Isabelle Paradis | Partner
Claude Bigras runs GDI Integrated Facility Services--a publicly traded company with more than 20,000 employees. This natural born entrepreneur is proud of what he's accomplished, but goes to great lengths to attribute his own success to his employees.
GDI was founded in 1926, and has expanded across Canada and the United States. The company specializes in building maintenance (cleaning services, energy management, and other technical services). Its clients include hotels, shopping centres, food plants, industrial buildings and airports.
A human touch
For Claude, who has been GDI's President and CEO since 2004, business success is the result of a combination of two key factors: financial discipline and employee wellness. "We're always working to improve management so we can improve the quality of the work our employees do," he said. He believes this approach is a big reason why the company has the reputation it does.
In addition to offering excellent physical conditions, such as a secure work environment and high-performance tools, GDI uses leading edge technology to make internal communications easier. Employees across Canada and the U.S. can talk to each other or participate in training sessions by videoconferencing. These innovations have been developed based on the needs, expectations and technological reality of the next generation of employees.
"Employees have to be able to achieve their full potential at work. They need growth opportunities. They need job security. And they need to be able to count on respect and consideration from management," said Claude.
This philosophy also guides the company's external relations. While it may be national in scope, it takes a local approach to business, that is committed and personalized, to resolve problems and help make our clients look good. That's why Claude focuses more on building partnerships than on doing business.
And Claude Bigras makes himself available day and night. "GDI is intertwined with my personal life. I'm always there for people. That's how I manage stress," he said. And from how often he talks about his wife, you can tell his loved ones are just as important to him as his work.
When asked about his retirement, Claude is categorical, "I love my work and the people I work with. You don't leave if you're happy. My goal now is to manage risk and make sure the company is sustainable, because a lot of people's futures depend on it!"
4 key elements needed to create value, according to Claude Bigras
- Growth through major acquisitions
- Increased capacity
- Optimization of margins and results (organic growth)
- Investments in employee wellness
Employees: Over 20,000
Branches: 19 in Canada and 11 in the U.S.
Stock market: Toronto Stock Exchange - GDI Integrated Facility Services Inc. - TSX: GDI