'I followed my heart': Alta. man starts X-mas lights business after losing oilsands job

Even though many jobs in the oilsands have dried up, an Alberta man with a bright idea says he is thriving thanks to his new business dedicated to spreading holiday cheer.

See Full Article

After losing his position working in the province's oilpatch, Andy Hill decided to strike out on his own and create a company that saves people the yearly chore of setting up their Christmas lights.

But it wasn't easy.

"I followed my heart, and there were days that were really, really hard," Hill told CTV News.

Despite the seemingly short peak season, Hill says his phone has been ringing off the hook since August, and he has been branching out from residential homes to commercial ventures, such as show homes.

"(The) phone doesn't stop ringing – it's great," he said.

"I'm pretty sure things are going to be good."

After Hill lost his job, he said he needed to think outside the box, and his thoughts turned to the holiday he's always loved: Christmas.

"You think about it: Everyone smiles when they see lights," he said.

Hill's first big step towards independence was his purchase of a retooled firetruck from the 1970s.

The vehicle's 17-metre ladder was necessary to get the business off the ground, so Hill and his team could put lights in hard-to-reach places.

But the investment wasn't initially an easy sell to his wife, Terri Hill.

"When he came home and told me that he was buying a firetruck I said: 'Are you crazy? We don't have the money to do this,'" she recalled.

"He said: 'I promise I will make this work.'"

But Hill remembers the moment differently.

"I said: 'If we sit and wait, the money is going to run out before work comes back,'" Hill recalled.

"I said: 'I'm going to try this.' She was pretty supportive."

So far Hill has been successful, and he hopes that he can make the business work year-round.

And even though his paychecks aren't as hefty as those he earned for his work on the oilsands, Hill says his new business offers him other rewards.

"I'll never make the money I made in the oilfields, but you know what? I'm happier," he said.

With a report from CTV Alberta bureau chief Janet Dirks


Latest Canada & World News

  • Five men arrested after Vegas-bound plane diverts to Winnipeg

    Canada News CTV News
    WINNIPEG -- Five men were removed from a plane that was forced to divert to Winnipeg on its way from the United Kingdom to Las Vegas. A spokesman with Thomas Cook Airlines says the Airbus A330 was travelling from Manchester to Las Vegas on Saturday morning when the crew diverted to Winnipeg due to some passengers' "disruptive behaviour. Source
  • Family found dead at Mexico resort killed by toxic gas

    World News CTV News
    MEXICO CITY -- Autopsies indicate an Iowa couple and their two children died from inhaling toxic gas at a rented condo on Mexico's Caribbean coast, but there was no sign of foul play or suicide, Mexican authorities said Saturday. Source
  • 'A historic moment': Montreal massacre survivor joins Washington rally

    Canada News CTV News
    It’s been more than 28 years since a gunman stormed Montreal’s École Polytechnique, killing 14 women in the deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history. Another 14 people were injured in the massacre, including Nathalie Provost, who sustained four gunshot wounds, including one to the forehead. Source
  • 'I will vote you out': Teens vow to shake up U.S. politics at gun control rallies

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Kat Schamel did not vote in the last American election, because her 18th birthday happened to fall on Nov. 9, 2016, one day after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. Source
  • Car bomb in coastal Egyptian city kills 2 police

    World News CTV News
    CAIRO -- A bomb placed under a nearby car exploded Saturday in the coastal city of Alexandria as the city security chief's convoy passed by, killing two policemen and wounding four others, the Interior Ministry said. Source
  • Accused Austin bomber called himself a 'psychopath': congressman

    World News CTV News
    AUSTIN, Texas - A congressman says the suspected Austin bomber left a confession calling himself a "psychopath" and saying he felt no remorse for his actions. Rep. Michael McCaul made the comments at a news conference Saturday, where he thanked law enforcement officials for stopping the deadly three-week bombing spree that terrorized the capital of Texas. Source
  • The road map and road blocks of Trump's transgender troops ban explained

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump has issued an order supporting his push to ban most transgender troops from serving in the U.S. military except under "limited circumstances." But the decision is expected to be the subject of an ongoing legal fight in the months ahead. Source
  • Nigerian police: Boko Haram to free 1 more kidnapped girl

    World News CTV News
    MAIDUGURI, Nigeria -- Nigeria's police chief says another girl who was abducted from a school in Dapchi last month is being brought back by her kidnappers. Police Inspector General Muhammed Abubakar said Saturday that he cancelled a trip to Dapchi to avoid interfering with the release. Source
  • Quebec doctors protest their own raises, call for improved patient accessibility

    Canada News CBC News
    When Lashanda Skerritt decided to go to medical school, money was far from being the first thing on her mind — she wanted to serve the population. She is among hundreds of health care workers, patients and community groups who marched in protest of raises for doctors in the province. Source
  • New Brunswick man reaches halfway point of 3,000-kilometre dog sled trek

    Canada News CTV News
    A New Brunswick man making a 3,000-kilometre dog sled trek from Manitoba to his home province says the journey thus far has been "a mix of beauty and terror." Justin Allen and his 12 Alaskan huskies left Churchill, Man. Source