Modern Niagara is currently looking for new Estimators to join our growing team of talented professionals in Southwestern Ontario. As such, this seemed the perfect opportunity to reach out to Lane Campbell (Chief Estimator at Modern Niagara) and Anthony Tacconelli (Senior Estimator) to share their experiences about navigating the trades industry and working in Modern’s estimating department.
Lane Campbell first entered the trades as a teenager and found his way back to the industry after receiving an undergraduate degree from Carleton University.
“I started in the trades when I was about 16 years old and I completed my apprenticeship between ages 16 and 21, to become a Red Seal Journeyman,” Lane said. “Afterwards, I ended up getting a degree from Carleton in Sociology and Anthropology, but decided I wanted to do something different with my life, so I went back to the trades.”
Lane immediately began working at TESC Contracting Ltd., a Mechanical Contractor in Ottawa, and worked in the office before eventually coming across Modern Niagara.
“I took over the business here in Ottawa and ran it for about ten years,” Lane recalled. “Eventually, around 2012, Tony Sottile, who ran Modern at the time, asked me if I’d be interested in joining the company.”
He first came on board in the operations side as a manager of the industrial department. An opportunity eventually came up for Lane to move into more of a pursuits role, which is how he came to join the estimating department at Modern, where he still works to this day.
“I really liked the team that I was working with, so I stuck around and ended up becoming the Chief Estimator, which is where I have been working for the last two years,” Lane said. “There’s a great team of estimators that are with me here at Modern and we work on a range of projects in terms of size; we chase the smaller projects just as hard as the larger opportunities!”
On the other hand, Anthony Tacconelli joined the trades through a college program, which initially set him on a course to work in construction.
“I was enrolled in a construction management program at George Brown College and the route there was to work as a builder in the residential sector,” Anthony said. “However, when I began my co–op position at PCL, Modern Niagara happened to be on the site I was working on.”
Anthony became interested in the work Modern was doing and from there decided to apply to join the company’s estimating department.
“I just took an interest in the mechanical aspect of the project by working with Modern Niagara,” Anthony mentioned. “From there, I successfully applied to a junior estimating position at Modern and the rest is history!”
As of this coming May, Anthony will have been working at Modern for seven years. When asked what he enjoys most about estimating, Anthony highlighted the fast pace of estimating and the rush of having projects with quick turnaround dates.
“I enjoy the pressure that estimating brings; you have quotes coming at you left, right and centre, and you need to have high energy and good organizational skills,” Anthony mentioned. “I grew up playing a lot of sports, so when you near the end of a job, it’s that same kind of feeling you get on the day of a big game.”
Similarly, Lane also enjoys the type of work that is involved in estimating and the fast-moving nature of the projects his team manages.
“Part of the reason I chose to stay in estimating is that I like the fast-paced and working-to-a-deadline type of environment that our job necessitates, the estimation side is a lot more fast-paced than the operations side, which was more to my liking,” Lane said. “If you’re running a project you can do that for a number of years, but in estimating you don’t often on projects for more than a couple of months so you’re exposed to a lot more and there are higher turnover rates.”
Anthony also pointed out the estimating team’s crucial role in facilitating the work Modern does on our various projects.
“It’s kind of amazing to think that we do all the front-end work in a matter of weeks to prepare our field team to do the work for the next five years,” Anthony commented. “There are a lot of moving parts and it’s what I like about estimating.”
When asked about how the COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted his department, Anthony highlighted how the nature of estimating is far better suited to remote work.
“The transition from being in the office to being at home hasn’t been too difficult, all the tools we use at Modern for estimating, mainly the estimating software and excel, translate well to remote work and still operate the same,” Anthony mentioned. “As a very visually-oriented guy, the difficult thing has been not having the physical drawings or project plans in front of me, but that’s about it.”
While Lane agrees that the change to remote work did not greatly hinder the functionality of the estimating team at Modern, he reflected on the lack of interaction that the current circumstances force on all office employees.
“The work we do comes before an actual job, it takes place at the front end, so it’s been a relatively easy shift from office life to the home life and it doesn’t affect the actual work we do,” Lane mentioned. “However, I’m an estimator but my job is not to do the actual estimating, my job is to manage a team of 23 estimators, so the way this has affected us the most is the lack of daily interaction and collaboration you get in the office, that’s what is taking the most getting used to.”
For any newcomers to the trades, or anyone interested in pursuing a career in estimating, Lane emphasized the value of learning in the field and how important it is to gain on-site experience.
“I’m a big proponent of learning hands on; you can learn in school, through online courses, reading books, but working on the job is invaluable experience that I don’t see a lot of the estimators coming to the office with,” Lane affirmed. “I didn’t go to school for estimating, I learnt on the job and I believe that what I learned in the field as a journeyman is invaluable to what I’m doing now in the office.”
Lane is currently overseeing numerous projects in the estimating department, including the Queen Elizabeth Two Hospital in Halifax, the Mills Memorial Hospital in BC, as well as a number of small jobs. In addition, some of the projects Anthony is currently involved with are the Finch-West LRT project and the redevelopment at the University of Toronto’s Trinity College.
We’re looking for estimators to join our teams across Canada. Click here to see all of our current Estimation roles!