As Tim Chandler sees it, operating heavy equipment is the best seat on a construction site. Tim started out in the industry as a labourer, and enjoyed it more than his previous job as a grocery clerk. “The money was better (in construction) and it was day work,” he says. But when he found work as a Heavy Equipment Operator, he knew he’d found his niche.
“My father always told me when I was a labourer to keep my head up, pay attention and find a trade that I was interested in. It just so happened, that running equipment was what interested me the most.” In almost 20 years as a Heavy Equipment Operator, he’s worked with backhoes, trim dozers, bulldozers, excavators, rock trucks, graders and loaders – to name a few.
“Simply because of the variety of machines used in construction, I’ve learned to run equipment the old fashioned way – on the job – and I’ve also learned to use equipment by being trained formally through a school program.”
But even as a seasoned operator, Tim is continually developing new skills and he points out that learning is an on-going and integral part of the industry. “There is plenty to learn every day, and you’d be surprised by how much you can learn from everyone around you.”
When asked what he would say to someone entering the industry, Tim stresses the importance of being flexible, and of communication, “Soft skills are so important. Sometimes we focus too much on technique or hard-skill practices, when we should be spending more time on communication skills and how we relate to each other on the job. That has been the absolute key for me.”
While the industry continues to evolve, for Tim, it feels like home; and construction has become a part of who he is. “The industry itself has embraced me. I feel very fortunate. It’s easy in life to just get into a job that gives you a pay-cheque. For me that’s not it; learning to operate a piece of equipment better today than yesterday is the challenge that keeps me coming back!”