DAYSPA's 2013 Top Honors Slideshow

Courtesty Grotto Spa

Top Employee—Grotto Spa at the Tigh-Na-Mara Resort, Parksville, British Columbia, Canada

How to optimally utilize an employee who’s proven he can do it all? Sometimes, it’s best to let him decide for you.

This hands-off approach has worked well for Grotto Spa, anyway—especially when it comes to star employee Adam Shore, the lead massage and body therapist. In fact, the popular wellness facility owes much of its success to Shore, whose work ethic extends far beyond the treatment room.

Throughout his nine years at Grotto, Shore has had amassed an impressive resume. In addition to his regular massage duties, he early on seized initiative to research and upgrade facility equipment; implement effective sanitation and sterilization standards; and interview, hire, train and review fellow team members. But Shore’ trajectory—attaining a management position only to step back down to focus on service—is unique in this industry.

Desiring a career where he could work with his hands, Shore obtained a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) certification at 19. The Vancouver Island native landed a position at Grotto in 2003, after years spent performing massage all over Canada. Just six months later, the talented Shore was promoted to lead massage & body therapist. When the position of spa operations supervisor opened up in 2008, Shore immediately offered to fill it. But his motive wasn’t to ascend the corporate latter. Says Shore, “We had experienced a lot of upper-management turnover at the time, and I didn’t want everyone to go through it again—I felt like I could keep things a little more continuous for the team.”

Spa director Paulina Alexander eagerly offered Shore the promotion—“Adam is such a caring and easy person work with, it felt like a match made in heaven!”—and was more than pleased with his performance. “He knew the business so well, he easily moved into the operations role and flourished.”

For Shore, the title meant accepting responsibilities he was already performing—but it took him almost entirely away from massage therapy itself. While he still made time for a few special clients each week, he found himself increasingly missing regular interaction with clients.

In 2010, a qualified professional became interested in the supervisor position, so Shore volunteered to step down. “It seemed natural to go back to what I had been passionate about from the beginning,” he says. “I can’t say I ever really had much ambition to get into management.”

Alexander instantly reinstated Shore as lead massage and body therapist. “We were sad for him to leave that position, but we could tell he missed his guests,” she says. “We could do nothing but support him, because his client service is top notch.”

Shore’s guests had missed him, too. His employee file is filled with hundreds of glowing guest comment cards, including:

• “Adam’s knowledge of body mechanics during my treatment was very evident; he helped me so much.”
• “Adam is very friendly and reassuring. Best massage I have ever had, and I go for a massage weekly.”
• “Adam is a 12 out of 10—you are lucky to have him on your spa team.”

It’s no wonder that Shore enjoys a remarkably high client return rate—especially for a destination resort. And although the spa caters predominately to resort guests from out-of-town, Shore boasts a remarkable number of local clients, thanks to his reputation. “My passion is trying to create an experience for the client that exceeds any expectations they might have,” he says.

For now, Shore plans to keep focusing his energies via service. “I can still use my hands quite well,” he reasons. “I’m not really that old yet; I have lots of years left in me, knock on wood.”

But should that day come when his body no longer cooperates—as is the case with most RMTs—Shore says he’ll perhaps put his other skill set back into use, and give management another shot. One thing is for sure—when that time comes, Shore will let his employers know. And, given his loyalty and track record, we’re willing to bet that Grotto will listen. —Kevin Mathews