After finding success in the custom metal fabrication and installation industry, J.P. Legault could have easily relocated several times over the years to a bustling metropolis or industrial mecca. But for Legault, Timmins is home, and there’s no place he’d rather be.
“I could have been all over the world and every time I come back here it’s a different feeling: you’re at home,” he said. “Little downtown Timmins—it’s not that small, it’s not that big, but everything you need is here.”
Panels & Pipes offers services in the areas of custom metal fabrication, HVAC, mechanical insulating and engineered scaffolding.
The company is comprised of a 7,400-square-foot shop in Timmins, as well as offices in Sudbury, and Fort McMurray and Edmonton, AB. Legault, who’s been in business since 1999, believes leadership qualities are exemplified in how a leader treats the people around him.
He’s always aimed to conduct his business with integrity, forging his business on the pillars of quality, capacity, and reliability.
“Sometimes it’s tough—they expect more,” he said of the clients who seek out his vast array of services. “They think this genius is going to walk in and fix everything. You have to make them understand we do projects that we do because we know we can do them; we’re not going to do a project we know we can’t do.”
At the core of Panels & Pipes is the company’s safety department—Legault calls it “one of the highest skilled around in the country”— which keeps up to date with the latest safety laws and guidelines for any province in which the company operates.
He’s restored old, crumbling heritage buildings in the downtown, he’s opened up the Hobo Lodge, accommodations for miners who need temporary living quarters while working away from home, and he recently did the demolition on a downtown landmark tavern that was gutted by fire.
For Legault, the process is not about individual projects, but the sense of achievement that comes from “picking up any dilapidated building and bringing it back to life.”
“It’s just not grabbing something from new; something new has no bearing, no meaning to me at all,” Legault said. “But something old—the story, the history—to bring it back.”
In recognition for his work, Legault has been feted by the Ontario Business Achievement Awards and the Timmins Chamber of Commerce—twice.
He extends his philosophy of treating everyone with respect into the community where he has contributed to a number of projects. For the third year, his company and its subsidiaries are contributing resources to maintain a skating oval at Hollinger Park, the use of which is free to the public throughout the winter months.
Panels & Pipes additionally supports several organizations and services in the community, including the Timmins and District Hospital, Spruce Needs Golf Course, the Timmins Food Bank, the Timmins Minor Hockey Association, the Timmins Chamber of Commerce, as well as community fundraising events and campaigns for the Canadian Cancer Society, Heart and Stroke Foundation and others.
The company also encourages and supports its employees to join boards of directors for charities and not-for-profits.
Involvement in the community is an invaluable way to “pay it forward,” Legault said, and he’d like to see more companies adopt that approach to business.
Too often, companies put the bottom line first instead of thinking about how they can have a positive influence on the communities in which they operate.
“A lot of people come in and alienate an area, grab all the cash and run—not this guy,” he said. “I try. Lots I can’t help, but lots I try. It’s important.”
Serving a cyclical industry that has its peaks and valleys can be tough, Legault said. But he doesn’t plan to switch gears any time soon. Instead, he’s expanding out into new regions, like Canmore, Alberta, from where he recently returned from a job.
“The gold’s going down, but the gold’s going to go back up,” he said. “What goes down must come back.”