Culture evolves, but values never change, says the president of a Red Deer retailer that has earned a solid footing against corporate giants.
Peavey Industries, recognized earlier this year as one of Canada’s most admired corporate cultures in 2015 by Ontario-based Waterstone Capital, makes a continued effort to keep that culture alive for the benefit of its customer base of farmers, acreage owners and urban homesteaders.
Success in retail goes beyond making a profit through the sale of products, CEO and president Doug Anderson told a gathering of about 50 business and political leaders at a luncheon hosted by the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
Peavey Industries continues to expand throughout Western Canada, recently opening a new Peavey Mart in High Prairie and new MainStreet Hardware stores in both Blackfalds and Vermilion.
A new MainStreet Hardware store will soon open in Ponoka as well.
The company competes successfully with the big chains through its approach of maintaining a corporate culture that reflects its core values, which have not changed in the past 10 years and are not likely to change in the next 10 years, said he said.
That success is not based on the price of goods, but on making sure that the right people are in the jobs that are right for them, and that they embrace those core values.
“One of our values that we talk about in our company is, always remember where we come from. To us, what that means is that we need to acknowledge and respect the fact that our success today has been built on the success and the hard work and the dedication of existing employees and past employees over the last 50 years. It’s important to us to recognize that and stay true to the principles that got us here in the first place.”
Within that credo, Peavey Industries has developed a culture of innovation around the opportunities offered to its people as well as various value-added services for its customers and the communities in which they live.
And its leadership has always remained nimble, grabbing opportunities as they arise and grow.
For example, the new MainStreet Hardware in Blackfalds was developed when the company learned that the existing store in the town of nearly 10,000 was about to shut down.
Anderson and his staff put their heads together and examined the possibilities.
It took only eight weeks from the development of the idea to create a brand and logo, set up an advertising program, find and fix up a building and get the new store up and going, said Anderson.
“I don’t know of any other retailer who could do that, and I think that was our biggest strength in coming together,” he said.
“It happens by everyone just throwing their best efforts in and putting their company’s needs ahead of their own departments. Some of our employees call it chaotic dysfunction. At the same time, they wear it as a badge of honour. That’s an important part of who we are as a company.”
Peavey Industries recently restructured its finances to enable employees to buy into an internal mutual fund with a minimum investment of $1,000.
It updates staff and gets input from them through The Hive, a learning management system that includes courses, news and videos of various company activities.
“In some ways, it resembles a social media site. It allows for not only us to put on videos and training tools for traditional training … but it also allows us to upload video content for cultural training,” said Anderson.
“It allows us to exchange ideas. It creates an extra layer of connection to our employees, and I think that’s important, because I don’t know most of our employees.”
Recent innovations more visible to customers include the development of education seminars on such topics as keeping urban chickens and urban bees. Peavey was also the first retailer in North America to install charging stations for electric cars across its entire network.
“That goes back to our value of being forward looking. Incidentally, Ikea copied us after that, but they only have them at 11 locations,” he said.
Peavey also becomes deeply involved in the communities it serves, such as efforts its store and staff made to help rebuild after disasters such as the flood in High River.
In Central Alberta, it financed the update of Sylvan Lake author Myrna Pearman’s book on feeding birds, and then directed money from sales to support the Ellis Bird Farm, which she manages.
“We root our culture in our values … and we make sure that the people we hire are in alignment with our culture. At the end of the day, we celebrate our success, and we do that in a lot of ways,” said Anderson.
“It’s never finished. It’s always a repeat. We always have to go back and question ourselves and go back and start it all over,” he said.