M.C. Lough Electric in Dryden is not a place for clock watchers.
Drive by their Kennedy Road shop at 6 a.m. or on Sunday mornings, and you'll likely see pickup trucks in the parking lot of the family-run electrical contracting firm.
“There are no 8-to-4 hours here,” said Lorrie Lough, the company's controller, of their early morning-to-evening work ethic. “You just commit yourself to the organization.”
M.C. Lough is a fast-moving electrical contractor servicing commercial, institutional and industrial customers.
The company assists with equipment, fire alarm and security installations; construction pre-wiring, overhead and fibre optic cabling, pole line construction and most design-build projects.
Their coverage area is virtually all of northwestern Ontario west of Thunder Bay and into the fly-in First Nation communities.
The 16-employee company was started by Lorrie's father, Mike Lough, as a home-based business in the late 1970s before it moved to an industrial park property on Kennedy Road, just off the Trans-Canada Highway, where they've bought and renovated two nearby buildings on the same block.
The company is marking its 25th anniversary in August and Mike's 50th year as an electrician, who, at age 68, still packs his lunch pail and goes to work just about every day.
It's a full-blown family affair with nephews, nieces, cousins and in-laws working as apprentices, on vehicle maintenance and in administration, sometimes seven days a week.
Some non-blood relations are welcome, said Lough.
“As long as you're willing to pull your weight, there's an opportunity here.”
That solid work ethic was drummed into Lough, her sister Debbie and brother Jeff – a master electrician and the company's vice-president – before they were teenagers when their parents ran an area campground resort and restaurant in the 1970s.
All were later drafted to work in the family's electrical contracting business.
“We made a commitment to this business succeeding,” said Lough, who also runs her own consulting business, teaching computer courses at Confederation College and doing project work for the City of Dryden.
As a union shop, Lough Electric regularly draws on journeyman electricians from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 402 in Thunder Bay to swell their ranks as the project workload increases.
Over the years, the company has shifted away from individual residential and subdivision jobs into more intensive project work.
“Since 2000, things have really taken off,” said Lough, with huge injections of public spending in the northwest for new school construction, police stations, power stations and hospital developments and retrofits.
“What really changed our focus was the Ear Falls Generating Station,” said Lough of the $40-million, 12.5 megawatt hydro electric power station, which came online in 2009. “Jeff and his crew were up there for over three years working on that and it was a huge project for us.”
Among their repeat customers are Dryden Regional Health Centre, Domtar, Nelson Granite, City of Dryden, Ontario Realty Corporation, Ontario Power Generation, real estate developers CB Richard Ellis and area school boards including the Northwest Catholic District School Board and the Keewatin Patricia District School Board.
“Our workmanship speaks for itself. We come in on-time in project work with superior service, installation and results.”
With project work consuming most of their time, she said there is little time to promote themselves or rest on their laurels.
“We really fly under the radar. A lot of people don't really understand what we do here or what the scope of our organization is. We don't advertise, but let our reputation and worksmanship speak for itself.”
Any self-promotion they've done is through sponsoring local hockey teams and participating in charitable causes.
The company has dipped its toe in the mineral exploration sector, doing some past work for Champion Bear Resources, and in the renewable energy field with some consulting work for a European company that has proposed a solar farm project in Dryden.
“We're always willing to explore new opportunities,” said Lough. “Obviously there is growth in the mining indusrtry so we'll be involved.”