'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



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Suspicious activity found on 48,000 CRA accounts after cyberattacks: treasury board

    Canada News CBC News
    The Treasury Board of Canada says it has uncovered suspicious activities on more than 48,000 Canada Revenue Agency accounts following cyberattacks in July and August. The treasury says the previously announced attacks targeted CRA accounts and GCKey, an online portal through which Canadians access employment insurance and immigration services. Source
  • Pope seeks to 'liberate' Virgin Mary from the Mafia

    World News CTV News
    ROME -- Pope Francis is giving his blessing to a new Vatican think-tank that is seeking to prevent the Mafia and organized crime groups from exploiting the image of the Virgin Mary for their own illicit ends. Source
  • Not just another fish story: Permit sales prove the sport hooked new anglers this pandemic summer

    Canada News CBC News
    Rebecca Anderson sits beside a tackle box in a shady spot along the shore of the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton. She watches her fishing partner standing in the sun on a rocky peninsula about 20 metres away as he casts the line and reels it in, over and over again. Source
  • 'This is a big moment:' U.K. government cautions on virus

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- Fresh restrictions on social gatherings in England, potentially involving limiting pub opening hours, appear to be on the cards soon as the British government seeks to suppress a sharp spike in new coronavirus infections. Source
  • Search for missing P.E.I. teens now a recovery operation, resumed at dawn

    Canada News CBC News
    With first light, fishermen in Northport, P.E.I., were getting geared up to head back onto the water to continue with the search for two missing teenagers. On Wednesday evening, three 17-year-olds went out boating near the West Prince community. Source
  • Toronto's Waterfront community seeing most new cases in the city

    Canada News CBC News
    A Toronto neighbourhood that houses a high proportion of people under age 40 is experiencing an increased spread of COVID-19 — coinciding with Ontario data that shows younger people have been driving the surge of new infections in the province in the last few weeks. Source
  • Taiwan scrambles air force as multiple Chinese jets buzz island

    World News CBC News
    Taiwan scrambled fighter jets on Friday as multiple Chinese aircraft buzzed the island, including crossing the sensitive mid-line of the Taiwan Strait, in an escalation of tensions the same day a senior U.S. official began meetings in Taipei. Earlier on Friday, China's Defence Ministry announced the start of combat drills near the Taiwan Strait, denouncing what it called collusion between the Chinese-claimed island and the United States. Source
  • Israel returns to virus lockdown as cases mount

    World News CTV News
    JERUSALEM -- Israel went back into a full lockdown on Friday to try to contain a coronavirus outbreak that has steadily worsened for months as its government has been plagued by indecision and infighting. The three-week lockdown, which began at 2 p.m. Source
  • Wetlands are burning: Worst fire season in a decade threatens Brazil's Pantanal

    World News CBC News
    The world's largest tropical wetland is not supposed to burn. And yet, Brazil's Pantanal is on fire. Thick smoke rises all around the village of Poconé as the wind whips it into little tornadoes. Fire crackles and races through the brush, jumping from forest to pasture to swamp. Source
  • White House pressure for more Iran sanctions is mainly serving to isolate U.S. from its allies

    World News CBC News
    This column is an opinion by Sam Khanlari, a Toronto-based writer and editor. For more information about CBC's Opinion section, please see the FAQ. The announcement of a nuclear accord between Iran and several world powers five years ago signalled the opening of a new chapter of relations between Tehran and the West. Source