Episode 27 – How to return home and reopen the mill with Kevin Dowkes of Unifab

“I could do this better!” Have you ever sat back at work and had that thought about your bosses or the company you work for? Have you ever found yourself daydreaming at that job you disliked, imagining your bosses running the company into the ground, only for you to return as the shining hero, saving the company and the town in the process?

Ok, perhaps that’s a little over dramatic, and it certainly doesn’t describe the thoughts Kevin Dowkes of Grand Forks had while working for Interior Mill Equipment in Grand Forks, BC. in his early 20’s. He did however get the chance somewhat to play the role of the prodigal son returning to glory where previously there was loss. Following the closure of Kootenay Mill Equipment, the small steel fabricator where Kevin had ran the sales and marketing, Kevin took the opportunity to do some travelling, and headed out around the world.

Nearing the end of his trip, on a fateful flight from Hawaii, he figured it out. He wanted to be an entrepreneur. He wanted to run, and grow a company of his own. While he was off travelling, unbeknownst to him a group of workers from Interior Mill Equipment were putting the plans in place to reopen the shop. They wanted him back, and he wasn’t sure he was ready to commit to small town living. Ultimately he did come back, took up the reins of what was now called Unifab, and ultimately returned to the same office he occupied before, only this time as majority shareholder.
I sat down with Kevin at the mill in Grand Forks to learn how over the course of the last 15 years he has put the mill back on stable footing, through steady, continuous improvement and giving back to the town he now calls home.


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