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Board of Directors

President's Message

CRAIG TOEWSAbbotsford has experienced tremendous growth and change in the last decade. Its diverse business community of entrepreneurs, producers, builders, and proprietors are the economic backbone of our city. With our aim to help build and sustain a thriving business community, the Abbotsford Chamber seeks to develop genuine relationships with businesses – to truly understand their perspective and support their business needs. 

The Chamber’s mission is anchored by three pillars, also known as our ABC’s – Advocate, Benefit, Connect. Advocate: We are actively advocating on behalf of businesses by listening to their concerns and challenges and working with all levels of government to ensure they are aware of and responding to the obstacles and constraints they are facing. The Chamber’s respected voice amongst community leaders plays an active role with the City and we also advocate at the Provincial and Federal levels through the BC Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. 

Benefit: We have a variety of unique benefits for our members, such as group insurance, opportunities to promote your business, and education on a range of business and leadership topics. We also offer member-to-member savings. https://abbotsfordchamber.com/for-members/ 

Connect: We host stimulating events with expert speakers and community leaders along with our municipal, provincial and federal elected officials. We also host regular Business After Business events where we celebrate and learn about a local (host) business and socialize over some food and drink with other members. Our goal is to curate a fun and stimulating experience where you can interact with other businesses and learn from each other, while developing new relationships to expand your network. 

The past two years have been extremely hard on certain sectors – some barely surviving, and others thriving beyond expectation. As we transition out of the pandemic, the Chamber wants to help you build-back-better. Let’s take what we’ve learned and continue to create and innovate. Through networking and expert speaker panels, the Abbotsford Chamber is a place where you can hear from other entrepreneurs and share strategies to address common challenges such as shortages in labour and increased costs due to supply chain disruption. The Chamber is also aware that the current tax and cost structure in BC is problematic for many businesses, and we are actively advocating for change to ensure that government policies and supports are in place to help our business community prosper and grow. 

With many networking opportunities and services to support businesses, the Chamber embraces a culture of vibrant engagement and proactive advocacy. As your President, I would be honored to connect with you to better understand your unique business needs and introduce you into our thriving business network. 

-Craig Toews, President

MEET OUR BOARD MEMBERS

CRAIG TOEWS

Craig Toews

President
 

Craig Toews is the President of the Abbotsford Chamber Board and is excited to be serving and supporting Abbotsford’s business community. Recently retired from his leadership role at UFV after 34 years of service, Craig brings extensive experience and a deep understanding of our community into his engagement work across the Fraser Valley. He is currently working with UFV to launch a land trust that would enable its campuses to become vibrant communities with housing, services and amenities in pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods integrated with each campus.

His collaborative leadership style and the years spent building strong community relationships, developing collaborative partnerships, and pursuing opportunities to strengthen our economy demonstrates his commitment to our community. Involved in many initiatives throughout the Fraser Valley, Craig is passionate about community engagement and supporting innovation and entrepreneurship across the region. He serves on numerous boards and advocates for good governance and leadership development. “I am grateful for the amazing people I work with across different sectors, with a huge appreciation for the businesses that make our community an amazing place to live, work, play and learn.”

KEVIN MIERAU

Kevin Mierau

Vice President

Mierau Contractors Ltd.

Kevin is the President of Mierau Contractors Ltd and continues the operations of the successful Abbotsford based company that his father Larry Mierau founded in 1970. Kevin graduated from Abbotsford Senior Secondary in 1993 then completed his Red Seal Certification in Carpentry in 1996 at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV).

He is actively involved in the construction industry and serves on the Board of Directors at the BC Construction Safety Alliance and participates in several other association committees. He is looking forward to continuing his role as a Director of the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce and actively participating within the Abbotsford community.

PAUL PENNER

Paul Penner

Secretary
RE/MAX Truepeak Realty

Paul has a long history of customer service and leadership in the community. As a former owner of a successful retail business and as a Realtor for 30+ years he understands the importance of remaining competitive. Investment dollars are fluid and Abbotsford must be an attractive jurisdiction for investment and an attractive place to live.

Loyal clients and a reputation of getting things done have earned him recognition as the #1 commercial Realtor for 2019 and again in 2021 (FVREB based on dollar volume). His passion for the community has also led him to serve on various boards and he is a frequent real estate instructor throughout the province.

Having represented numerous families and business owners Paul knows the importance of balancing the needs of residents with the needs of commerce within our community.

KATIE YU

Katie Yu

Treasurer
RBC Royal Bank

In her current role as Vice President, Commercial Financial Services, Katie leads RBC Senior Commercial Markets in British Columbia region. By working collaboratively with Commercial and Personal Banking leaders as well as a robust network, Katie and her team of advisors build and execute a market strategy that supports large enterprises by delivering relevant advice, solutions and value beyond banking.

Prior to her current role, Katie led the Fraser Valley & Langley Commercial Banking Team and before that Commercial Mortgages in British Columbia to promote and deliver commercial real estate financing solutions as part of RBC’s national specialized solutions.

Katie has a passion for mentoring youth and supporting Canadian importers/exporters. She firmly believes community work is an essential and rewarding aspect of one’s life. A strong advocate for women entrepreneurs, Katie works closely with several partnerships including SheEO and Women of Influence. She has been a long-time Committee Member for Association of Women in Finance (“AWF”) in addition to her efforts in mentoring youth and graduate students through her affiliation to UBC Sauder School of Business. In 2019, Katie has had the privilege of working with BC Children’s Hospital as a Regional Champion representing RBC Commercial Banking for the 2019 fundraising campaign.

Katie holds a bachelor’s degree in applied sciences from Simon Fraser University and a master’s degree in business administration (“MBA”) from Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia, in addition to her Personal Financing Planner designation. In her spare time, Katie enjoys travel, a good book, and cooking for her family and friends.

MIKE ASHCROFT

Mike Ashcroft

Director
Cascade
Aerospace Inc.

Mike is the Vice President of Operations Support at Cascade Aerospace Inc. After earning his Computer Engineering degree at the Royal Military College of Canada in 1987, Mike served 27 years in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) as an Aerospace Engineer and retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Mike joined Cascade in 2010 and moved to Abbotsford in 2011 as the Business Manager for Cascade’s RCAF contract. As the VP Ops Support, Mike is currently responsible for the management of all material and services required by Cascade, the maintenance of the Cascade hangar and tooling, quality, safety and continuous improvement. Mike and his team believe in using local and Canadian companies as well as helping over 150 local companies spending approximately $1M annually in the Fraser Valley on aerospace parts manufacturing, aerospace support services, parts procurement, shipping, storage, and facilities maintenance.

Mike is a two-time Olympian (1988 in Korea and 1992 in Spain) and an active member of the community. He coached his daughter’s Fraser Valley midget minor hockey team, and with the Phoenix Velo Training Group he was a member of the board and still coaches youth cycling. Mike is recognized for how much he cares about the people he works with and for his ability to inspire people to excel.

CHRIS GAUTHIER

Chris Gauthier

Director

Memento Mori Studios Inc.

Chris Gauthier is the co-founder and President of Memento Mori Studios Inc., a tattoo, piercing and jewelry business with locations in Abbotsford and Chilliwack.

Chris, originally from Montreal, relocated to Abbotsford as a young child and has proudly lived here since. As a youth, Chris learned to play the drums and dreamed of becoming a professional musician. His father was a great musical influence on Chris throughout his life.

As he got older, Chris transformed his passion and creativity into his vision of Memento Mori Studios Inc., a safe space for people of all backgrounds and orientations to come together and adorn themselves with art. His wife of 16 years is his business partner and together, they built their successful corporation. Memento Mori Studios Inc. was named the 2018 Abbotsford Arts Council Arty Award recipient.

Chris believes in supporting his community and enjoys getting involved whenever he can. He supports many local organizations and non-profits such as Archway Community Services, Abbotsford Hospice Society and Abbotsford SPCA. He became a Chamber member shortly after opening his business in 2011 and has been a Director since 2017. Chris was elected Secretary in 2021 and is chair of the Chamber’s Not for Profit Committee. He also represents the Chamber on the city of Abbotsford’s Reaching Home Community Advisory Board.

Chris is committed to being his authentic self both personally and professionally.

JOSH REYNOLDS

Josh Reynolds

Director
Illustrate
Collective

Josh is the owner of Illustrate Collective, an agency specializing in digital design, strategic marketing, and political consulting. He also serves as the Assistant Nonprofit Leadership Director at Summit Pacific College, where he instructs courses on business administration, charity leadership, and strategic planning. He is passionate about the convergence of for-profit and non-profit work, and about helping raise emerging leaders in the charity sector.

Josh moved to Abbotsford in 2011 and lives here with his wife Laranda. He is actively involved in the community and serves on the boards for the Fraser Valley Child Development Centre, and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in Non-Profit Leadership from Summit Pacific College, and an MBA from Trinity Western University.

RAVI SIDHU

Ravi Sidhu

Director
Fraser Valley Indo Canadian Business Association

Ravi is the founder and owner of RS Marketing Consulting and has been working in marketing and digital media for the last 10+ years. He is also currently the Community and Special Events Coordinator at the City of Abbotsford. Before starting his own venture Ravi was the Senior Regional Marketing Manager with TELUS for 6 years.

Ravi is also the President of the Fraser Valley Indo-Canadian Business Association and also sat on the Board of the Abbotsford Police Foundation. Along with volunteering his time with these boards Ravi also coaches Basketball at Rick Hansen Secondary.

Ravi is also the President of the Fraser Valley Indo-Canadian Business Association and also sat on the Board of the Abbotsford Police Foundation. Along with volunteering his time with these boards Ravi also coaches Basketball at Rick Hansen Secondary.

BRITTANY TUCKER

Brittany Tucker

Director
KPMG

 

 

Brittany has worked in KPMG’s audit practice for over 12 years. After starting her career in Vancouver, working primarily with large public companies, Brittany moved to Abbotsford where her focus has been non-profit organizations and family owned businesses. Brittany graduated from the University of Victoria with a Bachelor of Science in microbiology and then completed her diploma in accounting at the University of British Columbia. She obtained her CPA, CA designation in 2013.

In her spare time, Brittany enjoys travelling, baking, and spending time with her two young daughters.

SAM VARING

Sam Varing

Director & Chair of Company of Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs
First West Credit Union

Sam Varing is Legal Counsel for First West Credit Union. She is deeply rooted in the Abbotsford community and aspires to help grow and develop a robust legal team for First West. Prior to joining First West, Sam was an associate lawyer with Baker Newby LLP, and managed a wide ranged business solicitor practice.

She is actively involved with the Abbotsford Chamber as the founding Chair of the Company of Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs and an appointed member of the Government Affairs Committee. While earning her Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of the Fraser Valley, Sam held a student membership with the Abbotsford Chamber. It was during this time that Sam realized the enormous potential and impact the Chamber has in the Abbotsford community.

On a more personal note, Sam was raised in a family of entrepreneurs. As such, she developed a strong belief that foundational business and entrepreneurial principles are essential for today’s youth. This led her to volunteer with Junior Achievement of British Columbia (JABC) to bring more volunteer-oriented and business-focused educational programs to Abbotsford schools.

LOREN TAVES

Loren Taves

Director
Taves Family Farms

 

 

Josh is the owner of Illustrate Collective, an agency specializing in digital design, strategic marketing, and political consulting. He also serves as the Assistant Nonprofit Leadership Director at Summit Pacific College, where he instructs courses on business administration, charity leadership, and strategic planning. He is passionate about the convergence of for-profit and non-profit work, and about helping raise emerging leaders in the charity sector.

Josh moved to Abbotsford in 2011 and lives here with his wife Laranda. He is actively involved in the community and serves on the boards for the Fraser Valley Child Development Centre, and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in Non-Profit Leadership from Summit Pacific College, and an MBA from Trinity Western University.

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