SQM makes investment in Vernon

Service Quality Measurement Group, better known as SQM, recently opened its new research centre on 31st Avenue in the downtown core

A Vernon-based market research firm is preparing for the future.

Service Quality Measurement Group, better known as SQM, recently opened its new research centre on 31st Avenue in the downtown core.

“We have labeled it a Google-lite inspired design,” said Mike Desmarais, founder and chief executive officer.

“About 50 per cent of SQM’s work force are millennials and were the source of inspiration for the Google-lite office design that we have created.”

The head office includes open areas that facilitate and promote collaboration in the workplace.

Each of the three floors offers meeting/lounge spaces furnished with leather couches, wine and coffee bars, and a relaxation room with massage chairs. Each floor also has its own boardroom for larger group meetings, private coaching rooms, full kitchens with window seating overlooking the city, and soft LED automatic, adjustable lighting for a more environmentally friendly option in the workplace.

The building also offers a high-tech security system with cameras outfitted around the entire exterior perimeter and all parts of the interior.

Along with a secure server room and redundancy equipment, SQM has built a fully equipped, professional sound recording room for recording its automated survey work that’s provided to clients.

“In addition to the fundamental workspace configurations in our new office, SQM staff were able to have customized artwork provided in each office that represent their core interests and values,” said Desmarais.

“For comfort, we built an onsite shower facility and outfitted each office with personalized lighting and heating options, floor to ceiling windows, ergonomic chairs, automated sit/stand desks, multiple displays with two to four flat screens for each desk area and a view of our great city here in Vernon.”

While many North Okanagan residents have never heard of SQM, it is a high-tech customer satisfaction research firm.

“We have two state-of-the-art research centres, one in Vernon and one in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho,” said Desmarais.

“Altogether between the two locations we have about 175 (100 in Coeur d’Alene and 75 in Vernon) employees. We have one of the highest educated workforces of companies operating in the Okanagan area, with many employees having a doctorate, master’s, or bachelor’s degree, of which the majority have a focus in computer science, mathematics, or statistics.”

Some of the largest organizations in North America access services from SQM, including FedEx, Canadian Tire, Rogers, Telus, Petro-Canada, and Sun Life Financial.

“We do business with many local organizations such as ICBC, FortisBC, B.C. Hydro, Interior Savings and Vancity,” said Desmarais.

“We have experienced 10 to 15 per cent annual growth for the last five years, with only one per cent of revenue growth being the result of price increases.”

Seventy per cent of SQM’s revenue comes from American corporations.

“Interestingly, very few Canadian firms are successful doing business in the U.S. so we are quite proud of the level of success we have had in the U.S.,” said Desmarais.

“What SQM is most proud of is our 95 per cent client retention level, which is unheard of for most businesses.”

City of Vernon officials are excited about SQM’s expansion and the company’s ongoing commitment to the community.

“It’s a fairly significant investment. They have 175 staff and they continue to grow,” said Kevin Poole, economic development manager.