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Celebrating Skilled Trades Across Our Operations


This week we're taking some time to celebrate and thank the 3664 skilled trades people from over 30 post secondary institutions, who keep our operations running. 

Our Universal Truck and Trailer team is celebrating its newest Red Seal designate - Paul LeBlanc!

 Paul Leblanc UTT


Paul LeBlanc is a Motor Vehicle Body Repairer who has worked with Universal Truck and Trailer in Dieppe, NB, for more than 15 years. We asked for his thoughts on what the designation means to him: 

"I was in the automotive trade before this and felt I needed a new challenge. At UTT, I began as a detailer/fabricator and eventually returned to an autobody position [similar] to my previous employment.  My team consists of two other highly skilled workers. They've really help me to sharpen my skills."

Recognizing that the company and Universal Truck and Trailer leadership team has been very helpful, Paul says that his coworkers - Paul Landry and Phil Doucet - have had the most significant impact as he's grown his career. 

"They have been the persons who have helped my to achieve my goals  by their encouragement and in their teachings."

 Paul Leblanc Working


For Paul, the Red Seal designation is both a mark of achievement and a checkpoint for setting future goals. The team could not be happier for him:

“Choosing a career in the Skilled Trades is a sure way to make a good living,” says Cara VanBuskirk, Director of Human Resources with the company. “At Universal Truck and Trailer, we are hiring Truck and Transport students before they even start the program. Currently, we have 14 apprentices, in all levels of their training. Paul's designation also brings us to 19 Red Seal employees. We have an excellent relationship with the province’s Apprentice Coordinators and are always looking for licensed skilled workers.” 

“You can't make light of this accomplishment - Paul is a credit to our team," says Don Bonnell, General Manager of Universal Truck and Trailer. "Our techs have – literally – hundreds of years’ experience between them, and are tasked with keeping trucks on the road, which keeps essential goods moving. Supporting our people in training and development is investment in our future as well as theirs.”

In these challenging times, we thank all essential workers in every sector for the work they do on the front lines. For more information about Universal Truck and Trailer, please visit

Construction Champions

The Construction and Equipment Division employs everything from Crane Operators to Electricians throughout their 5 businesses, and every single one of them is vital to delivering quality products and service to valued customers. 

Taylor Cook, an apprentice Industrial Mechanic at CFM, where there are currently 52 skilled trades people. Originally from Saint John, she's a graduate of the very first STEP-W program in 2019, aimed at attracting women to skilled trades at NBCC, and now works with critical components at our Repair and Overhaul Shop.

 Taylor Cook CFM


"I especially love being an industrial mechanic apprentice because there's so much problem solving and it constantly keeps you on your toes. There is something to learn every single day, not to mention the sense of accomplishment you feel after you've just completed a job ," says Taylor.

With over 140 years of combined trades experience, our Kent Homes plant is filled with Skilled Trades people. Chris Roy, an electrician from Bathurst says "Trades are a great option to get hands on experience and into the workforce quickly. Trades will always be needed so it’s a fantastic option to choose!" He is one of the 28 skilled trades people who currently work at Kent Homes, 12 of which are Journey People or Red Seal.

 Chris Roy


Forestry's Finest

Renald Plourde has been with JDI's Sawmill Division for 33 years and has spent 29 of them as a Millwright at various mills around his hometown of Edmundston. His talent was picked out from the production line, and he was hand picked to attend NBCC to learn a new skillset. 

 Renald Plourde


For Nal, as he's known amongst his peers, working in the trades means Knowing the smalls details that will have a big impact, in the long run, on the performance of our mills.”

"Growing up I was always mechanically inclined, even as a kid. I was typically found fixing something or taking things apart just to put them back together. This trade is something I have always been passionate about and interested in - so when the opportunity presented itself, I couldn't say no." - Jarret Grass

 Jarret Grass


Jarrett, born and raised in Geary, is a Heavy Equipment Service Technician with our Woodlands Division, one of 175 skilled trades people in the division.

Maggie Gray, an NBCC, New Boots and STEP-W graduate from 2019 is a mechanic in our Sussex Woodlands Garage, just one exit down the highway from her hometown of Norton. 

 Maggie Gray


Maggie says "I like being immersed in my work and working in a hands-on environment. New Boots and STEPW contributed to my success in many ways, first and foremost by giving me the opportunity to take the program in the summer and helping me find a place to do my apprenticeship. I actually attended three different universities before I decided to leave and pursue a trade, and I'm beyond thankful I did."

The Heart of the Forest Products Value Chain

Dave Thompson, an NBCC graduate in Electrical and Instrumentation works with the Pulp and Paper Division at Lake Utopia Paper, just down the road from his home town of St. Stephen. Here's what he had to say about working in the skilled trades:

“Industry is constantly adapting and overcoming new challenges using cutting edge technologies. And the technical trades are a driving force at the forefront of this ever changing work environment. I know I never could have imagined all of the doors that skilled trades have opened for me, and I am very grateful for all the amazing opportunities.”

 Dave Thompson


Our Pulp and Paper Division has over 411 skilled trades people, over half of which are Red Seal or Journey People. They bring over 6490 combined years of experience to their work!

KENT Supports New Futures in Skilled Trades

2019 marked the introduction of the KENT/JDI Workforce Pilot Program, in partnership with NB Department of Post Secondary Education and Training (PETL), the program is focused on upskilling 12 KENT associates to new careers in trade positions guaranteed by JDI on successful completion of their NBCC programs in:

- Industrial Mechanics
- Mechanical Technician
- Machinist
- Steel Fabrication
- Welding
- Industrial Control Technology
- Truck Transport Service Technology

Today, nine of the twelve deserving KENT employees have graduated from New Brunswick Community College (NBCC). The three remaining will be attending another year of schooling before graduating in 2021/22.   All will have a guaranteed job placement at JDI upon successful completion of their respective skilled trades programs.

Canada's Ships

Roderick Johnson knows the value of mentorship and teamwork. A Red Seal steamfitter/pipefitter at Halifax Shipyard, Roderick considers himself lucky to have had so many strong role models in his life – from his father and uncles to his “shipyard grandfather,” Gerald “Tubby” Benoit.

 Roderick Johnson


Roderick explains that he’s where he is today thanks to support from others. Unsure of his career path, it was a push from his uncle, the owner of a construction company, that led him to pursue a trade. Working in Western Canada as a pipefitter, it was a suggestion from his cousin, an ironworker at Halifax Shipyard, that led Roderick to apply and eventually return home to Nova Scotia. Having previously worked at the Shipyard – taking some time away to experience pipefitting in the oil sands – it was a welcome return for Roderick. Read Roderick's full story here.


Looking to join our team? We have over 80 open roles for skilled across Canada. Check out your next step at