Recognized as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 24, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Swish Maintenance Limited was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2017):
- Swish Maintenance invests in ongoing employee education with generous tuition subsidies for job-related courses (to $5,000 per year) -- and supports the education of the next generation through an academic scholarship program for children of employees (to $500 per child)
- Swish Maintenance encourages employees to become recruiters, offering referral bonuses of up to $1,000
- Along with a year-end bonus program, Swish Maintenance employees are encouraged to save for the longer term with matching RSP contributions
Family-owned Swish cleans up in staff loyalty
When Fred Leicht joined the Swish Group of Companies as an Operations Manager, it was a mid-life career switch from manufacturing. Leicht was brand new to the Swish world of cleaning and sanitation solutions and products, but he caught on fast.
"Swish does a very good job at training programs and mentoring," he explains. "There's always someone within Swish who can give you a quick answer."
After six years with the company, he now knows well that cleaning and sanitation products are constantly changing and customers need to be kept up to date. Swish helps them clean everything from hospital operating rooms to factory floors.
"Our company focus is we're experts in complete cleaning solutions. We go up against national and international companies, also Mom and Pop shops," he says. "We strive to ensure that all of our staff are as educated as possible."
Leicht oversees operations at the Barrie, Ont. branch of Swish, which is headquartered in Peterborough, Ont. with 15 locations coast-to-coast in Canada and in the northeast United States. Since it began operations as a two-man business in 1956, Swish has grown into one of the country's leading experts in cleaning and sanitation solutions and products including organic and eco-friendly lines. It employs approximately 230 people in Canada.
The company's growth has been both organic and through acquisitions. "We are growing because the opportunity is there," says Michelle Kirkland, Director of Human Resources. After Swish acquired a B.C. company to help expand Swish's national footprint, Leicht and others were sent there to provide operational support, an assignment he really enjoyed and which built a connection between the new Vancouver branch and its eastern counterparts.
Kirkland says that along with the expertise, quality and value Swish provides to customers, its green product line is "another piece that sets us apart in the marketplace."
Swish also continues to see itself very much as a family company. Kirkland, who came to Swish two years ago from a U.S.-headquartered multinational, says it's a very different atmosphere. And she sees a lot of loyalty in two directions. The family owners always ask, "What will the impact be on our employees?" when any change is being considered. Likewise, she says, "you see a lot of loyalty to the company."
Like Kirkland, Leicht too came from a bigger company where he says he sometimes felt treated like "a number or a commodity." He likes being able to pick up the phone and talk to employees at all the different branches or head office to find the information he needs to help customers.
"I've never ever had a bad Sunday night when you're thinking, "Oh no, I have to go to work tomorrow," he says.
Kirkland emphasizes that employees aren't "siloed." Unlike at a bigger, publicly traded company she and others have more latitude to work with employees across the organization to quickly respond to changing business needs and improve operational processes.
Recognition and rewards are important to Swish. "All of our employees participate in some type of incentive plan," she says. "For non-commission employees, we just recently launched a new plan, which is transparent and tied directly to the metrics of the business." Employees are also incentivized for operational achievements under the Do It Right The First Time Program.
The company matches RSP contributions and offers a tuition assistance program as well as an annual scholarship program for employee's children pursuing post-secondary education.
During the summer months Swish offers a flex time program, barbecue lunches and an annual family event. At Christmas time, the children's party is a much-loved tradition.