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Commentary: November-December 2012

Looking to the Future

December 3, 2012  By John Tenpenny

Aggregates & Roadbuilding searches for the industry’s next generation.

Aggregates & Roadbuilding searches for the industry’s next generation.

Times have been relatively good for the Canadian rock-to-road industry over the past few years. Still, this past year, we have faced a series of issues, challenges and new developments. We’ve seen a shift to portability and a growing NIMBY movement that have changed the way aggregate producers conduct their business on a daily basis. For roadbuilders, increased use of recycled products and tighter specifications for government contracts have affected the bottom line of even the largest paving and road construction companies.

As a whole, these challenges have forced companies to change the way they do business, and altered the outlook for how they will survive in the months and years to follow. But as difficult as those challenges are, there is an even greater issue growing across the industry: the need for skilled labour and talented managers.


With many of the skilled equipment operators, general labourers, engineers and managers set to retire in the next five to 10 years, the industry must find an increasing number of recruits from an ever-shrinking pool.

This industry is also challenged by the need to encourage the youngest generation of workers, those under the age of 40, to stay in this sector. That isn’t an easy task, given increased competition from the oil, gas and mining sectors. Much of the country has already confronted this issue as a result of the oil and gas boom in Alberta. But with the development of the Ring of Fire in Ontario and Quebec just a few years away, keeping the younger workforce in this industry will become that much harder.

Recognizing the best
For our part, we want to help encourage the strength and development of the industry’s youngest generation. Aggregates & Roadbuilding magazine is pleased to announce the launch of our Top 20 Under 40 program, which will be featured in our September/October edition. The program will celebrate 20 people from across Canada, under the age of 40, who are leading the next generation of the rock-to-road industry. From mechanics and technological innovators to equipment operators and young managers, we will look at 20 individuals who are making a difference in this industry. They are the future of our industry, and we will share their stories in print and online.

Possible candidates include individuals such as Ryan Jones, whose company Taranis Contracting Group is the subject of a profile in this month’s edition. Jones, now 38, grew a small business from his university days 17 years ago, into a full-scale contracting operation that has 275 full-time and part-time employees. We’re looking not just for high-end performers such as Jones, but also for those who are working in their associations, in their local communities and in our schools to help promote the success and growth of Canada’s key infrastructure sector.

Finding the next generation is indeed a challenge. It won’t be easy to replace so many skilled workers and talented specialists across a variety of disciplines.

But with the proper education, leadership initiatives and industry co-operation, Canada will continue to develop a new generation of aggregate and roadbuilding professionals – and continue to enhance its position as a leader on the world stage.

Look to, our weekly e-newsletter and the January/February issue of Aggregates & Roadbuilding for more details and nomination procedures.

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