July 1st 2000 Summus Inc. opened its doors in Brandon.
I was 23 years old and in for a steep learning curve. If I could give that young version of me any advice it would be: In theory, theory and practice are the same thing. In practice they are not.
From 2000 to 2007 I ran my business in line with how I saw everyone else in the industry running their businesses. That style of business was very transactional. It pushed risk on to the customer and made the relationship an unequal one between client and provider.
In 2007 a choice was made to completely change how Summus related to our customers. We were going to value relationships over transactions. We were going to align our best interests with our customers. Most importantly, we were going to accept the fact that we weren’t entitled to anything, every single month we had to earn our clients business all over again. We took a big risk in the hopes there was a better way to do business.
Today I can tell you it’s worked out pretty good for us.
We now look after security for over 1400 sites across Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan. We have 10 full time staff, 6 trucks on the road and we are working on complex projects that require a team with diverse and complementary talents. We fly into sites on the Arctic Ocean, we’ve taken trains, boats and driven millions of kilometers, sometimes on ice roads, to meet the needs of our customers. Be it Churchill MB or Bay Street in downtown Toronto, we go where the work is.
We have staff members living in Brandon, but also Minnedosa, Alexander, Ninette and of course Douglas. Providing good paying, technology based jobs to rural Manitobans is something I’m very proud of.
Of all the success I’m proud of one example rises above the rest.
22 years ago Jay Goudreau walked into my office looking for a job. On that day he had less than $100 in his pocket and everything he owned fit into 2 duffle bags. For both Jay and I that’s half a lifetime ago. Jay started a family, bought a house, got married and built a life for himself in Brandon with the results of his hard work.
Jay’s life was going so well, right up until it wasn’t. In 2010, suddenly, tragically, Jay lost his wife Amber and instantly became both a widower and a single father of two small boys. Everything he had built up over 9 years seemed broken.
Nothing will ever be like it was or like it could have been. But today Jay has a son in University and a son nearing High School. Today Jay is a leader in our office. Jay has, for a second time, built a life for himself.
Growing a business can be rewarding, but it’s nothing like seeing your favourite people succeed. I am very proud of Summus, but most proud of how it has become a stable part of life for our staff to count on as they build their lives. The world can throw anyone a curveball at any time. Knowing whatever happens, there’s a team of people at work ready to help you get back up and cheer you on can make all the difference.
I know about this first hand because they have all done it for me too.