In praise of Newfoundland

Nadya Bell
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Conference Fortis CEO speaks at treasury and financial professionals' gathering

Fortis president and CEO Stan Marshall credits Newfoundland's history and culture with the company's success.

"The people of Newfoundland have in their long history overcome much adversity. We have survived through co-operation and self-reliance," Marshall said in a keynote address to the Treasury Management Association of Canada conference in St. John's Monday.

Fortis president and CEO Stan Marshall. - Photo by Nadya Bell/The Telegram

Fortis president and CEO Stan Marshall credits Newfoundland's history and culture with the company's success.

"The people of Newfoundland have in their long history overcome much adversity. We have survived through co-operation and self-reliance," Marshall said in a keynote address to the Treasury Management Association of Canada conference in St. John's Monday.

"Hard work, determination, loyalty, honestly, strength of character are ideals we hold dear at Fortis. Our culture reflects our history."

Growing from St. John's Electric in 1885 to Fortis, Marshall said it is unusual the company has chosen to stay in Newfoundland.

"As the only significant public company in Newfoundland, I'm frequently asked 'Why do you stay here?'"

"The answer is simple, our roots are here and our key people, including myself, have chosen to stay here," he said.

"Business can be tough in Newfoundland, but if you develop a model that is successful here, chances are it'll be more successful elsewhere."

One of the main management lessons Marshall says has come out of developing a company from Newfoundland is a strongly decentralized management structure that keeps operations running well even when they are far away from each other.

Fortis has operations in British Columbia and the Caribbean, as well as Newfoundland, and has a head office staff of only 16 people.

"If you're up on Signal Hill and looking at the little arrows pointing to different towns, you'll find the difference between here and Vancouver is about the same as from here to Moscow," he said.

"At those distances senior management must have the authority to act at will. Our corporate philosophy is that to be successful you must make decisions and those decisions must be made by those closest to our customers."

Marshall gave an overview of Newfoundland history for the audience of conference delegates and said he is very optimistic about the future of the province.

"But to a large measure we've been our own worst enemies. We haven't been good stewards of this rocky island. I hope that will change. We've been blessed with a lot of natural resources," he said.

nbell@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Treasury Management Association of Canada

Geographic location: Newfoundland, St. John's, British Columbia Caribbean Signal Hill Vancouver Moscow

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Recent comments

  • one
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    And let's not forget Newfoundland Power has been blessed with a beautiful monopoly. When you're the only player, you have to come out as the winning team.

  • NFP Employee
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    As one of those nickel and dimed employees, I can tell you the company is not what it used to be. I have no idea of the accuracy of the above statement, but I wouldn't be surprised based upon some of the things I have seen. I have been forced to charge my time to capital projects I wasn't working on so that the manager can make the operating budget. If I screw up any little thing in a year, then I get no bonus. When the CFO screws up, they get another VP spot. I also don't get paid for overtime even though others in my same pay grade do, because they work on capital projects, I don't.

    I could go on, but I'll give others a chance to pipe in.

  • isee
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    it is good to see our power rates paying for employees driving around in company vehicles (for personal use)all evenings and weekends
    when gas prices increase so will our power rates

  • dano
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Hard work, determination, loyalty, honestly, strength of character are ideals we hold dear at Fortis

    Rumor around the company is that after the big power outages in Bonavista last December, the criteria for 2007 executive bonuses was changed after the fact to ensure that Executives and managers, earning 6 figure salaries, were not negatively impacted. This while many employees are nickel and dimed to death over salary, and don't get paid for the hours of overtime that are required. That is the kind of honesty and integrity that exists at Newfoundland Power.

  • Eugene
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    If Stan Marshall is correct and the Newfoundland culture is responsible for Fortis' success, it must be that aspect of Newfoundland culture that doesn't rail against a monopoly being set up as a publicly traded company. Fortis has impacted the property management industry through spinning its profits into physical holdings (everything from the Holiday Inn to the Delta and that's only here) and, depending on which side of the argument you are on, either brought economic prosperity to Belize and other central american countries or seriously damaged their ecosystems through poorly thought out hydro electrical developments. While Fortis' profits sky-rocket they still have a guarantee for Newfoundland Power to be profitable, a company whose infrastructure was always subsidized by the government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Big benefits to those fortunate enough to buy into the $9 ipo some 25 years ago, guaranteed user increases for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Hmm, now if we can only privatize Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to increase the benefits to all.

  • one
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    And let's not forget Newfoundland Power has been blessed with a beautiful monopoly. When you're the only player, you have to come out as the winning team.

  • NFP Employee
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    As one of those nickel and dimed employees, I can tell you the company is not what it used to be. I have no idea of the accuracy of the above statement, but I wouldn't be surprised based upon some of the things I have seen. I have been forced to charge my time to capital projects I wasn't working on so that the manager can make the operating budget. If I screw up any little thing in a year, then I get no bonus. When the CFO screws up, they get another VP spot. I also don't get paid for overtime even though others in my same pay grade do, because they work on capital projects, I don't.

    I could go on, but I'll give others a chance to pipe in.

  • isee
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    it is good to see our power rates paying for employees driving around in company vehicles (for personal use)all evenings and weekends
    when gas prices increase so will our power rates

  • dano
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    Hard work, determination, loyalty, honestly, strength of character are ideals we hold dear at Fortis

    Rumor around the company is that after the big power outages in Bonavista last December, the criteria for 2007 executive bonuses was changed after the fact to ensure that Executives and managers, earning 6 figure salaries, were not negatively impacted. This while many employees are nickel and dimed to death over salary, and don't get paid for the hours of overtime that are required. That is the kind of honesty and integrity that exists at Newfoundland Power.

  • Eugene
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    If Stan Marshall is correct and the Newfoundland culture is responsible for Fortis' success, it must be that aspect of Newfoundland culture that doesn't rail against a monopoly being set up as a publicly traded company. Fortis has impacted the property management industry through spinning its profits into physical holdings (everything from the Holiday Inn to the Delta and that's only here) and, depending on which side of the argument you are on, either brought economic prosperity to Belize and other central american countries or seriously damaged their ecosystems through poorly thought out hydro electrical developments. While Fortis' profits sky-rocket they still have a guarantee for Newfoundland Power to be profitable, a company whose infrastructure was always subsidized by the government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Big benefits to those fortunate enough to buy into the $9 ipo some 25 years ago, guaranteed user increases for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Hmm, now if we can only privatize Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to increase the benefits to all.