Faith, business welded together at Haul-All

July 5, 2011 | God at work in Us | Number 14
By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | Alberta Correspondent
<p>Kevin, left, Dave and Dennis Neufeldt are pictured in front of bear-proof bins outside of their Haul-All/Sure Flame shop in Lethbridge, Alta.</p>

If you visit a national park, you see them. If you work at winter construction sites, they keep you warm. If you were at the 2010 Olympic Games in Whistler, B.C., they took care of your garbage and recyclables. You might run across them anywhere in Canada or the United States, in Colombia or Venezuela in South America, or in China or Hong Kong. “They” are the creations of Haul-All Equipment Systems/Sure Flame Products of Lethbridge, Alta.

Haul-All is a third-generation family business that creates and distributes custom-made waste and recycling containers, collection vehicles, transfer stations, site heaters (through Sure Flame), and many other items.  

The company was born in Coaldale, Alta., in 1931, when John J. Neufeldt converted a small cow shed into a blacksmith shop. In 1955, Neufeldt retired after fire destroyed the shop. His sons Jake and Ike took over, combining plumbing, propane distribution and welding businesses to become Neufeldt Industries in 1958. In 1985, a downturn in the economy forced Neufeldt Industries into receivership.

Once again, however, the next generation has successfully rebuilt the business, becoming Haul-All. Jake’s son Dennis and Ike’s sons Dave and Kevin, all engineers, now make up the Haul-All management team, along with Kelly Philipp (not a family member).

Dennis, Kevin and Dave, all members of Lethbridge Mennonite Church, agree that asking a Mennonite businessperson about the connection between faith and business is akin to talking to a fish about water.

“I think my faith forms how I make decisions and how I do things in kind of a way that you don’t think about it,” Kevin says.

“I’ve always had trouble with the idea that it’s hard to be in business and a follower of Christ,” Dave says. “I think that there are just as many challenges in my personal life as my business life; one is just an extension of the other.”

Strong Christian values are evident in Haul-All operations, though.

“[We] focus on a good quality product and treating the customer like we’d want to be treated,” says Kevin. “And we stand behind our products. I also think we treat our employees the way we’d like to be treated.”

Fair treatment of all employees, good morale and careful attention to workplace safety all attest to the fact that people, not just profit, are part of the bottom line for the business, says Lorne Willms, the company’s human resources director.

The company has workers born in at least 16 different countries in their shop. In 2006, when business was brisk and good employees scarce, a government temporary foreign worker program was an excellent fit for Haul-All. Employees were invited to suggest friends or relatives from other countries to apply and the company hired a number of them, solving the problem of employee turnover during a hot economy. In 2010, Lethbridge Immigration Services presented Haul-All with an award for promoting diversity in the workplace.

The Neufeldts also strive to keep disabled workers on staff. One employee, injured in a motorcycle accident, has modified du-ties while he recovers. The company works with such employees to find a fit that works both for them and for the business.

When it comes to requests for donations or sponsorships, Dave says, “a number of the things we do relate to employees. If an employee has a cause they are interested in, then we like to support them.”

This sense of loyalty to their employees and community—and their God—is not lost on the workers, according to Willms. “That’s the way I think Kevin, Dave, Dennis and probably others here look at their faith,” he says. “I think they’ve set a tone and it’s appreciated. . . . I’ve much appreciated the kind of employers they are.”

Kevin, left, Dave and Dennis Neufeldt are pictured in front of bear-proof bins outside of their Haul-All/Sure Flame shop in Lethbridge, Alta.

Bear-proof recycling bins are ready for shipping by Haul-All.

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