At Modern Niagara, we have a rich history of working on residential high-rises in the Ottawa region. As we continue to grow our team of experienced professionals for upcoming projects, it seemed the perfect opportunity to introduce one of our Sheet Metal Foremen, Scott Lafontaine, who shared with us his story on how he began his career as well as his work with Modern.
Scott’s introduction to the trades world began with his friends. Scott saw how his connections in the trades, most of whom were older than he was, were able to be financially secure while they do their training. With encouragement from his family and friends, Scott was able to get a non-union sheet metal job in 2010, when he was 18 years old.
“I started working in my first year, straight out of high school, as green as you can get,” Scott said. “But I was willing to learn and they were willing to teach me.”
Scott believes that having faith in yourself is crucial when starting out in the trades. He also reflected on the importance of determination and initiative and how these two values guided him during the early years in the industry.
“The first couple years may be hard, but push through because it’s worth it,” said Scott. “There are so many opportunities to succeed.”
During his third year of work, Scott was given greater responsibility by a foreman on a job in downtown Ottawa. After continuing to prove himself, Scott was chosen to run a residential site on his own, which proved to be a very successful experience.
“Job by job you learn how things work, both by asking people questions and answering other people’s questions as you go,” Scott said.
However, as Scott continued to run more jobs on his own, he eventually decided it was time to make a change in order to support his wife and two young children. For his first five years in the industry, Scott was involved in non-union work, which he believes is a great way to start for newcomers to the field looking to find apprenticeship opportunities. Nevertheless, he also remarked on the greater degree of security involved with joining the union.
“If you have a family, are looking for better pay, want benefits, etc., union life is the way to go,” suggested Scott.
After coming out of his last school session and realizing he wanted to make a career in the trades, Scott knew he wanted to work with Modern Niagara based on the positive feedback he had received from friends. Scott jumped at the opportunity to join the company and the union and reached out to a Labour Manager at Modern, who was looking to add valuable talent to the team. Since then, Scott has worked on Modern Niagara’s Sheet Metal team and has spent the last year working as a foreman. Having been with Modern Niagara for over three years, Scott remarked on what he appreciates most about the company.
“Even though Modern is a huge company, I never felt like a number,” said Scott. “Modern cares about their people.”
Working as a foreman, Scott is now able to mentor those around him, many of whom also joined Modern after following a path similar to Scott’s. Reflecting on his own path, Scott is grateful that he was able to pass on the same opportunity he was given and return the favour by fostering the next generation of trades professionals.
Many of the projects Scott is tasked with at Modern Niagara involve working on high-rise residential projects, something which he is very passionate about.
“I really enjoy it; you get to touch a little bit of everything,” Scott said. “Like anything, it has its ups and downs, but I really love working on condos.”
“It’s good working on a brand-new building, where you get clean rooms and clean materials,” said Scott. “It’s repetitive but that’s great because you get into your own groove to perfect your process and skills.” Working on jobs with a larger scale allows Scott to spend a year or two at the site, where he truly gets to know the building.