Setting a Higher Standard

Milestone Equipment Contracting

Since 2005, Milestone Equipment Contracting Inc. has been providing the Vancouver Island market with high-quality civil and infrastructure, environmental, industrial and commercial, and residential construction services, on time and on budget. The Nanaimo, British Columbia-based excavation contractor was founded by 36-year-old entrepreneur Josh Fayerman, who noticed an inconsistency in quality and professionalism within the excavation industry.
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“I grew up with my father being a general contractor, and he used to hire excavation contractors,” he recalls. “Most contractors would excavate by the hour, with little concern for budget, quality, or any function that most professionals in business would consider. It would lead to a lot of arguments about invoices or quality of work with the contractor.”

It soon became apparent that if they wanted to have the same level of professionalism that they had come to require, Fayerman would have to endeavour to lead himself.

“At first, I started renting equipment, and then I purchased one excavator. I started excavating for my father’s company. He slowed down, and I continued working for other general contractors following the same principles that I started with. What inspired me to do it was the gap we found in the level of professionalism and quality of workmanship.”

Josh Fayerman founded Milestone Equipment Contracting on the principles of quality, integrity, communication, and on-time delivery of product and services.

As he began branching out from his work with the family business, it wasn’t long before Fayerman found that others in the industry had the same difficulties he and his father faced: an inconsistency in the quality and professionalism of the contractors they solicited. He reveals that the company received a lot of its work simply because when asked by a client to come and provide a quote, he would show up in a timely manner, provide a reasonable quote, and commence the work as scheduled, whereas many competitors wouldn’t show up according to schedule – if at all.

“It was a really simple plan. You make one client happy, they tell somebody, and you get another client and make them happy,” he describes.

The business quickly began growing via its reputation and work ethic. “When I was an owner-operator, I started with myself and I got to the point where I could only keep so many people happy, yet I still wanted to grow and our phone was still ringing with people who wanted us to work for them. I hired my brother-in-law so we could split the workload. When it became too overwhelming for the two of us, I hired a third person, and we continued to grow in that manner.”

Today, the company of 60 completes civil, industrial, commercial, environmental and residential construction, as well as landscaping for Vancouver Island clients. As an impressive example of Milestone’s capabilities, in December of 2017, Milestone was selected as a general contractor to provide earthworks, site servicing, and electrical/sport fitment installation with the support of other subcontractors for the School District 68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith and City of Nanaimo on a joint project for a sports field after the Nanaimo District Secondary School (NDSS) approved construction of a 10,750 square metre Synthetic Turf field.

According to the project synopsis on the company website, the field exceeded the project design specifications and met all testing requirements of the most current FIFA 2-Star synthetic turf product standards, and accommodated both American and Canadian football regulation field arrangements.

At the moment, Milestone is taking time to focus on internal growth after expanding at a substantial rate over the last few years. Fayerman tells us that his company is committed to encouraging education, mentorship, and fostering a collaborative environment where teammates can grow and ensure projects are successful for all stakeholders.

“Fundamentally, it’s really easy to say that a company has doubled in size year to year because if you had one customer the first year and the next year you had two, you doubled in size. But where the growth really is isn’t so much from the outside, but the inside,” he explains. “Our staff come from diverse backgrounds; not all of them are from construction. We have a very strong belief in furthering education.”

Milestone’s philosophy is that if individuals are growing and feel they are of value to the company, this will result in a team that has a positive effect on growth and corporate culture. Consequently, Fayerman is happy to support different avenues for education.

“Not only are these individuals getting educated in our line of work, but also in other skill sets, whether that’s going back to school to take creative writing, or maybe an accounting course, or obtaining a Gold Seal. They are continuously growing.”

Just this year, Milestone has implemented a mentorship program to focus on its new and young workers. “There is a huge generational gap in our industry,” Fayerman tells us. “I’m 36 years old, and for the most part there is a large gap between me and the younger generation. We are trying to bring in those in their early 20s and mentor them, so they can grow with support from other employees who share the company’s core values.”

When taking on new staff members, Fayerman’s biggest concern is safety consciousness. Construction work can be dangerous, so it is important to make sure that all workers understand the importance and value of safety in a company that strives to set the bar at a higher level in the industry.

“One of our biggest concerns on any job site is safety, both of our workers and the general public. The first thing we consider is whether they have a firm knowledge of safety standards, or have worked within other safety programs that align with ours. Then, we will validate their experience and whether it is applicable in our industry. We have our superintendents and field staff perform an in-person interview to make sure that they will align culturally with the field staff. Lastly, myself or the Vice President review and give the final sign-off prior to them being hired,” he states.

Fayerman knows every single one of the 60 people who works at his company, many of whom have been with the Nanaimo-based contractor since the beginning. Whether they have celebrated 10 years with the company, two years with the company, or three months with the company, Fayerman takes great pride in knowing his employees and understanding what motivates them to be great.

While staff turnover is low and corporate values remain fixed, one thing that does change at Milestone is technology. The business is committed to innovation through investing in technology, whether that’s through purchasing top-of-the-line, reliable, John Deere equipment, or purchasing new software to increase its ability to serve clients in an organized and timely manner. Technology is the gateway to the future, and Milestone has no intention of being left behind.

“We have developed an app over the last two years that is tied to the timely delivery of our work orders with clients, for job costing and tracking,” says Fayerman. Still in its R&D phase, the app has been in use for about a year. Milestone is currently adding new features and tweaking its design to help field staff with work order reporting. The company is currently collecting feedback from the field staff and using that input to create a design that will better service them.

“We have also invested significantly in GPS technology, which allows us to lay out and survey job sites. We’ve invested in machine controls and machine automation, which has led to more efficiency, better understanding of the projects, and an ability to better identify conflicts in drawings and mitigate those conflicts prior to work completion,” Fayerman elaborates.

Looking to the future, Milestone Equipment Contracting’s plans are threefold: first, to continue to live by its mission and its core values; second, to continue to evolve and contribute to advancing the industry, through training and mentorship programs with new and young workers and technology (both equipment and software); and third, to keep on its path of constant evolution, striving to push the industry to a higher standard.

With these goals in mind, Milestone will continue to take on unique projects with like-minded stakeholders.

Under the Sea

Marine construction – a combination of harsh environment and special considerations. North America has plenty of coastline and the demand for construction in the marine environment isn’t going away any time soon. Yet we don’t often consider or even think about what goes into the design and construction of the structures that bridge our waterways, line our shores and allow the docking of our largest cargo ships.

September 25, 2018, 8:03 AM EDT