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New Year’s Resolutions for Your Business

Did you make New Year’s resolutions for 2016?

We came across a list recently of the most popular resolutions made (and broken) every year. You can probably guess what they are without even clicking through, but it got us thinking: maybe what we need isn’t more willpower to follow through on our resolutions, but a new angle altogether. What if instead of focusing on losing 10 pounds in 2016, we focused instead on cutting the excess weight from our businesses? And what if that actually helped us lose 10 pounds after all?

There’s some evidence to suggest that struggle begets struggle, which means that if we’re having trouble reaching a goal in a certain area, we’re probably struggling similarly in other areas. What does that mean? If we want to lose weight, we might reach that goal not by signing up for a gym membership, but by finding ways to trim the fat from our professional lives.

Does that make any sense at all? Worth a...

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“We’re busier than ever right now”

Downturn? What downturn? Many of Boreal’s clients are busier than ever this year, thanks to your steadfast commitment to success. But did you know there’s another characteristic you all share that will get you work—regardless of the economy?

We recently sat down with Phil Whitson of Whitson Contracting, one of Edmonton’s busiest contractors and a happy client of Boreal Services Group. As a 30-person team, Whitson is what you might call a small contractor, but they’re using that to their advantage, and they’re prospering as a result. With 10-20% annual growth projected for the next five years, Phil says, “We’re busier than ever right now, and we’ve got steady work for the next 14 months.”

Here are four ways Whitson is capitalizing on their smaller size to stay busy and successful in a slow economy. Their strategies will work for you, too!

 1. Flexibility

A change order submitted to a larger contractor is a big...

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Are You Ready for the Next Boom?

The boom-bust cycle is a familiar one in Alberta.

It’s understandable if your team is in limbo right now, panicking a little bit and wondering when the next opportunity will come your way. We’ve written before about how to prosper in a downturn, but we know there’s less work out there right now, and that many of you are wondering how to pass the time in a way that will actually serve your bottom line.

There will be another boom. There always is, and when it hits, your competitors will scramble to fill their schedules and their bank accounts before the wave recedes again.

Don’t make the same mistake.

You’re smarter. You’re strategic. You’re playing the long game, which you know starts immediately.

Here are the four things your team should be focusing on right now so you’ll be best positioned to win more work and make more money when the next boom hits.

1. Training

During the last boom, you hired 25 new people or more in a...

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How to Plant a Money Tree


Picture a tree. In particular, picture its roots.

See how they stretch out so neatly? All parallel lines, never touching. Never disturbing the sidewalks and buildings around them. Nice and predictable.

What’s that? Roots don’t behave that way, you say? They’re messy alive, tangled? Unmanageable at times?


Kinda like business.

It’s funny how we all expect our businesses — our living, breathing businesses — to behave like machines. To have independent and unrelated processes. To be profitable even as we neglect entire branches and over-tend others. To be predictable.

Over and over, clients come to us wanting to improve safety without disrupting anything else. They want to maintain or improve quality, efficiency, and profitability, AND they want to be safer. As an afterthought.

Over and over again, we get to say, “Safety doesn’t work like that.”

This is a good thing, though — we promise. Improving safety does,...

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Here’s What We Really Think About ISO Standards: Do You Need ISO 9001?

Quality management standards are on our minds lately. As our business grows, we are standardizing our own processes and helping our clients to do the same, and we all know that it’s a deliberate, time-consuming process. The task of thinking through, documenting, implementing, and enforcing your quality management standards is a worthy one, and it’s not to be taken lightly.

There are many ways to standardize, of course, but one of the most recognized methods is to align your business with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO, and no, the acronym doesn’t match up). The ISO 9001 is of particular interest to us and our clients because it’s a way to implement quality management systems that meet the expectations of both global consumers and regulatory agencies. On the surface, it’s a no-brainer for businesses in construction and safety…

…but do you actually need it?

If you’ve been thinking about...

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Improve Your Safety Culture TODAY: 7 Questions for Leaders

Does your company have a strong safety culture?

It’s nearly impossible to find a company that will say no these days, but how can we know for sure? And how can we do better?

We recently sat down with Boreal associate and safety management professional Tom Munro, whose 20+ years  in safety means he can help improve your safety culture immediately with just seven questions.

What do I do when my team isn't watching?

If a safety culture is defined as what your team is doing while you aren’t watching, consider first what you’re doing when they aren’t watching. Are you ever tempted to take shortcuts? When there is an incident, do you look for someone to blame, or do you see it as an opportunity to learn and improve?

The way we conduct ourselves when we aren’t being monitored says a lot about what we value and what we expect. If we hold ourselves to the highest possible safety standards, that expectation trickles down through all the...

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6 Steps to Guaranteed Improvement

Pop quiz: what was the last thing that went wrong for your company? Sit with that memory for a minute. Remember how awful it was, how frustrating? Remember how much energy you put into hoping it would never happen again?

OK, stop. Hope won’t get you very far, but here’s something that will. Something simple, actionable, and proven to protect your company against that same thing happening again. Ready?

Kaizen: The Art of Continuous Improvement

Maybe you’ve heard the Japanese term kaizen before, particularly in reference to Toyota’s manufacturing process. It translates to mean continuous improvement, but it’s not just an abstract concept. It’s a specific quality philosophy with a formal system of implementation, and it is used worldwide by companies big and small who want more than just hope when it comes to their quality management systems and overall evolution.

Unlike ISO 9001, which many of us are already familiar with, kaizen...

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Get a Better Falsework Inspection

Canada’s largest Canadian Tire store is now open in Edmonton, thanks in part to the falsework inspections by Boreal Services’ Engineering department.

You’ve got to get to the store if you have a chance (or take a virtual tour); this place is unlike any Canadian Tire you’ve been to before. With 140,000 square feet across two floors, a driving simulator, and a virtual patio (among other features), it might just become a family destination store this summer.

The falsework inspections for this high-profile showcase store were an opportunity to prove exactly how much value Boreal can add to your project. Is an inspection just an inspection? Not when we get involved!

Why Do an Inspection At All?

A falsework inspection is required by CSA standards, but there are much stronger reasons to do something than because we have to.

Third-party falsework inspections offer a fresh perspective (and a fresh set of eyes) on complex construction...

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How to Get COR Quicker

So many clients come to Boreal at the last minute, anxious to get their COR/SECOR paperwork in order so they can bid on an exciting new job.

Hold on, we have to say. Getting your Certificate of Recognition (or your Small Employer Certificate of Recognition) is a process, and not always a guaranteed one at that. We don’t recommend waiting to get it until you absolutely need it, and we don’t recommend trying to use a Letter of Intent in place of actual certification.

But psst…Boreal Services has a secret weapon that can help you get COR/SECOR quicker. Want to be ready when the economy swings upward again? Want to be in the running for opportunities with more and bigger clients?

We’ll let you in on a little secret.

But first…

Why You Need COR

A Certificate of Recognition is awarded to employers who develop health and safety management systems that meet established standards. Having COR reassures your clients and potential clients that...

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Skeleton Steel Plans So Your Job Isn’t D.O.A.

The to-do list on a construction project can seem impossibly long. When everything has to be done in order and every extra day costs money, it can be tempting to look for ways to trim the budget and the schedule without trimming the final project.

There are lots of ways to trim, and we can help you find them, but your skeleton steel erection plan is not the place. In fact, a good plan for this stage of your project will save you time and money both immediately AND in the long run.

How so?

Let’s start at the beginning.

What is Skeleton Steel?

Skeleton steel goes by a few names. Maybe you know it as structural steel or skeleton structure. Accordingly, it’s the skeleton of the structure you’re building. It’s the bones; it’s what gives form, structure, and strength to everything that goes up after it.

Executed properly, skeleton steel is a connected web of columns, beams, and girders that lock together like LEGO pieces. The strength...

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