Calgary-based Tower Cleaners nabs award nomination for embracing workplace diversity

In life and in business, Tony Stephen has always held strong to one basic yet defining guiding principle.

“A belief and core strength in our family has always been to treat others the way that you would expect to be treated yourself,” said Stephen, who has owned and operated Tower Cleaners since 1978.

What started as a small family business has grown into one of Canada’s largest privately-owned dry cleaners with 27 locations scattered throughout Calgary and Airdrie, Alta.

Despite the growth, Stephen has never let go of that guiding principle, and just recently Tower Cleaners has been recognized for it.

The Calgary-based company is an Immigrants of Distinction Awards finalist in the Organizational Diversity category.

“We’ve got one big family here … you name the country, they’re probably here working with us,” Stephen said.

It’s estimated up to 30 different nationalities are represented amongst the more than 100 employees who work at Tower Cleaners.

Stephen said employees stay about an average of 17 years, many for even longer.

Originally from Laos, daily production manager Nicky Pathammawong has been with Tower Cleaners for nearly 30 years. She was originally hired to wash floors.

“I’m happy every day to get up, like early morning, to be here,” Pathammawong said, adding that Stephen is like family.

Olga Butenko, meanwhile, moved to Canada from Kazakhstan about two years ago, and will soon be leaving her position on the plant floor to take over accounting and book-keeping duties.

“I learned lots of things here,” Butenko said. “And I met lots of people from all over the world. I’m so happy.”

Business development manager Dalmy Manan says Tower Clearners embraces diversity within the workplace and does not tolerate discrimination.

“It doesn’t matter what your background was, how strong your English is or what kind of skills you have. For us, I think the first thing we see is if you’re ready to work. And if you want to work and you want to be part of this team, then you have a place here.”

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