This is the second blog in a two part series. Read Part One here.
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.
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
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. 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. 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.
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.
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|
|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|
|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|
 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.
 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/.
 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.
 Overall real GDP growth in BC was 3% in 2015.