Canadian Design and Construction Report is honoring some of the many family-owned and operated construction companies and multi-generational families working in the skilled trades across the province. What these families bring to the table is demonstrated success through a unique commitment and a focus on ensuring longevity for future generations. Here’s the Coldwell family’s story:
Tim Coldwell grew up surrounded by family members in the trades. His grandfather was a Navy electronics tech, his father a journeyman auto body mechanic and his aunt a hairdresser. Seeing family members in these careers normalized them and resulted in his sister and brother becoming a chef and a framer, respectively. Tim, in fact, jokes perhaps a family working with their hands is part of their DNA given the long history of Mohawk steel erectors.
Coming from a multi-generational trades background, Tim’s father instilled that you can learn to do anything by seeing, reading, doing and practicing. “There wasn’t anything we could not figure out and the result is empowering. Whether it is working on a car or fixing something in your own home, you take those honed and transferable skills into the workplace. It results in personal ownership and a commitment to doing the best work you can.”
Angela was a teacher who grew up and taught primarily in rural Alberta. She came to an understanding and appreciation of trades during her teaching career after realizing that many students want to create and work with their hands instead of spending more years in a college or university classroom. Apprenticeship offers a solid career path, real world learning, and the opportunity for entrepreneurship. However, there are many negative biases held by the general public. She founded the non-profit, Honour the Work, to centralize national resources, tell stories of skilled trades professionals, and create an elementary program to encourage more Canadians to consider pursuing a trade.
“The skilled trades are intellectually, physically, professionally, and financially stimulating work,” Angela said. “We hear countless stories of individuals who take family members back to revisit work they have completed, sharing their tangible contributions to their community. It is often overlooked that these careers require math, science, and artistic skills which result in quality craftsmanship. They are STEM careers.”
Those who pursue careers in skilled trades often have the benefit of a familial influence. “We have met so many in the industry who can trace the trades back generations. It may be dad was a welder, and then his daughter becomes a welder and hers follows suit,” Angela said.
Interest in the trades can come from many sources. Growing up in a home where tool use is common, visiting a job site with a parent, role models in the community, or positive encouragement from a school tech teacher are key in connecting students to a rewarding skilled trades career path.
Those who make their way to skilled trades become members of companies that build communities and work towards the clean energy transition.
“Where small businesses become family businesses and grow into larger companies employing dozens or hundreds of people, part of the magic is that they keep those family values,” Angela said. “They maintain that personal commitment that made them what they are.”
This is part two of our series on Family in Construction. If you are interested in sponsoring an upcoming issue or featuring your family, contact Chase by email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 905-341-8686