When we published last year’s Best Managed Companies special issue, “coronavirus” was a relatively new word in our collective vocabulary. The magazine went to print just as our company made the decision to temporarily close its offices, instigating a work-from-home period that many of us naively thought would last about two weeks. Early modelling warned us, but back then, few outside of the medical community could wrap their heads around the possibility that more than a year later, Canadians would be in even stricter states of lockdown.
Leading a company through this tumultuous past year has meant grappling with the unknown as everyone has attempted to adapt without knowing when we’ll finally emerge into a new normal. For this reason, effective leadership has been more imperative than ever; business owners and executives have been tasked with strategizing for the survival of their companies during this unprecedented downswing while imparting confidence and compassion to their teams during what has also become a mental-health crisis.
Now in its 28th year, Canada’s Best Managed Companies awards, presented by Deloitte, celebrate the Canadian businesses that have demonstrated remarkable leadership. Among the 37 new winners we’re profiling in this issue are case studies of chief executives who have galvanized their teams to achieve measurable success during an exceptionally challenging year. Take for example, president of Groupe Boucher Sports Martin Boucher, who spent the early days of COVID-19 personally calling more than 200 employees to hear their concerns and reassure them that the business had a survival plan. For companies like AAG Tailored Cutting Solutions, Muraflex and Mobia Technology Innovations, pivots to producing medical PPE, protective barriers and health-care software, respectively, during the pandemic gave staff a strong sense of purpose that kept them feeling motivated and valued through the toughest times. With all hands on deck working toward clear goals, many of the companies on this year’s list reported their strongest year yet.
To qualify for Deloitte’s list, companies must meet a minimum annual revenue threshold of $25 million. They also have to show leadership on several key fronts — purpose and strategy, culture and commitment, capabilities and innovation, and governance and financials. As Canada rebuilds post-pandemic, a new slew of business challenges will inevitably present themselves in a world that’s unrecognizable from the one we used to know. And these imaginative and innovative best-managed companies have already proven that not only are they ready to meet obstacles head on, they’ll shape what our new future looks like.