- Indigenous Relations
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2020 was such a unique, challenging, in a lot of ways, rewarding year. I learned a lot. And despite the challenges, we had another excellent year that our entire team should be proud of. We grew, we became more robust and resilient, and our already close-knit team became even closer as we learned more about one another than any other 'normal' year.
Here is my 2020 recap and the many ups and downs we faced as an organization.
We attended and hosted events at A.M.E. Roundup.
Like most years, we kicked off 2020 with tradeshow season as the Komplete team headed for AME BC Roundup in beautiful downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, from January 20-23, 2020.
In attendance at this year's event was me (Ryan Schonauer) and Co-founder of Komplete, Graham Schulte. We also managed to pull two critical members of our team off various projects for a few days and brought along Manager of Project Controls, Korie Almeida and Project Coordinator Kyle Schonauer for all four exhibition days.
As Western Canada's largest mining show, Roundup continues to be an excellent event for us to catch up with old clients. Simultaneously, make new connections in a tradeshow atmosphere known to be more laid back and approachable than most - our kind of style for sure.
This year, and as our client base continues to grow, we decided to do something a little more personal to show a special thanks to our V.I.P. guests by hosting three consecutive evening events at the Halo Penthouse within the Loden Hotel on Melville Street.
With each night, we hosted great crowds, had exceptional amounts of laughs, and genuinely had a fabulous time as we entertained a mixture of mining industry clients, Indigenous partners, and subcontractors of Komplete from all parts of the country in a unique atmosphere.
PDAC and the beginning of COVID-19.
Each year, in March, Toronto, Ontario, hosts Canada's largest mining show, the PDAC Convention. Drawing over 25,000 guests on average from all parts of the world, this event is a 'must-attend' on Komplete's schedule each year. For me, this would be my eighth year in attendance at this memorable show, but, believe it or not, my first time hosting and displaying with a booth. Thankfully, I brought along Komplete's H.S.E. Manager, Tyler Thornton, who proved quite keen and happened to be far better at standing in one place than I.
This year's convention took place from March 8-11th. With news of the Coronavirus in Canada only beginning to spread more rapidly around this point in time, conversations concerning the pandemic were apparent but not overwhelmingly a forefront conversation piece quite yet.
For me, and many others, it was the days following the show where everything seemed to change. With news coverage of the virus developing, linked with the consistent notifications from the PDAC committee notifying guests of the various attendees who tested positive, the information was increasingly becoming alarming and concerning, to say the least.
'COVID CAMPS,' and our first project in the United States.
With positive COVID-19 cases spreading throughout North America more rapidly in the Spring, so came the increasing amounts of incoming requests from various groups requiring Komplete's urgent assistance. Many requests for help came from our Indigenous community, who, thankfully, we were able to serve with multiple space requirements at several reserves across the country.
In July of 2020, we had one of our more unusual requests of the year - for the supply of temporary modular accommodations for Tufts University, a private research university located just outside of Boston, Massachusetts looking to provide quarantine space for students.
The upscale 150-year old education facility was teeming with gothic-style buildings and made for quite the impressive backdrop for Komplete's 'industrial-style' modular dormitories. There's no doubt that this location provided something entirely different from the remote areas quite familiar to our team. Most memorably, this project officially served as Komplete's first entrance into the United States.
We explored new Canadian geographies.
Since our beginning less than 4-years ago, we've covered quite a bit of ground—our team's executed projects in a total of seven provinces and two territories. I have to say; we're quite proud of this statistic for such a short time.
This country is so beautiful, and the often untouched areas of the North are just breathtaking. During many of my work travels, I regularly pull over to take it all in. It's not uncommon for me to return home from a trip with hundreds of landscape photos documenting where I have been. Sometimes, I find it hard to comprehend that we earn a nice living in this industry while, at the same time, having the opportunity to serve as a part-time tourist in many of the areas our projects gracefully lie.
As most in this industry are aware, our team is becoming quite known for executing projects in challenging, hard-to-reach areas of the country that often possess extreme logistical challenges. Sites, larger, more bureaucratic companies usually may not have the risk appetite for.
Well, as our current customer-base has become to know, we didn't get into this business because we tend to shy away from a challenge. Therefore, although we didn't find ourselves in any areas quite as remote as our 2019, 88-bed camp expansion for Glencore at the sub-arctic Raglan Mine, we did find ourselves back in some very remote regions of British Columbia and the Yukon.
We also did make our way to remote Northern Manitoba, a province known for challenging, sticky modular permitting controls we've become quite used to navigating.
We expanded our Indigenous partnership portfolio.
As we wrapped up 2019, and with our business continuing to grow, Graham Schulte and I knew it was time to bring on an Indigenous-relations specialist to support our business's growth early in 2020.
With this role, we recognized we required a passionate individual to help develop Komplete's Indigenous and community relations strategy across Canada and ultimately help create a powerful, lasting legacy from the projects we are involved in. After all, early in our careers, we acknowledged that building real capacity in our Indigenous communities ultimately provided us that 'feel-good' emotion finances cannot replicate.
After an exhaustive search, we formalized an offer to industry veteran Carlos Echaiz-McGrath who took on the Director of Indigenous Relations role at Komplete.
Understanding the importance of meaningful engagement and communication with the Indigenous communities impacted by the projects we are involved with, Carlos brought an immediate positive impact on the team.
Now, with our own increased capacity in the area of Indigenous relations, Carlos was instrumental in formalizing relationships between Komplete and various Indigenous groups across Canada, including James Smith Cree Nation, CreeQuest Corp., Metis Nation of Saskatchewan Western Region III, and Selkirk First Nation.
With COVID-19 vaccines broadly rolling out throughout 2021, I know Carlos and I both look forward to getting back to having a real presence within our Indigenous communities. There's genuinely no replacement for truly understanding the challenges many of these communities are faced with than witnessing them yourself.
We officially opened an office in Ontario.
With a growing number of clients and projects for Komplete in Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, we understood the importance of having a physical location in this part of the country to hang our hats. After all, service proximity can be critical in this business, and with that, our Vaughn, Ontario office was established in April of this year.
Although small compared to our larger presence in Calmar and Calgary, Alberta, we wanted to show our clients in both central and eastern-Canada that we're quite serious about continuing to serve their needs at an exceptionally high level. Stay tuned for future announcements as our presence in this part of the country naturally develops over time.
Our Co-founder, Brent Schulte retired.
Last but not least, Co-founder of Komplete, Brent Schulte officially hung up his hat this year.
With over twenty years of experience in the modular industry, Brent brought much wisdom to the leadership group at Komplete and was instrumental in where the organization is today.
Before Co-founding Komplete, Brent spent many years with familiar industry name-sakes such as Britco and Northern Trailer (now Horizon North), learning the industry and ultimately developing his passion for all things modular.
Retiring in his role as head of the Finance and Administration Department at Komplete, respect for Brent will always be given for his fiscal diligence and never-stop-learning attitude. Not to mention his 'lean and mean' philosophy that our company will continue to maintain for our existence.
Some have had the pleasure of meeting and working with both 'Schulte's' of Komplete, Brent and his son, Graham, who happens to be my current business partner. I believe most would agree with me, that indeed, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and for that, I'm thankful.
Cheers to you, Brent and I look forward to following Rita and your well-deserved retirement adventures for many years to come.
Forward-looking into 2021.
I don't know how else to summarize 2020 other than purely unusual, challenging, and offbeat.
I believe that no business owner had ever prepared for the ups and downs we witnessed first-hand, which has to be most similar to some vicious roller coaster still in the research and developmental stage at an impressive Ivy-league engineering school such as M.I.T. in the United States.
I do know that our business has emerged as a far more robust and resilient organization due to our experiences that we continue to go through as we enter 2021. For that, I'm appreciative.
Growing up, my dad used to use this famous quote continually, "when the going gets tough, the tough get going." This year, I recited that same quote to myself and our team frequently, and I can honestly say 2020 will serve as a year where I will never forget our team's ongoing resiliency. Man, these people are unquestionably tough.
With a light finally at the end of the tunnel regarding a potential end to this pandemic, I believe 2021 will serve as Komplete's most active year yet. During the last half of Q4, calls from our existing and potentially new client-base increased drastically. From these conversations, It was quite evident optimism is gaining within the industries we serve.
Bring it on 2021; we're ready for you!
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