“It’s refreshing when you’re with a group that considers it important to give back to communities where we work.”
- Graeme Aitken, Eptcon
The Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario and IBEW have a long tradition of supporting the communities where we live and work. This tradition often takes the form of sizeable charity donations, volunteer work, and even helping community members become a part of our team.
Take Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario member company Eptcon, for example. Eptcon is an electrical contracting company that works on utilities and also builds renewable resource power projects like wind farms.
Eptcon has made giving back a seamless part of their working process. This has become such a regular part of the workflow in the past few years they are working it into their formal process.
Site Coordinator Michelle Langenhan explains. “In communities where Eptcon works, copper scrap is often left over when the job is done. Normally when it’s sold, the money would go back into a company’s budget.
“A few years ago, we approached our president with the idea of using the money to help local charities. He’s passionate about the environment, so he loved the idea.”
On every worksite, the foreperson or project manager talks with all of the employees. Together, they pick a local cause to help. The proceeds from the copper are combined with additional employee contributions. This makes for some great support to local charities.
For example, in Aylmer (near London, Ontario), a youth environmental group called Environmental Leadership Program at East Elgin Secondary School, is working to restore the Catfish Creek Conservation Area.
“They take on a leadership role at a young age in their community as they are in part responsible for fundraising for the environmental program they participate,” Langenhan explains. “That was the key factor that made us want to donate to them. We found it really special that young teenagers are so passionate about the cause that they willingly took on those leadership roles.”
On September 24, 2017, a team from Eptcon ran, walked and crawled the Kitchener Badass Dash, a 7 KM obstacle race. Proceeds from the race went to Autism Speaks.
Graeme Aitken, Manager of Labour Relations and Contracts, agrees. “It’s refreshing when you’re with a group that considers it important to give back to communities where we work.”
“It’s very much an employee-driven program. They make the choice. I don’t envy them – it must be difficult to decide between so many worthy causes.”
Some of Eptcon’s charity efforts go beyond individual work teams. Sometimes the whole office rolls up their sleeves and pitches in with local volunteer efforts. For example in May 2017, Eptcon helped plant over 200 trees in the Cambridge Dumfries Conservation Area as part of Canada 150’s Green Leaf Challenge.
Eptcon also makes sizable contributions from the company as a whole.
In Cambridge, where Eptcon is based, the legacy of Eptcon founder David Radtke was commemorated with a donation to the Cambridge Hospital New Equipment fund. The amount of $56,000 was chosen, with a thousand dollars for every year that Radtke had been a member of the IBEW.
Many causes get yearly donations from the Eptcon employees. The Cambridge Hospital, the Cancer Society, and the Salvation Army Giving Tree are regular beneficiaries. In 2017, the Salvation Army’s Cambridge Family Services program received a $4,300 donation from the staff at Eptcon.
For Aitken, one of the most important programs is Eptcon’s work with First Nations employment outreach programs. Currently, Eptcon employees and apprentices represent nine Ontario First Nations bands.
“For me, helping to make careers that create role models in First Nations communities is a cause that means the most to me,” says Aitken. “It makes a difference today, and for the future.”
Working with organizations like Gezhtoojig Employment & Training, Grand River Employment and Training, and the Aboriginal Apprentice Board of Ontario (AABO) means young people have a chance at a rewarding career. Today, Eptcon employs First Nations as powerline technicians, shop hands, groundspeople, and traffic control.
Eptcon is just one example of the many ways that ECAO contractors and IBEW locals are giving back to our communities.