Employee Spotlight: Labour Managers

Our Labour Managers play a crucial role in the day-to-day operations of Modern Niagara’s business, as well as promoting a positive, productive, and safe culture among our field staff. To highlight the work of these dedicated individuals, we reached out to Ken Richmond and Dave Ross, two Labour Managers at Modern Niagara Alberta, who spoke to us about the nature of their work and their important contributions to the company. 

After working for a construction company for 13 years, Ken was approached by Modern in 2014 to help start the new Edmonton branch. 

“I was essentially employee number one for Modern’s Edmonton branch, and then Bob Smith joined a couple of months later,” Ken mentioned. “The two of us helped bring the office from our basements to our current office and shop today.” 

Ken has been working with Modern for seven years, initially operating as a General Superintendent for the Edmonton branch before moving into his current position as a Labour Manager. 

“The Labour Manager position is quite unique to Modern Niagara, as it morphs the attributes of a lot of different positions into one,” Ken commented. “It combines the day-to-day activities of managing projects with the overall path of the company and the branch.” 

Dave had spent 20 years in the industry before joining Modern in February 2019. Dave also spoke to the importance that Modern Niagara places on the Labour Manager position. 

“There were positions in the company I was at previously where someone was in charge of our workforce, but I think Modern takes that a step further,” Dave commented. “You’re not just in charge of making sure that sites are staffed with people that can do the work. At Modern, we’re interested in developing the individual, providing training that they might not otherwise get.” 

Ken also added that the Labour Managers work with the Estimating Department, the Project Management team, and the leadership team at Modern, aiming to bridge the gap between both the field and management teams.

Two Modern Niagara employees walk down hallway in project site

Ken Richmond and Dave Ross on a project site

“One of the benefits of the Labour Manager position is that our role bridges the gap between the field and the office, and it also allows us to mentor people in the field,” Ken mentioned. “The functions of our role are manifold, but our main focus is people, ensuring we have the right people in the right spots as well as making sure we’re doing the construction in the most efficient and safe way.” 

The Labour Managers at Modern have two primary responsibilities: looking after all of our hiring needs in the field, as well as coaching, training, and mentoring our forepeople and field staff. When asked about the benefits the Labour Manager role brings to a construction company, Ken pointed to the focus on growing and developing our tradespeople as well as fostering a productive and safe work culture. 

“I think our position is extremely beneficial to Modern Niagara because essentially our job as Labour Managers is to help our work culture become more productive, efficient, and safe,” Ken affirmed. “Some key aspects of our role include finding the right people, retaining the right people, and mentoring our team so that we can continue to grow and excel.” 

Dave also highlighted mentorship as an important aspect of the Labour Manager position at Modern. 

“I don’t want to just make sure that you’re good at your particular trade, I want to make sure you’re improving in all the aspects of construction because that growth and development can translate over to personal life as well,” Dave mentioned. “It’s my job to ensure that you are happy here, satisfied with the work you’re doing and that we can get the most out of your skills as well as help you develop those skills, and you probably don’t see that at a lot of other companies.” 

Dave also believes that the focus of Labour Managers on the tradespeople and our field staff is crucial for building relationships that last long after a project has been completed. 

“One of the key benefits is the relationship you can develop with the people in the field,” Dave said. “Whether they work directly for you or were working for them as clients, you can get out there and make personal connections with those people and build relationships for tomorrow.” 

In line with the people-focused nature of Labour Management, Ken has also been trying to encourage greater diversity into Modern Niagara Alberta’s field teams through his position. 

“We are really trying to add diversity into our teams as well,” Ken added. “Trying to encourage more diversity in our people and culture, and therefore in our overall brand, is one of the big things I’m working on.”  

Ken also highlighted some of the many things he enjoys about working with Modern Niagara, including Modern’s commitment to innovation and collaboration amongst both our teams and leadership. 

“One thing, which I didn’t really find until I started with Modern, is the trust that is given to us by our company leaders and how open they are to new ideas and new ways of doing things,” Ken affirmed. “We are always trying to do better and improve as a company, not just in terms of how we can provide a specific service, but how can we be better in our communities and serve our clients better.” 

Dave also appreciates the company’s focus on collaboration as well as the scale of projects undertaken by Modern.  

“I like the presence Modern has in the industry. It has allowed me to work on some projects I probably wouldn’t have otherwise been a part of,” Dave said. “I also like the collaboration that they have, the willingness to put heads together and get people’s input and help one another out.”  

When asked what advice he would give to new or prospective tradespeople, Dave believes it is crucial to enter the industry with an openness to teaching and mentorship. 

“Be sure to approach everything with a humble attitude and be willing to learn – that will take you very far!” Dave said. 

Ken also highlighted the importance of tradespeople identifying their own goals and advocating for themselves, especially in an industry with as many paths and directions as construction. 

“In this industry, the sky is the limit, so look at the long-term goals you are trying or hoping to accomplish and be forthcoming about what you want out of this as well,” Ken affirmed. “At Modern, there are so many career paths and opportunities, there really is a path for each and every person who wants to be involved in the industry!” 

At Modern Niagara, our Labour Managers are responsible for building and growing our field teams. If you are interested in joining our team as a skilled tradesperson, developing your career with a dynamic and growth-oriented company, click here to learn more!