Recognized as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 12, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Startec was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2018):
- Startec enourages employees to plan ahead with retirement planning assistance services and matching RSP contributions -- and employees can make the transition a little easier with phased-in retirement work options
- Along with tuition subsidies for job-related courses, Startec supports ongoing employee development with subsidies for professional accreditation and in-house training programs
Startec: where 'everyday mavericks' find ways to succeed
At Calgary-based Startec, the workplace culture is centred around the concept of "everyday mavericks." Startec's core value statement defines an everyday maverick as a person who is driven to find a better way, collaborates from start to finish and is challenged to find the solutions that best serve customers' needs. Resourcefulness, integrity and "imagining so far outside the box we don't see a box" are some of the other defining characteristics.
Startec is comprised of two operating companies, with common ownership and culture. Startec Service focuses on industrial refrigeration, serving cold storage, meat packing, food processing and recreational ice facilities. Startec Compression & Process specializes in providing process, refrigeration and rotating equipment solutions for the oil and gas sector.
Joel Cawthorn is President of Startec Service and his sister, Kristi Cawthorn, is President of Startec Compression & Process. These two operating companies are supported by Startec Corporate Services for accounting, HR and IT, providing a consistent infrastructure.
When interviewing potential employees, Startec seeks people who fit the mold of an everyday maverick. "We don't look for just technical skills and aptitude; we want someone who shares our core values," says Joel.
Because it's sometimes difficult to determine that from a resume or even an interview, Startec often finds its best prospects through referrals from existing employees. "If one of our own recommends someone from outside, that's usually an indication that the person will be a good fit," says Kristi.
A strong workplace culture also serves as a key retention tool. "We have a very low turnover rate," says Kristi. "People continue to work here not only for career opportunities, but because there's a sense of family. We support that through things like the Maverick Milestone Program, which celebrates personal milestones like the purchase of a new home or the birth of a child.
"Our feeling is that, if it's something you'd do for your brother or cousin, then let's do it for our employees, because we are all part of one big family."
Startec employees are also united by a shared commitment to high performance standards and delivering the best results for customers.
"Being an everyday maverick is about diligence, drive and persistence," says Joel. "We have high expectations of our employees and there's a high level of energy in the workplace. There's a buzz of enthusiasm that's infectious."
Startec takes a very structured approach to employee engagement. On the shop floor, each workday begins with an "adrenaline meeting," a 12-minute huddle that reviews the previous day's accomplishments and challenges and outlines the goals for the day ahead.
All Startec managers hold one-on-one meetings with staff on either a weekly or bi-weekly basis. "This creates a whole rhythm around communicating and is tremendously efficient from a business perspective," says Kristi. "It's the opportunity for employees to get the undivided attention of their manager."
Work-life balance is encouraged through a flex time policy as well as social and recreational activities.
Nathan Preet, a plant manager at Startec, is also manager of the company's social committee. He helps organize participation in the annual obstacle course race known as the X-Warrior Challenge. This includes 12 "boot camps" that help employees get in shape for the event.
"It's a giant team-building exercise and translates directly to the workplace," says Preet. "When you come back, you are already a team; those people are more apt to help each other out and it builds a positive momentum from there."
Preet describes Startec as a company with a very open work environment where employees have a healthy respect for one another. Asked what he enjoys most about working there, Preet's response is immediate and emphatic.
"Hands down, it's the people," he replies. "We are surrounded by people who share the same values and commitments. We get to build a product in a good environment. It's hard to put a price on that, but it's definitely worth something."