Recognized as one of Alberta's Top Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 20, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Champion Petfoods LP was selected as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2018):
- Champion Petfoods provides maternity leave top-up payments for employees who are new mothers (to 70% of salary for up to 17 weeks) and also offers flexible hours for when they are ready to return to work
- In addition to Champion Petfoods' regular health benefits plan, the company offers a health spending account of up to $750, allowing employees to customize levels of coverage to suit their personal needs
- Champion Petfoods invests in ongoing employee development with subsidies for tuition and professional accreditation, opportunities for formal mentoring, and a variety of in-house and online training programs, including apprenticeships
At Champion Petfoods, you 'play to your Gretzky'
At Edmonton-based Champion Petfoods, they've adopted the city's most famous sports icon as a model for encouraging top performance. Through an ongoing high-performance team training process, Champion works with employees to help identify personal and professional strengths and weaknesses -- a process they call "finding your Gretzky."
Explains Nikole Bordato, Champion's Manager of Project Management: "It's a reference you hear almost daily. Wayne Gretzky was someone who focused on his strengths, and managed his weaknesses, so he could become the best at what he was already very good at. Everyone here is encouraged to do the same by what we call 'playing to your Gretzky.'"
Champion, like Number 99, is already a world-class success story. Launched as a family-owned business in 1985, Champion created an ever-expanding market for what it calls its Biologically Appropriate dog and cat foods. Champion's two brands, ORIJEN and ACANA, are now exported to over 85 countries and have won more awards worldwide than any other pet food.
Champion's mission is to cook Biologically Appropriate foods, which mirror what dogs and cats would have eaten in the wild. The foods are made from fresh regional ingredients and never outsourced for cooking. The company's state-of-the-art kitchens, located in Alberta and Kentucky, are focused on research, innovation and food safety, which allows Champion to follow its vision of being trusted by pet lovers everywhere.
Striving for excellence is a priority across the company. "It's a demanding workplace and we have some highly-committed individuals," says Elizabeth Read, Champion's Director of Global Human Resources. "But it's also a very flexible and supporting environment. When people need to step back and take time for themselves, we make sure that happens."
While the company has grown to more than 530 employees worldwide, Read says it has retained the culture of a family-owned business. "Our CEO, Frank Burdzy, is one of the most down-to-earth individuals you'll ever meet," she says. "He spends time with our people and knows everyone's name. It's very refreshing."
The company worked with employees to identify Champion's core values, known as TRAIL (for teamwork, responsibility, authenticity, innovation and leadership). As a result, says Read, "everyone is aware of the values, knows what they mean and how to live them."
Many potential employees are drawn to Champion because they are pet lovers and it's not uncommon for them to bring their dogs to work. Observes Bordato: "It's a fun way to connect with your co-workers over something in common."