A Capital Idea

Why All Weather WindowsPaul Taylor threw out the company’s old notions of HR

“Trying to make a difference—it’s wanting to build programs or solutions for the employees. To help somebody grow or achieve something that they didn’t know they could do or wanted to do.” (Photo: Constantine Tanasiuk)

The first thing Paul Taylor did when he took over the human-resources function at Edmonton-based All Weather Windows Ltd. was discard it. In doing so, Taylor converted the human-resources office into the seldom-seen human-capital office. “To me, human capital—like capital—is something you invest in, grow, and add value to,” says Taylor, All Weather Windows’ vice president of human capital. “‘Resources’ implies something you take, strip, and use up—I’d much rather invest.”

Before Taylor transformed the department at his current award-winning organization, he began his career as a teacher and football coach, again dedicated to helping others grow. After four years as an educator, Taylor began to find the challenge lacking. So, with his superiors looking to move him into a more administrative role, it was time for a change. In 2005, Taylor and his family moved from Vancouver to Edmonton, where he accepted an opportunity to work for financial institution ATB Financial in its corporate learning centre.

36

Years the company has been servicing Canada

1,200

Employees

2

Manufacturing facilities, located in Mississauga, ON, and Edmonton (where the head office is based)

$200 million+

In revenue

6

Years in a row named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies (by Deloitte)

“It was the perfect foot in the door,” Taylor says. “It bridged teaching to a corporate environment.” At the time, ATB was conducting sales and service training, and Taylor was part of team that helped roll out the new program. Two years later, he accepted a position with PwC to run its Edmonton office’s HR department. Unfortunately, the fit wasn’t right—the company was too big, he couldn’t effect much change, and he was going to lose much of his team to restructuring. “Leading a team has always been important to me,” Taylor says, “so it was time to move on.”

Fortunately, one of his mentors and colleagues connected him with All Weather Windows, where Taylor has been for the past four years. Initially, he worked as a manager who oversaw talent management, but within a year, he was promoted to his current role. Today Taylor oversees HR services, health and safety, talent management, training, and All Weather Windows’ corporate chaplaincy program—a unique function with individuals who partner with employees to work through issues and provide comfort.

“What attracted me to this company is the chance to grow the company,” Taylor says. “I consider myself a builder, not just a maintainer.” While the company had been around for more than 30 years when Taylor joined, he saw several ways how his department could add value by introducing programs to drive the right behaviours and culture, namely in health and safety and through short-term incentive plans. During his time with the company, Taylor has witnessed the organization garner accolades for Best Overall Workplace from Alberta Venture as well as the Workplace Safety Award from the Canadian Home Builders’ Association. “We never had those goals,” Taylor says. “They’re simply an outgrowth of how the human-capital team supports the business.”

Taylor credits his success in human capital to understanding numbers and the business. Through that knowledge, he is able to recognize pain points and come up with solutions that reduce costs. Ultimately, the best method that Taylor has found in getting his initiatives to move forward is through metrics and numbers. “Numbers—even more than words—talk,” Taylor says, because it allows his team to show how it can add value.

All Weather Windows uses cutting- edge technology to fusion weld windows with its revolutionary V-weld process, resulting in no need for screws in its combination windows. (Photo: John Goldstein)

At the end of the day, Taylor’s role is simple: keep everyone happy. It’s easier said than done, of course, but Taylor has implemented a number of initiatives to make sure he meets his goal. For instance, in December 2014, he launched a rewards recognition program—a direct result of employee-engagement surveys. A key message from the survey was that the company could do even better at recognizing employees’ accomplishments. One aspect of the program has been dubbed “Take a Friend to Lunch,” and much like its name implies, it’s meant to not only reward good behaviour but to pay it forward to a colleague. Managers will be able to recognize an employee’s exemplary work with a certificate that entitles the employee and a coworker to a lunch on the company.

While this idea might not seem like much, it symbolizes an important value that All Weather Windows and Taylor share—that you need to listen to your employees and give them what they need. And, much like the shift from changing “resources” to “capital,” these gestures are important for the tone they set: people are what matter. All Weather Windows, along with Taylor, has built a successful company not by using up its resources but by transforming them.