Accent Inns president appointed Honorary Captain

HCapt(N) Mandy Farmer inspects a member of Alpha Platoon during Base Divisions. Photo by LS Ogle Henry, MARPAC Imaging Services

HCapt(N) Mandy Farmer inspects a member of Alpha Platoon during Base Divisions. Photo by LS Ogle Henry, MARPAC Imaging Services

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Eight months ago, Accent Inns President and CEO Mandy Farmer, 43, was aboard a Harbour Air flight high above CFB Esquimalt when she peered out of the plane’s starboard window and had a revelation.

“I looked at the massive, amazing piece of property below and I was drawing a big blank,” says the Royal Canadian Navy’s newest Honorary Captain. “My family has been living in Victoria for three generations, I’m passionate about Victoria, but I’m looking down at this base and saying to myself this is really the heart of the city and I don’t know much about it.”

About an hour later she received a phone call from the Commander Maritime Forces Pacific’s office asking if she was interested in the role of Honorary Captain where she would serve as an ambassador for the base in the community. The notion of being connected to the navy was of interest, and she readily said yes to the query. About six months later, during a summer camping trip in Powell River, came the phone call she had hoped for.  The navy informed her she had been selected to fill the role vacated by HCapt(N) (Ret’d) Cedric Steele.

“I was thrilled, overjoyed and to be honest I was also very nervous because I want to do a good job,” she says.

By all indications doing a good job is the norm for HCapt(N) Farmer. In 2008, she took the reins of the family-run business from her father. In 2015, Accent Inns and her company’s other holding, retro-themed Hotel Zed, employed a staff of over 200, had revenues of more than $20 million and saw a 34 per cent revenue growth.

All of this didn’t go unnoticed by the business community, or the navy.

In 2011, Accent Inns was rated the sixth best company to work for in B.C. by its employees. Last year, HCapt(N) Farmer was ranked No. 25 in Profit Magazine’s annual list of Canada’s Top 100 Women Entrepreneurs, and named a finalist in Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

“It’s very exciting that we have one of the nation’s top female entrepreneurs who is a big contributor to the business community and Victoria, and now also a very strong link to our city for the navy,” said LCdr Colleen O’Brien, Base Administration Executive Officer, after the Sept. 27 formal introduction of HCapt(N) Farmer at Base Divisions in the Naden Drill Shed.

Donning her new dress uniform for the first time went smoothly.

“It makes me feel comfortable and confident which is a good feeling for a person with no naval or military background. I think that is really saying something,” she said.

She has some affiliation with the military in her family roots. Two Great Uncles served in the RCN –  Uncle Hugh Neuman was a Merchant Marine during the Second World War while her Uncle Hugh Gunning patrolled the North Atlantic during the same period. Her Great Grandfather Harry Farmer served in the First World War with the United States Army.

With only a few days in her new uniform, HCapt(N) Farmer is now preparing to serve the navy, sailors and personnel here at CFB Esquimalt.

“One thing I am certainly going to be most passionate about is fostering appreciation for the navy, because I don’t think the average Canadian truly knows what the navy does here in Victoria and they really should be more aware.”

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