Industry Member Spotlight: Enbridge

This article appeared in the March/April 2022 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.

Enbridge is a well-known multinational company — but, in Michigan, its pivotal role in providing the energy that powers manufacturing as well as homes, businesses and transportation, is behind the scenes.

Enbridge operates North America’s most expansive network of crude oil and natural gas liquids transportation systems. Although they’re headquartered in Canada and Houston, Texas, and have thousands of employees all over North America, they employ more than 100 people right here in Michigan, including Bob Lehto, Enbridge Operations Manager for the Northern Michigan Area.

Lehto grew up in the Eastern Upper Peninsula’s village of Newberry and describes himself as a boomerang Yooper.

One Thing I Can’t Live Without

As our slogan indicates — Life Takes Energy! Personal energy for life, and the energy our company provides for making nearly everything in modern life possible.

How People Describe Me

I hope my colleagues, and everyone I work with, see me as genuine and steady. This is particularly important to me as I work to embody Enbridge’s culture of safety, integrity, respect and inclusion — values I try my best to model at work and outside of work.  

After graduating from Lake Superior State University, he worked as an Environmental Specialist for the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, where his love of the outdoors and concern for the environment inspired him to continue his education in Ann Arbor. There, he studied environmental health sciences, industrial hygiene and hazardous substances. His career in the petroleum industry then led him away from Michigan for a few years before returning to his home state.

“I’m thrilled to be back in the U.P., living in Escanaba and over-
seeing Enbridge’s safe and reliable operation in Northern Michigan and the Great Lakes region,” says Lehto. “That’s one of the great things about Enbridge. Due to the nature of our business, we provide employment opportunities throughout the state, even in the outer regions.”

Enbridge is the backbone to supplying vital fuels throughout the state. The fuels they transport are used in a variety of industries, processes and products — the uses are nearly endless. They maintain and operate six pipelines that span Michigan and provide a variety of feedstock fuels to the region’s refineries that transform them for use. Along with crude oil, Enbridge pipelines move natural gas to utilities for electricity and to distributors who provide it to consumers and businesses.

One Skill Everyone Should Have

Communication and listening skills. The ability to respectfully listen to and truly hear others, and also to clearly and thoughtfully express thoughts and ideas are valuable skills today. 

How We Innovate

From our leak detection systems on our pipelines to the development of renewables and green power, we are constantly raising the bar on how to safely and reliably deliver the energy people want and need.

Enbridge’s Line 5, the pipeline that moves light and synthetic crude oil, along with natural gas liquids from Superior, Wisconsin, across the U.P. before crossing the Straits of Mackinac to continue on down through the lower peninsula to Southeast Michigan and Ontario — is also especially important to residents of the Upper Peninsula, where it supplies 65 percent of propane demand. Line 5 ensures that 55 percent of Michigan’s statewide propane needs are met.

“Petrochemicals become feedstock needed for more than 6,000 products, everything from cars to deodorant, dishwashing liquid, crayons, tires, kayaks, phones, computers and medical equipment,” says Lehto.

Those same fuels will also support the bustling Electric Vehicle (EV) market. It seems that fully electric vehicles will one day dominate the roads but petrochemicals will still be required to manufacture many of their parts.

Best Part of My Job

The people I work with. We truly have an amazing team here at Enbridge that is second to none and who are laser-focused on our promise to safely and reliably deliver the energy industry and citizens need.

The Best Advice I Ever Got

Early on I had a coach tell me, “First, be your best. Then you can be first.” So I’ve always tried to approach life from the perspective of doing and being my best, and knowing that the rest will take care of itself.

Enbridge’s employees are spread throughout the state, and they have a strong commitment to their communities.

Lehto says his personal favorite cause among Enbridge’s community involvement is 906 Adventure Team, which helps kids throughout the Upper Peninsula grow to love bikes and nature with after-school mountain bike clubs, family rides and more. Lehto is involved on the corporate side as well as volunteering during his spare time.

“We get kids out in the outdoors, exercising and, most importantly, away from their screens,” says Lehto. “Enbridge’s value is in keeping families, businesses and communities moving forward — strong, safe and secure.”

Whether it’s supplying vital fuels for residential and commercial purposes or engaging and supporting their local communities, Enbridge is one of those companies many Michiganders rely on daily without ever realizing it.

MMA LogoEnbridge is an MMA Industry Member and has been an MMA member company since March 2017. Visit online: