“We train our people as though they’re here to stay,” says Jacob Albertson, general manager, Duz Cho. “And typically, they’re here forever.”
Duz Cho is in charge of the pre-construction site clearing work for FortisBC’s Inland Gas Upgrades project in the Mackenzie area—work that will enhance our proactive maintenance activities.
Located in north-central BC, Duz Cho is one of a group of companies owned by the Mcleod Lake Indian Band.
The company has recently placed a stronger emphasis on hiring more of its own community members, says Jacob, as well as workers from neighbouring First Nations. Of the approximately 125 workers they’ll employ during the busy summer construction season, close to 50 are Indigenous.
“We’re a light – a beacon – for other Indian bands,” says Jacob. “They’ve asked to work with us and learn from us. We’ve taken that to heart, so we’re making a big effort to mentor them and help them become the next Duz Cho.”
Training for new hires begins in the shop under the guidance of senior staff, says Jacob, learning the basics of running heavy equipment and pitching in to help with maintenance. “They immediately become part of the team,” he says. “Trainees work hard washing the equipment and helping mechanics with minor repairs.”
Trainees enter the field training phase with the help of mentors, learning how to operate smaller equipment. “The biggest piece of equipment some of them have been around before they join us is a lawn mower,” Jacob explains. “Easing workers in gradually through our mentorship program sets them up for success.”
After about a year developing competency with equipment such as a rock truck, or a packer, Jacob notes that most are ready to graduate to operating something more complex. “At that point, we get specific. We ask them what kind of equipment they’d like to learn. Most aren’t shy about telling us.” Project supervisors and other senior employees continue to guide their training on bigger equipment such as bulldozers or excavators.
Erinn Mah, FortisBC’s Indigenous talent specialist, says the company’s approach to hiring, mentorship and training opens the door for applicants who have the desire to work, but no experience. “Duz Cho is willing to hire applicants who have the right attitude. I think that’s quite valuable. If an applicant doesn’t have what the company needs, they give it to them through on-the-job training.”
Erinn is also impressed with how the company sets up its mentorship program. It’s not just the new employees who are mentored. They also provide opportunities for employees with different types of knowledge to work together. “When you’re matching employees with different skill sets and experience, they can learn from each other,” she says.
That kind of mutual support and mentorship contributes to everyone in the company working together as a team, says Jacob, and he’s very proud of that.
He recalls a story that captures the company’s team spirit: “Years ago one of our team members used the colour of our logo to express how he felt about the company. He said, ‘I’m all about this place. If you call me, I’ll be here. I bleed blue’. Bleed Blue became our motto. We’re committed to the company and everyone who works here. We consider each other family.”