The company offers road and highway construction, municipal and residential sewer, water and electrical installation, building site work, golf course construction and management, full service design and build landscaping, and highway and private snow removal.
With dedicated business and hands-on backgrounds in site preparation and road grading work, Harry MacLauchlan and Robert Dawson formed a business partnership in 1969.
In 1973, Blair MacLauchlan, Harry’s nephew, joined the company as Project Engineer. Two years later, Blair purchased Robert Dawson’s share of the company, and with his uncle, incorporated Island Coastal Services Ltd. Today, Blair is General Manager and President.
Island Coastal Services Ltd. has been behind the site preparation of countless schools, provincial office buildings, and hospitals on PEI. Awarded the contract for the operation and maintenance of Parks Canada’s Green Gables Golf Course, Island Coastal Services Ltd. expanded its expertise. The company also constructed and developed PEI’s Links at Crowbush Cove, voted “Best New Golf Course in Canada” by Golf Digest Magazine in 1994.
“A big part of the success of Island Coastal can be found in its people,” says Blair. “We try to not only meet the customer’s specifications, but we suggest improvements and try to do the job even better if we can. Everyone here is ‘hands on’ when it comes to a customer’s project.”
Product & services
- Road and highway construction
- Municipal and residential sewer water and electrical installation
- Building site work
- Golf course construction and management
- Full service design and build landscaping division
- Highway and private snow removal
About the staff
“At peak season, we have 250 to 300 people,” says Kent Poole, Operations Manager. “Employees range in age from university students all the way up to senior-aged staff from all areas of PEI.
“Staff turnover is quite low,” says Kent. “Many employees have been with the company for a long time. I have been with the company for 31 years. At our annual Christmas staff party we made presentations to three individuals who had 40 years of service with the company.
“Quite a few parent and children combinations work with us, and a large amount of our staff return year after year.
“Bilingualism is a benefit in some positions, primarily in our front line positions with our golf operations as they deal with the public,” says Kent.
“A number of employees are employed year-round in construction and snow removal, and many of those positions are permanent seasonal. Based on the seasonal nature of our economy, our construction, golf course and landscaping operations scale back in the winter.”
- Equipment Operators
- Truck Drivers
- Project Managers
- Pipe Installers
Golf Course Operations:
- Pro Shop Staff
- Golf Professionals
- Shop Assistants
- Landscape Designers
- Equipment Operators
- Landscape Foremen
Kent says Construction/Landscape employees can expect to work in all kinds of weather, from brutal cold to extreme heat. “Most of these jobs are physically demanding, and may involve lifting and working in dusty environments.”
Wages and benefits
“We feel our wages are competitive with the industry here on PEI,” says Kent. “In addition to competitive wages, we have a defined contribution pension plan and a broad group insurance plan that offers medical, dental and disability benefits. This plan is cost shared by Island Coastal and employees.”
“We encourage all potential employees to have as many certifications as possible when applying for work at Island Coastal Services Ltd., but that is not the only determining factor,” says Kent.
“Attitude and work ethic is key when working with the company. We are more than willing to hire and give an opportunity to an individual if they show a positive attitude and are willing to work hard and learn as they go.”
Company representatives sit on industry committees such as PEI Road Builders and the Construction Association of PEI. “The company and our Employee Association are involved in quite a few fundraising initiatives. Each year we contribute to charities with monies raised through employee dues and fundraising.
“Island Coastal is a proud sponsor of the annual Jack Frost Winter Festival and a regular contributor to the QEH and the Prince County Hospital.”
“Hiring is on-going throughout the year, especially on the operational side for equipment operators and labourers,” says Kent.
“Some positions are filled on an ongoing basis, but our biggest time of year for hiring is mid-April to May. We like to have some of our selection process completed during the winter so we can hit the ground running once the work starts up.
“Right now, Heavy Equipment Mechanics, Welders, and skilled Equipment Operators are the hardest positions to staff.
“We attract staff by offering a good place to work. Word-of-mouth, especially on PEI, is a valuable tool to get the word out when we look to fill vacancies in our workforce.”
Kent says they retain staff for the long-term by offering a fair competitive salary, a good benefit and pension package, and a chance to work on some of the most modern and up-to-date equipment in the construction industry on PEI. “By providing this atmosphere, employees remain content and will stay with a company for a long time.”
Best way to get your foot in the door
“The best way to get in the door is to submit a resumé by email, regular mail, or through our Facebook page or website,” says Kent.
“The resumé is your first introduction to us. List your previous work experiences, your skill sets, and the type of job you are applying for. A personalized resumé is a better introduction to the company than a generic resumé.
“Once a resumè is submitted, follow up with a phone call to further express your interest. You may not get an interview right away, but following up will show us that you are interested in joining the Island Coastal Team. With it being PEI, if you happen to know an existing employee of ours who can offer up a good word for you and your qualifications, that doesn’t hurt either.
“Even if there are no current vacancies, we constantly review applications looking for people who are a good fit for our company. If we find the right person, we will make sure that a position is there for them.”
Preparing for the interview
“Research the company before the interview, check our website and know what we do, and know about the products and services we offer.
“Based on the position applied for, some ability will have to be demonstrated. If you say you can run an excavator, you more than likely will have to show us you can run an excavator before you are hired.
“We try to acknowledge receipt of all resumés and applications. We encourage people who send in resumés to follow up with a phone call to reinforce their interest.
“Our big thing in the interview process is to determine the personal suitability of the candidate,” says Kent. “The ability to work as a team player and get along with coworkers to achieve a common goal is every bit as important to us as technical skills. It’s no good being the best operator around if no one wants to work with you.
“I know it is cliché, but I suggest that people just be themselves during the process,” says Kent.
“Tell us what you can do and how you think you can make a positive difference to Island Coastal. Let us know how your skills would make you a valuable member of the team.”
The interview usually involves Kent and one or two staff from the area applied for. Prior to the job offer, references are usually required. “It’s just another way to verify qualifications.
“Any employment offer comes with a letter of offer and a 90-day probation period,” says Kent. “Within that period, the new employee or the company can terminate the relationship if it is proving not suitable.
“The key to success on the job is providing the company with a good effort in everything required of you in your job. We look for people who care about the company and their coworkers, and who have that “do what it takes” attitude to get the job done successfully, safely, and on time.”
In-house training provided
“Mentorship is a big part of our corporate culture,” says Kent. “A big part of the role of our long-standing employees is to provide assistance and guidance to new employees to ensure that they are able to carry out their jobs as required.
“When available, ongoing continuing education is offered to help employees retain or gain certification or course work in areas that may be required.”
Kent started with the company after completing a course at Holland College. He started as a Payroll and Accounts Receivable Clerk, and worked his way up to Operations Manager.
“We are always looking at ways to reward employees who prove themselves as reliable, valuable and conscientious members of our team. Some of our employees who started as summer students cutting grass at our golf courses are now foremen on highway construction crews. The opportunities are endless. The only limiting factor is how much effort an employee wants to put into growing within the company.”
What is the work within your company going to look like in five years?
“It is hard to say exactly what the outlook will be,” says Kent. “We are optimistic that governments at all levels will be spending money on infrastructure to improve the lives of its citizens. We hope to be able to aid in that effort by building roads, installing sewer systems and other municipal improvements.
“Jobs will be adapting with new technology. Roads will still be made of sandstone, gravel and asphalt, but how they are made and the equipment used to make them will continue to evolve.
“In the future, we plan to sustain our present level of employment. We are always looking at new opportunities, and always looking for people to add to our team to improve the way we take advantage of those opportunities,” says Kent.
For more information about Island Coastal Services Ltd., contact Kent Poole, Operations Manager, at 902-892-1062. Visit www.islandcoastal.ca or search Facebook.