Growing, Learning and Leading in the Trades – Jason Crosbie

At Modern Niagara, we build for life. This not only applies to the high-quality work our dedicated teams accomplish daily across all our regions, but also captures Modern Niagara’s dedication towards supporting our employees along their personal career journeys. A crucial element in Modern Niagara’s people-focused approach is the regional Labour Managers, who work diligently to build, develop, and align our field teams. A leader amongst this group is Jason Crosbie, Director of Labour at Modern Niagara. Jason shared the story of his journey into the trades, his experience with Modern Niagara, and his views on what it takes to be an effective people manager in construction.

Jason was first introduced to the trades through his family, who inspired him to begin his plumbing apprenticeship after high school.

“I have a family full of tradespeople, my father is a pipe welder, and like many tradespeople I finished high school and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” Jason said. “I started talking with my dad about what he did and although I wasn’t as interested in welding, I decided to try out plumbing.”

Jason went to work for a commercial contracting company in Ottawa where he completed his plumbing apprenticeship, before joining Modern Niagara in 2007.

“Modern Niagara already had a fantastic name in Ontario, they were always a company that you looked to as a tradesperson and wondered what was happening there,” Jason mentioned. “At the time, Modern Niagara was just beginning to work on the Winchester Hospital, so I applied to be the heating foreman and the rest is history.”

Jason started with Modern Niagara as a foreperson and worked in the Ottawa office for almost seven years before making the move to Western Canada with Modern Niagara’s expansion in the early 2010s.

“When Modern Niagara decided to expand into Western Canada, I was approached and asked to join that expansion,” Jason said. “I was asked to come out and be what we know now as a Labour Manager, which was a fairly new role we were evolving.”

“When we were the successful bidder on the Calgary Cancer Centre project, one of our biggest projects to date, it forced us to rethink some things and collect all of our lessons learned from previous years and endeavours,” Jason mentioned.

Jason pointed out the impact that a people-focused approach had on Modern Niagara’s operations in the region.

“The key to any organization, and the key to ours especially, is people,” said Jason. “We began to see an extreme shift in both productivity and morale when we started to engage with our core group in the field more.”

A year and a half ago, Jason took a new position as the Director of Labour, where he is responsible for overseeing the Labour Managers in the western provinces. When asked what makes a good people manager in construction, Jason emphasised the importance of leadership and understanding the people within your team.

“It really boils down to being a good leader, remembering that it is all about our people and that the more time we invest in our people the better the outcome is,” Jason mentioned. “It doesn’t matter what walk of life they come from or what trade they represent, whether they are it’s important to take the time to understand where people are in their careers and where they want to go, then taking the time and effort to develop that and connect the right dots.”

“At this point I feel like my whole life is Modern Niagara,” Jason affirmed. “It’s incredible when you find a company that shares the same values as you and lets your passion for the industry grow.”

In addition, Jason also emphasised the importance that Modern Niagara places on teamwork and collaboration, and how impactful it is for the organization and employees.

“Working at Modern Niagara has been a breath of fresh air, it’s much more of a family than what you are used to seeing in construction,” Jason mentioned. “Part of the reason why I love working here is that I can see that to be true for everybody; I love that we’re a company that is very open and collaborative and we truly believe that we are going to get better together.”

 

“To me, Modern Niagara is a place that values our people, where there is a lot of room to grow and blossom into whatever you want to in your life and career.”

Jason Crosbie, Director of Labour, Modern Niagara Group.

 

The continued personal development of our field and office teams is something which Jason looks forward to.

“When we talk about the growth that’s coming and the growth that we are trying to achieve, it’s going to take a lot of people, people that we don’t have, so now we’re really looking at how to effectively onboard and train tradespeople,” Jason said. “Even five years ago, onboarding and career path planning for tradespeople, was not talked about, so the fact that we are having those conversations about what the future could hold is really exciting.”

For individuals looking to enter the trades or those who are new to the industry, Jason emphasised the importance of finding the right work environment to start your career in.

“The one thing that always sticks with me is choose your company wisely,” Jason said. “In the trades, our personal lives and our financial lives outside of work rely on having a job, and jobs aren’t always consistent, so there can be this mentality of taking work whenever and wherever it comes.”

Jason also spoke about the necessity of hard work, determination, and being proactive to get the most out of your experience in the trades.

“Having a career in this industry takes a lot of work,” Jason affirmed. “When you enter the trades, you’ve entered a career, and it’s as much of a career as you want to make of it.”

“The trades offer great pay, great benefits, and you have the opportunity to do some extremely interesting work that helps people,” Jason added “So what I would say is treat your job in the trades like the career that it is.”

“Always strive to be better than you were the day before and never quit learning,” Jason said. “I promise you, the results will amaze.”