In this installment of Economy Builders, SIPP speaks with Hazelwood, a Vancouver Island-based group of companies at the forefront of innovation in manufacturing, construction and real estate development.
Nearly 30 years after its founding, Hazelwood has expanded to 10 companies, offering a broad spectrum of services across the Island. Their community-focused approach and cross-sector collaborations in manufacturing are major drivers of growth.
Find out Hazelwood’s thoughts on critical factors for the region’s sustainable economic success, including affordable housing and partnerships with First Nations.
Why did you join South Island Prosperity Partnership?
Hazelwood is built on an ongoing pursuit of excellence, employee development, and a commitment to leaving a positive legacy within the communities we operate. After learning more about SIPP, it became clear that SIPP shared our values. It is exciting for us to have the opportunity to join such a progressive and innovative business-minded organization.
What do you see as key to growing a resilient, robust economic future for our region?
Hazelwood believes that a variety of employment options along with affordable housing is critical to the success of the region. In addition, we believe that First Nations can play an active role in the long-term success of our island, province and country. We are committed to collaborating with different groups to make this happen.
What is our region’s secret sauce when it comes to competing internationally to attract quality talent, businesses with household-sustaining jobs, and investment?
Our geographic location, picturesque landscapes and weather are certainly appealing to many Canadians. However, we believe that the Island is rapidly becoming an ideal location for business to succeed as well.
As one of the most sought-after places to live in Canada, Vancouver Island has a burgeoning entrepreneurial attitude and room to grow.
What are you most excited about in terms of your own organization’s plans and potential?
Innovation is important to Hazelwood. As we grow our organizations, we are continually looking for ways to innovate and strengthen in the industries we operate. For us, this includes adopting new technologies, working with new partners, and finding the right staff that can bring a fresh perspective to our operating companies.
As we do this, we can provide a variety of long-term career options here on Vancouver Island. We believe that having strong local companies, that are based on Vancouver Island, is critical to the long-term success of our island communities.
What’s one thing about your organization you really want people to know that they probably don’t know?
At Hazelwood, we are in the business of operating businesses. Our companies operate in the Construction, Manufacturing, and Real Estate Markets throughout BC and beyond. Our work takes us to remote communities, cities and towns within B.C., and to the backyards of homes as far away as New York City or Miami.
What challenges are you most invested in helping our community overcome and why?
Housing continues to be a challenge for many people on Vancouver Island. All businesses within the region need affordable housing options for their employees, so they can work and live locally. Building more housing supply will continue to strengthen the prosperity of our local economy. We are committed to working with stakeholders to find a solution that works for the long-term success of the island.
As Canadians, we need to find a way to build on, and increase, our manufacturing expertise. Many of the challenges we saw during COVID-19 were related to an absence of manufacturing capabilities in North America. We need to find a way to enable Canadian entrepreneurs to get into the manufacturing space.
What lessons have most profoundly impacted you since the pandemic sent shockwaves through our community and economy?
The challenges associated with the supply chain, coupled with an increase in interest for Vancouver Island, has made it really challenging for many people hoping to enter the housing market. We need to work together to increase our capabilities locally. This includes increased manufacturing, simplified processes for new housing, and a collaborative approach to identifying new business ventures that include communities that have traditionally been excluded from the equation.
When you envision the South Island region in 2040, what will have changed? What does our future look like?
We hope to see a vibrant mix of First Nations-owned companies actively competing, and contributing to, the local economy
Ideally, the region became known for exceptional employment options, in addition to the already exceptional weather, geography & people. Some of the initiatives that SIPP is championing will help this become a reality.
Lastly, we hope to see greater collaboration between all the regions on Vancouver Island.