Although Gateway is among the largest commercial refrigeration and HVAC companies in Canada, in many ways it is also a local business. Outside of the urban centres in particular, Gateway foremen and technicians have the chance to cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit within a strong team context. It’s the in-this-together quality that General Foreman Mike Whiting prizes about his job.
“The company provides you with a tremendous amount of independence as to how you approach each challenge, but there’s also a great deal of collaboration,” Mike says. “This dichotomy creates a lot of freedom and personal satisfaction.”
A refrigeration mechanic by trade, over nearly 15 years with the company Mike oversees three different regional territories centred on Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Cranbrook. Gateway’s expansion into these areas is still a relatively recent gambit, and making the most of opportunities in smaller communities means the company must be agile. In a given week, Mike will deal with all types of businesses over a wide spectrum of industries in ongoing efforts to meet clients’ needs. The variety of work can be tremendous.
“It’s often hard in the contracting business to find a professional environment, especially in smaller municipalities,” Mike says, “but that’s what Gateway’s brought to every community it has expanded into. Everyone who joins Gateway is elevated in their professionalism just by being around the people who are here.”
In 2018 Gateway co-founder Bill Ohe celebrated 50 years in business by touring across Western Canada to meet employees working in the field. Mike treasured the experience of spending time with the Ohe family, soaking up their stories and reflecting on the changes that have impacted a half century of existence. Mike’s father was an entrepreneur himself, and that adventurous drive seems to run in the family. He enjoys working alongside skilled tradesman, and he’s proud of the strong reputation this team of dedicated individuals has helped Gateway build in this part of Western Canada.
“I’m responsible for hiring in this area, and one thing I’ve noticed is that technicians feel like they have to be truly ready before they submit a resume to Gateway. We’re seen as a pinnacle within our industry, and they understand that this is a very demanding environment. We expect excellence. But, by the same token, I’ve also yet to see a really qualified person honestly say there’s a better place to be.”
Mike credits Gateway with allowing him to grow and thrive as a professional, and also for giving him the stability that relatively few jobs now offer. “You end up building a life here,” he says. “Gateway’s an integral part of my life.”