Combination of Training & Experience Leads to Success in the Roofing Industry

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Thedy Joseph has learned a thing or two about the roofing industry over the years. He owns a roofing company that regularly employs more than nine staff and collaborates with more than ten contract trades professionals to support numerous projects across Greater Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. While the native of Quebec is proud of his success, a career in the trades and becoming a successful business owner were not part of the original plan.

“I was studying to become a Civil Engineering Technician at the time, but a strike delayed my schooling, so I decided to go out and look for some work. The first opportunity that came my way was in the roofing industry and I took it.”

His career journey in the trades began with a Quebec-based company, but it wasn’t long before he started on his own. “About two-years into my apprenticeship someone said ‘Thedy, you’re not stupid. You should start your own business,’ so that’s exactly what I did.”

Excel Roofing is now 10 years old, and while the company continues to thrive, owning and operating a business in such a competitive and fast-paced market is not for the faint of heart.

Change is Constant. Education is Key.

Rapid advances in technology, evolving rules, regulations, new products, and installation techniques are something Thedy has learned to deal with.

“A lot of that is due to environmental changes”, he says. “We often see products originally designed to last 20 or 30 years that are now in need of early repair or replacement because the product lifetime was cut in half due to longer periods of intense heat and increased rainfall.”

Climate change and the move to sustainability continue to drive product innovation in the roofing industry, and the company is presenting more green-friendly roofing materials to its customers these days. To be competitive, Thedy knows that business owners and the trades people they employ must be committed to ongoing education and skills training, beyond what they learn on the job.

“Much of what I know I learned from working in the industry, but it wasn’t until I took courses to increase my knowledge and understanding of the building codes related to the work I do, that I realized that not everything I had learned in the field met those requirements. That’s why I think it’s now more important than ever to mix workplace experience with ongoing education and skills upgrading.”

Joel Fernandes agrees.

As the company’s Operations Manager, Joel is responsible for product acquisition, research, and training and is leading the development of the company’s new solar division. His career journey is an example of how experience, coupled with education and skills training, can open doors and advance a career in the trades. Originally from India, he moved to Canada with his family and it wasn’t long before he found work in the construction industry.

“One of my first jobs as an immigrant was as a general labourer and that’s how I became familiar with and saw a potential future in the trades.”

While still employed as a general labourer, Joel enrolled in some financial and accounting courses. A few years later he was introduced to Thedy and began working in a bookkeeping and accounting capacity. He focused on learning as much as he could about the company, the industry, emerging technologies, and future business development opportunities, which eventually led him to photovoltaic (solar) technology.

It was clear to him that photovoltaic products were becoming cheaper to produce, more robust, and easier to install. That, along with more sunshine hours, hotter temperatures, and the ever-increasing cost of electricity in the lower mainland, made for an interesting business opportunity and a natural fit for the existing business – bringing together roofing and solar products and installing them at the same time.

“At that point I decided not to pursue a career in the financial industry and take a much bigger role in developing the solar side of the business.”

Of course, that meant building his knowledge base through education and training, and Joel is now certified with the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), specifically in photovoltaics design and installation, based on the U.S. certification as there was nothing offered in Canada at the time. He understands that updating his knowledge through continuing education will be necessary to ensure the success of the new solar division.

“Things are moving so fast. What it was a few years ago is not the same anymore. From a design and installation perspective, if you’re not keeping up with solar as whole—there are so many trades involved—and if you don’t know the permitting requirements, electrical, engineering, and all these things, it can overcome you very easily.”

What Does the Future of the New Solar Division Look Like?

“I just heard about some new developments on the business side of photovoltaics that I am very interested in.”

Well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see what that’s all about. In the meantime, Joel recently completed his financial studies, earning a certificate in financial planning from BCIT.

If you’re a trades professional seeking more skills training, or finding alternative career pathways, this portal offers information and courses that will help you achieve your career goals.
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