Recognized as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Mar 28, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Petcurean Pet Nutrition Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2016):
- Petcurean Pet Nutrition encourages ongoing employee development with in-house and online training as well as tuition subsidies for courses at outside institutions
- An enlightened smaller employer, Petcurean Pet Nutrition supports its new families with maternity leave top-up payments, to 100% of salary for up to 17 weeks
Petcurean Pet Nutrition loves animal lovers
When you join Petcurean Pet Nutrition, you get this message from your new colleagues: "Welcome to the pack!"
Not surprisingly, the staff of the B.C.-based premium pet food maker is full of animal lovers. In fact, one of the perks of working there is free food for your dog or cat.
Jason Leung got the message when he joined six years ago. He started as a sales associate travelling around B.C. and Manitoba, and now is Export Manager for the Asia-Pacific and South American regions.
Leung had arrived from a large company, and found that smaller companies really are different. When he got the welcome message from everyone else on the team, "I didn't know how to respond," he says. "Here it really feels like family."
Petcurean - headquartered in Chilliwack, B.C., about an hour east of Vancouver - produces high-quality food for dogs and cats, sold through pet stores. "People don't realize the power food has over pets," says Leung. "They disregard how the ingredients relate to the health of their cat or dog. Once they've fed them our food, they feel like they have a new pet."
The company has seen fast growth in recent years, with expanding numbers of sales associates across Canada and the United States, a new Export Manager for Europe, and distribution arrangements in Central America, South America, Asia, and Australia/New Zealand. A production plant is located in Elmira, Ont.
Since so many of the 64 global staff are in sales and work remotely out of their homes in Canada and the U.S., Petcurean puts a lot of emphasis on reaching out to them.
"Whether they're in Toronto or Florida, we want them to feel they're part of the pack," says Human Resources Manager Cari McClelland. "Managers have meetings with them through Skype and conference calls. Managers also do a lot of travel to meet staff and make them feel that they're participating."
Recently the company flew staff from all over the continent to Whistler, B.C. for a sales summit and state of the company meeting, including a lot of newer employees. "It was a phenomenal way to bring everyone together," says McClelland.
The company culture, she says, is very collaborative. "We want everyone's input." That includes opinions on the pet food itself. Sometimes employees join formal focus groups, but often they simply advise senior colleagues on how their pets are doing while using the product.
McClelland says that when she arrived about a year ago, "what amazed me was the benefits plan - it was phenomenal for a company of this size."
Employees have extended health benefits, long-term disability, an employee assistance program, a year-end bonus and maternity leave top-up to 100 per cent for 17 weeks. Recently, she says, staff asked if vision care was possible. Senior management looked into the costs, and now employees can get $350 every two years towards the cost of prescription eye care.
Petcurean also supports employees' studies at outside institutions, including management programs at the University of British Columbia.
McClelland says there are often opportunities for head office staff to work from home. But the open, big-windowed workplace has its own attractions, including lunch-and-learn sessions and monthly birthday celebrations with cake. "We have a work-hard, play-hard atmosphere," McClelland says. "It truly is family oriented."
Animals, naturally, loom large in the corporate culture. The company donates food to local animal shelters, and employees volunteer at shelters and support pet rescues. Moreover, in the ultimate in accommodation, a Petcurean executive who recently got a puppy began working from home in order to take care of the new member of her family. Call it "puppy leave."