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Celebrating the next generation

Rock to Road presents its inaugural Top 20 Under 40.

September 25, 2013  By  Andrew Macklin

Working diligently to find qualified, skilled young labourers to mine
gravel and build roads for generations to come is not just the
responsibility of the individual company.

Working diligently to find qualified, skilled young labourers to mine gravel and build roads for generations to come is not just the responsibility of the individual company. It takes a concentrated effort from contractors, corporations, associations and other primary stakeholders to promote the benefits of the rock to road industry to students across Canada looking for the right opportunity for their working career.

For the inaugural Rock to Road Top 20 Under 40, we are pleased to promote 20 of this country’s best young workers who are providing the example for the next generation of Canada’s aggregates and roadbuilding industry. From an excavator operator in the Yukon to a project co-ordinator in Toronto, the 20 individuals on this list cover a vast spectrum of the people involved in the day-to-day operations in this industry.

The information provided on each individual is a combination of the content provided by the person they were nominated by, conversations we have had with people in the industry, and what we have learned through our own research.


Without further delay, we present the inaugural Rock to Road Top 20 Under 40!

Donn Bernal | GM of Yellow Line, Aecon Construction


Donn Bernal | GM of Yellow Line, Aecon Construction
Donn Bernal has worked hard to get to the level that he has achieved.

At 37, Donn Bernal is currently heading up the development of Yellow Line Asphalt Products Limited, a new start-up asphalt cement terminal that will transform the way joint venture partners Aecon and Dufferin conduct their road construction and paving businesses.  

He started his career at the ground level, working as a summer student Laboratory Technician for Ashwarren Engineering Services while studying civil engineering at the University of Toronto. Ashwarren hired him full time following his graduation, becoming the Assistant Lab Supervisor. Four months later he was promoted to Technical Supervisor, where he consulted with clients to produce mix designs, implemented RAP and MSM additives into current Marshall Mix designs, and also designed microsurfacing and Slurry Seals. His success at Ashwarren was followed by successive management roles with Lafarge, Lafarge/Capital Paving and Oxford Sand and Gravel before landing in his current role with Aecon.

Throughout these career advancements Donn has served on the board of the OHMPA and been active in committee work and on the executive. He also finds time to mentor young people getting started in the industry.

Tyson Craiggs | VP Sales, Distribution and Pit Operation, Mission Ridge Aggregates


Tyson Craiggs | VP Sales, Distribution and Pit Operation, Mission Ridge Aggregates
Excelling in today’s rock to road industry is much like excelling at football: both take hard work, dedication and a ton of strength. No wonder Tyson Craiggs shines at both.

As a teenager with a budding football career ahead of him, Tyson worked at the family’s aggregates business during his spare time. Following four years as a star linebacker with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, Tyson signed as a free agent with the B.C. Lions. But even with the success of his football career, he never forgot to help the family grow Mission Ridge Aggregates.

After four years with the Lions, Tyson left the game and returned home to help the family business full time. Since then, the 31-year-old has been instrumental in helping Mission Ridge move forward. Tyson was instrumental in starting a customer appreciation program, C.A.R.E., which stands for Customers Are Really Everything. The program has paid major dividends to MRA’s continual annual growth.  Since 2011 Tyson has been responsible for the operation of the DeBench gravel pit in Deroche.

Despite the demands of his career, and raising a young family, he still finds time to work with youth in his community through either coaching or mentoring youth.

Shane Fuller | Project Superintendent, Aecon Construction


Shane Fuller | Project Superintendent, Aecon Construction
It’s not easy for a young project leader to impress an industry veteran. But on 34-year-old Shane Fuller’s last job site, the Highway 401 expansion near Woodstock, Ont., Shane did just that.

During the project Gary Brown, a 37-year veteran of the construction and material supply business and now the owner of Oxford Sand & Gravel Limited, had opportunity to meet the young man in charge. After a brief introduction, he was given a complete tour of the project where his many questions were clearly answered.  On his return after the meeting Brown concluded that this was not “this youngster’s first rodeo and the project was in good hands.”

Shane worked well with his aggregates supplier, as he has with many suppliers. Now the Project Superintendent for the Highway 407/Brock Road interchange, the first step in the expansion of the 407 eastward, Shane continues to use his strong leadership skills and the right attitude to get some of Ontario’s biggest road projects constructed on time and on spec.

Sean Wilson | Site Supervisor,
G.W. Construction


Sean Wilson | Site Supervisor, G.W. Construction
Sean Wilson and hard work seem to go hand in hand.

The 33-year-old started working in the rock to road industry by juggling studies for his fine arts degree, and working as a general labourer and tower operator with his uncle’s crushing company, Buddwil Enterprises Ltd.  After having trained under the supervision of his uncle, Dean Wilson, and Buddwil’s crushing foreman, Larry Dunbar, for two years, he transferred to his grandfather’s parent company, G.W. Construction Ltd. in 1998, where he has worked his way through the ranks to the position he holds currently as Construction Site Supervisor.  

But his infectious passion for his community and his industry has grown even more. Sean is currently the midst of a two-year term as Chairman of the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association after working his way up from committee and general director positions. In the community, Sean currently sits in his second term as a member of Council in the Village of Buchanan, where he lives and represents the Village on various municipal and district committees. He is well known in the community for his enthusiasm for promoting the village and improving the local infrastructure. His passion for roadbuilding and the people of the industry is rivalled only by his personal love of seasonal morel mushroom picking, his video and full-size arcade game collection and his beloved Delorean!  

Linton Potzus | Owner, Potzus Paving Limited


Linton Potzus | Owner, Potzus Paving Limited
Riding paving machines with his father as a youngster put the business in Linton Potzus’ blood. Now, as the head of Potzus Paving, Linton gets to pass that same passion down to his two young children.

Linton officially began working at the company at the age of 14, spending the summers during his high school years in paving crew camps across Saskatchewan. After high school, his father Carl started putting him in charge of paving crews for smaller projects throughout the province. Now Linton oversees a staff of over 100 people at a company that juggles as many as eight separate paving projects at any given time.

Outside of the day-to-day operations, Linton is an active member of the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association, promoting the benefits of association memberships to sectors throughout the rock to road industry and beyond.

Gerrod McAuley | Acting Mine Manager, Jamieson Quarry


Gerrod McAuley | Acting Mine Manager, Jamieson Quarry
Very few people can boast that they will have 20 years of industry experience before the age of 40, but that will certainly be the case for 35-year-old Gerrod McAuley.

After graduating from high school in 1996, Gerrod entered the field immediately, working as a portable crusher operator for Valley Gravel Sales in Abbotsford, B.C. After a successful 10-year career at Valley, Gerrod moved on to Matcom Excavating, where he spent a year as a heavy equipment operator. 

When he found his way to Mainland Sand & Gravel Ltd. in 2007 he really started to grow as a member of the rock to road industry, starting as an equipment operator, then a plant operator. After completing his Shift Boss Ticket, Gerrod was given the opportunity to take the position of Shift Supervisor and is currently in the temporary position of Acting Mine Manager for the Jamieson Quarry. 

In addition to his full-time role with Mainland, Gerrod plays an active role on the Mine Rescue Team and the Water Rescue Team, both of which require regular training.

Richard Vernon | Shift Supervisor,
Cox Station Quarry


Richard Vernon | Shift Supervisor, Cox Station Quarry
Richard Vernon has tried other industries, but the gravel business has always pulled him back.

The 38-year-old spent 11 years at West Coast Aggregates in Abbotsford, B.C., from 1987 to 1998 before moving across town to Little Rock Quarry’s from 1998-2000. 

After 13 years in the aggregates industry, Richard ventured into the Northwest Territories, working for Lac De Gras Construction at Diavik Diamonds. After a brief stint there, he went in a completely different direction, working with Solander Yachts from 2000-2005. 

But in 2005, Richard came back to the gravel business in 2005 working for Valley Gravel Sales before moving over to Mainland Sand & Gravel Ltd.  in January 2006.

Since his return, he has moved from being a plant operator to his current role as a shift supervisor, while also being an active member of the Mine Rescue Team.

Dustin McAuley | Loader Operator,
Jamieson Quarry


Dustin McAuley | Loader Operator, Jamieson Quarry
Dustin McAuley and his brother are together again, both here on our Top 20 Under 40 and at Mainland Sand and Gravel’s Jamieson Quarry in Abbotsford, B.C.

Dustin started his career in the aggregates business in 1999, working at Valley Gravel Sales operating the portable crusher. He moved over to Mainland Sand & Gravel Ltd. in 2004, where he got a wealth of equipment operation experience operating loaders, excavators, rigid frame trucks and Wiggly trucks.

At present, Dustin currently works at Mainland’s Jamieson Quarry operating a loader. 

What sets Dustin apart is the active role he has taken in immersing himself in Mainland’s OHSC (Occupational Health & Safety Committee), who meet monthly to discuss the safety issues for Mainland’s entire operation. That work is in addition to joining his brother Gerrod as an active member of the company’s Mine Rescue Team.

Wes Esbaugh | Operations Manager, Tri City Materials, and Michael Black | Fleet and Purchasing Manager, Tri City Materials.


Michael Black | Fleet and Purchasing Manager, Tri City Materials
Michael Black learned to love heavy equipment at a very young age. He started rebuilding old tractors alongside his grandfather as a kid, and has been working on machines every since.

After graduating with his heavy truck and coach mechanics licence, Mike ran his own business for eight years, working on machines and learning about the industries they serve.

Mike joined Tri City Materials in 2007, playing several different roles interchangeably from driving tri-axle equipment to serving as lead mechanic. Mike currently holds the title of Fleet and Purchasing Manager, but wears several others hats at the same time, leading the maintenance crew and providing repairs for any and all machinery owned by Tri City.  Mike was also instrumental in adding a new facet to the Tri City operation, helping set up and maintain the company’s new wash plant system introduced in 2010.

Wes Esbaugh | Operations Manager, Tri City Materials
Wes has played in the rocks and dirt his whole life. It was only a matter of time before he made a career out of it.

After finishing high school in 2005, Wes went on to study concrete technology at Alpena Community College in Alpena Michigan. Upon completion of his diploma, he returned home to the family business, Tri City Materials, starting as a loader operator before working his way up to Operations Manager.

In a few short years with the family business, Wes’ knowledge and fresh perspective on the industry has helped grow Tri City in the Kitchener-Waterloo area and has helped to keep its custom crushing operation moving forward. He has also helped to introduce and sustain a recycled aggregates products business, which is run out of one of Tri City’s five regional pits and provides an environmentally sustainable solution for both government and commercial clients. He has also helped provide additional reserve materials for the company’s own aggregates needs.

Donald Chisholm | President, Nova Construction Ltd.


Donald Chisholm | President, Nova Construction Ltd.
Donald Chisholm has always been a Nova Construction guy.

Donald began working for Nova Construction Co. Ltd. as an equipment operator in summers during his high school years, and continued through university with increasing roles of responsibility and supervision until he completed his degree in business. Today, he is President of the company.  

Donald has played a major role in expanding and leading Nova Construction in the roadbuilding industry.  The company has been granted significant roadbuilding contracts over the past five years, which have resulted in the purchase of additional rock quarries and crushing equipment. Before 2013, it had been 30 years since Nova was in the paving business. But thanks to the recent purchase of a new Astec 300 Paving Plant and the related equipment, spearheaded by Donald, the company has returned to paving roads in Nova Scotia.

In addition to the leadership that Donald has provided at Nova Construction, he has used that leadership to try to help the industry in Nova Scotia, currently serving as past president of the Nova Scotia Roadbuilders Association.

Dean Arnill | President, Western Asphalt Products
Dean Arnill knows that pavement preservation is serious business.

Dean represents the fourth generation of the family business, now known as Western Asphalt Products, which focuses on high-quality asphalt emulsion products used for highway maintenance.

Since working with Bill Diamond to create Western Asphalt Products in 2011, Dean has designed and built two emulsion plants in Western Canada, with one located in Brandon, Man., and the other in Bruiderheim, Alta. Since then, Western Asphalt has been shipping emulsion to the Province of Manitoba, City of Saskatoon and several other counties in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. All of the emulsions are custom made in AASHTO-certified labs.

In addition to his work with the company, Dean has been very active in promoting pavement preservation and knowledge transfer across Canada.

Donny Weisenberger | Excavator Operator, Jedway Enterprises


Donny Weisenberger | Excavator operator, Jedway Enterprises
Donny Weisenberger has been running equipment for most of his life – at least the part he is old enough to remember.

Donny started running machines of different shapes and sizes at the age of four and since then has never looked back. After graduating from high school, Donny immediately pursued a career in the rock to road industry and latched on to Jedway Enterprises, which has offices first in British Columbia and in the Yukon.

Now just 20 years old, Donny already has more than two years of equipment operation under his belt. He has worked as an efficient and effective operator of a Hyundai excavator first in British Columbia and now in Langley, Yukon.

At the age most kids have finished college or university, Donny is already making his mark as a skilled equipment operator with plenty of room for growth.

Bill Marquart | Operations Director, CBM Aggregates


Bill Marquart | Operations Director, CBM Aggregates
It’s no coincidence that the rapid growth of CBM Aggregates and the rapid ascension of Bill Marquart in the aggregates industry happened simultaneously.

After spending summers during his post-secondary education working in the industry, Bill was hired by Blue Circle following the completion of his degree in Environmental Resource Planning from the University of Northern British Columbia.  Bill then became the Lands Manager for CBM Aggregates after Votorantim purchased a portion of the Blue Circle assets. 

Bill was a key part of the aggregates team that build CBM’s business from a small handful of sites in 2001 after the purchase by Votorantim, to a business that now has 25 shipping locations and 75 licences across the province. In 2007, Bill took on a leadership role in operations, as Western Regional Manager for CBM’s plants in London, Cambridge, Aberfoyle, Limehouse, Orangeville and Hillsburgh, Ont. After assisting with the acquisition of Prairie Materials, Bill was promoted to Director of Operations, and now heads up the Operations Division for all 25 CBM Aggregates locations. 

Bill is recognized throughout the company as an innovator, and he has contributed to the company’s success in many areas of the business. Always approachable, he has been a mentor to many, sharing his perspective and experience on the industry.  Bill currently serves on the board of directors for the Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association.

Tyler Kosick | Owner, Trans Carrier Ltd.


Tyler Kosick | Owner, Trans Carrier Ltd.
Trucking, aggregates, roadbuilding, all in a day’s work for Tyler Kosick and Trans Carrier Ltd.

After returning from a post-secondary tour filled with competitive hockey and some business courses, Tyler returned home to work with the family to grow what was then known as Kosick Holdings Inc. In the early 2000s the family decided to combine its gravel business and road maintenance operations with its oilfield trucking division to make a stronger Trans Carrier, which was then bolstered by the purchase of Backcountry Trucking Ltd. a few years ago.

After years learning the ropes by working in equipment operation, dispatch, sales and supervisory roles, Tyler took over the family business in 2008, growing the operation from 50-60 employees to 75-100.

Tyler is active in the industry, formerly having served as the president of the Fort St. John Petroleum Association while being a longtime active member of the B.C. Stone, Sand and Gravel Association. Earlier this year, Tyler was given a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Vimy Henderson | Pavement and Materials Engineer, Golder Associates
Through extensive research and development, Vimy Henderson hopes to help the rock to road industry build strong, more sustainable roads across the country.

During her doctoral studies at the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Pavement and Transportation Technology (CPATT), Vimy led a Canada-wide project on the use of pervious concrete pavements, programmed a Material Test System (MTS) for asphalt pavement performance testing, and performed and organized laboratory and field testing of rigid and flexible pavements.

Since finishing her doctorate, Vimy has moved on to Golder Associates, where she is working on the implementation and field testing of several different types of asphalt pavements, including conventional and modified asphalt technology; cold in-place recycling using emulsion and foamed asphalt; full-depth reclamation, including foamed asphalt stabilization; and preventive pavement treatments.

Vimy’s research has been presented at major conferences both nationally and internationally and she is an active member of the Ready Mix Concrete Association of Ontario’s Pervious Concrete Subcommittee.

Jeff Pfaff | Vice-President, SCI Stabilization Inc.
Being able to notice a growing trend in the road construction industry has paid dividends for Jeff Pfaff.

After working on job sites throughout parts of Canada and the United States, Jeff
recognized the growing trend towards the use of soil stabilization techniques for road building projects. He has since taken that know-how back to southern Ontario, partnering with a colleague to start SCI Stabilization in the small town of Blenheim.

Since starting SCI in 2012, the company has been involved extensively in the renewable energy sector, providing stabilization services for the wind and solar power industries. The company is now preparing to tackle the multibillion-dollar Samsung wind and solar projects in southern Ontario.

Kris Watrich | Aggregates Manager, BC Interior, Lafarge
When Roy Bertram heard about the Rock to Road Top 20 Under 40, he immediately thought of Kris Watrich. The 34-year-old Watrich, who obtained a bachelor of science in geophysics from the University of Alberta, has already proven his ability to steer important portfolios for the company.

Before joining the Lafarge operation at the BC Interior office, Kris had been working on special projects in Newton, including market analysis, aggregates testing and performance analysis. He didn’t have a ton of experience working directly with aggregates at the time, but Bertram recognized Kris as “a bright young guy who catches on quick.”

Watrich took over as Aggregates Manager of the BC Interior branch of Lafarge in West Kelowna in March of 2011. As part of his new position, Kris has worked to teach the public about sustainable construction by engaging Grade 5 students throughout the region during their renewable materials unit.

Mark Piotto | Territory Sales Manager, Geoshack


Mark Piotto | Territory Sales Manager, Geoshack
Mark Piotto may be Canada’s biggest advocate of 3-D and GPS paving systems, and not just because he sells the equipment. He has seen firsthand the value of these emerging technologies as more and more roads are built using the equipment.

Prior to joining Geoshack in 2005, Mark worked as an assistant field manager for the construction of commercial and residential highrises. Since joining Geoshack, he has learned the roadbuilding trade thanks in part to the mentorship of colleague Dan Hendricks, whom Piotto credits with helping him understand the growth of these new technology platforms.

In addition to gaining a solid reputation as a territorial sales manager for Geoshack’s lines of Topcon equipment, and as one of the top Topcon salespeople in North America, Mark has focused his efforts on the fulfilling the need for greater education for the those in the industry, helping to grow Geoshack’s training programs from six students in 2007 to more than 500 in 2013.

At 38, Mark also plays an active role as a member of the Ontario Road Builders’ Association and the Greater Toronto Sewer and Watermain Construction Association.

Ryan Jones | President, Taranis
Contracting Group


Ryan Jones | President, Taranis Contracting Group
For Ryan Jones, everything started 18 years ago when he was just a business student with a good idea of how to make some extra money during the summer to help pay for school. He came up with The Gravel Doctor, which operated with an attachment on the back of a tractor to dig up gravel paths.

Fast-forward to 2013. The Gravel Doctor days are behind Jones, as he expanded the operation to become the Taranis Contracting Group in 2009. Taranis now has an employee base of part-time and full-time staff hovering just under 300, and an extensive breadth of services to offer.

The 38-year-old’s vision, leadership, and ability to understand the needs of the northern Ontario landscape has vaulted his company into one of the largest aggregates suppliers and roadbuilders in that end of the province. With eight pits and three quarries, plus an on-site training school, Taranis has the resources to attract the next generation to his business and keep them there.

And it all began with a side business in university.

We at Rock To Road congratulate these individuals for their hard work and dedication to this industry. They have provided examples that can help all of us as we work together to promote the benefits of working in Canada’s rock to road industry to schools and students across Canada.   

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