“In construction, all skills are hard to find right now, because everyone already has a job,” says Scott Gosson, co-owner of Leading Edge Group, a construction company that offers new builds, renovations, and design services across PEI. “If we find the right person, we will try to find them a role.”
Scott handles business development for the company, and co-owner Mark Jennings is the Construction Manager. There are three divisions under the Leading Edge Group banner:
- Leading Edge Homes specializes in new custom home builds.
- MRJ Construction has years of experience with residential and commercial renovations.
- Edge Design & Management Studio can take clients from initial concepts of a project to completion of the build.
Leading Edge Group works on projects year-round. “The construction industry has changed from 20 years ago when companies used to lay people off for the winter,” says Scott. “Now, in the colder months, we keep our workers busy inside with renovations. This winter has been fantastic for building, so it has worked out really well.
“We feel we owe it to our employees to keep them on all year and give them steady employment. We want to keep them and give them more of a career than just a job. During the last four or five years, we have not had to lay anyone off due to things slowing down.”
They currently employ 13 people, including Project Managers, Project Foreman, Carpenters, Labourers, and a Delivery Driver.
“We build 15 to 20 houses per year, so we need a lot of crews running at once. We use technology to help us. A computerized building project management system helps us manage the jobs and set up schedules and invoices. The system is interactive, so customers can also add their input.”
“Last year, we had a couple of students from the Holland College Construction Technician and Carpentry programs who were working through the apprenticeship program,” says Scott. “We have another person from a Construction Association of PEI program to do on-site learning. SkillsPEI helped out with hiring some of those people.
“Labourers are not as hard to find, but a good Carpenter or even sub-trades like Framers and Foundation teams can be hard to find, and you have to book them very early. Last year, it was hard to get Siding Installers to take on our work.
“We are always looking for Carpenters or people with carpentry skills who are a jack of all trades with framing, seam filling, and hanging gyprock. Those skills are hard to find in one person.
“In the summer of 2021, we will probably hire one student to help with cleanup, who will be working with the Driver.
“We may also look for a Designer who can work with customers to develop a house plan. Those skills are also hard to find. Up until now, my partner and I have been doing that role, but it is getting quite busy. If the right person comes along, we could invest in that area.
“The Designer needs to be well organized, have a good memory, and be fast. Ideally, they have taken the Holland College Architectural Technology or Construction Technology program. If they have five or more years of experience in designing houses, the education background is not necessary.
“For all roles, we look for people who are well organized and reliable. A carpentry background from Holland College is great, but if someone has been working in the carpentry field for a few years and has figured out how to do things, that is fine too.”
The effect of COVID-19 restrictions
“Originally, back in March 2020, COVID-19 restrictions did affect us,” says Scott. By summer, when new building permits were issued again, things were going full-tilt. COVID-19 has not affected us at all since then, except that we are making sure that things are cleaned and that masks are worn on site. That is just part of life now.”
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