H.F. Stewart, in West Point, PEI manufactures potato handling equipment, including live bottom bulk boxes, conveyors, and more.
“Each Lays potato chip made in Atlantic Canada has come across van trailer inserts manufactured at our company,” says
Zach Stewart, Business Development Manager in charge of marketing, HR, and production. “Our inserts are in all their trucks.”
The company also does repairs for the agriculture and fishing industry and carries parts for the agriculture, fishing, and construction industries. Two years ago, a 7,000 square foot expansion to the facility was added.
“There are 14 full-time year-round staff members, and the company expects to increase its workforce to 20 by the end of 2020,” says Zach. “The average age of the employees is 41. Some staff have been with the company since we opened our doors 30 years ago.
“We have many workers in their 50s and 60s, and a few in their 20s,” he says. “You would think this huge generation gap would be problematic, but we get along very well. It’s a family environment. Staff members take pride in seeing customers happy with the finished product. They get a great sense of satisfaction from their work. Our motto is Quality – Innovation – Pride.”
Four positions just became available with this company: Labourer, Draftsperson, Painter/Sandblaster, and Plasma Table Operator.
“We are also always on the lookout for an Engineer and a Drafting Technician.
“When people think of the manufacturing industry, they typically think of welding and labourer jobs.
“A lot of skilled positions are also available, such as a Machinist who does highly-skilled precision cutting work.”
Addressing shortage of Welders
He notes the most difficult job to fill is Welder. “Not many young people seem to be jumping into this career in recent years. It is hard to find an experienced Welder because most of them go out West and make more money.
“However, the recession in Alberta means wages are almost the same there as they are on PEI.”
In the past year, H.F. Stewart has changed its approach to training methods in order to recruit and retain skilled Welders.
“We are working with the Holland College West Prince Campus Welding program.
“Last year, we took on one student for on-the-job training, and he worked out great, so we hired him on full-time,” Zach says.
“When the new Welding class toured our facility recently, 11 out of 13 students wanted to know if they could do an OJT with us.”
The company plans to take on two or three OJT students next year. “When a new employee or student comes to work with us, we pair them up with a senior employee.
“We start them on repairs and smaller basic manufacturing work before they move on to more advanced projects.”
He notes that the company wants to see its apprentices get their block release and Red Seal and work to advance in their careers.
How to apply
H.F. Stewart posts open positions on WorkPEI, the Career Development Services online Job Board, Indeed, and its own website. “We have found social media works well for referrals.
“When hiring, I look for punctuality, a positive attitude, and willingness to learn,” Zach says. “We can teach welding and machining but
we can’t teach wanting to be at work and enjoying it.”
Zach says wages are competitive. Benefits include a medical and dental plan and RRSP contributions. “We also offer a work boot allowance, workplace coveralls program, and advancement in the Apprenticeship program.”
For more information on the Holland College Welding program, visit www.hollandcollege.com/programs/Welding-Fabrication.html.