By Cal Braid
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Vauxhall and District Chamber of Commerce (VDCC) held an awards dinner on Nov. 25 to celebrate business and volunteer excellence in the community. Haven Agencies was recognized as Business of the Year.
Ken Holst, the owner/manager at Haven, talked about how the company’s business model is built around personalized service and community involvement.
The company has operated under the current ownership for seven years, but has been a fixture in the community since 1996. Six other employees keep the business running along with Holst.
When asked why he thought the chamber had given Haven the nod of approval for the award, he said, “They read out the nominations at the awards, and what was said was very nice. It is true, and it is what we really try to instill in the office and in the staff, and that’s two things: one is heavily investing in the community that supports us and the second thing is service levels.”
He said from an involvement and a donation perspective, the business contributes to the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball and other fundraising activities or events that go on. Haven gets involved either directly or through sponsorship.
“We have the Haven VAB baseball tournament on the long weekend in May and have been doing that for many years, along with anything else that comes up from the Snowflake Frolic, the foodgrains bank, and chamber events.”
“We really think that it’s important to give back to the community, so we’ve done a lot both financially and in kind,” he said. The business strives to personalize its customers. Holst said, “We make sure we treat everybody exactly the same, no matter what. Whether it’s a large VIP farm account that we’ve got coming in or someone who’s getting their one vehicle insured for the very first time. We want to treat everyone the same, and make them feel like they’re important, which they are. (To) not give them a number, but to know them by name and have them know us by name as well. So that’s really important to us. I think those two things are probably what the nomination committee saw.”
Holst involves himself in multiple business ventures and described himself as a man who wears many hats. He’s pleased that Haven’s contributions have been acknowledged, and added, “We don’t do it for the recognition, but it’s always nice to have people see that we are trying our best.”
Holst grew up in Hays and went to school and graduated from Vauxhall High School. He lives in Taber now but still thinks of himself as a local boy.
“That area is pretty special to me within my heart, and that’s kind of why I like to stay loyal to it. It’s a lifelong link that I’ve had to the community.”