A hard-working team
The whole Dundas Power Line crew were in attendance to the 40th anniversary celebration, pictured here in front of the company’s mural. Glover photo
CHESTERVILLE – 1979 was a big year for the community of Chesterville; Dundas Power Line first opened their doors for business.
“I was told to keep it short but how do you cram 40 years into five or 10 minutes,” Dundas Power Line owner Frank Heerkens joked to the crowd who came out to the 40th anniversary of his business opening Fri., May 31.
Heerkens and his whole family and crew invited the whole neighbourhood to celebrate their milestone anniversary of bringing hard work and dedication to Chesterville and the rest of Dundas County. Both Jeremy and Kandi Heerkens made emotional speeches about their time with the company, while also commenting on how proud they are of their patriarch making it this far and continuing to go.
“A storm ripped through North and South Dundas, damaging power lines. We watched this storm pass our home and, as usual, the phone rang for my father to go to work,” said Jeremy. “But, on this particular occasion, he yelled to me to get my work boots on and go with him. When I came home, I remember falling face first into the couch and sleeping for God knows how long and thinking to myself how exhausted I was but also how happy I was for having helped so many people in a time of need.”
For the next seven years, Jeremy would continue to work with his father, even during the summer while others were relaxing on summer vacation. Following his graduation from North Dundas District High School in 1995, Jeremy was offered a more permanent role. “I was asked the age-old question, ‘What are you going to do with your life?’ and, as a teenager, I just responded with, ‘I don’t know.’ Then my father told me, ‘Well, you can always continue to work for me,’” he said. “Since that time, I have had some great achievements.” Jeremy mentioned his time as an apprentice during the ice storm of ’98, becoming a lineman in 1999 and continuing to work all over the province of Ontario.
“We look ahead to the next several milestones here at Dundas Power Line as we push forward to the future,” he said.
Kandi, who has worked with the company for 17 years stated, “I have two entrepreneur parents, not one but two, and that meant hard work, education, knowledge and discipline,” she said. Not only a standard they strived for themselves, but they instilled and expected of myself and my siblings.”
At a young age, Kandi got her start in the office of Dundas Power Line, leading to her learning some lifelong skills. Wanting to take a different career path, she decided to branch out but found herself in a career she did not enjoy. That’s where her father came to the rescue.
“Anyone who knows my father knows that his wheels are always turning, and you never know when new ideas might strike,” she said. “It amazes me how he can see years into the future what he wants, and come hell or high water, he will make sure he gets that.”
Frank approached Kandi in 2002 to become an estimator for the company and after contemplating the decision for a little longer than she’d like to admit, she accepted the offer.
Kandi worked from estimating basic jobs to working on multi-million dollar projects, while continuing to develop skills for accounting, project management and other traits required to run a business. After starting her own business in 2008, she continues to work as an estimator at her father’s company.
“Thank you guys,” she said, holding back tears looking at her parents. “I look forward to spending the next many more years here.”
When it was Frank’s turn to take the stand, he too had a tough time holding back the tears as he reminisced about his start in the company.
“When a tornado tore through Chesterville, downing power lines everywhere and working two days straight, helping people get their life in order, I knew what I wanted and I never looked back,” he said. “Six years later, I was fortunate enough to start my own company.”
Starting out, there were only three on the team including Frank, his brother Peter and his friend Wendell Fisher but over the years, they continued to grow to what they are known for today.
“The years just flew by, some good and some bad. We struggled along hoping that some year I would learn what I was doing,” he said.
With the help of a few business ventures over the years from cable television to a small stint with real estate, he was able to continue to add more to his power line business. Frank ended his speech, thanking everyone who has helped him to achieve the success he has today.
“Life is nothing but a vacation but it’s a real short one,” he said, holding back the tears. “Enjoy everyday of it, and I have. Thank you all for coming, thank you with all my heart.”
Reporter/Photographer for Chesterville Record and Eastern Ontario Agrinews. Currently working on Record segment, “Chilling Tales from Beyond”