Athabasca Basin Security Service
Being a 100 per cent Aboriginal/First Nations owned and operated company is a source of pride for Ron Hyggen, CEO of Athabasca Basin Security Service. Headquartered in Saskatoon and Wollaston Lake, Sask., the company provides industrial security solutions to the mining industry. Since 2002, it has successfully completed work with a number of top-tier mining names in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and has made a name for itself as leaders in the field.
The business model is simple, yet effective, focusing on the uniqueness of each individual client and project. Aimed specifically at mine sites and large industrial facilities, the idea came to life when a need was identified that drove the entire project. “We became aware of the need to understand safety violations,” Hyggen explains, which is a major concern for mining and oil companies.
On an industrial site, security regulations such as knowing who is onsite at all times can be tricky to maintain. Understanding these complexities requires some expertise. For this reason, Athabasca Basin Security Service is strong proponents that each site and client is unique. Customization of services, therefore, is fundamental in order to achieve the objectives of protecting people, property and information for any one location and company.
Impressive skills draw impressive clients
The niche market that Athabasca Basin Security Service has chosen obviously has served it well. “There are a lot of areas of security that you can work in, but we focus on industrial security,” says Hyggen. “There is bigger money for operators in things such as oil and gas, mining—we focus on that so we can be the best at what we do.”
Indeed they must be, because their client list includes such names as Areva, Cameco, and BHP Billiton. “Our biggest strength is our clients, that’s for sure,” says Hyggen, who has been with the company since inception. “We are First Nations owned and operated, and use this to basically build a partnership with Northern Operators.”
Athabasca Basin Security has successfully grown over a number of years and now employs more than 100 people, and has a roster of about 70 clients. How does Hyggen account for this growth? “It really came out to understanding what the industry needs and demands in regards to protection, security, and safety, and just documenting it and making sure it is a part of our company.”
Beyond the industrial security services, Athabasca also offers canine drug dogs and janitorial services. Seemingly unordinary, the additions were quite strategic.
“This came about by request from our clients who said they need to have these services available. So we went out, acquired these assets, and did it.”
This high level of concern for customer needs is aligned with the philosophy of every job and client being unique, and a testament to the strength of the company.
Professional development programs
Paramount to Athabasca Basin Security Service is its ideals. It has an impeccable safety record, and places significant focus on the growth of employees. “We have a professional development program that allows First Nations people to become Industrial Security Officers,” notes Hyggen. The progressive program is self-paced, and as employees progress their pay matches each new level earned.
“You move up through our company and beyond. We are a transitional employer for many. Our employees move through us to our clients, and from there they can also move into security as well.” It is a win-win situation for both Aboriginal people and the companies who can now hire their expertise.
Providing work opportunities to First Nations people is obviously something close to Hyggen’s heart and a great source of pride. “We are planning to partner up and use our relationships across Alberta to bring more [First Nations] into our work force.”
A bright future
For the future, Athabasca Basin Security Service will continue its focus on the very thing it does best. “We’ll keep focusing on the same areas, and the same types of clients,” explains Hyggen. This strategy sounds promising, and a successful future is no doubt in store.
“If you look at our resume now and see who we are working with, we have the strongest resume out there for anyone doing this kind of work.