Firstly, we started as a small business. Twenty-one years ago, when I joined the organization, we were 85 people. We built the business up. We're now a global player. It was the Canadian government that gave us our first contract, which allowed us to get our feet under us to then build the scale and competence to grow and compete globally. We have about 7,500 team members now across 12 countries around the world, although we remain very strong here in Canada and we create jobs in Canada by virtue of the fact that our operations centres are here, our core centres of expertise reside here. It's pretty exciting from that perspective.
That said, when you've been there, you start to understand what it takes to be able to support small businesses to be successful. What we try to do with our contracting is to make sure we have contracts let regionally. When we let those contracts regionally, we group them into portfolios whereby there's a sufficient amount of work for a local business for it to be attractive. Some of the conditions that we have to put contractors and consultants through to comply with the requirements of the federal government are relatively onerous. The security requirements alone are pretty significant. To find the right balance between best value to Canada and a meaningful amount of work for the local proponent is something we've worked hard to achieve.
Then there's being visible. We have regional procurement teams, so they understand the nuances of the local regions. We can be out there meeting with the different associations and encouraging them to participate in some of the activities that are happening within our work with the federal government, but also beyond that within the other parts of our business.
I think those are two key areas.
We've talked a lot about the professional consulting-type activities that are happening. John, with ACEC, and certainly Mr. Kendrick and I would tell you that it resonates. These RFPs are extremely onerous and expensive for consulting engineers and so on to participate in, so we've gone out with RFSOs—requests for standing offers. In the fall of this year we went out, and we had 200 organizations submit to participate and work with us. We selected 40 across the country, in 12 different regions of work. Of those 40, over 50% are small to medium-sized enterprises, so we think that process works.
We then work on a rotation basis for projects under $1 million. We rotate through in those given geographies, based on that RFSO, the three or four consulting engineers that have been pre-qualified in an effort to be fair and equitable with the apportionment of work. That was qualifications-based—90% of the criteria for selecting those proponents were qualifications-based; 10% were price. We're constantly learning, but we think we're doing some things well and we're going to continue to do those things.
Then of course, we have outreach to the different associations, because we're constantly trying to open our minds to new ideas and listen to some of the input from our constituents so that we can become even better at bartering with our colleagues to be able to provide best value to Canada at the end of the day.