There are two types of people in this world, people who accept the status quo and people who redefine it.
Twenty years ago, Shannon Warren, a dissatisfied tradesperson, decided that his industry needed to change. He felt that the skilled trades space was littered with transience, instability, unfair pay and lack of structure. People didn’t take their work seriously because they weren’t taken seriously. Shannon wanted to change that.
Always one to lead by example, Shannon did just that in 2002 when his employer offered him the role of contractor for a new job in Calgary and the opportunity to recruit four carpenters for the project.
“I didn’t have enough to start a company and carry the payroll for the other guys,” says Warren. “I knew there was something here. This was my opportunity to do things differently. I called my dad. He thought it was a great opportunity and helped me set up the company and lent me the $6,000 that I would need to make the first payroll from his credit card.”
The rest is history.
Two decades later, Matrix has contributed more than five million hours of employment to the Canadian economy. The company operates as a highly-respected, well-recognized staffing and payroll company, coast to coast.
“My goal was to professionalize the skilled trades industry. By creating stable and long term employment, paying fair, competitive wages (wage parity – on time, weekly), and offering benefits, apprenticeship training, tuition refunds and opportunities for growth, people now had provisions that they could value and build their lives around. This inspired hard work, reliability, trust and a mutual respect.”
Shannon has built the Matrix culture to focus on employee centricity, proactive recruitment and high performance.
“Happy employees make happy clients. Our business is built around treating our employees well with an open door policy, mutual respect and the expectation of high performance. We are fierce about competency, punctuality, honesty and trust. We also invest significant time and resources into workplace safety. It’s important for me that our employees feel supported and are equipped with the tools and knowledge to stay out of harm’s way. These foundational elements ensure that we deliver top-tier placements to our clients. I believe that expectations are set through example. How we treat and train our employees is how they will treat our clients.”
Matrix has always taken a proactive approach to recruitment. Often, clients contact Matrix in an emergency knowing the team has the expertise and connections to find them 10 or 15 tradespeople immediately.
“Staffing companies are not always the first call,” says Warren. “Often, we are the last resort. It’s not uncommon for us to get a 911 call from a client requesting quick placements of 10 to 15 people. An emergency on our clients’ side however does not mean compromised deliverable on ours.”
To deliver on the time-sensitive requirements of the construction staffing business, Matrix worked to develop the first true Social Recruitment product.
“As best as we can, clients can expect high-quality candidates for every placement. In order to achieve this, we developed a concept called Social Recruitment. This means we are recruiting, interviewing, and segmenting all the time using both traditional channels as well as modern techniques like search engine optimization, automated referrals, social media and Email/SMS marketing. Every candidate in our platform is ready for immediate placement with the necessary availability, tickets and up-to-date safety training.”
Matrix recognizes the need to put the right people in the right seats, quickly. They deliver this consistently and diligently by investing regularly in marketing and technology. Matrix boasts a “work-ready” employee database of more than 40,000 employees and more than 60,000 combined social media followers. In November, Matrix will also be adding Avionte into its software stack to significantly improve the velocity of its already industry-best placements.
Matrix assigns a lot of value to its partnerships and accreditations. Matrix has partnered with People 2.0, one of the largest, global providers of EOR (employer of record), AOR (agent of record) and ASO solutions with in-country expertise in 100+ countries globally. With unlimited funding Matrix can take on any size or scope of project.
“This is a game changer for our clients. In tandem with high quality placements, we are now able to offer payroll financing to our clients so that they have the runway and bandwidth to undertake larger projects. Concurrently, we administer payroll, benefits, and manage claims and employee agreements. This suite of offerings, known as EOR (employer of record), allows us to deliver a turn-key, HR department-in-a-box experience so that clients can focus on what’s important (project work, creating value, building their business) while we take care of the details.”
As the company grows, so do its partnerships and affiliations.
“We are very proud to be connected with many great communities and organizations,” Shannon says. “As an example, we have partnered with Gitga’at Development Corporation to form Gitga’at Matrix Workforce Services LTD (GMWS). GMWS will help supply trade labour, heavy equipment operators, pipeline workers and general labourers for the projects taking place in Prince Rupert, Terrace and Kitimat. With over $100 billion worth of investment expected in the area over the next 10 to 16 years in the form of LNG plants, pipelines, infrastructure, hotels and homes, GMWS will be able to provide unlimited funding to meet labour demands. It will also offer the local First Nations community job opportunities that provide stability and growth through initiatives like apprenticeships, sponsorships and community development.“
Partnerships and accreditations strengthen Matrix’s offerings while growing its viability and access to opportunities. Matrix is accredited with Complyworks, ISNetWorld, Avetta, OLISS Controlled Goods, COR Certified in Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C. though Energy Safety Canada. OLISS allows Matrix to place employees on lucrative federal government contracts anywhere in Canada.
Matrix has had an incredible 20-year journey. It has been exhilarating, tumultuous and inspiring. Matrix has successfully navigated through downturns, recessions and most recently the pandemic. The key to Matrix’s sustainability and growth has been the tenacity of the leadership team, trust of its clients, loyalty of its employees and focus on its values and fundamentals.
“We are incredibly grateful to our clients and employees. They are the foundation of our business and the reason for our success.”
The future is inspiring. Matrix is now in Acquisition mode, focusing on growth through acquisitions and mergers with like-minded owners across North America.
“Our M&A play was carefully designed to be a growth hack to secure Matrix’s future and deliver more Matrix to more verticals in our industry. The synergistic value of current opportunities will allow the merged group of companies to offer an expanded suite of services under one roof. The possibilities are endless.”
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