Keeping co-op active

If you stay with a company long enough, you just may end up running it. Kelly Philipp, the vice-president and CFO of Haul-All Equipment Ltd., can testify to that.

He began with the company during a co-op placement when he was enrolled at the University of Lethbridge, before his graduation in 1997.

Philipp, who is originally from Prince George, B.C., says he took an early interest in collection vehicles and, as it turned out, they were the same models he now helps produce.

"As a kid I was totally fascinated with this style of garbage truck," he says of Haul-All's unique equipment. "From there it's just sort of clicked."

Philipp, a marketing major, didn't join the co-op program initially, but rather was convinced by a professor to enroll. Now, he says, it's hard to think of not being involved with co-op.

"It's interesting to look back on it today. I got involved with the co-op program, not because I saw the benefits of co-op, but because people in co-op took a real interest in the students. I can't imagine you'd get that in every institution. In my opinion, the U of L is unique in that regard," he says.

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Kelly Philipp's positive co-op experience set his career path in motion.

"It was a successful placement because the company had a need to redo its marketing and to promote its products internationally. So that was a good fit for me. It was a really good mentorship that I'll never forget."

Following his co-op, Philipp left Haul-All in order to pursue his MBA, but kept in touch with his superiors there. He ended up being hired as the head of finance five years ago.

Haul-All Equipment Ltd. has two divisions: Haul-All Equipment Systems, which provides containers, collection vehicles and transfer stations; and Sureflame Products, a construction heater manufacturer. As the VP, Philipp oversees the Equipment Systems division but is also the head of accounting and finance on the corporate side.

While working in the marketing and business side, he has travelled all over the world in order to help market the company. Then, following a restructuring of the entire accounting department two years ago, he began incorporating co-op students.

"It is a permanent, rotating, eight-month position where we can reach out to the University and pull from the student body to help provide meaningful work experience within the context of corporate accounting," Philipp says.

"We approach it more as a learning experience and try to take on more of a mentorship role. We see it as not just a job for the student, and I believe it's been a really positive experience. It's also been a big benefit for us as an employer."

Philipp says he is trying to create as much of a local angle as possible, as most accounting co-op students have to go to Calgary to find work.

"I really wanted to create something that would give back to the co-op program and provide similar opportunities for students," he says. "I wanted to give back to the community and one way to give back is to support the University."

For more about the Faculty of Management at the University of Lethbridge, visit this link.