On October 4th, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jim Burgess of Keith Plumbing and Heating at the VRCA Awards of Excellence Silver Awards reception. Keith Plumbing received the Mechanical Contractor Silver Award for Projects Over $8 Million for their outstanding contribution to the North Island Hospital project as well as a Silver Award for Mechanical Contractors – Up to $3 Million for the Surrey Bio-Fuel Processing Facility.

When asked about the most daunting challenge currently facing industry, Jim emphatically described the difficulty faced with locating qualified workers and skilled tradespersons. “It’s difficult to find good people and by good people I mean trained, educated, qualified people.” Jim believes a key issue is how the trades and industry is represented. “Construction is not something you do when you can’t find anything else or can’t get into university. It is an excellent career that pays well, and we (industry) need to do more to communicate with youth, especially at the K-12 level”. Interaction with young minds, teachers and parents provides an opportunity to discuss the varied aspects of a potential career and provides industry leaders like Keith Plumbing and Heating a mechanism to discuss the technical and experiential aspects of the role. “We need supervisors, designers, architects, engineers now and going forward to be leaders”. Jim thanked VRCA for their support and suggested the association work more closely with members to create and nurture relationships with training providers to help student’s to “know what they don’t know”.

Jim was quick to express his gratitude and pride in receiving the Silver Award. “We work hard to get this recognition”, he states. “It’s about the satisfaction of a job well done, the celebration of an accomplishment personally, from your team and by your peers. It’s like the Academy Awards. It’s an honor simply to be nominated!”

First founded in 1911, Keith Plumbing & Heating Ltd. has grown from a residential plumbing contractor to one of the largest mechanical contractors in Western Canada. As part of the Modern Niagara Group of Companies, Keith Plumbing & Heating Ltd. specialized in institutional, commercial, and light industrial projects and has completed some of the most substantial construction projects in British Columbia.