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-EverlineLast 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-ElectricalPhoto 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.