The 2021 Business of Good Awards: Community Involvement

"We do so much stuff, it's ridiculous," says Tony Scott. And somehow, that doesn't seem to come from a place of ego or bravado. Rather, the founder and CEO of Richmond-based property restoration biz Platinum Pro-Claim is simply trying to recall all of the community initiatives his company has embarked on since he launched it at age 26 back in 1991.

Credit: Adam Blasberg

Platinum Pro-Claim founder Tony Scott prides himself on giving back


Platinum Pro-Claim Restoration

We do so much stuff, it’s ridiculous,” says Tony Scott. And somehow, that doesn’t seem to come from a place of ego or bravado. Rather, the founder and CEO of Richmond-based property restoration biz Platinum Pro-Claim is simply trying to recall all of the community initiatives his company has embarked on since he launched it at age 26 back in 1991.

“When we’re hiring people, we always ask, If your neighbour had a flood, what would be your response?” Scott says of his 165-employee team. “And what we’re looking for is, I’d jump right over there and help them. If they have to think about it, or say, Well I’d shut my curtains and hide—and believe me, we’ve had that before—it’s not going to work.”

Scott believes that approach is necessary for a business that stakes its reputation on being the “restoration company that cares.” Its efforts in the community take that mission statement further.

There was the heavily covered Conquer COVID-19 program, which saw Platinum partner with celebrities Haley Wickenheiser and Ryan Reynolds to co-ordinate donation drives for personal protective equipment (PPE) in four cities from Vancouver Island to Alberta. Scott and his team also encouraged two competitors—Barclay Restorations and Canstar Restoration—to help out with that. “It wasn’t a hard sell when they heard that Wickenheiser and Reynolds were involved,” he says with a chuckle.

There’s the less publicized stuff, too, like Platinum’s backing of the Chill Foundation, which helps at-risk youth stay active, its biannual cleanup of Richmond’s Triangle Beach (more than 16,000 pounds of debris have been removed since 2016), its help in building sets and other materials for McNair Secondary School’s drama program, and its partnership in the Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives campaign.

“We give them $10,000 to help support families in need during the holidays,” Scott says of the latter. “Sometimes people talk about these things and donate money, and that’s it. But we also do all the logistics, help receive all the toys for the drive and, in COVID, clean and store all the items in a safe, secure way.”

Platinum was part of the second-ever cohort to be recognized by United Way of the Lower Mainland as social purpose organizations, and Scott takes pride in that designation, especially in an industry that can viewed in an unforgiving light.

“Sometimes we’re looked at as companies that come in and make money off people’s misfortune,” he says. “All the things we do are opportunities to show people we care and that we want to give back to the community.”

Credit: Courtesy of Arpa Investments

Arpa Investments’ The Station on Tranquille, a mixed residential/commercial development in Kamloops


Arpa Investments

When Joshua Knaak moved to Kamloops in 2009, realtors told him to stay away from the city’s North Shore. He ended up doing the opposite. Then a bank manager, Knaak brokered some deals that led to a couple of spots in the neighbourhood being bought and fixed up. A few years later, he and two partners founded development company Arpa Investments with the stated goal of building communities instead of just, well, buildings.

The group’s first two projects were dormant properties on the North Shore–one that used to be a gas station and a chunk of land next to a park. “Over the last few years, we’ve taken that former gas station and built a 47-unit condo with 10,000 feet of commercial space,” Knaak says. “And the plot of land was turned into a 43-unit building with affordable housing for seniors.”

He points to other projects that Arpa and its 11 employees and team of contractors are overseeing in the region. Its Colours on Spirit Square, due for completion this spring, is a collaborative effort by the company, the City of Kamloops, BC Housing and the Ask Wellness Society, which provides outreach to marginalized and at-risk residents.

Knaak, who served as president of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce until recently, also gives back by supporting initiatives such as Thompson Rivers University’s Education and Skills Training Program (ESTR), which helps young people (like his daughter) with developmental challenges. “It’s sort of, Tell us what you need, and we’ll try to build it,” he says.

Credit: Courtesy of London Drugs

Under president and COO Clint Mahlman (right), London Drugs’ community efforts include supporting Girl Guides of Canada


London Drugs

London Drugs has become synonymous with giving back in this province during its more than 75 years in business. So when COVID-19 came to Canada, the Richmond-headquartered company knew the responsibility it shouldered in helping communities and people that were devastated by the virus.

“During the pandemic, it was very clear that there needed to be some leadership–government had so much to focus on, they couldn’t do everything,” says president and COO Clint Mahlman. “People were hurting; there needed to be some gaps filled in the community response.”

To that end, the retail chain and its 10,000 or so employees across Western Canada launched several programs to help cushion the blow. They included an email help line for seniors, priority shopping hours for front-line workers, selling cookies across the country for Girl Guides of Canada, donating phones to seniors in care homes, sharing its shelves with local small businesses and donating computers to families in need for the school year.

There was also the Be Kind campaign, which encouraged customers to send handwritten cards to friends, families and neighbours and saw $20,000 donated to its own Stocking Stuffers for Seniors program and the Royal Canadian Legion’s Poppy Trust Funds.

We do these things not because they’re notable but because they’re the right things to do,” Mahlman says. “It’s nice to say that, in this day and age of massive international organizations like Amazon, Costco and Walmart, a local company can stand up for its own citizens and take care of them where we can, knowing that’s not necessarily how those other business models work. We all have different philosophies on how to operate our businesses, and it’s important that communities know we’re there for them.”

Honourable Mentions

SMC Communications

Vancouver-based SMC Communications revolves around Shelley McArthur Everett and her team of six, who crank out work equivalent to that of a full-scale, bells-and-whistles PR team. When COVID hit, SMCfound ways to reduce fees (many by 50 percent) for its clients, most of which are in the hospitality industry. The company also developed Breaking Bread, an online listings hub to help users discover restaurants in their neighbourhoods offering takeout and delivery, meal kits, groceries and specialty menus.

Telus Corp.

The telecom giant went to work in the wake of COVID-19, committing $150 million to support Canadians through the crisis, including funds to help build public health-care capacity and purchase new medical technology and equipment, such as PPE. Vancouver-headquartered Telus also gifted $500,000 through a social media campaign to assist small businesses and donated more than 14,000 mobile devices to help the country’s most vulnerable.