Dustin Sawa likes to drive and he loves the outdoors. It’s a good thing he does, because his job as a General Foreman at Gateway means he spends a lot of time at the wheel, crisscrossing the Okanagan Valley from Kelowna to Revelstoke and beyond.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m getting paid just to look at the beautiful geography,” Dustin says, but of course there’s a lot more to it than that. One day he might be supervising the team building a large agriculture installation in the valley, the next he might be answering a service call on his own in one of the many remote communities Gateway’s BC clients call home.
A red seal journeyman refrigeration mechanic, Dustin began working as a service technician for a number of small companies in Winnipeg after completing his schooling. With a few years’ experience under his belt, he decided to move to Calgary and was hired by Gateway. Though he liked the city, when the opportunity arose to move temporarily to the Okanagan to work on a major contract with Walmart in 2009, he leapt at it.
There was no shortage of work in the growing BC interior market, and he found something beyond the region’s natural beauty to captivate him: the woman who would one day become his wife. Within two years, Dustin had become a lead hand; it wasn’t long before he was promoted in short succession to foreman and then general foreman. His combination of sound mechanical skills and a knack for personnel management made him an ideal go-between Gateway’s higher-ups and the technicians on the ground, and he’s thrived in the role.
“The main challenge of my work is making sure my crews are happy. We do a lot of projects, so it’s important to put the right people in the right positions to succeed, to make sure everyone feels like they’re being heard and that their concerns matter.”
Dustin feels like he’s part of a winning team. “From the beginning of my career, I’ve wanted to work for a big company like Gateway, and they are in my opinion the industry leader in HVAC and refrigeration. The smaller companies I worked with looked up to Gateway because it seemed like they were always one step ahead.”
Part of that one-step-ahead quality he identifies comes from the strength of Gateway’s network of personnel. “I’ve never really felt lost on a job, even if it’s something I’ve never handled before, because there is always someone within Gateway I can ask. The company makes everyone so accessible, and there really isn’t a question in our industry that we don’t have an answer to. That helps me work with confidence.”
Now the father of a growing family, Dustin aspires to continue moving up the ladder, taking on more responsibility for a wider service area. For the moment though, he’s happy just to be behind the wheel of his truck, taking in the view.