Crossing the border into Canada, the Best Places to Work Road Tour took on a decidedly international flair on Tuesday. When did we know we were in a different environment? Besides the passport demands at the border, it was when we arrived at Genumark Promotional Merchandise in Toronto. The company, which doesn’t take itself too seriously, has an impressive showroom dubbed the Swagatorium. Equipped with a basketball hoop, bicycles, golf equipment, and just about every kind of promotional product one could imagine, the Swagatorium is also a meeting place for Genumark and its clients (see conference room table in image).
“We like to have a centerpiece place where people can meet and see what we do,” says John Gill, CFO of the company. “For us, that’s the Swagatorium.”
But this company is far more to its employees than its showroom. With 55 staffers in this Toronto headquarters and about 90 employees overall, Genumark goes the distance to ensure that its workers are happy. CEO Mark Freed, who on this day is out of the office overseeing Genumark’s sponsorship at a charity golf tournament, has a management-by-trust approach to his business. “We train people to do their jobs, provide goals for everybody, and get out of their way as much as possible,” says Ken Dumond, vice president of business development, who has been with the company for 21 years. “It’s a great atmosphere. People are given the opportunity to take care of their own jobs and thrive on their own.”
Freed and his management team also provide perks that employees appreciate. An ice cream truck recently pulled up to the office and Freed let everybody at the company know that sundaes were on the house. And, on the Friday before Father’s Day this month, Freed sent an e-mail to the company in the early afternoon saying that it was a beautiful day outside and the company would be closing at 3pm – no matter what else anybody had to do. “Those kind of unexpected things keep people motivated and happy and loyal,” Dumond says of Genumark’s employees, half of which have been with the company for more than 10 years. “We like to say it’s like the Hotel California here. You can check out anytime but nobody ever leaves.”