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p Culinary staff in the kitchen-car at Rocky Mountaineer, one of this year’s winners

CO-PUBLISHED BY

CANADA’S 100 BEST SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS


Thousands of great jobs at Top Employers Discover the search engine that lets you find new jobs as soon as they are posted by any of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers. Eluta.ca lets you target your job search on exceptional employers that win competitions included in the Canada’s Top 100 Employers® project. Find thousands of new job postings every day, direct from employers, and read detailed editorial reviews and grades. Only on Eluta.ca, the most-visited Canadian job search engine.† †

Source: comScore MediaMetrix, September 2014

★★★★★


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CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS 2015 Magazine Anthony Meehan, PUBLISHER, MEDIACORP

Karen Le,

VICE-PRESIDENT, MEDIACORP

Editorial Team:

Richard Yerema,

MANAGING EDITOR, MEDIACORP

Kristina Leung,

SENIOR EDITOR, MEDIACORP

p Progressive Home Warranty employees at annual holiday party.

Advertising Sales:

Kristen Chow,

OPERATIONS MANAGER, MEDIACORP

Amy Wong,

SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE, MEDIACORP

Stephanie Smith,

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE, MEDIACORP

Sponsor Content Writers:

Berton Woodward, SENIOR EDITOR

Michael Benedict Brian Bergman Ann Brocklehurst Jane Doucet Sheldon Gordon D’Arcy Jenish John Schofield Barbara Wickens

© 2015 Mediacorp Canada Inc. and The Globe and Mail. CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS is a trade mark of Mediacorp Canada Inc. All rights reserved.

INTRODUCTION

Call them the job creators. The winners of Canada’s

Top Small & Medium Employers competition not only have outstanding workplaces with enlightened human resources policies, but also nearly all show positive employment growth. With small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) employing almost two-thirds of private-sector employees in Canada, and accounting for more than half of Canada’s gross domestic product, that’s key to the success of Canada’s economy. Moreover, the winning SMEs in this second-annual competition feature many of the same valuable workplace perks you’d expect from bigger organizations, such as generous top-up payments for maternity and parental leave, flexible work options, matching RRSP contribution programs and training support. Also notable is the

number of SMEs offering profit-sharing and share purchase programs. As well, their nimble size – the competition is limited to private-sector commercial organizations with less than 500 employees – works to their advantage when it comes to innovating and adapting the latest new initiatives to benefit their employees. “The competition highlights the dynamism of a smaller work environment with the types of benefits traditionally associated with larger employers,” says Richard Yerema, managing editor of the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project at Mediacorp Canada Inc. “It truly is an unbeatable combination for many job-seekers who want a slightly less formal structure but also value those practical perks and benefits for the longer term.” – Diane Jermyn


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p Staff at 360incentives.com

p Head office at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

p Staff at ACL Services enjoying the rooftop patio.

CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS 2015 EDITION /N SPRO INC., Montreal. Computer consulting; 58 employees. Offers alternative work arrangements, including flexible hours, a telecommuting option, and shortened and compressed work weeks. 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, Vancouver. Waste removal; 176 employees. New employees receive between two to four weeks of paid vacation allowance to start. 360INCENTIVES.COM CANADA ULC, Whitby, Ont. Computer software development; 94 employees. Added 33 fulltime positions in the past year, increasing its overall work force by 54 per cent.

A

BSOLUTE SOFTWARE CORP., Vancouver. Computer software development; 246 employees. Offers referral bonuses as an incentive for employees who help recruit friends, to $3,000 for successful hires. ACL SERVICES LTD., Vancouver. Computer software development; 169 employees. Provides an on-site lounge, with television, pool table, table tennis and board games, plus fresh fruit and employee-baked goods. ADLIB SOFTWARE INC., Burlington, Ont. Computer software development; 99 employees. Provides head office employees with monthly visits from an in-house massage therapist. AIR GEORGIAN LTD., Mississauga. Airline; 250 employees. Offers employees discounted and reduced airfare rates.

ALBI HOMES LTD., Calgary. Home building; 92 employees. Encourages employees to save for the future with contributions to a matching retirement savings plan. AQUATIC INFORMATICS INC., Vancouver. Computer software development; 59 employees. Added 22 new positions in the past year, a 59-per-cent jump. ARCURVE INC., Calgary. Computer software development; 65 employees. Rewards exceptional performance with tailored bonuses, including theatre and hockey tickets as well as evening and weekend getaways. ARTIS REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT TRUST, Winnipeg. Real estate; 155 employees. Offers subsidies for professional accreditation, and in-house and online training programs.

B

IG ROCK BREWERY LP, Calgary. Breweries; 115 employees. Maintains a flexible health benefits plan that allows employees to customize levels of coverage according to personal needs. BIG VIKING GAMES INC., London, Ont. Software publisher; 49 employees. Provides an on-site full-service kitchen and cafeteria featuring daily breakfasts and lunches, plus free snacks. BIRCHCLIFF ENERGY LTD., Calgary. Natural gas liquid extraction; 142 employees. Provides a free on-site fitness facility featuring boot camp classes, exercise equipment, sauna and shower facilities.

C

ANADIAN DISCOVERY LTD., Calgary. Support for oil and gas industry; 60 employees. Supports a variety of local, national and international charitable organizations each year. CLEARPATH ROBOTICS INC., Kitchener, Ont. Robotics manufacturing, 36 employees. Supports employee development with in-house training options, subsidies for professional accreditation and opportunities for mentoring. CONTAX INC., Toronto. Information technology consulting; 58 employees. The company-subsidized social committee organizes events throughout the year, including baseball games and a summer boat cruise.

everyone share in the company’s success through a profit-sharing plan.

COWELL AUTO GROUP, Richmond, B.C. Auto dealers; 174 employees. Helps the next generation gain on-the-job experience through paid internships and co-op opportunities.

DAC GROUP INC., Toronto. Advertising; 184 employees. New employees receive three weeks of starting vacation allowance plus paid time off during the winter holidays and up to six personal paid days off each year.

CRELOGIX ACCEPTANCE CORP., Burnaby, B.C. Financial services; 32 employees. Offers subsidies for tuition and professional accreditation, in-house training and opportunities for mentoring.

DIABSOLUT INC., Pointe-Claire, Que. Business and information technology consulting; 83 employees. Offers referral bonuses for employees who help recruit friends, up to $1,000.

CROMBIE REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT TRUST, Stellarton, N.S. Property development and management; 282 employees. Helps employees save for retirement with contributions to a defined contribution pension plan.

DIAMOND SCHMITT ARCHITECTS INC., Toronto. Architectural services; 145 employees. Offers in-house apprenticeship programs, subsidies for professional accreditation and a variety of in-house and online training programs.

&D AUTOMATION INC., Stratford, Ont. Industrial controls and automation manufacturing; 67 employees. Lets

DIGITAL EXTREMES LTD., London, Ont. Software publishers; 178 employees. Head office features a full-sized commer-

D


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cial kitchen and dining room, with two full-time chefs who prepare healthy and free meals daily for employees. DRIVING FORCE INC., Edmonton. Auto dealers, 360 employees. Offers subsidies for tuition and professional accreditation, mentoring opportunities and career planning services. DUNCAN CRAIG LLP, Edmonton. Law firms; 127 employees. Offers alternative work arrangements including flexible hours, shortened work weeks, a telecommuting option and a 35-hour work week with full pay.

E

MKAY INC., Toronto. Fleet management services; 27 employees. Acknowledges exceptional performance through peer-to-peer recognition, quarterly and annual awards for individual performance and long-service awards. EQUITABLE BANK, Toronto. Financial services; 342 employees. Ensures employees stay up-to-date on company developments through Banknotes, an in-house newsletter. ESENTIRE INC., Cambridge, Ont. Computer security services; 62 employees. Added 18 new full-time jobs in the past year and increasing its work force by 40 per cent. ETRATECH INC., Burlington, Ont. Electronic controls and device manufacturing; 126 employees. Manages an academic scholarship program for children of employees interested in pursuing postsecondary education, to $1,500 a child. EXCEL FUNDS MANAGEMENT INC., Mississauga. Financial services; 29 employees. Offers employees up to eight personal paid days off a year.

F

IDUS SYSTEMS INC., Ottawa. Computer systems design services; 60 employees. Head office features a free onsite fitness facility with exercise equipment, yoga classes, personal training sessions and shower facilities. FINANCIALCAD CORP., Surrey, B.C. Software publishers; 88 employees. Manages a year-end bonus program open to all employees. FIRST ACCESS FUNDING CORP., Edmonton. Automotive sales financing; 19 employees. Added 10 new full-time positions in the past year, doubling its work force. FLAMAN SALES LTD., Saskatoon. Farm and home equipment dealers; 335 employees. Social events include company

p Ed Quilty, CEO of Aquatic Informatics Inc.

barbecues, a Christmas party, tickets to the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Saskatoon Blades games, and employee sports teams. FRESCHE SOLUTIONS INC., Montreal. Computer systems design and consulting; 67 employees. Employees enjoy an outdoor eating area with barbecue, plus a rooftop vegetable garden in the growing season. FRESHBOOKS, Toronto. Software publishers: 148 employees. Company-subsidized social committee events include Porchfest, an annual cottage weekend getaway, and Festivus, an annual holiday party. FULLY MANAGED TECHNOLOGY INC., Vancouver. Computer systems design and consulting; 39 employees. Offers generous referral bonuses for employees who help recruit friends, up to $10,000 for successful hires. FUSION LEARNING INC., Toronto. Management consulting; 25 employees. Provides on-site showers for employees who cycle or run to work.

FUSION PROJECT MANAGEMENT LTD., Vancouver. Interior design; 23 employees. Offers employees paid time off to volunteer with their favourite charitable organization.

G

EVITY CONSULTING INC., Vancouver. Computer software development; 79 employees. Supports new mothers with generous maternity and parental leave top-up payments, to 100 per cent of salary for 52 weeks. GREAT LITTLE BOX CO. LTD., Richmond, B.C. Box manufacturing; 199 employees. Opens its books to employees each month and offers a profit-sharing option. GROUP MEDICAL SERVICES, Regina. Medical insurance; 109 employees. Helps employees save for the future with contributions to a DC pension plan.

H

ALOGEN SOFTWARE INC., Ottawa. Software publishers; 359 employees. Offers an annual health club subsidy to employees, which can be used to cover the costs of gym membership, to $400 a year.

I

NTEGRA ENGINEERING LTD., Lloydminster, Alta. Engineering; 36 employees. Maintains a flexible health benefits plan that allows employees to customize levels of coverage to suit their personal needs. INTELEX TECHNOLOGIES INC., Toronto. Software publishers; 212 employees. Offers flexible hours to employees who are new mothers when they are ready to return to work.

J

AYMAN BUILT GROUP OF COS., Calgary. Home building; 332 employees. Offers profit-sharing and year-end bonuses available to all employees. JONES DESLAURIERS INSURANCE MANAGEMENT INC., Toronto. Insurance; 188 employees. Created 43 new fulltime jobs in the past year, a 30-per-cent increase in its work force

K

EILHAUER INDUSTRIES LTD., Toronto. Furniture manufacturing; 209 employees. Reaches out to the next generation of employees with summer jobs, paid internships and co-op work experience.


6 KILLAM PROPERTIES INC., Halifax. Property ownership and management; 375 employees. Encourages employees to become owners through a share purchase plan. KINAXIS INC., Ottawa. Software publishers; 181 employees. Head office features include a quiet room, employee lounge and free access to an on-site fitness facility.

L

ONGBOW ADVANTAGE INC., Montreal. Computer consulting; 36 employees. Offers a flat vacation policy where all employees, including new employees, receive four weeks of paid vacation allowance. LUG CANADA INC., Markham, Ont. Luggage manufacturing; 38 employees. Offers tuition subsidies to employees for courses directly related to their position as well as courses not related to their current position.

M

ABEL’S LABELS INC., Hamilton. Label manufacturing; 36 employees. Offers temporary workstations for its telecommuting employees.

CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

MANNARINO SYSTEMS AND SOFTWARE INC., Saint-Laurent, Que. Computer systems design services; 51 employees. Offers a generous in-vitro fertilization subsidy if required, to $15,000. MANNING ELLIOTT LLP, Vancouver. Accounting; 155 employees. Social events include the annual end-of-tax-season party, Christmas holiday party, summer barbecue and baseball game, as well as a retreat to Whistler, B.C.

N

ATURE’S PATH FOODS INC., Richmond, B.C. Breakfast cereal manufacturing; 163 employees. Offers a unique green lifestyle perk by contributing $1,000 toward the purchase of an eco-friendly vehicle. NETMAIL INC., Montreal. Custom computer programming; 61 employees. Head office features an employee lounge equipped with music, video games, pool and foosball tables. NORTH CARIBOO FLYING SERVICE LTD., Calgary. Airline; 335 employees.

q Staff at Clearpath Robotics enjoying an after-work drink in the “Clearpathian Lounge”.

p Staff at Jones DesLauriers Insurance Management work in collaborative spaces

Offers tuition subsidies for career related courses, to $3,000 annually.

receive company support as well as providing employees with paid volunteer time.

NORTH STRATEGIC INC., Toronto. Marketing consulting; 33 employees. Involves employees in selecting the charities that

NORTHFORGE INNOVATIONS INC., Gatineau, Que. Computer software development; 71 employees. Provides an


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innovation room with whiteboards for brainstorming sessions.

in work options for employees nearing retirement.

NUTRABOLICS INC., Vancouver. Pharmaceutical products; 12 employees. Encourages employees to save for the longer term with matching retirement savings plan contributions.

PNI DIGITAL MEDIA INC., Vancouver. Digital printing; 135 employees. Reaches out to the next generation through summer job and co-op work experience opportunities.

P

EOPLE STORE STAFFING SOLUTIONS INC., Mississauga. Human resources consulting; 35 employees. Added seven new positions last year, a 25-per-cent increase. PERLEY-ROBERTSON, HILL & MCDOUGALL LLP, Ottawa. Law firms; 120 employees. Offers employees who are new parents or adoptive parents the option to extend their leave into an unpaid leave of absence. PETO MACCALLUM LTD., Toronto. Engineering; 161 employees. Offers phased-

personal lives with flexible and telecommuting work options.

R

POLYCELLO, Amherst, N.S. Commercial printing and packaging; 394 employees. Manages an academic scholarship program for children of employees who are pursuing postsecondary studies, up to $2,500 a child. PROGRESSIVE HOME WARRANTY SOLUTIONS INC., Surrey, B.C. Insurance; 27 employees. Encourages employees to volunteer in the community with up to five paid volunteer days off each year. PYTHIAN GROUP, Ottawa. Computer systems design services; 145 employees. Helps employees balance their work and

q Young accountants at Manning Elliott LLP celebrate the completion of their UFE exams.

.F. BINNIE & ASSOCIATES LTD., Burnaby, B.C. Engineering; 106 employees. Provides dedicated workstations for off-site employees. REID’S HERITAGE GROUP OF COS., Cambridge, Ont. Home building; 233 employees. Supports employees who volunteer in the community with one paid day off every year. REPLICON INC., Calgary. Computer software development; 95 employees. Encourages employees to keep their skills up-to-date with in-house and online training programs. RESPONSETEK NETWORKS CORP., Vancouver. Computer software development; 74 employees. Starts new employees at three weeks of paid vacation allowance, moving to six weeks for

long-standing employees. RICHTER LLP, Montreal. Accounting; 423 employees. Offers referral bonuses for employees when they successfully recruit a new candidate, to $4,000. ROCKY MOUNTAINEER, Vancouver. Tour operators; 175 employees. Offers a variety of helpful financial benefits including a discounted rail pass program. RODAN ENERGY SOLUTIONS INC., Mississauga. Energy metering services; 30 employees. Considers previous work experience when setting vacation entitlements for new employees. ROGERS INSURANCE LTD., Calgary. Insurance; 200 employees. Offers alternative work options including flexible hours, shortened work weeks, a 35-hour work week with full pay, and a formal earned days off program.


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p Employees at Scalar Decisions taking part in an Easter Seals fundraiser.

p Reception area at theScore Inc. in downtown Toronto.

ROHIT GROUP OF COS., Edmonton. Home and commercial building; 133 employees. Provides employees with paid time off to volunteer with local charitable organizations, as well as matching charitable donations.

TERRACON GEOTECHNIQUE LTD., Calgary. Engineering; 243 employees. Regularly captures employee feedback through annual in-house and consultant surveys.

S

CALAR DECISIONS INC., Toronto. Computer Consulting; 124 employees. Offers tuition subsidies for courses at outside institutions, as well as subsidies for professional accreditation. SCAMP TRANSPORT LTD., Langley, B.C. Freight transport; 225 employees. Added 26 new positions, a 13-per-cent increase year over year. SEALWELD CORP., Calgary. Support for the oil and gas industry; 43 employees. Provides maternity and parental leave top-up payments to employees who are new mothers, fathers and adoptive parents, to 95 per cent of salary for 17 weeks. SHERWEB INC., Sherbrooke. Computer systems design services; 169 employees. Reaches out to the next generation of employees with paid internships and summer employment opportunities. SIGMA SYSTEMS CANADA INC., Toronto. Computer systems design services; 100 employees. Lets everyone share in

the company’s success with profit-sharing and a share purchase plan. SOLVERA SOLUTIONS, Regina. Computer consulting; 179 employees. Encourages employees to stay healthy with an annual wellness subsidy, to $500. SPORTSDIRECT INC., Halifax. Internet publishing and broadcasting; 59 employees. Provides compassionate leave top-up payments for employees to care for a loved one, to 75 per cent of salary for 17 weeks. SWISH MAINTENANCE LTD., Peterborough, Ont. Manufacturing and distribution of janitorial supplies and equipment; 236 employees. Added 11 new positions last year.

T

ALON ENERGY SERVICES INC., St. John’s. Support for oil and gas operations; 85 employees. Encourages employees to save for life after work with matching retirement savings plan contributions. TERAGO NETWORKS INC., Thornhill, Ont. Internet service providers; 194 employees. Considers previous work experience when setting vacation entitlements for new employees.

THESCORE INC., Toronto. Internet publishing and broadcasting; 98 employees. Employees can enjoy an outdoor terrace or lounge, complete with comfortable seating, television, video games, foosball and table tennis. THINK SHIFT ADVERTISING INC., Winnipeg. Advertising; 53 employees. The company’s Party People social committee organizes numerous annual events, from pub nights to family skating excursions. TRUE NORTH AUTOMATION INC., Calgary. Engineering; 90 employees. Helps employees earn a little extra time off through a formal earned days off program.

V

ENTANA CONSTRUCTION CORP., Burnaby, B.C. Commercial building construction; 129 employees. Offers referral bonuses when employees successfully help to recruit a new candidate, up to $2,500.

VERAFIN INC., St. John’s. Custom computer programming; 176 employees. Offers a flexible “no limit” vacation policy, letting employees balance their work responsibilities and decide how much time they need in any given year. VIGILANT GLOBAL, Montreal. Custom computer programming; 106 employees. Encourages employees to keep fit with a generous health club subsidy, to $1,200 a year.

W

ALTER SURFACE TECHNOLOGIES, Pointe-Claire, Que. Industrial supplies; 155 employees. Offers great career opportunities with locations in the United States, Mexico, Brazil and Germany. WEST WIND AVIATION LP, Saskatoon. Airline; 250 employees. Offers phased-in work options to help retiring employees transition to life after work. WYNWARD INSURANCE GROUP, Winnipeg. Insurance; 67 employees. Offers a health benefits plan that extends into retirement

X

E.COM INC., Newmarket, Ont. Computer software development; 35 employees. Provides a quiet room for meditation and reflection.


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p Employees at the Ventana Construction annual holiday party.

Head office for PNI Digital Media in Vancouver’s Gastown district p

METHODOLOGY The Canada’s Top Small &

Medium Employers competition recognizes small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Canada that lead the nation in creating exceptional workplaces with forward-thinking human resources policies. To determine eligibility, the Top 100 editors at Toronto-based Mediacorp Canada Inc. adopted the SME definition used by Statistics Canada, limiting the competition to private-sector commercial organizations with less than 500 employees. Employers are evaluated according to the same eight key areas used for judging in the national competition of Canada’s Top 100 Employers: ¡ Physical workplace. ¡ Work and social atmosphere. ¡ Health, financial and family benefits. ¡ Vacation and time off. ¡ Employee communications focused on how employers capture employee feedback. ¡ Performance management. ¡ Training and skills development. ¡ Community involvement.

z Mike McDerment, CEO and co-founder of FreshBooks, poses in the company’s Toronto office DARREN CALABRESE FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Whether an employer has positive employment growth is also a factor in determining the basic cutoff point. Employers with layoffs in the previous year are automatically excluded from consideration. As well, the unique initiatives of each employer are taken into account. – Diane Jermyn


CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

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Inside the Innovators By Berton Woodward

How Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers drive change p Employees at Scalar Decisions at one of the company’s many social events.


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CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

They still have the bunk

beds at the headquarters of Vigilant Global. That’s where co-founders Arvind Ramanathan and Josh Felker used to sleep when they were working round the clock in 2005 getting their software-based financial trading company up and running. Like so many of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers, Vigilant started very small—as a dream the pair mapped out on the kitchen table of Ramanathan’s mother during a muggy summer, surrounded by freshly cooked dosas and curry. Today, its 120 employees enjoy some of the most attractive perks and benefits you’ll find—free breakfast and lunch, for starters. And they don’t need the bunk beds—there are lots of work-life balance options. Plus games rooms, “smoothie stations” and incentives for employees to hang out together. “The staff really benefit from interacting with each other,” says Ramanathan, managing director of the Montreal-based company. “I think in general companies underestimate the impact—they think of the bottom line; they think, well, that’s a cost I don’t really need. But the intrinsic value of having people bond over a piece of bread or over a ski trip is irreplaceable.” z North Strategic co-founders Justin Creally and Mia Pearson at their Toronto-based office.

That’s the kind of thinking this listing of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers, or SMEs, hopes to encourage, says Richard Yerema, managing editor


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CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

of Mediacorp Canada. He oversees the annual SME selection as well as Canada’s Top 100 Employers and several other top employer lists Mediacorp produces.

it out and realize that you can build a very nice suite of benefits for your staff while having all the attractions of a smaller workplace, which many people prefer.”

job creators, responsible for 75 per cent of new positions in the past decade. Each year, they contribute more than half of the nation’s gross domestic product.

“We are showcasing companies we feel are very much on the right path,” says Yerema. “Being an SME doesn’t mean you abandon your responsibilities to your employees. We have seen employers cost

After all, these are the companies where most Canadians work. Some 90 per cent of the country’s private-sector labour force is employed by a small or medium sized firm. Moreover, SMEs are Canada’s

In this list, an SME is defined as a forprofit company with fewer than 500 employees worldwide. Each of the 100 winners has shown year over year employment growth. And each, like q Employees inside the log cabin room at the head office of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?


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CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

Employees work in collaborative teams at Crelogix. y

“They can turn on a dime in implementing something new.” – RICHARD YEREMA, MANAGING EDITOR, CANADA’S TOP 100 EMPLOYERS

z The head office at Clearpath Robotics.


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CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

z Employees work in social workspaces at thescore.com

Vigilant Global, brings something special in what they offer to staff. At times, this can be quite unexpected. Verafin Inc. of St. John’s, NL, is one of a growing group of employers with a “no-limit” vacation policy that allow employees to decide how much time off to take each year. Nature’s Path Foods Inc. of Richmond, B.C. offers its staff a $1,000 grant towards purchase of an eco-friendly car. At Vancouver’s PNI Digital Media Inc., you can serve yourself from the popcorn machine while you watch Apple TV. And at least two companies, Calgary’s Arcurve Inc. and Toronto’s Fusion Learning Inc., keep beer stocked in the lounge fridge.

But more fundamentally, Yerema says, the 100 Top SMEs all meet some basic criteria. Extended health benefits are essential. Maternity top-up is a strong plus. Virtually all offer tuition subsidies as part of training and development. And though they may not be able to afford a full pension for staff, most provide some kind of retirement support, usually through a matching grant to a Retirement Savings Plan. Then there’s work-life balance. Technology now makes it easy for SMEs to offer work-from-home options where the job allows, as well as other alternative work arrangements from compressed work weeks to personal days off.

And community involvement, through charitable donations and encouraging employees to volunteer, is a hallmark of all successful companies, large and small. “There is a direct benefit to the employer,” says Yerema. “People feel good about volunteering, and that makes them feel good about the company.” Many of the innovations in employment start with SMEs, he says. “They can turn on a dime in implementing something new.” That means these are the companies to watch as the Canadian workplace continues to improve. “These are the organizations that are creatively courageous.” – Berton Woodward


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CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

/N SPRO offers flexibility and sunny retreats

L

uc Hédou saw an opportunity and seized it. As a consultant for German software giant SAP in Canada for seven years, he and co-founder John Sanderson noticed an unmet market need: consulting services for users of SAP’s human resources software.

“About 90-95 per cent of our service is implementing cloud human capital management, and more specifically the SuccessFactors solution,” says Hédou, “The remaining 5-10 per cent is the on-premise solution. It’s often a hybrid implementation—a combination of cloud and on-premise solutions.”

So in 2003, Hédou and Sanderson established /N SPRO Inc., a twoperson consulting firm in Old Montreal. /N SPRO—pronounced en spro―is the command that begins the configuration of SAP software.

As SAP expands its product line of HR solutions, /N SPRO strives to gain deep knowledge about its new products ahead of mainstream market adoption.

“The large consulting firms were focused on SAP applications for finance or logistics, and they were not all that comfortable implementing the HR solution,” recalls Hédou. The firm has grown to 100 employees in Canada and the U.S.—mainly sales reps and consultants. The company has enterprise-size clients in almost every province of Canada as well as in the U.S. (Hédou is President and Sanderson Senior Vice-President.)

“As a mid-size company competing against the big consulting firms, it’s crucial that everything we do is top-notch.” – Luc Hédou, President

The firm has remained focused on HR implementations. SAP’s acquisition in late 2011 of SuccessFactors, Inc., a dominant presence in cloudbased human capital management, created new opportunities in that market for /N SPRO.

The corporate culture is built around a dedication to quality. “As a mid-size company competing against the large consulting firms, it’s crucial that everything we do is top-notch,” says Hédou. “We’re extremely customer-focused,” he adds. “It’s not just about delivering a project of quality: the customer has to be delighted by the experience, so that we get repeat business. We have clients that have been buying from us since our inception.” /N SPRO’s employees are very diversified in age and cultural background. “As a result, we don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to their work schedule,” says Hédou. “We’re extremely flexible. You have deliverables and tasks, but how they get done is less important than the quality of the output.” /N SPRO offers attractive employee benefits. It pays the entire premiums for extended health and dental plan coverage. The company has a share purchase plan that is open to all employees and a profit-sharing scheme that rewards consultants for surpassing their billable-days targets. Each May, the company flies all of its employees to a warm-weather destination for a corporate retreat. (In 2014, the locale was Cancun.)

Elite Team. Awesome People. Love Mondays.

/N SPRO EMPLOYEES AT THEIR MONTREAL HEAD OFFICE

75

full-time staff in Canada

30

jobs available last year

“To build the culture and the feeling of belonging,” says Hédou, “these meetings are invaluable.” Edmond Vlandis was hired by /N SPRO as a SuccessFactors consultant two years ago, straight out of the B.Comm. program at École des Hautes Études commerciales de Montréal. He has worked on projects with 10 different /N SPRO clients, including some in western Canada and the U.S. “When you’re hired, you’re quickly given the chance to gain experience and deal with clients,” he says. “Even

800

job applications

35

average employee age

if you’re a junior consultant, you’re assigned to projects where you can participate actively and not just do the work that no one else wants to do. I would never have thought I’d gain so much knowledge and experience in only two years.” He also likes that the company’s structure is “more horizontal than vertical.” He has the opportunity to speak with Hédou and Sanderson every day. ”Everyone gets to know each other,” he says. “We’re really a close bunch.”

A Rizing Company

n-spro.com


CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

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F

Beautiful views, brews and disruptive innovation at ACL

ree Beer Fridays and walking or cycling to work are not the only attractive features for employees of Vancouverbased ACL Services. The head office is located five minutes from Stanley Park, which is handy for noon-hour jogging or cycling. Many employees can gaze across Burrard Inlet to a splendid view of Grouse Mountain and, weather permitting, there’s a rooftop patio for summertime picnics and barbecues.

Such an inspiring setting is a good fit for a company that counts on inspired thinking and output to maintain its edge in a highly competitive industry. ACL designs and builds what is known as GRC software, which is short for governance, risk and compliance, and its robust client list includes Fortune 500 companies, major accounting firms and government, military and educational institutions.

“A great social culture... promotes camaraderie and, in the long run, leads to enhanced results” – Keith Cerny, VP Research and Development

The company hires software engineers, computer science graduates and implementation consultants who install the software on site as well as marketing, finance, sales and other professionals. On Friday afternoons, from 4 p.m. on, there’s generally a crowd in the seventhfloor staff lounge. And why not? After all, it’s Free Beer Friday, when the company routinely treats employees to samples of local brews poured from a keg or specialty ales and lagers

from around the world. “It’s always a packed room,” says Keith Cerny, vicepresident research and development.

Cerny can rhyme off in a minute a long list of programs and policies that make ACL an attractive place to work, including three weeks vacation to start, full benefits from day one, full shower and locker facilities, rooftop patio, performance bonuses, RSP matching and stock options to name a few. Employees can take a break from solving problems to play pool, darts and darts or Xbox One, PS4 and Wii along with groups playing online. Craig Minett would add autonomy and trust to the list. “I’ve got a lot of freedom to do my job,” says Minett, a senior graphic designer in the marketing department. “There’s a lot of trust that the people they hire are capable of doing their jobs without constant management. I don’t get a lot of second guessing. It allows me to do a lot more quality work.” ACL’s corporate culture is grounded in three core values--customer intensity, authenticity and disruptive innovation. Cerny describes disruptive innovation as: “Going outside the box, doing something you’ve never done before, embracing what you don’t know, re-inventing the job.”

ACL SERVICES EMPLOYEES CELEBRATING A NEW SOFTWARE RELEASE

Those values not only inspire employees. They produce results. “Disruptive innovation is something I experience every day,” says Minett. “Basically, it’s being different from our competitors. When I started, I got to take a lead role on a complete re-brand from the creative side. We went in a very different direction. At trade shows, we’re getting a good amount of feedback about how much we stand out.”

solid understanding of the company’s products and services. They also sponsor job-related training outside of work to further enhance people’s skills.

in the products and any significant organizational changes. Afterward, there’s usually a catered mingle to connect with employees across the organization.

ACL also offers plenty of training and development opportunities, including an online foundations course that provides every new employee with a

As well, the executive team holds quarterly campus meetings to keep the staff up to date on new customers they’ve signed, new developments

“We have a supportive, tight-knit group at ACL and a great social culture, which promotes camaraderie and, in the long run, leads to enhanced results,” says Cerny.

169

full-time staff in Canada

17

years, longestserving employee

50

jobs available last year

2,000

job applications last year

We already know why we’re recognized. Come and find out. Explore a Career with ACL acl.com/careers

Vancouver | Singapore | Reading, UK


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ir Georgian Limited continues to build its team and spread its wings. The Toronto-based carrier has been providing regional flight capacity to Air Canada for 15 years. It started with 30 employees, and has grown to over 300. “The great majority of our revenues are earned through flying scheduled services for Air Canada,” says Eric Edmondson, CEO and President. “We currently fly 19 routes. Our main base is in Toronto, serving Kingston, Sarnia, and 11 U.S. destinations as far south as Nashville. We also have a base in Calgary, serving Alberta and B.C.”

“We’ve been fortunate to have very strong shareholder support for the idea that the only sustainable airline is a safe airline.” – Eric Edmondson, CEO & President

The company has gone through several hiring increments, most recently following its signing of an amended Capacity Purchase Agreement with Air Canada last May. “That grew our company by 100 people,” says Edmondson. “Our goal is to continue to grow with Air Canada. We are excited about our expanding partnership with them.” Air Georgian flies the 18-seat turboprop Beechcraft 1900, the smallest plane in the Air Canada family, and the 50-seat Bombardier CRJ (Canadair Regional Jet). For the Beechcraft 1900, the

Air Georgian is spreading its wings carrier hires young pilots usually with a charter or flight-instruction background. For the CRJ, it upgrades first officers who have been flying their Beechcraft aircraft and hires captains who have high-performance turbo-jet aircraft command experience.

The corporate culture emphasizes safety. “We’ve been fortunate to have very strong shareholder support for the idea that the only sustainable airline is a safe airline,” says Edmondson. “We put a tremendous focus on continually improving our safety initiatives. It’s also a fun place to work. We are still a small enough company that there is a family environment.” Most of Air Georgian’s pilots move on after five or six years to Air Canada, while the maintenance and administration personnel constitute a more permanent Air Georgian workforce. Air Georgian makes a special effort to stay connected with its 195 pilots, who are the largest employee group but who, by the nature of their jobs, “don’t come into an office every day.” “We organize several breakfasts and barbeques to reinforce employee engagement,” says Edmondson, “and we financially support a number of employee recreational teams, employee giveaways and charitable endeavours.” The airline was one of the first in Canada to offer its pilots loss of licence insurance. This cushions the risk of becoming medically unfit to continue working as a pilot. If a pilot’s disqualification is permanent, the insurance can cover retraining for another job or career. The company and the pilots share the premiums equally. Patrick Pendergast has been a pilot with Air Georgian for the past six and a half years. He has nearly 7,000 hours of flight experience and moved

AN AIR GEORGIAN PILOT READY TO START THE DAY

325

full-time staff in Canada

6

charities helped last year

up to the rank of captain from first officer two and a half years after joining the airline. He has benefitted from the airline’s commitment to the training of its personnel. Like other Air Georgian pilots who are being promoted, Pendergast took the airline’s “Introduction to Command” course, which teaches the technical and personal skills that are key to being in charge of an aircraft. “It is fantastic,” he says. “It’s very scenario-based. We learned how to avoid incidents that have happened across the industry. We also toured the air traffic control facilities at Pearson

34

years average employee age

21

years, longest-serving employee

International Airport, where we got to see the other side of the operation.” Soon after becoming a captain, Pendergast approached Air Georgian about a role as a flight instructor. “The company is always open to developing employees and giving them opportunities,” he says. He now spends 40 per cent of each month training newly hired pilots on flight simulators. “I enjoy the challenge of having to explain a process that has become easy for me to someone who’s new to the system.”

Thank you to all of our employees for their passion and commitment to our success


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Building a healthy workplace culture at Artis REIT

ith her background in commercial real estate, Shelley Middlestead knows there are temptations hiding in office towers. Concourses brim with fast food operations. Elevators encourage standing around, not stair climbing.

That’s why Middlestead, a leasing documentation specialist in Artis REIT’s head office in Winnipeg, has been an enthusiastic member of the company’s innovative wellness committee since it was launched in July 2014. “I love doing it,” she says. “It’s easy to get into a rut, but our mission is to introduce initiatives that encourage our co-workers to adopt healthy habits at work and at home.”

“By giving [employees] the tools and opportunities to adopt healthier lifestyles, we are contributing to their work-life balance” – Armin Martens, President & CEO

And Artis helps turn words into action. In May 2014, it opened an on-site fitness facility in its head office free to all employees, who can use it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Employees in Calgary have free access to a similar facility in one of Artis’s buildings downtown while those who work in the company’s offices in Edmonton, Toronto, and Scottsdale, Arizona, are eligible for annual subsidies for gym membership.

The focus on employee well-being comes straight from the top. President and CEO Armin Martens says it simply makes sense. “At Artis we feel that health and wellness are extremely important to all employees,” he says. “By giving them the tools and opportunities to adopt healthier lifestyles we are contributing to their work-life balance and further displaying Artis REIT’s culture of inclusion and caring.” Artis entered a period of rapid growth in 2010 when it began expanding its portfolio and quickly needed to fill positions to handle the added workload. Director of human resources Tricia Veness says the benefits of becoming larger more than made up for any growing pains. Increasing from 40 to 166 current employees meant Artis could introduce employee benefits that simply were not feasible when staff numbers were small.

Artis REIT is a real estate investment trust founded in 2004 and has a $5 billion portfolio of commercial properties in select Canadian and U.S. markets. It owns, operates and manages over 220 industrial, office and retail properties totalling more than 25 million square feet.

“We were able to go from being reactive to proactive,” says Veness, recalling how priorities shifted from not only attracting top candidates but to keeping them. “More people meant we needed to be more flexible and open to different options.”

The wellness committee goes beyond the traditional concerns of workplace health-and-safety committees. It puts on fun monthly events, friendly competitions and information sessions that champion sound nutrition and keeping active.

Today Artis offers a comprehensive rewards and compensation package that, among other things, lets everyone share in the company’s financial success with year-end bonuses and a profit-sharing plan. It invests in

EMPLOYEES AT ARTIS REIT RAISING MONEY FOR CHARITY IN WINNIPEG

166

full-time staff in Canada

49%

of employees are women

professional development through in-house and online training programs and tuition subsidies for courses at outside institutions (up $1,800). The company views two-way, open communications as key to helping employees feel engaged and present at work. It surveys them to understand what they need to make their work lives easier and more productive. In turn, Artis has an employee portal on its internal website to keep everyone abreast of the latest developments, whether related directly to the business or to spotlight employees. Topics vary, from updates to benefits

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years, average employee age

40

jobs available last year

to wellness tips to birth, wedding and promotion announcements. One widely used area on the portal is job openings, which staff are encouraged to relay to friends and family. Artis REIT offers bonuses for employees who refer a candidate who is successfully hired by the company. For Middlestead, it’s all part of Artis’s overall approach to its employees. “I have nearly 20 years in the business and no other employer comes close in their respect and compassion for their employees,” says Middlestead. “They’re always asking what more they can do.”


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CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

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Diverse employees drive new ideas at CDL

hen graphic designer Lina Hage first joined Canadian Discovery Ltd. (CDL), she was an oil and gas industry novice. This may seem unexpected, given that Canadian Discovery is a highly technical geoscience and information services company that has carved out a unique niche as scientific advisors to the resource sector. CDL’s clients are primarily in the exploration and production sector of the oil and gas industry, and they’re looking for a competitive edge in the high-risk, high-stakes venture of finding and producing crude oil and natural gas.

“They want you to succeed at your job and they give you the tools you need to do so.” – Lina Hage, Graphic Design & Production Manager

To help its 300 energy clients worldwide make informed and strategic decisions, CDL provides data, intelligence and expertise. Products and services are delivered through a variety of channels, including websites, web applications, live streaming, hard copy and face-toface presentations. But regardless of the medium, CDL relies on its experts and graphic designers to visually communicate a range of technical concepts via maps, graphs, charts and diagrams. Hage says that from her first interview as a job candidate, everybody at CDL went out of their way to make her feel welcome. With an abundance of technical experts available and will-

ing to share their expertise, novices can’t help but quickly become familiar with the oil and gas industry.

With formal policies in place, CDL supports ongoing employee development by paying for participation in job-related courses, online training programs and industry memberships. In Hage’s case, one of the first outside courses she took was Geology for Non-Geologists. “They want you to succeed at your job and they give you the tools you need to do so,” she says. “There’s just so much room to grow here, so much opportunity.” Hage’s own experience illustrates her point. In just over four years, she’s risen from an entry level position to become CDL’s graphic design & production manager, leading the company’s seven-person graphics team. Graphic designers make up only a part of CDL’s workforce, while geoscientists, engineers and technologists comprise the majority. This interdisciplinary company also employs software and database developers, sales and marketing associates, management professionals and administrative support.

CEO Kaush Rakhit says the company has experienced great success in hiring new graduates and providing them with the specialized training they need to succeed at CDL. Without years of experience behind them they don’t have preconceived notions about how the job should be done. “We don’t produce a cookie-cutter product,” says Rakhit, “so why would we want cookie-cutter employees?” Talent is, of course, important, he adds, but what CDL looks for in new employees are attributes that go beyond the scientific or technical skills required for the job. Because the organization is small, it’s important that all the personalities work well together.

STRIKING A POSE AT CANADIAN DISCOVERY’S MASQUERADE-THEMED CHRISTMAS PARTY

62

full-time staff in Canada

48%

of employees are women

“We see ourselves as a family,” Rakhit explains. “We look for fit.” That emphasis has resulted in a diverse workforce. Staff members range in age from 20 to 70 and speak some 30 languages. They studied their professions at post-secondary institutions ranging from local community colleges and polytechnic institutes to PhD programs at leading universities around the world. CDL lets everyone share in its success with profit-sharing and year-end bonuses. It also helps employees to achieve work-life balance through a variety of alternative work arrangements, including flexible, shortened

Advisors to the Resource Sector... Leading with Ideas! Data | Intelligence | Expertise www.canadiandiscovery.com/careers

27

years, longestserving employee

1,200+ job applications in 2014

and compressed work weeks, telecommuting, and reduced summer hours. Popular perks also include monthly breakfast socials, organic fruit delivery, composting and recycling services, as well as the opportunity to participate in employee-led charitable initiatives. Still, it’s the workplace environment that makes employees like Hage happy to be where they are. The friendly, collegial atmosphere stems in large measure, she says, from shared values and a culture that recognizes each person’s contributions. “We’re all striving for the same goals,” Hage adds. “Everybody’s all on the same page.”

Canadian Discovery Ltd.


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At Cowell Auto Group, working as a team on ‘wow’

very morning at Cowell Auto Group begins with a series of departmental huddles in which employees swap stories about ways they have tried to create “wow” experiences for their customers. The intent is to make the entire experience of purchasing and owning a vehicle feel special. But the daily huddles have the added benefit of making employees of this family-owned business feel they are part of a true team effort. “Our company’s mission is to be recognized as the market leaders in providing excellent products and experiences,” says Rand Cowell, President of Cowell Auto Group. “We back that up with a set of customer-centric core values our employees understand and embrace. This helps us work as a team to deliver on what we call our ‘wow promise’ to our customers.”

“I feel this is a place where I can build a career—and not just have a job.” – Henry Cheung, Sales Consultant

The company began life in 1967 when Gary Cowell opened Cowell Volkswagen in Richmond, B.C., then a sleepy community of 35,000 people. Today, Richmond is a bustling city of more than 200,000 and a vital part of Metro Vancouver. The Cowell family enterprise has also grown and now involves real estate as well as automotive dealerships including Cowell Volkswagen, Audi of Richmond, Jaguar Richmond and Land Rover of Richmond.

All of the dealerships are located in the innovative Richmond Auto Mall, home to some 15 separate dealership brands. Gary’s sons, Rand and Ryan, now manage the businesses, leading the retail automotive and property development operations respectively. While Cowell Auto Group has grown from a staff of four in 1967 to more than 170 today, the focus remains on creating a workplace that is collaborative and cohesive.

“Our philosophy is that we have both external and internal customers,” says Rand. “So, for example, the technician in our service department is an internal customer to our parts department. In fact, everyone in the Group is a customer to one another and we strive to deliver the same quality of service to each other as we do to the person who comes in to buy a vehicle.” As the oldest operating new-car dealership in Richmond, Cowell Auto Group is deeply rooted in the community and supports a number of local charities. “We want to give back to the community and help those in need,” says Rand. “We believe we have a bigger purpose to help change society.” The company’s workforce is also impressively diverse, with more than 60 per cent of employees being members of visible minorities. “It’s not a deliberate hiring strategy,” observes Rand, “but we are a very open culture and that’s important to us. We’re in an area in Vancouver that is ethnically rich and so we love having a diverse work group—not only to take care of our customers, but also to honour and cherish the realities of what’s going on in our local area.” Rand says the company strives to hire the highest quality people possible and

RYAN, RAND AND GARY COWELL (L-R) IN COWELL AUTO GROUP’S VOLKSWAGEN SHOWROOM

174

full-time staff in Canada

30

charities helped last year

that, increasingly, it relies on wordof-mouth to attract the right talent. That’s exactly how Henry Cheung came to join the company as a sales consultant seven years ago. “I used to work for a bigger, corporateowned auto group,” says Cheung. “But after I left there, I heard lots of good things about Cowell Auto Group from people I knew and so I applied.” Cheung, who recently received one of the company’s President’s Awards recognizing individual achievement, says what he likes most

38

years, longestserving employee

63%

of staff are visible minorities

is that “the company is still familyoriented—the owners know the employees and value them. And the whole company acts as one, rather than as separate departments.” He also appreciates the company’s operating philosophy. “The approach here is to put yourself in the client’s shoes and provide them with a service experience, rather than just a transaction,” says Cheung. “I could sell cars at any dealership, but I feel like this is a place where I can build a career—and not just have a job.”


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CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

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Rewards are generous and immediate at Crelogix

t Crelogix Acceptance Corporation, it’s possible for employees to share company profits 12 times a year.

Instead of waiting for year-end results, Crelogix issues individual monthly profit-sharing cheques based on company, team and individual performances. “Why wait?” asks Crelogix President and CEO Karl Sigerist. “People like to know right away how they are doing—and be rewarded if they are doing well.” There are other benefits of a monthly profit-sharing scheme, according to Sigerist: “Suggestions for improvement have an immediate impact, because they also effect pay. And it helps people really understand the importance of teamwork.”

“We want people who want to do their best, who want to win.” – Karl Sigerist, President and CEO

Crelogix is a consumer financing company, providing point-of-sale solutions for businesses that need a funding source to help their customers buy their products or services. To succeed in this competitive field, Crelogix promotes a strong achievement-oriented environment. “We want people who are really bright and smart,” says Sigerist. “We want people who want to do their best, who want to win. We reward results, not effort.” And the rewards can be generous indeed. In addition to profit sharing, the

Burnaby, B.C.-based company every year sends its top performers, and their partners, for a week to a five-star resort in a warmer climate. Everyone who achieves 115 per cent of their personal key performance indicators is entitled to the trip. Last year, about a dozen went but in theory everyone could go. Sigerist emphasizes that this perk is not restricted to sales people. “Every member of the team is critical,” he says. “Everyone plays a part in the customer experience, whether directly or indirectly. They are all eligible for rewards.”

Last year, Vanessa Coley-Donohue, a team leader in merchant support, went to Cancun with the group. “It was quite wonderful,” she says. But beyond that, the one-week, all-expenses luxury holiday “inspires people to work hard and achieve their best.” As well, ColeyDonohue adds, “It shows the company really cares about our well-being.” Coley-Donohue joined Crelogix nearly four years ago as an administrative support person. Within six months she was training new hires and last year moved into a managerial position after participating in varied on-site learning experiences. (Crelogix also pays full tuition for outside professional training enabling, for example, an accounting clerk to work toward certification as a general accountant.) “Great people want more skills and love learning,” says Sigerist. “It would be foolish not to help them out.” In Coley-Donohue’s case, she also acquired a yellow belt in Lean for sustainable business improvement. Almost all Crelogix team members have at least a white-belt Lean designation. Every year-end, Crelogix brings all its 90 employees, and their spouses, from regional offices across the

CYCLING FOR CHARITY CEMENTS TEAM SPIRIT AT CRELOGIX

84

full-time staff in Canada

$20,500

employee charitable contributions

country to head office for a two-day annual business review, team-building exercise and celebration. For Sigerist, the expense in staging this as well as regular employee events is an essential return on investment. “Engagement matters,” he says, “and it’s critical that our people establish strong bonds.” Coley-Donohue agrees. Previously she served a two-year term as a company CFO, which at Crelogix means “chief fun officer.” CFOs help arrange monthly social events, lead charity drives as well as organizing the annual two-day team-building activities and gala. “Bringing everyone together,” says Coley-Donohue, “builds

6,086

job applications last year

38

jobs available last year

personal connections that make for a more productive workplace.” Adds Sigerist: “If we play together, we understand each other better and then we work together better.” Other company benefits include bonuses of up to $3,000 for referrals that lead to hires, unlimited sick days and matching employee charitable contributions. To make office spaces more personal, people are allowed to listen to music, using headsets, while working. “They’re adults,” says Sigerist. “Why shouldn’t they be able to listen to music?”

Creating consumer financing programs people love. We are proud to be one of the best places to work in Canada. Join an achievement oriented culture that supports your learning and growth.

1 800 667 6640 www.crelogix.com


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High achievers thrive at Crombie REIT

t Crombie REIT, employees may be startled when their managers ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But they quickly learn that an authentic answer to that question leads to the development of a customized professional-development plan.

Headquartered in Stellarton, N.S., Crombie REIT is a national open-ended real estate investment trust owned 40 per cent by Empire Company Limited, of which Nova Scotia’s Sobey family is the controlling shareholder. “This is a long-term family business with a high standard of integrity,” says president and CEO Donald Clow. “We hire smart, competent, high achievers who thrive in a low-touch, high-value environment.”

“Professional development is more than supported, it’s encouraged.” – Lesley Bowes, Property Accountant

Career opportunities can be found in finance, real estate development, leasing, property management and building operations, accounting, human resources and other professional fields. Crombie’s retail properties are spread across the country, and its offices are located in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Ontario and Alberta. In 2006, Crombie reported assets of $800 million; today they number $3.7 billion. “That’s major growth in a short period of time,” says Clow. “Our reten-

tion record is very strong. People like to be part of a growing organization.”

As for the “when you grow up” query, employees are regularly probed about their current role and their ambitions within the company. In 2012, Crombie hired its first chief talent officer (CTO) to formally evaluate and engage employees. Professional development, coaching and mentoring are cornerstones of the talent development program. Property accountant Lesley Bowes joined Crombie’s Halifax office in 2012. She prepares quarterly and annual statements for a portfolio of properties, which senior management reviews to aid in making business decisions. She collaborates with property managers, accounts payable and receivable administrators and leasing managers. “One of the great things about working here is that if you have an interest in getting experience elsewhere in the company outside your regular duties, it’s often as simple as asking for it,” says Bowes. “Crombie encourages employees to grow, and it’s one of the things I enjoy the most about working here.” Working for Crombie is about more than just work, however. Bowes appreciates that personal accomplishments are celebrated company wide, such as when an employee completes a marathon or a professional designation or becomes a new parent or grandparent. “This brings us together as a company,” she says. “I believe it’s an important aspect of what makes a great employer.” Because Bowes wears glasses, she values the company’s flexible health-benefits plan that lets her balance the scale toward eye care and away from options she doesn’t need. And after spending her days scrutinizing data and preparing reports, she enjoys unwinding at activities planned by the social com-

CROMBIE REIT EMPLOYEES RACE ON THE RIVER TO RAISE FUNDS FOR CHARITY

279

full-time staff in Canada

41

years, longestserving employee

mittee. These include birthday celebrations and staff-appreciation events. Thanks to Crombie’s Nova Scotia roots, its corporate culture is “friendly, real and down to earth at all of our offices,” says Clow. The organization is community minded at the local level, with employees supporting various charities that range from the Catapult children’s leadership camp in Nova Scotia to The Ride to Conquer Cancer in Ontario.

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positions added last year

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years, average employee tenure

For Bowes, one of the best things about her job is the challenges it offers. “You can’t grow professionally if you aren’t being presented with challenges and obstacles along the way,” she says “Sometimes the challenge is simply to step up your game, to be better than you were the day before. Everyone at Crombie is working toward the same goal, which is to provide bestin-class service to our tenants.”


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D&D Automation puts a premium on creativity

ike many sophisticated and fastgrowing high-tech companies, D&D Automation Inc. of Stratford, Ont. is always looking for topnotch talent, and company president and founder Michael McCourt believes in getting a head start on the competition. D&D offers co-op work placements for students in college and university engineering programs, which is standard stuff for the industry. But the company also runs a co-op program for students from five high schools in the Stratford area and even brings in science-oriented kids as early as grade four to expose them to the wonders of the emerging field of robotics--D&D’s area of specialization.

“The culture here is pretty addictive. Our culture pushes creativity and innovation.” – Joshua Bailey, Mechanical Engineer

And wonders is the right word for it. Manufacturers in Ontario and across the continent are relying increasingly on robots to improve productivity and reduce labour costs. But these complex machines must perform with the same harmony and precision as foot soldiers on parade. “Modern manufacturing is a highly choreographed process,” says McCourt. “We design the control systems and write the software that does the choreography. We make the factory floor dance. All the competitive advantage and the profit for our clients is in making the dance perfect.”

D&D hires both college and university graduates from electrical, mechanical and robotics engineering programs, among others, and some of the new recruits come through the company’s co-op programs.

Joshua Bailey, a mechanical engineer who designs robotic assembly cells, primarily for the North American automotive industry, completed three four-month work placements at D&D while earning his degree at Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Kitchener. “The culture here is pretty addictive,” says Bailey. “You have the freedom to explore and to try new things. You’re expected to look at things differently not just do the same thing you’ve always done. Our culture pushes creativity and innovation.” McCourt is a big believer in keeping his team motivated, and transparency is one of the tools he uses to do it. Every Thursday morning at 10 a.m. is UpTime at D&D. “An email goes out to each employee with the number of hours we billed in the previous week,” he says. “Everybody looks for that email and everybody knows whether we’re winning or losing.” When the company hits its UpTime target, every employee gets a $50 bill because, as McCourt notes, it makes a bigger impact than a gift certificate or a few extra dollars on the pay cheque. McCourt and his team have devised another motivational program called SuperGoal, which is a target beyond the UpTime number. “It tells people what we’re striving for, that we’re going to be hiring new people and landing new customers,” he says. “Our current SuperGoal is almost double the original goal. When we reach a SuperGoal, everybody gets a nice bonus like a $100 bill and a $100 gift card.”

D&D AUTOMATION INC. EMPLOYEE JOSH BAILEY WITH D&D’S VERA ENABLED ROBOT

67

full-time staff in Canada

29

average employee age

D&D is very involved in corporate giving, with a special emphasis on Educating Youth in Technology. The entire team participates in robotics competitions for elementary students and the enthusiasm they generate is a recipe for success. D&D employees are usually working on projects all over North America and as far afield as Europe and the Middle East. They can be on the road for weeks at a time and under consid-

Creative Innovation. Intelligent Solutions.

Amazing People. Proud to be one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers!

Join our team at ddauto.com

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charities helped last year

125

staff volunteer hours last year

erable pressure, but McCourt and his team try to keep everyone loose with a company-funded, employee-run social program called FunTime. As for fundable activities, it’s pretty much anything goes--so long as it’s legal and ethical. “Every company in our business has to deal with high-pressure projects, but it’s how you relieve the pressure that sets you apart,” says Bailey. “Our company is tops for that.”


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DAC Group values ‘geeks with personalities’

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s DAC Group continues to grow, it’s searching for people with technical skills, industry passion and the curiosity to learn.

five people less than a decade ago to 60 today. Because advances in digital marketing technology happen so fast, in-house training is a major component of employee development. Alongside professional development calendars and access to e-learning tools, DAC hosts internal biweekly “Tech Thursday” sessions designed to promote product knowledge, industry trends and PAGEtorrent training, a proprietary piece of technology exclusive to DAC.

A digital performance marketing agency that specializes in online search, optimization and locationbased marketing, DAC connects buyers and sellers through highly targeted, digital programs by leveraging search engine marketing, performance display advertising, mobile marketing, social media and analytics. Its fully integrated campaigns focus on national brand penetration at the local level to increase conversion rates and maximize brand performance.

“I tell new employees that after four or five years of working here, they’ll have earned the equivalent of a digital-media MBA,” says Hagarty. Many of the new hires are in their early to late 20s. LinkedIn, on-campus recruiting and grassroots outreach are some ways the agency connects with talented individuals.

Founded in 1972, the privately owned and managed agency is headquartered in Toronto and operates eight offices throughout North America. Its leadership team carefully considers culture fit and long-term individual potential when building teams, something DAC refers to as E2+C2.

Twelve per cent of the company’s bottom line goes to profit sharing and bonuses, while numerous employeeengagement perks contribute to retention and performance. Recently, DAC expanded its headquarters, adding 5,500 square feet of workspace, complete with gaming stations, lounge areas, a theatre-style presentation area, calming rooms, 80 feet of whiteboard space and 80-inch workscreens, creating an optimal space for strategic thinking and program mapping.

“After four or five years of working here, they’ll have earned the equivalent of a digitalmedia MBA.”

For DAC, industry profile is a priority. The agency gives employees opportunities to share their skills through blog contributions, guest speaking at such events as Dx3, SMX and ClickZ Live or facilitating training sessions with associations such as the Canadian Marketing Association.

– Norm Hagarty, CEO and Managing Partner

“We need people who love data, but they also need to be able to communicate,” says Norm Hagarty, DAC’s CEO and managing partner, who joined the company as president in 1996. “We’re looking for geeks with personalities.”

Senior web analyst Kevin Legault was hired in November 2012 and tasked with creating the marketing science department, a division within the technology team. His department

The technology department’s growth has been impressive, expanding from

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www.dacgroup.com

2 =

DAC GROUP TEAM MEMBERS GEARING UP FOR NEW GRAD RECRUITING

180

full-time staff in Canada

30

years, longestserving employee

helps clients use data to make informed digital marketing decisions, whether they have to do with social media, email marketing or website conversion, to determine what’s working and what isn’t. “I’ve learned a lot in two years, in particular how to present material to clients,” he says. When Legault joined DAC, he had the technical background but hadn’t been able to afford access to Adobe Analytics, an extremely expensive technology. DAC sent him to Adobe Marketing Cloud’s head office in Lehi, Utah, for a week to learn it, and when he returned he was able to apply it right away. He also takes advantage

75

jobs available in Canada last year

27%

new hires referred by staff

of the agency’s trade show and event allowance to attend the annual Adobe Summit Digital Marketing Conference. Like many DAC employees, Legault is active in the larger digital community, frequently delivering talks and facilitating professional development sessions on digital analytics for marketing associations and professional development providers. He’s also a regular contributor to DAC’s inhouse training initiatives. “There is more professional development offered at DAC than I’ve ever heard of elsewhere,” he says. “I’m getting the full spectrum of value here.”

ENTHUSIASM + EXECUTION + COURAGE + CURIOSITY

Toronto • Montreal • Vancouver • New York • Chicago • Louisville • Rochester • Cleveland


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At Diabsolut, “it’s fun to go to work”

t Diabsolut Inc., employees can work from home up to two days a week. Many choose not to.

“I’d rather go to the office than stay at home,” says Cynthia Hopkins, a Learning Consultant specializing in software scheduling. “I feel more productive and our workplace interactions really motivate me.” Three years ago, Hopkins started in the marketing department of the Montreal-based business/technology consulting firm. With full employer backing, she moved to her current role soon thereafter, training clients and colleagues in the latest software. Working at Diabsolut has exceeded Hopkins’s expectations. “I obtained my certification at no personal cost,” she says. “There aren’t any limits here as to how far you can grow and develop professionally. Any avenue you choose, Diabsolut backs you.”

“There aren’t any limits here as to how far you can grow” – Cynthia Hopkins, Learning Consultant

The company clearly takes employee well-being seriously. In addition to the work-from-home option, other benefits recognize the value of worklife balance, including flex time, cellphone usage allowance and wellness reimbursement for fitness club memberships, along with weight-loss and smoking-cessation support. Diabsolut offers a competitive compensation package that includes a profit-sharing plan, with payout based on organizational success, as well as

EMPLOYEES AT DIABSOLUT INC. ATTENDING A COLOURFUL TWO-DAY COMPANY RETREAT IN KINGSTON, ONTARIO

an individual bonus plan, with payout based on personal achievements. The organization matches employee RSP contributions and provides 100 per cent medical and dental insurance coverage. Sally De Rosa, the company’s Human Resources Business Partner, is another employee who rarely exercises the option to work virtually. “It’s fun to go to work,” she says. De Rosa joined Diabsolut in 2011 when the company employed about a dozen people in one location – Montreal. That number has since grown exponentially with the addition of offices in Toronto, India and Boston. Such rapid growth is widely recognized. Last year, Diabsolut made the PROFIT 500 list of fastest-growing Canadian companies, thanks to quadrupling its revenues over five years. From De Rosa’s perspective, Diabsolut successfully meets the challenge of maintaining its co-operative family atmosphere, even as company revenues and recruiting efforts skyrocket. How does it keep the personal touch? By ensuring no barriers exist between executives and the rest of the workforce. Company president and CEO Joe Diab makes a point of touching

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full-time staff in Canada

15

jobs available last year

base with each employee once every quarter, to discuss their career aspirations and get their individual perspective on the state of the organization. “We want our people to be successful,” explains De Rosa. “If they do well and feel fulfilled, then the company does well, too.” Regular employee social events and annual two-day retreats serve a wider purpose than establishing personal bonds. Says De Rosa: “When people interact with fellow employees from other departments or other locations, it goes beyond team building. It’s an opportunity to stimulate new approaches to problem solving and to think outside the box.” Another way Diabsolut demonstrates its support for employee initiatives is by backing their community engagement and charitable efforts. The firm encourages employees to volunteer or raise money for a particular cause—and the company matches their time or financial contribution in monetary value.

1,200

job applications last year

15

charities helped last year

Because Diabsolut is growing “ridiculously fast,” De Rosa also touts the company’s growth and professional development opportunities. “The sky’s the limit,” she says. For new employees, mentorship programs and career development follow-up sessions – scheduled with human resources after three, six and 12 months on the job – attract high performers. These, along with its distinctive benefits package, propelled Diabsolut onto The Career Directory, which recognizes Canada’s best employers for recent graduates. However, personal recognition is what keeps employees happy over the longer term. “Everyone gets a chance to be heard,” says Hopkins. “I feel supported whenever I make a suggestion; it’s a great feeling.” For De Rosa, it’s much the same. “I’m encouraged to be creative and do my job my way,” she says. “It’s all about trust.”

Customer Focused. Community Minded. People Strong.

Visit: www.diabsolut.com/careers-at-diabsolut


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Driving Force takes the fast lane to expansion

J

eff Polovick, the founder and CEO of The DRIVING FORCE Inc., rents, sells and leases vehicles for a living, but at times he feels as if he’s in the entertainment business. “You have to have a sense of humour,” he says, something he believes is true whether dealing with customers or employees.

Polovick is also committed to the rapid expansion of the company he’s overseen in recent years. “I believe that growth of the business is needed to keep people interested and provide opportunities,” he says. “I don’t think anyone is satisfied with the status quo.”

“I believe that growth of the business is needed to keep people interested and provide opportunities.” – Jeff Polovick, CEO and Founder

Because its business is capital intensive, Driving Force sought out and partnered with a Calgary-based private equity firm in 2010. When the investor hit their earning target in just three years, Driving Force went looking for another partner, which it found in the giant Japanese conglomerate Marubeni Corp. “For 13 months, they’ve been terrific partners and they’re going to be a key part of how we grow the business,” says Polovick. “They have a culture very similar to ours and believe in exceeding expectations as we do. They have lots of automotive experience and bring a lot to the table.”

Driven to deliver... anything you want!

1-800-936-9353 Locations coast-to-coast-to-coast

www.drivingforce.ca

Based in Edmonton with further locations in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut, Driving Force now has 500 employees and more than $300 million in revenues. It’s looking to triple revenues to $900 million by 2020. “Marubeni has really opened things up for us,” says Mark Dobko, the Edmonton and area branch manager for Driving Force. “They bring very good attention to detail. Professionally, it’s been a good complement to our team.” Dobko, who started out at Driving Force as a car washer and detailer, has worked his way up through the ranks in his 12 years with the company. From his original job, he moved to an executive support position, working closely with the general manager in daily operations including marketing, procurement and some customer-focused tasks. He was then transferred to Fort McMurray, where he spent two and a half years as branch manager in the booming oil town before returning to Edmonton. “During that time we were able to achieve about 30 per cent growth at that location,” says Dobko. “It really gives you a different perspective on how the oil industry in general works and the economy. You learn firsthand what a lot of our customers deal with.” Dobko, who was actively mentored by John Blimke, now vice president of sales and marketing, says that as Driving Force grows the company is looking to hire from within and develop its own staff, but there are also plenty of opportunities for newcomers. “We’ve moved people from location to location, from corporate office to other locations,” says Polovick. “It has allowed us to transfer the culture.”

DRIVING FORCE IS LOOKING TO TRIPLE REVENUES BY 2020

360

full-time staff in Canada

100

charities helped last year

The CEO notes that most staff work on an incentive program based on growth and profit. Everyone shares in the company’s profits, and there are also signing and year-end bonuses for outstanding performers as well as referral bonuses for employees who help recruit friends. Driving Force matches contributions to an RRSP plan and helps

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jobs available last year

3

weeks, starting vacation allowance

employees prepare for the future with retirement planning assistance. “In our case the grass is greener on this side,” says Dobko. “I have fun doing what I’m doing. No two days are the same. There is constant learning and I get to work with a bunch of great people and leadership that provides endless knowledge to us.”


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Duncan Craig’s deep roots offer stability and growth

very few months, a team of lawyers and support staff from Edmonton-based Duncan Craig LLP spend a paid half-day volunteering for charitable organizations like the Hope Mission for the homeless, the Edmonton Food Bank, and 630 CHED Santas Anonymous, an initiative sponsored by a local radio station that ensures every child receives a new toy at Christmas.

When paralegal Leslie McDonald was hired in 2012 after years of working for smaller firms, she was drawn by Duncan Craig’s reputation for collegiality, stability and supporting its people. Benefits like the extensive medical-health program (with 100 per cent employer-paid medical premiums), the dental plan (50 per cent employer paid), long-term disability coverage, and RRSP-matching were especially important to her.

The experiences have inspired several employees to volunteer on their own. For Managing Partner Darren Bieganek, the volunteer work is a reflection of the 121-year-old law firm’s deep roots in the city and its desire to give back. “It’s been a positive eye-opener for the individuals involved and the firm,” he says. “They leave these places feeling like they’ve supported the community in a small way.”

Staff members are also entitled to three paid personal days a year, 12 days of paid sick leave, and compassionate care leave. “They care about their employees here, there’s no doubt about that,” says McDonald. “I’ve never worked any place like it.”

“They care about their employees here, there’s no doubt about that. I’ve never worked any place like it.” – Leslie McDonald, Paralegal

For Human Resources Manager Susan Babiuk, fostering strong connections in the firm and the community is important. “Within a growing city such as Edmonton, with many law firms competing for talent, we recognize there may be many places to work,” she says. “We try to be different and offer not only a place to work, but a place where employees can grow, develop and foster positive and energetic relationships.”

The firm helps its 127 full-time staff (including 42 lawyers) in Edmonton and Drayton Valley extend that caring spirit into the community, says McDonald. Employees are each given $25 every year to donate to the charity of their choice, along with the paid half-day to volunteer. Employees have created a community fund and raise money for charities through activities such as pizza lunches and bake sales. Duncan Craig’s annual Laurel Awards recognize Edmonton’s most innovative not-for-profit organizations through a $5,000 gold award, the $3,000 silver award, $2,000 for bronze, and an award of $1,000 chosen solely by staff.

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full-time staff in Canada

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charities helped last year

McDonald says she also appreciates the many opportunities to learn and improve her skills through Duncan Craig’s full-time corporate trainer and DCMe, an ongoing program of seminars designed to develop the mind, body and spirit. Through DCNext, an internally created rewards platform, employees earn points and can cash them in for gift cards, company swag, and even iPads.

Duncan Craig also injects a healthy dose of fun into its corporate culture. It fields a team every year for the Edmonton and Area Corporate Challenge, which pits more than 175 local companies against each other in sporting events and other competitions. The firm has come in second in its division in the past few years. Employees can also take part in an annual summer golf tournament and a winter curling “funspiel.”

But in the hard-working world of law firms, where client service is paramount,

On the first Wednesday of every month, birthday cake is served to celebrate

31

years, longestserving employee

95%

parental-leave top-up for 12 weeks

everyone having a birthday that month. Every Thursday is “snack Thursday,” when a host of tasty treats are laid out in the afternoon in the firm’s Central Perk lunchroom. And on the first Friday afternoon of every month, lawyers and staff join together for an in-house happy hour in the lawyers’ lounge. “At a lot of law firms there’s a line in the sand between lawyers and staff,” says McDonald. “Here, they value our input. We’re not just numbers.”

PROUD TO BE ONE OF CANADA'S TOP SMALL AND MEDIUM EMPLOYERS.

HOPE MISSION

SIGN OF HOPE

DUNCAN CRAIG STAFF PARTICIPATING IN 630 CHED SANTAS ANONYMOUS WAREHOUSE

HUMANE SOCIETY

www.dcllp.com


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Driving for excellence at EMKAY Canada

hen Alanzo Paul, a client support services specialist at EMKAY Canada Fleet Services Corporation, returned from his honeymoon in Vernon, B.C., last year, he received a surprise.

There was a package waiting for him at his Calgary home, a wedding gift that he had not expected. He opened it to find a bottle of French champagne and a handwritten congratulatory note from EMKAY’S head-office CEO in Chicago.

“Progress makes perfect. You have to always be moving forward.” – Alanzo Paul, Client Support Services Specialist

“I was just blown away,” recalls Paul. “I had told only a few people about my marriage in our Calgary office. It shows that this is a leadership that really cares about people.” For Paul, the gift was more than a friendly gesture. It demonstrated the company’s character. “How you do the little things,” he says, “is a reflection of how you do everything.” EMKAY is a fleet management company that entered the Canadian marketplace in 1995. In Calgary, Paul works with a number of oil and gas companies that have anywhere from a dozen to 2,000 vehicles. Among other things, he helps them run more efficiently by finding ways to reduce their fuel and maintenance costs. At the Toronto head office or at its Montreal branch, EMKAY provides full customer support including vehicle analytics, licensing services and lease arrangements.

The problem-solving aspect of the job really appeals to Paul. “It’s intellectually stimulating,” he says. However, he joined the company two years ago because he saw the opportunity to build a future in a workplace “culture of edification.” Says Paul: “The attitude is to build everyone up. We support each other, building on our strengths and addressing areas where we could be even better.” To achieve these goals, EMKAY offers its employees more than 200 e-learning courses of varying lengths that cover subjects ranging from performing risk analysis to “Understanding Your Customer.” “The company wants to grow you,” says Paul, who has taken about half a dozen of the offerings. He was so impressed with one team-building program that he arranged for everyone in his group to take the course. “We were working well together before,” says Paul, “but now we work great together.” Clearly, Paul is committed to the company goal of constant improvement. “I

ALL EMKAY OFFICES, OR INNOVATION SERVICE CENTRES, FEATURE HIGH-TECH SOLUTIONS

27

full-time staff in Canada

14

years, longestserving employee

don’t believe that practice makes perfect,” he says. “Progress makes perfect. You have to always be moving forward.” For his part, EMKAY Canada president Paul Turner says the company is seriously committed to seeing staff develop to their full potential. “We aren’t just interested in people doing a good job,” Turner says. “We want to help them develop professionally. That also makes for a happy employee, and more satisfied employees produce happy customers.” Although the company is small, it offers some innovative employee incentives alongside a host of traditional benefits. For example, employees with a perfect attendance record for the year receive a $600 bonus. Top performers, nominated by their peers, are eligible for quarterly recognition awards that include stock options. One person is selected

41

average employee age

70%

of employees are women

from among the quarterly winners and receives the free use of a car for a year. When the Toronto office moved closer to downtown a few months ago, it decided to subsidize everyone’s public transit fares to the level of parking costs. “It helps our people—and it’s green,” Turner says. Loyalty and service are also recognized. After five years, an employee gets $1,000. That increases to $10,000 after 20 years, delivered upon retirement. Says Turner: “We think that’s a lot more meaningful than a watch.” He adds that, with fewer than 30 employees, EMKAY Canada is also more nimble than its competitors. “This is a place,” he says, “where everyone’s opinion is heard, valued and can be implemented very quickly.”


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Equitable Bank has a large lending hand

n the first day back at work in January after the holiday season, Equitable Bank President and CEO Andrew Moor visited each of the nearly 400 employees at the bank’s Toronto head office. He attempted to shake everyone’s hand and personally wish them a Happy New Year. “We’re driven by service to our customers, and our people drive that service,” Moor says. “I wanted to get everyone started on the right foot.”

“We may be a bank, but we also know how to have fun.” – Andrew Moor, President and CEO

Moor believes in gestures, small and large, which demonstrate his commitment to workforce well-being at the primarily mortgage-lending institution. In the recent ice-bucket charity fundraising challenge, he was the first to step under the pail. He often joins groups of Equitable employees who each week serve lunch at a community centre for the less fortunate. And he led a renovation team that spruced up another facility dedicated to helping people who are getting back on their feet and living independently. “We are in the mortgage business in communities (Calgary, Montreal and, soon, Vancouver are Equitable’s other locations) that have considerable numbers with people in need of support,” Moor says. “It’s a natural fit.” He adds: “It’s also the right thing to do. Leading or joining in by example is a powerful way to communicate what is worthwhile.” Moor also leads the Equitable cycling team in Toronto’s annual Ride

EQUITABLE BANK PRESIDENT ANDREW MOOR BRAVES THE ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE

for Heart put on by the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Despite being dwarfed in size by the big banks and others, Equitable’s team last year raised nearly $53,000, first among competitors in the financial sector. “That was a great success and shows how seriously people here take employee engagement. We may be a bank, but we also know how to have fun. It’s also part of ensuring we have a work-life balance,” Moor says. As well, community service boosts employee morale, which in turn boosts employee community service. “Every one of us who comes back from helping others says it is an ‘amazing’ experience,” says Andrea Broderick, an Equitable Manager of Commercial Administration. “It’s heart-warming to see.” Broderick joined Equitable seven years ago as a mortgage officer. Shortly afterwards, her boss went on maternity leave, and other managers encouraged Broderick to move into her boss’s position. “I was petrified and would never have stepped forward on my

420

full-time staff in Canada

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jobs available last year

own,” she recalls. “But management had confidence in me and provided me with the backup I needed to take on the role. I did it, and it was great.” At Equitable, where she remains a manager, Broderick is confident that her opinions matter. “You’re not a number here,” she says, based on her previous work experience. “If you apply yourself and work hard, there are incredible opportunities for growth.” Moor picks up that theme. “We’re relatively small, so people have a chance to work on projects that impact the entire organization,” he says. “We now have some 420 people at our three locations, and I know almost everyone’s name and what they do.” Under one program for recent university graduate hires, they rotate among differ-

27

charities helped last year

1,894

staff volunteer hours last year

ent departments every four months for the first two years after joining Equitable as a way of helping define career goals. Meanwhile, to encourage professional development for all employees, staff can tap into an annual $2,000 allowance for courses leading to a higher certification, conferences and the like. Other benefits at Equitable can include an employee share plan, performance bonuses, preferable interest rates on personal savings, along with free gym and yoga club memberships. For Broderick, however, the financial incentives are not what keeps her happy at work. Much more important is the collegiality. “Headhunters keep calling me about positions with more money,” she says. “But money can take you only so far. Here it really is like family.”


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eSentire staff take on the world’s hackers

ilitary isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the culture at a technology business in Canada’s golden triangle, but that’s how CEO J. Paul Haynes describes the experience of working at eSentire, a cyber security company that practices so-called active threat protection.

“Every day you get up and you’re going into a firefight,” he says. eSentire’s 106 Cambridge, Ont.-based employees “are dealing with and containing thousands of attack attempts a day.” Haynes is speaking from the lounge at Toronto’s Pearson Airport, which he refers to as his second home. Some 80 per cent of eSentire’s clients are in the U.S. with most of the rest abroad.

“Every day you get up and you’re going into a firefight.” – J. Paul Haynes, CEO

Its initial success has been in the financial industry where its clients include some of the biggest names on Wall Street. The company has additional offices in both Manhattan and London. Through its continuous monitoring, eSentire is the primary security organization for a combined $2 trillion in assets under management in the alternate asset management space. It is expanding aggressively into the legal, extractive, biopharmaceutical, healthcare and medium enterprise markets. eSentire describes the active threat protection it practises as the next generation of cyber security. While

traditional cyber security technology focuses on defence work and setting up an impregnable perimeter, Haynes says: “We’ve changed the solution to focus on what leaks through and then we immediately mitigate the threat. eSentire is dealing with spilt milk every 20 minutes versus Chernobyl, which we would liken to the kind of attack recently experienced by Sony.”

Chernobyl, military, firefights, spilt milk? What kind of a place is eSentire to work in with all that going on? “I come in as soon as I get up and stay here until I’m tired, hungry or nothing’s going on any more. It’s definitely a lot of fun,” says Alexander Feick, whose previous experience included networking and infrastructure support for LAN gaming environments. Now a SOC (Security Operations Centre) Security Architect, Feick started out at eSentire as an analyst three years ago. He had been introduced to the company as a co-op student in the computer security and investigations program at Sir Sanford Fleming College in Peterborough. Through one of his co-op projects, he helped develop some of the tools eSentire now uses on a regular basis. “We run most of the alerts we get from all of our sensors through it,” he says. “It’s been pretty cool to see it all come together.” Although eSentire was founded in 2001, its steepest growth has been over the past two or three years. It’s not always easy for the company to find analysts with the necessary security and networking background despite being located in a region that Haynes says gives it “phenomenal access to a talent cluster of some of the brightest people, not just in the country or the continent, but in the world.”

ESENTIRE EMPLOYEES PRACTICE THE NEXT GENERATION OF CYBERSECURITY

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full-time staff in Canada

74

jobs available last year

“We hire from the western part of Toronto all the way to London [Ontario], from the University of Waterloo, Fanshawe and Conestoga” among others, he says. eSentire supports ongoing employee education through in-house and online training programs, subsidies for professional accreditation, and tuition subsidies for job-related courses.

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eSentire Inc.

14

years, longestserving employee

34

average employee age

With no signs of a hacker surrender, Haynes expects business to continue to boom as awareness of cyber security issues grows. “This is one big global network with no borders in security,” he says. “We need to take threats more seriously. If you don’t you’re being naive.”


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“Sharing success” at Etratech: dogs, buses and cake

hen Etratech Inc. president and CEO Michael Desnoyers hand delivers a monthly report to some 120 staff, he is often escorted by two unusual companions. Brody, a Brittany spaniel, and Freyja, a Katahoula who survived Hurricane Katrina, are the opposite of protective support staff. They make the founder of the sophisticated electronic controls and systems manufacturer even more approachable. “People come up to me to pet the dogs, and then they want to chat about how the company is doing,” Desnoyers says. “They also give me ideas on how we could do even better.”

TEAM ETRATECH RIDING THE HEART AND STROKE BIG BIKE IN 2014

The monthly communication is an unvarnished progress report, an example of Desnoyers’s commitment to employee engagement. “People know they can ask me anything, and that I will give them an honest and thorough answer,” he says.

Etratech employees about to be sworn in as citizens get the day off with pay. Tuition subsidies are offered to children of employees as well as for staff engaged in professional development. Flexible hours support work-life balance.

“We’re absolutely empowered. Every day, I can make a decision that makes a difference.”

On the financial side, there are bonuses for exceeding personal goals as well as profit sharing for everyone. In addition, employees nominate each other for outstanding on-the-job performance; the accompanying awards can be as much as $1,000. When Etratech marked its 25th anniversary last year, it gave employees $25,000 in cash prizes, as well as a range of pricey gifts, at a company-wide gala.

– Leah Macquire, Manufacturing Team Leader

In addition to generous compensation and benefits packages, Etratech rewards employees in other, sometimes distinctive, ways. The Burlington, Ont.-based company offers staff a $50 monthly bus subsidy and successfully lobbied the local bus company to change its schedule so the evening’s last bus now stops at its factory door 15 minutes after the final shift rather than 15 minutes before under the previous timetable.

For Desnoyers, these recognitions are about “sharing success.” He explains: “Without our employees, we would not be around today. Everyone here is valued for what they do, respected for what they say.” The company also believes celebrating its achievements delivers an important message. When a new customer is brought on board, for example, it brings out the cake and coffee and makes sure it’s done at a time of day when all employees can participate. “It’s a party, and it’s fun, but it also

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full-time staff in Canada

2,500

job applications last year

10

charities helped last year

26

years, longestserving employee

makes a direct connection between what people do and the company’s accomplishments,” says Desnoyers.

for even more responsibilities. “It shows the company cares about our professional development,” she says.

Another way to establish such a link is by promoting talented and dedicated employees. “That makes everyone feel part of the team,” Desnoyers says.

But what Macquire likes best about going to work is the culture that “pushes people out of their comfort zones.” She explains: “It can be difficult at first, but it’s a very positive thing. We all want the company to improve and get stronger. When you are being pushed, it shakes you up, you can see things differently and you come up with great ideas.”

Manufacturing Team Leader Leah Macquire illustrates that aspect of the company’s operating philosophy. Macquire started on the assembly line when she joined Etratech nine years ago, but after 18 months moved into a managerial role. “My supervisor asked me to apply for the supervisory job because I showed responsibility and initiative,” Macquire recalls. Subsequently, Etratech sponsored Macquire in a series of courses that have enhanced her technical and managerial skills. She is also a member of the company-wide Emerging Leaders Program to prepare people

However, new insights are relevant only when they are implemented. “We’re absolutely empowered,” Macquire says. “Every day, I can make a decision that makes a difference. That can be very motivational when you see the results from your suggestions. And it drives you to do it again.” One last thing: anyone can bring a dog to the office, not just the CEO—and several do.


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B

Excel Funds excels at balance—and compensation

efore saying yes to a job offer from Excel Funds Management, Inc., seasoned portfolio manager Christine Tan had an unusual request. She wanted to first walk the company corridors and meet the two-dozen staff. Tan explains why. “In my field, the job descriptions are pretty much the same. But the people you work with define your job satisfaction. Fit is the key.”

The Excel HR boss readily agreed, and Tan toured the company’s Mississauga, Ont., offices the next morning. “The receptionist greeted me like an old friend,” she says. “Right away, I saw this place wasn’t like the Bay Street offices I was used to. Doors were open, staff were young, informal and friendly. I knew these were people I could work with.”

“If your salary is more than the average, you will work harder than the average.” – Bhim Asdhir, President and CEO

President and CEO Bhim Asdhir strives to maintain that atmosphere. “When I was working on Bay Street,” Asdhir recalls, “a boss would think nothing of coming to people’s offices at 4 p.m. on a Friday and demanding a report on some issue by first thing on Monday morning. We would have to cancel all family and personal time to work like crazy over the weekend to deliver the report. “And then it wouldn’t be looked at for two weeks!” Today, as the head and founder of a successful mutual fund company dedicated exclusively to emerging

markets, Asdhir remembers those days well. “I’m a family person and understand the importance of work-life balance,” he says. “I try to be flexible and understanding. I want people to look forward to coming to work.” To achieve that, Asdhir encourages listening, rewarding and providing positive feedback. “Criticism doesn’t get you anywhere,” he says. “But if you keep telling people how good they are, they want to meet that level.” Asdhir also tells staff that everyone’s opinion matters, regardless of one’s position. “At Excel,” says Asdhir, “you are a somebody whose contributions are valued.”

As well, Asdhir believes that compensation is a significant employee motivator. His approach: pay staff above street level. “If your salary is more than the average,” he says, “you will work harder than the average.” Excel offers other financial incentives such as stock options, profit sharing and $1,000 cash bonuses for those chosen as employee of the month based on performance. Above all, however, Asdhir stresses opportunities for employee growth that match his funds’ recent performance. (Its Excel India Fund last year returned 52.6 per cent, tops among any Canadian mutual fund.) The company allocates $2,000 per employee for education and professional development. “People who are constantly learning,” Asdhir says, “have greater work satisfaction.” In addition, the Excel workplace culture offers opportunities for employees to expand their experience portfolio. Quarterly reviews of each employee’s professional goals ensures that people are on track to develop the skills and knowledge they need to advance to the next step of their

STAFF ARE ALL SMILES AT THE EXCEL FUNDS MANAGEMENT CHRISTMAS PARTY

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full-time staff in Canada

6

jobs available last year

career path. Says Asdhir: “Another reason you will grow here as a person is because there are no silos.” Tan agrees. “Excel has a flat and flexible structure,” she says. “My background is picking stocks, but here I have had a chance to manage others and learn marketing skills.”

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years, longestserving employee

50%

of executive team are visible minorities

Adds Tan: “If I wanted a defined role within an established structure, I would have joined one of the larger banks. But for people who value the opportunities of working in a small and growing company, with people who are genuinely co-operative and eager to help, then Excel is the place for you.”


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CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

Opportunity comes first at First Access

J

enn Whittem ventured out from her life in Toronto to join fledgling First Access Funding in Edmonton as an administrative assistant because of the “quality of the people at the top.” That was 2.5 years ago. Today, she is the company’s lead administrator and interim HR manager. “These people are extremely generous and caring,” says Whittem of the First Access senior team. She adds that if she had not taken the offer, “I would have always regretted it.”

Six months after Whittem landed in Edmonton, where she knew no one at the time, company brass at a formal review probed about her career aspirations. “It’s a small company, and the opportunities for growth are tremendous,” she says.

“We are looking for young people who want a career rather than a job.” – David Ballantine, President and Chair

Whittem talked about her interest in human resources, and the company started sending her on related professional courses, picking up the entire tab en route. Now, she has “an incredible amount of responsibility” and is helping develop employee policies and strategies as the company, which provides car loans for people with credit challenges, prepares to expand across the country from its western Canadian, particularly Alberta, base. Says Whittem : “This is an extremely supportive company. If you are willing to put in the time and effort,

management will provide you with every opportunity to grow professionally.” With just some two dozen employees, First Access sometimes finds it challenging to match some of the benefits provided by much larger competitors. Instead, it has adopted a distinctive approach to attracting and retaining employees. Top of the list: everyone who works at First Access is a part owner through the company stock option plan. “We believe in entrepreneurship,” says President and Chair David Ballantine, one of the company’s founders. “We want our people to take ownership of what they do,” he explains, “and one way of doing that is by providing them an ownership stake. As a result, they have a real incentive to making the company more productive and efficient.” Another way of instilling and rewarding entrepreneurship is through the company’s internal hiring practices. All promotions to date have been from within. “We have a lot of young people and when they see their peers moving up, it motivates them as well,” says Ballantine. “They realize that we mean what we say about people having an opportunity to grow.” Other non-traditional ways that First Access rewards employee performance might be a free flight to visit family or some extra vacation days for such a trip. But there are a number of traditional benefits as well, including annual bonuses, flex days and a competitive health/dental plan. First Access is very careful about who it hires. Says Ballantine: “We are looking for young people who show maturity, people who want a career rather than a job. We want to know about their professional aspirations

FIRST ACCESS FUNDING FOUNDER, MANAGER AND JUNIOR STAFF CELEBRATING AT THEIR HOLIDAY FUNCTION

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full-time staff

24

charities helped last year

so we can offer them work on projects that fit in with their goals.” He adds: “We want people who want to build something substantial and care about making a difference in our clients’ lives. That’s what distinguishes us from our competitors.” Indeed, Ballantine says First Access has only a five per cent default rate on client loans, about one-third to one-half of the failure rate of its competitors. He explains: “These people with poor credit are often the victims of life events such as divorce or loss of a job and are

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jobs available last year

1,000

job applications last year

struggling to get back into the credit market. We help them get back on their feet and work with them to create payment plans that work for them. That way, what’s good for our clients is good for us, and we can lower our rates.” First Access applies that caring-forothers attitude to charity work, too, matching employee contributions. But the company also wants its employees to be well-rounded. “We embrace being light-hearted,” Ballantine says. “We want this to be a fun place to work.”

780.756.5565 • www.fafcorp.com


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At Flaman Sales, it’s an extended family

hen Frank Flaman began reselling grain bins from his farm in Southey, Sask. in 1959, he had no idea that his entrepreneurial effort was laying the foundation for a retail powerhouse on the Prairies. But that’s what he and his family have made of Flaman Sales Ltd.

“Flaman Sales’s main focus is on customer service,” says Don Flaman, one of founder Frank’s three sons. “We go above and beyond manufacturers’ warranties in many cases. When someone brings in a broken product, rather than send it out for repair, we will often replace it with a new one.”

A commitment to serving its customers led the Flaman family to develop retail divisions for agricultural equipment, trailers, grain cleaning and handling, fitness equipment and trailer/equipment rentals. The companies, headquartered in Saskatoon and Edmonton, now employ a staff of 335.

Flaman Sales also does after-sale phone calls to customers to make sure they’re satisfied. That attention is especially critical for the agriculture equipment division, which is the largest source of revenue and depends heavily on repeat customers. The fitness division provides repair service at the customer’s location―no small matter when the product is a treadmill or other large equipment.

“With the boom in Saskatchewan and Alberta in the last few years, employee retention is especially important, because there aren’t many people looking for work.” – Don Flaman, Co-Owner

Flaman Sales operates 10 companyowned agriculture equipment retail outlets in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba. Its fitness division has 30 stand-alone stores from Ontario to British Columbia, making it the largest independent retailer of fitness equipment in the country. A network of over 100 rental dealerships across Western Canada and the U.S. extends the Flaman reach even further.

About 40 per cent of Flaman’s workforce are salespeople, with the rest in administration, logistics, labour support, service and accounting. Many of the staff in key positions have 20 years or more of service. “With the boom in Saskatchewan and Alberta in the last few years,” says Flaman, “employee retention is especially important, because there aren’t many people looking for work.” Paul Mialkowsky has been with Flaman for 28 years, most of them in agricultural sales. He says employees are treated as “more than just a number.” The company encourages its salespeople to take control of their own book of business. “You develop a clientele base by going on the road and building relationships,” he says. “With my clientele, I can now do most of my sales on the phone.” Flaman Sales draws on its family origins to provide a family-like culture for employees. Most Fridays during the summer, the company does barbeque lunches for the staff at many of its locations. It provides alternative work arrangements, including flexible hours, telecommuting and compressed weeks whenever possible.

FLAMAN SALES EMPLOYEES DISTRIBUTING SCHOOL SUPPLIES IN PERU

335

full-time staff in Canada

700

job applications last year

“Flaman tries to accommodate staff when they need time off,” says Mialkowski. “We are allowed sick days without loss of income.” Flaman Group has begun training for its managers in recent years, and has increased training for its salespeople. “We’ve sent several people on the Dale Carnegie course and will subsidize community college tuition on a case by case basis,” says Flaman.

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years, longestserving employee

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charities helped last year

Each year, the company pays for several employees to spend a week in Central America working on a development project, such as building a school or drilling a well. ”It’s been going on for nearly 10 years, and 60 to 70 employees have made the trip, says Flaman. “They come back with a whole new appreciation for what we have here. It’s quite an eye-opener.”

flaman.com


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FreshBooks values emotional smarts as much as IQ

ith its workforce virtually doubling every year, the hiring is fast and furious at Toronto-based FreshBooks, which provides cloud accounting software for service-based small business owners. The company is constantly on the lookout for world-class software developers and engineers, talented user-experience and web designers, and passionate customer support specialists.

But the soft skills are just as important. Foremost among them, says CEO and co-founder Mike McDerment, are intellectual curiosity and high emotional intelligence. “That EI is actually one of the things that drives the effectiveness quotient in companies these days,” he says. “There’s so much teamwork, and things are moving so quickly, that being aware of what’s going on around you is critical.”

“We still feel we’re just getting started, so when people join here, there are still opportunities to advance very quickly.” – Casey McKinnon, Head of Product

Housed in a heritage factory in The Junction, a rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood in Toronto’s west end, the company’s spacious, entirely renovated headquarters was designed with the “three C’s” in mind – collaboration, connectedness and collisions. If employees have more opportunity to “run into each other,” says McDerment, those conversations generate more creativity and collaboration.

When Head of Product Casey McKinnon joined FreshBooks in 2010 after several years with Microsoft in Seattle, he was immediately struck by the open and welcoming atmosphere. “I could see something and feel something that was different,” he recalls. For starters, there were no offices. “Even the CEO didn’t have an office,” he adds. “He still doesn’t.”

McKinnon started at FreshBooks as a lone product manager, and today oversees a team of 35 people. With the company’s rapid expansion, he says, new recruits eager for challenges can enjoy the same success. “I’ve personally experienced sky’s-thelimit growth here,” he says. “And we still feel we’re just getting started, so when people join here, there are still opportunities to advance very quickly.” But ultimately, says McKinnon, his greatest satisfaction comes from his colleagues. “The people I get to work with every day are incredibly bright, just super-smart people,” he explains. “But they’re also great team players and people you want to work with every day. They’re more focused on how we can help each other on projects and get better at what we do together.” The company offers competitive salaries, 17 weeks of paid parental leave, and three paid volunteer or charity days each year. To help promote a happy and healthy work environment, FreshBooks provides 100-per-cent employer-paid health benefits, an employee-assistance program, and an annual $200 healthy living credit to spend on anything that contributes to better health. The company’s office also contains a full gym facility, onsite games (including foosball and ping pong), showers and a towel service. Many employees walk or bike to FreshBooks’ kid-friendly, dog-friendly

FRESHBOOKS HEAD OF PRODUCT CASEY MCKINNON OUTSIDE THE COMPANY’S TORONTO HEAD OFFICE

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full-time staff in Canada

job applications last year

office, where the dress code is decidedly casual. Food is a big thing, too, says McKinnon. Free breakfast items are available every morning, and a catered lunch is served once a week. One of the company’s core values is fun, and employees initiate a lot of social events, including regular lunch ’n’ learns, outdoor activities, or group outings to Raptors or Blue Jays games. And every June, FreshBooks rents a kids camp in Muskoka for a weekend

We’re Hiring Find your next dream job at FreshBooks.com/jobs

8,636

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jobs available last year

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charities helped last year

and invites all employees and their families to celebrate PORCHFEST. Each letter in the name stands for one of the company’s core values— passion, ownership, results, change, honesty. (The others are fun, empathy, striving and trust.) The event features organized activities like an “amazing race” and a fishing derby, and lots of unstructured time for employees and their families to relax together.


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Fusion Projects stays small, designs big

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icholas Boyd, the president of Fusion Project Management Ltd., has worked for and owned companies both big and small. He prefers the latter and, as a result, has no dramatic growth plans for Fusion Projects, a Vancouver design-build company. In a recent meeting Boyd had with one of his project managers, the employee told his boss that he was curious about starting his own business. “I said, ‘Let’s make that happen,’” recounts Boyd. “We’re working with him to help him grow a company similar to ours but different enough.” Boyd’s even willing to make a small investment in it.

“I’m always thinking about how I can move the needle away from what my competitors are doing” – Nicholas Boyd, President

Fusion Projects was established to provide businesses in B.C.’s Lower Mainland with a unique new option for creating complete business interiors and workplace solutions. Its clients include Sony, Coastal Contacts and the tech start-up Hootsuite. Most of its business is referral or repeat customers. Boyd isn’t interested in lowest-bid type work, which is one of the avenues the employee who started his own company will pursue. Instead, Boyd focuses on using his talented and experienced team to provide “tremendous” value-add. “I’m always trying to be unique, always thinking about how I can move the needle away from what my competitors are doing.”

Fusion Projects has, for example, recently started a health care practice, which has led to the kind of controlled growth that interests Boyd more than simple expansion. This is because Boyd is committed to keeping a sense of intimacy at the company. “I’m focused on the quality of work we do but also on people,” he says. “It’s the people that make the company tick.”

Fusion Projects’ mission states that, utilizing their diversified background, employees will improve customers’ world one interior space at a time, while consistently delivering a great experience. Project manager Jakica Laus enjoys both the variety of work she does as well as the different people she works with. “It’s really fun, every day is a new day, something comes up and you deal with it. It’s always dynamic,” she says. “The cool thing about this company is everybody has a different background before they got here,” including, for example, people who were building engineers, architectural millworkers or in construction-related trades. Staff do, however, tend to have one big thing in common. “Most of us are type A personalities. I’m probably the most obvious,” laughs Laus, who joined Fusion Projects in 2006 after working with Boyd at another company. As a project manager with a background in design, Laus ensures continuity and control throughout the job. She works with sub-trades, design groups and City Hall to help smooth the development process and to ensure the designer and client’s expectations have been met. Laus says she’s never afraid to pose questions, to ask specialists to explain things until she “gets it.” Another key part of project management is motivating the team and Laus is constantly picking

PASSIONATE PEOPLE. EXCEPTIONAL RESULTS.

FUSION PROJECTS STAFF AT WEEKLY COMPANY-WIDE MEETING

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full-time staff in Canada

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charities helped last year

up tips from Fusion Project colleagues, who, she says, excel at motivation. “Respect is so important,” she says. “Everyone gets treated the same whether it’s the CEO or the guy sweeping the floor on the job site.” Or whether they’re customers or suppliers. Boyd says Fusion Projects also prides itself on transparency and has an open book policy with clients, showing them every dollar that comes in. “The return we expect is reasonable for what we do,” says Boyd. “What we do is more of value add.”

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jobs available last year

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average employee age

Since being named a top SME employer, Fusion Projects has implemented gym membership and a profit sharing plan for all staff. To deal with the managed growth, the company will also be doing some hiring this year. “I get approached by a lot of people from competitors,” says Boyd. “I see them at different events and then they decide to make a change.” One new hire even told him: “I feel like I’ve been called up to the NHL, being able to work at Fusion.”


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Halogen Software is all about talent -- literally

s a top employer, it’s important to know your niche. Halogen Software Inc. began 14 years ago as a consulting firm doing online surveys, then evolved into doing performance appraisals. Now the Ottawa-based company provides a cloud-based suite of talent management applications.

“Our sweet spot is the small-to-midsized customer rather than the enterprise customer,” says Dominique Jones, Vice President of Human Resources. Its more than 2,000 customers use the Halogen TalentSpace™ suite for recruiting, performance management, learning and development, succession planning or compensation. In 2014, the company added 74 new positions, increasing its global workforce to 453, including 424 in Canada.

“There is a huge level of commitment among our employees to what we do and what we help our customers do.” – Dominique Jones, Vice-President of Human Resources

A large portion of new hires were in sales, software development and client services. Halogen has sales offices in Australia, the Netherlands and the UK, and recently opened a Quebec City office for product development. The company’s powerful, yet easyto-use solutions, which also include industry-specific versions, are used by organizations that want to build a workforce that “is aligned, inspired and focused on delivering exceptional results,” says Jones.

Halogen’s TalentSpace brand isn’t only about software. Says Jones: “It’s about offering a complete set of talent management solutions along with a comprehensive set of services, best-practices resources and an active user community. These are all brought together to help the client succeed.”

The company prides itself on having a performance-based culture. “We are very focused on our end goal,” says Jones. “There is a huge level of commitment among our employees to what we do and what we help our customers do.” In turn, Halogen rewards and recognizes its staff, both formally and informally, she says. “There is an emphasis on learning and development for our employees. We are supportive of their gaining best-practices knowledge, so we send them to relevant industry conferences, or other applicable development activities.” Each year, Halogen selects five or more promising employees for its Emerging Leaders Program. While continuing to perform their existing jobs, these promising prospects devote additional hours to the program, which includes mentorship by the executive team, business projects and accelerated personal development. In the first year of the program, 80 per cent of the participants moved up to managerial positions within 12 months. Janice McNulty, who started at Halogen on the customer help desk in 2005, was selected for the program almost three years ago and has since been promoted twice to leadership positions, including her current role as Program Manager, Continuous Advancement Services. For McNulty and her fellow participants, the Emerging Leaders Program “involved rigorous exercises to understand how ready we were to take on a leadership role and what development was required to get us there.”

HALOGEN SOFTWARE EMPLOYEES ENJOYING THE ANNUAL COMPANY GOLF TOURNAMENT

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full-time staff in Canada

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jobs available last year

The five emerging leaders, coincidentally coming from different backgrounds in the company, had to collaborate to solve a business problem. “Not only did we have to think together as a group, but we had to put aside some of our biases and understand the others’ perspectives,” says McNulty. “It was quite a lesson in cross-functional awareness.” Additionally, employees hired straight out of university as part of Halogen’s Brilliant Beginnings New Graduate Program are, in their first year at Halogen, rotated through the company and given the opportunity to “shadow” employees in different departments in order to gain a cross-functional understanding of how the business works.

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raised by staff for charities last year

The company also encourages its employees to give back to the community. Each year, the employees vote for three charities they wish to support. In 2014, they raised over $80,000 for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, the Make a Wish Foundation and The Snowsuit Fund (which collects snowsuits and other clothing for young children in low-income families). Halogen matches 50 per cent of the funds raised by employees. As Jones explains, Halogen’s culture is one where employees work hard and have fun together. “We see our people as our competitive advantage,” says Jones. “We want them to excel and see that they have a career with us.”


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At fast-growing Intelex, the moon’s the limit

ith more than 1,000 clients and one million users the world over, Intelex Technologies is a successful Toronto software company that you’ve probably never heard of. “We don’t have any outside money and the growth has been organic,” explains President and CEO Mark Jaine. “A lot of press comes with venture capital money.” Since 1992, the company’s environmental, health, safety (EHS) and quality management software and scalable, web-based platform and applications have helped clients across all industries improve business performance, mitigate risk, and ensure compliance with internationally accepted standards.

“Intelex is more than just a company to work for—it’s a lifestyle choice.” – Mark Jaine, President and CEO

Intelex arose in the aftermath of the Bhopal tragedy, caused by a gas leak at Union Carbide’s Indian pesticide plant in 1984. To ensure that such a disaster could never happen again, the company’s industrial gas division developed a paper-based EHS management system. But within a few years it was obsolete and Union Carbide called upon the late Intelex founder, Ted Grunau, to develop the world’s first streamlined EHS software. When Jaine arrived at the company in 1999, it had just three or four

employees. For the last 14 years, it’s had an average growth rate of 40 per cent. But, Jaine notes, it’s a far bigger difference to go from 200 to 300 employees than from 20 to 30.

Human resources business partner Kellie Dutschek says that when she arrived at Intelex three years ago, “the one thing that stood out is how collaborative everyone is, even as we’ve grown. You feel you can pretty much approach everyone in company if you need them.” While Intelex Technologies’ business plan has evolved, improved and seen multiple iterations over the years, things are moving much faster now. “We’re seeing more growth and interest in the market, and we’re the leader in our space,” says Jaine. “There was really no single impetus. We just hit a critical mass.” Currently, he estimates 60 per cent of Intelex customers are in the U.S., 30 per cent are international and 10 per cent are in Canada. With the Toronto tech sector booming, Jaine finds one of his biggest challenges is attracting and retaining top people. Although Intelex offers RSP matching and rewards employees who successfully refer a candidate with bonuses of up to $2,000, “it takes more than handing out big cheques,” Jaine says. “Intelex is more than just a company to work for—it’s a lifestyle choice.” In an effort to achieve work-life balance, Intelex recognizes four quadrants of life: 1) career 2) family and friends 3) fitness and health 4) hobbies and interests. And it has developed initiatives and programs around all four. In line with quadrant one, Intelex is committed to offering professional challenges and career growth. With regard to number two, it holds events for families and friends and gives considerable time off.

INTELEX EMPLOYEES BRING CANINE COMPANIONS TO WORK ON MONDAYS

269

full-time staff in Canada

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jobs available last year

To improve fitness and health, Intelex recently gave all employees Fitbits so that they could monitor their daily steps. The goal is to walk to the moon and back in one year, which is a total of 955,428,000 steps or 452,380 miles. With this initiative, it’s looking to create a sense of fun while moon walking to a common fitness goal. In that same spirit but quadrant four, Intelex funds clubs. If 10 or more employees come together, they

100+

jobs available this year

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average employee age

get $250 each to put towards any hobby or interest. There’s a club for French lovers, movie buffs and even lovers of fine single malt Scotch. Linda Hechtl, who just joined the company as director of corporate marketing six months ago, is part of the yoga club, which regularly brings in instructors from renowned yoga studios to help pupils strike a pose. “I like to joke, that’s my balance,” she laughs.

Our people define our goals, drive our success and fuel our growth. This prestigious award belongs to all of us. Thank you to each and every Intelex employee.


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Making yourself at home with Jayman BUILT

tewart Chipman started with the Jayman BUILT Group of Companies nearly 14 years ago and he’s stayed put for a reason.

“The opportunities here are fantastic,” says Chipman, who is currently a production manager with the Calgarybased home builder. “They’ve provided me with constant training and development. There’s tons of opportunity if you’re willing to put in the effort.” Jayman is a production home builder, meaning the company constructs 900 to 1,500 single and multifamily residential units per year in Alberta’s two largest cities—Calgary and Edmonton. However, Jayman is more than just a builder. Sunny Ghali, vice president, human resources, describes the company as a “vertically integrated, one-stop shop” that invests in land development, designs homes and manages construction. It also operates sales centres where customers choose their designs and layouts and it has a retail design centre for choosing interior and exterior finishes. The realty division will sell a customer’s existing property and the company’s financial brokerage will arrange mortgage financing.

“We’re developing leaders at every level.” – Sunny Ghali, Vice President, Human Resources.

“Jayman has always been a market leader in terms of creativity, innovation and options available to buyers,” says Ghali. “We send our designers to new home shows in Germany, London and California to make sure we’re ahead of the curve.”

Along with drafters and designers, Jayman hires construction managers, estimators, sales representatives, realtors and mortgage brokers, as well information technology, marketing, accounting and human resource professionals.

Chipman has spent most of his career in the field working with teams that supervise and manage the outside tradesmen who actually erect the homes. He rose from field technician, a junior position, to assistant superintendent, superintendent and construction manager and more recently was promoted to production manager. He now manages seven employees who handle everything from the point of sale to the start of construction, including estimating, drafting and purchasing, among other things. Chipman took a number external courses as well as in-house training programs along the way, always with the full support of the company. “They’re huge on staying on top of changes in the industry and to building codes,” says Chipman. “We’re definitely a very innovative company.” Ghali notes that the company culture is built around three pillars—providing the “pinnacle of customer service”, achieving “operational excellence” and being the “best place to work”. Jayman has introduced a number of initiatives to support the culture and promote employee engagement, including a program called “Game Planning” that incorporates training and development with succession planning. “We make sure everyone has the opportunity to grow,” says Ghali. “We sit down and we develop a career path and a training plan for our employees. Some of it is industry specific and some of it is management and business training.’

JAYMAN PRESIDENT GRAHAM BOYCE AND CAMP KINDLE CEO CHRISTINE MCIVER OPEN CAMP FOR KIDS WITH CANCER

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full-time staff in Canada

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years, longestserving employee

5,208

job applications last year

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staff volunteer hours last year

Ghali adds that employees are kept abreast of changes in the structure and direction of the company as well as positions to which they might aspire. “It’s pretty all-encompassing and really sets us apart,” he says. “We’re developing leaders at every level.”

and other resources to employees who are passionate about a particular charity or cause. The company and its employees have supported an orphanage in Thailand, children with diabetes and organizations devoted to research into cancer and multiple sclerosis.

Jayman also endeavours to be a socially responsible organization, says Ghali, and provides financial

“We build communities,” says Ghali, “and we serve communities.”

You don’t get to your 35th year in business without learning a few things along the way. It’s thanks to those lessons that we’ve been recognized as one of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers by Mediacorp Canada Inc. Visit JAYMAN.COM/35LESSONS to find out how these lessons have helped shape our award winning company. Globe and Mail Insert Banner Ad.indd 1

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Passion and engagement at Jones DesLauriers

he employee survey is a yearly ritual for many companies and the participation rate is one measure of an engaged and contented workforce. At Jones DesLauriers Insurance Management Inc., 95 per cent of the staff responded last year—up from 92 per cent in 2013.

“We’ve benchmarked our results against others in the industry and our results are tremendous,” says Kristin Coulombe, human resources director. “Our employees consistently described their co-workers as welcoming, engaged, passionate and performance driven.”

“I started five years ago and I continue to see a lot of great things happening at the company.” – Tammy Grassa, Account Manager

Jones DesLauriers is the largest independent insurance brokerage in the Greater Toronto Area. The firm has just under 190 employees in the GTA and several regional offices throughout Ontario, as well as national reach through its partnership with Navacord. It has a substantial commercial division with expert advisors in transportation, construction, hospitality, manufacturing, real estate and more. Jones DesLauriers also serves individuals who need to insure their homes, cars, cottages or recreational goods such as boats and snowmobiles.

“It’s our people that bring our vision and values to life every day when connecting with clients, insurance partners and colleagues.” says Coulombe. The company employs account executives, including three of the top-selling producers in Canada, account managers who handle client requests and policy changes, among other things, and a back office that includes accounting, IT, human resources and marketing professionals. “It’s a busy place and we all work well together,” says Tammy Grassa, an account manager based in Mississauga, Ont. “I started five years ago and I continue to see a lot of great things happening at the company.” Training for one. Grassa is working on her Canadian Professional Insurance Broker designation and has supported 20 fellow employees pursuing their Canadian Accredited Insurance Broker designations. Each was able to participate in various in-house courses, in the company training room, in sessions that occurred during lunch hour. Jones DesLauriers covered the cost and the company also picks up the tab every year for brokers who must complete mandatory courses and hours of training to keep their insurance licenses. “The brokers don’t have to worry about getting their hours,” says Grassa, who chairs the company’s education committee. “It’s all free, it’s all in-house. The employees don’t even need to go anywhere.”

Jones DesLauriers also has a formal producer development program that is a big plus for younger reps. “We coach and develop our people and our top producers are dedicated to mentoring the next generation of insurance professionals,” says Coulombe. The firm offers a rewarding, collaborative work

JONES DESLAURIERS EMPLOYEES DONNY CUNHA AND ZAINAB NURISTANI SURVEY THEIR NEW HEAD OFFICE

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full-time staff in Canada

environment and a number of distinctive perks including a sales recognition retreat to a tropical destination and an outstanding employee appreciation day. The recognition committee responsible for organizing this year’s employee appreciation day will be hard pressed to outdo the 2014 version.“We made the office environment look and feel like a spa,” recalls Coulombe. “We had rose petals scattered here and there. We played soothing jazz music. We just created the whole experience and treated staff to a well-deserved special day, with this and many other exciting events, unlike a usual workday.” The company relocated its head office in early February and the new three-level building includes a state-of-the-

Jones DesLauriers Insurance is proud to be one of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers! Discover your career at jdimi.com/careers

@360risk

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positions available last year

/JonesDesLauriers

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job applications last year

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educational sessions offered

art training room, a Wi-Fi network, collaborative spaces for staff and a 1,000-square-foot fitness facility with a gym and yoga studio. The gym is equipped with a Bluetooth-enabled sound system, stationary bike, elliptical machines and treadmills. The yoga room has mats and stability balls and is used for group exercise and wellness sessions. “This will keep our employees motivated and engaged while providing them with work-life balance,” says Coulombe. “They can work out in the morning, at lunch or after hours. All of the wonderful amenities will help us to attract and retain top talent and to compete with other brokerages.”


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Killam Properties encourages learning and sharing

hen recruiters at Killam Properties Inc. are hiring, they look for people who reflect the five core values that form the foundation of the Halifaxbased residential landlord. Those values are Build Community, Curb Appeal, Do the Right Thing, Strong Customer Relationships and Creative Solutions. “We’re looking for employees who enjoy working with our diverse public, have a positive attitude and are eager to continuously learn new things,” says President and CEO Philip Fraser.

“It’s an exciting place to work, from the great people and the range of products to the new buildings. There’s always something interesting and different.” – Mary Ellen Bull, Senior Property Manager

Launched in 2002, Killam Properties is one of Canada’s largest residential landlords, owning, operating and developing multi-family apartments and manufactured home communities. Its 164 apartment properties are located in Atlantic Canada’s six major urban centres, Ontario and Alberta. Killam currently owns and operates 18,500 units in 199 properties, representing real estate assets of roughly $1.75 billion. Being a good corporate citizen is an important facet of the workplace culture. “We live out Do the Right

Thing in the way we conduct business but also by giving back,” says Fraser. The company has a charitable donations committee that supports dozens of organizations in the communities in which it does business, such as FEED Nova Scotia and the Red Cross.

Killam also recognizes the value of education. The board of directors has established scholarship funds at Mount Allison University and Saint Mary’s University, and the company offers an annual scholarship program for dependents of employees. On an environmental level, the company looks to reduce its impact through solar-panel installations, water-saving kits, smart heating system controls and even a wind turbine in one location. Professional development is key to employee advancement. One example of a successful company-wide initiative is the Management Summit, where all managers gather two or three times a year for a series of information sessions and workshops, led by both staff and external experts. “The learning and sharing that takes place really energizes our people and equips them with new knowledge and skills,” says Fraser.

KILLAM PROPERTIES’ EMPLOYEES AND THEIR FAMILIES AT THE 2014 HALIFAX PRIDE FESTIVAL

400

full-time staff in Canada

2,500

job applications last year

Mary Ellen Bull, a senior property manager for the Moncton region, has been with the company since the beginning. She supervises a portfolio of properties that includes 21 furnished extended-stay rental suites and provides advice and support to two property managers. “The Management Summits are great brainstorming sessions and a good way to build community within our own company,” she says.

Building Community is a corporate cornerstone, both within the workplace and the residential properties. “Each building has a different population, whether it’s students, seniors or families,” says Bull. This past Christmas, she and her office staff filled 110 goody bags with treats, then hung them with a Killam staff greeting on tenants’ doorknobs. “It was a lot of work, but we wanted to show our tenants that we appreciate them.”

Bull also values Killam’s professional-development initiatives, both in the form of on-the-job learning and workshops and seminars. Recently, she took part in an online course called Working Sm@rt using Microsoft Outlook, which will allow her to work more efficiently.

At a catered Christmas party for residents in another building, Killam donated a $100 festive table centrepiece that, at the end of the gathering, was put in a draw for one lucky tenant to take home. Those tenants donated $260 for the community food bank. Bull’s team has also

Contemporary Living

55%

of executive team are women

85

charities helped last year

supported the local legion, sports teams, fire chiefs and police. “If someone comes to us with a request to support a certain charity or organization,” she says, “we send an email to head office for approval, then we take action.” Over the past 13 years, Bull has witnessed Killam’s growth firsthand. When she was hired, she was the sole Moncton-region employee; now there are more than 50. She takes part in the employee share-purchase plan, where she can contribute from her pay up to 5 per cent and Killam will match it 50 per cent twice a year. “How great is that?” she says. “It’s wonderful to work for a company that treats its people well.”

killamliving.com | killamproperties.com


CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

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W

At Mabel’s Labels, it’s results that matter

hen it comes to recruiting and retaining talented employees, fostering their productivity and promoting balance, Mabel’s Labels puts the “progress” in progressive. The Hamilton-based e-commerce company has adopted a unique philosophy and culture of life balance called ROWE, which stands for Results Only Work Environment. “ROWE enables employees to accomplish their performance goals in the way that works best for them,” says Mabel’s Labels human resources leader Sarah Barclay, who joined the organization in 2012. “ROWE is one of the most significant cultural change initiatives I have ever participated in, and it has reshaped how we view the concept of work. We don’t use the term ‘work-life balance.’ We aim to enable employees to achieve simply ‘life balance,’ where work is one of many priorities.”

“We believe that work is what you do, not where you go.” – Sarah Barclay, Human Resources Leader

Mabel’s Labels is a 13-year-old growing business that designs, manufactures, markets and sells stylish waterproof labels to identify personal belongings. The company, which is owned by four women, sells directly to consumers worldwide through its website and across North America through fundraisers at schools, daycares, camps and other organizations. Its retail division was launched in 2012, with its WriteAway! line sold at Walmart stores

in Canada, HEB stores in Texas and on Walmart’s and Amazon’s websites. Previously, Barclay had worked for larger companies, including General Electric and Campbell Canada. She wanted to have more of an impact at a smaller company, somewhere she could drive and develop the strategic direction of the HR vision.

“At Mabel’s Labels, our unique culture and high level of employee engagement are central to our overall organizational success. We believe that work is what you do, not where you go,” says Barclay. “That means you could theoretically work at the cottage and sit in on a Skype meeting and still successfully meet your objectives.” When determining their weekly locale, employees are asked to consider these questions: Would working off-site today meet the business’s needs? Would it meet my team’s needs? Can I meet my goals and deliverables? Longtime employee Kim Burke appreciates the ROWE philosophy. “I do my best focused work alone and I don’t need supervision, so I spend part of each week working at home,” she says. “But I also enjoy my time at the office collaborating in person. ROWE is a great way to manage people and shows that the company’s leaders trust and value their employees.” Burke also values the opportunities she has been given for internal growth. She joined the company as a customer service representative when it launched, then became programs manager before being appointed project planner in 2013. “Mabel’s has changed a lot since the beginning,” she says. “I thrive in positive change, so I’ve been kept captivated and interested.” Burke’s position as a project planner has her working with teams supervising

MABEL’S LABELS CO-FOUNDERS AT THE COMPANY’S 10TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION IN 2012

41

full-time staff in Canada

unlimited vacation days

day-to-day project operations. One recent creative, newsworthy project involved sending Mabel’s hockey-label packs to NHL teams when several of the players had the mumps. “One of our fans snapped a great photo of a labeled water bottle right behind the New York Rangers bench,” she says. Bonding with colleagues is also important. “My coworkers are smart, funny and friendly, and we have a great camaraderie,” says Burke. Employees unite to volunteer for

1,500

job applications last year

10

charities helped last year

local charities, such as organizing food drives and lending a hand at the Good Shepherd mission. Doing so fosters relationship building and speaks to Mabel’s mandate to be part of something bigger than itself. “The fact that we like to be together both at and outside of work really informs our performance and motivates us to work well, knowing you’ll get the best out of each other,” says Burke.

Proud to be one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers!


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CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

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MANNARINO flourishes amid the aerospace giants

ontreal is considered the world’s third-largest centre of excellence for aerospace research and development after Seattle—home of Boeing—and Toulouse in France, home to Airbus. Yet while the industry is dominated by giant corporations, innovative small companies like Mannarino Systems & Software Inc. (MANNARINO) can find a niche and flourish.

Founded in Montreal in 1999 by John Mannarino, an engineer by training, MANNARINO is now a well-established and fast-growing firm with a roster of Canadian and U.S. clients. “Aerospace is a high-tech industry where employees typically work for very big companies,” says Mannarino. “Our employees get the glamour of working in the aerospace industry and on very prestigious products, but they work in a smaller and more friendly company environment where all employees have a great deal of respect for each other.”

“What you say or contribute is recognized. That’s always very attractive.” – Sue Dabrowski, Business Development & Marketing

The company hires mechanical, electrical, software and computer science engineers and analysts, among others, and they develop the software that controls or operates just about everything on an aircraft from the engines to cockpit display panels to navigation systems. All their work must be of the highest quality since it will undergo certification audits and extraordinarily rigorous reviews and testing before being

installed to ensure it works and meets the industry’s safety standards. MANNARINO offers compensation and benefits that are competitive with the packages available at the big companies—with the added advantage of a small company environment, where innovation and creativity can flourish. “There are no levels of management adding to overhead and not a lot of politics or bureaucracy,” says Mannarino. “We’ve attracted a lot of good engineers/analysts with 10 years plus experience who just want to do good engineering.” Sue Dabrowski joined the company full-time in business development and marketing in January 2008 after spending most of her career with larger companies in the aerospace and defence industries. “When you’re working for a company of 55 people, your voice matters,” says Dabrowski. “You’re not just a number. What you say or contribute is recognized. That’s always very attractive to anyone who wants to belong to a team.”

THE MANNARINO TEAM WORKS ON PRESTIGIOUS AEROSPACE PROJECTS IN A SMALL COMPANY ENVIRONMENT

55

full-time staff in Canada

300

job applications last year

Mannarino and his management team have introduced a number of initiatives to enhance a team atmosphere around the office. Every Wednesday, the staff enjoys a hot, catered lunch provided by the company. The company also treats employees to a night out for pizza, pool or other activities after a big, demanding and time-consuming project is complete. As well, there are weekly meetings of the senior management team, monthly meetings of the senior engineering staff as well as regular meetings for the entire staff “to keep everyone in the loop,” as Dabrowski puts it. Flex-time allows employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance. The company sets core hours of 9:30 to 3:30, but allows the individuals to start early

14

years, longestserving employee

40

average employee age

or finish late as long as he or she works their allocated hours per week. “It’s a very, very big thing for a lot of people who may have young children or aging parents or don’t have a car and have to rely on public transit,” says Dabrowski. “It gives you the flexibility to get to a doctor’s appointment or to your child’s activities.” The company’s roster of clients has grown quickly in recent years and now includes more than 20 original equipment manufacturers in the U.S. as well as throughout Canada. Mannarino says he expects the company will continue to grow and adds: “That’s always stimulating and positive for employees.”


CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

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E

Getting it “just right” at Manning Elliott LLP for a smaller operation. “I remind myself of what it was like to be an employee when we were small,” says Aumann, who joined the firm just before it began its growth spurt.

very Friday, except during tax season, Manning Elliott LLP accountant Lyndon Braun stays at home. Not to work from a home office, but to play with his two children under the age of four.

There are few office walls in its Vancouver and Abbotsford offices, a way of breaking down barriers and to encourage interaction in a business where typically six or more professionals serve a single client. “We are a little less formal, a little less structured,” Aumann says.

He cherishes the opportunity. “It shows we have a management that is flexible and progressive,” Braun says. “It also demonstrates that we do more than talk about work-life balance.” In return for the benefit, Braun agrees to take 90 per cent of his salary, a fair deal in his estimation. “The joy is immeasurable,” he says.

Another team-building exercise is monthly social events. Some involve charitable giving. The company has won awards for its United Way participation and last year cracked Canada’s top 50 among more than 16,000 teams in the annual moustache-growing Movember campaign for men’s health. Manning Elliott LLP raised more than $25,000 as partners upped the ante by promising enhanced donations tied to promises of dyeing hair green or shaving off eyebrows for the month.

Braun is not alone. A partner at his Abbotsford, B.C., office used to be at her desk by 6 a.m. so she could leave in the early afternoon to pick up her children from school. “We don’t have rigid office hours,” says Manning Elliott LLP Managing Partner Alden Aumann. “The important thing is that our quality work gets done on time.”

The firm also demonstrates its community engagement by acting for a number of charitable and notfor-profits, either on a pro-bono or reduced-fee basis. “If you don’t do community work you’re not in the right stratosphere,” Aumann says.

“We’re just the right size—big enough to offer diverse opportunities, but small enough to do it properly.”

As well, Manning Elliott LLP offers all employees a Day of Giving when they can take a day off with pay for charitable or community work. Says Braun: “That confirms a real commitment because real dollars are involved.”

– Alden Aumann, Managing Partner

Manning Elliott LLP has become a much larger firm in the past 15 years, expanding from under 40 employees to more than 150. For Aumann, the challenge over those years is to maintain the collegiality and respect for the individual that comes more easily

Another firm commitment to its employees relates to professional development. Manning Elliott LLP picked up the entire tab as Braun went to night school for three years and several retreats to obtain his InDepth Income Tax accreditation. “The

MANNING ELLIOTT LLP HR DIRECTOR ANDREW RASHEED (LEFT) AND MANAGING PARTNER ALDEN AUMANN

155

full-time staff in Canada

36

years, longestserving employee

company was willing to take a chance and make a front-load commitment,” Braun says. “When it comes to picking up new skills, they’re not just saying, ‘Go for it.’ They’re saying, ‘Go for it—and we will help’.” For Aumann, learning never stops. “Professional development is a constant,” he says. Indeed, Manning Elliott LLP mandates that a career plan is part of every employee’s annual performance objectives. Meanwhile, sustaining collegiality depends largely on hiring the right

MANNING ELLIOTT LLP RECOGNIZED AS ONE OF

Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers (2015)

64%

managers are women

1,500

job applications last year

sort of people. “We want passionate, intelligent people who are willing to work hard,” says Braun, who helps in campus recruitment. “Character is key. Grades are important, but more important is success when encountering challenges.” Overall, when it comes to preserving its successful culture, Manning Elliott takes a Goldilocks approach—the porridge is not-too-hot, not-too-cold. “We’re just the right size,” says Aumann. “We’re big enough to offer diverse opportunities, but small enough to do it properly.”


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CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

E

At Netmail, employee owners make all the difference

mployees at Netmail Inc. are creative problem-solvers— even when it comes to beer.

DNA to initiate rather than wait for a command,” says Charles Nguyen, VP Partnerships & Business Development.

When staff at the Montrealbased e-mail management software firm found out that the cost of their company-sponsored happy hour at a local pub every Friday was escalating, they took immediate action. That’s not surprising considering every employee at Netmail is a shareholder.

An employee-owned company is more fun, too, adds the 18-year company veteran. “We share a lot of passion and energy,” he observes. “We basically work hard and play hard also.”

One colleague obtained a keg, while some others rigged up a “kegerator” in the company lounge to keep it cold. Now every Friday, employees enjoy a cost-effective beer in-house. “Initiative is really appreciated and promoted here,” says CEO Phil Van Etten, “and people are encouraged to innovate.” Employee ownership at Netmail— formerly known as Messaging Architects Inc.—makes it a very different kind of tech firm, says Van Etten. For starters, he notes, the attrition rate is about a third of the technology industry average and there is a greater degree of job security. “Ninety per cent of high-growth startups have venture-backed funds or other investors,” he explains, “and they can tend to put pressure on the organization to cut corners with employees.”

“People are continually given options to grow and move.” – Anthony Wilson, Front Line Support Engineer

Company-wide share ownership also contributes to a flatter management structure, open communication, and a more transparent and collaborative work environment. “It’s part of our

Job candidates encounter Netmail’s openness even before they’re hired. The company’s interviewing process— which includes psychometric testing and a one- to four-hour interview— is explained right on its website “so they can better prepare,” says People & Talent Person Stephanie Greenshields. “It helps bring on the right talent with the right attitude.” Strong software developers are always in demand, along with customer support specialists, product testers and project managers. “First and foremost,” says Van Etten, “we look for employees with a high level of energy and attitude, and secondly we look for competence and skill set.” The company offers competitive pay, a defined-contribution pension plan, profit-sharing, and a premium health insurance plan. Benefits also include a short-term disability salary top-up, one paid volunteer day each year, and subsidies for public transit, gym memberships and work-related courses. On the fun side of the equation, employees frequently socialize over monthly breakfasts, the weekly happy hour, an annual Christmas party, cooking classes and other company activities. The profit-sharing payment is another nice bonus at the end of the financial year, says Front Line Support Engineer Anthony Wilson, who joined the company two years ago. Owning shares also helps employees feel they can make a real contribution and

EMPLOYEE OWNERSHIP AT NETMAIL CONTRIBUTES TO MORE TRANSPARENCY AND LOWER ATTRITION

61

full-time staff in Canada

18

years, longestserving employee

have a stake in Netmail’s success, he adds. It changes the dynamic. “One thing I think is different is the amount of recognition people receive,” he says. “Small successes or large successes are celebrated here more than anywhere else I’ve worked. I don’t feel like a cog in the machine.” Employees work hard, adds Wilson, but they also enjoy good work-life balance. And there are lots of opportunities to improve and advance professionally.

37

average employee age

6

years, average employee tenure

“People are continually given options to grow and move,” he says. “My managers are always checking in to see if I’m happy doing what I’m doing.” Staff at Netmail never need to feel constrained by their job descriptions, says Wilson. “Here,” he explains, “your job description is flexible to some extent and can change as people come up with new ideas.”


CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

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C

Nutrabolics embodies an athlete’s can-do spirit

omplying with government regulations can sometimes be a tough pill to swallow for manufacturers hoping to introduce a new product to the marketplace. This can be especially true for a company like Nutrabolics Inc., which specializes in a category of consumer goods that comes under particularly close scrutiny. That, however, is not how the Vancouver-based company sees it.

Hefter’s words reflect a can-do attitude that has seen the company quickly become a significant player in the $40-billion global marketplace for vitamins and minerals. Nutrabolics was launched in Canada in 2002, with just three different supplements in its line-up, after the border was closed in the 1990s to the most popular U.S. brands. Today, Nutrabolics’ ever-evolving line of innovative supplements can be found in over 70 countries.

Nutrabolics—a contraction of “nutrition” and “anabolics”—makes a wide range of premium sports supplements popular with both elite athletes and fitness enthusiasts the world over, and that’s their key strategy.

It has achieved this with a remarkably small staff. These days a passionate and dedicated group of just 13 full-time employees tackles a diverse range of responsibilities. A partial list includes: researching and developing safe and effective formulations on the cutting-edge of nutrition science; sourcing ingredients and ensuring their purity so athletes are not in jeopardy of testing positive for banned substances in their respective sports; collaborating with a global network of distributors who keep Nutrabolics apprised of emerging trends; and liaising with star athletes who serve as brand ambassadors.

“You never know what’s going to happen next.” – Reza Bafandeh, Director of Purchasing

Yes, it took six months to get the necessary approvals to launch a new product in Malaysia. But in the complex world of regulatory compliance, where every nation has its own rules, that’s actually not long. The groundwork had been laid at home where all Nutrabolics’ North American-made products are first certified to meet Health Canada’s safety guidelines and standards for natural health products. “Health Canada has some of the strictest standards in the world and they’re getting stricter by the year,” says Nutrabolics co-founder Aaron Hefter. “Some companies try to fight it, but we embrace it and turn it into our competitive advantage. Once we’ve met Canadian standards, we’re generally well on our way to meeting the standards elsewhere.”

It all adds up to a challenge that Nutrabolics director of purchasing Reza Bafandeh clearly relishes. “It’s such a fast-paced and exciting environment, as exciting a work environment as I’ve ever encountered,” he says “You never know what’s going to happen next and being able to adapt to every scenario has become a corporate culture of ours.” Co-existing with the hustle is a culture that is welcoming and collegial, where outside events and monthly lunches help foster a group spirit. Meetings can range from engaging to even being fun. At monthly Visionary meetings, for instance, participants are encouraged to engage in a little blue-sky thinking about the company’s long-term future. “Nothing is too silly,” says Hefter. “No ideas are ever shot down.

NUTRABOLICS STAFF ON THE ROOF OF THEIR VANCOUVER HEADQUARTERS

13

full-time staff in Canada

33

average employee age

You never know where the next big thing may come from.” For a small company, Nutrabolics has some corporate-style perks and policies, including matching workers’ RRSP contributions. As well, employees may be eligible for year-end bonuses of up to $5,000. As part of its philosophy of continuous improvement, it offers education subsidies. The company also helps employees balance and integrate their work and personal lives with flexible hours and shortened work week options.

4

charities helped last year

72

countries selling Nutrabolics products

But for Bafandeh, the fact that Nutrabolics is small contributes to his enjoyment working there. Nutrabolics is as open and transparent with its employees as is feasible in a competitive business environment. As a result, says Bafandeh, people know where they stand. “Everybody really gets to see how they contribute in a very real way in getting our product to market.” he says. “That’s very empowering.”


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CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

I

Owning your success at Peto MacCallum Ltd.

n some businesses, “buying in” is a byword for employees believing wholeheartedly in the company’s mission, vision, and values. At Peto MacCallum Ltd., it has a more literal meaning as well.

The Toronto-based firm of engineering consultants is fully employee owned and operated. This ownership structure has a direct effect on everything from workers’ day-to-day activities to their long-term financial stability. By owning a piece of the company, any work they do that improves the bottom line also increases the potential return on their shares.

“As an employee-owned company, we challenge our people to unleash their full potential and outperform.” – Andrew Injodey, Vice President, Finance and Administration

“As an employee-owned company, we challenge our people to unleash their full potential by providing them with a conducive work environment and a comprehensive compensation package,” says Andrew Injodey, Peto MacCallum’s vice president, finance and administration. “The intrinsic value of this approach is reflected in the employment longevity of our staff.” Peto MacCallum Ltd. was established in 1973, the result of a merger between Peto Associates Ltd. and a division of Racey, MacCallum & Bluteau Ltd. It provides clients in both the private and public sectors with a wide range of specialist engineering and technical services.

The company has worked on high-profile projects including airports (Pearson International and Iqaluit), major roads and highways (Ontario’s Windsor-Essex Parkway, Highway 407 and Highway 69) and several transit initiatives. Services range from pre-design feasibility studies to testing construction materials to developing highly specialized solutions for all levels of government, contractors, architects, design consultants and other engineering firms. New hires, whether in the Toronto head office or at its three branch offices in southern Ontario, are not automatically entitled to buy shares in the firm. All shareholders must be employees, but not all employees are shareholders, says Injodey. Share purchase is only by invitation. In some firms, share ownership is limited to front-line professionals, but at Peto MacCallum, technical and support personnel can be shareholders as well. “It’s not who you are, or whom you know, that matters,” says Injodey. “It’s what you do, how you perform and contribute, that matters.” There is, however, a specified waiting period between the time a person joins Peto MacCallum and when they might first be invited to purchase shares. This interval, Injodey says, allows both sides to determine whether there is a good fit before making such an important commitment. Peto MacCallum also provides employees with opportunities for advancement. Indeed, all senior and management staff have risen through the ranks. Judy Singh, manager, finance and administration, is a case in point.

Singh started in an entry level job soon after university with a bachelor’s degree in business and accounting. Intended to be temporary, the job soon became permanent. She bought some shares

PETO MACCALLUM EMPLOYEES ENJOYING THEIR ANNUAL HOLIDAY PARTY

161

full-time staff in Canada

48%

ROI on equity last year

when they were offered and in 2012 an internal reorganization opened the way for her to start advancing to her current position and to buy additional shares. “The way you run the business is going to affect what your return is going to be,” says Singh. “It’s a direct line not only for those in operations but for those in support services, who can also make a difference.” Peto MacCallum offers a competitive pay and benefits package, including a defined contribution pension plan. In addition to funding a civil engineering scholarship at the University of Waterloo, it also offers post-secondary scholarships to the children of employees. Work-life balance is

25%

of staff worked here 20+ years

50%

employees are shareholders

supported with policies and procedures as well as rules that actively encourage employees to take time off. The firm invests in employees’ continuous development with tuition subsidies for courses at outside institutions and financial bonuses upon achieving professional milestones. Singh, for one, put this benefit to good use, earning a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) credential. “Peto MacCallum is very supportive,” Singh says. “Employees commit to the company with verifiable deliverables and the company reciprocates with a satisfying compensation package and new challenges and opportunities.”


Match your degree or diploma with employers that recruit new grads with your academic background Published annually since 1992, The Career Directory is Canada’s longest-running and best-loved career guide for new graduates. Each year, our editorial team reviews thousands of employers to determine the academic qualifications they actively seek in younger job-seekers. The result is a wonderful, free resource that helps new graduates find student jobs that make the most of their university degree or college diploma.

www.thecareerdirectory.ca


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CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

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Progressive warranties a great work environment

he website for Progressive Home Warranty Solutions (PHW) showcases some of the perks the Alberta company offers employees: free smoothies, flex time and friendly hypoallergenic dogs roaming the office corridors.

“I know our culture looks too good to be true,” says co-CEO and self-designated “Culture Creator” Roberta Garritty. “But people say this is an unbelievable place to work—even after years here.” Founded 10 years ago and based in St. Albert, Alberta, with a second office in Surrey, B.C., PHW partners with builders to provide warranties for new homes. Corporate culture is key because, as Garritty explains, “every warranty provider is the same—we sell the exact same product as our competitors.”

“I know our culture looks too good to be true. But people say this is an unbelievable place to work—even after years here.” – Roberta Garritty, Co-CEO and Culture Creator

In that kind of business environment, PHW’s culture is clearly its distinguishing feature for both builders selecting warranty providers and employees choosing where to work. Over its 10 years in business, the young company has developed 10 core values, at least one of which must be supported or enhanced by everything it does. Garritty describes this as an “intentional culture” reflected in PHW’s yearly coaching, 360 reviews, hiring and, yes, once in a while—firing.

Roberta, who looks after culture while her husband and co-CEO, Michael Garritty, handles the warranty side of the business, is adamant that everyone on the team must understand and support the core values. “Let me share one of PHW’s secrets with you,” she says. “We break bread together, with each other and our clients.” Along with regular lunches prepared by employees for their colleagues, PHW owns barbeques, complete with giant coolers, that it rolls into subdivisions and uses to treat builders to lunch. The company has also started the Progressive Foundation dedicated to helping impoverished families in the Dominican Republic by building them safe homes. Last year the foundation raised $100,000 and a total of 16 people, including PHW employees and their family members, travelled to the Dominican Republic to build 45 homes over a two-week period. The new homes cost $4,800 apiece. On one of the Dominican Republic trips, Garritty met Melissa Rodgers,

PROGRESSIVE HOME WARRANTY STAFF AT COMPANY CHRISTMAS PARTY

28

full-time staff in Canada

7

jobs available last year

who was also from Alberta and building homes. “I was already in the insurance business although not home warranty,” says Rodgers. “I had all licensing required to work here.” Rodgers is the only teammate the company has ever hired with an insurance license. Usually PHW hires for personality and then gets its new employees licensed. Rodgers had hit it off with the PHW team in the Dominican Republic so when she returned home and was invited in for an interview, she jumped at the chance. By the time her three-month probation was up, she had a pretty good grasp of the business and her role as a client solutions representative working on claims. She describes PHW as unlike anywhere she’s ever worked. When some of the

29.8

average employee age

66%

of managers are women

women in the office complained about it being too cold, the men, who found the temperature just fine, ordered them all PHW snuggies to wear. “People laugh when I tell them,” says Rodgers, “but I think the family core value is what makes people want to work here at PHW.” Garritty notes that PHW has more than just a family feel. They have six couples on the team, six sets of siblings, three sets of cousins, and even an uncle. More than 70 per cent of employees come via referral. PHW also hires many employees straight out of university, giving it an average age of just 29. “My husband and I bring it way up,” laughs Garritty.

It’s who we are. culture.progressivewarranty.com


CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

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A

At Reid’s Heritage Group, a heritage of building people

family tragedy at a familyowned company taught the president of Reid’s Heritage Group of Companies, Tim Blevins, a business lesson he will never forget.

When his father-in-law and the founder of the company died suddenly in 2000, it could have led to a business disaster on top of the devastating personal loss. Orin Reid, who had started Reid’s Heritage Homes in 1978, had just taken the business through a period of exponential growth. Blevins and Scott Reid, Orin’s son and vice-president of residential construction, were the heirs apparent, but they were still in their twenties, not yet ready to take over.

“We often say our team members are our first customers.” – Doug Sider, VP, Team Development Resources & Corporate Culture

“No one person can ever salvage a situation like that,” says Blevins. “The team pulled together, rolling up their sleeves, putting in the hours and doing the impossible.” That the Guelph-based company survived was because of “the integrity and quality of people that were here. We built over a thousand homes that year.” That experience is now seared in Blevins’ mind: Reid’s Heritage people are the key to its success and what differentiates the company from its competitors. The group’s divisions now include residential, commercial, HVAC and plumbing, and rental properties.

REID’S HERITAGE GROUP TEAM CELEBRATE AN AWARD-WINNING YEAR AT THEIR HEAD OFFICE

“A lot of people can build a house,” he explains. “We prefer to think about the team and experience we’re creating for our customers.” “Construction can be a stressful period for a family and a business too. We like to turn it into as pleasant an experience as possible.” Doug Sider, vice-president of team development resources and corporate culture, notes that in order to keep customers happy, “each of our team members—from sales to carpenters—are empowered to spend up to $1,000 to satisfy that customer.” Shari Walpole, who started at Reid’s Heritage as an accounts payable clerk in 1997 and now heads up human resources, says that since 2007 the company has really focused on culture and creating and implementing its 10 core values. “Our core values were created by our team members, not by management, which overall provides a tremendous commitment to how we treat one another and do business,” she says. Adds Sider: “We often say that our team members are our first customers. If

253

employees in Canada

86%

executives promoted from within

40

jobs available last year

37

years, longestserving employee

we treat them well, it will spill over to [outside] customers.”

they need to do the job, anything that they want as far as training needs.”

In recent years, Reid’s Heritage has also made 10 “leadership drivers” a priority. It provides regular managerial training sessions where new and seasoned managers can better equip themselves for leadership roles throughout the company.

As one of five builders selected by Natural Resources Canada and Owens Corning Canada, Reid’s Heritage has been participating in the so-called Net Zero demonstration program to build an ultra energy-efficient home. “It has an HVAC system far above anything we’ve done before,” says Sullivan. “We had experts in, training on it. It is quite something.”

Both Walpole and Woody Sullivan— manager for purchasing and inventory control at Hy-Mark, a Reid’s Heritage Group company that does heating, air conditioning and plumbing—emphasized their employer’s commitment to continuous learning and training. “I actually took all my HR courses through the company’s investment,” says Walpole. In an ever-changing landscape of new HVAC and plumbing products and services, Sullivan says, “we make sure our team members get what

While much of the Net Zero technology isn’t widely available yet, Blevins notes that consumers have more housing choices than ever. “I would say 20 years ago, you had two choices, production housing and custom housing. Through the years we have created a third choice, custom production. We give our customers the opportunity to customize a product that used to offer few choices.”

THANK YOU TO OUR ENTIRE TEAM FOR ACHIEVING THIS PRESTIGIOUS AWARD.


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Replicon stays casual on four continents

I

n the Calgary office building where he works, Peter Kinash says he usually encounters two types: those in suits and those in jeans. Since the downturn in their sector, he notes, those in the oil patch have reverted to formal business attire, while those in high-tech have remained true-blue to their denim. As chief financial officer for Replicon Inc., Kinash belongs to the jeans-wearing contingent.

“The atmosphere at Replicon is very casual and that’s because our focus is on the work and not on things that don’t contribute to productivity,” he says.

“It’s very exciting to never know where your job is going to take you.” – Dan Kagan, Managing Director, Corporate Sales

That work centres on cutting-edge solutions to an age-old problem for businesses of all stripes: accurately tracking workers’ time and attendance. Nearly 500 technical, sales and support staff in six cities worldwide develop, implement and maintain Replicon’s cloud-based software that enables customers to easily collect and integrate time-tracking data. About one-fifth of that workforce is at Replicon’s two Canadian locations, Calgary and Toronto. There, wearing jeans to work every day is a holdover from the frenzied dot-com bubble of the late 1990s when Silicon Valley employers competed aggressively to hire staff by offering whatever it took to get them in the door.

Foosball tables may no longer be de rigeur. Even so, high-tech workers everywhere still have certain expectations, says Dan Kagan, managing director, corporate sales. That helps explain some of the other perks that Replicon offers, including subsidized gym memberships, free snacks and beverages provided every day, and hot catered lunches once or twice a week. Kagan, based in Replicon’s Toronto office, adds that the lunches are informal gatherings that contribute to team building. “We sit and eat as a group and have fun together,” he says. “It feels like family.” Such perks are underpinned by a competitive pay and benefits package that includes performance bonuses and matching RSP contributions. One wellused benefit is the opportunity Replicon provides for career advancement among teams and locations. There is a lot of travel among the offices, which also include London, Sydney, Bangalore, India, and Redwood Shores, California. Citing the example of a former receptionist who is today vice president of client services, Kinash says the company also has a history of promoting people across functions. “People see that and that’s motivation for them because they realize performance is what counts,” he says. Adaptability and flexibility have been hallmarks of Replicon since its founding in Calgary in 1996. After struggling early on, it experienced initial success with a simple time-capture application for use on customers’ own computers. Realizing that working face-to-face with clients would inherently limit growth, the company elected to again change direction. That’s when Replicon made what Kinash describes as a “bold decision”

A REPLICON EMPLOYEE VISITS THE COMPANY’S SILICON VALLEY OFFICE NEAR SAN FRANCISCO

95

full-time staff in Canada

19

jobs available in 2014

to stop selling their on-premise version and focus on the cloud in 2009, helping to make them the leader in cloud time-tracking applications with some 7,800 customers worldwide. It’s this latest iteration that has Kagan so enthusiastic about Replicon’s potential. As an executive with a much larger software as a service (SaaS) provider, he became familiar with Replicon through mutual acquaintances in Silicon Valley.

1,474

job applications in 2014

16

years, longestserving employee

He witnessed its rapid expansion over the last few years and, following months of talks, he finally decided the time was right for him to join in April 2014. Today, Kagan says Replicon as poised for even greater growth. “Entrepreneurship is built into their DNA,” he says. “It’s very exciting to never know where your job is going to take you.”

Comprehensive Solutions for Time Tracking Need Hassle-free Cloud Based Enterprise Ready for Businesses of All Sizes

Projects and Client Billing

Project Costing

Time & Attendance

Expense Management

Absence Management


CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

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O

Riding the rails to success with Rocky Mountaineer

rientation for new employees at Rocky Mountaineer is pretty special—it includes an all-expenses-paid luxury train excursion through the majestic Rocky Mountains of British Columbia and Alberta. “Whether you are a new accounts payable clerk or a vice-president, our immediate priority is to get you aboard one of our trains,” says Randy Powell, president and CEO of the international award-winning tourism train operator.

“We want sparkplugs who are looking for much more than money—people looking to make a difference.” – Randy Powell, President and CEO

Explains Powell: “Everyone in the company needs to experience firsthand what we offer our guests and see their reactions. Even staff who don’t typically deal directly with our guests play a significant part in our continuing improvement efforts. And we can’t be the absolute best unless everyone is intimate with our product.” Employee input on how to make things better is solicited regularly at quarterly employee town halls at the company’s Vancouver head office or in more informal “Coffee with Randy” sessions. “I want to encourage ideas and suggestions from everyone,” Powell says. “If we’re going to win as a company, we want to hear a lot of voices and we want everyone pulling oars in the same direction.”

To achieve those objectives, Rocky Mountaineer has made a huge commitment to professional development. “We have great people that we want to invest in,” says Powell, who authorized $1 million to establish a formal Leadership Development academic credit program at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business. Powell and his senior team worked with Sauder professors to create a targeted business syllabus for skills development and leadership building. The educational training, consisting of two one-week intensive sessions at the university, is open to managers and directors as well as vice-presidents. “We want as many people as possible to benefit,” says Powell. While the tuition and program expenses total some $500,000 annually, Powell says “that’s cheap” for what Rocky Mountaineer gets in return. “Not only does it enhance our skill level,” he says, “but it builds connectivity across the organization. It pays for itself many times over.” Angelina Gibson is one of Rocky Mountaineer’s Sauder students. “I feel honoured that my employer wants to make such a major investment in me and others,” says Gibson, a senior manager for destinations, meaning she is responsible for the high-level care and feeding of visitors before and after they board a Rocky Mountaineer train. “This company provides you with a real opportunity to grow and develop.” In addition to its formal training, Gibson says another Sauder program benefit is bringing together people from different departments and locations. “You get a chance to form relationships with other people that strengthens the overall team,” she adds. Gibson started with Rocky Mountaineer more than two decades ago as a host

STAFF AT THE LUXURY ROCKY MOUNTAINEER PRIDE THEMSELVES ON SERVICE

175

full-time staff in Canada

5,000

job applications last year

on one of the trains. Taking advantage of varied training programs offered or financed by the company, she earned a promotion as train manager and has held other senior positions as well. But Gibson attributes her fulfilling career to something that can’t be taught. “You have to be passionate about what you do,” she says. “We are committed to delivering life-changing experiences.” For his part, Powell works hard to hire only such people. “We don’t want the employee type who is satisfied with a 9-to-5 job to pay off the mortgage,” he says. “We want sparkplugs who are

80

jobs available last year

24

years, longestserving employee

looking for much more than money— people looking to make a difference.” Adds Powell: “You can teach hard skills, but not passion. As long as the person is functionally capable, I will take someone wildly passionate over an MBA from a top school.” And after they are hired, they get a special perk. Every year, they receive another free train trip. This time, they can bring along a friend or a partner, or hand off the benefit to family or friends.

This calls for a high five. Being named one of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers is cause to celebrate.

RockyMountaineer.com


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Rogers Insurance offers fun and $10,000 dreams

he words “insurance” and “fun” seldom go together. But they didn’t get the memo at Calgary-based Rogers Insurance Ltd., an independent insurance brokerage founded in 1977.

Fun is built into the company’s four key value statements: “own it, respect it, win it, and fun it!” That includes an open dog policy that allows employees to bring their pooches to work. About six to 12 can be found at the company’s head office on a daily basis.

“You spend more time at work than you do at home, so it’s important that staff enjoy coming to work everyday.” – Lindsay Mather, Vice President, Human Resources

“They put a smile on people’s faces, no matter what’s happening during the day,” says Senior Account Executive Pat Hagel, whose shepherd-collie cross, Stella, is a frequent visitor. “They’re part of the culture here.” The fun doesn’t stop there. Rogers Insurance also offers frequent social outings, regular yoga classes, popcorn and slushies every Friday afternoon at 3, and an annual twonight Christmas party in the Rocky Mountains paradise of Kananaskis for all employees and their families. “You spend more time at work than you do at home,” says Vice President, Human Resources, Lindsay Mather, “so it’s important that staff enjoy coming to work everyday.”

That enthusiasm has helped drive the company’s rapid growth. Last year, Rogers Insurance hired more than 80 people to fill vacated and newly created positions at its three offices in Calgary, Red Deer and Fort McMurray. The hiring drive expanded its total workforce by about 10 per cent.

Naturally, says Mather, Rogers Insurance looks for fun-loving recruits. But it also favours experienced candidates seeking stability and the opportunity to build a long-term career. In addition, she adds, “We’re a very flat organization— we’re lean on management—so we strategically hire people who are strong on self-management and self-motivation.” The company offers competitive pay, bonuses, a contributory RRSP plan, and a solid health and dental package. It believes in work-life balance, says Mather, and offers flex days that enable employees to take personal time without using their vacation allotment, which starts at three weeks for new hires. Rogers Insurance takes pride in having the best trained staff in the industry, and there are lots of opportunities to learn. It offers full reimbursement for insurance courses, and cash awards for achieving professional insurance designations. In an employee-recognition program called the “Roscars,” managers nominate staff members every month who have demonstrated the company’s core value statements. To give staff a greater stake in the firm’s success, every employee has the opportunity after two years of service to become a shareholder. “That was important to me,” says Hagel, “and it’s been beneficial. Not a lot of employers have that.” But for many Rogers Insurance staff members, one of the most exciting aspects of working there is the Dream Program. When hired, every employee is asked to write down his or her

ROGERS INSURANCE EMPLOYEE PAT HAGEL AND HIS DOG, STELLA

230

full-time staff in Canada

71%

of managers are women

2,500

staff volunteer hours last year

400+

hours of staff yoga classes last year

most precious dream on a file card in 50 words or less. Once a year, the company gives $10,000 each to four employees to help them realize that dream. Two names are drawn randomly, one participant is chosen anonymously by management, and another is selected anonymously by staff.

For a passionate pet lover like Hagel, however, the dog policy at Rogers Insurance is still one of the best perks by far. It proved especially meaningful a few years ago when he and his wife Corinne, a veterinarian, had an elderly pit-bull cross named Jed who was suffering from separation anxiety.

One female employee took her family to Disneyland. Another bought a scooter for her physically challenged husband. In another case, a woman bought food, clothing and toys for a daughter and her child who were having financial problems.

“It made a huge difference to know he was safe and wasn’t going to hurt himself,” says Hagel. “The company has a lot of empathy and understanding for its employees,” he adds, “and they’re very flexible in trying to do as much as they can for them.”


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Rohit Group’s winning ways: challenge and teamwork

ohit Gupta, President of Edmonton’s Rohit Group of Companies, describes himself as a “fiercely competitive individual,” an attitude he strives to instill in the employees of this diverse real estate company. “One of the things I always say to my team is I don’t like to get into a street fight without knowing that I’ve got the people who are stronger than the other side,” says Gupta. “My view is there’s no point doing something if you are not winning at it.”

“You have to be about more than just making money” – Rohit Gupta, President

It’s something of a family trait. The Rohit Group was founded in the mid1980s by Rohit’s father, Radhe Gupta, who is the company’s Chief Executive Officer. Starting with the construction of a single family home, Radhe’s entrepreneurial spirit and strong work ethic helped build an organization that now holds complementary interests in residential and land development, commercial assets and real estate lending.

ROHIT GROUP EMPLOYEES SHOW THEIR ENTHUSIASM AT A RECENT STAFF RETREAT

“We know talented people like to be around other talented people,” he says. “So retention is actually quite easy when you make sure you are bringing in the best people.”

133

Gupta adds that the employees who thrive are those who can work collaboratively and who embrace the company’s core values, which include perseverance, integrity and providing superior service to clients.

Today, the Rohit Group’s corporate vision is straightforward and typically ambitious—describing themselves as the “real estate opportunity company.” And it aims to reach that goal by developing real estate markets through superior capital, asset and project management.

Gupta credits his father with setting a tone of optimism and opportunity for the company. “My father always finds an opportunity, even in the most negative situation,” he says. “His ability to infuse a positive energy throughout the organization is what keeps us going. That’s how we rolled right through the last recession and it’s why, despite the volatility of today’s oil markets, we know we will adapt and continue to succeed.”

Rohit Gupta says the key to the company’s success is the talented people it has managed to attract by utilizing a wide range of recruitment sources, including post-secondary institutions, industry associations and online tools.

Giving back to the community is another company priority. Rohit Charities was established in 2004 to focus support for local nonprofit and community groups. The company’s funding priorities change as needs arise, with the current empha-

full-time staff in Canada

25

charities helped last year

sis being on initiatives dealing with homelessness and mental health issues. “As both a business and a member of the community, you have to be about more than just making money,” says Gupta. Besides, he quips, “I don’t know how much money I can take to the after-life, so it’s better if some of it is reinvested back into the world.” Tyler Pollock is a sales manager with the Rohit Group. He joined the company nearly a decade ago at the age of 21 and has never felt the need to look elsewhere for work. “The culture here is very challenging,” says Pollock. “They always have new projects and opportunities, so it definitely keeps you on your toes. But there’s also great camaraderie in the office. Everyone is on the same team.”

forever HOME

3,000

job applicants last year

38

average employee age

Pollock particularly appreciates the leadership approach of Radhe and Rohit Gupta. “You can walk into their offices at any time and they are always open and willing to listen to any ideas you have,” he says. “They are also very fair, whether it’s dealing with a client on a warranty issue or myself on an employment matter.” The owners, he adds, take a personal interest in their employees’ welfare. “There’s been many times they have helped out my family. For example, when my little cousin was diagnosed with diabetes this past September, Radhe and Rohit were the first ones to step up and support the local diabetes association. It’s not an organization working simply for profits or to be the biggest builder. It’s also a company with a heart.”


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CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

“I

Scalar stays true to its roots amid fast growth

joke that I’m the accidental executive,” says Paul Kerr, the president and CEO of Scalar Decisions. “But I am still the boss.”

This means that as the IT company he founded in 2004 grows rapidly, Kerr is keeping a close eye on things to ensure that Scalar remains the business the people who built it wanted it to be. Scalar has hired 50 people since the start of its fiscal year in July 2014, bringing its total number of employees to 185. There are now 25 managers, some of whom are itching to put procedures and processes into place that they used at their previous employers. “One of my jobs always is to maintain sanity in our decisions,” says Kerr, explaining that he doesn’t want to run a company where people are forced to use four-year-old phones because that’s policy. “I prefer to give people a choice, because they’re professionals and know how to do their job. They don’t need someone else to pick their phones, laptop, desk and working hours.”

“The company very firmly believes that the best idea wins. That creates a phenomenal culture.” – Aoife McMonagle, Marketing and Communications Manager

Cindy Usprech, who came on board early last year as Scalar’s first director of human resources, says that as the company grows and hires across the board—she’s putting out two to three offers per week— communications and transparency are key.

“We have town halls weekly, not quarterly, and there’s a rotation of senior management speaking. Everyone’s involved and it’s very informal,” she says. Employees at the Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Ottawa and London offices join via videoconference.

“Our culture is growing with the growth,” says Usprech. “We haven’t changed the realness of Scalar’s culture.” Kerr says that for now his number one job is talent acquisition—and there’s plenty of tough competition. “In the industry, it’s almost cultural for IT companies to have a culture that is fantastic,” she notes. “If you’re a good employee, your name gets out there, and everyone is coming at you with the next great set of employment perks.” While Scalar has the IT industry-standard beer fridge and ping pong table and is building a hip, downtown-style coffee shop (regular Starbucks is not enough) on its new office premises, Kerr says its biggest draw is the great suite of infrastructure, security and cloud products and services it provides to customers. “If my product or service is better, I can demand great employees,” he says. “More great employees ensure Scalar is a great place to work.” Marketing and communications manager Aoife McMonagle joined Scalar when she arrived in Canada from Ireland four and a half years ago and saw an ad on an Internet job board. She guesstimates she was about employee number 50 and, coming from a non-technical background, she found it a steep learning curve at times, with lots of industry-specific knowledge to acquire. The community and friendship of her colleagues allowed her to thrive, however. As did the relatively flat organizational structure, which management has strived to create. “The company very firmly

SCALAR DECISIONS EMPLOYEE RANDY HACKBART AT THE EASTER SEALS FUNDRAISER

185

full-time staff in Canada

50

employees hired since July

40

average employee age

3

weeks, starting vacation allowance

believes that the best idea wins,” says McMonagle. “That creates a phenomenal culture where people feel free to suggest ideas and then run with them.”

Along with flexible hours to help employees balance their work and personal lives, it also has some telecommuting work options.

Scalar manages a generous quarterly bonus program and supports ongoing employee personal and professional development with subsidies for courses at outside institutions, as well as subsidies for professional accreditation.

“I love Fridays, spending time with my kids,” says Kerr, but it’s not his favourite day of the week. That’s Monday, because, he confesses, “I love coming to work.”

Proud to be a top employer. Thanks to our exceptional people that deliver a great experience to our customers every day. Learn more at scalar.ca/careers


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Advancement is in the pipeline at Sealweld

here’s no doubt about why Chantal Murphy enjoys working for Calgary-based Sealweld Corporation.

“Sealweld offers its employees a lot of growth opportunities,” says Murphy, who serves as the administrative coordinator for the company’s training division. “But there are a lot of other things that make it a great place for staff.” Like flexible work schedules, for example. Murphy is a single mother with a two-year-old son and she has to pick him up from his caregiver at 5 p.m. daily. “I told them when I was interviewed that I wouldn’t be able to work the standard nine to five hours.” she says. “They changed my hours to eight to four without giving it a second thought.”

“We customize our benefits and compensation to fit the individual.” – Alanna Doverspike, Vice-president, Corporate Services

That type of flexibility is the norm rather than the exception, says Alanna Doverspike, Sealweld’s vice-president, corporate services. “We customize our compensation and benefits to fit the individual,” Doverspike says. “If an employee has young children and would like orthodontics covered rather than physiotherapy or chiropractic, we can do that through our supplemental benefits plan. But the entire nature of our company is about customization and being adaptable.”

Sealweld is a third-generation, familyowned business that was founded in Calgary in 1969. It has regional offices in Houston, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and customers in 90 countries around the world as well as a network of partners, distributors and agents to serve them. The company manufactures a line of proprietary lubricants, sealants and cleaners used in the operation and maintenance of pipeline and oil well valves. Sealweld also manufactures injection equipment as well as fittings and adapters. And that is just one of its four business units. The second is the training division which offers a valve technician certification program in conjunction with the University of Texas Petroleum Extension Service.

Sealweld’s service division employs field crews that provide general maintenance as well as emergency sealing to customers in Canada, the U.S. and globally. The company has recently started an engineered solutions division that conducts research and development to come up with new products, processes and procedures. Sealweld hires a wide range of employees, says Doverspike, including sales representatives, service technicians, quality inspectors and engineers as well as accounting, human resource and other administrative professionals. “We’ll customize any aspect of your employment,” says Doverspike. “For example, when we hire sales reps we give them the option of buying them a company vehicle or having a car allowance. Our company is all about customization and being adaptable.” And once they’re on staff, employees can take advantage of a wide range of in-house learning opportunities, or they

SEALWELD SENIOR VALVE TECHNICIANS KEITH ZUCCATO AND ERNIE COATES INJECT SEALANT

43

full-time staff in Canada

39

average age of employees

can take college or university-level courses with the full support of the company. “We have an education program that is second to none,” says Patrick Hunter, vicepresident of global sales and marketing. “We pay 100 per cent of the cost of any outside courses as long as they are reasonably applicable to the job you do. We’ll put people through university.” Murphy started in November 2013 as a receptionist with the equivalent of a

ALWAYS INNOVATIVE, PROFESSIONAL AND DEDICATED

50%

executive team are women

years, longestserving employee

high school diploma before moving to her current position as administrator of the training division and she has already been able to complete three courses at the University of Calgary. “It’s been great,” says Murphy. “They’ve given me the time I needed and the funds to take these courses. I likely never would have had that kind of opportunity elsewhere.”

TRAINING

SALES

VALVE INTEGRITY MADE EASY WWW.SEALWELD.COM

CORPORATION

45

ZER MAX

SERVICES


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CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

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At Sigma Systems, culture is the “secret sauce”

onstant change is what excites the highly-skilled, forward-looking software professionals at Toronto-based Sigma Systems, says Tim Spencer, president and chief executive officer.

“I don’t really like to use the word employee,” he says. “It gives the impression that we are a group of people working for someone else. We have a different approach at Sigma and it has served us well. We work for each other and for our customers. Innovation, profit and success are welcome by-products of that approach.” “Our culture is what makes us all tick— it’s our secret sauce,” adds Jocelyn Bryce, vice-president of human resources “We feel a great responsibility to each other. When we support and care for each other, success in the business becomes easier to deliver. In the end we have a satisfied team, happy customers and some pretty awesome parties.”

“We continue to be at the forefront of a lot of great technology.” – Mike Cosgrove, Senior Solutions Consultant

“I’ve travelled the globe for work,” says Mike Cosgrove, a senior solutions consultant. “I’ve been to Europe and Asia many times although my home base has always been Toronto.” That is one of the enduring positives for Cosgrove, who joined the company in 1998 when there were only 20 employees. The company’s suite of products, and its ability to stay ahead of the curve in a business distinguished by incredibly fast change, is another. “We work with a lot of cutting-edge technology,” he says. “We were providing software to some of our clients when they were just beginning to launch highspeed internet. We’ve been at the forefront of a lot of great technology.”

Sigma occupies a space between the consumer and the service providers of broadband, video, mobile and communications services and develops software products that allows customers to buy those services. Sigma boasts 80 customers in over 40 countries around the world and, as a result, it has a “global footprint,” says Bryce. Nearly three-quarters of the company’s 400 employees are based outside Canada in places as far-flung as the UK, India, Japan and Brazil.

Openness and transparency are crucial components of the corporate culture at Sigma and the company promotes these values formally and informally. The executive team holds quarterly town hall meetings to keep employees abreast of new developments, customer successes and their quarterly financial results.

PROUD TO BE ONE OF

SIGMA SYSTEMS PRESIDENT TIM SPENCER AND VP HR JOCELYN BRYCE TREAT EMPLOYEES ON “ICE CREAM THURSDAY”

105

full-time staff in Canada

years, longestserving employee

Company executives also connect with employees on an informal basis on Thursday afternoons, which has come to be called “ice cream day” at Sigma. “This is when members of the leadership team hand out ice cream,” says Bryce. “We encourage everyone to stop whatever it is they are doing and take a few moments out to enjoy the treat and catch-up on developments of the week. This applies to people even if they are meeting with a customer. Of course, the customer gets ice cream too.” Sigma has grown rapidly and that has created plenty of opportunities for employees to grow and develop. Cosgrove notes that a number of the current managers and senior executives started in junior roles and he adds that the company is generous with training and development allowances,

Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers

sigma-systems.com

19

20

jobs available last year

1,200

staff volunteer hours last year

which has helped with his own career advancement. “If I found a course I wanted to take I put in a request for it and the company has always put me through it,” he says. “As long as there was value in it, the company supported me.” Sigma gives to a number of charities and sponsors a village in India through Free the Children. Employees have raised $130,000 since 2010, money that went toward schools, clean water projects and a health centre. Sigma also encourages its employees to give back through an internal program called Give A Day, Get A Day. Employees can donate a day’s salary to the charity. The employee gets a tax credit for a charitable donation and Sigma gives them an extra day of vacation.


CANADA’S TOP SMALL & MEDIUM EMPLOYERS

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M

Swish Maintenance preserves its family feel

ike Cyr made a clean break when he changed jobs five years ago, jumping from a national telecommunications giant to Swish Maintenance Limited, a Peterborough, Ont.-based manufacturer and distributor of sanitation supplies. He welcomed the chance to work for a rapidly growing, family-owned and operated firm that will celebrate its 60th anniversary next year.

future managerial needs, the company last year initiated its Accelerated Learning Program to identify highpotential employees and equip them for future leadership roles, including matching them with mentors. “Over the last several years,” says CEO Shane Mahoney, “we’ve put a real emphasis on employee engagement and development, and creating a true career path throughout the organization.”

“You get that close-knit feeling,” says the Clean-it™ Centre Team Lead in the company’s Peterborough location. “The company is small enough that you can talk with the CEO, but still large enough to provide you with the security, stability and advancement opportunity available at a large organization.”

A focus on employee satisfaction helps explain why the average recruit stays with Swish for about 10 years—significantly higher than the industry average. Others build a lifelong career there. “People ask me, ‘How can you stay at a company for so long?’” says Human Resources Manager Vikki Howson. “I say because I’ve moved through different jobs here, I have never been bored.”

There was a steep learning curve, says Cyr, but the company provides the resources needed to master its wide range of Swish branded and national branded cleaning products. In fact, every employee, no matter what department they’re in, spends some time initially in a Swish Clean-it™ Centre to gain a better understanding of the business.

“Over the last several years, we’ve put a real emphasis on employee engagement and development, and creating a true career path throughout the organization.” – Shane Mahoney, CEO

The learning doesn’t stop there. Swish Maintenance covers the cost of both internal and external work-related seminars and courses. And to meet its

Employees enjoy fair compensation and a solid benefits package, says Cyr, including a retirement program to which employees and the company can contribute. Two years ago, the company introduced an employee assistance program (EAP) that includes personal counselling, financial planning and legal advice. An employee recognition program called Do It Right the First Time awards points for achieving certain standards in sales, customer service and other areas. A $150 gift card goes to those who reach specific totals. Swish Maintenance also offers a paid personal day each year for staff to use as they see fit. It’s now known as an Ambler Day, in honour of the company’s founding family. Despite steady organic growth and acquisitions, Swish Maintenance has successfully preserved its family feeling. Every year, for example, the company provides a $500 scholarship to the children of employees who are pursuing

• Industry Leaders in Cleaning Products and Equipment • Local Presence National Power • Committed to our people, communities, customer and industry innovation Call 1-855-GOSWISH (467-9474) or visit www.swishclean.com

SWISH MAINTENANCE CEO SHANE MAHONEY DISCUSSES PRODUCT DETAILS WITH EMPLOYEE HOLLY CARR PHOTO CREDIT: DANIEL ALEXANDER

275

full-time staff in Canada

44.4

average employee age

post-secondary education. To qualify, the students are asked to write a short essay about their career goals, and each one is read by Swish Director and shareholder Mike Ambler. Events like an annual golf tournament, an employee Christmas party and a children’s Christmas party help enhance the family atmosphere. Above all, says Mahoney, Swish Maintenance looks for job candidates with a positive, people-oriented approach and a desire to build a career. “One of the most important things is hiring someone with the right attitude,” he notes, “because, for Swish, our value proposition is

43

years, longest serving employee

15

job postings last year

really centred around customer service excellence. The technical components are trainable, whereas the softer characteristics you just can’t train.” In one of his first conversations with the CEO, recalls Cyr, he was asked where he would like to go in the company. That concern for employees at the very top, he says, makes a world of difference. “If I had to sum it up in one sentence,” he concludes, “the best part of working for Swish is I want to be here. When I wake up in the morning, I want to go into work and put in a full day’s effort because I know at the end of the day, the company is doing that for me, as well.”


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Want to go far? Go with TeraGo into the cloud

lightly more than a year ago, TeraGo Networks decided it didn’t want to be just another Internet company. So it began a strategic shift into the IT solutions world and now it has its head in the cloud.

The transformation began when Stewart Lyons took over as President and CEO of the Thornhill, Ont.-based company in January 2014. TeraGo moved quickly to acquire data centres and offer cloud storage and computing services, allowing it to expand into IT services that complement its established high-speed Internet offerings.

“We all have one goal making this company as successful as it can be.” – Josh Druxerman, Regional Sales Manager

“The world of telecom and IT have crashed into each other. You can’t sell only connectivity and voice. Customers today expect a wider array of services,” says Lyons, noting that TeraGo is following a business model developed in the U.S. and still relatively new in Canada. The strategic shift benefits not just TeraGo’s current and potential customers, but its employees as well. There are many new opportunities opening up as TeraGo looks for potential merger and acquisition targets and works to develop new cloud and data centre products and services. It’s an atmosphere in which employees and new hires can flourish, make a difference and advance.

Lyons says the company is getting invited to participate in larger deals. Its acquisition last year of three data centres has dramatically increased its capacity. “They’re mostly empty at this time, so we can fill them with customers,” says the CEO.

With some 4,100 business customers in 46 major Canadian markets already, TeraGo focuses on the small and medium-sized (SME) market. “We’re very much alone in terms of who we’ve targeted,” says Lyons, adding that TeraGo is the smallest of the bigger telcos, not quite in Bell, Rogers and Telus territory. For Josh Druxerman, who came to TeraGo from one of the big three telecoms six years ago, the recent changes are more of a good thing. He already liked the smaller company atmosphere where “you can just walk over to someone’s office and say, ‘hey can we do this?’ as opposed to sending an RFP and waiting 30 days.” “Your voice can be heard. If you have an idea, someone is listening,” he explains. “There’s a family or a boutique feel. That’s what I like about TeraGo and speak about when I talk to potential hires.” Recently promoted to the role of Regional Sales Manager, Druxerman sees the strategy shift as a way “to get ahead of the game, look ahead and future-proof the company. We are changing quite a lot and I think it’s great,” he says. “We all have one goal - making this company as successful as it can be.” In his time at TeraGo, Druxerman has been the beneficiary of advice and help from both colleagues and managers. The extent that his teammates will go to help out is unique, he says. And the constant communications and feedback from managers has allowed for genuine professional development.

INTERNET ACCESS

INTERNET ACCESS

DATA CENTERS

DATA CENTERS

CLOUD CLOUD

TERAGO STAFF AT THEIR HEAD OFFICE IN THORNHILL

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full-time staff in Canada

2,760

job applications last year

As a publicly traded company since 2007, TeraGo encourages employees to become owners through a share purchase plan. It has a year-end bonus program and offers ongoing employee development with tuition subsidies for courses taken at both outside institutions and in-house. Vacation allowances start at three weeks or more. There are also the little things that make TeraGo special, like the company’s “Cheers for Peers” program.

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www.terago.ca www.terago.ca

41

average employee age

65

jobs available last year

This enables employees to recognize their peers who go that “extra mile”. Winners receive same day recognition for a job well done, along with a coffee card and thank you note that acknowledges their extra effort. And then there’s Bagel Fridays. While no one ever takes a job for the bagels or the sponsored lunchtime hockey games, they do help build a passionate team spirit - especially when, as Druxerman notes, “they’re really good bagels.”


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At Think Shift, think young, think engagement

hink Shift is a Winnipeg-based advertising agency and consultancy that helps its clients focus on three key areas— brand, culture and leadership.

“What those outside the organization think of you is brand,” says Think Shift CEO David Baker. “What those inside the organization think of you is culture. These are two sides of the same coin and the catalyst for making sure they are aligned is all about leadership.” Successful leaders, adds Baker, are those who take an intentional approach to defining their corporate culture and finding the right people to help nurture it. And as long as that culture is authentic and engaging, it will attract the attention of potential customers and employees alike.

“The mood is positive and keeps everyone moving forward.” – Kiirsten May, Lead Copywriter

The driving philosophy behind Think Shift, which has a joint head office in Portland, Oregon, reflects many of the changes in advertising and marketing as a result of the Internet and social media. “The focus used to be on broadcasting a message and trying to convince people about the value of your products and services,” says Baker. “Today, it’s about finding ways to connect with people who are free to shop and compare and who can investigate online everything from the intent of your organization to how you treat the environment. And potential employees are doing the same.”

The lessons Think Shift shares with clients are ones it also takes to heart in its own workplace.

“We have a very defined culture, which is opportunity-based,” says Baker. “We really elevate and promote individuals who take advantage of opportunities.” That’s one reason why, in a company with 60 fulltime Canadian employees, 16 people changed positions last year.

“Our strategy is to create the very best place to work for a specific kind of person,” explains Baker. “That clarity of culture tends to attract people who believe what you believe. In our case, we attract a pretty upwardly mobile group, so we need to be creating opportunities for change and personal growth.” The average age of Think Shift employees is just 32, a reflection of the skill sets required to do work largely focused on the digital world. What does that relatively young workforce bring to the company? “It’s positive, but there’s challenges as well,” says Baker. “You have to put more energy into education and training, because you really need a business understanding to drive results. You also need the kind of workplace that appeals to millennials.” One way Think Shift does this is by being flexible about where, and when, employees work. “We’re clear this is a fun place to be, but it’s also a lot of work,” says Baker. “We give people a lot of flexibility in how they wish to plan their day. These are all factors that attracted Kiirsten May, who joined Think Shift in October 2013. A graduate of the creative communications joint degree program at Red River College and the University of Winnipeg, May had worked for three years as a copywriter

TWO THINK SHIFT INC. EMPLOYEES ENJOY A 2014 STAFF RETREAT

60

full-time staff in Canada

32

average employee age

at a more conventional agency before being approached by Think Shift. “Right away, I could tell it’s a different ballgame here,” says May. “They told me about a range of opportunities and asked which one was interesting to me— something that almost never happens.” Originally hired as an account coordinator, May found the company very responsive when, just three months later, she made it clear she wanted to shift back to copywriting. She now leads

22

jobs available last year

16

staff changed jobs last year

Think Shift’s copywriting department and recently took part in the company’s 2015 strategic planning sessions. “I feel very valued here,” says May. “The mood is positive and keeps everyone moving forward. There’s an absence of office politics. I also like that I don’t have to be at my desk for fixed hours every day. I can work from home or the local Starbucks. The focus instead is on results and delivering the best work possible.”

Offices in Winnipeg, MB and Portland, OR www.thinkshiftinc.com


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Eat well: Vigilant Global goes all-out on perks

f you’re an employee of Montrealbased Vigilant Global, there is such a thing as a free lunch.

Breakfast, too.

Managing director Arvind Ramanathan has been providing those two meals to staff ever since he co-founded the company in 2005 with a handful of employees. “The way I was raised, you don’t eat if others are hungry,” he says. “So I would go out for food and say, who wants what? And it’s just continued. Now, of course, we have all sorts of different needs—like vegan and people with special diets. We take care of everybody, every day.”

“There’s a lot of opportunity here for people to expand and rise to a challenge.” – Marc Venne, Sr. System Administrator & Data Acquisition Team Lead

The food is useful fuel. Vigilant Global operates at lightning speed in financial markets around the world, particularly in futures. It’s what’s known as a proprietary trading firm, which means it generates income by investing its own funds rather than money deposited by clients. But it is fundamentally a technology company. Firms like Vigilant rely on highly specialized software that makes trades instantly and automatically, often involving options and other complex strategies in a manner similar to a hedge fund.

Vigilant’s 120 employees include software engineers, software developers, network engineers and network architects, concentrated in the IT and research & development departments. There are also about a dozen financial market strategists, but the workplace style invokes Silicon Valley, not Wall Street. “It’s a very collaborative process,” says Ramanathan. “Some of the techies have a very good grasp of what’s going on in the financial markets, but you don’t have to in order to work here. We like to say, you choose your own involvement.”

Amid the monitors, the downtown Montreal office features a lot of bright, plantfilled open space, plus the fabled cafeteria, “smoothie stations” and two games rooms. “Games are very popular with the whole crowd here,” says Ramanathan. Some of Vigilant’s benefits are stellar for any Canadian company. New mothers can receive maternity and parental leave top-up payments to 100 per cent of salary for 50 weeks. Day care is subsidized. Gym memberships are supported to $1,200 per year. Staff can choose between a free monthly transit pass or a parking permit. And they each have a $500 annual allowance to support any group activity—guitar lessons, parasailing, cooking classes, whatever—that involves at least five employees participating together. For work-life balance, the company is also on the leading edge in terms of time off. Along with a starting level of three weeks’ vacation, employees can take five personal days per year and another five paid days to do volunteer work. The company supports a variety of charities and institutions. Marc Venne, senior system administrator and team lead for the Data Acquisition Department, appreciates the benefits—he has a son in daycare. And as

VIGILANT GLOBAL EMPLOYEES VOLUNTEER AT A HABITAT FOR HUMANITY “BUILD-DAY”

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full-time staff in Canada

1,800

job applications last year

an early recruit—2006—he remembers the breakfast and lunches right from the start. “For tech people, it’s very convenient,” he says. “You never have to think about it. It just shows up.” Venne’s role, originally tech support, grew with the company. He now ensures that the real-time financial information coming in from Dow Jones, Bloomberg and other vendors circulates throughout the company in the proper format. “They just let me run with it,” he says. “I set up my own team. There’s a lot of opportunity here for people to expand and rise to a challenge.”

1,200

staff volunteer hours last year

10

charities helped last year

He also praises Vigilant’s open culture and constant information sharing. “There’s nothing like seeing new people come in and feel completely at ease. They see that everybody is able to bring ideas forward to the table.” And then there are the activities that help bring Vigilant’s people together. Venne especially likes the annual barbecue in a Montreal park. “All the families come with their kids,” he says. “It really says who we are—not just numbers but a family. That’s really important to me.”


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Making the cut at Walter Surface Technologies

he corporate tagline of Walter Surface Technologies is “Only the Best.” That statement not only describes the company’s products, service and facility but also its people, says CEO Pierre Somers.

The family owned and operated company has been a leader in highperformance cutting tools for the metal-working industry since 1952. It provides high-productivity abrasives, power tools, tooling, chemical solutions and environmental solutions to the mining, transportation, automobile and aviation industries, among others.

“The company mentality is innovative and all about only the best.” – Ryan Boyd, Marketing Specialist

Walter is active in nine countries and on every continent. In 2012, it unveiled its new international headquarters in Pointe-Claire, Que., whose production plant was built to LEED Gold standards. “We decided to do that to walk the talk and because we believe in leading by example,” says Somers, whose grandfather started the company in Germany and whose father launched the Canadian arm. The building has a free gym and an on-site cafeteria, which has skylights and is built from natural materials. Walter looks for team players who want to add value in everything they do, from their own job performance to that of their team members and, ultimately, their customers. Employees can broaden their experience by travelling to international markets and

by accessing Walter Share, an online multilingual knowledge-sharing system. Last September, the company launched an innovative program called Next to Succeed (Objectif: Relève), in which university students can apply for a three-month paid internship that will allow them to explore the various components of a successful business, including the opportunity to work with the president and CEO. “We’re hoping to groom the next generation of the company’s leaders,” says Somers.

The inaugural Next to Succeed intern is 23-year-old Ryan Boyd, who graduated from McGill University with a bachelor of commerce degree in April 2014. His internship started last September and ended on Dec. 6. Two days later, Walter offered him a full-time job as a marketing specialist for the Canadian market. “I turned down a formal job offer to accept the internship because I was going to be working with top-level management at an international company,” says Boyd, who is from Montreal. Through Next to Succeed, Walter hopes to encourage other Canadian organizations to put in place a strong leadership succession plan by investing in young leaders. Somers and Boyd will travel to top business universities across the country to inform students about the challenges with leadership succession and to encourage applications for the internship program. During the internship, Boyd attended international board meetings in Connecticut, Switzerland and Montreal. At two of them, he gave presentations about his experience in the program and his major project, which was data analytics and marketing automation. At the end of the internship, Boyd drafted a 32-page summary report. “I think working on that project helped me get a job here after,” he says.

WALTER SURFACE TECHNOLOGIES’ CEO PIERRE SOMERS

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full-time staff in Canada

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jobs available last year

Before he was hired, Boyd knew of Walter but had no idea what the company did. Today he couldn’t be happier working for an organization that places an emphasis on environmental stewardship, both in its eco-friendly headquarters and its sustainable products. He also appreciates that the people he collaborates with genuinely enjoy their jobs. “Everyone is on the same page, and the leadership and the work atmosphere is fantastic,” he says. Because he’s a new employee, Boyd isn’t looking too far down his career path, but he has been at Walter long enough to

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years, longestserving employee

2,500

job applications last year

recognize that a number of hard-working, committed employees have worked their way up the corporate ladder. “I believe there’s a fair bit of potential to move up within the company,” he says. Boyd is also impressed that Walter had the foresight to create an internship program in which the CEO, the CFO and board members are accessible, approachable and available to answer questions. “The company mentality is innovative and all about only the best,” he says. “The best people, the best facility, the best products and the best service.”


Call for Applications If you are an exceptional employer with 500 employees or less, we invite you to submit an application for next year’s edition of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers. For more information, please visit: www.CanadasTop100.com/apply Application deadline: April 24, 2015

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Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2015)  

The official magazine announcing the winners of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers for 2015. Published in The Globe and Mail on March 10...