CALGARY, Alberta -The ever growing price differential for bitumen continues to squeeze the netbacks for oilsand producers in Northern Alberta, and Bendovus Energy is no exception. In an effort to streamline its costs and operations, in light of plant closures, the once prestigious company recently announced a series of layoffs in its Calgary-based office and significant cuts in the number of its field staff in and around Fort McMurray.
But for one individual, the downsizing story is a little unique. Phillip Seemore’s position as Senior Vice President of Oilsands Operations was recently made redundant after a Joint Venture deal with Totally out of France.
But because of his senority in the company, his severance was too significant for Bendovus to absorb, so instead of letting him go, the company reassigned him to a newly created position called Company Greeter. Bendovus Energy’s President and CEO had the following to say:
Reassigning Mr. Seemore’s position was a very difficult decision to make for me, my fellow executives, and board members alike. As one of the company’s co-founders back in 1983, we felt that he deserved more, but the prevailing economic winds made it impossible for Bendovus Energy to take an additioinal massive hit with Mr. Seemore’s severance. We really had no choice.
Mr. Seemore’s new position requires that he basically hang around the lobby of Benovus Energy’s head office along the 200 block of 4th Avenue SW. He is required to open the door for visitors and ask them if there is anything he can do to help. He is to also spend some time near the elevator lobby to push the up and down buttons and to hold the elevator doors open when necessary.
Although it seems a menial task at first glance, the curb appeal and public perception of a company like Bendovus is key to its success with shareholders. With a prominent member of its executive team at a grassroots level, Bendovus may set a precedent its peers will have to follow.
Retail operators like Tarjet and The May have seen detrimental effects from WalMarx’s use of greeters to get people into the store (and intimidate them from leaving).
If other PNG operators like Cheaterson and Wilder & Wilder adopt this strategy, the streets of Oil Town North America may very well be full of executives with friendly faces and something meaningful to do for a change. (Editor: Bazing!)