Turkey, mashed potatoes, and … Iridia in the Community?


As Canadians, most of us are returning to work this week in a tryptophan-induced fog thanks to another wonderful turkey dinner (or two) at the hands of that amazing friend or family member who spared no effort in bringing their kitchen skills to bear. While reflecting on culinary conquests is almost a requisite of Thanksgiving reflection, this particular edition of the holiday has given many Iridians the opportunity to reflect in a different way. More specifically, to think about what community means to them, and how they can give to it when given a simple means to do so.

Enter Iridia in the Community.

Iridia in the Community

What is it?

Iridia in the Community, quite simply, is an initiative that saw each full time employee receive $100 and be tasked with spending it in a way that would provide value to their interpretation of “community”.

Little guidance was offered, and that was by design. While all Iridians share commonalities, we are also each very different. Our individual interpretation as to what “community” is, and what providing value to it looks like, is completely a function of our own perspective.

What was the inspiration behind it?

You never know when you might have a conversation that will have a profound impact.   In February of this year, I was fortunate enough to have had such a conversation.  While attending a professional development workshop I sat beside a gentleman that I had never seen before, and have never seen since. We spoke only for about 10 minutes, but that brief exchange led to Iridia in the Community.

He shared a story about a man in the early 1900s who took out an advertisement local newspaper offering to provide $10 to anyone who wrote him a letter articulating why they felt they needed $10. Initially dubbed Angels in the Streets, this idea has since evolved to see companies giving back through their employee teams.

Amazed at the simplicity and beauty of the program, we simply had to do it.

And now, it’s done.

Why did we do it?

At Iridia we aspire to be led by, and act in accordance with, our company values. Each of our eight values contributes directly to the very fabric of our organization. As one of our values is Social Responsibility, we are always on the lookout for creative ways to support our community. We felt that Iridia in the Community fit the bill, and we made it happen.

Why now?

Thanksgiving is all about, well, giving thanks. As such, we felt was the perfect time for Iridia in the Community.

How will it play out?

To be honest, we don’t know, but we are as excited as you are to find out!

Over the course of this week, we will be sharing highlights of how Iridia dollars were spent through a combination of pictures and videos on our Facebook page. Please check back often to see how your friends and contacts on the Iridia team have made a difference.

We can say, however, that our hope is that this becomes only the first of many versions of Iridia in the Community.

Iridia in the Community Interviews:

Economics for Success – Richmond Style

The Economics for Success curriculum was designed by, and is delivered through, Junior Achievement British Columbia (JABC).

On May 1st, I was again fortunate enough to have the opportunity to teach Economics for Success to a group of high school students, this time in Richmond, BC.

Without a doubt, the experience will be a highlight of the month, and I’d like to tell you why. 

Economics for Success Background


The Economics for Success curriculum was designed by, and is delivered through, Junior Achievement British Columbia (JABC).   The course is geared toward engaging grade 9/10 students on topics such as personal budgeting and career planning in a way that they otherwise wouldn’t be in the standard BC curriculum.  Content is delivered by volunteers such as me, and the program is made available at no charge to the schools.   Junior Achievement itself is a not-for-profit and is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating young people about business.   Locally, Cheryl Borgmann, Regional Manager, Lower Mainland, and her team do an exceptional job of coordinating us volunteers and supporting us to the deliver the best in-class experience that we can. The Economics for Success curriculum was designed by, and is delivered through, Junior Achievement British Columbia (JABC).

Why I Do It

At Iridia, all employees are fortunate to have 3 paid volunteer days per year that they can use to give back in some way within their community.   In looking at the multitude of options, JABC struck a chord with me for several reasons.  Firstly, it gave me the opportunity to teach which I simply love to do – indeed when teaching, time simply flies by.   Secondly, it aligned perfectly with Iridia’s corporate value of Lifelong Learning.   Lastly, it addresses an unmet need.  I feel the course opens the door to a new way of thinking and provides some excellent tactical tools that will serve the students well as they grow up and start a career.  Many of us, even as adults, could improve our planning and budgeting skills, so the chance to help instill some of these basics at an early age is very powerful in my eyes.

The Reward

The rewards for participating in JABC are numerous, and here are a few that really stand out to me. 

–          There is nothing quite like watching students connect new ideas for the first time, make a realization, and then adjust their train of thought accordingly.   Watching this happen in real time, maybe as they realize just how much of their paycheque will be sacrificed to drive that shiny new car, is quite impactful to see. 

–          Watching Cheryl and her team at JABC as they magically bring all the pieces to bear to continually tweak, schedule, and ultimately deliver this program is quite a sight to behold.  Not even a year ago, I knew little of them, nor of the great work they do — but now I do. 

–          Working alongside my teaching partner Ed Gilbert, a consummate professional, is reward unto itself.   Ed’s passion and commitment to this program is infectious, and his in-class enthusiasm resonates incredibly well with the students we teach.   It’s great to see career professionals giving of their time so genuinely. 

–          On a more selfish level, I love the feeling I get from volunteering. We are all busy and have a myriad of commitments.  They can feel all-encompassing and overwhelming.  “If only I had an extra hour/day” inevitably floats to the forefront of our psyche.  The irony, of course, it that it is precisely during such times that a volunteering experience can be maximally beneficial. 

And that’s why May has started off on such a positive note.   The JABC Economics for Success program, as with all JABC programs I’m sure, is always in demand and as such teaching opportunities will be available next year.  I for one, can’t wait! 

In closing, if you have the opportunity to volunteer through your employer, please do give it some considering.  The rewards are numerous, and the opportunity to learn about yourself, your community, and your fellow citizens in unrivaled.

Vern Biccum
President, Iridia Medical


Reflections from the Profit 500 CEO Summit

When Robert Herjavec, of Dragon’s Den / Shark Tank fame, was starting out in business, rumor has it that he had the following two goals:

  1. To survive, and
  2. To make the Profit 500 – the exclusive ranking of Canada’s fastest growing companies

Profit 500

That says something about the accomplishment of making the Profit 500 list, namely that it is a lofty goal to shoot for. This year, the Iridia team found itself on that list. 

One of the benefits of making the Profit 500 is the opportunity to attend the CEO Summit in Toronto. I was fortunate enough to have a schedule that allowed for my attendance, and I must say, the experience was fantastic. 

Without a doubt, Ian Portsmouth and his team, the Publishers and Editors of the list, hosted an exceptional event.  

The day was packed with talks, breakout events, and by the time all was said and done, it was a lengthy affair.  

Highlights of the day included:

  • A speech by Ryan Wilson of the CEO Global Network who walked the group through the ideal characteristics of a CEO.   
  • An address by Bruce Croxol, of Lava Life/Dragon’s Den fame, whose  down to earth messaging was both humourous and practical.
  • Informative sessions on Mergers and Acquisitions, effective use of Social Media, and key indicators to watch for the Canadian economy. 
  • The Ideas Exchange, wherein we sat in small groups and discussed current challenges we are facing and explored potential solutions together. 

But perhaps more than the specific events themselves, it was the collective inspiration offered by those in attendance that provided the greatest reward.   Hearing stories about how business were created,  the challenges they‘ve overcome, etc., reaffirmed on the one hand that enterprises  across the country are facing similar issues, but  on the other hand, that we are also well-equipped to respond to those challenges head on.

This has certainly proven true for the team at Iridia in the past, and as a result, I could not be more enthusiastic about our future.  With a passionate, driven team and a strategic approach to running our business, we look forward to delivering the richest of customer experiences for a long time to come.       


Why Iridia Medical?

In a previous blog entry (Global Became Iridia, But Why?) we shared that a simple desire to tweak a logo led to a rebranding effort that lasted nearly two years. We stopped short of outlining how we landed on Iridia Medical as our new name, but would like to tell that story now.

Midway through our rebranding project, we began scrutinizing the name Global Medical Services. With a goal of becoming a Top 100 employer, we asked ourselves if the name would help us get there. A bit of research highlighted that British Columbia has over 450 companies with “Global” in the name. Across the country, over 2200 companies used “Global”. We feared that as we continued to grow, we would get overlooked – picture standing up in a crowd of hundreds and calling out “John” only to have dozens of people respond. Worse still, we were also at risk of being confused with Global Medical Solutions, Global Medical Products, Global Health Network, or Global Health Ventures, to cite but a few similarly-named companies. And so, the push to rename was born.

We started out with our naivety on full display. Equipped with our “sit down, map it out” approach, we tabled a half-day, and fully expected to knock it out of the park. After all, we were a hard-working, creative lot, so it shouldn’t have been a huge deal, or so we thought.

Toward the end of our session, we realized that a genuine challenge lay ahead. With a half day under our belts, we had few, if any, quality names. To be fair, we were our own worst enemies. From day one, we tabled two non-negotiables when it came to a new name. Firstly, it had to resonate with us. In our mind, a clever name was useless if it didn’t connect to us in a significant way. Secondly, it had to tell a story. More specifically, it had to tell OUR story. With these two criteria in mind, our hope was that our new name would embody who were and would naturally open the door to further conversation should anyone inquire as to the name’s origin.

The reality was that that the naming process took a full five months to complete.

As we dove into the process, we quickly found that most one or two word names that might seem viable had already been taken by other firms. In response, we listed a series of adjectives that we felt described us and/or what we do. Words like unique, empowering, and enabling came to mind. From there, we began translating these words into other languages, and splicing syllables together to form candidate names.

Some worked (e.g. Emgen) and others clearly did not (e.g. Fapalena).

We made efforts to draw from science nomenclature, riffling through all subjects imaginable. Again some held promise (Cingulate – a fold in the brain: Mito – drawn from mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell), but most did not. We scoured plant and animal species names looking for parallels to our company, but again, came up empty. We even briefly explored using names of famous Sherpas as a way forward.

All told, the fruits of our labour produced more than 300 candidate names. Through an aggressive whittling exercise, the list was reduced to 11. Through further discussions, the final four candidates were tabled, and our staff was asked to make the final decision. On the basis of the criteria listed below, our team ranked the candidate names.

GMS Naming

A sample of the 300 names.

• How easy it was to pronounce
• How memorable it was
• How it sounded when it was said
• How credible it sounded
• How it “fit” with the company
• The quality of the story it told

When voting was finished, Iridia Medical stood apart in the minds of our staff.


The name is borrowed from Iridium, an element with properties that align perfectly with our company, as outlined below.

• It is very rare, much in the same way that our team is a very unique collection of people, interests, and expertise.
• It connects with other metals to form alloys, as we engage stakeholders to build solutions.
• It is a standard of measure for weight, and we set the standard for practical, effective solutions for our clients.
• It is durable as are we in having weathered economic slowdowns, competition, and a changing market landscape.

Lastly, and most intriguingly, is the fact that Iridium is found in very high concentrations in meteors and asteroids when compared to the amounts found in the earth’s crust. This finding has led to the idea that an asteroid colliding with the earth triggered an ice age and the eradication of the dinosaurs. This “out with old, in with the new” paradigm aligns perfectly with our company, as going back to our founding days, we are perpetually challenging the status quo in the interest of finding new ways to bring about improvements.

In the end, we find ourselves with a name that might trigger a double take when first heard, and we’re perfectly happy with that. In our view, it gives us license to tell our story and share how Iridia resonates so well with us.

Iridia Medical Comes to Life

March 11th, 2013.

A day much like any other for most, but a day unlike any other for us. With the arrival of this day comes a mix of emotions for our entire team.

On the one hand, it is time to say goodbye to the name Global Medical Services (GMS) and the familiar heart rhythm logo to which we have grown so accustomed over the years. No longer will the GMS name and logo adorn our employee manuals, our educational handouts, or any other documents that our team produces. Indeed, the final paramedic daily report with a golden oval has been completed, reviewed, and filed for safe keeping.

On the other hand, we have cause for emphatic celebration! We are blessed with an incredibly rare opportunity to breathe life into a fresh new brand identity. But not just any brand identity – one into which we have poured our hearts and souls to develop over the past year and a half. One that we feel perfectly reflects who we are and what we represent. And, best of all, we have the chance to shape this new brand with the very same people that have made Global such a success.

So, while it is not easy saying goodbye to the GMS name which has served us so well over the years, we will forever be grateful for the memories and successes realized under it. And, as we look forward, we enthusiastically embrace a bright future under the Iridia Medical banner.

To kick things off, here are some of the biggest changes you’ll see:

  • The Iridia Medical name and logo, as pictured in this blog, will feature prominently on everything our team produces.
  • Enabling Peace of Mind is our new company tagline. 
  • We also have four new divisional taglines: We have a snazzy new website at www.iridiamedical.com that is filled with fresh new content, has an intuitive and easy-to-use interface, and allows for online purchasing of AED accessories and course registration. 
    • Tools to Save Lives (Products), 
    • The Right Care at the Right Time (Paramedics), 
    • Facilitating Practical Healthcare Solutions (Consulting), and 
    • Empowering People to Save Lives (Education).
  • Our Social Media accounts have been given a facelift. View these on the the menu to the right.

Beyond today, the year ahead will be exciting and frenetic as we write the first of many chapters in the story of the Iridia Medical brand. There are vehicles to be branded, divisional launch promotions/events to be held, and a great many more things to come. Stay tuned!

As we embark on this new journey, we invite you take it with us. Please let us know how we are doing. If any of our team members or a product/service we provide has made a difference to you, we’d love to hear from you. We’ve made it as easy as possible to get in touch — on every page of our website there is a blue banner along the bottom with a “Feedback” button. Simply hit it and fill in the form that pops up!

Here’s to a great first year with Iridia Medical!

Recent Changes at Iridia Prepare Company for Future Growth

Every young entrepreneurial company reaches a crossroad when it must position itself for long term sustainable growth. Our company reached that pivotal point toward the end of 2012 when Vern Biccum took on the role of President and Dr. Allan Holmes assumed the title of Founder.

When Iridia was founded in 1998 by Dr. Allan Holmes, he represented the entire workforce. Today, we have grown to include four divisions, each with its own team of staff. Indeed, things have gone well. We have been one of the province’s fastest growing firms for two years running, and have been very fortunate to see demand for services growing.

So why introduce a change?

We believe that all progressive companies make time for introspection. Honestly assessing the way in which a business is run, and confronting the reality of the findings is both healthy and prudent. When we assessed Iridia, the words of Good to Great author Jim Collins rang in our ears. He advocates strongly for having the right people on the bus (read “in the company”), and then figuring out where they should sit (read “what role they should fill”). Applied to Iridia, we recognized that we had selected members of our senior team that could benefit from a seat swap.


With more and more operational demands being made of Allan’s time, he wasn’t able to focus as much energy on his areas of expertise and passion. In the Founder role, Allan will be able to redirect his energies to these foci while Vern will apply his business acumen and strategic leadership to the running of the firm.

“This role change represents a natural transition which has been planned for the past couple of years”, says Allan. “I can provide much more benefit to the company by focusing on select areas such as Physician Engagement services and clearing the way for Vern to implement our long term growth strategy. It will also allow me to continue building a physician network and consulting team for the company.”

“We are leveraging our unique skills and interests to further build the company’s infrastructure and foundation,” says Vern. “Allan gets fired up by the challenges of healthcare and I want to make Iridia one of the top 100 companies in B.C. to work for. Allan will continue to support the business units at Iridia as his time allows. I see my challenges as focusing more on the actual organization, which includes helping our staff become more strategic and financially literate. I have a five-year plan to achieve these goals.”

Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies = Time to Say Thanks Again

It is truly hard to believe that a year has gone by since Iridia found itself on Business in Vancouver’s list of Top 100 Fastest Growing companies.   At that time we were both humbled and proud to find ourselves listed amongst some of the BC greatest up and coming companies.

business in vancouver

In the intervening months, we have added new staff, settled into our office on 3rd Avenue, and have renewed our commitment to living our corporate values.   We successfully completed our first corporate fitness challenge, ran our inaugural AED online giveaway, and we further cemented our associated with Kiva.  Throughout the journey we have, as many other organizations have, looked for creative ways to share our experiences with through Social Media.  In short, it has been another great year characterized by traditional levels of intensity, but this time also infused with additional new reasons for excitement.

When we received word that we had again achieved Top 100 status, we again felt incredibly fortunate to have had the year we did.  And so, it is again time to give thanks.  Thanks for our clients for believing in us and allowing us to serve them, to our partners for working alongside us, and to the Iridia team for their efforts in moving us toward greatness.

We can’t predict exactly what will happen in the coming year, but from what we do know, there are some very exciting things coming up, so do stay tuned.