Imagine a home renovation business that began in a global pandemic, that pays employees to cycle to their job sites year-round, and is located in the cold winter climate of Winnipeg, Canada. This is the story of Velo Renovation, a SET-run business started by passionate cyclist, Nathaniel (Nate) De Avila. In addition to promoting ecological well-being via cycling, Velo actively presents clients with sustainable renovation alternatives (e.g., promoting the use of natural materials like linseed oil paint and up-cycling existing materials) and uses sustainable practices (e.g., Velo avoids the use of aggressive and harmful chemicals whenever possible). Velo’s revolutionary management and leadership style also foster social well-being: employees set their own hours and their own pay, and Nate ensures that “the books are open to everyone” enabling employees to look at Velo’s revenues and expenses. Additionally, Velo’s mission emphasizes the value of friendship over profit. The Velo team has remained consistently diverse with the inclusion of women, ethnic minorities, and individuals with barriers to the workforce. Employees describe Nate as “an incredible teacher”, someone who is “extremely gracious and patient,” and is “always trying to push safety, or happiness and well-being” on the job rather than efficiency, speed or productivity. A number of employees mentioned that Velo has given them a sense of stability in a time where everything seemed to be up in the air. Because of its emphases on cycling and spending time outdoors, one employee enthuses that working at Velo “feels like an adventure, it doesn’t feel like work.” An exemplary SET firm, Velo Renovation explicitly prioritizes people and the planet over profit.
*This short blog post on Velo Renovation—one of dozens of SET firms being studied by a research team at the Asper School of Business—was written by Master’s student Savanna Vagianos. For more information, visit https://velorenovation.ca