When Michael Brown told his wife about a job opportunity he was considering at Trico Homes, she discovered that it was a natural fit.
“She looked up Trico Homes, saw that it was a Certified B Corp. and said ‘OK, that’s good,’ says Brown, who started as president of Trico this past January. “That was a proof point for her.”
As defined on the Certified B Corp. website, these businesses “meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performances, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.”
Like most businesses, Trico’s priorities start at the top.
“(Trico’s owner and founder) Wayne Chiu believes that you can achieve a profit by doing good,” says Brown.
Recognized for his business and community accomplishments, Chiu is a member of both the Order of Canada and the Alberta Order of Excellence.
B Corp Certification is measurable proof that Trico’s focus exceeds merely building and selling homes.
“You go through a scoring system,” says Brown. “That scoring system looks at all aspects of your company from how you deal with your staff, your company, customers, how you contribute to your community — how you as a company position yourself against your competitors.
“In this day and age, people want to see companies put an emphasis on the environment, social enterprise, governance – this is a great way to demonstrate that to the marketplace,” he adds.
This recognition, assessed on an annual basis, has been earned by Trico since 2012.
“Our team fills out and submits a detailed assessment and B Corp. comes back and measures it to see ‘Are you improving in these areas? How do you compare to other similar companies?’”
When members of the Trico team meet, Brown says the focus consistently comes back to doing the right thing.
“The right thing is that we do need to achieve some level of profit – we wouldn’t exist if we didn’t – but the first thing we have to think about is: How do our actions impact society? How do our actions impact clients?” says Brown. “It keeps us on an endgame that’s community first and then profit second.
“People often believe that those are very distinct things,” he adds. “At Trico we believe that one leads to the other. If you do focus on the community, that will allow you to be successful.”
A recent example of this came as a response to the consequences of COVID-19. The business experienced a significant strain and the need for sales intensified.
“We talked as a company and said ‘before we get to that, let’s look at where we sit within the community,’” Brown says.
This led Trico to refocus its billboards and overall messaging to support Calgary’s small business and arts community.
For example, the sign at the Trico office at the time this was written reads, “Trico cares: please support arts and culture,” and scrolls over to read “please support local business.”
It would be easy for Trico to direct the reader to one of the communities in which it’s selling homes, says Brown, adding, “we felt the most important thing to do, as a strong member of society, was to focus on our community first.”
The staff satisfaction component of Trico’s B Certification is reinforced by recognition from other organizations, including the builder being named One of the Top 25 Workplaces in Canada and One of Canada’s Best Workplaces for Women.
“It’s largely believed that if you have a staff who can be committed to a greater purpose, they’re going to do better work,” says Brown. “There’s another form of compensation – and that’s pride.”
On Trico’s success with the customer experience, Brown says it’s about being judged on more than straight-forward problems.
“We’re going to be judged on the fringes,” he says. For example, he says someone who is experiencing a problem with their home and it’s no longer covered under warranty, “we still feel a responsibility that we have to figure it out.”
“We still have a commitment to that customer,” Brown adds. “Once they buy a home from Trico, there’s an expectation that goes along with it.
“It’s important for us to always be doing the right thing and sometimes it’s the customer who defines the right thing.”
Part of Trico’s focus on its customers is its long-term membership with the Alberta New Home Warranty Program.
“One of the things that really struck me in the short time I’ve been with Trico is that the Alberta New Home Warranty Program and Trico is really a partnership,” Brown says. “It’s a partnership focused on the customer. The Alberta New Home Warranty Program plays such a critical role … it really gives consumers’ confidence that they are getting a good product that is going to meet their needs long-term.”
Irene Perkins, account manager for The Alberta New Home Warranty Program, is consistently impressed by Trico’s commitment to both quality craftsmanship and being a good citizen.
“The Trico Homes team are exactly that — a team that works together to provide the very best in every aspect of homebuilding,” she adds. “Their uncompromising focus is evident in their relationship with their homeowners and in their contribution to the communities they are in.
“Trico holds themselves to a higher standard and we’re honoured to be their partner.”