Trio of tech firms achieve ‘best managed’ recognition

Some were veterans, others newcomers to 2010’s list of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies, but good people are vital to good business, according to several tech companies featured on the list.  

Commitment to staff training and high customer service standards earned three tech firms recognition on the list. The awards recognize Canadian-owned and managed companies with revenues over $10 million that are performing exceedingly well and growing steadily. Deloitte, CIBC, National Post, and Queen’s School of Business all sponsor the awards.

A panel of independent judges selects the 50 listed companies. Hundreds of companies apply for the designation each year.

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Calgary-headquartered S.i. Systems Ltd. provides IT staffing for companies, and is the largest supplier of IT professionals in Western Canada. The company was included on the list for the first time in 2010.

“We have a very intentional culture,” says Derek Bullen, the company’s president. “We’re a meritocracy.” Employees at S.i. Systems are paid for their performance, not just their time, he says.

The company also invests in its heavily Generation Y-structured company and promotes from within, says Bullen. “We’re able to help them connect their efforts to outcomes,” he says. “It’s like being on a great sports team.”

The company is also, in a way, modeled after Starbucks and West Jet, he says. Both those companies, and now S.i. Systems, have a system that transcends geographic borders. Employees all over Canada have standard training and a standard system on which to work, which makes management over a large area less challenging, Bullen says.

Human resources and investing in skills for managers is part of the criteria for being included on the list. “It’s really a validation for your culture,” to be included, Bullen says.  

The listing was a first for triOS College as well. The college has several campuses in Ontario offering business and healthcare courses in addition to technology education.

The focus on the students is a key to strong management at triOS, Stuart Bentley, president of triOS Support Services Inc. says. Being listed means the college will likely be able to recruit more students, but more importantly that graduates of the school may have more appeal to potential employers.

Ensuring your staff represents your company well can be challenging for larger companies with multiple locations, but it’s important all the same, says Bentley.

At triOS, each campus has its own director and students are surveyed regularly to ensure staff and programs are up to snuff. “The award is a testimonial to the commitment of our employees,” he says.

Gentec International, a supplier of accessories for consumer electronics, was not a stranger to the Best Managed list this year. The Markham, Ont.-based company was included for the fourth time in 2010. Its co-owner and chief financial officer Margaret Adat also places great emphasis on having a solid staff and surrounding yourself with good people. “It really is the strength of our company,” she says.

Winners of the 2010 Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies award will be honoured at a gala in Toronto on March 29.

Top 3 management tips from the Best Managed companies

1. Recognize the importance of your finances

Making finances a priority over the years has served Gentec well, Adat says. The company was founded during a recession in the early 1990s, and in fact, its strong financial footing put Gentec in a position to actually make acquisitions during the recent recession. She and Bentley both suggest startups make sure they are well-financed before expanding.

2. Stay close to your customers

At triOS, customer service means that the students are the priority, according to Bentley, and the focus is on their experience and success. TriOS has included internship programs and teaches skill sets that are in demand as part of its focus on students.

A similar concern exists at Gentec. “What separates us from our competition is our customer-focus,” says Adat. Everyone at Gentec, she says, from executives to receptionists, shares a strong customer service focus.

3. Stick to your decisions

Even if your company can do several things, it should focus on what it does well, Bullen says. Even more important is making decisions. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re right or wrong,” he says. “Just commit.”

Harmeet Singh is a Staff Writer at ITBusiness. Follow her on Twitter, and join the IT Business Facebook Page.

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