Joe Geluch was born in small village on Haida Gwaii, a pristine archipelago off British Columbia’s West Coast. After moving to North Vancouver at a young age, he spent his high school summers working in construction back in his hometown of Masset, Haida Gwaii, made up of only 800 people.
There he was exposed first-hand to sustainable building methods and Indigenous principles practiced by the local community.
“If a building was going to be renovated, nothing would go to waste. Any leftover materials would be repurposed by the community,” says BCIT carpentry alumnus Joe.
Now, as President of Naikoon Contracting Ltd., recognized nationally for improving energy efficiency in Canada, Joe incorporates the sustainable values he learned in Haida Gwaii into his business.
Laying the foundation at BCIT for a career in trades
Since the age of 12, Joe had a laser-focused plan for his life. He would work in construction and, one day, own his own carpentry business, just like his father. At 18 years old, after working every summer on construction sites, Joe enrolled in BCIT’s Carpentry ELTT program, now the Carpentry Foundation program.
“I wanted to take the best program for carpentry available, and BCIT was the best, no question there,” shares Joe.
He says it was important that he gain formal training and become a Red Seal carpenter. “My father was a Red Seal carpenter and it seemed like the natural progression to running your own business and being able to mentor others.”
He adds that the apprenticeship training offered by BCIT not only provided invaluable on-the-job experience and lifelong industry connections with employers and instructors, but also laid the foundation for his career. Now, 20 years later as a business owner and active member on the BCIT Carpentry Advisory Committee, Joe hopes to inspire others to kickstart their careers through BCIT.
In addition to his committee work, Joe has made corporate donations to BCIT as well as volunteered on various BCIT industry panels. He says he gives back because he believes in the quality of programs offered at BCIT and is able to recruit exceptional talent from them, which is in high-demand across the industry.
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“We’re constantly recruiting from BCIT, so if you’re a BCIT grad looking for an innovative job in construction – you can give us a call,” encourages Joe.
Building a contracting business sustainably
Thirteen years ago, Joe, who is also a Gold Seal Project Manager, took over Naikoon Contracting from his father. He relaunched the company with a sustainability focus, building zero-energy buildings and passive house standard homes.
“We recognized that we could be successful while making a positive impact on the community,” Joe shares. “Sustainability and quality go hand-in-hand, which is our differentiator for the business and has allowed us to grow in a competitive marketplace.”
Today, Joe has won over 40 awards for Naikoon Contracting. He is most proud of awards that recognize the company’s sustainability and community involvement and celebrate his team, which continues to grow.
His family is growing as well, with a second child on the way this summer. Joe hopes his children take an interest in the family business, and if so, he says he’ll be encouraging them to enrol in BCIT carpentry and operations management programs.
Joe believes that to be truly successful, you need to maintain a healthy balance between work and family life, and shares advice for entrepreneurs: “There will be bumps and hiccups along the way, so be sure to pause and really enjoy the good moments. It’s all part of the journey.”