Chartrand Equipment has made great gains since the business was started by Maurice and Colette Chartrand in 1980.
The couple’s rental equipment business began with one shovel, a backhoe and three employees.
Currently, it has more than 400 employees.
“In the past five years we have gone from a small business to a medium-sized business,” said Yvon Chartrand, who, along with brother Guy, manages the company. “We have tripled in size, partly due to mining and more to do with the fact we are open to expansion. It had been planned that, sooner or later, we would take that step and the timing was good,” he said.
The company has grown from its roots as a rental business and currently undertakes heavy civil construction projects, especially in the mining industry.
“We do mine reclamation, tailing ponds, and large projects like starting open pits. We have done demolition and concrete work as well,” said Chartrand.
While the expansion took several years to plan, the company’s approach to developing relationships with its clients has never changed.
Instead of bidding on every project that comes along, Chartrand said it is better to nurture and establish longterm relationships with clients.
“Once they get to know us, they tend to stay with us,” he said. “In the end, there are cost savings for the client because they know our quality of work. If someone is cheaper, and not doing a proper job, the client can end up spending more.
“If you have proven yourself, they know what to expect and can depend on you.”
Safety has become an important aspect and Chartrand does its own training in-house and with outside providers.
“It’s a big focus for us, and sometimes it costs more initially but, it ends up being a huge savings. Clients also look for great safety records and we can deliver,” he said.
With a large workforce, Chartrand said the company is always on the lookout for potential employees. In the past, locals have always been available to fill the need but in the past few years, employees from across the country and overseas have joined the ranks.
“I have always managed to find people and even in the technical field. If you are skilled, you won’t have a hard time finding work. But I always find workers and I know where to find them. It helps that we have a good reputation too,” Chartrand said.
The company started recruiting First Nations employees through job fairs and other sources and it has been able to find a great number of high-quality workers from some of the coastal communities.
“It was a resource that I hadn’t initially tapped into and all of a sudden I am finding a great workforce. Creating those relationships with the First Nations has really worked out well for us,” he said.
Maurice and Colette are still involved in the company and the knowledge they have accumulated is valuable.
“We are still learning from them,” Chartrand said.
Maurice had an ability to estimate a job quickly and accurately in his head.
“When I was learning how to do estimating, I would do paperwork and calculations and my father and I would come to the same conclusion.
You can’t really do that with multimillion dollar projects but it was a skill that kept us in awe,” he said. Both brothers grew up in the construction business and each manage a different facet of the company. Guy manages the projects while Yvon focuses on the administration side.
“We really do complement each other.”
Their father also instilled in them a sense of pride in Timmins and the North and the brothers sponsor and contribute to a number of events and fundraising initiatives.
“We sponsor a lot of sporting events because it has a direct impact and we get to see it locally,” Chartrand said. “We are from Timmins – born and raised here – and there is no ulterior motive when we do things for the community. It’s just the right thing to do.”