Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 6, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Spin Master Ltd. was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
- Spin Master offers referral bonuses as an incentive for employees to recruit candidates from their personal networks, ranging from $750 to $3,000 for successful hires
- In keeping with its line of business, Spin Master's charitable focus is youth -- the company established "The Toy Movement", a global initiative to ensure children have opportunities to play, learn and grow, regardless of their socioeconomic conditions
- Spin Master invests in ongoing employee development with generous tuition subsidies for job-related courses (to $2,000) and provides in-house and online training options
At Spin Master, take risks and think like a child
The moment Anton Rabie had written his last exam at Western University's Ivey School of Business in April 1994, his friend Ronnen Harary said, "Let's go into business." When the pair started their company (they were soon joined by another friend, Ben Varadi), they didn't have a business plan or market analysis, but they did have $10,000 and what turned out to be a great idea. Earth Buddy, their Chia Pet-type toy, was a phenomenal success - the first of many for Spin Master, the now global toy and entertainment company.
While the strategies are constantly changing, the founders hold the same values now that they did when they started. "For the first 10 years, we didn't articulate our values - we were just living them," says Rabie. "It was really only one or two offices; everyone was interacting with us." Today, Spin Master has 1,900 employees in 28 offices in more than 20 countries.
While the growth is remarkable, it has created new challenges to maintaining the company's culture. "The culture is like a relationship - we have to keep investing," says Rabie. "So we need to continually articulate the culture, storytell the culture, create social groups for the culture, eliminate barriers for people, and then we need to recognize and reward people who are living the culture."
The youthful spirit of risk that was at least partly responsible for Spin Master's beginnings is still very much present. And it was one of the things that drew Amanda Bright to the company. "This embrace of risk is so core to the company's values that you feel it all the time," says Bright, Senior Manager of Product Development. "It really makes for a more creative environment, especially as an engineer. It requires a flexible and dynamic problem solver to do well here."
And to be a good problem solver at Spin Master, you have to be able to think like a child. "Things don't work perfectly all the time, and that's part of the fun of it," Bright says. "You need to have the perspective of your consumer, so a lot of times it's 'Would an eight-year-old really do this? Would they like this colour? Could their hands actually hold this?'"
Along the way, employees are encouraged to speak up about ideas and concerns. "We need creative friction," Rabie says. "We need dialogue which is robust and transparent, and we reward people for having the courage to challenge us." The philosophy at Spin Master, adds Bright, is, "All ideas are good ideas - let's test them out and see what sticks, and if they don't work, they don't work but we're better for trying. And that's super inspiring."
An equally inspiring spirit of philanthropy is pervasive at Spin Master, which has championed its belief that all children have the right to play. Under its Toy Movement initiative, created in 2014, company representatives have gone into troubled areas in countries such as Iran, Mexico, Nicaragua, Turkey and Jordan handing out wrapped toys to children who have next to nothing. In addition, hundreds of Spin Master employees from the Toronto office take part in the annual Caring and Sharing event, during which children pick two free toys - one for themselves and one to give to a friend.
In all, each year Spin Master gives out hundreds of thousands of toys to children in need, and the act of doing so never ceases to inspire. "It changes your life," says Rabie, whose next toy delivery mission will be to a remote area of Africa. "It's one of those times where you're just speechless, you're moved. It's one of those moments you'll carry with you forever."