Amber Cachelin hadn't always planned to start her own company, but when she decided to go ahead with it, it all happened very quickly.
In 2017 she took the opportunity to do the self-employment program through Community Futures, which she describes as an "awesome journey." The program supports entrepreneurs during the start-up phases of their business.
Greensleeves Electric Ltd. is an electrical company based out of Kamloops. The company incorporated in August of last year and does all commercial and residential electrical work as well as light industrial and solar energy systems.
Amber, a Red Seal Electrician with seven years of experience and a diverse background in industry, is the owner/operator of the company. She wanted to get into renewable energy, claiming solar energy in particular is very viable in Kamloops.
She obtained her training through Thompson Rivers University. Here is what she had to say about it:
“I completed all four years of the construction electrician apprenticeship through TRU. I loved it and was a top student throughout the program. I wrote my interprovincial exam in March of 2016 and received my Red Seal certification.
"Since then I also took the exam to become an FSR (field safety representative) at Technical Safety B.C., which is the regulatory body for electrical work. This certification is required to become an electrical contractor. I then applied for my contractor's licence and started my company.
"This spring I completed the CSA course for electricians at Solar Installers Canada in Calgary, Alta. I have yet to write the exam but as soon as I do this I will be a CSA-certified solar installer. At this time, it is not required that an electrician have this qualification to install solar but CSA is pushing for it. I wanted to have it under my belt before it becomes mandatory.”
Amber loves her job because it is physically demanding, which is important to her. She also thrives on learning and describes the electrical field as "constantly growing and changing." She enjoys trouble shooting and solving complex issues. She loves working with her hands and looking at a completed job that is well done.
I asked her what her daily challenges are:
“The biggest challenges are when something doesn't go as planned, especially if I'm under time pressure. Usually, I work well under pressure but it adds a new level to it when there are bigger consequences if I don't get it done in time (examples are the client being without power for an extra day or a large monetary penalty due to having to rent pricey equipment for longer, both of which have almost happened but luckily have not). This is part of the learning process and only gives me the skills to run my company more smoothly.”
Of course, there are hazards on the job. Everybody knows electricity is dangerous. Electricians are trained in how electricity works and can work quite safely around it. Amber’s team uses insulated tools and follows safety protocols. There are also environmental hazards and heights to manage. For Greensleeves Electric, safety is of number one importance.
“We work a lot at heights, so we need to be knowledgeable of fall protection and ladder safety. Doing residential service calls, we often go into attics so we have to be very aware of foot placement so as to not fall through the ceiling. Being small and flexible is helpful here. There are also other considerations such as dust, asbestos and wildlife such as black widow spiders who love to hide out in the dark, warm places like electrical boxes.”
Amber knows it is important for the public to hire a person with the right qualifications for the job. Not only should that person be a Red Seal Electrical Journeyman, they should also be a contractor so they can pull permits, and are insured and bonded so clients are covered if something goes wrong.
Although business is picking up, Amber would like her company to stay small for now.
“I think that smaller companies offer a level of quality and service that larger companies don’t.”
Talking Trades is a regular KamloopsMatters column by Shannon Ainslie. Ainslie has worked in the trades for many years and loves to blog on the side. You can follow her at kamloopscoffeetalk.wordpress.com or on Twitter (@ainslie_shannon).