I was 19 when I made the move to Calgary. I had dropped out of an Arts program at the University of Waterloo and was living at home with my parents in Burlington, Ontario. I had a full time job in the maintenance dept. at Walmart. The term "maintenance dept" is generous....I was the cart boy. I didn't realise it at the time but I was afraid, I had no idea where to focus my attention. If you asked me then what my goals were or what I was looking for in life, you would have seen a truly unsure kid looking back at you. Sure, there was a glimmer of potential but no real vision on what to do with it. Like most young adults after high school I was stagnant..... so I moved.
I packed two suitcases with everything I could fit and I left the rest, hopped on a plane and headed for Calgary. I got a job pretty quick, people were still hiring over the phone back then. The recession hadn't quite begun. And Boom! I was making more than twice the money Walmart paid. I started out installing landscape lighting in and around Calgary. My boss offered up an electrical apprenticeship and I jumped at it! I realised pretty quickly that landscape lighting was a dead end, especially in a down economy. So I found a position at small commercial electrical company. I figured I was set. I'd work hard, put in my four years of apprenticeship, it was all going to work out. Then I got laid off.
So I did what any 20 yr old with a good head on their shoulders does. I got myself a job at a bar in Kensington. It sounds fun in theory, but honestly it's exhausting. My brother was a second year refrigeration mechanic at the time. I knew it was more of a service industry rather than construction, always a good thing during low economic turns. So I enrolled in the refrigeration mechanic pre-employment program at SAIT. I passed the course and found a job with a small refrigeration company. I worked for that company for 4 years. In that time I met my future wife, completed my apprenticeship and became a journeyman at 25. I left that company to move into the more stable and honestly the more lucrative side of the trade, HVAC. That's where I find myself now. I've spent a decade working, learning, reading, studying, literally living HVAC/Refrigeration.
Calgary has given me so much. This is a real City of opportunity. I'm not saying it's going to be quick or easy, but if you commit yourself fully, put in the time, hard work and be humble, Calgary notices. Calgary has become my home, I've grown here in ways I don't think possible had I stayed in Burlington. The whole of Alberta gives me a feeling Ontario never did. There's a real hope here. There are real people, willing to take real chances on untested individuals trying to find their place in a very big, very competitive country.
Now I've taken another leap with Lendrix HVAC Services, and again it's as exciting as it is daunting. I only hope that I run my company in a way that makes Calgarians proud of their investment in me. I'm not trying to get rich. I just want to help show my kids and my community (and maybe remind myself) of what this City will give back to you if you let it. Endless opportunity to find the things your good at, to be bad at the things you're not and a real fighting chance at success, however you define it.
If you're reading this Calgary all I can say is thank you. I owe you one.
Justin Meagher, Owner: Lendrix Hvac Services Inc.