White Spot president, Warren Erhart, and the senior management team are growing skills and development opportunities at White Spot by training staff in house to be Red Seal certified.
A B.C. institution, the company was founded in 1928 with its first location on Granville Street in Vancouver. Founder, Nat Bailey, worked tirelessly at providing the best customer service and branded the restaurants with his unique Pirate Paks and Triple-O burgers. White Spot was the host restaurant on the B.C. pavilion for Expo ’86 and served the likes of Princess Diana, Prince Charles and other guests from all around the world.
Erhart joined the company in 1990, and saw the company expand into Alberta, had Granville Island start brewing beer specifically for White Spot restaurants, and launched a successful pilot project where they train Red Seal chefs in their restaurants.
“White Spot has been around for 88 years, and you have to keep yourself relevant,” says Erhart. “We’re excited to give young people jobs and job skills. The hospitality industry is a job driver across the province.”
Currently, White Spot employs over 4,000 employees – 1,500 at corporate, the remainder through the franchises.
White Spot serves more than 12 million guests each year, buys more local products than any other full service restaurant chain in B.C., and has the highest average employee tenure of any Canadian restaurant chain.
White Spot is the only hospitality company formally accredited to deliver Professional Cooks 1 and 2 towards the Red Seal program, and has been working with the Industry Training Authority (ITA) to get the pilot program up and running for their apprentices.
“This type of program usually has the apprentices attend a post-secondary institution for a large block of time,” says Erhart. “That is hectic on the work place schedule and on the apprentices too. So we train our staff in-house and once a week they attend classes.”
The course is delivered over several months, and White Spot delivers the first two of three levels. The third level is delivered through partnerships with various post-secondary schools throughout the province.
Vice president of human resources, Denise Buchanan, says the program was developed about five years ago, and is getting fantastic results. (White Spot’s Red Seal involvement dates back ten years)
“We have intake at all three stages of the program, but each year we get about 16 new apprentices,” says Buchanan. “Training, right now at the head office, there are: 12 first levels, 16 second levels, and seven third level apprentices. There are about ten more training across the province.”
“We’ll probably have another 400 jobs available by December 2017 to fill our new restaurants,” says Erhart. “We’re delighted to work with the ITA, the Red Seal program, and collaborate with other partners to develop Red Seal chefs in B.C.”