Counselor honors the top industry workplaces through an exclusive survey and rankings. Find out what makes Brand Blvd a great place to work!
Brand Blvd (asi/145124), St. Catharines, ON
With 26 staffers, Brand Blvd’s owners – Chris Sinclair and Shaun Lichtenberger (center, front) – are leading a team whose average age is 31 and whose talent and enthusiasm have helped the company grow 12% last year.
Located in the small, quaint town of St. Catharines, in the Niagara region of Ontario, Brand Blvd operates out of an unassuming storefront in a strip of local stores. But once you cross the threshold of its office, you’re bombarded with the company’s signature green-infused logo and that trademark blend of wit and creativity that runs right down to its DNA strand.
The team numbers about 26 staffers, plus the company’s owners – Shaun Lichtenberger and Chris Sinclair, who were named Counselor’s 2017 Entrepreneurs of the Year – and the average age of a “Brandie” (as they like to be known) is 31. And these Brandies, hoo boy – do they love their company.
Shaun Lichtenberger, president of St. Catharines, Ontario-based Brand Blvd., presides over a very young and very enthusiastic team of “Brandies,” all of whom voted to make their company the #1 overall business on this year’s Counselor Best Places to Work list. Click here for an interview with Lichtenberger and Michele Bell, the head of ASI’s Editorial team, on what he does to keep his staffers so motivated and engaged.
Lichtenberger is the company’s president, who, at 39, as a young leader himself, has learned a few things along the way about what it takes to build a team that’s as high-performing as they are dedicated. “It’s all about open communication and being fully transparent, as we’re all on the same team and are striving for the same thing,” he says. “We all win with that mentality. It’s amazing what can happen when everyone roots for each other.” Amazing indeed, as the company – which did $8.1 million in sales in 2016 – grew 12% last year. The reason, of course, is clear to Lichtenberger: the culture of Brand Blvd.
Darryl Andree, the company’s business development manager – and a man with a personality so much larger than life his aura has an aura – has been with Lichtenberger and Sinclair from the genesis of the company in 2007 and watched the business evolve into the premier promo agency it is today. “We love to have fun, and the thing I love the most about Brand Blvd is our culture,” says Andree. “Every single person puts in a ton of effort, and we truly have an incredible team spirit. We take care of our colleagues and help is always available regardless of what role you’re in.”
Masters of self-promo, Brand Blvd worked with Railway City Brewing in Canada to create a customized beer in honor of the company’s 10th anniversary.
Regarding employee perks, there’s the AGM (Annual General Meeting) that consists of a three-day trip the company pays for and some highlights include the annual “Brandie” awards for high achievers, team-building events and extras like skiing, massages and wine tours. There’s also the annual Million Dollar Dinner, where the company’s top-producers are picked up in a limo to join Lichtenberger and Sinclair for a lavish meal and are gifted with items like custom suits, high-end watches, gym memberships and a one-year car-detailing service. Additionally, Lichtenberger and Sinclair, cognizant that they’re managing a young team, pay to have a business consultant come to the office once a week to meet individually with staffers, where they can discuss professional and personal goals and issues, and get a non-biased point of view and insights. The company also encourages its team to give back to the local community it’s so immersed in, as Brand Blvd engages in about 170 charitable activities a year on average.
“I’ve really learned the value of getting to know our people, as it’s a lot easier to work with them when you understand how they tick,” Lichtenberger says. “I’ve learned the benefits of building a team with a slow and steady approach. Making tough decisions becomes easier with time and my ability to handle the outcome has matured. Although we’re known for a strong culture, I’ve made the mistake of making exceptions for employees with regards to following our core values. I’ve really learned the negative impact this can have on a team and now we make decisions with our core values at the forefront of everything.”
Values, to the Core
Emma Watton is the company’s operations manager and has been with Brand Blvd for over six years. “Our people make us special and that’s what I love – our culture is everything, and it’s something everyone has to participate in,” she says. “It’s not something that’s dictated to us, it’s who we are. Each of us lives by our core values of Commitment, Innovation, Passion, Community and Integrity, and we’re all working toward the same goal. It’s all hands on deck around here, and we do our best to help each other. I can genuinely say I love going to work every day. You miss it when you aren’t here and you’re excited to come back. That’s what most people want when choosing a career.”
Proving why they’re known for their creativity, Brand Blvd created its own “newspaper,” touting the company’s history, its culture and tons of case histories to be given to clients and prospects.
The benefit of having a company that’s gained a reputation for being a fun, creative, innovative place to work that values its employees is that even in a town as small as St. Catharines, Brand Blvd finds it easy to attract top talent.
“We’ve been fortunate to build a strong reputation in the region for many different reasons, including ties with both Niagara College and Brock University,” says Sinclair. “We employ several grads from each institution and provide support as much as possible, which helps create awareness. With such a large client base in the area, we continue to rely on word-of-mouth and the reputation of our team, friends, families and supporters.”
When asked to describe the culture of the company he and Lichtenberger have worked so hard to build, Sinclair – characteristically – doesn’t miss a beat. “Work hard, play hard,” he says. “We have high expectations but reward for the efforts put in. We truly operate like a family and rely on living our core values each and every day to make this happen.”
Check out more pics from Brand Blvd in our online photo gallery!