Port Alberni mortgage broker Sharie Marie Francoeur has won a BE Award for Real Estate Company of the Year.
Francoeur opened her office at the visitors’ centre last September, two weeks before giving birth to her first child, a daughter. Since then the entrepreneur has been very busy.
Francoeur took her mortgage broker course at the University of BC while she was also studying microbiology. She had an uncle in the business in Alberta and thought it would be a good way to make some money while going to school.
“I quickly realized I loved mortgage brokering and dropped the other stuff,” she said.
The one thing she found when she took her own course is that it offered little in the way of practical experience. So Francoeur teamed with real estate investor Gary Spencer-Smith and created a mortgage broker apprenticeship program. She also maintains an office in Ladysmith, where she tutors students from all over Vancouver Island.
Francoeur has seen her business grow exponentially this year, which is why she earned the BE Award, she said. She has 10 brokers working for her and another 13 in training. She has run six training modules since February 2011.
Education is also at the root of Francoeur’s broker business. “Trying to educate people so they understand what comes with their mortgage is really important to us,” she said.
Francoeur’s Mortgage Mentorship Program was also nominated for the Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Port Alberni businesses were nominated for a total of nine BE Awards this year. Others included: West Coast SLAM for Community Leader of the Year; Catalyst Paper for Forestry/ Wood Products Company of the Year; NSS Investments for Real Estate Company of the Year; Acoustic Woods Ltd., Trends Design Team, Trends 2 and Kismet Quilts for Small Business of the Year (under 50 employees).
Tofino-Ucluelet businesses that received nominations included Icon Developments Ltd. for Construction/ Development Company of the Year and Relic Surf Shop for Retailer of the Year.
The annual business awards gala is co-ordinated by Business Examiner and Business Vancouver Island newspapers.