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Mapping Metro Vancouver's Corporate Economy, Part Two: Private Companies

This is the second blog in a two part series.  Read Part One here.

By Jock Finlayson and Kristine St-Laurent

In our ongoing effort to better understand the lower mainland business community, in what follows we take another look at the largest firms headquartered in Metro Vancouver.  In the first part of our blog series, “Mapping Metro Vancouver’s Corporate Economy,” we examined the biggest publicly-traded companies. This blog considers another facet of the corporate sphere: private companies.  

The chart below shows the top 100 private firms in BC ranked by annual gross revenue.  Ranking by revenue is a good way to profile firms that punch above their weight by making outsized contributions to our economy through providing employment, occupying space (office, commercial, and industrial), bolstering the tax base, and driving exports.  Metro Vancouver is home to 93 of the 100 top private companies operating in British Columbia.[1]

The breakdown of Metro Vancouver’s top-grossing private companies again draws attention to the diversity of the region’s economy – a point also emphasized in our previous blog.  The prominent role of manufacturing is also apparent – a fact that may come as a surprise to some readers.  Manufacturing leads all other sectors in the number of significant locally-based firms in the Vancouver area.  Other key industry sectors represented in the top 100 private businesses are professional services; administrative and support services; and high technology.

 

Top Five Industries in the Metro Vancouver Private Business Sector[2]

1. Manufacturing

Manufacturing has a substantial place in the Metro Vancouver economy and corporate sector. Manufacturing adds value, creates jobs, spurs innovation, supports R&D and capital investment, and drives trade — all keys to productivity and high paid jobs.  With 27 firms, manufacturing leads the pack among the 100 largest BC-based private companies. Despite BC’s reputation as a natural resource-based economy,  a number of non-resource manufacturing firms hold their own as leaders.  Top performers include Black Press (news/media), Paper Excellence (fiber products), Starline Windows (window glazing products) and Arc’teryx (technical outerwear and accessories). Looking ahead, the sector should continue to gain momentum from rising exports supported by a competitive exchange rate and an expanding American economy. 

2.  Professional Services — Computing and Management Services 

Consulting and management services add value to organizations by supplying unique technical and other expertise to a variety of firms across many industry sectors.  Metro Vancouver excels in this domain, with numerous providers of consulting services.  The leading locally-based companies in this space include:

  • Engineering and construction: Golder Associates, McElhanney, Canadian Construction Materials Engineering & Testing, Klohn Crippen Berger, and MMM Group.
  • Information Technology/Communications/Human Resources:  TPD, Sierra Systems, Annex Consulting, Quartech Systems, Microserve, BMS Integrated.

3. Administrative and Support/Remediation Services 

Metro Vancouver is home to a buzzing administrative services industry.  Two sub-sectors, in particular, are at the forefront: private security and remediation services.[3]  Of the ten top firms in this area, eight provide security services.  These companies are Paladin, Securiguard, Concord Security, Genesis Security, Polo Security, Westguard, Premier, Xpera Risk Mitigation and Investigation. Between 1997 and 2014, the average annual GDP growth in security services was 4.2%, a trend not expected to slow in the coming years.  Super Save Group and ABC Recycling, two private remediation firms, are also in the top 100 list.

4. High Technology

High technology firms are an increasingly important source of economic activity for both BC and Metro Vancouver—and there are plenty of homegrown success stories.  In 2014, output in the province’s high-tech industry grew at 3.3%, directly generating over $15 billion in GDP.  High technology continues to outpace the overall BC economy in terms of GDP and revenue growth.[4] In the private sector, Hootsuite (social media) topped the list of software and related services companies, followed by Global Relay (messaging and archiving), and three data analytics companies: Vision Critical, ZE Powergroup, and ACL Service.

Similar to their publicly-traded counterparts, private companies in Metro Vancouver’s healthcare and life sciences sector are leaders in regenerative medicine, infectious diseases and biopharma. The largest private companies in this cluster include LifeLabs, Stemcell Technologies and Viva Pharmaceutical.

5. Retail

The total value of retail sales in BC surpassed $70 billion in 2015, a strong sign of consumer confidence and a growing economy. Respectively, automotive sales giants OpenRoad Auto Group and Carter Automotive were the 24th and 43rd highest-grossing private firms in Metro Vancouver last year. There were also healthy sales gains at drug/department stores such as London Drugs and Fields, while technical-cashmere clothing retailer Kit and Ace also outpaced many competitors. Retail is a big part of the Metro Vancouver economy.  It has been the region’s largest employer since 2001, measured by the level of employment and the number of jobs created.[5] 

Mapping the Metro Vancouver Corporate Sector: Some Final Thoughts

This blog reviewed one portion of the Metro Vancouver business sector—the largest privately-held firms based in the region. 

The significant role of manufacturing in the lower mainland economy points to the importance of industrial land and highlights BC’s reliance on exports. The supply of and access to industrial land is crucial for sustaining a diverse, prosperous and growing economy.  Metro Vancouver uses industrial land for manufacturing, wholesale/distribution, transportation/warehousing—all of which feature high-performing companies in the region’s top 100.  Due to a limited land supply and high demand for all types of land uses, the regional supply of industrial land is under pressure for conversion to other uses—mainly residential, retail and commercial purposes.  Provincial and local policy-makers need to safeguard industrial and other trade-enabling land to support the region’s gateway economy and to foster an environment that is conducive to the success of an export-oriented advanced manufacturing sector.

Top 100 Private Companies in Metro Vancouver, 2015, Ranked by Revenue
BUSINESS SECTOR
1. JIM PATTISON GROUP Diversified -- automotive dealerships, grocery store chains, magazine distribution, food service specialty packaging, advertising, real estate development, fishing, forest products, financial services, and entertainment
2. NORTHLAND PROPERTIES CORP Real Estate
3. LONDON DRUGS LTD Retail
4. A&W FOOD SERVICES OF CANADA INC Accommodation and Food Services
5. SHATO HOLDINGS LTD Real Estate
6. EARLS RESTAURANTS LTD (EARLS KITCHEN & BAR) Accommodation and Food Services
7. PALADIN SECURITY Administrative and Support/Remediation Services
8. LIFELABS MEDICAL LABORATORY SERVICES High Technology -- Health Care and Life Sciences
 9. SEASPAN ULC Transportation and Warehousing
 10. LEDCOR GROUP OF COMPANIES Construction
 11. SECURIGUARD SERVICES LTD Administrative and Support/Remediation Services
 12. COAST HOTELS Accommodation and Food Services
 13. BLACK PRESS GROUP LTD Manufacturing
 14. CONCORD SECURITY CORP Administrative and Support/Remediation Services
 15. PAPER EXCELLENCE GROUP Manufacturing
 16. HUB INTERNATIONAL INSURANCE BROKERS Finance and Insurance
 17. GENESIS SECURITY GROUP Administrative and Support/Remediation Services
 18. STARLINE WINDOWS GROUP Manufacturing
 19. TEAL-JONES GROUP Forest and Related Products
 20. SUNRISE FARMS Agriculture
 21. GORDON FOOD SERVICE Wholesale/Distribution
 22. OLD SPAGHETTI FACTORY CANADA LTD Accommodation and Food Services
 23. VERSACOLD LOGISTICS SERVICES Transportation and Warehousing
 24. OPENROAD AUTO GROUP LTD Retail
 25. IMPERIAL PARKING CORP (IMPARK) Transportation and Warehousing
 26. ARC'TERYX EQUIPMENT INC Manufacturing
 27. GOLDER ASSOCIATES LTD Professional Services -- Consulting and Management Services
 28. FLIGHT CENTRE (CANADA) Tourism
 29. INLAND GROUP Wholesale/Distribution
 30. SUPER SAVE GROUP OF COMPANIES Administrative and Support/Remediation Services
 31. TPD Professional Services -- Consulting and Management Services
 32. LMS REINFORCING STEEL GROUP Manufacturing
 33. HOOTSUITE High Technology -- Software and Related
 34. WHITEWATER WEST INDUSTRIES LTD Manufacturing
 35. MAINROAD GROUP Transportation and Warehousing
 36. PURDYS CHOCOLATIER Manufacturing
 37. CORIX GROUP OF COMPANIES Utilities
 38. STEMCELL TECHNOLOGIES INC High technology -- Health Care and Life Sciences
 39. THE FUTURA CORP Manufacturing
 40. MCELHANNEY CONSULTING SERVICES LTD Professional Services -- Consulting and Management Services
 41. CEFA EARLY LEARNING SCHOOLS Education
 42. CREATION TECHNOLOGIES Manufacturing
 43. CARTER AUTOMOTIVE GROUP Retail
 44. VANCOUVER SHIPYARDS CO LTD Manufacturing
 45. RAYMOND JAMES LTD Finance and Insurance
 46. COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL Real Estate
 47. SEASTAR SOLUTIONS Manufacturing
 48. POLO SECURITY SERVICES LTD Administrative and Support/Remediation Services
 49. ALPHA TECHNOLOGIES LTD Manufacturing
 50. CAPILANO GROUP Tourism
 51. REGENCY FIREPLACE PRODUCTS LTD Manufacturing
 52. GLOBAL RELAY High Technology -- Software and Related
 53. DAISHOWA-MARUBENI INTERNATIONAL LTD Manufacturing
 54. VISION CRITICAL High Technology - Software and Related
 55. WESTERN PACIFIC ENTERPRISES LTD Utilities
 56. WESTGUARD SECURITY SERVICES (1986) LTD Administrative and Support/Remediation Services
 57. ORIGINAL CAKERIE LTD Manufacturing
 58. SIERRA SYSTEMS Professional Services -- Consulting and Management Services
 59. BURNABY LAKE GREENHOUSES LTD Agriculture
 60. KIT AND ACE Retail
 61. PREMIER SECURITY INC Administrative and Support/Remediation Services
 62. CANADIAN CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS ENGINEERING & TESTING LTD Professional Services -- Consulting and Management Services
 63. COAST SPAS MANUFACTURING INC Manufacturing
 64. FIELDS Retail
 65. SINCLAIR DENTAL Wholesale/Distribution
 66. ANNEX CONSULTING GROUP INC Professional Services -- Consulting and Management Services
 67. ODLUM BROWN LTD Finance and Insurance
 68. DELTA CONTROLS INC Manufacturing
 69. XPERA RISK MITIGATION AND INVESTIGATION Administrative and Support/Remediation Services
 70. KLOHN CRIPPEN BERGER LTD Professional Services -- Consulting and Management Services
 71. MMM GROUP LTD Professional Services -- Consulting and Management Services
 72. POINT GREY RESEARCH INC Manufacturing
 73. GREAT LITTLE BOX COMPANY Manufacturing
 74. ZE POWERGROUP INC High Technology -- Software and Related
 75. ABC RECYCLING LTD Administrative and Support/Remediation Services
 76. EBCO INDUSTRIES LTD Manufacturing
 77. QUARTECH SYSTEMS LTD Professional Services -- Consulting and Management Services
 78. VITRUM INDUSTRIES LTD Manufacturing
 79. WESGAR INC Manufacturing
 80. MICROSERVE Professional Services -- Consulting and Management Services
 81. PCL CONSTRUCTORS WESTCOAST INC Construction
 82. BULLDOG BAG LTD Manufacturing
 83. GARAVENTA (CANADA) LTD Manufacturing
 84. POLYGON FAMILY OF COMPANIES Construction
 85. HORIZON DISTRIBUTORS LTD Wholesale/Distribution
 86. VIVA PHARMACEUTICAL High Technology -- Health Care and Life Sciences
 87. ACL SERVICES LTD High Technology -- Software and Related
 88. ACTION/BMS GROUP OF COMPANIES Professional Services -- Consulting and Management Services
 89. PUNJAB MILK FOODS INC. Manufacturing
 90. ASCO AEROSPACE (CANADA) LTD Manufacturing
 91. BFL CANADA INSURANCE SERVICES INC Finance and Insurance
 92. HEMLOCK PRINTERS LTD Manufacturing
 93. BEEDIE DEVELOPMENT GROUP Construction

 



[1] It should be noted that after some reflection, we decided to treat the Jim Pattison Group as a stand-alone entity in this analysis.  The company is highly diversified and has a major presence in the province through its many business ventures, including automotive dealerships, grocery store chains, magazine distribution, food service specialty packaging, advertising, real estate development, fishing, forest products, financial services, transportation, and entertainment.  Given this unusual mix of industrial activities, we concluded that the Jim Pattison Group could not be categorized under any one sector.

[2] Ranked by number of top-grossing firms from each industry in Business in Vancouver’s Top 100 Private Companies in BC, 2015 https://www.biv.com/datatables/top-100-private-companies-in-bc-in-2015/.

[3] NAICS 56 Remediation Services definition:  This industry group comprises establishments, not classified to any other industry group, primarily engaged in waste management activities, such as the remediation and clean-up of contaminated sites, the operation of material recovery facilities, and the cleaning of septic tanks.  

[4] Overall real GDP growth in BC was 3% in 2015.