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 Scalar Decisions Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2016):
- Scalar Decisions helps employees balance their work and personal lives with flexible hours and telecommuting work options
- Scalar Decisions offers new employees three weeks of paid vacation and considers previous work experience when setting vacation entitlements
- Scalar Decisions supports ongoing employee development with tuition subsidies for courses at outside institutions, in-house training and subsidies for professional accreditation
At Scalar Decisions, growth is part of the culture
In his previous job, Kevin Graham kept running into competitors from a growing IT solutions integrator in Toronto called Scalar Decisions Inc.
"They were a pain in the neck," he says. "I kept hoping they'd go away. But they didn't go away. My former employer went away."
Graham recognized the cultural differences between Scalar and other IT firms, including his own. As he became friends with his rivals, they suggested several times that he join them.
In 2011, as his own employer floundered, Graham took their advice. "I even made a backward career move," he says. "I accepted less pay to do a job I'd already done at my previous employer."
His backward step didn't last long. Scalar was still growing by more than 25 per cent a year, and Graham advanced along with it. In less than a year, he'd been promoted to a partnership role. Within three years, he'd become a National Partner Manager. As an Account Executive since 2014, he has developed new business, maintained relationships with existing customers and managed teams of Scalar professionals as the company expands further across the country.
"I've had seven managers in five years," says Graham. "But it's never been an 'oh-my-god, this is horrible' kind of situation. It means I've been part of the growth that makes our company successful."
The qualities that sustain Scalar's continuing expansion didn't happen by accident. They were in place from the day that CEO and President Paul Kerr founded the company in 2004. "I came from a company that had a phenomenal culture," Kerr says. "When I started Scalar, I tried to create the same culture, in everything we did."
That included meeting new employees like Graham on their first day on the job. "I walked into the office at 8:30 in the morning," says Graham, "and I met Paul. He showed me to my desk, said, 'Have a good day', and I went to work."
As Scalar remains true to Kerr's vision, he recognizes the challenge of combining its culture with its business growth. The company now employs 338 people in eight cities across Canada, and Kerr can no longer meet every new employee when they arrive for their first day on the job. And yet the firm's defining culture prevails.
That culture, he says, is based on a simple concept: compete hard, play hard. Scalar's leaders work hard not only to build their company but to sustain its culture as well. That means paying attention to details like considering a new employee's previous work experience when setting vacation entitlements and communicating clearly with employees about each step involved in the company's expansion.
"Our growth has never been stressful," says Kevin Graham. "The changes have always been calculated and communicated in advance."
Continuing growth confirms that Scalar competes hard. To play hard, the firm's employees take turns assuming the position of Director of Fun, organizing outings that have ranged from umbrella self-defence and axe-throwing to go-karting and archery tag.
"People at other companies often come up to me and say, 'You guys seem like you have a ton of fun,'," says Graham.
Competing hard and playing hard seem to pay off. Scalar now ranks among the leading companies in its field in Canada. Since mid-2015 alone, the company has made two further acquisitions, increasing its annual revenues to $325 million.
Meanwhile, senior staff still welcome new employees when they arrive for their first day on the job and help them to integrate smoothly into the organization.
"Now we talk about how we can become a great company, not just a big company," Kerr says. "It's a process of hiring great leaders, stepping back and letting them be great too."