Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 8, 2015)
Here are some of the reasons why Kruger Products L.P. was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2016):
- In addition to helping employees save for the future, Kruger Products offers retirement planning assistance as well as health benefits that extend to retirees (with no age limit)
- Kruger Products invests in the long-term development of employees through tuition subsidies for courses taken at outside institutions as well as subsidies for professional accreditation
- Kruger Products' main philanthropic focus includes cancer research, conservation and children's health -- the company organizes the White Cashmere Collection event, challenging Canadian fashion designers to create couture designs that have been crafted using the company's Cashmere bathroom tissue, serving as an annual fund- and awareness-raiser for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
At Kruger, sustainability applies to careers, too
Mario Gosselin, CEO of Kruger Products LP, likes to joke that he built his career at the Mississauga-based company from the ground floor - by sweeping it. At the tender age of 17, he was hired at a Kruger newsprint mill in Trois-Rivières, Que., where he laboured by day and studied accounting at night. His tuition was covered by the company.
Over his four-decade career with the organization, he's become a living example of its dedication to helping employees realize their potential. He was eventually hired as an assistant accountant at the mill, and spent the following decades rising through increasingly senior management roles and earning a company-sponsored MBA along the way.
In 2005, he was named chief executive officer of Kruger Products, a leading manufacturer of tissue, towel and napkin products, known for brand names like Cashmere and Scotties. "For us," says Gosselin, 57, "the sky is the limit for people who like to progress within the organization."
At Kruger Products, employees don't need to worry about being pigeon-holed in a particular job, says Serge Reynaud, Corporate Vice-President, Human Resources. "We have no problem looking outside the box," he says. "We're really serious about investing in our people and offering the ability to move beyond the department where they're working."
The company promotes employee mobility through generous tuition subsidies for college, university and professional accreditation programs. In addition, it launched a popular mentorship program two years ago aimed at developing its top talent. The initiative is expanding rapidly across the company's operations in Canada and the United States.
As a family firm, a concern for the wellbeing of employees continues throughout their careers and beyond. Employees have access to financial and retirement planning services, and health benefits extend to retirees, with no age limit.
The family atmosphere is enhanced by a corporate culture that balances hard work with fun. That enjoyment often comes through volunteer activities, which help employees give back to their communities. Kruger Products actively assists charities that benefit cancer research, conservation and children's health. In fact, the company is a Top Five National supporter of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Every year, it organizes the White Cashmere Collection event, a breast cancer funds and awareness raiser that challenges Canadian fashion designers to create couture designs crafted from soft and luxurious sheets of Cashmere bathroom tissue.
The company's commitment to sustainability has become an increasingly important factor in attracting and retaining top employees, says VP, Sustainability and Innovation, Steven Sage. "People just want to know," he observes, "that they're working for a company that cares about the environment and the communities in which they operate."
They also take pride in how much Kruger Products has reduced its environmental footprint. Over the past five years alone, says Sage, the company has slashed its greenhouse gas emissions in Canada by more than 22 per cent, trimmed water usage by 11 per cent, and cut packaging materials by 12 per cent. Its goals for the next five years will be even more ambitious.
Faced with increasingly intense competition from global giants, Kruger Products owes its success to its people, says Gosselin. But in an era when young professionals typically work for several companies over time, he adds, holding on to them is a greater challenge. The company is striving to create an environment where employees can build long-term careers.
"It's up to us to make sure we have programs in place to retain them," he says. "We try to be close with our people as much as we can and work with them to be successful."
This article appeared in the magazine announcing this year's Greater Toronto's Top Employers winners, published December 8, 2015 in The Globe and Mail. This article was prepared with the financial support of the employer, which did not write or edit its contents.