In a series of conversations with workers and business operators, The Province explores the contributions that trade, industry and natural resources make to the economy. This week we talk with Tim Epp, a plant manager at Britco, about competing globally in the modular construction industry
Postmedia News: How did you get started at Britco?
Tim Epp: After high school I worked at a sawmill for a little while. It was very manual labour. Then I went to BCIT and took the operations management program. It was really geared toward manufacturing, process improvement and that sort of thing. I finished at BCIT, and Britco offered me a job. I've worked here ever since - almost 10 years now.
PN: Most people think of manufactured homes when they think of modular construction. How are you different?
TE: Think of a truck carrying a module down a gravel road for a couple of hundred kilometres - that's like a level six or seven earthquake for hours and hours on end. We have to engineer all of that into the building. What we are left with is a really strong construction product, I would say stronger than any typical wood frame construction you would see on-site.
PN: Many of the modules you build are for resource projects in Canada. But you're also handling projects destined for places such as Russia and Indonesia?
TE: For the Indonesian one, we rented a factory in Hope for about a year to complete that project. The Russian one was done here in Agassiz. We will basically build the modules at the same size as a shipping container, just for ease of transport, because these are going to go on a cargo ship or on a container ship and be transported to site that way. For the Russian (gold mine) project, because of how far it was going and how they wanted to transport it, we limited the module size to the size of a standard shipping container - so any way that they ship containers we can ship these modules. The Indonesian project, Save The Children, was pre-cut pieces of panels that were shipped in containers. We had a team there that trained locals how to build these houses for themselves.