Donald Richards, Cam MacPhee, and Jamie Thompson decided to start their own company to create year-round employment for themselves and others.
JD Marine and Diving Inc. was established in May 2018 and is based out of Montague. The number of staff quickly grew to nine full-time and two part time employees, along with the three owners.
The company focuses on commercial diving and marine construction. They also offer surface construction, including maintaining, repairing, and constructing structures such as wharves, bridges, and floating docks, underwater cables and pipes, search, rescue, and recovery, underwater welding and burning, mobile welding services, underwater and above water inspection, and working in a contaminated environment.
Community support to start the business
To get the business started, they took their idea to Community Business Development Corporation (CBDC) located at the Rural Action Center in Montague. They met with Martina MacDonald, Executive Director, and Helen Antle, Business Development Loans Officer.
CBDCs are not-for-profit organizations that work to improve the economic viability of their region. They offer a variety of loan products and services to help entrepreneurs succeed.
“Martina and Helen guided us through all of the steps to starting the company,” says Donald. “They are still helping us with business-related information.”
“CBDC judged our loan capabilities based on our character, multiple skill sets, and our passion for what we do, because that’s all we had to offer starting out,” says Cam.
“Martina and Helen connected us with Innovation PEI and SkillsPEI. We were eligible for the Self Employ PEI program through SkillsPEI, which was crucial to starting the business. We were also able to access incentives from Innovation PEI for equipment and website development.”
Other resources to help start the business:
- They hired a local web designer to create the company website.
- They took the Successful Business Basics course offered at CBDC and hired a bookkeeper.
- They hired Cathy Rose, HR Specialist, CPHR MBA, to help develop a business plan.
- Certified Unrestricted Surface-Supplied Diver (DCBC)
- Construction Labourer
- Commercial Diver
- Commercial Divers: starting wage is $24 to $27/hr
- Surface Construction Workers: starting wage is $18 to $25/hr
- Entry Level Positions: starting wage is $18 to $20/hr
Future hiring needs
“We are searching for new property in the Three Rivers area, and we should be settled in a much larger facility within a year,” says Cam. “With the expansion, I see the potential to hire more construction labourers and commercial divers. We will be looking for employees who can multi-task and have welding and carpentry skills.
“We are willing to offer apprenticeship training in trades relating to the marine and construction industries. Finding skilled labourers is our priority, and we are willing to train the right candidates who are willing to learn and work as a team.”
“We hire mostly through word-of-mouth. To stand out during the hiring process, you should have a detailed resumé of past work experience and a list of the transferrable skills you could bring to the company,” says Donald. “We hire people with skills developed working in industries such as farming or trades.
“We need team players who are willing to do multiple jobs relating to the marine and construction industries,” says Cam. “You could be pouring concrete one day and underwater diving the next day.
“It’s full-time employment and our work is project-based. Winter is the busiest time of year. Working conditions are physically demanding, and staff must be willing to travel to off-Island worksites.”
Best way to get your foot in the door
“Stop by for a chat, and we will do an informal interview,” says Cam. “It shows initiative, and it’s more personal. I will remember the person when hiring.
“There is a demand on PEI for commercial divers and for construction labourers,” says Donald. “There will always be employment in marine infrastructure, and the demand will grow as the present workforce retires.”