The staff of Red River Spray-On Ltd. is a tight-knit group born out of necessity on business and personal levels. The spray foam insulation company got its start as a business run by the Oak Bluff Hutterite Colony near Morris MB, in the late 1970s.
When it became apparent the company would grow better as its own entity off the colony, founder John Maendel made the rare move in January of this year to purchase the business and leave the colony with his wife and two of their five children.
"Because we were always on the road there wasn't that oversight by the leadership of the colony, which isn't conducive to the Hutterite way," says eldest son Stan Maendel, who's a project manager. "The consensus was reached that the best way to ensure an ongoing future for the company is to give full control to the ones running it for the past 35 years."
Stan and oldest sister Eugenia had already left the colony in 2002 and married non-Hutterites. Sister Angela had married into a different colony and she and husband Jerrold left that colony in 2002 as well. Jerrold works for the company. The decision pulled the family closer as they worked together to make the company more successful.
John is the chief executive officer and wife Mary helps in the office. Youngest son Aaron, is also a project manager and in charge of safety. Middle son Daniel is a math and physical education teacher at a Winnipeg inner-city junior high school and often works for the company when he's not in the classroom. An aunt is the company's bookkeeper.
Stan credits his father's vision and dedication, and the family's strong Christian faith, for the company's success.
John was a builder and carpenter on the colony. When he was working on its community kitchen in 1978, one of his brothers suggested he try a relatively new spray foam product to seal off unwanted air and vapour leakage. John went to the States to buy the equipment, learned how to use it and has never looked back. "He's the No. 1 reason we all are who we are," Stan says. "The business is what is keeping the family very close-knit. I have no idea where we would be if he hadn't done that 30 years ago. "We were really young teenagers and he made us work in the company for our summer holidays and we all hated it, but we had no choice. And it's because he literally forced us in a direction that we're all successful now."
The company serves commercial, industrial and residential customers across Manitoba, and has even done projects as far west as Edmonton and east to Thunder Bay.
Stan, 34, started working for the company in 1991, but left the colony in 2002 and ended up taking a website design course at Red River College.
"Then the colony hired me back, which they generally don't do, but because I knew a lot about the business and my dad pushed it that he needed me, they hired me back to work for him." Calling himself the "enforcer of high standards," Stan says his father taught his children to focus on customer service and not put money ahead of doing good work.
"We've done projects at a loss simply because we ran into situations where doing the project the right way would require more material and we ended up not even making any money on the project, but it was done right," he says.