2011 Best Companies: Manufacturing, Construction, Distribution

According to the wisdom of the top five manufacturing, construction, and distribution companies in B.C., interaction – even play – is crucial to ?employee retention.

Waterpark | BCBusiness
Children’s playground manufacturer Waterplay Solutions believes positive staff interaction is a key to happiness and employee retention.

According to the wisdom of the top five manufacturing, construction, and distribution companies in B.C., interaction – even play – is crucial to 
employee retention.

It would be easy to believe that manufacturing, construction and distribution are all products, but most companies in that sector of this year’s Best Companies to Work For believe that they would be nothing without their people. And so, despite an economy that has resulted in extremely low turnover and few recruiting opportunities, these companies still go to great lengths to ensure their employees feel valued.

A common issue for companies in this sector is keeping multiple, unique departments feeling connected to the organization as a whole. For Waterplay Solutions Corp., a children’s playground manufacturer in Kelowna, the challenge is more than an abstract idea; it’s a physical challenge: its manufacturing plant and its sales and distribution office are several blocks apart. To ensure that neither feels like a distant cousin, each department is tasked with organizing a social event every year and key personnel divide their time between the two spaces.

Manufacturing, Construction, Distribution

1. Kryton International Inc

2. Waterplay Solutions Corp.

3. Great Little Box Co. Ltd.

4. Sequel Naturals Ltd.

5. Maxem Eyewear Corp.

Byron Davis, Waterplay’s director of finance, describes another initiative to bridge that gap: “The president of the company [Jill White] goes over and has breakfast and muffins. She works in the sales and marketing office, and she is very in touch with what happens on this side, but she’s started to have monthly breakfast sessions over there so the production and design people can have some face time with her and bring up any concerns they have, or suggestions they have for improvements.” 

Kryton International Inc. manufactures and distributes waterproof concrete. It doesn’t have the challenge of a physical separation, since most of its production happens on-site, but its managers still work hard to integrate the various departments through regular company-wide gatherings, both social and business. They also offer ESL training to reduce language barriers. 

The opportunities for personal growth don’t stop there; everyone is encouraged to advance his or her education. Maria Luisa Guidote-Vargas, the HR manager at Kryton, describes their recent year-long effort: “We called it the E-learning Olympics, and we gave prizes to those who completed the most courses. There were about 300 courses.” Staff could select from a range of courses including Desktop Computer Skills, Professional Effectiveness and Legal Compliance. 

At Waterplay, employees set both personal and professional goals each year, ranging from running a triathlon to earning a motorcycle license. A monetary bonus is tied to each goal’s completion. “We do that,” Davis explains, “to ensure that they have some kind of compensation for living that work/life balance that Jill, management and I, as an employer, think is important.” 

It’s no surprise that employees of both companies routinely say that they find management accessible, or that the word “family” pops up over and over in their surveys. Companies in this sector develop, produce and distribute products, but in the end the top performers know success depends on keeping the people behind the products happy.
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