About 140 staff at Valley Fiber (VF), a Winkler-based internet service provider, are sharing a single office space in Southland Mall. Three of the company's Winkler offices have merged in the new location, bringing together its sales, marketing, and call centers.

After launching in Winkler with only 15 staff in 2017, the company now employs more than 380 people, with offices scattered across Manitoba, including Winkler, Winnipeg, Lockport, and Steinbach.

"As we grow, we can't do truck rolls to do installs and service and sales out of Winkler because that just doesn't make sense," explained Conley Kehler, co-founder and Executive Director of Partnerships. "As we grow, we need to become more regionalized. That's been the explosive growth of Valley Fiber. And not just offices. We're opening relationships with businesses. We're not just a community-minded corporation in the Pembina Valley. We have become a regional, almost a provincial, entity."

Rapid expansion has made it challenging for the company to stay connected to the community where it all began.

"That's one of our struggles," admits Kehler. "Explosive growth means lots of 'cash out.' We have to balance [that] with how we put money into the community. There is no shortage of requests that come knocking on our door. It's easier to stay connected locally. We do have to look at what that looks like regionally because we do expand and have to figure out where our market is and how it increases sales. After all, we have to do those things too. With 160 staff in the Pembina Valley out of a total of 380, obviously, we've expanded that to other communities. But our core business is still Winkler and the Pembina Valley."

That local commitment is evident in the company's decision to lease space at the Southland Mall. 

"We had three separate offices where we had sales, marketing, call center - all in different locations," explains Kehler. "The collaboration of those groups, which you have to have, wasn't easy."

Valley Fiber office at Southland Mall

Currently, the company's main office is located on Highway 14.

"We thought that was going to be a big enough office for the future, or at least, the very immediate future. It ended up being about 10 days of being an office size that's going to work for us."

VF has been in discussion with the mall for quite a while, said Kehler.

"Obviously, something has come to fruition where we've been able to take three offices and convert it into one. If you go to the east side of Southland Mall you will see a parking lot full of Valley Fiber vehicles."

The company will retain use of the main building on Highway 14 and two buildings in the industrial park where production staff work. 

~With files from Pam Fedack~