Advice from a successful business owner: A trade background brings many advantages

By Don Capotosto, Owner of Gimco Limited.

Contributed by the Mechanical Contractors Association of Ontario (MCAO)

I started working in the trade of steamfitting/pipefitting as an apprentice in the early 1970’s and eventually worked my way up to field foreman. In the mid 1990’s the opportunity was given to me to become part owner and in 2004 I became the sole owner of Gimco Limited. I have since brought in a partner as part of my succession plan.

Gimco is a medium-sized mechanical contracting company with an internal staff of four and our unionized labour staff has peaked at forty people.

I definitely think having a background in the trades has helped me transition into the roles of business owner and industry representative. My transition from a field foreman to an estimator was smooth.  Having the background of reading and interpreting drawings in this field made it easier for me to adapt and perfect my skills in new profession as an estimator.

I also feel that coming from the trades gave me an advantage over my competitors, especially when it came to design build, which our company was very involved in. Without my trade background I would not have had the success I did on the design build projects we worked on during the 1990’s (working in power plants and mechanical rooms.) Because of these experiences, I am able to understand all aspects of a job, from the labour side of things to the management perspective.

My advice to a young person who is considering a career in the trades is this:

I know it starts out as a job, but treat it as an opportunity to excel at what you do. There is no end to what you can and will accomplish if you wish to advance in your career. The opportunities are endless.