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With People, Planning, & Preparation: How Symcor’s Halifax Facility Braved Hurricane Dorian

Craig Menzies
Craig Menzies November 28, 2019
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On September 7, the province of Nova Scotia experienced one of the most powerful storms in its history. Hurricane Dorian, the second strongest Atlantic hurricane on record, battered large swathes of the Bahamas and the southeastern coastline of the United States, before speeding towards Atlantic Canada with winds peaking upwards of 150 km/h.

At the height of the storm, 80% of homes and businesses in Nova Scotia were cut off from power. Such a large outage was unprecedented in the local utility company’s history. As emergency response crews spread out across the province, it was clear that it would take days before power was restored in every neighbourhood.

Symcor’s business processing facility in downtown Halifax managed to continue operating without impact. This facility services a significant percentage of our business, and any interruption in our operations could have had serious implications for our clients and their nationwide customers.

Dealing with Hurricane Dorian

I am proud to say that the rigour and maturity of Symcor’s Business Continuity Management (BCM) helped us withstand this extraordinary weather event. We managed to stay on track and avoided missing any deliveries or deadlines for our clients.

Symcor maintains robust Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) for every business site across Canada. Our BCP policies are designed not only for recovery, but more importantly, for resilience. The mandate is to continue to be in business before, during, and after known or unplanned events that could disrupt business.

Our BCP checklist stipulates a range of checks in the lead up to any storm-type situation. We kept a close watch on the progress and the forecast route of the hurricane. Once we determined that Halifax was going to be impacted by Dorian, we leveraged the support of our internal partners and critical vendors, and put the entire region on standby.

Adhering to every action item on our BCP checklist, Symcor implemented pro-active monitoring and controls to mitigate power interruptions and potential water damage, and took measures for employee safety. The team in Halifax evaluated our resources and restocked wherever critical. They ensured all Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) units were online and that our site generator was refueled and ready to fire up in case of an outage. Monitoring the power load within the server room at all times, the operations team made sure there was no impact on security systems or site access.

After the weekend storm, it was business as usual on Monday. For the next few days, we worked closely with our clients and couriers to fulfill scheduled pick-ups and deliveries as they navigated their own branch-closures.

A Culture of Business Continuity Driven by Our Core Values

Looking back at that weekend in September, I would summarize our team’s response to Hurricane Dorian as proactive, coordinated and energized – qualities inspired by our core values at Symcor.

Symcor is built on values of accountability, performance, and integrity. And across the board, our culture is oriented towards business continuity. This means we believe in doing the right thing, whether it is for our people, our partners or our clients.

Our North Star, Connecting for Common Good, reflects not only in our business practices, but also in how we treat our employees. During those 24 hours when Dorian moved through Atlantic Canada, we made sure our employees in Halifax felt supported and provided for. Many were unable to prepare food at home due to power cuts. In caring for our people by ensuring their safe commute and providing a hot meal and accommodation, where needed, we wanted our employees to know that we value them. This way our employees feel equipped and empowered to take care of business, both at work and at home.

This isn’t just a basic principle of business continuity, but also our culture at Symcor. After all, a twenty-plus year track record of operational excellence cannot be achieved without the unwavering commitment of our employees. We know and our customers know, when times are tough, our people will get the job done.

Craig Menzies

Craig Menzies

Craig leads the Client Services team to oversee the delivery, integration, and transformation of business services within the Symcor delivery network. He also leads a team responsible for client relations and our operational excellence initiatives. Craig joined Symcor in 2009 as Vice President of Operations for the Western Region. His 20 years of global outsourcing operations experience includes serving as Director of North America Utility BPO Operations for Accenture and, prior to that, as Director of Customer Care Operations at CustomerWorks LP. Craig obtained his Bachelor of Commerce from Ryerson University in Toronto. Based in Calgary, he spends his free time skiing in the Rockies, golfing wherever there is warm weather, and spending time with his family.

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