Canmore, a small town of just under 14,000 people nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies between Calgary and Banff, is the type of place you’d picture when thinking about the natural beauty of western Canada. Known for its Main Street shops and restaurants that tout spectacular views of the Three Sisters, Ha Ling Peak, and Mount Rundle, it is a destination that usually draws tourists from around the world throughout the year.
The Grizzly Paw Pub and Brewing Company has been a community staple in Canmore since it was founded by Niall Fraser in 1996. The Grizzly Paw started out with a single location on Main Street in downtown Canmore, which had a restaurant on the first floor and a little brewhouse in the back to make beer to sell in the restaurant. Over the past 24 years, The Grizzly Paw has added a second floor to the Main Street restaurant, began making soda in addition to beer, started selling both types of beverages to local businesses and restaurants, and expanded to a second location.
This second timber-framed brewery was built in 2011 at 310 Old Canmore Road, five minutes down the road from the original location. This new facility has the capacity to meet the needs of The Grizzly Paw’s restaurants and of Alberta for fresh beer and soda, and all beverage production was shifted here. In 2018, The Grizzly Paw added Tank310, a restaurant and event facility with a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains, to the top floor of this second location.
“Our mission is to share the Canmore experience through constant innovation, authentic hospitality and the passionate pursuit of quality,” says Dominique Lagloire-Galipeau, The Grizzly Paw’s CFO. “First and foremost, The Grizzly Paw is a hospitality company. But we're a bit in retail, a bit in craft beer, and a bit in food and beverage. That's probably what makes us so unique, we touch a variety of different experiences for our customers. They can come into Canmore, see the mountains, go hiking, and enjoy a piece of the Rockies by having a Grizzly Paw beer."
The hospitality industry in Canmore is very seasonally driven. Lagloire-Galipeau says that The Grizzly Paw experiences peaks for business in the summer and winter, with a slight lull in the fall and spring. The Grizzly Paw employs approximately 140 people in its peak seasons, with a little over half working at the 310 Canmore Road Brewery and Tank310 restaurant, and the rest working at the original Main Street location. There are 10 office workers who oversee sales, marketing, accounting, and other administrative functions.
When the COVID-19 pandemic reached Canada in the spring of 2020, Lagloire-Galipeau says The Grizzly Paw was affected just like many other hospitality businesses. “Our restaurants were shut down for a couple of months in the spring. And when we reopened, we wanted to make sure that we were going to be ready and that we were going to do things right,” she says. “So, even though the restaurants were closed, a number of the managers kept working to put together a detailed list of procedures for our employees and customers to follow that would match the guidance we received from Alberta Health, the federal government, our municipal government, and industry associations.”
The Grizzly Paw team also got creative and found ways to continue to serve its communities even though customers couldn’t physically visit the restaurants. “We had takeout operations during the closure that kept functioning. We also kept selling Grizzly Paw beer, but instead of selling kegs to other restaurants, we were selling cans to liquor and grocery stores.”
Managing payroll for such a complex, fluid workforce is something that Lagloire-Galipeau can’t imagine doing manually. “We process payroll twice a month, and we have anywhere from 80 to 140 employees at any point in a given year. I don't know how we would keep track of all that on an Excel spreadsheet,” she says. “All the different situations that people are in, whether we're doing different tax deductions or we're depositing paycheques split between savings and chequing accounts. I don't know how we would do this without having a payroll system.”
Lagloire-Galipeau has worked in accounting for hotels and other hospitality organizations since 2006, and has always used Powerpay, Ceridian’s small business payroll solution. “I have never had the opportunity to try another system, but I've never seen the need to look for another one either,” she says. When Lagloire-Galipeau joined The Grizzly Paw team as CFO in 2015, the company was already using Powerpay.
There are many Grizzly Paw employees who perform various roles throughout the organization, from bartending, to serving, to hosting, and the list goes on. Lagloire-Galipeau points out that not only are these roles expensed to different lines of the business in some cases, but they might also carry different wages. “Powerpay helps us ensure we are paying the right hours at the right rate for not only one colleague, but 140,” she says.
In addition, some seasonal employees who leave to attend school or have other work arrangements might choose to come back to The Grizzly Paw year after year, and Powerpay helps make the process of both terminating them and reinstating them in the system much more efficient. “We are able to hire or onboard someone through Powerpay, and then do the termination at the end of the season and provide a record of employment (ROE) and statement of earnings in a timely manner,” she says. “Then, if they decide to rejoin us the following year, we don’t have to recreate the wheel. Being able to carry on in the same system and just bring that employee back when they return has been very helpful.”
Powerpay has also helped Lagloire-Galipeau manage the temporary wage subsidy that was put in place by the federal government of Canada to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It's very useful to have access to a system that gives us the information we needed to make the calculations for the 10% wage subsidy that was in place when COVID first hit,” she says. “It's been so much easier to be able to reduce the taxes directly using Powerpay, and the team at Ceridian is well-versed with the Canadian requirements and was able to provide guidance quickly.”
The Grizzly Paw also recently started using Powerpay’s self service functionality. “One of our company values is sustainable stewardship of the environment, and to eliminate paper versions of pay stubs and reports has been a step in the right direction for us,” says Lagloire-Galipeau. “Realistically, almost everyone has a smartphone in their pocket, so it's much easier for them to look up their employee information and their paycheque online as opposed to having to come to the brewery to get the paper stub, only to shred it or discard it anyway. It's been very well received.”
Hospitality is an industry that has historically had to embrace uncertainty and find creative ways to compete and thrive no matter what each year brings. This year has been particularly challenging for the industry on a global scale, so now more than ever, being able to adapt and persevere is key. “I think the pandemic facilitated something that we didn't know we had in us – the ability to turn around and create something new, change operations, and adjust quickly,” says Lagloire-Galipeau. “And like our CEO always says, we are ‘cultivating the art of flexibility,’" and I think that's here to stay. We will continue looking for opportunities to make sure the company and the colleagues we employ are able to thrive despite it being a challenging work environment at this time.”
Having a partner that can enable that flexibility through providing timely and knowledgeable support is crucial. “We can phone Ceridian at any time, and the person on the other end of the line knows what they're doing and can help guide us through whatever challenge we’re facing,” says Lagloire-Galipeau. “The knowledgeable assistance is one of the main reasons why we continue to partner with Ceridian and Powerpay.”