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Contractor of the Year Awards: Trade Contractor Under $15 Million

Winner: Grasschopper Landscaping; Finalists: EverLine Coatings and Services, Stratus Electrical & Instrumentation

Apr 22, 2016

by Alberta Venture Staff

  • Grasschopper employees installing a commercial pond in 2015. The company’s first two hires still work for it, and most key staff have worked there more than five years Grasschopper employees installing a commercial pond in 2015. The company’s first two hires still work for it, and most key staff have worked there more than five years
  • Grasschopper employees at work on a landscaping project Grasschopper employees at work on a landscaping project
  • Grasschopper employees at work on a landscaping project Grasschopper employees at work on a landscaping project
     
Photo Supplied
Winner: Grasschopper Landscaping

CEO: Trevor Ross
Head Office: Edmonton

Grasschopper Landscaping began in 2001 as a summer job for Trevor Ross when he was 19 years old. He had worked for a landscaping company before and decided to try it out on his own. As Ross says, “It was fun to be outside and have a tan.” He hired his friend and the two managed to scrape together enough work to keep them employed. The next summer, he hired another friend, and the summer after that a few more. After being accepted into law school at the University of Alberta, Trevor had a tough decision to make: laws or lawns. Despite most encouragement pushing him toward the former, Ross took a risk with the latter. Today, Grasschopper is a multi-million-dollar company with recently completed landscaping projects at the Strathcona Community Hospital and the Kennedale Eco Station in Edmonton, among many others.

“We have an awesome culture. It’s our number-­one strength.”

Ross hasn’t cut lawns in a long time. As leader of the ­company, his time is spent estimating and managing projects and maintaining a strong company culture. In fact, he largely credits Grasschopper’s success to the fantastic culture he has worked to cultivate over the years, which continues to draw in exceptional employees. “It’s our number-one strength,” he says. Landscaping tends to be an industry with a high employee turnover rate, but that’s not the case at Grasschopper. The first two friends that Ross ever hired still work for the company as superintendents, and most key staff have worked for the company for more than five years. Ross works tirelessly to make sure that ­Grasschopper is a rewarding and worthwhile company for people to build careers with.

The company often hires employees who don’t have previous training or education, but employees are able to pursue any work-related training opportunity they want for free. The company pays for 100 per cent of these courses as well as the employee’s regular salary. While certifications are voluntary, management at Grasschopper are encouraged to take skill-training courses. Ross says that by investing in staff training, Grasschopper is able to retain long-term employees who are dedicated to the company. And it’s paying off.

Today, Grasschopper has more than 60 full-time ­employees and last year’s revenue was well over $7 million. “People love it here,” Ross says.

Finalists
02-COTY-Everline
Last year, the University of Calgary commissioned Everline Coatings and Services to install 20 to 30 standard crosswalks in addition to two specially design crosswalks like the one shown in this photo
Photo Supplied

EverLine Coatings and Services
CEO: John Evans, Calgary

Since 2012, EverLine has ­provided line painting for parking lots. Over time, the company has grown rapidly in size, revenue and scope. There are now 10 full-time employees who provide parking lot power-sweeping services, parkade cleaning, snow removal and other property maintenance needs to the city of Calgary and surrounding area. The company has grown by 50 to 100 per cent since its inception, which its CEO, John Evans, attributes to the company’s excellent reputation and professionalism.

02-COTY-Stratus-Electrical
Photo Supplied

Stratus Electrical & Instrumentation
CEO: Dave Smith, Calgary

Incorporated in 2014, Stratus has seen rapid growth and great success. In the five months after inception, the company hired 90 employees. In the first year, it generated revenue of more than $8 million. The industrial electrical and instrumentation company provides services to companies from coast to coast. The company attributes much of its growth to the emphasis placed on building strong working relationships, both within and outside of the company, in an effort to retain clients over the long term.

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