Corporate social responsibility

The Grand Forks flooding – a community in recovery

ROCKWOOL NA employer branding project, office, and employee photos at the Milton, Ontario head office for North America. Ryan Martin, Digital Marketing Manager, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs/ Relations.
Ryan Martin
21 June 2019

Supporting the neighbourhood rebuild with an insulation product donation program that helped over 100 homes across the community

ROCKWOOL bags on truck getting offloaded in Grand Forks

A history of strength and perseverance

Grand Forks, a city today of 4,050 residents in a valley within the interior of British Columbia and located at the joining of the Granby and Kettle Rivers has a rich history of perseverance. Dating back to its founding when gold and copper mining dominated the Boundary and Kootenay regions of BC within which the City is located, Grand Forks twice had its downtown core leveled due to fires.

ROCKWOOL (then ROXUL (West) Inc.) arrived in Grand Forks in November of 1999 with the purchase of the factory from Enertek Product International. The factory was formerly operated by Pacific Enercon Inc. and Bradford Insulation, two companies that had made investments into modern equipment over the years including an electric melter, and our arrival has resulted in further upgrades into the facility, growing our North American presence to service markets on the west coast.

The Grand Forks 2018 Flood

On May 10, 2018, residents of Grand Forks witnessed what was the outcome of a 100-year flood event.

Record snowfall during the winter of 2017-18 in western Canada led to 238 percent more snowpack in the mountains than during an average season. This was followed by a period of temperatures that exceeded 30°C in April and a rainy May with more than 60 mm of precipitation. The combination of these factors triggered melting conditions that put more pressure on both the Kettle and Granby Rivers than they could handle, which resulted in the most severe flooding in Grand Forks since 1948.

By the time the water reached its peak, 2,800 people were displaced from their homes in the Boundary Area, with 380 homes evacuated in Grand Forks including those of ROCKWOOL employees. 

This is an experience that will never be forgotten.

Grand Forks BC plant flooding of the city on May 10, 2018.

The most severe flooding in Grand Forks since 1948 displaced residents and shut down business and industry.

Grand Forks BC plant flooding of the city on May 10, 2018.

The most severe flooding in Grand Forks since 1948 displaced residents and shut down business and industry.

Grand Forks BC plant flooding of the city on May 10, 2018.

The Grand Forks, BC flood overwhelmed the Kettle River and Granby River causing evacuation of several parts of the city

Creating a united network of support

While the City Council acted quickly to authorize $60 million in support for flood-related buyouts, we went immediately into a state of full-fledged support for members of the community.

Production at the plant was stopped and members of our team worked with our employees on an individual basis to ensure they had the support they needed including lending pump equipment to those whose homes were impacted by the floods and supplying clean-up kits.

ROCKWOOL and its employees from across North America also came together to make significant donations to humanitarianism efforts such as the Red Cross British Columbia Floods Appeal, and the Boundary Food Bank which were heavily relied upon for those that were displaced by the Grand Forks flooding. However, we weren’t willing to stop there knowing too many residents were forced to have to rebuild their homes.

As part of the recovery efforts, ROCKWOOL initiated a corporate product donation program for a period of one year, beginning in early June of 2018. We worked with the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary and the City of Grand Forks to ensure that registered residential flood victims in the City of Grand Forks, rural Grand Forks, and Christina Lake could receive up to 20 bags per household of ROCKWOOL COMFORTBATT® stone wool insulation at no cost. In total, ROCKWOOL donated approximately 2,000 bags of insulation, helping in the rebuilding efforts in over 100 homes across the community.

What residents of Grand Forks were saying...

“Thank you so much for remembering us”.

“This is such an incredible thing ROCKWOOL is doing”.

“We are so proud to tell our friends that ROCKWOOL lives in our community”.

A long-term commitment to supporting the community

It was during the period of the Grand Forks flooding that we saw the community come together in remarkable ways, with courage, kindness, compassion and commitment. From the first responders and service organizations, to our employees, families and neighbours it was an example that the greatest resilience is often demonstrated by the people who make our communities a home.

Founded as a family business, ROCKWOOL has always been committed to strengthening the communities of which we are a part. Philanthropy and corporate citizenship are an integral part of our identity and we take great pride in giving back.

We’re proud to say that in 2019, we are celebrating our 20th anniversary in Grand Forks – an operation that has grown from 50 employees to the approximately 200 we have on staff today. As one of the larger employers and industries in town, ROCKWOOL contributes an estimated $12 million to the local economy annually between payroll, local economic activity via vendor and supplier business opportunities, and our community support. Our community support is done through contributions to major community events and programs, such as the Grand Forks International Baseball Tournament, Habitat for Humanity, local scholarships, and more.

Our purpose is to release the natural power of stone to enrich modern living and help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. We are inspired by that purpose every day and look forward to continuing to contribute in a positive and meaningful way to the people of Grand Forks, BC.

Giving back to our communities is part of our DNA and it’s especially important during times of adversity. The flooding had a profound impact on many, and the rebuilding felt like an overwhelming process. It’s important to know that others care. At ROCKWOOL, we do, and we are proud to have made a tangible difference.

Leslie McLaren

North American Manager, Corporate Communications & Stakeholder Relations, ROCKWOOL
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