Burnaby kids won't necessarily recognize the name but they are likely to agree that Mark Bodie deserves an award for his work.
Bodie, who won Burnaby Business Person of the Year at the Burnaby Business Excellence Awards last week, is the co-founder of Habitat Systems Inc., a playground and landscape equipment distributor.
Bodie, who lives with his wife and two children in Burnaby's South Slope neighbourhood, started the business with Jeff Musson 17 years ago.
"My business partner Jeff and I started it in my converted workshop," Bodie says, adding the business moved to its current location on Napier Street a year later.
"My business partner and I had a vision of growing a business that was Burnaby-based," he adds, "a business that could grow over time and expand."
The pair did two years of research on the industry and the best manufacturers, according to Bodie, and looked at the local market.
The timing was ideal - just as Bodie and Musson were planning their business, the industry moved away from using wooden playground materials that needed to be replaced within a couple of decades, Bodie says.
"Seventeen years ago, the industry changed from wooden playgrounds to more durable products, and we really caught that wave," he says.
"There was a tremendous amount of playgrounds put in in the '70s that by the '90s were failing. We were the beneficiaries of that."
The company has offices in Vernon, Edmonton and Calgary, Alta., according to Bodie, and has thousands of playgrounds throughout Western Canada. Almost every school in Burnaby has a Habitat Systems playground, he adds.
But there are plenty of other playgrounds needed throughout the province, he says, estimating about half of the 1,700 elementary schools in B.C. need playgrounds.
"We were in a fortunate position - it was a growing business, and still is," he says. "We're far from done."
Regarding his recent business award, Bodie says it is a great honour.
"It was tremendously humbling and very exciting, and something that is new to me, being so publicly honoured like that," he says. "It was something that I felt, sitting in front of a roomful of the elite business people of Burnaby, it's kind of a bit awe-inspiring because you're in front of people who run tremendously successful businesses.
"We were really, really pleased," he adds.
He attributes his success to a number of factors.
"It's the combination of a good vision, a great product, and bringing it to market with a fair price and great service," he says.
Starting a business takes determination, a great model, and dealing with integrity, he adds.
There were eight other winners at Burnaby Business Excellence Awards last week.
Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers was named this year's Burnaby Business of the Year.
West Pacific Consulting Group won Small Business of the Year, Computers for Schools won Not-For-Profit Organization of the Year, Gourmet Baker won in the category of Environmental Sustainability, Gloo Studios won Entrepreneurial Spirit, Teradici won Business Innovation, Scotiabank won Burnaby Community Spirit, and Pacific Blue Cross won Family Friendly Organization.
The 12th annual awards were a joint initiative between the board and the City of Burnaby.
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