A retrospective from a single point of view as employee #25
It occurred to me yesterday, as I was gathered with one hundred of my colleagues, that I have a specific claim to fame at Vitalis. I am one of a handful of employees – among a group that now numbers 105 – to have occupied office space at every one of Vitalis’ four locations. At least up until this point.
That distinction is about to end, as our continually growing company is set to open its fifth location housing engineering, manufacturing, and fabrication in a brand-new space that we unveiled earlier this week.
With some departments moving to our new location and others remaining where they are, it’s fun to reflect on the growth of this company as we reach a significant milestone.
When I started just about two years ago, I was employee 25 (coincidentally my hockey number as well - I guess it was meant to be), and there were five departments: engineering, sales, service, manufacturing and the aptly named “office” team, where the seeds for accounting, human resources, administration, and marketing first took root.
In those early days, email addresses only consisted of first names – a practice that ended quickly in the spring of 2018. It was pretty easy to know everybody, as there were so few of us to know. Generally, people wore many hats outside of their specific designations, and collaboration with other departments was a daily habit.
At that point in time, the company was set to open location #2, where sales & marketing would cohabitate and collaborate. Accounting would become a distinct and well-formed department there as well, and six of us opened doors that would soon welcome a number of new faces to the team.
The extraordinary growth of the company was apparent even then. We outgrew that space quickly, the time measured in months. Teams at all locations grew fast enough to warrant new accommodations in downtown Kelowna.
At this third location, accounting and marketing met up with assembly, implementation, logistics, and HR – all now fully formed departments growing at an astounding rate. So fast, in fact, that marketing’s time at Gaston was cut short to rejoin the (now larger) sales team at yet another new location to kick off 2019.
As we grew, my office travels let me connect with almost everybody. From the first days working with service techs (who all knew my name before I knew theirs) to hanging with the “cool kids” from assembly (they were always gracious about welcoming me to their table at lunch) to enjoying Friday afternoons with the accounting team, always willing to share their time.
This past Tuesday afternoon, gathering with the rest of the team, celebrating our mutual milestone of hitting 100 employees in just over three years, and enjoying the camaraderie of all the people I’ve met (and meeting a bunch more I hadn’t previously had the pleasure), I was amazed at how we had managed to hold onto a culture and mindset that encompasses the word “family”.
Family was one of the first things that struck me when I started at Vitalis, and this team has lived and breathed it despite the growth.
It’s a lot of coordination to get us all together, much like planning a family reunion. Stories were shared, teams both reminisced and planned for the future, and all were able to enjoy being together. Card games and hockey tournaments broke out, there was food and drink, and we collectively celebrated, gave thanks, and just hung out as a team, as multiple teams, as a work family.
It is truly astounding how fast this group has grown, yet managed to stay close; it’s amazing how so many people in different fields can share the same goal and work so hard to continue leading the industry; and it’s rewarding to open yet another home where we will continue to learn, grow, and celebrate future successes.
I don’t know if I speak for each individual - with over 100 people, that would be a bold statement - but as a whole, I feel I can speak for all of us collectively when I give a lot of thanks. To our owners for bringing us together, to our customers for supporting and relying on us, and to each other for doing the work to make this possible.
We are all a part of the #VitalisFamily, and with our continuing growth and innovation, that’s an exciting thing to be a part of.
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