Deck building is part of the Veterans Enterprises Corp repertoire. (Submitted photo)
New business about veterans helping veterans
By: Patricia Leboeuf
Posted on Thursday, July 7, 2016
Veterans Enterprises Corp provides employment opportunities for ex-military, veterans and civilians.
Just as it builds homes, Veterans Enterprises Corp is building up veterans by giving them a sense of purpose and a career they can count on once they leave the military.
“Our goal is primarily to help veterans,” said Co-Founder James Mailman.
He explained how sometimes when released from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), soldiers lose their sense of self and isolate themselves. By joining such a business, they are reinvigorated, given new ambition and develop useful skills.
“It isn’t just the work itself,” said Co-Founder Alex Laroque. “It is being able to walk away with something you can use in the future, if that is something they choose to do.”
Veterans Enterprises is also true to its name. Its five founders are all veterans themselves, primarily from 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (3 RCR). Out of their own experiences, businesses and skills, they amalgamated into this business, looking to provide purposeful work for soldiers who’ve left the Forces.
“A lot of guys are injured and they think they can’t do anything,” said Mailman. “But just because there is something wrong doesn’t mean you can’t do something.”
“Our ... goal is to try and help veterans, that’s the reason why we did this,” he added.
Though the business targets former soldiers, civilians are also hired, particularly for niche projects or if they have a distinct skill set. The chance to help an injured veteran get back on his or her feet and provide them with hope for a brighter future is what motivates them.
“We just want to help as many veterans as possible,” said Mailman. “If I help one, that’s all that matters. If I help five, even better.”
Veterans Enterprise tries to keep that military environment on job sites, so that the veterans continue to feel the brotherhood that shaped their former career. They do not need to explain their injuries, nor are they asked intrusive questions about their time in the CAF. In this atmosphere, Laroque has noticed they continue to have an eye for detail, a disciplined attitude, a strong work ethic and an ability to get things done.
Many veterans leave the army and want to do tactile, hands-on projects, so construction trades are ideal. It help creates a sense of accomplishment, he noted.
“It is rewarding,” said Laroque. “To have that goal where you want to do something and then finish it. You get to see the fruits of your labours. It really helps a lot of guys.“
The enterprise has even had such an positive impact that some soldiers have decided to volunteer their time in order to push the business forward and help out. Like all paid employees, they also get the training necessary before hitting the job site to guarantee they are able to meet the company’s high standards. Every day is a classroom environment.”
“Even though they might not be carpenters, because they have the military style of education, they are able to pick up skills so fast that they are able to build … in a much faster process,” said Mailman.
When the enterprise first began, its founders weren’t sure if the model would succeed. They have been amazed by the response, with many local people searching them out for projects. The founders hope to grow the business, but will do so carefully.
“We have to stick to the quality,” said Laroque. “It takes time to train the guys to do the work, and we want to make sure it is the right fit for the guys. We don’t want do have the maximum quantity (of people) just because ... our main focus isn’t to maximize how much profit we can make.”
Most of the Veterans Enterprises Corp work is done in Ottawa and Renfrew County. The company maintains complete transparency, and even their invoices are broken up to display the cost of materials, the cost of labour and even the profit they are making. All the profits are rolled back into the business, helping it grow. They are fully licensed and insured with Red Seal Trades workers.
“I haven’t had any customers that haven’t been satisfied,” said Mailman. “... You can trust your veterans. You can trust us.”