Walk the talk

Sandra Wood

Woodland Horizon Ltd. owner Laverne Martin is someone you can describe as engaged with people and proud of what he does. 

If you’re on social media, you may have caught some of the thought-provoking posts echoed by a company that has deep values they believe are essential ingredients to weathering the storms that inevitably come our way. Given the world’s current state, most agree we’re in the middle of a pretty big storm right now. But Martin doesn’t seem rattled by it. He has a calm resilience that is echoed by his company messaging, which caught our attention. There is indeed something to learn from Martin! 

 

Who is Woodland Horizon? 

In 2005, Woodland Horizon started with a 2,000 sq. ft. shop space with just Martin and his wife Emma for the first few years, pivoting in 2012 and growing to the 20,000 sq ft space and 44 employees. Those who have experienced similar growth understand the work and commitment to get to where the company is today. Even with the company’s growth, the values by which they choose to operate have remained steadfast. 

CKCA: What do you think you do well? What are you known for as a company? 

Martin: We do well with serving our customers with integrity. One of our goals is to create an “exceptional buying experience,” and a big part of that is the relationships we work to create. In tandem with that, we also provide an excellent quality product and well thought out designs, but we really want to be sought out for our customer experience. 

CKCA: How do you view competition in the industry, and how do you position your company? 

Martin: Over the years, our focus has shifted to becoming better as a company and not so much on our competition. We strongly emphasize growing our people, both professionally and personally. 

 

Let your principles guide you 

CKCA: We’ve seen on social media your thoughtful posts about your company’s principles. Tell us more about those. 

Martin: The values that we try to live by and make decisions from are as follows. We certainly aren’t perfect and don’t always get these lived out in perfection. But we do review them with the entire team a few times per week and live by these guiding principles: 

  • Stewardship – We understand that God is the ultimate owner of everything, and with that in mind, we will manage God’s assets wisely. 
  • Respect and Dignity – We will always look for the best in each other.
  • Integrity – We will always do the right thing.
  • Teamwork – We will work together and function as a team.
  • Continuous Improvement – We will constantly challenge ourselves to improve.
  • Attitude – We will maintain a positive attitude.
  • Employee Growth – We are committed to helping each other reach our fullest potential.
  • Honesty – We will be honest in our appreciation and our constructive feedback.
  • Appreciation – We will show our gratitude to each other and our customers.

CKCA: Have you always had these principles in your business, or was this something you have done over time? 

Martin: This has evolved; several years ago, we spent a fair bit of time thinking about what is important to us. This process brought clarity to what we want and has helped guide us since then. 

 

Motivating yourself and others

CKCA: Where do these principles come from? What is the motivation? 

Martin: Building people. The longer we have the privilege of being in business, the clearer the responsibility and opportunity of people development become — both in myself and our team members. If we can help each other become better at work, we will take the things that we have learned back to our families and communities and hopefully improve these as well. 

CKCA: Why do you echo these principles on social media? 

Martin: I believe strongly in learning from each other. Hopefully, we can inspire and motivate someone else through these posts. 

 

Customers respond 

CKCA: Do you also weave these messages into your website and any other promotions?

Martin: We do have these up on our website and in our brochures, but what is really important to me is that people can see them lived out in their interactions with us. 

CKCA: What kind of response do you get from clients? 

Martin: Check our Google and Houzz reviews; this is a small sampling of what we hear from clients. 

So we did; they average 4.9 stars out of 5 overall, with 5/5 in work quality and communication and 4.6/5 in value.

CKCA: Do you think it draws more clients to your business? 

Martin: It certainly creates a referral base and word-of-mouth exposure, which is by far the most effective marketing. 

CKCA: How do you keep your team engaged in your company principles? 

Martin: We have a team meeting every morning to look at personal development, motivation, lean manufacturing, and values. We take turns leading this meeting and are all expected to participate. We also share things with the group for which we are grateful. This meeting has been instrumental in creating and maintaining the culture that we promote. 

CKCA: Looking to the future, do you think the principles you have are timeless and can help you adapt to the many changes and challenges facing our industry, such as the skilled labour shortage, increased supply costs, advanced manufacturing, etc.? 

Martin: Principles are foundational. If we stay true to these, we will be in a much better position to weather storms that no doubt will come our way. 

CKCA: What are your future goals? 

Martin: Continue building and growing people. Maintain a culture that lives out our principles and constantly looks for ways to improve ourselves and the company. Slow and sustainable growth as we do all the above. 

It was a pleasure connecting with Martin to learn more about his company. It takes perseverance and determination to stay in this industry. With so much uncertainty in our current global market, it is even more important to have that solid foundation to keep you, your team, and your business strong. We wish Woodland Horizon Ltd. every success, and we hope to do an in-person plant tour in September 2022—stay tuned!

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