Early July, 2002. Robert Pallister, Marcel Bonin and Darrell Hrywkiw pulled two vans and a truck into an empty parking lot. They exited the vehicles and cast a brief eye on the new decals that declared the small fleet as the property of BHP Mechanical. They turned to the camera, slight grins hiding their nervous excitement.
The first official work day of BHP Mechanical was immortalized in a photograph, and the journey began.
“Because there were three of us,” Marcel explains, “we worked out of our homes. For the first three years, I worked from a closet I had converted into an office. Every invoice we did went through that closet.”
“Since we didn’t have an office or a shop, we would meet at Tim Hortons every morning to straighten out our paperwork and plan the day,” admits Rob. “We dealt with everything using blackberries and phones and emails. We stored our tools in a garage in the city.”
“I find it quite remarkable that three plumbers could come together and successfully build a company as we have,” adds Darrell.
Their situation, however, changed quickly. Within two years, BHP Mechanical hired its first apprentices. By year four, they purchased a commercial building to function as their office and shop. Within 15 short years, three men and three vehicles turned into a thriving company with a fleet, shop and office, and dozens of highly trained operators in the field.
BHP Mechanical Ltd.’s services include plumbing, heating, gas fitting, HVAC, drain cleaning, preventative maintenance, concrete coring, and stainless steel passivation. The company also specializes in niche services, such as pipefitting and working in confined spaces.
“Anything mechanical in a building, we can take care of,” says Marcel with pride. “Even if it’s not in a building – pump stations, sewage lift stations… we can go out and do all of that.”
The company also focuses on educating its clients so each one can extend the life cycle of their plumbing and HVAC systems.
“Over the years, I see customers making the same choices” says Darrell. “The one thing I would tell my customers about is the value of being proactive and planning ahead. A building’s mechanical system is behind walls and doors, so it’s easily forgotten until it no longer works. Proactive preventative maintenance gets eyes on the equipment so that problems are recognized before they become major repairs.”
The partners make sure their clients are taken care of, and they are equally concerned about the needs of the staff.
“Safety is #1,” Marcel explains. “We are COR certified and have a fulltime safety officer. We’ve had safety forms for our techs to fill out for every job, right from day one.”
Although the three principals undeniably put in a lot of time, work, capital, heart and soul to launch and maintain BHP Mechanical, they credit the continued success and growth of the company to the team.
“There is construction, and then there is service,” says Marcel. “With service, you have to have a certain mentality and skill set. A service tech needs to be able to work with all the fields, and they never know what the next call could be. Construction also requires an equally important mentality and skill set. In construction you are required to ensure that the work is completed properly and efficiently, and within the budget and time constraints. At the same time, you must deal with unforeseen obstacles. This is not an easy feat.”
“Our company policy of honesty and respect has allowed us to acquire great tradesmen and staff that are very talented and can build many things,” says Rob with pride, going on to cite working with the staff as one of the most rewarding things about his BHP career.
Honesty, integrity, respect and customer service – these are the principals on which BHP Mechanical was founded, and focusing on these principals has enabled the company not only to grow, but also to thrive.
“Yes, there have been challenges,” confirms Darrell, “but we approach those challenges like any of the jobs we do for our customers: persevere until it is right. If it was easy, would it be worth doing? Probably, but no way would it be as rewarding!”
“We are here,” sums up Marcel. “We started with three people and grew from having nothing to having what we have today, and during that time, nobody has ever missed a paycheck. Within a few weeks of opening, we had more than enough work.”
With values of honesty, integrity, professionalism and customer service, and with a strong and focused team that is as loyal to BHP as they are to the clients, the first 15 years of business were just the warm up. Today, the entire team is focused on the next big milestone – 15 more years. And beyond that, the possibilities are endless.
“We would like to thank our customers, office staff, managers, and all service and construction field staff for all their continued hard work and dedication that allows us to put out a product we are proud of.” – Rob, Darrell and Marcel