Starting a successful business in Canada: Jaye Robinson’s story

Small Business Canada

Founder and C.E.O., ATI Canada

Australian born and bred, Jaye moved to Canada in 2009 initially for one year but has not looked back and has since made Canada his home. Jaye officially founded Austech Industries Ltd. on November 16, 2011. He solely built the business from the ground up; first as a Heavy-Duty Field Mechanic, operating his own service truck in the Canadian Oil Sands, to growing it into the large-scale entity it is today.

From the inception of Austech Industries Ltd. to the current rebranding of ATI Canada, Jaye has been a pivotal factor in the company’s stellar reputation which he earned first with his own two hands. Since then, he has since backed up this reputation by bringing aboard the best mechanics in the country.

Jaye is immensely involved in controlling, implementing, and overseeing the business’ growth through all stages of the Oil and Gas and Mining industry’s rapidly changing markets. With his vast dealership knowledge from Caterpillar & Sandvik, he has built this company into a leading competitor within the Canadian Mining Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and has since expanded operations across Canada.

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 What was your inspiration when you started ATI Canada? Can you please share your journey with our audiences? 

Becoming an independent owner-operator in 2011 was a big eye-opener to the industry gaps of HD Technician quality and cost control for the clients’ needs. Being able to provide top-tier Open Pit HD Mechanics at affordable rates for our clients, we managed to close that gap in a good way as the OEM’s had the market share of the HD Tech labour market. 

As the pandemic has badly affected many small businesses, what impact has it had on your businesses? And are you able to recover from it?

Feb 2020 saw the largest month on record for ATI to shut down to zero projects by June 30th. This gave our management team the opportunity to take a breath, focus on systems & processes, and develop our COR safety program ready for the economy to reopen. Business development took the company from western Canada based to countrywide opportunities such as Ontario & Yukon also placing us in other sectors such as Gold, L&G with some small civil construction projects. 

 After knowing that safety is the backbone of your company, and achieving COR (Certificate of Recognition) status, how are these factors helping you to grow your business?

Exponentially. We have always operated under COR legislation being sub-contractors to Prime Contractors who had the same program in place though having COR in place, it really was the pivot point of Austech Industries Ltd. evolving from an independent (owner/operator) business into the corporation we are today being ATI Canada. Safety is always the number 1 focus of any task or project we take on as our slogan is ‘Safety, Service Always’. Having COR, really emphasized the internal importance of the safety culture company-wide giving us the final push to where we are today. ATI Canada – Your Leaders in Heavy Duty Mechanics

ATI Canada has worked with vendors in the Gold, Coal, Oil & Gas and L&G sectors. How was your experience working with these streams? Was it helpful?

Even though all sectors have been open-pit mining-focused, each sector operates in completely different ways from the other. Whether it be ground conditions of the oil sands to hard rock gold of the Ontario Lakelands or the mountainous hard rock coal mining of northeast BC, each poses its own challenges and its own style of HD mechanic required. Our secret to success has to be able to recognize the diverse needs of the clients based on their location and equipment to place the right experienced HD Tech to the client & region’s needs. 

Every entrepreneur goes through challenges in their entrepreneurial journey. Please let us know the ones faced by you and how did you manage to overcome them? 

2, in particular, come to mind. Knowing the need to step ‘off the tools’ into management will excel the growth of the company through internally fighting myself to stay on the tools as I loved it so much to finally making the move, growing the company to where it is today of entering the corporate world to discover what ‘imposter syndrome’ is. Growing essentially from a 1-man band to becoming the CEO of a company with a staff base of 100 team members without any business accreditation really weighed down on me. I joined a mentor group in Calgary called VMSA, which coached me through this when we had a staff base of around 40. That grew the company in size and professionalism to create our very sustainable business of today. 

What specific advice would you like to give to the young entrepreneurs who are aiming to start their business careers?

Don’t be scared to step up and have a go. Today’s world of post covid economic recovery has created ample opportunities for anyone and everyone to follow their dreams. Not only in this industry but in almost every industry worldwide. The first time I heard of “Life begins outside your comfort zone” I knew I had to do exactly that. What feels daunting, overwhelming, or worrisome today, becomes second nature tomorrow, with the growth of the mind, body and soul from it all the blood sweat and tears put into the business is the best reward of all. Walt Disney said it best with his success story “I only hope we never lose sight of 1 thing – that it all started with a mouse” 

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