There are several people at CANA with long careers, but none match the tenure of Mike Risbey. This month we’re celebrating Mike’s 40-year anniversary. That’s four decades of hard work and dedication to a company that’s given him more experiences than one could write about.
Mike began his career with ACE Construction, then an independent firm, in June 1981 stubbing power poles in Drumheller, a technique used to strengthen and stabilize existing poles. From there, Mike spent time in various energy divisions, from transmissions, to substations, to underground utilities, to wind farm construction, to overhead distribution.
There’s not many people with such a diverse portfolio, and it’s something Mike’s proud of.
“Working in all the different divisions helped provide me with a ‘bigger picture’ view of how all the systems work and integrate with each other. I’ve also seen the industry change so much, and the technology today has drastically changed how we build energy infrastructure.”
Mike has many memories from many projects, but a few that stick out to him include the wind farm near Pincher Creek, which is still in use today. This was a completely new venture for Mike and his team, and what made it so memorable was the people that he worked with.
“Everyone had a good attitude on that project, and we were all eager to learn and successfully complete something new.”
Working on transmissions was also a highlight for Mike. Helicopters were often used for transporting large structural pieces, and the work had to be precise.
“There’s not a lot of room for error when you’re flying in pieces and have guys tied off high up off the ground.”
In fact, Mike remembers a tragic accident like it was yesterday of another company that reminded him of the severity of completing this work in windy conditions.
“Four men were killed on a transmission structure just north of the city in 1983, and we were doing that exact same work in Slave Lake at the same time. There was some really strong winds that day and it brought it all down. I’ve never forgotten that, and it’s often these types of accidents that create change, like setting parameters for transmission work in regards to wind speeds.”
Other memories that stick out for Mike include working with WWII veterans at CANA in his early days.
“I’ve always held these men in a very high regard. Meeting them totally changed my perspective in my early years. I realized how good I had it, working at a steady job and getting to see my family at the end of the day.”
It should come as no surprise then that Mike has had so much success at one company, and that he’s built a reputation for himself as a hard worker and a carrier of knowledge, some of which can only be learned today from working with people like Mike.
For the up-and-comers he works with, Mike likes to pass on advice he’s curated over many years.
“Pay attention to everyone you meet. You can learn from anyone, it doesn’t matter their age, their job — you just have to listen.”
Outside of work, Mike likes to golf and spend time with family.
Thanks, Mike, for your dedication and quality workmanship over these last 40 years. The company is grateful for your service.