanistan when he was 16 years old,” says a bio. “In Spring 2017, he began plans to open his own restaurant by travelling alone to China and Afghanistan, hand-picking the furniture, cutlery, plates, glassware, chandeliers. He even returned with authentic embroidered vests to use as staff uniforms. By May, he signed a lease on a space at Grandview Central, and construction commenced. He gathered his 25 family members to finish the restaurant by painting the walls. Afghan Kitchen opened in October 2017 with his mother showcasing her authentic Afghan recipes in the kitchen. Initially, his goal was to have 10 staff, but in just two years, he has 30 staff and expects that to grow to 50. He has provided sponsorships for City of Surrey events, Surrey Hospital Foundation, Healing Hands Book, Maple Green Elementary School, NISA Helpline, and the CIBC Run for the Cure. They also hosted the 2019 BC Hospital Foundation’s annual charity gala and partnered with Sources BC on their volunteer appreciation event.”

The event’s Corporate Social Responsibility Recognition Award was given to Safer Schools Together (SST), founded in 2012 “to promote safe and caring schools through developing effective practices, policies, protocols and programs for schools throughout North America in violence and bullying behaviour prevention and intervention strategies.”


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