2011 Best Companies: 100 Employees or Fewer

Meet our best small companies to work for in B.C., including the overall winner, Strangeloop Networks Inc.

Best Companies in B.C. 2011 | BCBusiness
Charting the rock star companies of 2011 with fewer than 100 employees.

Meet our best small companies to work for in B.C., including the overall winner, Strangeloop Networks Inc.

The overall winner – for the fourth straight year – is Strangeloop Networks Inc., a Vancouver-based firm owned and operated by twin brothers Jonathan and Joshua Bixby. Broadly representative of B.C.’s enduring high-tech sector, Strangeloop is in the business of enhancing website performance. As one of its 40 employees explains, Strangeloop is a “small but incredibly technically advanced company” where everyone gets to “wear different hats.”

The result, the founders maintain, is a nimble company that’s faster to market, and a workplace in which opportunities for professional growth abound. The Bixby brothers believe that leadership transparency and employee engagement are critical to staff motivation and retention, themes that were echoed across the industry sectors we visited this year.

Beyond the perks and pay, one of the common themes in this year’s employee comments is that it’s a company culture in which they are encouraged to share ideas – and where those ideas are actually valued – that helps them out of bed on a Monday morning. For companies seeking to better motivate employees, one take-away from our 10th annual Best Companies survey is to seek ways to genuinely challenge and engage individual staff members, while continuing to foster fun across the company.

1. Strangeloop Networks Inc.

Vancouver | Digital Tech and Tech Services | 40 employees
Strangeloop develops, installs and maintains hardware and software that optimizes website performance, and twin brothers Jonathan and Joshua Bixby give employees the flexibility to get their work done. “At Strangeloop this ability to take on various roles not only makes us more nimble and faster to market; it also provides so much opportunity for professional growth,” says one employee.

2. Kardium Inc.

Richmond | Health Sciences and Services | 44 employees
Kardium develops medical devices to treat cardiovascular disease. In an environment where risk-taking and innovation are valued, employees say they appreciate that mistakes are accepted as inevitable, especially when they’re constantly expected to switch gears. “The variety of work encountered every day is an excellent opportunity,” comments one staff member. “The exposure to such a range of fields is a unique experience which provides a wide range of just that – experience.”

3. Kryton International Inc.

Vancouver | Manufacturing, Construction and Distribution | 46 employees
Kryton develops, manufactures and markets a range of products that waterproof, repair and protect concrete structures. The company prides itself on putting its employees and clients first. As one employee comments, “My company pushes me to develop my professional skills every day. I’m constantly motivated to complete my projects, am given the freedom to learn from those challenges and am recognized for my successes.”

4. 6S Marketing Inc.

Vancouver | Professional Services and Communications | 31 employees
This Internet marketing company helps businesses promote and position their company online, but it starts by promoting and positioning employees. “When I started in sales I did not have any professional attire to wear to functions,” comments one employee. “I asked to have some funds available for me to purchase some professional clothes and outlined how this would make me more confident and allow me to represent the company better. The expense was approved without any further questions. It really made a big difference for me.”

5. Habañero Consulting Group

Vancouver | Professional Services and Communications | 72 employees
Habañero is an IT consulting firm based in Vancouver. One employees notes that with a corporate structure built on transparency and social responsibility, “Habañero is really walking the walk right now.” Another adds: “Habañero has done a great job of using its collaborative culture and flat structure to allow us to create custom career paths based on our strengths rather than following boxes on an organization chart. There is a deep level of trust and goodwill throughout Habañero, which is really inspiring and motivating.”

6. Summerland & Disctrict Credit Union

Summerland | Financial Services | 35 employees
This credit union is “truly community focused,” as one employee points out, and that keeps the staff motivated and engaged. Another comments, “When I was volunteering at a community event, a fellow volunteer couldn’t say enough good things about my company. It felt wonderful when she said, ‘I don’t understand why everyone in town doesn’t have an account at your credit union.’”

7. Schill Insurance Brokers Ltd.

Delta | Financial Services | 25 employees
Schill offers insurance policies for the home, car, business and recreation. Employees praise the company’s flexibility, with one pointing out that the office closed early during the Stanley Cup final games. Others cite being allowed to set their work hours according to their children’s school schedule. One sums up by suggesting that “when you have the right people around you, great things can happen and work is no longer a chore but a true pleasure.”

8. Tourism Victoria

Victoria | Hospitality & Tourism | 35 employees
Tourism Victoria is responsible for development and promotion of tourism in Greater Victoria. “At Tourism Victoria Tourism Centre we help around 10,000 a day,” explains one employee. “Our managers, supervisors and head office staff still make it a great environment even during a busy rush or a slow day.” Another notes that “there are a lot of long-term staff in the organization who have worked their way up through the company. That gives you a sense of stability.”

9. Benefits by Design Inc.

Port Coquitlam | Professional Services and Communications | 44 employees
Benefits by Design puts together benefit packages and oversees benefit plans on behalf of its clients. “BBD walks the talk when it comes to work/life balance with flexible working arrangements and tools to promote healthy lifestyles,” notes one employee.

10. Adrena Line Adventure Tours Ltd.

Sooke | Hospitality & Tourism | 27 employees
This tour company specializes in organizing zipline adventures over the Sooke Hills. Apart from an unbeatable location, employees say working for Adrena Line is a thrill because where else can zipping over a tree canopy be part of a day’s work? Staff are particularly impressed by their employer’s efforts to give back to the world. “It does some fantastic fundraisers throughout the season for some very worthwhile charities,” notes one.

11. Vineyard Networks Inc.

Okanagan Valley | Digital Tech and Tech Services | 26 employees
Vineyard Networks delivers application technology to networking and telecom vendors around the world. “Vineyard’s ideas and strategy in the worldwide market provide a unique opportunity to be part of a company that could grow very rapidly,” enthuses one staff member. And the growth starts with employees’ development: “There is an amazing ability to learn from everyone that I work with,” says another.
Back to the 2011 Best Companies