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Meet the Winners in Our 2021 Employee Awards Program

February 27, 2021

Modu-Loc’s employee awards program has been around since 2018. In its inaugural year, it included just one award: the Don Rintoul Founder’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Don Rintoul Award, as it’s often called, is the award of distinction. It is presented annually to an exceptional employee who has consistently demonstrated the ‘Modu-Loc Way’ during their tenure. Nominees must have a minimum of 5 years of employment with the company, and the winner is someone who lives and breathes our core values every day.

In 2019, we introduced the Core Values Awards, which recognize individual team members for consistently demonstrating a specific core value. There are seven winners in the Core Values Awards program – one for each core value.

And last year, we added the Kuchurean Memorial Award to recognize compassion and dedication to caring for others. This award commemorates the mother of one of our Toronto team members, who lost her brave battle with ALS in 2019. Aptly named the Kuchurean Memorial Award, it is presented to an individual who makes continuous efforts to improve the lives of others.

Employee award winners were nominated by members of Management and our Regional Steering Committees. Winners were then selected by a panel of judges consisting of all Director-level employees and above.

Typically, awards would be presented to recipients at Modu-Loc’s annual in-person National Meeting. This year’s awards presentation, like most events of the past year, took place virtually. Recipients were surprised with the news on individual Zoom calls with our Executive Leadership Team. Their achievements were then celebrated during our virtual National Meeting, which took place over Zoom from February 24th through 26th and was attended by all Modu-Loc employees across Canada.

Our recipients are provided with an award and monetary prize. Winners of the Kuchurean Memorial Award and Core Values Awards receive $100 each, while our Don Rintoul Award recipient is awarded $1,000.

Without further ado, Modu-Loc’s 2021 Employee Award winners were…

Étienne Boutin (Don Rintoul Founder’s Lifetime Achievement Award)

Étienne has been with Modu-Loc for 10 years, and is currently our Operations Manager for the Quebec City branch. Étienne was our Collaboration & Teamwork winner as part of the 2019 Core Values Awards program, and we are honoured to be able to present him with this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Étienne exemplifies all of Modu-Loc’s core values in spades. As one of the heads of our Eastern Regional Steering Committee, he facilitates regular discussions focused on organizational improvement, safe practices, and employee engagement with a group of front-line staff. He is also our Master Trainer for the Eastern Canada region, overseeing training of new hires and existing employees in the Quebec City, Montreal, and Ottawa areas.

Étienne is passionate about safety and driver training, and has been instrumental in the development of our training curriculum and content. Although he is serious about his commitment to safety, it doesn’t impede his ability to have fun at work and form strong relationships with his colleagues.

In fact, Étienne serves on the Leadership Team subgroup devoted to our core values of Collaboration & Teamwork, Family & Well-being, and Integrity & Trust. He has fostered an incredible culture at his depot in Quebec City, where employees enjoy frequent social events and opportunities to let loose.

This sense of teamwork extends well beyond the boundaries of Étienne’s region, as he also contributes a tremendous amount of effort in ensuring our francophone employees are addressed in corporate communications. Étienne works closely with our Communications team to make sure all resources and messages are available in French, frequently taking on the responsibility of translating items himself.

As one colleague put it, “Étienne is always full of positivity regardless of the situation, and Modu-Loc is truly lucky to have a bilingual superstar on the team as dedicated and passionate as he is.” Congratulations to Étienne Boutin on earning the Don Rintoul Founder’s Lifetime Achievement Award – it is well-deserved!

Lise Morin (Collaboration & Teamwork Award)

Lise Morin is a member of our Accounts Receivable team, and she won this year’s Collaboration & Teamwork Award in large part because she supports depots on the other side of the country. While Lise is based in Kelowna, British Columbia, she provides A/R support to our teams in Ottawa and Montreal. Having the ability to speak both English and French, Lise is also relied upon to provide billing support to our French-speaking clients.

When the pandemic caused many of our office employees to shift to working remotely, Lise continued to report into the office every day to ensure critical processes were maintained. If her remote colleagues had responsibilities that could not be performed from home, Lise took those tasks on so that her coworkers would not have to come into the office.

Lise quietly steps in to help wherever assistance is required, often without being asked. When a team member was adjusting to a new role, Lise voluntarily learned how to process credit cards to help take some pressure off of her coworker. She goes out of her way to ensure a smooth and easy workflow for her teammates.

As her Manager said, “There is no end to how Lise offers to help others, every single day!”

Dan Dupuis (Stability & Dependability)

Dan was nominated for the Stability & Dependability Award by a colleague on the other side of the country, which speaks to how much Modu-Loc relies on him. While Dan keeps things running in our Ottawa depot, he is regularly in touch with our Finance team in Kelowna regarding branch paperwork. Paperwork is just one of the things Dan handles for Ottawa. He also dispatches and supervises crews, and never hesitates to help on site when needed.

No matter what is required, Dan can be depended on to step in and help. He is true to his word, always meeting deadlines and fulfilling his promises. He has even been known to delay vacation plans to ensure that he’s available to help with month-end processes or other urgent items.

In a recent example, Ottawa experienced some unusually high winds and we had fence blow over on a few client sites. Crews were already busy with scheduled work, so Dan stepped away from his regular duties to hop in a truck and fix any fallen fence.

As one colleague said, “Dan has been a constant figure for customers, his colleagues, and especially for the Ottawa fence crew. His colleagues and the fence crew know he will be there to help, and the customers are able to rely on him to have their needs met.” Congratulations, Dan!

Alex Côté (Integrity & Trust)

Alexandre is our Operations Supervisor in Quebec City, and also a member of our Eastern Regional Steering Committee (RSC). As a member of our RSC, Alex is trusted to bring forth the feedback, ideas, and concerns of his peers on bimonthly calls with members of our Leadership Team. The fact that Alex was hand-selected for this role speaks volumes about his integrity.

As our Supervisor, Alex is also trusted with the responsibility of filling in when our Operations Manager is away. Alex’s Manager has the utmost confidence in his ability to handle sensitive situations and confidential information. As he put it, “Alexandre is trustworthy towards his colleagues, his bosses, his fence guys and especially his clients. If Alexandre says something, you can be sure it will be done, and within the timeframe he mentioned.”

Similarly, Alex’s colleagues in sales know that when a deal has closed, Alex will uphold our commitments on the Operations side to deliver exceptional service to the client. He is extremely reliable and can always be counted upon to get the job done. According to his Manager, Alex strives to act with integrity because he knows how important it is to have an unshakeable trust with each and everyone in his circle. Congratulations, Alexandre!

Heather Preston (Family & Well-being)

Heather – or “Mama Modu-Loc”, as she is affectionately known – is our Inside Sales Representative in Vancouver. She has been with the company for more than 8 years, and in that time she has proven to be one of the most positive, supportive, and genuinely caring people you could hope to work with. As one of her colleagues says, “Heather takes a genuine interest in everyone at our branch and goes out of her way to help in any way that she can.”

There are countless examples. When one of her colleagues – who had recently become a father for the first time – was having some trouble with  new baby, Heather not only recommended a product that could remedy the issue, she went out of her way to pick it up during her lunch break so he could take it home that evening. If an employee needs a ride to the airport, there is Heather with car keys in hand!

Heather is the first to volunteer to organize social functions and team events, and makes sure to include many personal touches to show her teammates how much she cares. When colleagues visit Vancouver from other parts of the country, Heather is a perfect host – insisting on making plans for dinner or drinks so that the visitor feels welcome and at home.

As a former member of our Sponsorship Committee and current member of our Western Regional Steering Committee, Heather is an incredible advocate for other employees, striving to ensure their voices are heard. As another coworker put it, “I feel safe, warm, and welcome around Heather. She checks up on everyone to see if they are doing okay, and if the answer is ‘no’, she makes sure to listen empathetically and offer support when asked.”

Stephani Hnetinka (Vision & Innovation)

This year’s Vision & Innovation award winner, Stephani, is someone who brings a fresh perspective to our Marketing department and internal communication efforts. Although her title is officially Marketing Assistant, Steph wears many hats and provides support to employees in various departments and parts of the country. This allows her to take advantage of opportunities to suggest or make improvements in areas outside of her day-to-day role. As her Manager says, “she isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo or take advantage of opportunities for improvement”.

Examples include a total refresh of our boot program for field employees and improvements to our Health & Safety communications. Stephani uses her skills in video production and editing to help convey important messages about safe operating procedures and proper installation of products.

Within the Marketing department, Steph has helped drive adoption of digital tools to improve efficiency and automate processes. She has also helped other Modu-Loc team members embrace technology for the same purpose – from encouraging the use of survey programs for employee feedback to providing an excellent workshop on the use of LinkedIn for sales activities.

No matter the project, you can rely on Steph to look for new ways to approach the task at hand or improve results. All the while, she keeps the engagement and satisfaction of our employees in mind, ensuring we reach them in a way that is meaningful and valuable. As one colleague put it, “Steph’s overall contribution to the company – like how we’re expanding the use of technology to reach customers and staff – goes a long way to ensure we remain relevant, both as a business as well as a place that people can grow and have a career”.

Bobby Chenier (Excellent, Reliable Service)

This year’s Excellent, Reliable Service award winner, Bobby, has time and time again proven and demonstrated his commitment to our core values. In fact, he is a past Employee Awards winner, having received the Integrity & Trust award in 2019. But this year, we are recognizing his stalwart dedication to going above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction.

Bobby works tirelessly to make sure our clients are happy with the service provided. No task is too big or too small – Bobby treats every request with the utmost care and importance. Whether it means jumping in a truck on a weekend to handle an urgent job or staying late to accommodate last-minute changes on site, Bobby handles it all with a smile.

There are many examples of how Bobby embodies Excellent, Reliable Service. In one recent scenario, Bobby delivered fence to a client and found that the quantity ordered had been insufficient. They were short just 3 fence panels. Bobby took it upon himself to go back to the depot, get three more panels of fence, and deliver them to the customer. Bobby said he felt it was the right thing to do as there was an open excavation and leaving the site open could have put someone at risk of getting hurt. This required him to work late, but Bobby’s priority was to make sure the customer was properly protected.

One of Bobby’s colleagues summed up his qualifications perfectly: “The best thing about Bobby’s standard of service, is his consistency. His is very hardworking and it is clear he takes a lot of pride in this company and what he does. He is highly appreciated by all of us, and our clients.”

Aaron Caruana (Safety & Accountability)

Aaron has been a great steward of safety throughout his career with Modu-Loc. Originally starting out as a fence installer in Toronto – one of our largest depots – Aaron moved to our Kelowna depot a couple of years ago and brought his commitment to safety with him. As one colleague said, “Aaron leads by example and the results speak for themselves. I see and hear from others what a clean and organized shop Kelowna has become and Aaron prides himself in keeping everything ready to go.”

Aaron’s great attitude and leadership abilities landed him a role as our Operations Supervisor, but he is also actively involved in our Joint Health & Safety Committee and our Fence Guy training program. In these roles, Aaron carefully and deliberately communicates safe operating procedures and sets high expectations for his teammates. He runs biweekly toolbox meetings for the Kelowna team, ensuring that all employees are kept apprised of company policies.

Customers rave about his professionalism and positive demeanor, and coworkers trust in his experience and commitment to following procedure. He takes great care in everything he does, and teammates describe him as being reliable, innovative, and trustworthy.

One coworker summed it up perfectly: “When it comes to someone you can count on to take responsibility for everything he does in every situation you throw at him, Aaron is a shining example of Safety & Accountability.”

Rob Palbom (Kuchurean Memorial Award)

Rob Palbom is a perfect candidate for the Kuchurean Memorial Award. He is well-known throughout Modu-Loc for being someone who regularly goes above and beyond to support his employees and colleagues. He never hesitates to jump into a truck and go help our Calgary crews on site when needed, and he has been instrumental in the development of our internal training and professional development programs.

He is a positive and friendly person who gets along with everyone. As one colleague put it, “What amazes me most is his ability to befriend all types of people. He builds and fosters great relationships with both clients and other Modu-team members across the country- sometimes never meeting them face-to-face at all.”

Both in and outside of work, Rob also makes efforts to incorporate philanthropy in his day-to-day. He frequently inspires his own depot to action, organizing food drives or donating water during the Fort McMurray crisis. It was Rob’s idea to add a charitable component to our annual Barn Burner event, with proceeds from last year’s event going to Threads of Life.

As another co-worker says, “If I had to hazard a guess as to what Rob’s purpose was, I’d say it’s to leave the world a better place.” Sounds like a Kuchurean Memorial Award winner to us!

Author: Joanna Bieda

Joanna Bieda is the Director of Marketing and Communications at Modu-Loc Fence Rentals, and has been with the company since 2014. She loves writing and is a self-professed data nerd. She thoroughly enjoys teaching customers about all things fence via Modu-Loc's blog.
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