Employee Spotlight: Ted Cottingham

Our team at Modern Niagara Edmonton have been delivering highquality solutions to building owners and managers in the region since 2014As we continue to grow our Edmonton office with experienced professionals for upcoming projects, it seemed the perfect opportunity to introduce one of our Sheet Metal Foremen, Ted Cottingham, who shared with us his story on how he began his career, as well as his work with Modern. Ted’s career in the construction industry began during his time at University, where he entered the trades during a summer job before his first semester of a Masters Program. 

I started in the trades sort of by accident; I was in between doing an undergrad and a master’s degree and I got a job in the summertime doing construction work,” said Ted. “From there I chose to leave academia and enter the trades full-time.” 

After eventually relocating to Alberta, Ted happened to find work in sheet metal with a construction company in Red Deer. 

I moved from Vancouver to Red Deer and applied for a plumbing position at a local company, which ended up being filled,” Ted mentioned. “Then the company asked me if I was interested in going into sheet metal and that was that! 

Ted continued to work in sheet metal for many years, across numerous projects and sites. However, he was eventually contacted by Derek West, Sheet Metal Superintendent at Modern Niagara Edmonton, whom he knew from previous work experiences. 

I worked in the trades for quite a while, going between commercial and industrial roles in Edmonton,” Ted mentioned. “After my last project had finished, I was contacted by Derek Westwho I worked with previously in other companies, and he helped bring me over to Modern. 

Ted has been with Modern Niagara’s Sheet Metal Team in Edmonton for almost two years now. Looking back on his time with the company, Ted reflected positively on his experience so far. 

I’ve found it great here, it’s a great company that gives a lot of support to its workers and supervisors, they go above and beyond!” Ted affirmed. “They’re quite organized, efficient, and innovative compared to other companies. 

Ted tends to work on a lot of smaller projects out of Modern Niagara’s Edmonton officeusually in the special projects department with renovations and smaller sites, as well as industrial upgrades and refinery projects. The requirements of these projects can range from six months of work to six days. Ted described how this type of work always keeps him busy with new sites and tasks and often requires some moving around. 

It’s nice having the mobility of working on smaller projects so that you don’t get bogged down on longer sites with the same workday-in day-out, but those kinds of projects also have their own advantages,” said Ted. “It’s nice to be on new jobs with new challenges, but some days its also nice to be in one place for a long time and see a larger project come into fruition.” 

While Ted reflected very positively on his time at university, he was sure to highlight that it is not the only option available to start a successful career 

Academics is great and I wouldn’t trade my time in university for anything, but I think the trades also provide you with great opportunities to learn and be challenged,” Ted answered. “Depending on what drives you, whether it’s good income, challenges, whatever, the trades and sheet metal especially, are good options.” 

Having gone through University and eventually changing paths into the trades world, Ted offered many insights into the opportunities that the trades can provide to people looking for interesting and rewarding work, especially in his field of sheet metal work. 

“You can definitely progress and do different things in the trades and I think that if you commit to it, it’s a viable long-term career option,” Ted suggested. “Especially in sheet metal, if you want to work in shop, field, production, there are so many options in this trade, and Modern has so many of those opportunities, whether it be shop, prefabrication, installation, etc.” 

When asked about his early journey in the trades, Ted also offered some advice to people looking to enter the industry and be successful in this large and diverse field. 

Make sure you have the determination to work hard and do your schooling; always be sure to look forward to your next task and be proactiveand if you don’t know what you’re doing or if you need help, be sure to reach out and ask, it’ll make you a better trades person,” Ted affirmed. “That being said, it’s also important to take some initiative and do things yourself, because you learn from your mistakes and that does help you progress in your trade. 

Nevertheless, it is impossible to discuss the experience of our team members at Modern in the last year without bringing up the COVID-19 pandemic, and unfortunately Ted is no exception. Similar to many of our dedicated team members across the country, Ted’s work has been impacted by the pandemic and the restrictions it forces on sites. 

COVID-19 is always difficult, especially getting used to all the regulations and, for me, going from site to site and trying to adjust to the different expectations,” Ted commented. “It definitely has been a challenge, particularly in our field where we have to do a lot of the work in close proximity to each other.” 

Nevertheless, Ted commented on the importance that Modern Niagara has placed on employee health and safety throughout these trying times, and the significance of that approach for the work he does. 

Right from the start, Modern was out ahead of this pandemic, for example making sure we had our COVID-19 kits and adapting as we all learned more about COVID-19 and how to work around it,” Ted mentioned. “Modern has done a good job with their procedures that are often times more go above and beyond other sites; having those protocols in place definitely made things easier to navigate.”