Heritage Centre Offers New Services, Restructures Management


The Heritage Centre's new executive team: Rob Manchulenko, Steve Neufeld, and Wes Hildebrand Brenda Sawatzky

Never in the history of Niverville has a dream grown and evolved more than the Niverville Heritage Centre campus. Since its humble beginnings as a banquet centre in 2000, this community-funded facility has morphed and spread out over a full ten acres to become what it is today: a complete aging-in-place campus, restaurant, medical centre, and daycare.

More change is on the horizon. The medical centre’s move to its brand-new facility has freed up pockets of space in the original building. Renovations are also well underway on the area once occupied by the medical lab.

“The plan here is to develop an incubator, economic-type of an environment where if there are people who have home-based businesses that want to grow, they can rent office space,” says Steve Neufeld, Chief Officer for Community and Development. “We can provide internal telephone service, internet, and support, like reception, faxing, and printing, to help nurture their growth.”

Neufeld envisions the roomy offices being utilized by accountants, consultants, counsellors, and the like. The option of opening up the spaces to independent businesses, he says, is Plan A. Plan B, should the opportunity arise, would be to rent the whole space to a single business entity. 

The second-floor area once occupied by Chris and Mairi Burnett’s medical clinic has been transformed into office spaces for the administrative team of the regional health authority. 

Another wall has been removed to create a 600-square-foot community classroom, an idea Neufeld is especially proud of. This large meeting space can easily accommodate 15 to 20 people around tables. White boards line one wall and projectors are available for rent. Neufeld anticipates this classroom will be well-utilized by local organizations for planning and brainstorming sessions, by businesses for training seminars, and community groups for regular meetings. 

A series of other second-floor offices now provide a consolidated space for the  Heritage Centre’s executive team. Prior to this move, they were spread throughout the facility, some in the PCH and others in the Niverville Credit Union Manor, conceivably in every available nook and cranny. 

Plans are moving forward for the inclusion of a visitor centre to honour the community and its vast history. Alcoves along one wall will provide areas for large-scale historical displays. The Heritage Centre has already acquired models of Niverville’s original church and grain elevator. The actual piano which once belonged to the town’s first community hall in the 1920s also resides here. Future plans include adding a touchscreen monitor that will allow visitors to scan through a collection of photos taken of the community over the decades.

Restructuring the Management
The building isn’t the only aspect of the Heritage Centre to see significant transformation this year. The previous leadership model—with a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Vice President, and variety of department heads—has been restructured to form an executive team, with everyone on the same level of leadership but each carrying out different management roles based on their strengths. 

Neufeld, once CEO of the entire facility, now manages only aspects of it under the title of Chief Officer for Community and Development. His new role has him overseeing the management of the PCH, business development, the volunteer program, and fundraising. He also acts as a liaison between the community, government, and regional health authority.

“If you make and sell windows, you can hire a person to do that,” says Neufeld. “But we’re so diversified here. As the former CEO, I am very supportive of this. I’m excited because it will free me up to do some of the leadership consultation with other communities, developing housing and health services. Honestly, we are going to make Niverville a destination for wellness at some point and we can accommodate those efforts through a new organizational structure.” 

Rob Manchulenko is the second of the three-person executive team, acting as Chief Officer of Hospitality and Support Services. He will be responsible for the event centre, restaurant, food services, maintenance, and housekeeping. 

Finally, Wes Hildebrand rounds off the trio as Chief Officer for Finance and Human Resources. In these capacities, he’ll oversee the majority of the centre along with client services at the Niverville Credit Union Manor.

“We’ve got over 200 employees and now we have a focused human resource team,” says Neufeld. “Revenues are up there in the millions of dollars. And even though it’s very, very tight, you need to have focused financial [planning].”

Neufeld says these changes came about after he and the board members of Niverville Heritage Holdings Inc. (NHHI) engaged in a strategic planning exercise last year to identify its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. A survey was sent out to approximately 70 stakeholders, including Heritage Centre staff, Southern Health officials, town council members, and a variety of previous donors.

This led to the creation of a strategic compass, a four-directional guide to where the HCC will go into the future. These new directions include the pursuit of social enterprise, the development of a strong team, building a strong community, and providing vision and leadership. 

“We weren’t doing a good job, for example, of communicating back to the community some of the things that were happening [here],” says Neufeld. “So now we have it on our strategic compass and this is a very strong commitment that we are making to [our community].”

Having worked in a variety of positions at the Heritage Centre since 2001, Neufeld has learned a thing or two about the vision and hard work it takes to make a dream like this a reality. He has since taken on a consulting role for other communities wishing to model Niverville’s unique facility, providing yet another income stream to sustain the whole campus.

“Increasingly, we are being provided with opportunities to do consulting work with other communities,” Neufeld says. “For example, Dominion City built a home called Abbeyfield House and they’ve engaged us in a management contract where we can provide advice on menu planning, preventative maintenance, accounting, payroll, marketing, etc. There’s so many things we’ve learned about running [this kind of a] facility.”

“If anyone ever asks, ‘Who is the Niverville Heritage Centre?’, it is the people,” says Gord Daman, spokesperson for NHHI. He says it’s the seniors who get to stay in the community, the young people who get their first job here, one of the hundreds that are employed here, and everyone who enjoys its many services day in and day out.

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