Curran & Briggs Limited in Summerside specializes in road & highway construction, paving & grading roads, driveways & parking lots, commercial & residential site work, underground pipe & utilities, and project & land development. During the winter months, they provide commercial snow removal services.
“We work on projects from Charlottetown to Tignish,” says Brian Profitt, General Manager. “There are five partners in the business. We purchased the company nine years ago.”
Brian’s father started working with this company in 1962. “He was a licensed Diesel Mechanic and worked in the shop,” says Brian. “Then he became Foreman. I started working here when I was 14. I went to college to become a Survey Technician. I did surveying for a few years and then started doing project management.”
About the staff
In the winter, they have about 65 employees, and in the summer that number rises to about 120. “Many of our Foremen are Heavy Equipment Operators in the winter, so they work year-round. That is the key. If someone can have a year-round job, it means a lot.”
Depending on the jobs available, seasonal work can go from early May to mid-November. “Sometimes, we hire a few summer students, depending on the projects, but it is tough to lose them at the end of the summer when there is still work to do.
“We have one female on the asphalt and patching crew, and our scales person who weighs material out of the yards is female. A woman ran our asphalt plant for 25 years. Her father had worked here, and he brought her into the industry.”
Brian says the staff age range is from 20 to 70 years old. “We have many long-term employees, and some are considering retirement.”
Work this year
“We have successfully bid on some highway work for the province, and have bids in for water and sewer work,” says Brian. “There are quite a few tenders out there. It should be a good year of work.”
Work is competitive. “This year, they say there will be lots of infrastructure work, but sometimes there are four or five bidders on one job, and sometimes there is just a single bid. Sometimes a job requires us to start at a specified start date and we are busy at other work, so it can be a juggling act to made decisions as to what jobs to bid on.”
Wages and benefits
Labourers earn $14 to $17 per hour. Heavy Equipment Operators earn $16.50 to $19. Foreman earn more, and Superintendents more still. Year-round employees are eligible for health, dental, and pension plans.
- General Manager
- Vice President: runs Advanced Rentals in Summerside
- Senior Estimator & Estimating staff
- Heavy Equipment Operators
- Tractor Trailer and Tandem Truck Drivers
Jobs difficult to recruit
They find all jobs difficult to recruit. “We have had great success hiring people based on the recommendation of current staff, which is one of our top recruiting success methods. We have hired numerous people who have submitted resumès to the office.”
Brian says they pick out the best, give them a call, and some work out, some don’t. “Our work is about doing the best job we can do, and top quality is our reputation. For instance, we require our Labourers to be experienced and knowledgeable, but we do our own training as well.”
Labour work in construction includes such areas as pipework and assembling water mains and sewer mains. “They need to take care in doing the work as the pipe is pressure tested and sewer pipe is also tested for alignment. If they don’t meet all the requirements, we have to dig it back up, which costs money.
“We have been fortunate to attract good workers, and we hope to continue that, but it is always a concern to find enough workers. Things are changing in the labour market. There are not as many good old farm guys or gals who want to leave the farm and go into construction.
“We take younger people out of school, but some of them have not been exposed to a whole lot of labour and construction work. For some, it is a passion, and it is what they want to do.”
Brian says there will always be a need for people to do infrastructure work, whether it is water and sewer work or carpentry. “We will always need trades people and the trades are a good occupation to get into, and you can make a good living at it.”
“Each year, depending on the workload, we might hire six or eight Labourers,” says Brian. “By the first of May, we will be starting some projects and be in full force by the end of May, so we hope to have our hiring done by then.
“Many of our Truck Drivers return year after year. The odd time there may be a changeover, but many of our Drivers have been with us for years. There may be an opening if someone retires. As busy as we get, sometimes we look for extra staff.”
Qualifications and advancement
“We look for people with some experience, and who take an interest in their job and want to do it like they own it,” says Brian. “At the end of the day, we work for clients. We need to do each project to their expectations, and try to satisfy them the first time. We are only as good as our employees. If we have good employees, we will do decent work.
“Operators usually are hired with some experience. If they have some formal training, that is great, but when they get out in the real world digging for a pipe crew and working in traffic and around poles, that is when you see what an Operator can do.
“Some may come in as a Labourer, and we find they have a knack as an Operator. They don’t necessarily need the training course. If we see they have a knack for it, we don’t object to letting them move up.”
Training and mentoring
Brian says their Safety Coordinator puts new hires through safety policies because it is all about everyone working safely. On the job, they are shown what to do by an experienced person.
“For instance, a new Truck Driver has usually been recommended by someone else, so we need a copy of the driver’s license and driver’s abstract. When we hire a new Driver, we send them out with one of our experienced Drivers first.”
The interview process varies, depending on the job. “People get a call, come in and have a chat. The Superintendants usually do the interviewing. If a Foreman knows someone and is willing to vouch for them, he will hire that person.
“We are happy to accept resumés from interested applicants. Very seldom are jobs posted on the Job Bank.”
Brian says they have expanded in the last number of years. “Twenty years ago, we acquired a company in the west, and we bought another construction company five years ago, so we are always looking for opportunities. The market is only so big, and we don’t anticipate expanding off-Island.”
For more information about job opportunities, drop in to the location.