This is the first blog in a two part series. Read Part Two here.
Looking at BC-based businesses ranked by annual revenues is one way to develop a better understanding of the nature and make-up of the province’s business community. In this blog, we probe the “corporate economy” of Metro Vancouver by considering the top 100 public companies in BC, 94 of which happen to be headquartered in Metro Vancouver. A future blog will do the same for the top 100 private companies in the province – most of which are also based in the Vancouver area.
The breakdown of Metro Vancouver’s biggest public companies highlights the significant place that the mining industry occupies in the region’s corporate sector. In counting head offices located in Metro Vancouver, mining emerges as nearly double the size of the second largest sector, high technology.
Also worth noting is that mining and forestry combined make up a big slice of the Metro Vancouver corporate economy. Indeed, the list of leading public companies underscores the continued importance of natural resources to BC’s economy and to the corporate sector in the Vancouver area. That said, Metro Vancouver does boast a fairly diverse industrial base, which is reflected in the large firms based in the region.
Mapping the corporate landscape by sector is one way to illuminate the industries that make outsized contributions to Metro Vancouver’s economy by providing employment, occupying space (office, commercial, and industrial), supporting the tax base, and driving exports.
Top Five Industries in the Metro Vancouver Corporate Economy
British Columbia has deep ties to natural resource industries. In 2015, 16 mines  were in operation in the province, producing $7.7 billion in gross revenue. Among the 100 largest BC-based public companies, fully 33 hail from the mining sector. Leading firms in the industry include Teck Resources, Goldcorp, Silver Wheaton, First Quantum Minerals, Imperial Metals and Taseko Mines. Many of the mining companies headquartered in the Vancouver area aren’t engaged in mining within BC; rather, they explore for, develop and operate mines in the global market. Most mining-related employment in Metro Vancouver is connected to executive offices and professional/technical support services such as engineering, environmental/technical consulting, geology, and finance.
2. High Technology Sector
Metro Vancouver is home to a buzzing technology sector—one that has grown faster than the overall BC economy in the past decade (measured in terms of both aggregate revenues and industry GDP). Collectively, the high technology industry and its various subsectors are a key engine of growth for the province, generating over $23 billion in revenue in 2015.
Telecommunications is at the forefront of the technology sector, with Telus topping the list of public companies in BC by revenue, followed by MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates and Sierra Wireless. Vancouver also hosts a number of successful software and related companies, such as the security tech firm Avigilon.
Alternative energy/energy technology firms headquartered in Metro Vancouver supply green energy solutions to the global market. Here, notable firms include Westport Innovations (clean-burning alternative fuels), Alterra Power (hydro facility and wind farm) and Ballard Power Systems (hydrogen fuel cells).
Vancouver’s UBC–Broadway Corridor is quickly becoming known as a world-class health care and life sciences cluster, thanks in part to partnerships between industry and university research facilities as well as the presence of translational research organizations like Genome BC. Metro Vancouver health care and life sciences firms are leaders in four main areas: oncology research; infectious diseases, including HIV; neuroscience research; and regenerative medicine. The largest companies in this cluster include CRH Medical, followed by Arbutus Biopharma, Cardiome Pharma, and Xenon Pharmaceuticals.
Forestry and related wood products firms make up the third largest group of significant-sized BC-based public companies, accounting for almost one-tenth of the top 100 public companies in the province. British Columbia is a leading global exporter of wood products, notably pulp and paper, timber and lumber, and also produces value-added wood products and biofuels. The forest industry contributes nearly $12 billion to provincial GDP and sustains 145,000 jobs in direct and indirect employment. Forestry is also, by a wide margin, BC’s biggest export industry. The leading forestry firms based in Metro Vancouver are West Fraser, Canfor, Interfor, and Catalyst Paper.
4. Diversified Manufacturing
There are seven diversified manufacturing firms in the top 100 public companies, drawn from a number of manufacturing sub-sectors, including steel products (Tree Island), printing/publishing (Glacier Media), and aerospace (Avcorp). Manufacturing in the Vancouver area includes several fast growing firms; looking ahead, the sector should continue to gain from rising exports supported by a competitive exchange rate and an expanding American economy.
Wholesale trade and distribution has consistently ranked among the most important sectors in the Metro Vancouver economy. Finning International leads the pack here, followed by Taiga Building Products and Canwel Building Materials Group. Similar to manufacturing, most wholesale trade and distribution firms in the region are focused on exporting and currently benefit from the comparatively low Canadian dollar.
Metro’s Corporate Landscape
Political and business leaders should not overlook the vital role of the goods producing sector in driving economic activity and business growth in Metro Vancouver. Mining and forestry together make up 42% of the biggest publicly-traded companies in the region. Technology, manufacturing and wholesale trade and distribution also have a substantial presence in the local business scene. Smart, forward-looking public policy needs to focus on protecting the supply of industrial lands for the port, manufacturing, distribution, and other goods-producing enterprises to support Metro Vancouver’s diverse and increasingly global-facing economy. Finally, Metro Vancouver has emerged as an attractive environment for high technology firms, as is evident in the rapid growth of this sector. Enabling more BC-based technology companies to grow into larger-scale businesses, such as those listed below, should be a priority for policy-makers looking to build a more productive economy.
This blog has looked at just one portion of the Metro Vancouver business community: the largest publicly-trade firms based in the region. Other important segments of business are not considered here -- private companies, and large firms with a significant local presence but whose head offices are located elsewhere. Future BCBC blogs will fill some of the gaps by examining other parts of the broad Metro Vancouver business sector.
|Top Public Companies Based in Metro Vancouver|
|1, TELUS CORP||High Technology - Telecommunications|
|2. TECK RESOURCES LTD||Mining|
|3. FINNING INTERNATIONAL INC||Wholesale/Distribution|
|4. GOLDCORP INC||Mining|
|5. WEST FRASER TIMBER CO LTD||Forest and Related Products|
|6. CANFOR CORP||Forest and Related Products|
|7. WESTCOAST ENERGY INC*||Oil & Gas|
|8. FIRST QUANTUM MINERALS LTD||Mining|
|9. METHANEX CORP||Oil & Gas|
|10. LIONS GATE ENTERTAINMENT CORP||Entertainment|
|11. LULULEMON ATHLETICA INC||Retail|
|12. MACDONALD, DETTWILER AND ASSOCIATES LTD||High Technology - Telecommunications|
|13. TURQUOISE HILL RESOURCES LTD||Mining|
|14. HSBC BANK CANADA||Finance|
|15. CATALYST PAPER CORP||Forest and Related Products|
|16. INTERFOR CORP||Forest and Related Products|
|17. PREMIUM BRANDS HOLDINGS CORP||Manufacturing|
|18. TAIGA BUILDING PRODUCTS LTD||Wholesale/Distribution|
|19. CANFOR PULP PRODUCTS INC||Forest Products|
|20. ELDORADO GOLD CORP||Mining|
|21. WESTERN FOREST PRODUCTS INC||Forest and Related Products|
|22. NEW GOLD INC||Mining|
|23. CANACCORD GENUITY GROUP INC||Finance|
|24. PAN AMERICAN SILVER CORP||Mining|
|25. SILVER WHEATON CORP||Mining|
|26. CANWEL BUILDING MATERIALS GROUP LTD||Wholesale/Distribution|
|27. SIERRA WIRELESS INC||High Technology - Telecommunications|
|28. B2GOLD CORP||Mining|
|29. RICHIE BROS AUCTIONEERS INC||Wholesale/Distribution|
|30. HARDWOODS DISTRIBUTION INC||Wholesale/Distribution|
|31. ROGERS SUGAR||Agriculture/Food Processing|
|32. CAPSTONE MINING CORP||Mining|
|33. SILVER STANDARD RESOURCES INC||Mining|
|34. NEVSUN RESOURCES LTD||Mining|
|35. GREAT CANADIAN GAMING CORP||Entertainment|
|36. CHINA GOLD INTERNATIONAL RESOURCES CORP LTD||Mining|
|37. AVIGILON CORP||High Technology - Software and Related|
|38. WESTSHORE TERMINALS INVESTMENT CORP||Wholesale/Distribution|
|39. CONIFEX TIMBER INC||Forest and Related Products|
|40. FORTRESS PAPER LTD||Forest and Related Products|
|41. TASEKO MINES LTD||Mining|
|42. LUCARA DIAMOND CORP||Mining|
|43. FIRST MAJESTIC SILVER CORP||Mining|
|44. COPPER MOUNTAIN MINING CORP||Mining|
|45. ENDEAVOUR SILVER CORP||Mining|
|46. WESTERNONE INC||Finance|
|47. TREE ISLAND STEEL LTD||Manufacturing|
|48. GLACIER MEDIA INC||Manufacturing|
|49. AMERICAN HOTEL INCOME PROPERTIES REIT LP||Real Estate|
|50. VILLAGE FARMS INTERNATIONAL INC||Agriculture/Food Processing|
|51. PURE INDUSTRIAL REAL ESTATE TRUST (PIRET)||Real Estate|
|52. SILVERCORP METALS INC||Mining|
|53. TIMMINS GOLD CORP||Mining|
|54. WALL FINANCIAL CORP||Real Estate|
|55. WESTPORT INNOVATIONS INC||High Technology - Alternative Energy|
|56. IMPERIAL METALS CORP||Mining|
|57. ABSOLUTE||High Technology - Software and Related|
|58. TREVALI MINING CORP||Mining|
|59. ACADIAN TIMBER CORP||Forestry|
|60. TEN PEAKS COFFEE CO INC||Agriculture/Food Products|
|61. ENERGOLD DRILLING CORP||Mining|
|62. AVCORP INDUSTRIES INC||Manufacturing|
|63. CANLAN ICE SPORTS CORP||Recreation|
|64. PURE MULTI-FAMILY REIT LP||Real Estate|
|65. ALTERRA POWER CORP||High Technology - Alternative Energy|
|66. GREAT PANTHER SILVER LTD||Mining|
|67. LUNA GOLD CORP||Mining|
|68. BALLARD POWER SYSTEMS INC||High Technology - Alternative Energy|
|69. SANDSTORM GOLD LTD||Mining|
|70. AMERIGO RESOURCES LTD||Mining|
|71. TIO NETWORKS CORP||High Technology - Software and Related|
|72. CRH MEDICAL CORP|| High Technology - Health Care
and Life Sciences
|73. POLARIS MATERIALS CORP||Mining|
|74. TAG OIL LTD||Oil & Gas/Energy|
|75. MONUMENT MINING LTD||Mining|
|76. NORSAT INTERNATIONAL INC||Manufacturing|
|77. MOGO FINANCE TECHNOLOGY||High Technology - Software and Related|
|78. BOSTON PIZZA ROYALTIES INCOME FUND||Restaurants|
|79. URTHECAST||High Technology - Software and Related|
|80. AURCANA CORP||Mining|
|81. CIBT EDUCATION GROUP INC||Education Services|
|82. A&W REVENUE ROYALTIES INCOME FUND||Restaurants|
|83. ARBUTUS BIOPHARMA CORP|| High Technology - Health Care
and Life Sciences
|84. HELIJET INTERNATIONAL INC||Transportation|
|85. MADISON PACIFIC PROPERTIES INC||Real Estate|
|86. STARCORE INTERNATIONAL MINES LTD||Mining|
|87. PHOTON CONTROL INC||Manufacturing|
|88. THE KEG ROYALTIES INCOME FUND||Restaurants|
|89. DYNASTY METALS & MINING INC||Mining|
|90. CARDIOME PHARMA CORP|| High Technology - Health Care
and Life Sciences
|91. KELSO TECHNOLOGIES INC||Manufacturing|
|92. SOUTHGOBI RESOURCES LTD||Mining|
|93. XENON PHARMACEUTICALS INC|| High Technology - Health Care
and Life Sciences
|94. DIVERSIFIED ROYALTY CORP||Finance|
|* Westcoast Energy is owned by Spectra Energy.|
 Ranked by 2015 revenue, Business in Vancouver’s Top 100 Public Companies in B.C., https://www.biv.com/datatables/top-100-public-companies-in-bc-in-2016/.
 By gross revenue.
 Metal and coal mines only.
 Excluding lumber and pulp and paper companies.