2012 Best Companies: 100 Employees or Fewer

Meet the best small companies to work for in the province. With our partners at Mindfield RPO Group Inc., we analyzed data from thousands of employee surveys and executive questionnaires to determine this year’s winners for our list of the top companies with 100 employees or fewer. From the digital world to health care, these are the winners and finalists for the province's best small companies. 1. Strangeloop Networks Inc. Digital Tech and Tech Services

Spokes Person: Shawn Bissell from Strangeloop.

Meet the best small companies to work for in the province.

With our partners at Mindfield RPO Group Inc., we analyzed data from thousands of employee surveys and executive questionnaires to determine this year’s winners for our list of the top companies with 100 employees or fewer. From the digital world to health care, these are the winners and finalists for the province’s best small companies.

1. Strangeloop Networks Inc.

Digital Tech and Tech Services

While many companies boast that they encourage their staff to maintain a healthy work/life balance, few deliver as thoroughly as Strangeloop Networks. A website optimization developer, Strangeloop is not only at the cutting edge of technology, but also strives to be well ahead of the curve in its effort to emphasize employee satisfaction. Finance director Birgit Troy points to the company’s engrained belief that “happy people tend to be more productive people” as the driving force behind its office culture.

The ability to work from home is an invaluable perk for many employees trying to care for young families. “That works really well because it gives people a chance to maybe drop off their kids at school, or be there when they come home from daycare,” says Troy. Employees praise the company’s family-first focus, with one saying that he appreciates how the “staff and managers are genuinely interested in my young family and respectful of my role outside of work as a dad. They are also very inclusive and make my wife and son welcome at many social events.”

To top it off, Strangeloop employs an office concierge (someone who’s number-one priority is to make the business’ 45 staff members feel comfortable and happy) who is charged with organizing weekly and monthly events. From a Friday ice cream break, to catered lunches and dress-up parties complete with Ping-Pong tournaments, Strangeloop has found that work and play really are happy bedfellows.

2. Kardium Inc.

Health Sciences and Services

In striving for the best company culture, Kardium, a Vancouver-based technology outfit developing medical devices to treat cardiovascular diseases, starts at the very beginning. “Start with the right people. We want people who are passionate about what they do and work well in a team environment,” says CEO Doug Goertzen.

Employees echo Goertzen’s sentiments, saying that excellent co-workers are at the heart of Kardium’s great culture. One employee extols the organization for building the “most highly qualified, capable, multi-disciplinary team I have ever worked on.”

Hiring only the best of the best means Kardium can embrace a very flat structure: “We let people own their tasks and we don’t micromanage,” explains Goertzen. That means no strict nine-to-five work schedule – most employees have flexibility in choosing their office hours. To further empower employees, Goertzen asserts that all major decisions are made by consensus. That’s important because most members of the business’s small but highly motivated staff of 50 are also part owners of the company.

One employee boiled down Kardium’s success like this: “They hire the best people, give them the best tools and equipment, define clear goals and then get out of the way and let those people get their jobs done.”

3. Habanero Consulting Group Inc.

Professional Services and Communications

According to Caterina Sanders, director of employee experience at productivity consulting firm Habanero Consulting Group, “this company started by being super clear on its values. And we’ve gotten more systematic about understanding those values and hiring people who can really thrive in that environment.”

While employees cite outstanding health, fitness and technology allowances, bonuses, free-lunch Fridays and supportive management as big benefits, Habanero’s laid-back culture is another. “We’re a very flat organization in that we don’t have reporting relationships,” says Sanders. “And there are no set hours in the office.” This shouldn’t be mistaken for lack of motivation. “People here are intense about doing the best work they can for their own self-satisfaction.” Habanero also attracts staff with an over-arching confidence in itself. “We encourage LinkedIn profiles,” says Sanders. “We’re not worried about people being head-hunted. If a great opportunity arises for someone, they should make the most of that.”

With just over 50 employees today and “140 on the horizon in the next couple of years,” according to Sanders, Habanero is always looking for ways to maintain the transparency and celebrate anniversaries. Especially in these times, Sanders adds, you really appreciate the people who got you there.

Best Companies to Work For: Finalists with 100 employees or fewer

4. West Pacific Consulting Group Managed Services Inc.

Burnaby | Professional Services and Communications | 26 employees

As a technology recruitment firm, finding a successful employee-employer fit – for their clients and internally – is key to WPCG’s success. A collaborative, team-based environment is at the heart of WPCG’s approach and it extends to everyone from upper management to the office temp. The leaders and management of this company are readily available and always have their doors open. “I’ve never once had a workplace where we see our leaders walk around the floor and ask how you are doing and how work has been,” one employee comments.

5. Tasktop Technologies Inc.

Vancouver | Digital Tech and Technology Services | 38 employees

A software developer, Tasktop Technologies is dedicated to more than making software integration faster and easier – its owners and managers are determined to create the best work environment possible for the company’s 38 staff members. Whether that means allowing an employee to work from Whistler during the winter, or hosting a weekly Friday afternoon happy hour, Tasktop’s leadership is working to ensure that employees like their job for more than just the paycheque it provides. The employees agree, one commenting that “it’s great working for a company with such a strong culture of innovation and creativity. Tasktop is a happy company!”

6. 6S Marketing Inc.

Vancouver | Professional Services and Communications | 28 employees

A fun and relaxed company culture is at the heart of this Internet marketing firm and it’s what draws employees to it. “We consistently celebrate each other’s successes while still maintaining a work-hard mentality. We are given fresh organic fruit, coffee and treats that always make the job more enjoyable,” enthuses one happy employee. Another points to the fact that company co-founders Chris Breikss and John Blown “have always maintained a culture of excellence and go out of their way to make sure the work environment is happy, productive and well-informed.”

7. Wow-1Day! Painting Inc.

Richmond | Consumer Services | 25 employees

Wow-1Day! Painting is built on a simple but industry-changing promise: while other painting companies may take weeks to complete a project, Brian Scudamore’s operation will be in and out of a customer’s home in just one day. Valuing their customers’ time is behind Wow-1Day!’s unique promise, but valuing their employees’ time is what makes the company an outstanding employer. “Employees are the company’s biggest assets and everyone is treated as such,” enthuses one staff member. That translates into ample holiday time, an annual summer barbecue and a focus on a healthy work/life balance.

8. Summerland & District Credit Union

Summerland | Financial Services | 38 employees

Founded in 1944, Summerland & District Credit Union has remained a mainstay of the town’s economy and community. “Summerland Credit Union has a great reputation in our community as being very involved. Members of staff participate in community events. We also donate to local charities and charitable organizations. I’m proud to be associated with this company,” one employee says. Not only does the credit union serve the community, but it also encourages its employees to join in personally. One staff member notes that working at Summerland & District Credit Union “has helped grow my reputation and my desire for involvement in my community.”

9. Steer Davies Gleave North America Inc.

Vancouver | Professional Services and Communications | 28 employees

Thirty years spent pioneering transportation planning techniques – the strategy, policy and infrastructure requirements of launching projects that include Vancouver’s TransLink rapid transit system – have put Steer Davies Gleave on the map for both city planners and people on the job-hunt. “The work we do is exciting, interesting and cutting-edge in our industry,” says one employee. Another adds, “Our projects make a real difference in cities.” The work environment “makes you actually want to go to work every day,” according to one staff member.

10. Clevest Solutions Inc.

Richmond | Digital Tech and Technology Services | 82 employees

With a focus on electric, gas and water utilities, Clevest Solutions transforms field operations by providing the software to keep mobile crews working quickly and effectively. While Clevest employees list a flexible work environment, great benefits, strong leadership and growth – within the company and as a company – as major perks of the job, their confidence in the organization stands out even more. “I can trust management. We know our market really well and are well focused,” says one. Another adds that Clevest “has a clear vision.” Then there are the Ping-Pong and foosball tables, company ice hockey outings and the well-stocked kitchen. “We work hard and play hard,” confirms one employee.

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