by Angelika DawsonSpecial to the Langley Advance
Devin Wade is a familiar face around Langley.
He’s part of the Ecoworks team that takes care of gardens and landscapes for the Township of Langley, as well as other municipalities in the Fraser Valley.
They are responsible for weeding, pruning, and planting the boulevards, medians, traffic circles, and municipal building gardens.
When Wade was asked about his experience with Ecoworks, he has nothing but positive things to say about the landscaping company that hired him four years ago.
“It’s unlike any company I’ve ever worked for before,” explained the 24-year-old.
“They really value their employees. They’ve done nothing but encourage and support me.”
James Siebert is the director of the company, which is owned by the Mennonite Central Committee BC (MCC BC).
EcoWorks (ecoworksbc.ca) projects include both commercial and residential projects with the team responsible from everything from installing to maintaining landscaping.
Greg Mayer, a operations foreman with the Township of Langley is glad the municipality has partnered with Ecoworks.
“What drew me to Ecoworks was the fact that they don’t just train their staff to do the landscaping work, they also train them to provide good customer service,” Mayer said.
“When I visit the sites, the workers are respectful and friendly. I never have to babysit them or make extra visit job sites because I know that Ecoworks gets it done right the first time.”
What makes Ecoworks “unique,” according to Siebert, is that the company has both financial and social goals.
They are a for-profit-business with a social mandate to donate profits to MCC BC for its local projects, such as working with people who are homeless, assisting women who have experienced abuse, or helping refugees coming to Canada, Siebert said.
“We also apply that sense of social responsibility to our hiring process,” he elaborated.
Ecoworks’ management team and crew supervisors include certified horticulturists.
They are trained in first aid, traffic control and have their pesticide certification.
Their crews are made up of a mix of people who have landscaping experience, students, newcomers to Canada, and others looking for work in the field.
Along with employment opportunities, the company trains their employees in horticulture, first aid, traffic control and other relevant skills.
Ecoworks is registered with Industry Training Authority (ITA) and their employees have the opportunity to go through an apprenticeship.
“Our goal is to provide quality landscape service to those who hire Ecoworks. We do that by ensuring that our employees receive the tools and training they need to do excellent work,” Siebert added.
“We also want to give people a chance.”
Siebert remembers hiring Wade, who was recommended to him through an employment program called Youth Keep Working.
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CAPTION: Devin Wade
“I was impressed by Devin’s interview and I wanted to extend an opportunity to him. He handled the interview well, was polite, and asked great questions,” the boss recounted.
“He’s turned out to be an excellent employee.”
Wade has grown from this mutually beneficial arrangement.
“I was bouncing around from job to job. I worked at a gas station and worked for a roofing company for a while, but this (Ecoworks) is the first job that really clicked with me,” he told the Langley Advance.
“I love working with plants as opposed to working in a retail environment. I love the team aspect of the job. We’re all working together towards the same goal, as one cohesive team. I really like working with these people and having the opportunity to develop professional relationships.”
Today, Wade is enrolled in a landscape horticulturist program with an eye towards certification.
He has also had the opportunity to take on a larger leadership role, acting as a supervisor for part of each week, something he never thought he’d be able to do.
“I never saw myself as a leader but they saw that in me,’ Wade said.
“Turns out, I really like it. I like training people to be good landscapers.”