Business Success Story: TAWS Security

Aboriginal contractor wins award, builds successful business in Fort McMurray

Isabell Ringenoldus always knew she would start her own business in Fort McMurray, so when the opportunity presented itself, she decided to go for it. It was a move encouraged and supported by her contacts at Enbridge.

"I used to work as a security guard at Enbridge's Cheecham Terminal under another company," said Ringenoldus, who is originally from the Fort McMurray #468 First Nation, just east of Fort McMurray.  "Staff at Enbridge saw I was a hard worker and encouraged me to start up my own security company."

Security TAWS
Isabell Ringenoldus credits a strong working relationship with clients such as Enbridge and a growing economy to her company’s success.

It was advice she followed.  In 2007, Ringenoldus founded TAWS Security.  TAWS specializes in providing oil sands gates and mobile patrol security for energy and engineering companies, including some of Enbridge's projects and operations in the Fort McMurray area.

Today she has a lot to be proud of. Not only does she run a successful business, but this year she was nominated, and subsequently selected, as one of three finalists for Alberta's Aboriginal Woman Entrepreneur Award of Distinction. Sponsored by the Alberta Chambers of Commerce and others, the award recognizes resourceful business practices throughout the province. 

"Just to be nominated was amazing," said Ringenoldus who hopes her own success will inspire youth in her community.

Over the past few years, Enbridge has worked with Ringenoldus and her company on a number of projects and operations.

"Our experience with TAWS Security has been extremely positive," said Mark Stronski, formerly Enbridge's Area Supervisor for Fort McMurray and now a member of the company's Project Integration team for Western Canada. "We approached Isabell for security services at Cheecham as a result of site security needs in January 2009. TAWS staff have provided top-quality security. It's been a pleasure working with them."

Before founding TAWS, Ringenoldus worked as a correctional officer at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre, a maximum-security prison for men in the Vancouver area. She had trouble finding full-time work at the prison, so when her First Nation community offered a security position, she jumped at the opportunity. Then, a few years after moving back to Fort McMurray, Isabell incorporated TAWS.

It's been a rapid change for the 27-year-old entrepreneur who originally planned to become a RCMP officer.

"Starting up a small business is challenging, but also extremely rewarding. I enjoy being my own boss. And I'm pleased with the company's growth over the past few years, and our commitment to making TAWS a leader in the security field," Ringenoldus said of the company that has grown from a two-person operation in 2008 to about 40 employees today.

Ringenoldus says operating her own company involves a demanding work schedule that offers lots of variety.

"There's no such thing as a typical day," she said.  "On any day, I could be running out to pick up supplies or traveling out to sites or checking security surveillance equipment or meeting with customers. I work long days — sometimes up to 17 hours — it can be tiring but fun at the same time." Ringenoldus credits a strong working relationship with clients such as Enbridge and a growing economy to her company's success.  "We've definitely benefited from the Alberta advantage. You can do anything in this economy if you're prepared to work hard."

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