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How effective management is driving growth at JDS Energy and Mining

3-minute read

Jeff S. Capstone

Being flown by helicopter into a remote Arctic site with no roads or telephone service may not be everybody's idea of a great day at work. But for Jeff Stibbard, President of JDS Energy and Mining, running a business is all about adventure.

"To survive today, you have to put aside your fear and find a healthy marketplace. You get the job first and then worry about how you'll do it," says Stibbard, who founded the mining design, construction and project management company in Kelowna, B.C., in 2005.

The firm's impressive list of mining projects, which range from oil sands and copper to diamonds, are sprinkled across regions all over the globe, including Turkey, Africa, Mexico and the U.S.

Investing in tough times

Stibbard attributes a large part of the company's success to a highly flexible project management model, which enables the firm to customize services to client needs.

"We offer a full gamut of services, from preliminary consultation, to project planning, to hands-on site development, to digging and execution. It all starts with a thorough evaluation of a company's needs, and then we find the required resources and insert the team that's needed."

Uncompromising about safety

"We're not always seen as the good guy,” Stibbard adds. “Our job is to help companies get the best possible return on their investment. Sometimes that means putting a more aggressive team in place to improve performance. In my business, you can't be afraid to tell people that they're not doing a good job. There's a lot of money at stake and work safety issues that can't be compromised."

Stibbard's company definitely walks the talk when it comes to safety. "We are proud of the fact that we have never had a lost-time injury because we pay a lot of attention to that facet of our business. People are often misinformed about mining, when in reality it's one of the safest heavy duty industries."

With the help of a BDC consultant, his company has applied for a Certificate of Recognition (COR), an international work safety standard that goes beyond the legal requirements of workers' compensation legislation and occupational health and safety régulations.

Building a community

To meet the demands of A-list clients such as De Beers, Stibbard has built a mature team with extensive mining design, construction and operation expertise. Stibbard is also a firm believer in hiring like-minded people to build a strong and unified team.

"We have a flat organization with no bureaucracy and people are paid very well here. We all share the rewards of working 24/7. If you want work and life balance, this is not the place to be. We don't hide that fact and we expect people who come aboard to know that's the reality of our business."

A confessed workaholic himself, Stibbard is inspired by the accomplishments of the founders and builders of Canada's railway. "They worked with limited resources and accomplished so much. JDS Energy and Mining is also a company where people build and contribute to the growth of communities. I'm proud of that."

Lessons learned

  • Identify a high-potential market and stick with it
  • Take measured risks
  • Take advantage of downturns—buy assets cheaply and reinvest in your company
  • Offer service flexibility to target more customers
  • Pursue international standard certifications to help you tackle the global market
  • Hire people with values in line with yours so that you can build a cohesive team
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