CHAMBER CHATTER: Remembering Ken Stratford

Ken St used his incredible business acumen to empower people to create opportunities for numerous Sooke businesses

It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our dear friend Ken Stratford who died peacefully on Jan. 10.

With nearly five decades serving in senior executive capacities leading prominent organizations such as B.C. Ferries, B.C. Transit, Small Business B.C., Greater Victoria Economic Development Commission, Business Victoria, Royal Roads University, and others, Ken developed an internationally-acclaimed reputation as a business leader, innovator, strategist, educator, futurist and mentor.

He has been honoured with numerous accolades including the City of Victoria’s Business Leader of the Year in 1998, a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Vancouver Island Coast Economic Developers Association in 2011, the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce’s President’s Award of Recognition in 2014, and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the City of Victoria in late 2015 for his contributions to furthering the community with economic development initiatives.

Ken moved to Sooke in 2012 and completely immersed himself into small-town life.

He used his incredible business acumen and lifelong commitment to empowering people to create opportunities for numerous Sooke businesses to find their niches and prosper.

One such business was the Little Vienna Bakery and Cafe where his insights and business coaching helped create tremendous operational and marketing efficiencies, which served to increase annual sales revenues by more than 60 per cent in the last five years.

In addition to providing guidance on economic development initiatives to our past mayors and councils, Ken also took on the role as strategic advisor to the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce in 2012.

He can be credited with much of the chamber’s short- and long-term strategic planning exercises, as well as the development of numerous successful chamber portfolios such as the Newcomers’ Club, Resident Relocation Program, Business Education Series, Conference and Convention Marketing portfolio, and many other initiatives.

Always looking for ways to help, Ken also gifted our local chamber office with an extensive library of business books, presentation display stands and a number of other resources worth many thousands of dollars.

Most recently Ken was the keynote speaker at the Sooke Region Chamber’s Economic Development Symposium in September 2015, where he delivered a powerful and inspiring speech to more than 50 of Sooke’s most respected business and community leaders.

Addressing issues and opportunities ranging from local transportation infrastructure to telecommunications technology, green manufacturing to eco-tourism, town centre design fundamentals to relationship building with First Nations, Ken left the crowd excited and optimistic about what lays ahead for Sooke in the next five to 10 years.

A visionary, a Renaissance man, a brilliant intellectual mind, and an individual who was very much ahead of his time, Ken will also be remembered for his humour, warmth, compassion, thoughtfulness and incredibly giving nature.

He leaves behind a tremendous legacy which will be built upon by the many thousands of people he came into contact with and helped throughout his lifetime of service.

A celebration of life ceremony to honour Ken and his achievements will be held in March, with more detailed information available at the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce office in the coming weeks.

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Submitted by Michael Nyikes, a friend of Ken Stratford and 2014 chamber president, on behalf of the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce.