Benefit Report: Measuring What Matters

Published on May 5, 2017

The purpose of this benefit report is to publicly address the positive impact resulting from our business, to highlight our areas of success and potential growth, and how we intend to champion our causes in a future-driven mindset.

Founded on February 19, 2002, Canvas Host is a certified B Corporation and Oregon Benefit Company. Based in Portland, Oregon, Canvas Host provides comprehensive website design, hosting, e-commerce, and domain registration services to clients worldwide.

We believe business should be used as a force for good. We recognize that our business impacts employees and stakeholders, clients, the local community, the environment, and the economy as a whole. We strive to create a positive impact in all that we do, to measure those impacts, and to hold ourselves accountable by reporting on our findings.

We have structured this report to follow the general framework of the B Impact Assessment, a tool that helps analyze the impact of our business, organized into these categories: Governance, workers, community, environment, and customers. With global markets showing continued drive for purpose-driven business, we hope this report inspires you to support B Corporations, to learn about the benefit company movement, and to get involved to help bring benefit to your own community as have we.

Business Impact

2016 benefit company goals

In early 2016, we participated in a future planning session. In that session, our company owner, David Anderson, wrote down three primary goals for Canvas Host:

  1. Complete funding for 6-figure acquisition of a local competitor
  2. Grow management team to include operations manager
  3. Book out training room with weekly learning events for clients

At the time, we had overcome major hurdles lingering from 2014 and 2015. We were ready to grow, and we wanted to grow in a way that would help stabilize the company financially and operationally. More importantly, we wanted to better utilize our Portland office, which in 2015 was renovated to include a 12-seat training room with extensive whiteboards and an overhead digital projector.

We had begun a customer outreach program and wanted to offer classes and training events, to help empower customers, and build community with face-to-face meetings. Looking back, though well-intentioned, the fact is that downtown Portland has become clogged during the business day with traffic and pedestrians; Parking is expensive, and despite ample access to mass transit, we would learn that few clients are interested in dealing with navigating the streets of Portland if it can be avoided.

By the middle of 2016, David shifted his role away from business development, to focus more heavily on business operations, and this directly saw a rapid succession of key business decisions that would further financially stabilize the company and set a path for future growth.

Business Expansion in Central Oregon

One of the most significant physical changes to Canvas Host was the data center build-out at Cascade Divide in Bend, Oregon. We completed the setup of the data space in August 2016, and currently maintain a growing infrastructure of hosting and data backup services under the local brand, High Desert Core.

Though the benefits of our secondary data space have not been fully recognized, customers are increasingly aware of the need for data replication, especially in the Pacific Northwest as the potential threat of a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake has received lots of recent press. Cascade Divide is located on 4,000 feet of solid basalt and is geologically separated from the threat of a Cascadia Subduction event. As we continue growth of data space, this location will become increasingly important.

A New, Smaller Office

Since 2005, Canvas Host has maintained operations out of the Pittock Block in downtown Portland, Oregon, and since 2007, we have had formal office space. Over the years, as our team has grown, so has our office space.

In late 2016 and for the first time ever, we downsized our office from 1,800 to 1,100 square feet, moving just down the hall from our previous suite, and shaving considerable lease costs off our overhead, which we could instead flow into research and development, new equipment, and payroll.

As part of this move, we re-embraced telecommuting for all staff, though we do try to work in the office as much as we can, as we do have many walk-in customers throughout the business week. But for us, it was a significant move. To literally pick up our office and move without any interruption in business operations, was an indication we are still at our core, nimble and flexible.

Another benefit of the smaller space is that all staff, including management, work in close proximity to one another. As a result, team morale and focus has improved dramatically, and the results can be seen in the positive feedback we receive from customers each day.

B Corporation Ambassadorship and Benefit Company Advocacy

certified b corporationIn 2016, David joined a group of local B Corporations, and became a B Corporation Ambassador. Tasked with advocacy for and recruitment of B Corporations, this resulted in Canvas Host’s entire staff becoming more aware of B values, the ethical and leadership mandates of benefit companies, and also an increased sense of ownership for each team member to do the best they can for the company and clients.

Additionally, David participated in multiple panels over the year discussing benefit companies, including at Biz Expo West, a Beaverton-area tradeshow. There, he sat with Ruth Miles, a Small Business Advocate from the Oregon Corporation Division, to educate attendees on the measurable impacts of benefit companies and how benefit company culture has directly altered Canvas Host’s sense of purpose.

Again, results of these activities have been seen in the overwhelmingly positive comments the entire staff receive from customers. Embracing B values at the core of our business has directly benefited us and helped us better understand as a company, the ways we can improve our offerings to best serve clients.

Funding With Beneficial State Bank

Located just one block from our office, Beneficial State Bank is a certified B Corporation. After an exhaustive process to procure funding from our primary bank, a local credit union, Canvas Host turned to Beneficial for assistance. Not only were we greeted as a fellow B, we were able to obtain the necessary funding we sought, and with flexible terms that work within the limitations of our business, to make possible a future business acquisition.

Host Pond and Host2Help Acquisitions

Ultimately, we completed not one, but two acquisitions in the past calendar year:

  • Host Pond, a Portland-based web host; and
  • Host2Help, a Eugene-based web host and Canvas Host client

The full terms of each acquisition are confidential, but in each situation, the two companies chose to merge with Canvas Host because of our values, because we are a B Corporation/benefit company, and because the companies were confident the move would be a good one for their respective customers.

The mergers represent the most significant business impact, not only for Canvas Host but the two companies that merged with us: We have added more than 1,000 active customers to our family of clients, who now have access to additional services and business growth opportunities with Canvas Host.

Employee Impact

With the state of health insurance coverage in constant turmoil, employee benefits are more important than ever. Though a small company, Canvas Host offers competitive benefits packages, possible in part because of strong relationships with caring benefits coordinators in the Portland area.

New Group Health Insurance

Towards the end of 2016, we learned that Moda, the local insurer through which we had company group policy, was no longer going to be carried by certain medical providers. This came as little surprise, as Moda had undergone severe funding problems, with some believing it would collapse entirely.

Instead, at the start of 2017, Canvas Host shifted its group insurance to the Providence network, which is accepted by most healthcare providers, and which included great vision benefits.

Part of our story is that as a team, we looked at different types of coverage. We determined that dental coverage was less important than vision, and based on staff health needs, made a final decision as to the specifics of plans and premiums.

Through Providence, Canvas Host subsidizes 80% of premium costs for eligible employees, and 50% for their dependents.

Social(k) Socially Responsible 401(k) Retirement Plans

Another first for has been the introduction of socially-responsible 401(k) plans, made possible through a partnership with fellow B Corporation and Canvas Host client, Social(k)!

We have opted into safe-harbor, meaning we will match 100% of an employee’s contributions, up to 4% of their pre-tax income. This equates to a guaranteed initial return and is incredibly beneficial for staff as a way to save for their future.

Flexible Working Arrangements and Telecommuting

Finally, telecommuting has returned to Canvas Host. While we try to limit how much and when we telecommute, we’ve long known the benefits of this practice. It helps alleviate strain on employees who may be feeling under the weather but who wish to work, or who are dealing with family/work balance issues (such as children who do not have school on a given work day).

For the five years prior to having an office at Pittock, Canvas Host’s staff worked 100% from home. We are a team of trusting colleagues, and we’re glad to be able to provide a family-friendly environment that understands the occasional need for each of us to work remotely.

Community Impact

Another area of significant impact for our company in the past year was with respect to increased community engagement.

Green Drinks

green drinksAn unofficial network of hundreds of volunteers across the globe, who each month present educational networking events for learning, Green Drinks focuses on topics of sustainability, green business, environmental and socio-political matters of concern to the community.

For several years, Canvas Host has managed and sponsored Green Drinks in the Portland area. Green Drinks is still our bread and butter community give-back. We host one session on the first Wednesday of each month, alternating between Portland and Beaverton/Westside locations.

What had in past years become a rather templated networking session with primary speaker show-and-tell, has since evolved into TED-style speaking events focused on learning, with clear take-aways and a greater sense of participant involvement. On average, 30 to 40 community members attend a Green Drinks function, and feedback is overwhelmingly positive.

pcc student sponsorshipPCC Student Partnership and Sponsorship

Canvas Host is pleased to have partnered with Portland Community College, to offer one free semester of website hosting and one free domain registration for each student of the Web Design program.

In the past year, 246 students have received free hosting and domain registration services, at a total donated value of $7,330.80, and we’re eager to continue the program as an important way to support our community of future Web professionals.

Beaverton Relay for LifeBeaverton Relay for Life

Organized in partnership with the American Cancer Society, the Beaverton Relay for Life is an annual fundraising event. Canvas Host was a proud team sponsor and helped raise $600 for the cause in the fight against cancer. The entire event raised close to $60,000.

Bend Chamber membership

The Bend Chamber of Commerce is a Canvas Host client, and it was in part due to increased community participation that we chose to open our second data center location last year. We joined the Chamber at the start of 2016. The Bend Chamber is extremely active and supportive of the local business community, and we look forward to continued synergies in the years to come.

Beaverton Chamber membership

Working in partnership with the Beaverton Chamber, Canvas Host became a member towards the end of 2016 and is planning educational training seminars for WordPress and website management at future Chamber events.

Hillsboro Hops Sponsorship

On a purely fun level, we love baseball, and we love to root, root, root for our home team! The Hillsboro Hops is a Single A, short season Minor League baseball team in Hillsboro, Oregon. In 2016, we became season ticket holders, and use the setting as a place to connect with community leaders and client, as well as offer tickets to interested staff members as an additional benefit. Go Hops!

Environmental Impact

In past years, our benefit report focused primarily on energy efficiency metrics that we established in 2010, as part of our sustainability program and which were first published during our first B Corporation accreditation.

While there’s much more to the story of Canvas Host than our management of energy resources and how we report on them, it’s still an integral part of our push for greener web hosting, and we will continue to report on our progress in reference to historical data.

The greatest environmental impact has to do with our energy offset purchases. In the past two years, and working with Bonneville Environmental Foundation, we have increased our purchase of renewable wind energy to offset 200% of our operations.

benefit report document on renewable energy offset REC purchases

We purchased 324,000 kWh of electricity in 2016. This offset not only our operations, but an additional 15 Portland-area homes!

The following charts have been maintained since the start of our sustainability program in 2010, and date back to our initial 2005 data center buildout at the Pittock Block in Portland, Oregon.

benefit report graph on total energy used at Canvas Host

This first graph shows our energy consumption since 2005. Initially, it increased due to expansion of our growing data facility. This number is important because electricity is the most precious resource available that we use. As a matter of sustainability we actively manage how much energy we use and determine ways to better use or even reduce that amount as we move forward.

The graph also illustrates that starting in the fall of 2008, the consumption growth rate of electricity began slowing down. This was due in part to a slowdown in demand for dedicated infrastructure, as well as our transitioning to newer server equipment of our own design that required less energy. For example, as our infrastructure grew by 30%, our additional energy demand for that growth only increased by 20 to 25%. As we moved into 2010, energy demand really started slowing down as we offlined older equipment and implemented newer servers with even greater energy savings. In the years since, energy demand has dropped, as we continue to design and implement newer, more efficient servers.

benefit report graph on average energy used by servers at Canvas Host

Building on the first graph, the second graph shows a marked decrease in average energy usage per individual server in our hosting environment. As a general rule, computer technology is increasingly efficient due to micronization of hardware components (such as transistor width in CPUs) or smaller and more efficient power supplies that provide more stable service with fewer energy fluctuations or spikes.

Beyond this, we have continuously implemented server and infrastructure hardware that requires less electricity that provides equivalent or better performance as compared to older technologies. This has required that we not use “off the shelf” servers, but instead that we design and hand-build them ourselves. This way, we research the types of servers that work best for our hosting environment, customize their configurations, and perform our own benchmark tests so we have statistical data to ensure the newer servers are truly an improvement in the right direction.

With an average server drawing 2.3 Amps of electricity in 2005, and the newest servers drawing 0.85 Amps, this means we can now fit three times as many servers into the same energy footprint.

benefit report graph on density of domains hosted per amp of energy used at Canvas Host

The final graph tells the real story of our energy sustainability. As our business has grown, and our energy efficiency per server improved, so has our capacity to handle more and more customers per energy unit consumed. Despite using six times as much energy as in 2005, our reduction in overall energy usage per server has enabled rapid growth of our customer base as measured in total websites we host.

Our capacity of sites per Amp is now ten times what it was in 2005. This means the energy footprint per website has dropped to 1/10 of what it used to be.

What this means to you: Canvas Host is truly hosting websites and services cleaner and greener than our competitors. You can tell your website users that your website is sustainably powered and hosted in an environmentally responsible manner!

Customer Impact

The lifeblood of Canvas Host is our extensive network of global customers. Without them, we wouldn’t be here. As a service provider, we consider customer service our top mandate, and are committed to doing our very best each and every day.

The tools we provide directly facilitate our customers’ success. The past 12 months have seen enormous changes to our hosting environment, including:

  • New servers that are 5-6 times more powerful and faster than those put into service in 2015
  • The latest CentOS operating system (7.3), which provides faster and more stable hosting services
  • The latest WHM/Cpanel version (11.64), which provides more powerful and safer hosting
  • Free and automatically renewing AutoSSL certificates within Cpanel, to provide secure email access and to satisfy Google’s basic SEO requirements that websites be secured with SSL
  • The latest stable PHP versions (5.6 and 7.0), supported simultaneously within Cpanel
  • A new Support and Billing system (WHMCS) for faster Support and help.
  • Direct, single sign-on capabilities to reduce the number of clicks and steps customers must go through to manage their websites
  • New Software Installer that permits websites to be backed up, cloned, copied, and restored without modifying a single line of code
  • New Managed WordPress support services to greatly enhance vulnerability scanning, reporting, and direct website assistance to fix problems

The list goes on and on. What is most important, and is not something that can be measured with numbers, is our continual re-training of all staff in our company to listen to each customer and ask ourselves, “Am I doing the best I can? How can I help this customer even more?”

Canvas Host is a learning organization. We don’t proclaim to be perfect, nor do we claim to have all the answers. Often times, it is from our points of failure or disconnect that we are presented the greatest learning opportunity. Often, it is in those moments of interacting with our clients that we realize a new solution, and that we can become an even better service provider for all customers.

Summary: Planned Progress and The Future

The past year has seen tremendous growth for us as a company. This next year may be the most exciting yet! We’re already working on ways to improve what has become a solid, stable hosting platform and suite of services for our clients.

In terms of Business Impact, we are planning continued expansion into Central Oregon, with eventual goals of establishing a satellite office to support our secondary data center there. We are also looking at potential satellite offices in Beaverton and Bend, as our company continues its growth into smaller, modular bases of operations, and which can serve immediately local clients who want an in-person experience. We are also focusing on increased business mentorship for new businesses, with e-commerce consulting and merchant account setup and management.

In the area of Employee Impact, we are looking at ways to provide staff with professional development and training, to help each team member realize their full potential not only as a member of Canvas Host, but as a consummate professional in their own right. We launched a program to offer company-sponsored philanthropy, providing 20 paid hours each year for full-time staff, and 10 paid hours each year for part-time staff, which can be used however each staff member deems the best fit, whether volunteering at a local homeless shelter, helping retired veterans, helping teach classes at area schools, or building homes with Habitat for Humanity, to name but a few options.

In the area of Community Impact, we are excited to expand our sponsorship of local STEM (Science, Technology, Education, and Math) programs, and have already taken the initial steps to re-invest some of the funds from our renewable wind energy offset purchased through Bonneville Environmental Foundation.

With respect to Environmental Impact, we foresee the need to increase our renewable wind energy REC purchases, also through Bonneville Environmental Foundation, to keep up with project growth in infrastructural operations.

Finally, we feel the greatest opportunity for growth this next year may well be in Customer Impact, as we begin producing our own training videos and podcasts on a “host” of topics, offering webinars focused on WordPress, and integrate a certain amount of education into all of our Support processes.

Our business has evolved and weathered tumultuous economic times, in a highly competitive industry. We have been selected by countless clients, awarded contracts, and selected for mergers, all directly because of our benefit company status.

For More Information

To learn more about Canvas Host, why we publish an annual benefit report, or our B Corporation and benefit company culture, please contact, or call 503.914.1118 x1.