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on each project,” Slack said. “As we gain a client’s trust and respect, they’re prepared to listen to us if we have a concern. We work as a partner, not just a contractor, and as the relationship grows stronger, we have more input in how things are done.” Of course, hiring the right people is essential to maintaining this high level of service, and that is a challenge in the mining industry, which is in the midst of a skilled labor shortage. “It is tempting to hire everyone because of the labor shortage,” Slack admitted. But Cementation Canada knows who it is looking for. “We look for people who have the right attitude as well as the right skills,” he continued. “A safety attitude is something we look for, as well as the ability to work as a team.” When it fi nds the right employees, Cementation Canada treats them well. The company believes in promoting from within and makes every effort to keep employees involved with strategic planning. However, much of its team building comes from spending time together socially. This includes everything from athletic teams to musical events. In fact, the company recently hosted a summer party featuring Canadian pop star Sass Jordan. “We’re a very social group,” Slack said. “It is good to just go out and have fun and we offer lots of opportunities to do that.” In addition to employee surveys that validate Cementation’s efforts, the company has been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers for the past two years. The annual competition is conducted by Mediacorp Canada, a company that specializes in human resource tracking. Mediacorp reviewed close to 72,000 employers across Canada for the most recent list, using seven different criteria: physical workplace; work atmosphere and social; health, fi nancial and family benefi ts; vacation and time off; employee communications; performance management; and training and skills development. “We’re all very proud of those achievements,” said Slack, “and we’re building on that. As part of the list we’re able to get some feedback and see what other companies are doing.” Cementation Canada also trades successful ideas and practices with its sister companies in South Africa and Australia. Its parent company, Murray & Roberts, is based in South Africa. “They give us a lot of latitude,” Slack said. “They haven’t tried to impose their culture on us. They have allowed us to do our thing, and that’s appreciated.” January 08 www.bus-ex.com 47 past this group consisted of inspectors and was tasked with policing. Today the group functions as a resource team for the employees on the ground. “They support the people on the front lines,” Slack explained. “That shift was not an easy thing for people to do.” While change can be diffi cult at fi rst, Cementation’s dedication to safety has earned an innovation award for its proactive ideas. “We are broadening the defi nition of innovation,” Slack said. “It’s not just technological innovation.” Being people-focused has helped to create a culture that values partnerships and teamwork. This extends to client relationships, too. “We coach our people on our ‘best for project philosophy,’” Slack said. “We are looking to secure long term relationships, not short term gains.” Cementation Canada is one of Canada’s largest mining contractors and provides a range of services—from engineering and design to shaft sinking and mine development—to many major mining companies in North America. Its client list includes the Goldcorp gold mine in Ontario; the Diavik diamond mine, owned by Rio Tinto and Aber resources in the Northwest Territories; Resolution Copper in Arizona; the Brunswick zinc mine in Bathurst, New Brunswick, in the Canadian Maritimes; and the Afton copper mine in British Columbia. Top clients include Xstrata Nickel (formerly Falconbridge), CVRD Inco, and Rio Tinto. This list also marks another way Cementation Canada is making changes in the industry. “There is a history of battle between owners and contractors, not just in mining but in many industries,” Slack said. “We work hard to eliminate that and focus on building relationships with owners.” On most projects, Cementation Canada is among a number of other contractors. “We have to look at the whole project,” Slack said. “That means different things on different projects.” With longterm clients, Cementation often turns to what it has learned from previous projects as a starting point for improvement. “We really try to do better CementationCanada BID2WIN is a comprehensive Windowsbased client/server application designed to manage the entire estimating and bidding process. Companies can standardize their estimating and bidding process utilizing centralized resources including reusable task and item templates for repetitive work. It can support one to thousands of simultaneous users working on small to large estimates without any performance degradation. View our multimedia overview at www.bid2win.com. BID2WIN

48 www.bus-ex.com January 08 Wellendowed Alan Withey, vice-president of fi nance & CFO, explains to Gary Toushek how being a smaller company in a petroleum fi eld full of larger ones has its advantages Calgary, Alberta-based exploration and production company Ironhorse Oil & Gas Inc. began operations in 2003 when it converted from a mining company to pursue the hydrocarbon market. The company has properties in northeast British Columbia (with potential for multi-well gas exploration), northwest and southern Alberta (currently producing small amounts of oil & gas), southwest Saskatchewan at Shackleton (a major area of gas development) and south-central Alberta at Pembina (an area of oil exploration with multiple drilling locations). The Shackleton fi eld has propelled the company into higher production, says Alan Withey, vicepresident of fi nance & CFO. “Before Shackleton, we were producing 23 barrels (equivalent) of oil and gas per day, now we’re achieving 750 barrels per day. We have 32 producing wells in this area