“I’m always hiring. If a good person walks in the door, we’ll find a spot for them.” It’s that attitude that turned Robin Lapointe’s company Lapointe Engineering Ltd. (LEL) into one of Kitimat’s major employers as well as a staunch community booster.
Lapointe started Kitimat’s first engineering company in a friend’s basement during an economic boom in 1980. A few months later he was busy enough to rent office space and quickly grew to 13 employees. As the company expanded, Lapointe realized he needed a succession plan and partnered with fellow engineers Alex Ramos-Espinoza and Mark Gravel. This key team continues to play a vital role at LEL.
The company rode the wave of a growth spurt in Kitimat with the construction of the Ocelot methanol plant in 1981and the modernization of the Rio Tinto Alcan smelter in 2011. Now the multi-discipline engineering firm has 45 employees with numerous contractors in 14,000 square feet of office space.
Lapointe expects further expansion from the establishment of LNG plants in the area. “During my 35 years in business we experienced a number of ups and downs in the local economy, but fortunately we were able to always build on the local economic booms.”
The BC Jobs Plan was launched four years ago with the aim to grow and diversify our economy and to create jobs. We’re now seeing the results of these efforts. To learn more, read the BC Jobs Plan Four-Year Report.
Most recently LEL was acquired by Hatch, a Canadian engineering and consultancy with more than 10,000 staff in 65 offices worldwide. Lapointe says the companies share similar values and that Hatch will provide support and build on what LEL has created over the past 35 years. “Selling to Hatch will not only maintain our local presence, but now give us a global capacity.”
Despite LEL’s exponential growth, the partners have maintained a family friendly atmosphere attracting long term employees. “They enjoy the benefits of living in this area, such as hunting, fishing, skiing and access to top notch recreation areas.”
Lapointe adds that employees originally from the Vancouver area notice other things. “They are happy that they can go home for lunch, parking is free and there is no long commute.”
Lapointe enjoys giving back to the community and encourages his employees to do so as well. “I am president of the local golf course and a Rotarian. My employees also volunteer and are active in the community.”
The Kitimat area offers a fantastic quality of life and there are many opportunities for new businesses and future growth.