Valley Fiber (VF), a Winkler-based technology firm, is in the midst of constructing the Manitoba Fiber Build Project, an infrastructure investment of $328M involving over sixty municipalities, cities, and towns in rural areas of the province.

Conley Kehler, VF Senior Vice President, says after tough slogging at the start of the season and into summer, they are hoping a long fall can get the project back on track.

"We're currently completing installs in [the municipalities of] Rhineland, Stanley, Dufferin and Morris to name a few with the Manitoba Fiber Project. And Valley Fiber already servicing these communities we were excited to bring additional monies - millions of dollars - to bring more fiber to some very remote regions in our area that are going to grow because fiber is now in those communities. Our install teams are working in all of our live communities south of Highway #1."

At the same time, the company is bringing fiber to existing tower infrastructure to enhance its fixed wireless division (VISP). Another dozen new towers will be erected this fall throughout its fiber build. 

The company's customer base is expanding with the addition of households east of the Red River. It also maintains a presence in Steinbach.

"We have a big swath and we continue to grow."

VF is unique among internet service providers, points out Kehler, in that they do not experience a slow season. 

"Everything we do is a conduit in the ground so we can push fiber to customers year-round."

He adds that one of the most valuable assets they can offer current and potential customers is a diverse and dedicated staff.

"They are true believers in the product that we're bringing. They're true believers in trying to enhance our technology and our product on a daily basis. Our goal was to bring the best broadband to our family, friends and neighbours. On a daily basis, we watch our team care deeply for customers, make adjustments to our product, and bring efficiencies to our systems and the ideas keep coming from all of our staff. We're extremely proud of that."

When Kehler joined the company's fiber operations five years ago they had fifteen staff working out a garage. Today, VF employs over three-hundred workers spread out in five buildings throughout Winkler and beyond. 

"I love to tell people that I have staff from the Federated States of Micronesia, but equally as proud [of those from] Ukraine, and then Horndean, Morris and Hochfeld; people that have found tech jobs here in the Pembina Valley."

Since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, VF has offered free calls to that country allowing Manitobans to connect with friends and family in central Europe. 

The highly innovative tech company also partners Regional Connections, high schools and colleges in the region, with the aim of "offering opportunities for students that could potentially leave our small towns." 

Kehler is deeply proud of the blazing internet speed they bring to customers across southern Manitoba, especially during the pandemic. 

"I don't think we really understand the impact and benefit for our communities: students, teachers, businesses trying to navigate the six-foot distance and all that came with that. We've brought the opportunity for students to learn from home. Efficiencies with remote meetings have made a huge difference for many people. I wonder what that would've been like without a good broadband solution in a lot of these homes.

The company will unveil several surprises this fall, including the launch of a new service called TV Everywhere and an update to its phone service.  

"We're learning and growing in ways that we didn't ever think were going to happen. Every day is a surprise."

Listen to the full story with Kehler and Reporter Robyn Wiebe here: