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Nanaimo manufacturer makes Institute Canada's list of best places to work in country

A Nanaimo manufacturer is the only business on Vancouver Island to capture a coveted position on a prestigious list recognizing the best places to work in Canada.

Vehicle Mounted Air Compressors manufactures air-compressor systems for mobile mechanics, tire service, utilities and construction industries.

It made the Great Places to Work, Institute Canada's annual Best Workplaces in Canada list, which showcases the top 75 best workplaces in the country.

"I think it's fantastic," said VMAC owner and president Tony Menard on Thursday. "We wanted to be an employer of choice."

Menard said he has spent time working for companies without knowing what's going on. He wanted to create a workplace with an open atmosphere to both foster relationships and where employees can be a part of business accomplishments.

The 85 employees at VMAC enjoy the company's policy of inclusiveness and employee involvement and the company is open about information sharing, from business decisions to finances. Colleagues are involved in improving the company and initiatives, such as a climate committee, have resulted in several educational sessions that have benefited workers.

"It's not done in the dark. We try to keep everyone involved in our future and what's happening. When we're moving the company forward everyone has input," said Menard, who credits his employees for helping bring the company to where it is today. "It's great that we've created this company together. I'm happy for everybody to be a part of it."

VMAC is the only Island business and one of 12 businesses in B.C. to make the cut. The list showcases businesses that scored highest according to employee surveys and human resource practices. The list was published in the Globe and Mail on April 6.

Initially, Menard and chief of engineering Jim Hogan started up the company themselves in Ontario but after four years, Menard chose to move operations back to his hometown of Nanaimo in 1990.

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VMAC has grown steadily since then and today exports systems to dealer distributors all over the world. They are working on expanding into the European market and diversifying its product line.

Venard said his company is the only one in the world manufacturing under-hood air-compressor systems and the only one in Canada to build rotary screw air compressors.


Menard used to construct mounting brackets for another type of air compressor but when trucks started getting more streamlined, he said he was forced to get innovative and develop a smaller system for which there is a niche market today.

The competition for list placement includes workplace areas such as credibility, fairness, camaraderie and respect.

The 2009 list included organizations from a variety of industries across the country that ranged in size from 54 to 55,000 employees. More than 29,000 employees were surveyed to determine the best workplace finalists.

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