Today’s post is a tribute to my old alma mater, EllisDon Corporation. Geoff Smith, President of ED was in Monaco (yes, the real one, next to Italy) last week representing Canada’s nomination for International Entrepreneur of the Year, in a prestigious award ceremony hosted annually by Ernst & Young. That’s serious recognition and one EllisDon can be justifiably proud of.
When I joined the firm in 1971, I’d never even heard of the company. At that time they completed $65 million in new construction each year and there were only slightly more than 50 people at our Toronto Christmas party. They now complete in the neighbourhood of $4 billion annually and their Christmas parties are attended by more people than a Stones’ concert. In more than 30 years at EllisDon I had the privilege of working with both the founder Don Smith and later, Geoff Smith. The corporate culture originally established by Don Smith and further advanced by Geoff does not follow typical business school models yet it resulted in a highly successful, uniquely-styled company that for the past several years has consistently been recognized as one of Canada’s top employers and best-managed companies.
The recipe is not that complicated but it is unusual in the business world. EllisDon is not strictured by hierarcial protocols, formal policies and corporate dogma. The management structure is relatively flat and employees are strongly encouraged to put their ideas forward. If it’s a good idea and it flies, great. If not—it was a lesson learned, deal with the consequences and carry on. Senior managers are accessible, open and supportive of innovation. I doubt I could have done as well as I did in another type of organization and ED employees who can take the heat thrive in this type of environment.
My husband, George and I both have deep and strong roots at EllisDon. George also spent most of his career at EllisDon and for many years was number two guy under Don Smith and then Geoff. We’re both so proud of our small part in helping create this incredible company. I follow EllisDon’s website and read Geoff’s blogs regularly just so I can retain that feeling of being part of a very special family that has matured and keeps getting better in ways I could never have imagined. As Geoff so often and readily states, it’s a combined effort by a group of incredibly bright, hard-working, creative and talented men and women. This international recognition confirms it.