Our Awards and Industry Recognition
Horizon North works hard to create an exceptional customer experience by delivering high-quality products and services in a safe, innovative manner. In acknowledgement of these efforts, we have received several industry awards.
Horizon North Provides Much Needed Shelter
Winner, National HR Challenge Award
By Sarah Dobson, Canadian HR Reporter
The images were vivid and unreal, showing Fort McMurray, Alta., residents and workers escaping a massive wildfire tearing through the community in May.
For Horizon North Logistics, which operates remote workforce accommodation facilities, the event presented unique challenges that it handily overcame, making the company the winner of the HR Challenge Award.
On May 3, 2016, the company received confirmation of changing wind patterns that were pushing the fire directly towards Fort McMurray, triggering a full evacuation of the roughly 80,000 residents. That’s when Horizon North stepped up, offering displaced residents, along with their pets, and emergency personnel a place to stay at its Blacksand Executive Lodge.
The 665-room lodge, located 30 km north of Fort McMurray, was one of the first lodges Horizon had in that style, says Jeff Litchfield, vice-president of operations at Horizon North, “which was very, very high-end, really well-appointed, luxurious looking.”
When the severity of the situation became apparent, Blacksand let people know its accommodations were available for people heading north out of town.
“They put it out across the emergency broadcast, and then it went to the various other radio stations,” he says.
The lodge — along with additional facilities on the property — ended up providing about 1,250 evacuees a place to stay, says Litchfield.
“I don’t think we ever turned anybody away. We were getting a little close to stacking people up (to share rooms)… Most of the time, our staff were voluntarily giving up their rooms and making space so we had a few staff who were sleeping on couches but, other than that, I think everybody got a room.”
As for employees, it’s hard to prepare for what you don’t expect, he says.
“We never expected to be housing snakes and various pets in our facility. We ended up setting aside a full dorm that was kind of the pet facility,” says Litchfield. “Our staff are well-prepared just as a matter of business for large spikes in guests, so that in itself is not a tremendous challenge for staff… our chef is very good at being able to scale up his meal plans to accommodate a significant number of people.”
Fortunately, most of the staff lived outside of Fort McMurray, so they weren’t too traumatized by the blaze.
“Also, the rush of the emergency kind of led a lot of endorphins to carry people through. Certainly, everyone was working long, long days and working really, really hard, and most of the feedback I got from folks was just how great a feeling it was, because it is kind of gratifying to help,” he says.
“Post-emergency is when the emotions start to wind down and all the adrenaline starts to wind down and you have to deal with the situation, that was probably a little more problematic for them, but by that point in time, we had them off-site and back at home with their families and we had access to a variety of different HR tools like a counselling service.”
However, the ordeal was not over yet. With the winds shifting, the lodge itself came under an evacuation order so Horizon North — which has anywhere from 1,200 to 2,300 employees, depending on the season and economy — initiated its emergency response plan and ensured everyone was evacuated safely and accounted for.
“We were in constant communication both with (the Regional Muncipality of) Wood Buffalo and the town as well as our different sites that are geographically in similar situations, and so good communication circles with those groups kept us apprised of where the fire was,” says Litchfield.
The evacuation went well, he says, as another Horizon North facility had had to be evacuated earlier.
“We came to realize in the first evacuation, in an emergency, helpful isn’t always helpful. When you’ve got a site with a single line of communication that is being inundated by 20 or 30 ‘helpful’ people calling, that creates some challenges. So we established a chain of command with an incident commander overseeing the entire Fort McMuray situation — and that was myself and that was in Edmonton — and then each site had a dedicated site commander that would be the communication channel.”
The company also had full listings of all staff and guests staying at its accommodations, along with a pre-determined plan around the different vehicles and routes for staff leaving.
“There was never even the slightest risk to any staff,” he says.
A few days later, the company was given the all clear to restart operations at Blacksand so it began prepping for the emergency crews and energy sector clients who needed accommodations.
But on May 16, the lodge again faced a mandatory evacuation order after gusting winds and high temperatures caused the wildfire to jump fire breaks and move in its direction. Once again, Horizon North safely evacuated the lodge.
“We evacuated midday and the fire approached the site or was nearing around midnight, so six, seven hours later,” says Litchfield.
Unfortunately, this time, the fire won — the flagship facility was destroyed.
“In hindsight, we may or may have not been able to defend that site with people, but we couldn’t in good conscience put them at risk, it was too uncertain, it was moving too fast,” says Litchfield.
“That type of fire is so uncommon, we likely won’t see another like that in our lifetime, so the question is what do you prepare for reasonably and that’s what we’ve kicked around. We have made lots of adjustments, but mostly around securing our people. If we lose an asset once in 50 years, that’s not the end of the world, as long as our people are secure, that’s more critical than an occasional asset.”
Our customer’s management team recently did a walk-through of the newly constructed Buffalo Point/Elks Point lodges and were so impressed with our set-up team’s performance that they nominated us for their vendor’s Health and Safety Stewardship Award and we won. Prize includes a plaque and $2500 towards the charity of our choice.
Great job to the set-up crew that completed the 540 room + core job on budget and safely in an incredibly tight 60 day timeline.
Another Safety Leadership flag was presented to our Site Work Field Services to add to the 4 consecutive flags they have already received from this customer. The team is constructing a lodge on a Ft. Hills project and continues to have an outstanding safety record while working through many weather and logistical challenges. Tremendous achievement by Argon, Shaun and their extended team at Ft. Hills to execute the project plan and be repeatedly recognized for safety leadership at the same time. On behalf of the entire Horizon North team we congratulate them and their continued efforts in making safety an integral part of our operations.
Alberta WCB’s “Partners in Injury Reduction” recognition to Horizon North
Last week, on Thursday, May 7th, Rod Graham, Bill Anderson and a number of employees from within our three divisions had the pleasure of attending a special luncheon hosted by the Alberta Worker’s Compensation Board in Edmonton. The luncheon is held yearly to show recognition to a select group of companies for their leadership in WCB’s “Partnership in Injury Reduction” program. Horizon North has continued to experience improved safety performance year over year which translates into reduced injuries and reduced WCB Claims Costs. WCB was so impressed with how Horizon has improved year over year, and how we continue to be a leader amongst our peer groups, they included us in this year’s “Partners in Injury Reduction” promotional video.
Corporate Volunteer of the Year – Horizon North Manufacturing G.P.
The 2nd annual Corporate Volunteer of the Year Award honours an extraordinary corporate citizen of the Grande Prairie region whose volunteer contributions within the last twelve months have made a significant impact on a non-profit organization. The Grande Prairie Volunteer Service Bureau and Prairie Mall presented the 2014 Corporate Volunteer of the year Award to Horizon North Manufacturing G.P.
Canadian Occupational Safety Award
Horizon North applied for Canada’s Safest Employers Award last month on behalf of Horizon North Camp & Catering (industry – Hospitality) , Horizon North Manufacturing (industry – Manufacturing) and Horizon North Logistics Inc. (industry – Oil & Gas).
Launched in 2011, Canada’s Safest Employers Awards recognize companies from all across Canada with outstanding accomplishments in promoting the health and safety of their workers. The award boasts 10 industry-specific categories, ranging from hospitality to mining and natural resources. Companies are judged on a wide range of occupational health and safety elements, including employee training, OHS management systems, incident investigation, emergency preparedness and innovative health and safety initiatives. The winners are recognized every year at a gala event in Toronto in October.
All 3 applications have been shortlisted for this award and have qualified to move on to the next stage of the selection process.
Corporate Challenge Win
For the 2nd year in a row, Horizon North Camps and Catering participated in the Edmonton Corporate Challenge. This unique event promotes participation, sportsmanship, team building and fun through a wide range of sports and activities. It also provides an activity for local businesses to foster employee interaction, teamwork, morale, pride, health and wellness.
This year, the team won second place in the blue division of the Spirit Award and placed 7th in the main events.
Thank you Shirley Zotzman who put all her effort into making this years’ Corporate Challenge a giant success. Shirley was key in the organization and execution of the events for our team this year.
For the first time, Horizon North Camps and Catering participated in the Edmonton Corporate Challenge. This unique event promotes participation, sportsmanship, team building and fun through a wide range of sports and activities. It also provides an activity for local businesses to foster employee interaction, teamwork, morale, pride, health and wellness. The Edmonton Team won Second Place in the Purple Division in the main events.
HNCC helps the Canadian Cancer Society raises $500,000
For the 3rd consecutive year, HNCC sponsored the Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life event in Fort McMurray. The Relay For Life is an inspirational, non-competitive, 12-hour overnight fundraising event that brings the community together to celebrate survivors, remember loved ones lost to cancer, and fight back in the hope of finding a cure to this terrible disease. This year, HNCC donated over $30,000 worth of food and labour to feed over 1500 people participating in the event.
Congratulations to our team at Sanataa Lodge on one year of operating injury free! An especially noteworthy milestone given the rough, disheartening start we experienced at this site, with 4 injuries in the first year. Horizon North and our client were equally dissatisfied and concerned with these results and took prompt action to establish a safety plan to add emphasis to the site’s safety journey. The tremendous joint efforts and guidance from our Operations and Safety teams and the front line workers, resulted in the complete turnaround leading up to this celebration a year later. This result would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of all involved. A great team effort!
Horizon North learned much from the experience and our customer has identified our efforts as best in class, and is using the learnings at their sites globally! Truly an amazing feat considering the scope of the industry we work in.
Keep up the great work Sanataa! We’re very proud of your achievements!
Outstanding Achievement Award
One of our joint venture businesses “Secwepemc Camp & Catering LP” (SCC) has been awarded the 2014 BC Aboriginal Joint Venture Business of the Year, Outstanding Achievement Award. This is a significant achievement and recognition. Our customer BC Hydro, nominated SCC for this award. For those of you who may not know, SCC operates a 400 bed lodge for the Mica Creek project north of Revelstoke, known as the Chief Kinbasket Lodge.
The 6th Annual BC Aboriginal Business Awards will be held on October 15th, 2014 in Vancouver. Congratulations to all of this year’s award recipients!
Awards 2010 and Older
Kamloops Chamber of Commerce 2006 and 2007
Business Excellence Award – Manufacturer Award