Les Walker | Walker Home Construction | June 16, 2022
Join Yukon entrepreneur Les Walker, owner of Walker Home Construction which has operated in the Yukon for over 13 years, as we discuss their experience during the pandemic and how it has impacted their business.
(2:38) Les describes the challenges the construction industry has faced during the pandemic, especially with sourcing materials and the rising interest rates for mortgages. They also share that there are two to three times more contract jobs than there are available companies and carpenters to fulfil them which can cause potential customers to become frustrated.
(6:07) Les shares their first memory of the pandemic being when the Yukon shut down and people could not come in or come out of the territory. This was a wakeup call for them to take it seriously, especially when they started experiencing people within their circle being directly impacted by Covid.
(8:03) Les reflects on the public health measures they found most challenging. For them personally, not being able to shake people’s hands, give hugs, and have that kind of connection was big for them. Having grown up in group homes and foster homes, they have found it quite easy to adapt to different rules, and because their business was supplying materials to essential services, they were able to travel outside the territory to source those materials which means they weren’t as affected as much as some others.
(13:45) Having built a solid foundation that ensured their business was in a good place to adapt to the pandemic, Les shares their focus on understanding that every single person has a different opinion and the importance on bringing people together instead of separating them when they disagree.
(16:42) Thinking about their business model, Les reflects on the reason they started the company and how despite the quick expansion they have experienced over the past couple years, they are still working on achieving their goals in a way that stays true to their core values.
(19:29) Les discusses the pandemic related supports that were the most helpful for them as an employer being the government wage-relief program for employees who had to stay home due to being sick. This ensured families who were struggling to pay their bills, but also needing to follow mandates still received financial support.
(21:57) Looking at their business differently, through their experience in work, life and politics, Les sees opportunity in working as a community, more specifically partnering with First Nations to build more infrastructure to settlement land. Their focus is on creating strong relationships through going back to the traditional way of looking at how every person has value. Their business mentality concentrates on the opportunities that exist over the obstacles put in their path.
(33:16) To better position themselves in the emerging economy, Les has realized the need for them to define their role with the company in a way that adds the most value through their leadership and provides the strategic priorities and vision to their employees.
(39:16) As the Yukon economy rebuilds, Les is paying attention to how everything is more expensive, especially the housing market, and how some government programs inadvertently support the rising of costs instead of reducing them. They express their interest in looking at ways to lower the cost of materials and land to help get families into homes along with supporting social programs such as women shelters, youth centres, elder complexes and community halls which build infrastructure that helps society.
(48:17) Les’ advice for emerging entrepreneurs? Find something you are passionate about and continue to go after it. If you’re moving towards your goals, there are no steps back. Even when you fall, you fall forward.
(50:37) Les shares how their worldview has shifted over the last couple years due to the pandemic. They describe their past self as a hardcore liberal, however now they find themselves being in the center and listening to both sides. They believe that we can come with a more evolved way of looking at things that hears one another out and brings us together. They contemplate the need to get together, have forums for respectful, open discussion and learning that takes our egos out of it.
(58:38) What wellness practices keep Les grounded? In their younger years, Les struggled with alcohol addiction and realized they needed to be the person in their life that made healthy choices. They chose to replace their addiction with working out. They created a consistent system and routine that helps support their day and the things they need to do and be present. They love growth and learning, along with being a part of something greater than themselves which gives them the energy to move through things others may get frustrated with.
Thank you for watching!
To learn more about Les and their business, visit their Facebook page at:
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