When broadband network operators across Canada think of turnkey cable-laying services, they will probably think Dixon Networks. This 45-year-old veteran of network cabling was founded by Mr. Richard Dixon in 1966. It was originally a civil engineering company that did digging road work, but forayed into specialty operations when it introduced the first cable plow in British Columbia. Today Dixon’s vision is to be The First Choice Full Service Provider for Performance and Quality in Canada.
70’S TO THE 90’S
Dixon has been involved with several major cable projects since it first starting working BC Rail (Telecom division) in 1979, and then with BC Tel in 1980. Since then it has laid over 1 million meters of cable for BC Tel, and continued with several other projects related to underground cable networks. Initially operating in the BC area, its projects now span the nation from British Columbia to Nova Scotia. Dixon now employs 65 people across its offices, and with new national projects coming up, that number could increase by another 50 in the near future.
In 1983, Dixon was the pioneer for turnkey services and successfully completed a 16-km fibre cable build in 100 Mile House for BC Rail. The following year they developed proprietary technology and equipment for fibre pulling operations, again for BC Rail – this time in Prince George. Their international breakthrough began in 1995, when Starcom Fibre Optic Corporation engaged their services to build the Canadian section of a Vancouver – Seattle fibre link – the first such cross-border cable project. In 1996, they went truly international, completing their first successful project in Mexico. The same year they were awarded their largest contract up until then – with MetroNet – which subsequently led to a four-city build project.
THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE
Since then, Dixon has gone from strength to strength, setting standards in innovation, design and performance excellence that have been recognized as international benchmarks in the field of telecom construction. In the United States, they have successfully delivered several projects in Western Washington and Oregon, as well as Alaska – the latter setting a new world record achievement for fibre-blowing in Whittier.
Dixon Networks Corporation provides end-to-end engineering, construction and cable installation services for communications companies – from digital mapping, environmental planning, contract documentation, infrastructure installation and other services related to laying communications cable networks. Dixon is an acknowledged leader in several areas of this operation, including laying fibre optic networks across trestles and bridges in the Western part of Canada. With over 300 such crossings to their credit, Dixon is an expert in the construction and engineering aspects of this skilled task. Another feather in its cap is the company’s ability to scythe its way through complex negotiations with entities whose permission is often required for these crossings, as well as rights-of-way along the chosen route for the cabling.
In recent news, Dixon announced that Alongside Communications had joined them, a company with a complimentary portfolio with a strong background in technical and engineering services. With Alongside alongside, Dixon will now be able to expand its service offering to include ISP service support across a wider geographical region within Canada.
Dixon has also recently signed its name to a Master Services Agreement with TELUS and subsequently a 4-year Civil Construction Contract. This is a significant development putting Dixon on the short list of 5-10 service providers that TELUS will be partnering with over the next 5-year period.
Future plans include a potential strategic partnership with a UK-based company.
THE OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE MOVEMENT AT DIXON
The company sees that its competitive advantage is in its Operation Excellence. In order to align its staff to these values, the company maintains this as a standard agenda item at all its management meetings, constantly asking the question: “Will this help our mission to become operationally excellent?” This platform underpins Dixons commitment to growing its business and expanding its regional presence. This commitment is evidenced by the creation of 3 new roles and appointments of Thomas McIlwaine as Director of Business Development, Mike Potvin as Regional Manager for Ontario and Colin Bell as Regional Manager for Alberta. Their roles are to enhance the brand-building and increase market penetration. In addition, a monthly newsletter is circulated to staff at all offices, and a quarterly event brings employees together and keeps them all on the same track.
One of the biggest challenges, within the industry, is the lack of skilled technicians, which Dixon is tackling head-on – with plans to introduce specialized training in-house and cross training so more skilled resources can be developed internally. The future depends on having expertise in all of the key positions so the company can achieve its goals of operational excellence; and Dixon certainly has the impressive track record that will assure its longevity in what is now a highly competitive domain.