The verdict is in, and longtime resident Pat Kelly has been voted Whistler's top business person for 2010.
The owner of the Whistler Real Estate Company, Kelly moved to Whistler in the 1970s and got his first job as bartender for the company's Christmas party.
In charge of the firm since 2000, he oversees a team of agents who've helped turn it into the biggest real estate company in the corridor.
"It's not often you can get me speechless," he said in a brief acceptance speech at a Dec. 5 chamber luncheon and annual general meetin. "I'm fortunate to be surrounded by brilliant people who work for me."
Kelly was selected by a committee of previous winners including Jack Evrensel, proprietor of Araxi restaurant and last year's winner. This year's committee gave additional weight to a business's sustainability and its contribution to the community.
Kelly, who has been involved in organizations such as the Whistler Fire Department and Whistler Community Futures, was recognized for doing business in Whistler for 30 years, allowing him to build both a home and a family here.
He bought a stake in Whistler Blackcomb when Fortress Investment Group took the company public on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Prior to announcing the winner, Skitch owner Dave Davenport paid tribute to Jan Holmberg, a past winner and partner of former Mayor Ted Nebbeling who died recently.
Davenport said he missed how Holmberg used to push him to work harder.
"Whether me, my business, the community, there was never a conversation where he didn't pick it apart and tell me how to do better," he said.
The luncheon also saw the chamber announce 10 new members elected to its board of directors. They are Grocery Store co-owner Sue Adams; Sholto Shaw, a lawyer with Race and Company; Dave Kirk from Whistler Village Sports; Four Seasons General Manager Mark Herron; Dave Williamson, principal of Cascade Environmental Resource Group; resort consultant Brent Harley; Duane Hepditch; Theresa Walterhouse; Ben Thomas and Grant Cousar.
The new directors were elected out of a field of 25 candidates. More than 160 chamber members voted in an online poll.