August 12th, 2011 marks the very FIRST volume of the BrenKir Times! The BrenKir Times is an internal news publication to keep our employees connected, up-to-date and informed on BrenKir happenings. This is an outlet to bring about things happening with the staff, the company, and the community. We focus on internal company events as well as community events in Mount Pearl, St. John’s, Placentia and Marystown. Everyone works so hard at all three locations and we are excited to help bring together the BrenKir family!

We are not experts in the field of WritingHood and our journalistic lingo may not be up to scratch but we sure can spell the words s-e-r-v-i-c-e and c-o-m-m-u-n-i-t-y. (see what we did there…test passed)

Have some good things to say about BrenKir? Drop us a line and you could make an honourable mention in issue 2! We like to think about it as giving out gold star stickers.

We care about what is happening in our employees lives, we care about growing our BrenKir family and we care about our communities. And in doing this we hope to benefit our customers by providing a cohesive service where communication is valued.

-The BrenKir Times Team


Exciting things coming out of the BrenKir office today! BrenKir has signed a strategic alliance with CenturyVallen. In the new alliance, BrenKir will act as an East Coast distribution center for national CenturyVallen accounts, and will in turn, have access to the width & breadth of the CenturyVallen supply chain.

So what does this mean for our customers? Same great BrenKir service, larger product variety from top leading brands. This is a win-win. We are still 100% NL owned and operated and now we will be able to supply local and national accounts with a larger variety of brands and products.

This is another step in the growth of BrenKir and we are very excited for things to come.

WOW!!  Into our 4th day at the aptly named  WBENC Opportunty Connection.   We’re here as part of a Canadian Delegation, and in turn, a delegation sponsored by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and NLOWE.   Our friends in the US have, in the past 15 years, managed to develop ways to promote the integration of diversity into the supply chains for both global companies and smaller ones.  We’re not there in Canada yet, but there are some organizations who are helping to make it happen.

Because of the supplier diversity mandate that many corporations have, they are eager to meet women owned and managed businesses.  (called WBE’s or “weebees”)  The process of certification that is now used in Canada, Europe, Peru and India began in the USA, and third party certification is the key to being recognized by these USA companies.   BrenKir is certified, and so we were invited to come down and be part of this trade show.  In essence, it’s a reverse trade show.  We, as ‘sellers’ walk around and talk to buyers, who are in their booths trying to connect women owned businesses to their supply chain. Now, in case you think that a woman owned business would get a large corporation to take a look at the business ONLY because it’s a WBE, let me clarify for you . . . we still have to be able to do the work.  It’s not a ‘gimmee’ at all – what the certification does is give you a bit better opportunity to get in the door, that’s all.

However, if there’s a crack in the door at all you know that Newfoundland and Labrador companies are going to get through it! It was so great to see our peers from local companies competing with the best of them in Las Vegas.  We were fortunate enough to be able to secure a meeting with some corporate buyers who were interested in FR workwear, which as BK cusomters know is a bit of a specialty of ours.  Fingers crossed . . . although professional poker player Annie Duke, who was one of our keynote speakers, made it pretty clear to us that really, luck has very little to do with winning – either in poker or in contracts.  It’s a matter of understanding the hand you are dealt and how you need to bid . . . good lessons in the city where betting is an art form.

So, where will this take BK?  We’re  establishing a US presence through our New Hampshire office . . . and we are playing our hands to win.

What a busy few weeks it has been at BrenKir!  Of course, it’s obvious that once the ice is off the ponds in Newfoundland and Labrador, a lot of projects move into high gear. Not just the large mega- projects – although they certainly get busier – but all the local businesses that keep the economic wheels turning year in and year out. From shingling to paving, local contractors are out there every day, getting the job done.  And we like to help them keep safe and well equipped to do the job.

Unfortunately, sometimes when people are busy, they forget to use all their safe work practices.  How many people over-reach on a ladder when they really should move the ladder or set up a scaffold – ‘it’s only that little bit I had to reach for’ being a very common refrain in the emergency room.   When it’s rained for a week and a half and the grass is really long, it’s easy to forget to wear your workboots, glasses and hearing protection when you are flat out trying to get the grass mowed before the rain comes again. But this is how accidents happen.  At BrenKir, we maintain a full stock of PPE and industrial equipment and supplies to help you stay safe – and get your job done in time.  Here are some quick tips for the spring projects – at work, and when you are handling the ‘honey-do’ list.

1.  Wear your safety boots. Seriously.  Approved footwear is essential for anyone on a construction site, warehouse, or manufacturing facility.  Everyone knows that. But don’t forget to wear them when you are fixing the patio, mowing the lawn, or hauling your boat on the trailer.   Your feet will thank you.

2. Ditto for gloves.  Protecting your hands is essential.

3.  Hearing protection is one of most underused pieces of personal protective equipment.  Even at home, power tools, lawn and garden equipment all can emit enough noise to permanently impair hearing.  Grab some foam plugs and save your hearing for the teenagers to ruin!

4.  Use sun protection.  We’re not trying to sell particular stuff on this site, but we do sell a great product called Croc-Bloc that is individually packaged like a wet-nap.  It’s convenient, non greasy, and keeps you from getting a nasty burn and the longer term consequences of sun damage.  Pop some in your golf bag, your tool kit, and your jacket.

5. Finally, take your time – even if you are FLAT OUT.

Today I had the opportunity to tour a series of manufacturing facilities in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Codet – makers of Big Bill Workwear – is a 2nd generation family company that is a Canadian Manufacturing success story, and a great supplier for Brenkir. They make all the ‘regular gear’ – workpants and shirts, coveralls, coats, the famous ‘woods shirt’ (you know, the red and black plaid ones) plus knitwear, lined jeans, and so on. That’s impressive enough. But what was really cool was to see the high levels of professionalism and capital investment required to have the level of productivity, safety and attention to quality that we saw in every employee there. When you are responsible for making the clothes that linesmen wear when they are working with Newfoundland Power, or the coveralls that protect guys on offshore oil rigs work outdoors in very challenging conditions, you need to pay attention to quality. And Codet does.

There is more than meets the eye in a good pair of FR (flame retardant) work pants, for example. A zipper that meets the FR standards costs about 20 times as much as a regular zipper. When you think about an arc flash, you really want to make sure that the area covered by the zipper is especially well protected, don’t you? What about your blackberry? Is there a pocket that fits that so you don’t have to dig for it when you’re sitting down. And why is it that so many ‘work pants’ have a waistline that is somewhere just underneath your ribs? Codet makes their own patterns and have adjusted their work pants to have a ‘low rise’ that is like the comfortable fit you expect from your favorite pair of jeans.

Justin Audet has been a great host all day, and we’ve seen their manufacturing and distribution centers on this side of the border. Very impressive – certainly makes it easier to explain to our customers WHY you need dolman sleeves in your utility jacket (so you can raise your amrs overhead without your coat sliding halfway up your back). I know now that I will check the quality of my safety gear even more carefully. That’s the point, really, of these sorts of trips.

Tomorrow it’s off to Vermont to see their US operations. Can’t wait.

Here are a few snaps from our tour.

Cutting 30 Layers of Fabric at at timeA LITTLE PIECE OF THE ACTION

Just making our way back from OTC in Houston – the premiere North American event for offshore oil and gas.  What a whirlwind week of networking, trade show and workshops.   It all started with the greatest industry mixer ever – the NOIA poolside reception on Sunday night.   Think about this – politicians, oil and gas executives, and local suppliers all eating and drinking in 80 degree weather.  It was like Nautical Nellies with a few more folks and a much nicer climate.  For us, it was a great opportunity to stand around the pool and rub shoulders with people who I would normally never get to speak with – and to put some faces to names.   Notable poolside networkers included Ed Martin and Jim Keating from NALCOR, Marty Gaulin from Worley Parsons along with a few more of his team, and Natural Resources Minister Shaun Skinner – and, looking spectacular while promoting the province’s industry,  Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale.

Barry, Ed and I were able to connect with some of our customers and find out more about their plans for the next year – the more we know about them, the better we’re able to meet their needs.  That was the real benefit of the few days in Houston.  We also had the chance to gain a few new suppliers, and even get closer to doing a few deals.  Lots of interest in partnering with BrenKir for supply opportunities in Newfoundland and Labrador – the diversity requirement in the Hebron project is starting to be noticed, which is a great thing for Newfoundland and Labrador business, and especially women owned businesses.

Looking forward to the next NOIA event at Yellow Belly Brewery on the 18th – hoping it’s the same sort of event, minus the pool.

This past week has been a busy one for BrenKir from a business development standpoint.   Last Wednesday, Ed Kelly and I were in Clarenville to hear the Hebron Partners talk to potential suppliers about the kind of capacity that the project would need.  Great to see such a wonderful turnout from local business, but even better was the clear commitment from the two prime contractors – Keiwit Aker  (KAC)  who are building the gravity base structure and Worley Parsons (building the topsides) to do business locally, and to include diversity in their supply chain.

After the presentations, we were fortunate enough to be part of a ‘speed dating’ type event where we met for 10 minutes with one of the procurement people for the project.  Ed and I met with Richard Jolly from KAC ; these guys apparently knew each other well before that day, so I was the only newbie at the table.  However, we did manage to squeak in a few things about our new competencies in inventory management and ISO processes, as well as our status as a certified diversity supplier.  All in all a great day; and we’re looking forward to growing the seeds we’ve planted.

Fast forward a few days and I am here in Corner Brook as part of the NLOWE conference.  BrenKir is pleased to be a corporate sponsor of this very important event.  There is a great lineup of workshops all organized around the plan to help women-owned businesses start, grow and advance.   As part of our own corporate mandate to support diversity business, we are happy to be a sponsor and to be here this week  – and the lineup promises to inspire new ideas and better ways of doing things in our business.  Click here to check it out.

Business development is much less instantly gratifying than sales or delivering orders – but it’s a journey we are happy to be on.

Nobody ever said being in business was easy. But every now and then, there are a few perks- and getting out of the snow in late February is certainly one of them. We are here in New Orleans, Louisiana, for part of a special trade mission put together by the WBENC South group. The idea is that businesswomen from Newfoundland and Labrador will connect with businesses in the South to foster trade relationships. For BrenKir, we are hoping to pick up a few suppliers who are familiar with the oil and gas customers that are moving to do business in Newfoundland and Labrador, at at the same time identify potential customers that we can target for our lines of personal protective equipment, particularly clothing made by our close business partner CODET of Magog, PQ and Vermont, manufacturers of the BIG BILL line of workwear. Will keep you posted.

 Photo Credit – The Telegram.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale hasn’t forgotten her roots as Natural Resource Minister in Newfoundland and Labrador. She told a group of NLOWE members at a breakfast meeting on Monday that while she was minister in that department, she was tracking the numbers of women who were able to benefit from big projects like Hibernia. The results didn’t impress her – but as premier she’s vowing to make a difference.

“I’m always reminded of a piece of work that I was involved in in the ’90s that took a look at what happened during the development of Hibernia,” she told the group. “Women only constituted four per cent of the labour force during that whole project. The women involved in trades and technology were so small that we couldn’t measure. It was less than one per cent. And I expect that business opportunities associated with that project wouldn’t measure any higher.”

The point of the group was to ensure women wouldn’t be left out of the “economic engine that was driving this province,” said Dunderdale.  She went on to say that  for the next round of resource development in the province – mega projects like Hebron, Hibernia South and the Lower Churchill Project –  the province will require proponents to meet diversity targets for employment and procurement.

“The work that began there carries on today, and never did I imagine that while Iwas learning all that stuff and becoming so passionate about making changes, that I’d hold this position and be able to bring all of that knowledge and commitment to it,”

BrenKir Industrial is one of 6 certified women-owned businesses enterprises (WBE)  in Newfoundland & Labrador.